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Friday, September 12, 2014

Chapter 32

I haven’t felt much like writing Bean.  I was so angry all the time.  The only time I wasn’t was when I was asleep and for a while there I was afraid of sleeping.  Afraid I would wake up and Roman wouldn’t be there.  I was fine so long as I could hear him breathing or see him but when I couldn’t I would get upset.  I knew it was stupid to get upset Bean and I tried to hide it but it was still there.  Even if no one else could see it I knew.  I felt weak, like I wasn’t fit to be Roman’s partner, only his bed buddy and a pretty useless one at that. 

It has gotten better.  As soon as Roman started getting better so did I.  Now I don’t need to see him to know that he is around.  I don’t need to hear him to know that he is ok.  And if he needs to go do something I know he will come back.  It scared me that I felt like that but I couldn't help it and for a while I didn't want to help it.  It just kinda was and I wanted to kill anyone that tried to tell me otherwise.  I knew ... or part of me knew ... that I didn't have any business feeling like that and I still know that I don't have any business feeling like that.  But Roman and I are partners.  We shook on it.  You don't make the kind of deal we have with just anyone Bean.  It was only as Roman got better that I was able to stop worrying that I was gonna be alone and out in the cold only to say it like that ... it isn't quite the truth.  I worried that I would be alone and out in the cold without Roman.  There.  I said it. 

I won't say it to anyone else.  They think I've latched onto Roman for stupid little kid reasons ... like I'm afraid of the dark and he is my wubby or something like that.  But I haven't been afraid of the dark for a long, long time.  The dark is nothing to be afraid of.   Dark isn't nothing but a color.  It's what is in the dark that will get you. 

I knew how I was acting was building something in the dark that would eventually get me and maybe you too ... and maybe eventually Roman.  I knew I needed to stop building the monsters because there are enough real life monsters in the world.  I know I can be one of those monsters in the dark but that's between me and you when you are old enough to understand though I sorta kinda hope you never have to understand about that part of it.  But I promised you I'd be honest and that's just the way it is.  So I decided.  For your sake and Roman's I needed to pull my big girl panties on and do something besides shake and shiver just because it was dark, to stop worrying about things I couldn't change, and to get strong in case the other monsters tried to win again.

In fact today I told Roman that he should go.  He wasn’t sure he should but I told him that I didn’t own him and didn’t want him to feel like he had to be on a leash.  I told him that he was very good at what he did and that the enclave needed him and that I knew he’d come back when he was finished.  I don’t worry about him working with the animals, animals can’t carry Typhoid.  I just worry about stupid people not using good sense so I packed his food and his water myself being extra careful.  I can do that sitting down.  But I’m back in bed now.  I promised. 

From what I hear they use good sense.  Mrs. Beauchamp will skin them like those others skinned Roman if they don’t.  Sometimes scary is a good thing, my kinda scary and Mrs. Beauchamp's kind too.  And Saul believes me now.  He hasn’t said anything.  I don’t know if he will, but I can see it when our eyes meet.  Roman wasn’t the only one that I saved.  Missy was there too.  So was their little girl.  I hadn’t known they had a little girl but they do.  I hadn’t known how long him and Missy had been together.  Ten years.  From before the trouble all started.  I never would have guessed.  Tina is the only one they’ll ever have.  Something went wrong and Missy can’t make babies now.  And Tina is eight.  Just like I was the year the UN building was blown up. 

Roman went but I’m pretty sure that he didn’t think I was strong enough.  I could tell he was worried.  I was worried at first too.  But he needed to go.  We both needed for him to be able to go.  I need to stop being so … whatever the name for this that I am and he needs to know that he can do what he needs to do too. 

Four weeks.  It’s been four weeks.  I’m not so crazy angry now but if I think about it too much it starts boiling to the surface.  I’ve been able to hide it from everyone.  They all think I’m crazy enough as it is.  Let them.  I don’t care.  So long as they know how far I’ll go for Roman, how far I’ll drag anyone that hurts him even if it means having to drag them straight to hell.  I’m not a nice person and for now I’m ok with that. 


I was pretty sure that I could remember the way to the enclave but it was so cold.  I had taken a pair of Roman’s pants and tied them up with “suspenders.”  I used the poncho made out of Roman’s old blanket for a coat but it was still cold.   

I didn’t have to go all the way.  Saul and some other men met me on the trail. 

“Did Roman make it home?” 

“Would I be slogging through this snow if he had?” I asked him, angry that he’d missed the obvious.  “But I know where the scumbags have him and I know the revenuers are sending some city folks after the enclave.” 


I explained how I knew.  Of course they didn’t believe me at first.  By the time they’d seen what I had done to find out a couple of them had puked. 

