“Grandma, what about EJ?” Danny asked standing beside her as he yawned.
“Shhh later,” she said and whispered in his ear just so he can hear. “He’s the surprise.”
Danny turned.” EJ, he’s alive?” He said to himself.
“Shush later.” She said trying to contain his excitement and pushed him towards the door where Aunt Mary was waiting.
Then Danny whispered to himself as he went out the door.” I knew it,” he said with the biggest grin on his face. Danny reached the driveway and saw the Old Harley. He looked up at Mary. “Did Grandma drive that?” He asked.
“Yes she did, and you little one get too ride in that little motorcar. That it is the second surprise just for you,” she said as she rubbed his hair.
“Wow!” He said his eyes as big as saucers going over to check the bike out.
“Wow is right, Danny boy! Your Grandma is something else! Oh look! Here comes your father now and I sure don't want to be in his shoes when he gets home. You know, Danny. I think I'll have two scoops of ice cream, too,” she said as she opened the car door for him so he could sit in the front seat.
* * *
Passing the driveway Jim noticed his kids in the cars waving goodbye. He wondered where they were all going then seeing the Old Harley Davidson, which he has not seen in years. With shock and dismay crept up inside him, his face nearly white. “No it can't be! My mother, she has not rode that thing in years. Besides she mellowed out and what would she be doing her in first place? It can't be her. We told her EJ won't be back for at least another week.” Jim rubbed his chin, grabbed the new window and starts to bring it into the house as he climbed the old wooden stairs that so badly need a paint job, he heard his mother's voice. Jim swallowed hard, but noticed she is calm. Just shootin the breeze with his wife as if it was a Sunday dinner. “Maybe nothing is wrong? Must remain calm… Yea that's it she doesn't know.”
“Oh there you are son, come in and shut the door if you wouldn't mind. What have you got there? It looks like a new window to me.” She said calmly feeling the fool and almost felt sorry for him and his poor wife of the boom she was about to drop.
“Yes Ma, the other one needed to be replaced.” He said wondering how much she knows as he looked over at Linda and placed the window in the corner for now.
“Oh I see. Come, come in and sit down.” She said as if she was a spider and they were the fly, spreading a new web.
“Now then, that's better. Nice and comfortable? She asked. “Can I fix you a nice hot cup of tea my, special blend?” The air in the room started to change, when she stood. “Why I am up because where going to be here awhile.” Trying not to change her voice, but kept it pleasant, but stern. Linda started to stand.... “SIT! ... My dear, now! ... That's better,” she said calming her self down just a little while she waited for the water to steam. She looked over the small three bedroom home. A housekeeper Linda is not as she frowned at the state of things, taking her finger across the counter top wiping dust from the corners. Shaking her head as she quickly washed her hands.
“So mother,” Jim said as Linda turned to look at him as they both swallowed hard, mouths dry and shaking a little. “What's on your mind? I noticed the Old Harley outside and your old jacket.” He said with a puzzled look on his face, taking another swallow as she looked through the cabinets and fridge. He winced knowing there was old and stale food that should be thrown out weeks ago watching a mouse scurry along the living room baseboards and disappeared behind the stacked boxes that he had meant to cover with a sheet. Too late she noticed.
“Oh. This old thing? I was just thinking about you son.” She said as she came around and takes a chair across from them to see their faces better, watching them squirm. “Is there something you would like to tell me?” She asked as she clicked the teacup with her fingers and eyes blazed as if they could burn a hole right through his head… Linda and Jim squirmed like a mouse caught in a trap.
“What do mean Ma?” Jim slowly replies looking down at the ground refusing to look at her.
“Oh. Son!” She said as she leaned forward from the chair, placed one hand on his knee looked him straight in the eye. “Don't you dare play coy with me! I am not the fool you think I am!” Then slowly turned looked straight at Linda. “Do know where your son EJ is?” She asked pausing...”Well I do ... and he is not... Oh no ... Not at any Scout Camp that's for sure,” she said pausing again to let it sink in sitting back in the chair before them.
Linda's voice cracked as she asked. “How do you know this?”
“Because. I have seen him!” Fear swelled in their eyes. “And I know where he is too.” Then she glanced at the new window lying against the wall. “And I have a pretty good idea what's been happening around here too.” She said she could hear them swallowing hard, but wanted to wait before going in for the kill... “You haven't tried the tea yet.” She said almost teasing. Like it didn’t matter, but it did to her.
“No. Thanks Ma.” Jim with half a whimper in his voice.
