The Façade Part II
Heather, Fall of 1962
John F. Kennedy was President in the fall of 1962 and Lyndon B. Johnson was the Vice. The Cuban Missile Crisis was in full swing. People were afraid.
Just twelve miles West of Boston, a wealthy suburban housewife was busy preparing for war. Her daughter, Heather was watching. Heather was three. She had no idea what was happening. Long idyllic walks with her Mother on colorful tree lined streets filled her days. The New England town was the definition of quaint. Lots of conservation land, meadows, ponds, Colonial homes and long stone walls. Heather loved to walk on the stonewalls, holding her Mother's hand. They wandered thru the arboretum close to their large red, antique house. Everything was picture perfect, if you couldn't be the Jones' you at least needed to keep up with them! Everything was about, "What would the neighbors think?" Perhaps that's why Heather doesn't give a rat's behind what the neighbors think today. Well, maybe, deep down inside she does. Don't we all? The big house shared similar attributes as a museum. In the corner of the library, an oversized down stuffed yellow chair could not offer rest. How frivolous was that? Later on, there was a white couch that had to stay clean. Why on earth buy a white, crushed velvet couch that can't be used? Show. Show was the answer. It was all about show.
Heather loved playing make believe with her baby dolls on the floor in the downstairs bathroom. She had her pink, hand crank miniature washing machine and her dolls clothes. Her tiny hands ran the dolly's clothes thru the wash and then she ever so carefully hung them up to dry using small, wooden clothes pins. She was practicing being a good Mommy.
Meanwhile, her own mother was busy carrying canned goods to the basement. Heather saw her going back and forth. She would leave the kitchen, pass the bathroom, go thru the dining room, the library, the living room and down the steep cellar stairs. After descending to the landing, she walked straight ahead thru the bar, perpetually void of people, turned sharp left, thru the model train room. The stone on the walls gave off a pungent, earthy odor obvious to the olfactory senses of anyone who passed. She continued down the hall which narrowed giving it further dungeon qualities. She reached her destination. The bomb shelter. Four green, metal bunk beds stood stacked on the left wall. Army colored blankets covered the foot of each bed, folded to military perfection. A propane powered stove stood straight ahead, ready to serve at moment's notice. A primitive toilet took up space on the right. Hundreds of cans filled the shelves. Heather asked her mother why she was bringing cans to the basement. Her mother explained it was extra in case a bad storm came, but most likely they would never need it. Heather knew that wasn't true, but at age three she didn't question. Kids have an uncanny sense of knowing when they are being fed a line and Heather didn't buy it. If only her uncanny sense had remained with her. It would have come in mighty handy in college. Maybe, just maybe, she would have turned down his offer of their first date.
Outside Entrance To Bomb Shelter
Emily Answered The Phone
Emily came home and thanked Josie for watching the kids. Oh, how they loved her. Josie was an older Southern Lady who had raised eight kids of her own. Now, a Grandmother of twelve she still found time for others. Kids were Josie's calling, and she was well known through the community. She volunteered at The Zion Baptist Preschool and manned the church nursery on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. If a Mother took ill, Josie came to the rescue with a hot cooked meal. She was a good friend and confidante to all.
The kids and Emily all kissed Josie goodbye and waved to her from the porch. Emily headed to the kitchen to make dinner. She followed the Fly Lady's advice, she knew what would be served for dinner by 10 AM at the latest. Fly Lady and her organizing website kept Emily's home running like a well oiled clock. She grabbed taco stuffing already made in the freezer and started the preparations. The boys zoomed around the family room with their matchbox cars. Their voices raised in a loud imitation of a race car in action!
Em thought she heard her cell phone ring, but with the boys making so much racket it was hard to tell. She checked her messages. Her Mom had tried calling five times. Something was up. She pushed speed dial and her Mom answered quickly.
"Hey Mom, what's going on?"
"I got a call today from Aunt Meg. Your Uncle Ricky was in a bad accident. He's dead Em. Oh, God, I can't believe it. First Uncle Jack last year and now Ricky. I feel like I'm in shock."
" Oh wow Mom, I'm sorry. In all honesty though we didn't see him much. He was always busy with business. I hadn't seen him for years, except at Uncle Jack's funeral. We barely spoke afterwards. We were all too upset. Everyone was upset even though Jack had been sick for years. What happened though? Where was the accident? Do you know anything about the funeral yet?"
"I don't know all the details yet. Meg says there is confusion about how the accident happened. He was the driver and lost control is all I know right now. It happened in Rhode Island. He had gone to check on the Newport house, but the accident happened somewhere in Providence. Meg is calling half the family and I'm calling the other half. I haven't talked to Maria yet. She must be devastated. They've only been married two years. Plus, she has little kids from her first marriage. It's going to be hard, he was like a father to them. Poor babies! It's tragic whether we saw him a lot or not. He was still my baby brother. He's only 57, too young to die. Then, there's poor Ricky from his first marriage. And the two we never see from his first disastrous relationship. Guess, we don't need to think about them. The funeral will probably be in Providence at a Funeral Home. Maria was studying with Jehovah Witnesses so I have no idea how she'll want to handle the funeral. I am going to assume she won't want to set foot in a Catholic Church! It seems like the only time we go to Rhode Island these days is for funerals. Meg should be figuring all this stuff out now. I need to ask her more questions. I just wanted you to know. I'm rambling, I need to go."
"O.K. Mom. I am sorry, Love you, Mom."
"Love you too, Em. I'll call you when I know more. Bye."
Emily stared at the phone a minute. Uncle Ricky, it had been a while. She remembered how she and a cousin had fought at family gatherings over who got stuck sitting next to him. It had been a long time since she had given him a second thought. Her Mom was one of ten siblings. The family was huge. She turned to check back on the boys and resumed her dinner preparations.
Some of you may be asking yourselves, "Where does Heather fit in?"
Trust me! Heather plays an important role in the story. She is a bit of a mystery right now, but I promise it will all make sense later. The novel is just beginning, and the plot is involved. People move in and out of our lives, and this story is no different.
Thank you for reading this far, hope you enjoyed it!