General Fiction posted October 9, 2014 Chapters:  ...19 20 -21- 22... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Lucille take a tumble

A chapter in the book FRIDAYS

Friday, October 27th (Part One.)

by Fridayauthor

Please see Author Notes for the summary. Thank you.
            Friday Number Eleven, October 27th  (Part One.)
            It has been many days since I've written in this journal, though with good and just reason for my absence. So much has happened I'm not sure I won't fill these remaining pages before I bring this book up to date with all that transpired.
            That Thursday evening, as I indicated, I had an engagement with my church-going compatriots for dinner in the church hall to wish old Mrs. O'Brien a farewell. She is a kindly soul, nearly as quiet as I, and I'll miss her. Each of us was to bring our assigned food so I prepared my platter of tiny sandwiches and, on the spur of the moment, placed them on my grandmother's cut-glass serving tray. The tray has resided with its matched twin in the dining room china closet since the beginning of time. The fact that I put the family treasure to practical use only highlights the changes that are occurring in Lucille Peabody of late!
            The clocks were moved back to standard time the prior Saturday so it was dark as I began the short walk to the church, carrying the heavy tray. I never made it to my destination.
            Hawthorne Street is a steep hill which nearly switches back upon itself in its descent toward the center of our town and the ocean beyond. Stairs have been constructed for pedestrians to cut off the curve but like so much in our declining city, they are not well kept nor properly lighted. Because of the weight of my load I ignored common sense and began to use the stairs as a shortcut in spite of the dark shadows that crowded it like a widow’s smock.
            I had only the briefest sensation of a hand on my shoulder near my neck and another grabbing at my pocketbook, and a voice that warned me not to scream. I didn't scream, but instead spun around and in one motion slammed grandmother's crystal platter against the head of a dark face, my only glimpse before being shoved backwards, down the black stairs into oblivion. My next conscious sensation was opening my eyes to bright lights and a dripping tube attached to my arm. The white sheets of Holy Angels Hospital covered a body that ached from top to bottom. I was informed it was Friday afternoon, nearly twenty-four hours later. My head was ringing like a church bell.
            I suppose I slipped in and out of my stupor for several hours. Dreams floated by, happy ones and scary ones, but none stayed around in detail after I awoke. It was evening before I fully regained consciousness and found myself surrounded by scores of student-drawn get well cards and several vases of flowers. Mr. Anderson was sitting next to the bed, a book in his lap.
            “Hi, Sleeping Beauty,” he said with a smile. “They said you might wake up soon.”
            I tried to return the smile but I couldn't. My lips were parched shut, my head throbbed painfully. I hurt too badly to move.
            In spite of my silence Mr. Anderson sensed my thirst and thankfully raised, first a damp face cloth, then a straw to my dried lips. I nodded in thanks and closed my eyes, searching my body for mortal wounds and missing limbs. The left side of my head was swabbed in bandages and my left leg and side also felt as if there was a wrapping of some kind, but it was still painful to the touch. I could feel the bareness of my skin against the sheet under me. The hospital garb covered only my front beneath the covers. I drew the sheet to my chin.
            “Is there anything I can get for you?” he asked.
            “A nightgown,” I muttered.
            He rose. “No problem.” He bent and kissed my forehead. Sleeping Beauty and Prince Charming. “Where are your keys?”
            “My purse,” I mumbled. I must have dozed off again as I don't recall his leaving. Sometime later a nightgown and other things, probably suggested by the nurse, appeared on the edge of my bed. I experienced a wave of annoyance that someone had rummaged through my dresser, the first intrusion since mother's forages of long ago. Then, in a panic, I remembered sending Mr. Anderson on the errand. He was no longer next to my bed.
            With the help of a nurse who was much cheerier than I felt, I donned my familiar flannel garment. I felt a modicum of snugness though I still hurt painfully with each movement and was as groggy as a beaten prize fighter.
            I could tell it was dark outside but I assumed it was still Thursday, just much later. I don't remember either knowing what had happened or even wondering about it. I was still in a daze for hours. Being in a hospital was a new experience to me; I had never been a patient and in spite of my mother's long illness neither had she. My occasions for visiting others were minimal.
            I tried to sleep but there followed a succession of medical people poking and probing and assuring me I would recover, with a sore hip and headache. The disorientation would leave me in a matter of hours; it was as much the drugs as my injury. I just wanted them to go away and let me sleep. I suppose I was grumpier than I would have been in a conscious state, but I didn't care.
            A policeman stopped by and asked me some questions but I don't remember how I responded before a doctor chased him out. Father Hammond stopped by next, with a kind word and, thankfully, a short visit. He was a reminder of this journal and a wave of dread passed over me, knowing Mr. Anderson had been in my house! Then I remembered my bookcase hiding place for this tome.
            Just as Father Hammond left, in popped my sister Emily, looking as if she was viewing a ghost.
            “My God,” she said, “When I saw the priest leave, I thought they'd given you the last rites!”
