The Last Ride

Fiction Friday:


Remember that unlucky character we created a few weeks ago? Now it’s time to give him some relief. Write something extraordinarily good that happens to her as a direct result of her bad luck.

Earlier chapters:

Earlier chapters:
The Rodeo Girl…the dance floor
The Apartment Problem
Glass Question Token
The Little Girl
Live Theatre with Etta
Etta Has Flown the Coop
Face to Face
Choosing
In Retrospect…
Yes
Etta and the Card

The last three chapters:

Part I

Etta and the Lie

Etta had just moved in with Jeffery when the lying began. She had told people that she was childless, married for money and lived a upscale life style. The trouble was she could not remember what was true and what was not. She knew she had a family of children but when she told Jeffery she had 10…where did that come from? Ten!!! She knew it was not true. She knew that no man would get started making babies and not stop until there were ten while married to her. She would have not been that good of a mother.

She did know that she came from stock that did not see the fault in telling lies, using people and getting what they wanted without a thought about the consequences.

Her sister, Mary, had never left the home place on the other side of the swinging bridge. She did not see the need for it. She was much older than Etta and had endured her childhood with an eye to survival.

Mary had kept a place in town on the corner of a block near the church and close to the last child in the family. Blanche was the one that really made the money. Several men were left with a dime in their pocket and Blanche had it all.

So Mary’s house in town was beautiful, white with grand trees around it. The community had come to call her Aunt Mary and she wore a bun on the back of her head that was white and perfect. The antiques in her house were exquisite. She was a member of the local sorority ladies and invited speakers, pianist and men with authority to come and make a presentation afterwards. Local teachers boarded in the upstairs corner bedroom, down the hall from hers and respectability oozed from every pore.

In the little community where Etta, Mary, Blanche and Wesley were raised there was a history, a lurking under current of evil that one could only guess at. The people lived with it like those people that live close to disaster zone live…aware and blind at the same time. Third and fourth generation families were living there and if a new comer asked for the truth, there was no way to explain it all. What was, was.

So as Etta began to think about home… she knew that there she could be herself if she wanted to. She could let her guard down and choose to tell lies or not. People there were accustomed to the unlikely and warped.

Jeffery and his wife were beginning to be suspicious. While Jeffery wanted her to be his mother, live in the back room, his wife was not for it at all. They had both made it happen but they were beginning to wonder if they would live to regret it. If Etta were to go as she had come, without warning or notice, they all knew there would be a sigh of relief. And Etta knew that it was what she had always done…when things got uncomfortable, when she made her own bad luck, she left and created a new personae. Maybe the time had come. There was only one thing she needed to do before she went…she needed to tell the truth just this one time.

Part II
The morning had dawned with a huge bang. Somehow the cellar door had been left open and the wind was blowing across the back yard, whipping it back and forth. It had waken the baby sleeping across the room. Jeffery raised his head from the pillow reluctantly when he felt his wife jabbed him in the ribs.

What??? It was always that way with him…the choices or dilemmas saw him to running away. He had a difficult time facing what was to be faced. In this case the baby seemed the most important but then his wife guided him in the direction of the door and headed toward the crying baby herself.

There was something that did not seem right when he walked through the kitchen and out the back screen door into the yard. He could not remember the last time they has been under the house. “Why would the cellar door be open?” he wondered as he removed the twig that held it open? When he glimpsed inside, all seemed to be in order. He smiled at the thought of order as he peered over broken lawn mowers and twisted lawn hose. After he closed the door he stumbled across the lawn toward the back door. He needed to have his cup of coffee.

That was when he realized she was gone. The coffee was cold and her chair sat empty, the paper was not on the table and her slipper sat cold on the floor. He ran down the hall to her room. The bed was neatly made and he knew when they looked in the cellar next time the glasses and her suitcases would be gone. It caught his eye in the darkened room and when he walked closer he saw that there was an envelop on the bed.

He sat down with a groan. He didn’t call his wife. He knew she would have guidance to offer him. She might even be happy about Etta’s quick departure. He couldn’t face that, not now.

He held the envelop in his hand and waited before opening it. He knew that Etta had a story to tell…or at least she needed to clear a few things up. But now that he thought he had the answers in his hand, he was not sure that he wanted to know. She was too much like him. They thought and looked alike. It was so strange how she knew about him without really knowing. Then it came back to him…the night she came to the door, strange yet somehow familiar. The words…”your father said we looked alike”.

At the family reunion they had never really connected and his father acted as though he and Etta had never met when they were reintroduced. Etta, for all her maneuvering of people had never made a move to even get to know him. “She might have been overwhelmed with the crowd,” he thought. But she had not even looked at him. He really didn’t recognized her on that night she came to his front door.

