Friday, October 10, 2008

Chapter 22 - A Peeping Tom

September 20, 1948

“Ma, ride with me to Jerry’s tonight. We’ll all sit on the porch and visit.”

“Son, I’m happy as a hog in slop jest knowin’ that yer gettin’ to know that sweet girl. I’ll go with ye another day,” she said, “by the way, when do ye think she’ll come back in for a check up?”

“I don’t know, Ma. She won’t even talk to me about it,” he said.

Ma handed him a bottle of prenatal vitamins. “Then see if she’ll start takin’ these.”

Solomon had the bottle in his hand when he walked up on the porch. Becky was sitting in the swing. He sat down beside her and handed her the bottle. The label said PRENATAL VITAMINS. Take one a day.

“Take it with lunch or supper,” he said. “It might make you sick in the mornings.”

Becky rolled her eyes. He can bring up the most disgusting subjects without even trying, she thought.

Jerry rolled up to the screened window, “Why don’t you kids go up in my tree stand and watch the sunset.”

Becky’s eyes brightened, “That’s a great idea!”

“Solomon,” Jerry said, “it’s a block and tackle pulley. Send Becky up, and then pull yourself up.”

The tree stand was on a knoll about five hundred feet behind Jerry’s cabin. A pathway, graded to accommodate the wheelchair, led to it from the cabin. In the winter you could see over a hundred miles as Buzzard Mountain rose out of the Cutter Range and ancient folded mountains lay one upon the other in gradually muting shades of lavender. How far you could see depended on the amount of humidity in the air. On dry days you could see the Cumberland peaks in Virginia.

On this first day of fall, Becky was still wearing short shorts. They were light gray, and she had a soft gray cardigan buttoned down the front for a top. She’d left the top three buttons undone. Solomon imagined that Becky’s dress code intended this to provoke curiosity about what was under the fourth button.

Solomon steadied the swing-like contraption. Becky sat down on the seat, and he slowly raised her the twelve feet up to the platform. The four-foot wide platform circled the trunk of a large oak tree. Joists supported it from below. A low railing ran along its perimeter. As the swing passed through the hole in the platform, a bar allowed Jerry to pull himself off the swing and onto the platform. Becky had no trouble doing the same.

Solomon caught a glimpse of white panties as she moved over to the platform. Settle down, boy, he thought as he lowered the swing and sat in it. He hoisted himself up to the platform. Becky looked delighted as Solomon pulled himself onto it.

“This is wonderful,” she said. “I love it!”

Solomon crawled around the tree until he was beside Becky. She was still sitting beside the hole for the swing. “I want you on this side of me,” he chuckled. He held her by the waist as she climbed over him.

She scooted over and tugged on his elbow. “Come over this way,” she giggled, “you need to get away from the hole too.”

She sat facing him Indian style in her gray short shorts. He wondered if she expected him not to look, or if she expected him to look. He looked. A bit of white lace edging the crotch of her panties was visible. He knew it would be the last thing he thought of tonight, and the first thing he thought of tomorrow morning. After all, a virile twenty-one year old man had certain needs that he couldn’t ignore.

Becky put her legs through the railing and hung them over the side. She leaned on the railing and watched the sunset. The dark pink sky glowed and was festooned by pale blue clouds with silver linings. The sun had already dipped behind the mountain. Becky had a far off dreamy look on her face as she said, “It’s so beautiful.”

“Yes, it is,” Solomon agreed.

They sat in silence as they watched the colors deepen with the sun’s sinking. Solomon pointed to a notch on top of one mountain, “They call that Ghost Light Mountain, because lights rise out of that notch.”

Becky looked at him with raised eyebrows, “Lights?”

“Yes, they’ve been seen for hundreds of years,” he said. “Indian legends say that the yellow lights are the souls of warriors killed in battle. They’re the most common, but occasionally you’ll see a blue light. The legends say that it’s the soul of an Indian princess, whose lover was killed in battle. They say that she went up on the mountain and killed herself.”