Saul is made of stronger stuff and didn’t even belch.  He asked, “Did he give a timeline?” 

“Soon is all he knew and I believe him.  The idiot couldn’t even lie to save himself by that point.  It wasn’t his group that’s gonna go after the enclave.  They’re more like harriers to soften areas up.” 

“Good name for them.  We got a lot of people so upset they aren’t listening.” 

I snorted in anger and derision.  “They thought they were safe, that they were hidden enough, far enough away from the cities.  They got complacent.  Same way other stables would get before they’d be gobbled up by someone bigger and stronger.  Well they better get over that kind of weakness fast or all your kids are going to wind up like me and that’s if they’re lucky.  Before I left Mother Mary’s I heard that the re-education centers and work farms were filling up and the government was getting tired of trying to feed all the kids in them.  There’s foreigners being allowed to ‘visit’ those places and pick and choose kids and take ‘em off.  They call it a different kind of education program but not a kid that has ever been taken away has been seen again.  A lot of them are being sent overseas.  The pimps and madams were getting bent out of shape over it because they were supposed to get first pick.” 

I heard one of the men curse and another almost whimper.  A third sputtered, “That’s just an urban legend.” 

I snapped at him, “Well I’m living and breathing proof some urban legends are true or aren’t you one of the ones at the church meeting talking about how wrong it was for a dirty slut to sit in the pews regardless of how I’d come to be that way.” 

Saul barked, “Enough.  Roberds take Thorn up with you.  We need to get back.” 

We road into chaos.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chapter 31

Hello Bean.  You’re still in there.  I know you are.  That thing that Mrs. Beauchamp put on my belly says you are too.  None of them thought you would stay there though.  You proved them wrong.  Roman says that means that you are one tough cookie.  He says it like he’s proud.  I am too.  When you come out I’ll tell you to your face so often you’ll never forget it.  I’m just tired.  I just wanted to write this down to celebrate that you are still where you are supposed to be.  I wish other things were as they are supposed to be. 


Hello Bean.  First day that no one has come by to measure and check and all that other stuff.  I’m still not supposed to get up except to go to the bathroom.  That’s ok though, I’m feeling better than I have but I’m still so tired that most the time I just want to sleep.  Mrs. Beauchamp said that that feeling isn’t just about you Bean.  She said some of it is in my head.  She wasn’t being mean when she said it.  She thinks I’m suffering a kind of something she called a partum depression.  What she basically means is that being pregnant is hard on my head and it is also probably related to what my life has been like since I was stolen and what she calls the latest shock is only making things worse. 


The only time I don’t feel like shivering is when it is night and Roman is here and we wrap up in the fur cover and the world goes away.  We have to be real careful with each other though.  No more teasing until you come out Bean.  But neither one of us feels like teasing.  Missy warned me that it could make you come out too soon.  And Roman really isn’t up for teasing because he is very hurt.  They skinned some of his leg.  The ones I caught went too quick.  I should have skinned them and given it to Roman for his fur and hide collection.  I would have if I had known.  But he didn’t talk no matter what they did to him.  He was very brave and didn’t talk.  What did I tell you Bean?  We are lucky and Roman is very special. 

It makes me mad that I can’t take care of him the way he has taken care of me.  Those bastards.  I hope they die and die and die some more.  I’m glad they are starving.  I’m glad they are getting lost in the snow and freezing and things are getting black and falling off.  They should have stayed away.  They should have stayed in the city since they love it so much and elected all the monsters so that they could have stuff. 

If they couldn’t stay away they should have tricked the revenuers and taken their stuff instead of what they’ve done.  Dogs sniffing their master’s butt is all they are.  They deserve what is coming.  I’ve only told Saul and I don’t think he all the way believes me.  But he believes me enough that he’s had the word go out.  Lockdown.  Don’t have anything to do with strangers, especially strangers that look sick and everyone has to report any kind of rash. 

I hear him breathing.  The tea is finally working … the tea that I told Missy about that the girls would take when they got badly used.  It takes the edge off.  He was in so much pain.  There are some places so deep that I heard Mrs. Beauchamp whispering that in the old days they would have done a skin graft.  Instead all they could do is try and sew those areas closed and they’ve stretched the skin tight and it pains him awfully bad. 

Bastards.  I’m not sorry I did what I did.  Not all of them will die but I expect a lot will before they figure out what is going on.  By that time it will be all over the place … even in the revenuers they meet up with.  And from there I hope it gets into the revenuers’ bosses. 

