New FREE e-book: The Old Man and the Widow

New FREE e-book:  The Old Man and the Widow
To Order my E-books click on the Book or "My Book"Tab

Monday, August 8, 2016

SHE AIN'T UGLY…IS SHE?



My New Fictional Story is all here - - it is NOT continued.
 
We Rode the Mule to School
 

 “C'mon Wiley! You gonna have to walk if you don't hurry.” 

“Don't be that way, Lonesome. Sometimes you just gotta have an extra minute to get ready cause the stuff inside wants to come outside.”   

“Well Wiley, you better not smell too good or you gonna be walking.” 

We were young boys going to school. It was just passed dark in the morning but light enough for the mule to see where he was going. We lived a half hour from school as the mule walked. Our pappy said as long as we just walked him the two of us could use him for transportation but if we loped him and tired him out we would have to walk from then on. A tired mule wouldn't be fit to work in the afternoon so just walk him said our pappy.  

We always obeyed our pappy cause he didn't put up with any disobeying.  No supper and a switch across the back was the reward for not doing pappy's will.  

We had a forty acre patch where our livelihood came from and it took all of pappy's smarts for us to make it. The school was just a half day and then everybody went home to work on their home place.  

Lonesome was almost a year older than me so he always got the better older son treatment. I was just as big as he was, but he could still whip me. The last time we got into a squabble I come near to getting the best of him but in the end he beat me. I think I will win the next time cause my muscles are growing and I'm getting more experience from scrapping with the other boys at school.  

I liked school very much for it was a lot easier than working on the farm. A half day was all the farmers could spare cause the kids had to earn their keep. Another reason was the school master said it was all he could take. The boys were so raucous that he said after a half day he was ready to start breaking heads. Another reason was he had his own place to tend to. 

Of course I had a ma but she wasn't around anymore. She left as soon as I was off the tit. She took off with a peddler when he came by one day and hasn't been heard from since.  

Our grandma stayed with us till we boys were old enough to care for ourselves then she returned to her home. Pa didn't want to talk about our ma but I was told by a woman who knew her that our pappy pawed her too much. I never did understand what pawed meant but figured it wasn't pleasant. 

One of fun things to do was to climb trees. Lonesome and I did that a lot until I fell and broke my arm. This made Pappy mad enough to ban us from climbing anymore.  

I was severely hindered from doing my chores with just one arm. I could still pitch horseshoes though not as well as before. I couldn't fight as good either. I started using one hand and two feet instead of two hands and it seemed to work better as I got used to doing it.  

I survived to twelve years old, Lonesome being thirteen. We started going to the monthly dances and I did more watching than dancing. I could knock a step as well as any other boys or men but I just liked to watch the older guys try to get fresh with their partners.  

The girls would leave the guys standing in the middle of the floor much of the time. Some of them would do a buck dance to lessen their embarrassment.  

There was one girl that no one would dance with except her father and once in a while a cousin who was forced to by their pa. This went on dance after dance. I asked Lonesome why that was.  Is she ugly?  

He said well she is a little hard to look at and I'm sure not going to ask her out on the floor.  He said I wouldn't do that even if no one else was there.  

Over the next two years I kept looking across the room and the more I looked at her the more I got used to her.  

I was getting some punch at the dance and made the mistake of drinking some of the grownup men's drink. Shortly I was feeling all warm and happy. The next thing I knew I walked right over to the girl I had been looking at for all this time and asked her if she wanted to dance with me. She looked flustered at first but then said; "I would be pleased."  

We stepped out on the floor and I begin to knock my best step and she kept right up with me. It was then I realized what I had done and was doing. The next thing I saw was everyone else had stopped dancing and most had left the floor with the rest just looking at me. I was feeling pretty good so I just kept on dancing and enjoying myself. We danced to several tunes till I was almost out of breath.  

She saw I was tired and said “I think we need some punch don't you?”  

I gladly said that would be nice. We got our drink (the young folk stuff) and I sat with her while we drunk it.  

As the good feeling began to wear off and I was sitting with Annie I began to feel uneasy. Everybody was staring at us sitting together so I said let's dance. Anything had to be better than sitting with her and people staring.  

That dance was the final dance so I said goodbye when it ended and told her that I enjoyed dancing with her.  

On the way home Pappy and Lonesome were very quiet. Just before we got home Lonesome said, “What in the world possessed you?”  

I answered, “What do you mean possessed me?”  

He said you know what I'm talking about. All the fellows are talking about you and are also funning me.  

I knew it would be useless to try to defend myself so I asked him; "Is she ugly?"  

Both he and Pappy burst out laughing and said, “She is a little hard to look at,” and continued to laugh. 