So what had she meant…”your father said we looked alike”. He looked at the envelop in horror. On the outside were written the words, “The Truth”. Who was she? She had been there for over a year, living in his house, helping guide his children and he had not sensed who she was…well not really? The envelop grew hot in his hand and he began to cry. He wept for the mother he never knew, for never having brothers or sister, for the lost opportunity, for himself. He did so want her to be his…he wanted her back, he wanted to know she was safe and not in danger. He did so want all that. He began to open the envelop when he realized that he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t know, not ever. The reasons for her coming and going, the realization of what that held in the ebb and flow of his life…he did not have the courage to face it. Not today he said. She will be back. At least he had had her for a while, he really had loved her eccentric ways and colorful lies. He could see her gray hair and the bag she brought the groceries home in. He heard her singing “Save the last waltz for me…” and dancing around the kitchen humming “blue suede shoes”. He decided he would just pretend. The truth was not necessary..

Dad, the next to the youngest said, “Where are the potato chips. Did you know the peaches are rotten. Aunt Etta has been at it again!”

Part III

Etta was standing in the airport in Boise waiting for the red car to pick her up. Wesley had loved the car. It was the last one ever made like it and became a symbol in the neighborhood where he lived of his eccentric nature. Etta always smiled during those years she live with him when she heard whispers from the patio of the next house. They thought he was a bit crazy and called him the “looney one”. He had raised a garden on the curb until the uproar got to be too much for him then he moved it to the back lot and built a very large compost bin. He did not really use it but it annoyed the nexts on both sides and he like that.

The red car had been in storage and when she called the care takers at the house they had it serviced and were to bring it to the parking lot. The instructions were for them to park in the north west corner of the structure, leave the keys in the ignition and leave. She didn’t want to see them. Wesley was gone, the house would stand empty until Jeffrey decided to tell his wife about it and the inheritance. Jeffrey had never known about her or his mother. She just wanted to keep it that way. So she took the car and began driving west.

The valley was steamy with summer sun gleaming on green fields. The river wound through the fields until it left the road where she drove. The hill that lifted from the river stood between her and home. A cemetery lay at the top and remnants of a golf course could be seen. A cross marked where graves of pioneers had died and the sagebrush was limp in the afternoon sun. Cheat grass had turned a shade of purple in the dry heat. As she came over the crest of the hill she could see the houses of those she knew. I’ve had done the right thing, she thought.

There were two beautiful white houses in the town. One was owned by a prim school teacher and her book keeper husband. The other was owned by Etta’s sister Mary. The two knew each other well but had never set in the same room or even exchanged pleasantries. One was Methodist and the other Catholic. One was upstanding the other pretending to be what she was not.

Etta drove slowly down Jefferson Street and stopped in front of the beautiful white house in the shade of the Elm trees. Mary came to the door holding the keys in her hand. They didn’t talk…now was not the time. Too many years and not enough sharing had led to blank stares. There was nothing to be said. When Wesley had died and Etta couldn’t be found, they thought she was dead. In a way she was and always would be. But now the keys were in the ghosts hands and the red car drove away slowly returning to the house across the river.

The swinging bridge was still there. A garage that had served as the storage of sorts had been cleared and the red car pulled into its cool refuge. She pulled her two bags from the trunk and walked across the bridge again. This time though she was not afraid. Everything that could have possibly happen to her had happened and she was turning all that misfortune, lying, striking beauty and angry retaliation inward. She was happy to be free at last to live out her life with herself. She didn’t feel guilty…not in the least. After all the river and the swinging bridge had taught her everything she needed to know.

b

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Part II
The morning had dawned with a huge bang. Somehow the cellar door had been left open and the wind was blowing across the back yard, whipping it back and forth. It had waken the baby sleeping across the room. Jeffery raised his head from the pillow reluctantly when he felt his wife jabbed him in the ribs.

What??? It was always that way with him…the choices or dilemmas saw him to running away. He had a difficult time facing what was to be faced. In this case the baby seemed the most important but then his wife guided him in the direction of the door and headed toward the crying baby herself.

There was something that did not seem right when he walked through the kitchen and out the back screen door into the yard. He could not remember the last time they has been under the house. “Why would the cellar door be open?” he wondered as he removed the twig that held it open? When he glimpsed inside, all seemed to be in order. He smiled at the thought of order as he peered over broken lawn mowers and twisted lawn hose. After he closed the door he stumbled across the lawn toward the back door. He needed to have his cup of coffee.