You don’t have to worry Bean.  Growing up in Africa and then living on the docks seems to have some benefit after all.  That stupid doctor.  We all hated him.  He just loved sticking us.  I think he stuck us more than he needed to.  He charged the government an arm and a leg I can tell you that.  Mother Mary got a good sized kick back.  But I’m immune to so much stuff that it’s like my body wears armor. 

Typhoid.  But the explanation will have to wait until tomorrow.  All I want to do is lay here and listen to him breathe.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chapter 30

He’s late Bean.  He said he might be late but he said only might.  And this isn’t just late it is really, really late.  I’m out of wood and I don’t think he would have meant to be that late.  He said he would bring some back with him so I’m almost positive he didn’t mean to be this late.  He isn’t like that.  Mother Mary would have had a runner out and searching if Brian had ever done this.  And now it’s snowing.  Where is he?! 


I heard something strange Bean.  I didn’t know what it was at first.  It’s so cold that I’m buried under the furs.  I thought it was the wind at first then possibly an animal.  It wasn’t the wind and it wasn’t an animal either.  Animals don’t test doors and windows.  They also don’t whisper.  I couldn’t’ understand what they were saying but it was something about cold and abandoned to move to the next one. 

Bean this is bad.  This is very, very bad. 


I’m glad I’m not a nice person now.  It used to worry me.  Not anymore.  I saw them pass by.  I thought they all had and then I saw him.  There was one left like he was covering their escape; moving slow, looking back, picking up things that had been dropped.  I made it easy on him.  He only thought he was breaking in.  Then in the dark I knocked him out and locked the door.  Next thing I did was make sure no one could hear him scream then tied him to the columns in that room Roman called the dining room.  The columns are just for show but they’re sturdy.  Roman had told me how he’d anchored them to the ceiling beams and floor joists.  Good thing.  He was a fighter.  But my knots are better. 

I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of punishments; I’ve watched even more.  Brian usually did it but Mother Mary liked to keep in practice.  When I started working in the office she used to explain her techniques to me, sometimes as she demonstrated at the same time.  Girls that wouldn’t obey, customers that wouldn’t pay, other pimps that tried to muscle in on her territory, they were all the same to her.  She did it to scare me maybe, or because she thought I liked it.  I didn’t.  It is just one more thing I know that I wish I didn’t.  But it came in handy this time. 

He didn’t last long – bullies never do – but I got the information I needed.  It is too dark to move right now so I got what blood I cold off the floor.  I need to rest anyway, pulling his body off into the woods made me hurt.   

I’ll make them hurt.  I’m make them all pay. 


“C’mon Thorn, another spoonful.  Just a spoonful.” 

“Roman come away.  Narcissa is …” 

“Her name is Thorn!  Why can’t you just respect her enough to call her by her name?  Is it really that hard?!” 

“Easy Son.  Your mother was only going to say that you both need some rest.  That leg is going to get infected if you don’t get off of it.  And there’s nothing you can do for … Thorn.  All we can do is wait to see the state of things when there is light.  Your mother … she said that it doesn’t appear that the men that had her … abused her.  It is mild shock and cold.  In her condition …” 

“I promised her.  I told her that I’d keep Bean and her safe.” 

“Son … come away now.  Let the women do what they can.”

Monday, September 8, 2014

Chapter 29



“Is your mother crazy?” 

“That’s a possibility.” 

We were both standing in the kitchen and looking at all of the stuff that Roman, Fletcher, Peter and a couple of other men I was introduced to as being a cousin and a brother in law – though I never did figure out which was which – had hauled in from two wagons.  The other men had left and trying to get around was like how I imagine navigating a maze would be.  But we had to try and so started moving things by type into different rooms.  There were some piles I couldn’t get around without banging you into Bean so I had to be careful.  The worst though was when I tried to squeeze between two piles and caught the back of my pants on something sharp and there was this awful ripping noise. 


“Gaaaah!  I just sewed those for the third time.  There IS no more left in the seam.  Now what am I supposed to do?!  I had a hard enough time pulling them up this morning!” 

“Well for starters … uh … you … could let me help you get them off.”  I looked at Roman and his face fell a little bit and added, “If you feel up to it.” 

I know he didn’t mean to Bean and I know he’d be mortified if he ever read this so you can’t let him know but when he looks like that he reminds me of this hound Tim rescued that had this thing for shoes.  He (the dog, not Roman) didn’t really chew them – at least not much – but if you were missing a shoe you could bet good money that if you looked in the barn in the corner of the hay that the dog had dug out sure enough the missing shoe would be there.  He wouldn’t get mad that you took the shoe back but he’d be so disappointed and sad looking, like he knew he had a bad habit and just couldn’t seem to break it no matter how hard he tried.  Roman looks just like that, right down to the big brown eyes and the hound dog expression. 

