All's Well That Ends Well...

There is an old cabin on our property.  Long ago, boxwoods grew around the front yard in a neat hedge, but no longer.  They swamp the building, threatening to choke out the sunlight and swallow the little cottage whole.

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A rose bloomed by the front door.  But now its thick branches have pried the door off its hinges and the tendrils have ripped away at the screen.

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I can't help myself.  I'm a mystery writer.  And terminally nosy.  My imagination runs away with me and I begin to form a picture of the little home's former occupants.

For one thing, they were short. 

The doors are not 6' high and I duck as I enter the house to avoid cobwebs and vines.  Old mattresses thick with rotting straw are piled in a corner of the upstairs room, along with a couple of cases of quart-sized Ball jars.


And Maggie's hats.


I think Maggie was depressed.  She collected self-help books and Reader's Digest articles about finding happiness and overcoming chronic illness.  It was tough living where she was.  The cabin is roughly wired.  There is no plumbing.  No fireplace.  And only a rusting wood stove for heat. 

If I hadn't been able to discern the shape of a planned and maintained front yard in the boxwoods, if the old rose wasn't growing beside the front door, if I hadn't found her hats, I would say no one had ever lived there.  It doesn't seem possible. 

But I know they did.  I've been to the courthouse, traced the deed back to the late 1700s and read the scrawled signatures beneath the titles and wills.  I know at one time there were three little cabins, all built by Maggie's father-in-law. 

But it's Maggie's pervasive sadness that clings to me when I visit the cabin.

Outside there's a mirror and a shelf where I imagine Maggie's husband shaving and Maggie checking her hat before she leaves to ride into town.

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Okay, now I'm depressing even myself...

The beauty of being a writer is- you can recreate reality any way you want.  Remember...Maggie was married to a man who wired an iron into a tree.  And those are jars up in the bedroom are probably full of moonshine. 

The third cabin burned down and the original home place now lies in ruins.  So suppose this was how Maggie handled her unhappiness...

One day as Maggie jammed her best bonnet on her head, she looked up at the Jesus calendar and the big bass her husband, Posey, had pasted onto the wall with dawning realization...Somebody'd gotten their priorities all screwed up.

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Since when had fishin' become larger than Jesus?

With a fresh-willed determination, Maggie slung her purse over her forearm and marched out into the yard.  She carried a box full of of moonshine bottles along with her...

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"Posey!" she cried.  "I've had it with your no-account ways!  We are gittin' right with the Lord or I am gittin' gone!"

But Posey was off fishing again.  So she set fire to his other cabin, took off in his old '41 Ford sedan and drove straight to the funeral parlor in Rocky Mount. 

Maggie didn't even take the time or trouble to pull straight into one of the neatly painted white parking spaces.  She slammed the car into park right there in front of the Drive-Thru viewing window.  Then she threw open the door and marched inside, leaving the old Ford where it was, its motor still running.

Verdery Davis, the youngest son of the parlor's owner, met her at the door, his eyes wide. 

"What're you doin' here?" he whispered.  "Posey'll have your hide if he finds out..."

"Hush," Maggie said.  "I don't care about him no more.  I got only one life and it's time I lived it.  I'm headin' to Florida to start an all-Jesus theme park.  Now are you comin' or not?"

Verdery Davis was no dummy. 

He knew a sure thing when he saw it and Maggie's sturdy frame bespoke determination and carnal knowledge...both elements lacking in young Verdery's life.

One year later, just east of Panama City Beach, Florida, Verdery was charming alligators for Jesus while a crowd of thrilled tourists looked on in awe.

Maggie, sated and satisfied, sat in the ticket booth, smoking a Virginia Slim cigarette and smirking.

"I shoulda done this a long time ago," she murmured.



1 comment:

David St Lawrence said...

What a hoot!

Thanks for the charming story.

Have a great weekend.