Saturday, November 3, 2018
Welcome, everyone. As you know, I worked on the second novel in my Atonement, TN universe for several years before recently publishing Atonement in Bloom. Forgive me if continue to celebrate the completion of that endeavor — my head and my heart are still in my quirky fictional town. So, I decided to write a very short story related to “Bloom.”
This story would have happened “off camera” during Flowery Backfire, Chapter 8 of Atonement in Bloom. Bethany and two minor characters, the brother and sister — Marge and Tracey Tipton get the spotlight.
Blossoms and Bears
Bethany shivered and turned up the heater in her purple Volkswagen Beetle.
The little car was crammed full of flowers. Azaleas were arranged in the seats. Dahlias draped across the dashboard. Sunflowers stood up from the sunroof. Petunias protruded from the windows ― hence the Goth accountant’s shivering. She stuffed so many flowers into the car that she couldn’t close the windows.
She had offered to help Ralda Lawton get rid of the bombardment of blossoms. However, the flowers were so beautiful that the Goth hated to just throw them away. Bethany decided to take them to the nearest nursing home.
A short distance down the road, Marge Tipton’s old red pickup truck was parked on the roadside. Bethany took her black booted foot off the accelerator when she spotted Marge and her brother Tracey.
The spot wasn’t far from the diner Marge owned, L-O-L-A Lola’s. Of course, it would be farther to drive there. Yet it wouldn’t be reasonable to tromp through that thicket to walk to the restaurant.
“What in the world is she doing?” Bethany muttered.
Marge stood holding a long stick and glaring at her brother. Tracey seemed frustrated, but to the Goth’s relief he looked sober. More than once she had helped Marge get him to act reasonably when he went on a bender.
As Bethany pulled the Beetle onto the shoulder, their voices drifted into the open windows.
“Walking tall and carrying a big stick only works if your name’s Buford Pusser and you’re in a movie!” Tracey told his sister as she poked her stick into the underbrush. “Do you think that stick’s gonna help if it’s in there?”
That comment was so strange that Bethany couldn’t help getting out of her car to investigate.
“If nobody will do anything about that bear then I’ll have to do it myself! I don’t think they even believe there is a bear. Well, they can just kiss my foot,” his sister retorted and moved to the next bush.
Bethany already knew Marge thought she had seen a bear prowling around the diner after dark. She wouldn’t touch that conversation with a ten-foot pole ― or a long stick.
Marge repeatedly stabbed the stick into the bushes. A quail flew up, making quite a commotion. Everybody jumped and exclaimed words that weren’t necessarily fit for mixed company.
Tracey bent to pick up the stick his sister dropped when the bird startled her. He kept it on pretext of scraping mud off his boots.
“What brings you out here, Miss Bethany?” Tracey asked, straightening his cap.
He tended to act a little nervous around the dark-haired woman. Bethany thought it was because she was a Goth. Marge thought it was because he was sweet on her.
“I’m taking some flowers to the nursing home out on Highway 41,” Bethany explained.
“Would it be too much trouble to drop me off at the Rowdy Rooster? It’s not far out of your way,” Tracey asked with an impatient glance at his sister.
Marge narrowed her eyes at the mention of the redneck bar.
“Not even my own brother believes there’s a bear,” she muttered.
“I’m sorry, Tracey. My car’s running over with flowers,” she said and received an eye-roll in return for her excuse. “No, honestly it is.”
They turned and saw the flowers sticking out of the Volkswagen’s windows and sunroof. Perplexed expressions painted the faces of the Tipton siblings.
“You know, I could really use some help. You’ve probably scared the bear away,” she added, pretending to give Marge the benefit of a doubt.
♣ — ♣
The three of them carried double arm-loads of blossoms into the nursing home. The staff gathered every imaginable container for the blossoms. There were enough flowers that Marge, Tracey, and Bethany put a bouquet in every room and each common area.
“Tracey Tipton, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen you,” a woman wearing a white coat exclaimed. “They’ve really missed you coming to play for them. But I don’t see your guitar,” she added in a disappointed tone.
Marge and Bethany turned in surprise toward the woman. A name tag identified her as Dr. Mary Sue Leggett. She stopped an orderly and whispered something. A moment later he returned with a guitar.
Before Tracey had time to do more than murmur a vague objection he was herded to a common room where a dozen eager faces smiled encouragingly when he sat down with the guitar.
While many of the residents were elderly, the facility also housed people of all ages with varied reasons for being there. Bethany wondered if Tracey had ever been admitted as a patient.
Dr. Leggett spoke quietly as Tracey played and sang. He seemed to enjoy himself every bit as much as his audience appreciated his music.
“I’ve never seen this side of your brother,” Bethany told Marge.
“Tracey could use a purpose in life,” Dr. Leggett suggested. “If we could get him on a schedule to come out here even once a week, I think everyone would benefit from it.”
Marge turned sad eyes toward her brother. Her mouth became a determined line. It was the same expression she’d worn when trying to find her bear. Bethany knew Marge had been through tough times with her brother. It was no wonder she looked like she was bracing herself to poke a bear with a stick.
A hearty laugh came from Tracey as he agreed to play another song. Marge smiled.
“I haven’t heard that laugh in years,” Marge commented in a bemused voice. “I’ll do everything I possibly can to make that happen,” she promised.
Bethany shook her head wonderingly as she walked out of the building. The sounds of a sing-along followed her as she got into her purple Volkswagen and drove away.
♣ — ♣
The end. Or perhaps a new beginning for Tracey Tipton.
I hope you’ll join me Wednesday for Hidebound Hump Day and another chapter of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers. The random “things” driving the next episode are One Lone Dandelion, Free Verse Poem, and Candle Wax.
I’ll be looking for you at the station!
Now some shameless self-promotion.
(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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