I rolled my eyes.  “I’m popping out all over.  It might not just be these pants you need to help me out of.”  Roman nearly broke his arm scrambling over some boxes but that didn’t slow him down much though he got a good scrape I had to clean and woke up bruised.   

We aren’t really doing it.  Roman says he’s still thinking of ways so that he doesn’t hurt me.  I keep trying to tell him not to worry about it but that only makes him more pigheaded about the whole thing.  He seems happy with what we do although I told him that he had to stop saying he was dead because it gave me indigestion to think that I might be hurting him.  It really does worry me when he starts breathing like a tugboat.  I’d ask Mrs. Beauchamp to check his blood pressure but I don’t think it would go over too well when I explained why. 

It got cold again last night and we gave up trying to put stuff away.  Roman was a lot more interested in … uh … staying warm than he was in working anyway.  I didn’t even need to worry about those pants until this morning and so far I’m not sure what I’m going to do.   

I had stayed under the covers per Roman’s orders and was half asleep when there was some clatter outside.  I woke up all the way and when Roman stepped into the room and said Saul had stopped by.  I jumped out of bed and forgot I didn’t have a stitch on.  “Oh no!  What am I gonna wear?!” 

Roman had that glazed over look on his face and said, “He’s gone.  He just came by to ask if I would help with separating out what’s left of Peterson’s wood pile.  Do that again.” 

“Do what again?” 

“That.  That wow.” 

I had to smile and told him, “Roman, it’s cold.” 

He sighed.  “Yeah I guess so.” 

But then I did it again a couple of times until he flinched and said, “Damn, I gotta ride the horse all the way over there.” 

That made me giggle and I climbed back under the covers for the last time.  He left after telling me how to heat the soup he’d put on the mantle and that he might be late but not to worry and to not unlock the door for anyone but him.  He took a key out of his pocket and said, “This one is yours.  So no one can ever lock you in again.  It’s like a skeleton key.  It may not work outright on every lock but it will on most of them around here after I show you how.” 

“Oh Roman.”  I almost asked him to stay just for saying that. 

He was walking a little funny and I knew it was my fault.  He didn’t exactly ride off very fast either.  But then the sun went behind the clouds and I wandered around for a while until I got too cold and I crawled back in this bed and decided to write to you Bean. 

See, I know exactly what I’m doing when I do things like that to Roman.  I know I’m just this side of mean teasing and that I should be ashamed.  I want to make him need me so bad that he stays around, that he’s not sorry that I’m staying around anyway.  But I don’t know, sometimes I think it isn’t fair.  Roman is a nice man and if yesterday is any indication maybe other people are starting to wise up to the fact that he has lots more to offer than they gave him credit for having.  What if some nice woman suddenly wises up to it and she’d be sweet and fresh and new for him in a way I never can be.  I just don’t know Bean. 

Maybe I shouldn’t be talking to a kid like you about things that are so personal but I want you to understand who I am just in case by the time you read this I’m not around anymore.  I don’t want people to tell you that I was some hard whore that didn’t care for you or Roman.  Because I do.  I didn’t know I could care like this or so much.  But I have to be honest too.  I’m not always a nice person and if some fresh, sweet woman ever does try and get Roman’s attention I’m pretty sure I will fight.   

I don’t want to own Roman.  And I don’t want him to own me though in a strange way it feels like he already does; and for some reason that doesn’t bother me except for the fact that it doesn’t bother me.  I also don’t think he’ll ever go back on his word about taking care of you and keeping you safe Bean.  I’m just worried that now that I’ve had a taste of it, I’m not sure that I could let Roman go even if he wants to and that I’ll do whatever I have to so that he won’t or can’t.  And that makes me a pretty bad character because while I don’t know much, I do know that Roman deserves a good woman, and what chance does a dock whore ever have of being a good woman?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Chapter 28

“Stop fidgeting.” 

“Yes Mrs. Beauchamp.” 

She was quiet as she measured and poked and prodded.  Then she put that thing on my arm again and pumped it up and counted with her stethoscope.  She sighed.  “This is one of the reasons I despise young girls getting pregnant.” 

I kept my mouth shut even though I wanted to tell her that it hadn’t exactly been my choice.  Nothing against you Bean but facts are facts.  Instead I told her, “Roman is making me liver to eat.” 

“He … he is?  Well …” 

“I feel better than I did.  He does stuff like that really good … er … well.  He does that stuff really well.” 

“Hmmm,” she said not quite looking at me.  “Tell him to keep it up.  I’ll see about making sure that you get some milk though with the weather being like it is there is little enough to go around.” 