That was when he realized she was gone. The coffee was cold and her chair sat empty, the paper was not on the table and her slipper sat cold on the floor. He ran down the hall to her room. The bed was neatly made and he knew when they looked in the cellar next time the glasses and her suitcases would be gone. It caught his eye in the darkened room and when he walked closer he saw that there was an envelop on the bed.

He sat down with a groan. He didn’t call his wife. He knew she would have guidance to offer him. She might even be happy about Etta’s quick departure. He couldn’t face that, not now.

He held the envelop in his hand and waited before opening it. He knew that Etta had a story to tell…or at least she needed to clear a few things up. But now that he thought he had the answers in his hand, he was not sure that he wanted to know. She was too much like him. They thought and looked alike. It was so strange how she knew about him without really knowing. Then it came back to him…the night she came to the door, strange yet somehow familiar. The words…”your father said we looked alike”.

At the family reunion they had never really connected and his father acted as though he and Etta had never met when they were reintroduced. Etta, for all her maneuvering of people had never made a move to even get to know him. “She might have been overwhelmed with the crowd,” he thought. But she had not even looked at him. He really didn’t recognized her on that night she came to his front door.

So what had she meant…”your father said we looked alike”. He looked at the envelop in horror. On the outside were written the words, “The Truth”. Who was she? She had been there for over a year, living in his house, helping guide his children and he had not sensed who she was…well not really? The envelop grew hot in his hand and he began to cry. He wept for the mother he never knew, for never having brothers or sister, for the lost opportunity, for himself. He did so want her to be his…he wanted her back, he wanted to know she was safe and not in danger. He did so want all that. He began to open the envelop when he realized that he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t know, not ever. The reasons for her coming and going, the realization of what that held in the ebb and flow of his life…he did not have the courage to face it. Not today he said. She will be back. At least he had had her for a while, he really had loved her eccentric ways and colorful lies. He could see her gray hair and the bag she brought the groceries home in. He heard her singing “Save the last waltz for me…” and dancing around the kitchen humming “blue suede shoes”. He decided he would just pretend. The truth was not necessary..

Dad, the next to the youngest said, “Where are the potato chips. Did you know the peaches are rotten. Aunt Etta has been at it again!”

Part III

Etta was standing in the airport in Boise waiting for the red car to pick her up. Wesley had loved the car. It was the last one ever made like it and became a symbol in the neighborhood where he lived of his eccentric nature. Etta always smiled during those years she live with him when she heard whispers from the patio of the next house. They thought he was a bit crazy and called him the “looney one”. He had raised a garden on the curb until the uproar got to be too much for him then he moved it to the back lot and built a very large compost bin. He did really use it but it annoyed the nexts on both sides and he like that.

The red car had been in storage and when she called the care takers at the house had it serviced and were to bring it to the parking lot. The instructions were for them to park in the north west corner of the structure, leave the keys in the ignition and leave. She didn’t want to see them. Wesley was gone, the house would stand empty until Jeffrey decided to tell his wife about it and the inheritance. Jeffrey had never known about her or his mother. She just wanted to keep it that way. So she took the car and began driving west.

The valley was steamy with summer sun gleaming on green fields. The river wound through the fields until it left the road where she drove. The hill that lifted from the river stood between her and home. A cemetery lay at the top and remnants of a golf course could be seen. A cross marked where graves of pioneers had died and the sagebrush was limp in the afternoon sun. Cheat grass had turned a shade of purple in the dry heat. As she came over the crest of the hill she could see the houses of those she knew. She had done the right thing.

There were two beautiful white houses in the town. One was owned by a prim school teacher and her book keeper husband. The other was owned by Etta’s sister Mary. The two knew each other well but had never set in the same room or even exchanged pleasantries. One was Methodist and the other Catholic.

Etta drove slowly down Jefferson Street and stopped in front of the beautiful white house in the shade of the Elm trees. Mary came to the door holding the keys in her hand. They didn’t talk…now was not the time. Too many years and not enough sharing had led to blank stares. There was nothing to be said. When Wesley had died and Etta couldn’t be found they thought she was dead. In a way she was and always would be. But now the keys were in the ghosts hands and the red car drove away slowly returning to the house across the river.

The swinging bridge was still there. A garage that had served as the storage of sorts had been cleared and the red car pulled into its cool refuge. She pulled her two bags from the trunk and walked across the bridge again. This time though she was not afraid. Everything that could have possibly happen to her had happened and she was turning all that misfortune, lying, striking beauty and angry retaliation inward. She was happy to be free at last to live out her life with herself. She didn’t feel guilty…not in the least. After all the river and the swinging bridge had taught her everything she needed to know.

b

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