You had it comin’ Granny Clark
All of us who know and love Granny are relieved that she is the matriarch of someone else‘ family. She is not the CEO of Subtle and Somber. We might want to rethink that. Granny sent me a very private email, which I have no choice but to publish as a prelude to the Quaalude.
“Dear Mr. Sully,
I apologize for being so slow in sendin’ my story to you for this contest. I hope you’ll understand when I tell y’a why.
You see, the angels have come and taken my sainted brother, Jake, to his reward. Bless his heart, he’s earned his wings. I don’t know if you remember or not, but a few years back Jake lost his darlin’ wife, Ruby, my sister-in-law, to the fever. Pneumonia they called it. And now they’re where they always wanted to be; together.
I’m tellin’ you, it just broke Jake’s big ol’ heart and he did struggle so just to go on with his life after he lost her. Ruby was his first and only love, and now they’re restin’ in the hands of Jesus. And now that they’re both gone, I hope you’ll understand that things have been real hard around here. Even that grandson of mine is walkin’ around with his head down and his hands in his pockets. He and Catlow ain’t been to Cheater’s Bar in a long time so that’ll tell y’a what a loss it is to us all. His Uncle Jake was his hero, taught him to drive his eighteen-wheeler and how to fish and hunt. It’s gonna take a while for us to put things back in order.
So, to honor your wishes that I be one of the finalists in this contest, I’m sendin’ you the whole story about our darlin’ Sara and Jake. I hope your readers will like it.
Yours in the Lord,
By Granny Clark
The old man hadn’t smiled since December 1982, the night he steered his eighteen-wheeler through a blizzard south of Oklahoma City.
“Watch over her, Lord. Don’t let that fever take her before I get home,” Jake said, downshifting and plowing through another snowdrift. “It just cain’t be her time yet.” He looked up, “Would y’a check your book again Saint Peter? Please?”
Twenty miles north of Ardmore, the blizzard gentled into big, heavy, wet snowflakes. All eighteen wheels on his truck held tight to the highway, shoving him through the icy slush that covered the road. He kept one eye on the fuel gauge as the needle shuddered just above the ‘E’.
“Hang on, Ruby. I’m almost there.”
He remembered how, in the first snowfall of every year, the old woman pulled her threadbare pink sweater over her apron and ran through the field, calling back to him, “Don’t you just love the snow?”
Arms outstretched, she’d dance and twirl, and catch snowflakes on her tongue. He’d watch from the kitchen window, hands wrapped around his coffee mug, and smiled back to her.
Mile after endless mile, the diesel engine clattered as the eighteen-wheeler roared through the night. Black smoke bellowed from her rust streaked stacks and churned into the storm. “I’ll be home soon, Ruby,” he whispered as if in prayer.
Just north of Fort Worth, a bright full moon broke through and outlined every cloud in silver. An occasional snowflake blew across the hood of the truck then up past the windshield. The fuel gauge needle rested on ‘E’ and could drop no farther. “Don’t quit me now,” Jake said, gently patting the dashboard. He leaned forward, looked up at the full moon and smiled.
Then he saw it, glowing in the silver moonlight. A pink lace snowflake danced and twirled in front of his truck. It hovered, and then sat gently on the wiper blade. Fluttering in the wind, it waved to him.
Jake smiled and blew her a kiss. “I love you,” he whispered. She melted in the warmth of his love, leaving behind a pink glittery kiss on his windshield. Jake knew he was too late.
“I tried, Ruby,” he said.
At their little farmhouse, he knelt among flowers, friends and family, rested his right hand on her carved pine coffin, and whispered, “I’d flown up to heaven with you if only I had wings.” He looked up. “Would we be together up there, Lord?” he said. “I mean, Ruby and me? ‘Cause it just wouldn’t be heaven without her.”
He saw her every spring in Georgia when the peach trees erupted into bloom and again every summer in Colorado when the mountain snow melted and filled the streams with icy cold water that rushed through the valleys and disappeared around the bend. Every fall in east Texas, when the sweet gum trees morphed from yellow to crimson, he knew she was near. But in winter Jake searched for her in ever snowstorm. Along every lonely, frozen highway, he inspected each snowflake that danced and twirled across the hood of his truck, then flew quickly up and over the cab. Every one white. Never pink.
It was three o’clock Sunday morning, just west of Casper, Wyoming when he pulled onto the half-empty parking lot of Miss Ellie’s Diner, shut the diesel engine down and dumped air from the brakes.
Walking slowly across the parking lot, head down and hands in his pockets, the first flakes of the snowstorm that had chased him all the way from Laramie began to drift down around him. He stopped at the front door of the diner and searched for that one pink snowflake among thousands of flakes that swirled and danced from the sky. Not finding it, he blew a hard breath out his nostrils, strolled into the diner, past the other truckers, and settled into the booth in the back, facing the wall. Jake stared down at the table to hide his red, swollen eyes from the other truckers.
An old hand, long thin fingers, joints swollen from arthritis, and nails polished pink, reached out in front of his bowed head. She placed a menu on the table.
Slowly he raised his head, pushing back the bill of his cap.
Her warm smile melted the ice in his heart and the threadbare pink sweater she wore matched the lace ribbon holding her snow-white hair in a loose bun.
“Don’t you just love the snow?” she said.
The tab at Cheater’s Bar is more than Granny’s poor grandson Gary can pay, and it needs to be zeroed out so he can buy the editor-in-chief(moo-which is Texan for moi) a pint later this summer. Here is a way to help him out. Dance of the Bull Rider has just been published by Whiskey Press (that is something like a Wine Press but with a higher alcohol content) Buy a copy of his book, even though it ain’t got pichhers in it.