“It’s ok.  I can’t really drink it.  I can eat it if it is in something else like bread but I can’t drink it straight or have too much pudding or custard.  I can drink goat milk though.” 

“I beg your pardon?” 

“We just had goat milk in Africa.  It wasn’t until we came back to the states that we found out I couldn’t drink cow milk.  Neither Tim nor I could.  My mom said you could have knocked her over with a feather because besides the polio I had as a baby neither Tim nor I were ever sick.” 

“You … had polio?” 

“Yes … er … ma’am.  I caught it from the sister of a girl that used to come help Mom in the village school before I had all my vaccinations.  Or that’s what they told me when I got older.” 

“You have all of your vaccinations now?” 

“Whatever I had to get to come back to the US.  The mission board made sure.  Then I got a couple of boosters before they would let me attend school.  And the … uh … the inspectors made us girls … get shots too.  It was the law.” 

“The inspectors?” 

“Something … that … you’d probably rather not know about.” 

“Oh.  Inspectors.  I … see.” 

I was quiet after that and she didn’t look like she knew what to say.  Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore.  “Well I’m sure you have lots of important stuff to attend to.  Roman says you really take care of things.  Soooo, I’d better get out of the way.  I’ll … uh … I’ll just go sit on the steps.  Outside.  Out of the way.” 

Which I almost got away with.  “One moment.  I will be sending someone over to look at that … house … and see what all is needed.” 


“Last time I was in there it was plainly not ready for habitation.” 

“Oh, yeah it was pretty dusty but there wasn’t anything really wrong with it or broken.  I got it washed up … when Roman wasn’t bossing me to sit down out of the way.  And I’m not allowed down the cellar stairs – Roman pitched a fit the first time I tried – so that part hasn’t been cleaned yet.  And the outhouse is still pretty disgusting but that’s because Roman says he needs to dig a new hole after the ground has thawed and repair the sitter part and roof but I got rid of all the wasp nests and cob webs and as much of the dirt as I could.  When he has to go hunting and I stay at the house he leaves me pictographs so I’ll know where he is at because one time I woke up and he was gone and … and I got scared.  But we’re figuring things out and all in all the place is really nice.  With polish and some vinegar to clean the glass with it will sparkle.  Roman has been working on furniture and I’ve been piecing together other stuff and …” 

She raised her hand and said, “Stop.  One thing at a time …”  So I had to go through the house room-by-room in my head and tell her that we were doing just fine but she still made a long list if all her scribbling means anything.   

Mrs. Beauchamp was still raking me over the coals, caught between telling me what not to do because of you Bean and telling me what just had to be done to keep house appropriately, when Roman stuck his head in the door and he didn’t look happy.  “You ready to go?” 

“Sure,” I said jumping up to escape. 

Mrs. Beauchamp nixed that idea by saying, “One moment.  You may wait outside but you will not leave until I attend to a few items.” 

I thought it strange that Roman didn’t even react to the way his mom was talking like he normally did and I followed him outside.  He wasn’t angry or anything.  He looked sad and embarrassed and upset all wrapped into one.   

“Roman was the meeting bad?” 

“Huh?  No.  Got out a while ago.  Dad and David said I should have come to them with my concerns about Donovan’s location choice to begin with and it would have saved all this trouble and I told them I had but that no one paid any attention and said I was making a mountain out of a mole hill.  I even reminded them which meeting it was in and David pulled the minutes to prove I was wrong … and then had to eat his words.  Not sure what to make of it but Saul is stirring something.  But mostly … uh … it was … Ok.”  He stopped for a minute then he said, “Except Alex was there.  He was sitting away from the table and I wasn’t the only one that wasn’t comfortable with him being there.  Peter almost got in trouble with Dad but then someone else from the enclave said something along the same line and Dad … let it go.  Alex … I don’t know.  He looked …” 

“Don’t worry about Alex.  Let’s go.  I want to go Roman.” 

“Hey?  You ok?” 

“Is he still here?” 

“What?  Oh … uh … Saul walked him back upstairs and … he’s locked in Thorn.  And when Saul locks something it stays locked.  There’s also someone sitting outside the door all the time.” 

“Are you sure?” 

“Yeah.  It’s not like it was last time.  He’s not allowed to talk to anyone anymore.” 

“How do you know?” 

“Because Alex told me.” 

“Uh … Roman if he isn’t allowed to talk to anyone how was he talking to you?” 

“It was after the meeting broke up before Saul made him go back upstairs.  That … that wasn’t really talking.  I didn’t talk to him, mostly Alex tried to talk to me.” 

“Let’s go.” 