Linda shaking, takes the little cup, tried to take a sip and slops it down her front, she sets it back down and wiped her chin. Grandma, doesn't say a thing, but was smiling inside. Knowing it was now time to stoke the furnace and light the match. “I've just finished patching him up again and saw all his wounds; there is not a question in my mind. On the how’s and the where’s or the whose?” She said wanting to strike while the iron was white hot. “Now then I need minute so just sit there and reflect, what I am about to do.” She said coolly letting it sink into them.
“What do you mean… about to do?” Linda asked, as her voice is about to crack again.
“I said a minute dear!” She said gets up and pours her some more tea and then sat back down as she gazed back at them as she sipped the tea slowly. She gazed some more and back at the window by the door then back down the hall towards the boy’s bedroom. She slowly reached into her pocket and pulled out a copy of the paper from the Judge and handed it to them. Allowing time for them to read it and waited for it to sink in. Thinking now it’s time to let it burn and simmer, as she stares at them clicking the teacup with her fingernails. Her eyes hard as steel as she gazed down upon them not one eye blinked.
“Mother, mother you can't, you can't do this!” Jim said shakily reading the paper in his hands. His fist tight and knuckles turned white as he made a fist as he reads the court paper.
Grandma waited. “But I can and I have done it. Now I am sure you are going to have some questions, but I see now is not the time to ask them... Have you noticed? Not once did you ask me if he was ok, or what was going to happen to your other children. I want you to think about that for while. They are being cared for by someone else for the time being. Why you seek some help and I strongly suggest you do. I will send back my sisters to pick up their things, please have them ready. For now I need to go sit with my grandsons, since they need me the most right now.
“I won't be home for a few day’s, you can leave a message with Richard if you need to.” She said. Grandma turned back towards the door to face them. “How could you?” As she looked right at Jim then leaned back into the chair eyes tearing up. “Why, would you both?” She thought of EJ down at Downing Farm as she sat there sipping her tea to regain her Grandma composed self.
“Linda if you wouldn't mind? I will need some of Danny's clothes to take with me. If you can gather them I would appreciate it. I will send for EJ things later. Now, now don't pout dear. It causes wrinkles you know and I am trying so hard to be nice. If you feel that you need help, please feel free to ask. They are just right outside.” Linda and Jim looked shocked. “Oh. I didn't tell you dear!” As she looked at them pleased as punch and sees the terror in their faces and watched them turn white. “I almost completely forgot. My memory these days… Well then… While I was down at Judge Parker's place. You know me and him go way, way back, in fact I remember the time.”
“MOTHER!” Jim replies in angry and impatient voice.
“What son? If want say to something, you don't to have to be rude about it. Anyway, it was decided that a full investigation should be done… So Doc Hatfield. You do remember him son. I served with him as one his nurses, nice fella. During the war remember?” She asked.
“Mother!” Jim replied as he gritted his teeth.
“I know who he is, get to the point.” She forgets that this is a small town, everyone know Old Doctor Hatfield. Yet this did not bring a smile to his lip, just thinking of the gossip and scandal she has caused. His Father would have been proud. No, not of him, he has not been proud of him in a long time ever since he married Linda without knowing her folks and family as he announced coming back not more than two three months after his LDS mission they had gotten married. “It was his choice not his or hers for that matter, Steve married young why can’t I? Besides what more could he look for in a wife? So what she can’t cook or keep a clean house. At least she doesn’t complain when I don’t pick up my clothes or make the bed or even leave dirty dishes in the sink. That’s what we have children for I thought, to do those meaningless things. Besides I am to busy working to put food on the table and pay bills, I don’t need distraction.”
“Yes son. I was just about to do that, if you would stop interrupting me. Anyway, Doctor Hatfield has seen EJ already and is planning on seeing the rest of the other children. He and an officer from the Court House are outside. If you would like I can bring them in too help if want dear? Now where were we? Oh yes. Danny things, Linda would you please. I really need to get back. It seems you two have a lot to do and you need time to be alone.” She said standing up to say they were through for the moment as she waited for Linda to squeeze by her before sitting back down.
“Yes. Grandma.” Linda said sounding very angry as her eyes glared back at her.
“You dear, can call me Grandma Stuart or Grandmother Stuart, but not Grandma dear! Now Danny things please; I have grandson to get back to,” She said trying to control the anger.
Linda carefully nodded her head, which is about to explode of the events that just unraveled in front her. EJ has indeed been found and, he has been badly hurt, what's worse she knows. In fact everyone knows it was their fault. “Her fault, her fault her fault…”. She shakes her head to clear the echo. Right now she has a hell of headache more than one as She looked at EJ's grandmother sitting across from her husband Jim. It reminded her of a black widow spider, “I hate spiders,” thinking to herself. “She never did like me. Just look at her gloating over there. My question is, how did she find out in the first place?” She thought as she walked to Danny's room seeing the empty beds, gazed over where EJ would normally sleep. “Too many of those bad genes if you ask me,” she said.
