Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chapter 18 - Solomon Meets Becky

September 1948

When Solomon got back to his truck, the new girl was sitting outside on the front steps. She wanted to find out whose truck had been parked at the end of the logging road for the past two evenings.

Be still my heart, Solomon thought as he stared at her. She was every bit the vision of loveliness that Harold Reed had suggested. She was wearing pink short shorts and a matching halter-top with a bow-tie in the back. She got up and walked down the pathway to his truck.

He stuck his hand out, “Solomon Sepaugh,” he said.

“Becky Banks,” she said, “pleased to meetcha.”

Solomon concentrated on not letting his eyes rest on her cleavage. Look at her eyes. Look at her beautiful green eyes, he thought. “Nice car,” he said.

“Thanks, my parents gave it to me when I went off to college.”

“Really nice,” he said bending down to look inside. The ragtop was up.

“I like it,” she said.

For a second there was the familiar lull in conversation common when two strangers meet. Then Solomon asked, “Where do you go to college?”

“I go to State Teacher’s College over in Boone,” she responded.

“That’s good,” he said, “but it’s September already. I guess you don’t plan to stay long.”

“Oh, I’m taking this semester off.” She hesitated a moment. “I needed a change of scenery for right now.” She nervously put her foot on a log and scraped the moss with her sandal. Her pink toenail polish matched her shorts. “I’m staying for a while with Uncle Jerry.”

Becky looked up at him. Her long, auburn mane covered one of her incredible green eyes. A toss of her head uncovered it. She seemed to blink her eyes in slow motion. She has bedroom eyes, Solomon thought.

“I see,” he said, but he didn’t really see. He wondered what the change of scenery was for. He could tell she was anxious about something. She fidgeted with a pencil and an eraser cap while they talked. “What do you enjoy doing?” he asked. “There are some real pretty places around here. Do you like to hike to waterfalls?”

“That sounds fun,” she said. “I haven’t done much hiking, but I’d like to try it.” She bent over to swat a bug off her leg, and the weight of her breasts shifted. When she stood up, her cleavage was more pronounced.

Solomon’s eyes rested on her breasts a second too long. She noticed and demurely lowered her head as she cut her eyes up at him and smiled. Being coy was part of her femininity.

Solomon asked her, “How’s your uncle doing?”

“Oh, he does real well. There’s not much he can’t do for himself,” she said.

Sergeant Jerry Banks was thirty years old when he came home from the war as a paraplegic. He’d been in Europe only two months, when he took enemy fire on Omaha Beach in the Battle of Normandy. That was June 6, 1944. His floating tank had swamped in the surf, and he had to get out or drown. He took two enemy rounds before he reached the shore. The surf washed him up on the beach with paralyzed legs. He dragged himself out of the water with his elbows. For hours the battle raged around him. He expected to die every second. Eventually, medics carried him to safety. He was awarded the Purple Heart, and he went home with a wheel chair and a colostomy bag.

Jerry had first come to Rooster Cove when he’d worked for the W. P. A. He’d helped to build the post office and to pave six miles of road into the cove. He called it God’s Place. He liked the isolation and the quiet. The fishing was good, and the hunting was better. After he left the hospital in Washington, D. C., Jerry sent his brother, Horace Banks, Becky’s father, to Rooster Cove to buy some land and to hire a contractor to build his cabin in the woods. He had it specially equipped for his disability.

Jerry kept to himself mostly. The folks of Rooster Cove rarely saw him. He routinely went to the V. A. Hospital for his health care, so he didn’t know anything about the medical system in the cove or who was responsible for it.

Folks would occasionally hear him target practicing with his rifle. While he was in service, his buddies called him a Tennessee sharpshooter. He was good with his rifle, no doubt about that. He had a hunting stand that he’d rigged with a pulley that would take him from the wheelchair up to a platform in the tree. If he got anything big like a deer, he’d telephone some of his neighbors to come get it and butcher it. He never killed anything that somebody didn’t get to eat. Most often, he just sat in his tree stand and watched the wildlife around his cabin.

“Jerry’s in there fixing supper right now,” Becky said. “He’s a real good cook.”

“I’m sure he enjoys your company,” Solomon said.

“Would you like to come in for a glass of tea?” Becky asked. “I know Uncle Jerry’s peeking out the windows trying to figure out who I’m talking to.”

“Sure,” Solomon replied as he followed her up the pathway. She is a knock out, he thought. The pink halter-top accentuated her pretty back as it narrowed to her waist. Her perfect bottom moved under her pink short shorts as she climbed the front porch steps. She had deliberately walked ahead of him. Her combination of seduction and shyness drew men like a magnet. Yet she had an aloofness that let men know she was off limits. She was just to look at…not to touch. She wasn’t forward enough to be a tease. She was provocative but unavailable.

Jerry was taking cornbread out of the oven as they came in the door. “It smells good, Uncle Jerry.”

He put the cornbread on a trivet on the table. “You must be the owner of the mystery truck.” He reached out his hand to Solomon and said, “Jerry Banks here.”

“Solomon Sepaugh,” he said as they shook hands.

Becky poured a glass of sweet tea for Solomon.

They exchanged the usual amenities. Jerry had never heard of Ma Patsy. Solomon told them that he lived with his grandmother and that he had no other family in the area. He wanted Becky to know that he was an eligible bachelor without coming right out and saying it. No questions were asked about his personal life, or his education, or his job. Jerry wasn’t one to pry.

Jerry did ask Solomon, “How old are you?” He was sizing him up as a possible suitor for his pretty and recently brokenhearted niece.

“I’m twenty-one,” Solomon answered.

“So am I,” Becky said smiling.

“Stay for supper?” Jerry asked.

“Thanks, but I’m sure Ma’s got supper waiting on me,” he said, “but I appreciate the invitation.” Solomon looked at Becky and said, “I’d best be getting back. Thanks for the tea.”

When they walked out on the porch, he asked her, “Did you know there’s a lake over the ridge behind Jerry’s cabin?”

“No, I didn’t know that,” she replied.

“If you’d like to see it, I could come back on Saturday,” he said, “and we could hike over there.”

“Yeah, that would be fun. I’ll pack a picnic lunch,” she offered.

“That sounds good. What time?” he asked.

“Ten o’clock?” she said.

“I’ll be here.” Solomon trotted down the path and got into his truck. He looked back at her standing there on the porch. God, she is gorgeous, he thought, and she has an uncanny resemblance to Sarah O’Hara.

Back in the cabin, Uncle Jerry said, “He seems like a nice enough fellow.”

“Yes he does,” Becky said.

Jerry teased, “The two of you make a good looking couple. He’s about as handsome as you are beautiful.”

She wagged her finger at her uncle. “I think I’ve got enough to worry about right now without complicating it with a beau. Besides, I still hope Robbie will come to his senses.” She began setting the supper table. “Solomon asked me to walk to some lake with him. He’s coming back Saturday at ten o’clock.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Jerry nodded approvingly.

Solomon sat down at the supper table. He loaded his plate with broccoli and cheese casserole. He was grinning…but not talking. Ma kept watching him.

He laughed, “What?”

“That’s my question,” she said.

“I’m just eating my supper.” Dimples dotted his grin.

“What’s her name?” Ma asked.

“Becky Banks,” he said

“Well, tell me about her,” she prodded.

“I thought you’d never ask,” he said.

Copyright © 2008 by Robbin Renee Bridges
Coping with Grief through Afterlife Communication

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