A bit of old work again. I’m not going to elaborate but I’ve got a few short chapters of this yet incomplete story. Please let me know if you like it. Dale
Jeap’s Holler: Chapter I
One bright Thursday morning, close to noon, a big black automobile shaped like a coffin came rolling into Jeap’s Holler. No one would have noticed, however, had the big black coffin rolled on through town and not stopped at Elsie’s Cafe where everyone who was in town and on lunch break was having lunch—most likely the Chicken & Ribs Special. The good folks of Jeap’s Holler were, no doubt, talking about important things over lunch such as how many fish some of the fellas planned to catch that Saturday down at Fish Lake or what dresses some of the gals were sewing for Nancy Bett’s wedding and how many tiny pearls would get sewn into the bridal gown. Important stuff like that.
Elsie’s Cafe was busy that day, so the coffin had to park a little distance away from the restaurant and out of view of the big picture windows which fronted the shop. The first out of the coffin was a stocky man in a dark suit and dark sunglasses who emerged from the passenger side up front. He was nicely dressed. He wore a navy suit which gleamed in the bright sunlight as he moved. He also wore polished black shoes, a brilliant white shirt—crisp as a corn chip—and a blue and red striped tie. He was as dapper as a swordfish! as someone from Jeap’s Holler would say.
So he got out and walked the long way around the back of the vehicle to the back door on the opposite side. There he paused for a second or two as if working up the courage to open the door. Then finally he opened it and stood at attention while waiting for someone to emerge from the big black coffin. But it took about five or ten seconds before anyone did emerge. Finally, a woman stepped from the car and stood up.
She was an average sized woman, middle aged, straight blonde hair brushed back from her face that reached no farther than her collar. But you couldn’t see much of her face for the enormous black sunglasses she wore. Her pegged denim jeans were a tiny bit more snug around the abdomen than they should have been making her belly look, in shape, like half of a boiled egg. And instead of boots she wore brown leather huaraches. She also wore a blousy white shirt accessorized with a blue bandana tied at the neck and a broad silver bracelet on her left wrist. In all, she looked as if she would have been more comfortable wearing a pantsuit than in her faux country getup.
Despite the sunglasses, one could see she wore a scowl on her face which betrayed a mood of aggravation and perhaps discomfort. To put it bluntly, she was not a happy camper, but for some reason she had wanted to stop at Elsie’s Cafe—maybe for an icy glass of tea or a roll of breath mints.
At first her attention was taken with the large bag she carried, but once she had zipped two or three of its zippers and anchored it on her shoulder she stepped forward and looked around to orient herself and decide where it was she was headed. The man in the suit closed the door of the automobile behind her and asked the woman something. But she was disagreeable and dismissed whatever it was he had suggested with a wave of her hand. So he left her and got back into the vehicle the same way he had gotten out. She, at the same time, adjusted her sunglasses before starting for Elsie’s alone.
When the woman entered Elsie’s the bell on the door jingled but no one paid attention. The woman came in as far as the end of the lunch counter where the cash register sat and stood awkwardly waiting for a waitress or someone to approach her. She did not remove her sunglasses but instead clutched her large bag with both arms as if holding a pet cat.
After a minute or so a waitress with a pot of coffee in one hand stopped long enough to find out what the woman needed.
“You waiting for a table, honey?” asked the waitress.
“No,” said the woman, “I need directions to the Bridewell Estate; I’m to meet someone there at noon.”
“Bridewell, you say? I’m sorry, I’ve never heard of it. You sure it’s around here?—Jeap’s Holler?”
“Yes, It’s supposed to be near the lake, somewhere.”
“Let me see if Doris knows. If it’s here, Doris will know where.”
It took a minute before the waitress returned with a second waitress. This one had a head full of coarse, black hair and wore heavy pancake makeup which failed to conceal the puffy bags under her eyes. The makeup did, however, manage to color the bags the same pinkish tan as the rest of her face.
“Hi. You’re looking for the old Bridewell mansion?”
“Yes, I believe so. I was told it was near the lake.”
“Well not exactly. It’s actually out past the lake about a mile, but you do take the lake road around the lake but then keep going. But I’m wondering if it’s Bridewell you’re looking for because that old place was about to fall down, the last I knew, and that’s been a few years ago.”
The woman from the coffin finally removed her sunglasses. She, too, had saggy bags under her eyes and looked like she hadn’t slept in a week.
“I know this is an imposition,” she said, “but is their any chance you could tell my driver how to get there. I’m not very good with directions, myself.”
“No problem,” said Doris. “Have him come in and I’ll draw him a map. You look like you could use an iced tea. I’ll bring one out for you and your driver. Ginger, sweetheart, show this nice lady to Table Three for me, will you? I’ll be back in a flash.”
Doris winked at the woman as she turned and, before you could say Rumpelstiltskin, she was gone.
The woman from the car wanted to object, to say she would be more comfortable waiting where she was, but she was not given the opportunity. So after being shown to Table Three by the younger and prettier waitress named Ginger, the woman from the coffin fished her cell phone out of her purse and called her driver then put her big black sunglasses back on to await Doris’s return.