“No.  Mom said something about wanting to do something or other and David and Peter are going with us.  The Peterson family has moved out west to join some group out there.  They had to leave almost everything behind.  The Council voted that except for a few items already spoken for, most of the house goods are going to come to us rather than take the chance on them going to waste.  That includes the wood pile though that is being split with some older folks that are running low on wood.” 

“Oh.  Why are they doing that?” 

“I guess they figure I can’t set you up right.” 

That was a very strange way to put it but I told him, “Obviously they don’t know you because you are why I am feeling better.  I told your mom about the liver and I think she was surprised that a man would think of it but she said for you to keep doing what you are doing.” 

That seemed to chirk him up a bit I could tell.  “Uh … she did?” 

“Yeah.  She was also surprised that we’ve got everything cleaned up though I hope you didn’t think she was going to let us get away without giving a lot of orders and advice.  Seemed kinda disappointed though that she didn’t need to give us more than she did.  I think she has a complex or something.” 

He almost smiled but then seemed to think of something and got depressed again.  “Roman what is it?  Did … did I embarrass you?  I tried not to.  I even said ma’am to your mother.” 

“What?  No.  So what if there’s some stiff rumped jackasses around here.  You find them no matter where you go.  If you are around people you can’t get away from ‘em.” 

“Then what is it?  Can I do something?” 

He sighed.  “I just look around and … and I wonder if you did the right thing by letting me push you into being with me.  It is plain that I am never going to measure up to all your experience.  Hell, you have to treat me like a damn baby sometimes or I pass out.” 

And I was furious, just like that.  “Roman?  Remember that tab of stupid things you’re trying to remember not to say?  Add that to the list.” 


“Who said what to you?” 

“Wait.  You lost me.  I guess I’m just slow about this stuff.  Can’t even read the hymnal and have to wait a couple of notes to figure out what we’re singing.” 

“Roman, I’m gonna ask one more … wait … was it him?  Did he …?”  I looked up involuntarily to the second floor and sure enough Alex’s smirking, smarmy face was at one of the windows staring down.   His smile got bigger and wider when he saw I’d realized how easy he had gotten to Roman.  What he didn’t count on was just how mad I was.  I’d fought with him but he didn’t think I had murder in my heart. 

I snatched up a brick from walk way border and heaved it so hard and fast at the window where he was standing that I fell down.  But I was satisfied to see he almost didn’t move fast enough. 

The crash had people running.  And a lot of squawking was going on with all the women in an uproar over me being some wild and crazy something or other but it was Andrew that broke in and said, “Alex … was playing tricks.  I’ve been concerned that he has been backsliding rather than moving forward.  I had suspected something of the sort when I saw him speaking to Roman before Saul escorted him away.” 

Peter who’d come from a different direction said, “Well that explains the chicken shit eating grin he had on his face before Thorny let fly.” 

“My name is not Thorny, it’s Thorn.  And he isn’t going to get Bean and he isn’t going to get Roman!  No!  No!  No!  I’ll leave first.  I’ll …” 

“You’re not going anywhere unless I say so,” Roman said interrupting my tantrum.  “And what I’m saying is that you are going home and get out of this weather.  You’re that funny color again.  Mom!” 

“For Heaven’s sake Roman, stop bellowing.  I’m right here.” 

“Why does she keep turning that funny shade of grey?  It ain’t natural.” 

“Isn’t natural,” she said on a long suffering sigh.  “Missy?  See if Fletcher is nearby and have him get a driver for the wagon that belonged to the Petersons.  It is barely suitable but it will have to do.  Narcissa will not be riding horseback.  Why someone allowed her to ride that way this morning is outside of good sense.  David, you should have thought of that and if not you, Andrew you should have.” 

I wanted to gripe again but Roman’s arm across my shoulder tightened and he shook his head which means basically that I need to pick my battles, preferably one I can win, and the name thing and his mother’s bossiness looks like one I’m not going to win. 

Mr. Beauchamp stomped around the corner of the house and asked angrily, “What is the meaning of this?” 

Mrs. Beauchamp said, “Your son …”  I felt Roman wince but Mrs. Beauchamp surprised us … just about everyone in the yard to be honest … by pointing a condemning finger to the broken window and saying, “Alex is reverting to childish antics and upsetting Roman and Narcissa.  His recent methods of manipulation may also explain why Patricia is acting like a …”  She stopped cleared her throat and continued.  “Why Patricia is unable to maintain her composure.”  Then she said the words that I hope she never says about me.  “Something must be done.” 

Roman leaned over to me and whispered, “Think we better get while the getting is good.” 

“Roman Douglas Beauchamp.” 

Roman sighed, “Too late.” 

“I wish a full report on the progress you are making from here on out as well as a list of supplies that you require to maintain the speed at which you are currently working.” 