The next few days were uncomfortable for every where I went someone would say something ugly.  I had a number of fights and won every one of them.  Seemed like I was hot under the collar and had some extra mad in me.  Seemed like I whipped half of the town but whatever, it wasn't as funny when you just got the tar whipped out of you so everyone shut up and had no more to say. 

I didn't come out of all the fights unscathed but the time the next dance came around my lips were healed and my eyes were no longer blackened.   

Pappy yelled at me and said, “What is that racket all about?”  

I came down to where pappy was and said, “I was practicing knocking a step as I walked around.”  

At the next dance I was all stirred up and ready to hit the floor till I looked across the room and saw Annie.  

Seemed like everyone was watching me to see if I had enough nerve to again, ask her out on the dance floor.  A couple of the more popular girls asked me to dance which was unusual.

I had a drink of the hard stuff for I felt I needed it. I was just beginning to feel the effects of it so I agreed to dance with them. By the time I was finished with the second dance I was feeling good.  

With everyone's eyes on me I went straight to Annie and said, “Let's dance.”  

She bounded to her feet and we were on the floor dancing up a storm in a moment.  

The one thing everybody agreed on was she could out dance all the other girls. It was then more guys wanted to dance with her but she would only dance with me.  

The one thing I failed to mention was Annie's father was the richest farmer in the county. He began to look on me favorably because I had looked beyond Annie's looks and treated her with respect. I had never given that any thought about him being rich when I asked her to dance.  

I endured people making fun of me and even though I knew people were laughing behind my back (they had stopped laughing to my face because of the whipping they would get, man or boy) Annie and I had become best friends.  

We were seventeen when she told me her father was sending her to a finishing school back East for a year.  

I knew her so well now I could tease her so I said, “You think a year will be long enough?”  

She jumped on me and began to whale on me laughing all the while. She stopped hitting me and began hugging me. We had never shown this kind of affection.  

It was then I realized she was a woman of passion. How could I have missed that for we were closer for the last two years?  She was just my buddy not this passionate female.  

Then she kissed me and said, “I'm going to miss you and want to marry you when I get back.”  

I pushed her off of me and said; "Whoa."  

That one word changed the whole atmosphere. I could see she was hurt and I would never hurt her.  

I got my breath back and said; "I'm sorry that caught me by surprise.  I've never thought of us being married.”   

Everything I said just made things worse. She jumped up and ran to her house slamming the door as she went through it.  

I thought; "Now you’ve done it." Everything was so good as things were.  

I didn't share much with Lonesome but I had to talk to him concerning this. After giving him the details he told me, "She is like every other woman. Let her cool off a day or two and then go over and tell her how you feel about the whole thing. She will have rehearsed the whole thing over and over and will understand why you reacted like you did.”  

That sounded like the right thing to do so two days later I went to see her. When she let me in neither of us said anything until I took her in my arms and kissed her on her forehead.
 
I just held her for several minutes and then looked at her face. A face so many had laughed at and I said when you come back home we will sort out how we feel and then if we want to, we will marry.  It will be what we both want but regardless of what we decide you will always be my best friend.  

Tears welled up in our eyes and I continued to hold her until her mother called her to do a chore. 

She was busy the next couple of days packing and getting ready to leave. I saw her off and kissed her like we were lovers. That surprised her but she kissed me right back. She playfully winked at me and said, “I'll see you when I get back and pick up where we left off.”   Then she got on the train and was gone. 

While she was at school my father married a widow woman with some property. I don't know if he was divorced from my ma and he didn't either. I guess he figured that running off with the peddler was the same as getting a divorce.  

Anyhow he got married and moved to her house in town. He gave the home place to Lonesome which meant I was out.  

I started looking for work and when Annie's father heard what happened and he hired me to help run his plantation. I had a place to stay and was making money but kept wondering how this would affect Annie and me.  

Her father never mentioned anything about us getting married nor her mother either for that matter. I soon found out that running a large farm was a lot different from our forty acre place.  

This learning process kept me busy and I only thought about Annie late at night. I wasn't sure how I felt about her but would always think how nice it would be to have her in bed next to me.  

Since I had got my job on the plantation several girls became interested in me. They could see a future with me wouldn't be so bad. I went with different ones just to break the monotony of being alone but none were of any interest to me.  

I had to settle the Annie thing before looking for greener pastures. Her mother went to see her and spent a week with her. When she got back she said I wouldn't recognize her for she had changed so much. I thought, “How could she change she'll still be Annie?”  

I had one issue I had to deal with that was upsetting. A girl I took out once claimed I was the father of the child she was expecting. She knew it wasn't true for I hadn't messed around with her. All I did was we went to the picture show and then straight home.  