            She began to cry and wrapped her arms around me, nearly tearing the IV from my arm. “Luce, if anything happened to you I'd die. Now look what you're doing, my mascara is running down my cheeks!” I could feel her hot tears against me. “If you don't tell me you're all better I'll never forgive you!”
            How can Em and I, two chickens hatched in the same nest, be so dissimilar? I love her so much it hurts though I've not spent a hundred hours in her company in the last thirty years. It's just sufficient to know she'll always be there when the need comes along. I was delighted that she dropped her life and responsibilities to dash to my side. I cried to myself later that night, from the sheer joy of knowing someone cared for me as much as my sister.
            Over the next few hours I had only the slightest awareness of Emily being in the room at times, and Mr. Anderson too. I could sense more than hear subdued conversations, though I paid no attention to the words. Much later, I awoke to a higher level of consciousness with Emily standing over me.
            “Hi,” I murmured.
            “Hi, yourself! You look like dog-meat, little sister. How do you really feel?”
            “Like dog-meat. My head's killing me, my hip's killing me, and I have to pee.” I started to get up.
            “Here,” she said, holding up a pan designed for the function. “Go in this.”
            “I'm not going in that . . . thing!”
            “For God's sake, Luce, you're plugged into an IV! You can't go traipsing off to the loo just because you're modest. I'll get a nurse to help you.”
            “I don't want to pee in front of a nurse either!” I grumbled.
            “Then let me help.” I hesitated and she turned away in frustration. “For God's sake Luce, I used to change your diaper!”
            “Where is Mr. Anderson?”
            “Mister Anderson? Phil? He's right outside!”
            “I mean Philip,” I didn't dare tell her I was still “Miss Peabody.” She's known him a couple of hours and he's “Phil?” No, I still hadn't detailed my Fridays evenings to my sister.
            “I'll go out and distract Mr. Perfect . . . grease the skids for you! Tell him what a great wife you'd make!”
            “Don't you dare!” I yelled through clenched teeth!
            She just laughed but left me to my own devices. As soon as she was out of the door I hurriedly maneuvered myself into position and urinated, with overwhelming relief, my stream sounding like a fire alarm in the metal container. Now that the thing was full what was I to do with it? Ah, the blessings of convalescence! I was in a terrible mood.
            Emily and Mr. Anderson came into the room smiling while I was trying to discreetly get rid of the container, but even the act of sitting up made me dizzy.
            “Now tell me, what happened?” Emily asked as she took the pan from me, thankfully with some discretion.
            “I guess I got mugged.”
            “Where's the Mace I sent you?”
            “With the Christmas ornaments. I'm going to hang it on the tree this year.”
            “You're impossible!”
            I remembered my purse. “He didn't get my pocket book. I think I hit him.”
            “You sure as hell did!” Emily said with joy. “You knocked the shit out of him! He's three doors down the hall and in a lot worse shape than you!”
            Gradually I learned the details. A passerby had seen my assailant laying on the sidewalk, unconscious, in a pool of blood and broken crystal, the strap to my pocketbook still in his hand. It was the ambulance attendant who noticed me at the bottom of the stairs, equally unconscious. Apparently we rode to the hospital together, assailant and victim, neither aware of the other.
            Mr. Anderson smiled. “You did very well for yourself, Lucille. I'm proud of you, but you took a heck of a chance. You should have just given him the money.”
            He called me Lucille. He'd never done that before. I realized it was for Emily's benefit but nevertheless, it sounded nice.
            “I didn't do anything except react,” I answered, feeling a blush. “I had no idea what I was doing. Is he hurt badly?”
            “Don't worry about that scum,” Emily said. “It's you who needs to get better.” She began patting down the bed covers in a motherly fashion.
            “What happened to Grandmother's cut-glass platter?” I asked.
            Mr. Anderson answered. “I’m afraid it’s smashed in a dozen pieces.”
            “Oh,” I said with dismay, “It was a hundred years old.”
            “Oh yeah,” said Emily sarcastically, “as if it's been out of that china closet once in the past thirty years! For God's sake Luce, forget it! It's a wonder the damn thing didn't self-destruct from the pure joy of freedom from that house. Besides, there was a pair of trays.”
            “I still can't believe what you did,” Mr. Anderson added.
            “Us quiet types may be bashful but we're no pushovers,” I said, feeling a little better.
            “Do you two want to be alone?” Emily asked, looking from Mr. Anderson to me. Neither of us spoke for a moment. Finally Mr. Anderson broke the silence and answered Emily.

Earned A Seal Of Quality

Lucille, age thirty-seven, is a school teacher and a near-recluse. After her mother's death, she remodels her lifetime family home, to rid it of ghosts of the past. At the suggestion of her priest, she records her thoughts and feelings in a diary. She has developed a strong interest in old letters found in her mother's dresser. She has reluctantly agreed to weekly Friday evening dinners with a shy church acquaintance, Mr. Anderson. She had grown comfortable with his company, but recently she reacted abruptly when he kissed her. Part of her, whom she calls Amy, is pushing her to stop fighting any hint of intimacy. She is recalling troubled times in her past.
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