Almost humiliated Roman said through clinched teeth, “Mom, you know I can’t write.” 

“I beg your pardon?  If you leave pictographs for Narcissa I do not see why you cannot afford the same courtesy to your mother.  If I can decipher your father’s hideous chicken scratch handwriting I certainly have the capacity to understand your system.” 

Roman looked at me and then told his mother cautiously, “Uh, yes ma’am.  I’ll be sure and get right on that.” 

“See that you do.  I am frankly appalled that those ridiculously expensive tutors that the school suggested did not attempt this years ago.  If they were here I would certainly be giving them a piece of my mind.  How dare they say that my son was not capable of …” 

She stomped off and everyone in the yard let out a collective sigh of relief that she was focusing her particular brand of energy in some other direction … namely in having the wagon loaded just the way she wanted it to be loaded and with what. 

Roman picked me up off the ground where I had remained and started carrying me around the house.  “I can walk.” 

“No you can’t ‘cause I’m carrying you.  Can’t do both at the same time.  Against the laws of nature.” 

“Roman, did I hit your head with that brick before I let fly with it?” 

“Deserve it if you did.  Now stop wiggling.  My hair is catching on fire.” 

“How can you possibly be thinking of that with me when your mom just about laid waste to a five mile radius?!” 

“That?  Oh, that’s nothing. That’s just mom being mom.  She’s really not such a bad ol’ gal all things considered.” 

Peter jogged up and whooped a laugh before saying, “Better not let her catch you saying that.  She’d turn loose on you like nobody’s business.” 

“She’d have to catch me first.” 

I told him in a falsely patient voice, “Well since I can’t run and keep up with you just lay off picking on your mom.  That’s a woman that were she so inclined she could have owned a piece of everything going on on the docks.  She’s scary.” 

Both men grinned which convinced me they were both definitely a few bricks shy of a full load.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Chapter 27

Bean he was right and I told him so.  Eating the liver did seem to help.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s just his cooking or something.  He laughed when I told him.  I like it when he laughs like that.  Like he got a good surprise.   

I wish I was a different kind of woman.  I wish … well it is stupid because it’s never going to happen and all I do is make myself feel bad when I think about it … like now.  But it’s the truth.  I wish I was all fresh and new and had all that to give to Roman.  He deserves better than some dock whore.  I’d forgotten that there were good men.  I’d forgotten because I hadn’t wanted to think about it.  Hadn’t wanted to think about what I’d never have.  Only I do remember now and I do have one that for some reason wants to be with just me even though I don’t deserve to.  And I know I’m only fifteen but I don’t feel it.  A lot of the time I feel old and tired and used up.  I try not to for Roman and for you too Bean but I don’t think I’m ever going to feel fresh and new, there’s just no way.  And maybe I don’t deserve it either. 

It was cold yesterday but there was no snow like the Sunday before so there was no way we could get out of going to church meeting.  Andrew has come by almost every day like we are a special case that he has to work extra hard on to get to keep his ticket to Heaven or something.  Like he’s almost afraid to fail.   

Roman was seriously angry at basically being told he and I both better be in a pew on Sunday willingly or that Mr. Beauchamp would come get us and put us there unwilling.  I told Roman not to be mad because his family was afraid. 

“Afraid?!  Of what?!” 

I still don’t understand why some things are so easy for me to see and so hard for him to see.  I explained, “Being wrong.  I can see it on Andrew every time he comes.  He’s more and more desperate.  I don’t know why I just know that is what he is.” 

“Andrew?  No way.  He’s sure about everything.” 

“Is he?  I don’t think so.  I think he acts like he is sure because if he isn’t sure other people might start doubting.” 

“And how do you figure that?” 

“I remember … sometimes I remember … the things my father would say.  He wasn’t a big man like you and your brothers.  He wasn’t loud.  But … but he had something.  People looked up to him even if they had to look down.  He brought quiet into a room just by walking in … didn’t matter how crazy everything was, he just … it was almost like he wore it like a coat or something.  And he could open that coat and everyone that needed to could fit inside it too. I remember him saying once that he couldn’t be any other way because people needed to see him believing in and acting the same way he told them they needed to act and what to believe in.  He didn’t want to be the reason they had a … a crisis of faith.  Or something like that.” 

Roman was quiet for a long time.  “Would you mind going to Sunday meeting?  If the weather isn’t too bad?” 

“I think we better.  I think … I don’t know Roman.  I think maybe you need to find out if anything is going on that we need to know about.” 

“You’re thinking of Alex aren’t you?” 