She grabbed a pillowcase off the bed and stuffed some of Danny's clothes into it and throwing in that cursed old hat. Walked past the broken window where EJ leaped for his life. With a tear in her eye she whispered, “What have we done?” Turned down the hall toward the girl's room and sees their empty beds. “My little angels, there still might be hope for you still.” Then turned and walked with pillowcase in hand back to the living room. She sees the spider waiting, sitting with her husband in the web she has just spun about them; getting ready to prey upon its meal... “Sweet mellow mother in law… phew, I was right all along, bad genes. Lot’s of them in spades if you ask me.”
“Now then Jim as I was saying.” Grandma said as she picked up the pillowcase from Linda. “I would strongly suggest you get the help you need son. Then the children will be return to you, but as for as EJ. I don't except much there son. The wounds you caused. I am afraid you both caused!” As she stared at both of them, “go a lot deeper then any physical wounds will ever go I am afraid. I just hope little Danny... I can't even bare to think of it and only hope its not to late even for those girls of yours.
“We will talk later son, you to Linda and by the way Linda. I did like you when you married my son and I did trust you with my grandchildren and still do, but not until you seek help. Now then I have said my peace. Your son EJ needs me so I'll be off.” Grandma said as she stands and opened the door. “Oh Jim don't install this window just yet wait a few minutes. Ok, boys you can come in, be quick. These two have been through a lot today,” she said.
“Yes Grandma,” they replied.
“Mother!” Jim asked very angry.
“Yes Jim? Don’t worry... For now at least, they are just going to look around some that's all, just sit tight. They have their orders not to press charges for now and Doc wants to examine the both of you. To find out what kind of parents you are? In fact we are all wondering that, to tell you the truth. After that it's up to you what you do my dear. Bye for now. I really need to go.” She said as she slings the pillowcase into the sidecar compartment, put on her gloves and helmet and throws her blue scarf in the back, steps on the peddle of old Harley and with a shattering “Roar” that rattles the nearby windows and doors, smoke bellowing out the muffler. She squealed the tires and pops a wheelie and she was off to find Danny. Leaving Jim and Linda behind too stand there with mouths open stunned by the sight.
“Yep, she's a wild one there your mother,” Doc Hatfield said scratching his chin.
“What?” Jim asks as he slowly turned to meet the man beside him.
“Oh Doc Hatfield is the name, we should go inside,” he said.
“Oh, oh yes,” Jim replied not wanting the neighbors to see him.
* * *
“Hello Mr. Jones,” Lizy said pulling up a stool for children and her while they look over the flavors. Mr. Jones was old friend of hers, whom she met in High School science, homeroom of Mr. Davidson long dead now. He’s lot older now, but so is she. His hair gray and wisp flat across the top. His eyes have dulled blue with more white then blue. Liver spots against his hands as she watched him push a towel around the counter. Average height maybe 5’9 if she were to guess and has only met his wife once. Yet he did ask her to dance once as he stepped on her toes, but know she can tell he’s more confident by the way he walks. He doesn’t shuffle, but walks like a man should with his broad shoulders. It’s even surprising to see he has all his teeth. Least she thinks they are real.
“Well now, I'll be a cleaned cat with nowhere to go, if isn't my dear old friend Mrs. Lizy Dragren,” he said as he wiped down the counter in front of him. The store was lit with bright colors of greens and yellows with bluish green stools long the counter and striped booths in the pattern blue and green along the storefronts open windows. All manner of ice cream flavors featured from glass case behind the counter, with an old fashion mirror that hung on the wall. It hadn’t changed in last thirty years as Lizy gazed around the room remembering days of yesterdays as a spent youth here.
“How have you been Mr. Jones?” She asked as she leaned over the counter to look at the ice cream.
“Can’t complain, no sir can't complain and who are these fine looking little ones?” He asked put the towel to the side.
“These are my niece’s and my nephew,” she replied.
“Fine looking children I must say. How can I help you today?” He asked.
“Can I get some ice cream for these children please, while we wait for their grandmother to arrive? She should be here momentarily. She had some business to attend too and, while your add it I think I'll have two scoops myself,” she said licking her lips impatiently.
“What, and spoil that girlish figure of yours?” He said as quickly eyes her up and down like most men would see a pretty girl next to his wife. There ain’t one prettier.
“Oh please Mr. Jones. I haven't had that good of figure in ages. You really o't be ashamed of yourself trying to make old lady like me blush like that,” she replied.
“What would your wife say Mr. Jones?” She said as she giggled.
“Aunt Lizy?” Peggy asked.