“Ooooh, that’s sad,” she said.

Solomon smiled and continued, “They look like glowing balls of light. They’re about this big.” He held his hands around an imaginary basketball. “They rise out of the ground and then dissipate into the air.”

“Oh, I’d love to see that!”

“You might get to,” he said. “They’re usually seen in the fall when the weather’s humid…like before or after a rain. The air’s a little dry tonight, so I doubt that we’ll see any.”

“Do they know what causes them?”

He laughed, “Don’t you believe the legends?”

“Well, of course I believe the legends, but I’ll bet you have some scientific explanation for them,” she laughed at him.

“Actually, nobody knows. Scientists have investigated them, but they haven’t come to any conclusions. Some say that they’re gas bubbles seeping out of the mountain and that the gas lights up when ions in the air ignite it. Personally,” he said, “I prefer the legends.”

Becky leaned towards him laughing, “Me too.”

As the sky darkened and the lights of Rooster Cove gradually came on, Solomon and Becky shared special little details about their childhood and teenaged years. She was an only child, and so was he. They both did well in school. They both were voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” Solomon had been voted “Most Handsome,” and Becky had won several beauty contests. One difference was that Solomon was raised a poor mountain boy, and Becky was raised a rich city girl.

There were a lot of things they still wanted to know about each other, but both were too reserved to push for personal information yet. Solomon wanted to know about the father of Becky’s baby. Becky wanted to know if Solomon had ever been in love. Solomon wondered if Becky could be happy as a doctor’s wife in Rooster Cove. Becky wondered if Solomon thought she was trashy because she was an unwed mother.

Becky rubbed her legs. They were getting cold. “I’ll have to wear long pants next time,” she said.

“Want to do this again tomorrow?” Solomon asked.

“Yes, I’d like that. Maybe we can sit here long enough to see the ghost lights if I wear more clothes,” she said laughing.

Uncle Jerry was on the front porch when they got back to the cabin. “Your tree stand is wonderful, Uncle Jerry. I love it! You come with us next time, okay?”

“I might do that,” he said.

Solomon walked down the path to his truck. He turned and waved as he got in. He did a three-point turnaround, and drove home.

Turtle Hicks watched from the thicket about a hundred yards up the hill. Men like Turtle could be very patient. He’d been watching Becky since that day he saw her at Martin’s Gas Station. He could tell by the way she moved that she wanted a man like him. She needed him. He could help her to be a whole woman.

But first he had to figure out how they could be together. He watched Solomon’s red tail lights until they were out of sight. Then he moved out of the thicket. He kept to the woods around the cabin. Turtle knew which room belonged to Becky and which one was Jerry’s. He knew where Jerry kept his rifle. He knew that he had to stay back from Becky’s window until she pulled her shades down. He watched from the rhododendron bushes. Sometimes he could watch her for hours before she remembered to pull the shades.

After she pulled them down, he’d move up close to the house. He could see around the side of her window shade. He’d catch a peek of her when she walked by the window. And there was a good view of one side of her bed. A big oval dressing mirror cast her reflection in his direction when she stood in one particular spot in the room. Unfortunately, it wasn’t where she got undressed. But once he did see her reflection in it wearing her bra and panties. It was quick peek because she was walking across the room.

The view in the bathroom had potential. It didn’t have shades. It had curtains. On the left side, the curtain stood away from the window enough that he would be able to see her in the bathtub. Unfortunately, she’d never taken a bath at night when he could have seen her. When she sat on the toilet, he could see the top of her head.

Tonight he watched her as she sat on the side of her bed. She was wearing a nightgown. It was thin and pink and lacy. She’s wearing it for me, Turtle thought. He played with himself as she set the alarm clock on her bedside table. Her breasts moved under the thin pink nightgown. His mouth hung open, and his jaw stiffened. He stroked faster. He came just as she turned out the lamp. He lay in the darkness under her window. His heart pounded from his orgasm. He waited a few minutes, and then he got up and walked home.

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

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