When I told her if she kept telling everyone I was the father I would be fired and I couldn't support her and her baby. That didn't set too well with her so she went searching for a more prosperous future husband.  

Actually Annie's father said he didn't believe what she said but he would stand behind me in any case.  

The big day finally came when Annie arrived home. I was busy working and didn't see her until dinner time. I met her in the ante-room and could hardly recognize her. She had really changed. She was really good looking now.
 
Since no one was looking I hugged her and kissed her right on the mouth. She kissed me back with a kiss I didn't recognize. I wondered where she learned to kiss like that. Anyhow I liked it and thought I could learn how to do it properly in short order.  

There was no mistake about it, Annie had changed. Her looks, the way she talked, her manners and the way she walked.

I thought, “They sure finished her nicely,” and I wondered if I could handle all the changes.  

I had decided to marry the old Annie but now I had to make a decision about this new Annie.  

Then there was her feelings on the same subject; “Is she still in love with me?”  

I concluded I would soon find out for it wouldn't take too long to settle on how we felt about each other. It was then I realized I had changed a lot also. I wasn't the same guy when she left.  

While Annie was out West, I had picked up many of the habits and traits of her folks and the well off people we did business with.  

We were right in the middle of harvest time so I was tied up which limited my time with Annie but she had a lot of company who wanted to see what the West was like. We aren't very far west but when you live on the East coast where we are seems like the West to them.  

I noticed there were several fellows visiting and acting very friendly. Annie's future money had a lot of appeal to guys who have never been employed and wanted to continue that life style. I could tell they were laying it on thick when they could get her in a corner but she would look at me and wink letting me know they weren’t getting anywhere with her. 

The harvest was finished. The hay was stacked and baled. The tobacco was in the barn drying out. And the hogs were killed and the meat put down in salt. Sausage was ground and put in sacks and soon the hams would be trimmed and smoked. The Eastern crowd had pretty well given up on Annie and finally I had time to be with her.  

All of a sudden some of the locals had taken up an interest in Annie but I sent then on their way. At one time or the other I had whipped them all and I let them know I would do it again if they came around bothering Annie.  

I had made up my mind concerning Annie but didn't want to commit to her unless she felt the same way. I would never get over the embarrassment of being rejected and that thought kept me from proposing to her as of yet. I went to a jeweler and bought a ring and he said if she didn't accept me I could always give it to someone else.  

That didn't set too well with me so I told him to engrave Annie's name on the inside for that ring was for her and no one else.  

He said, “Okay I was just saying.”  

Trying to find a place to be alone on the home place wasn't easy. Because of her family visiting, having parties, outside visitors and then the hired help.  

I took her by the hand and led her out of the house. She asked where we were going and I said to the smoke house. I knew we wouldn't be disturbed in there. Once inside I lit a lamp and said to her; "Have you made up your mind yet?"  

She answered, “Have you?”  

I said, “Yes but I want to know how you feel first.”  

She said, “No you go first.”  

I was close to her so I pulled her closer and kissed her for a long time. I slipped the ring on her finger while kissing her. She tried to pull away enough to see what I put on her finger. Once free from me she held her hand all the way out and looked at her ring and said, “Yes; I will marry you." 

I didn't know what else to say so I said, “Good.”  

She said, “Let's go tell Papa.”  

I said, “Don't you think we should wait a while.”  

She said, “We have waited long enough let's go now.” 

We found her mother and father in the kitchen having a snack. Before I had a chance to speak she said, “Papa, Wiley asked me to marry him and I said yes.”  

Her mother hugged her and started to cry. Her father said, “It's about time. I was about ready to tell you to get on with it. I spent a lot of money getting her all prettied up for you and I expected you to do your part.”  

He said, “As soon as you two are married I'm giving you a half interest in the place and I expect you to earn it.”  

He continued, “Have you two been in the smoke house?  I hope getting engaged was all you were doing.”   I assured him it was. 

The years have passed and I have become very well off financially. I have a family of my own with a wife, kids, and oh yes some dogs. I think from time to time about staring across the dance floor at the girl no one would dance with.  

It was by accident I drank the hard licker but it was the best mistake I ever made. I also remember asking the question; "Is she ugly?"  

Today I would say, “She's the most beautiful woman who ever lived."

2 comments:

  1. Thank you Robert for sharing your story with us here at Tell me a Story. I really enjoyed reading about Wiley and Annie and their love story.

    ReplyDelete
  2. B/c of my brain, I couldn't read it well enough, BUT I'm very happy re: how you are writing and sharing. Thank you AGAIN!!

    ReplyDelete

If you are having trouble making a comment - select anonymous but please add your first name to the comment.