“I’d rather not but yeah … I can’t forget he … he tried to make Bean go away.  I’ve tried not to think about him much at all ‘cause I’m with you now but …” 

“Ok, we’ll go but only if the weather is good enough and only so long as you feel ok.  And we’re leaving if Alex is there.” 


Well Alex wasn’t at the church meeting but just about everyone else in the enclave was.  It was a toss up to see who they were more interested in seeing how they would act.  Us.  Roman’s family.  Or Patty who I admit seemed to almost be on the verge of tears the whole time when she wasn’t praying like her life depended on it.   

Fletcher kinda squashed the worst of the nosy parkers by coming over and sitting with us but then Roman said, “You don’t need to sit here Fletch, we’re gonna mind.  Geez.” 

I put my elbow in Roman’s side and he said, “Ow!  What did you do that for?” 

“To keep you from burning a bridge you’ll be sorry to see go.  I think your friend is being your friend, not Saul’s man.” 

“Oh,” he said remorsefully.  “Uh …” 

Fletcher smiled and said, “Not possible.  He’s already tried and I’m fireproof.  Sorry I ain’t been able to get out that way.  I’ve uh … been helping Patty.” 

Both men looked uncomfortable so I said, “That’s what brothers do.  At least they do when they are good brothers.” 

Fletcher gave a small grin and Roman gave a bigger one.  “Fletcher makes a good brother … even when he isn’t your brother.” 

Both men relaxed all the way from there except for occasionally stiffening up when someone would get close to being rude as they walked by.  For the most part though no one did and in a way that made it harder for me because there was no one for me to fight, even if it was just fighting in my head.  And that made me think about how I act.  And from there I just couldn’t hide from all that is wrong with me. 

Bean I’m sorry if I’ve embarrassed you at some point or made it hard for you to be the best you can be.  I’d like to say it’s not my fault but I have a feeling most of it is.  Andrew’s sermon was on how we could turn over a new leaf and be a new person, we just had to decide that is what we are going to do.  And it sounded almost easy when he said it, but it seems no matter how much I try and be a new person there’s some things that just aren’t ever going to be that way.  I can’t unknow the stuff I know about men.  I can’t unlearn what it feels like to be in pain or to have done to me some of the things that were done.  I can’t seem to change that I get suspicious when anyone touches me.  Even with Roman it is hard not to assume that he’s wondering about bedroom stuff.  It’s impossible to unknow what people are thinking when they look at me because I can see it in their eyes.  Maybe I’ll live a long, long time Bean but I’ll never be able to cut out the part of me that says dock whore to everyone who looks at me.  It’s like I’m unwashably dirty. 

After Sunday meeting Mr. Beauchamp demanded we come back to their place to eat and discuss how things were going.  Then he just walked away like it was a foregone conclusion that we would follow. 

“Why?  Dad never cared to discuss anything with me before,” Roman asked Peter who stood looking after their father. 

“Because he wants to know.” 

“Again … why?  Seriously Peter, none of you have ever asked me that kind of thing before.  I don’t get it.  We’re staying out of everyone’s way.  We haven’t asked for nothing.  What could he possibly think we are doing to get into trouble?” 

“Roman don’t be so defensive.  You know how it is.” 

“No.  No I really don’t.  I’m telling you Dad has never … look, just tell ‘em I’m taking Thorn back.  She’s still recovering from all she’s been through and she’s a lot more quiet than she normally is.  And her color is funny again.” 

“I can see that.  So did Mom.  While you and Dad talk she says she wants to do all that female checking stuff on her.” 

“She has a name.  It’s Thorn.  Try using it.” 

“Dammit, you’re as prickly as she is.” 

Saul walked up and it was he that told Roman, “It’s more than family stuff.  It is an informal enclave meeting.  You are one of the furthest out of the occupied houses and we’ve heard some other enclaves have had trouble with people leaving the city looking for food and trying to move into the various territories.  We are a piece out but Donovan’s group is further and they’ve had run-ins with city people already.” 

“Donovan’s group might be further out distance wise but I told you it was stupid for them to build that close to that trail grouping.  I told him then that if the trail was convenient for his horses it was going to be just as convenient for people to walk on.  That horse trail they live off of is part of that big state trail system and abandoned or not it has accesses all up and down the old interstate.  All someone has to do is get on it and start walking and they’ll eventually pass his enclave.” 

Saul looked at him like he’d said something interesting.  “If I plot the points you think you could figure where they are most likely starting at?” 

“If someone will read off the city names and give me times and how well they were equipped and not just points.  One thing for sure is that if they are making it all the way to Donovan’s they are either getting help or going through areas where they can get supplies from.  That means someone needs to check on, if they haven’t already, all of those real small family groups that have set up around there too.”