After I came in from the barn, I set the table for supper while Lola brought the dishes to the table. I didn't say a word as Avery and William walked in. I noticed that Avery seemed comfortable again with William and wondered what had transpired between the two of them. I didn't have long to wait. As we all sat down to the table, William cleared his throat and looked at Lola very seriously and spoke, "It seems that Rachel here has been harboring some ill feelings toward me. Lola, I hope you will allow me to share our story with Rachel and Avery. After all we are guests in their home, and, I abhor the thought of being thought of as a wife abuser."
Lola looked grieved, but looked at us and back to William and shook her head yes. Then she looked down as if she was embarrassed.
"Avery, I told you our story in the quick version. I was afraid of what you would do to me out in the barn. This is our story and it is God's honest truth, or may He strike me dead."
"I told you I came from New York City. I worked lots of different jobs through the years and never settled any one place. Been so many places I doubt I could name them all. Then I got a job down in southern Pennsylvania on a big tobacco farm. Real fancy place, so I figured I may as well see if they need help. I worked there for over ten years. Clint Addison was the owner and still is." He paused and looked at Lola, who had tears in her eyes.
"One day Clint tells me he is going on a trip and will be back in a couple of weeks. He wanted me to oversee the whole operation. He paid me very well for it. When he came back, he brought a wife," he motioned toward Lola, "Lola here."
Avery and I both looked at Lola, me with surprise in my expression I am sure. She looked down in her lap, still had tears running down her face.
"At first things were just like usual. Except that Clint was married. He showed Lola off. Bought her all kinds of fancy duds. Let her fix the house up to her liking. No amount of money was sparred. Then it started. Clint wanted a son. He started blaming Lola for not giving him a child. I'd hear her screaming at night. I'd hear him beating her. I'd put on my clothes and head for the house. The door was locked. I finally got up the nerve to yell up to him, he opened the window and told me to go on back to bed. Said he'd handle this. She was his wife."
"Oh Lola," I turned toward her, she had put her head down and covered her face. I got up and went to her, put my arms around her, "Lola, it wasn't your fault. You poor thing. It wasn't your fault. How awful for you."
"This went on and on. Sometimes Clint would leave and be gone for a week or so. Those were the best times. I'd bring wildflowers to Lola and she'd smile. Finally she started talking to me. But never said a word about Clint or their situation. If I tried to mention it, she'd change the subject."
"The last time about nine months before we came here, I heard Clint beating her and heard her screaming. I could not stand it another second. I got up and went to the house and broke the door in. I went right upstairs and pounded on the bedroom door. Clint yelled for me to go away and mind my own business. I broke that door down and went right in. He had Lola down on the bed and was beating her with his belt. I....."
Finally, Lola spoke, "William came into the room and grabbed Clint and Clint laughed at him and said, "oh boy, city boy, what do you think you are going to do me? I am so scared." As he said that, William punched him so hard in the face, blood went everywhere. I think he broke his nose. Then William beat him over and over until I threw myself in between them before he killed him. William grabbed me and picked me up and carried me out of there."
It was my turn to feel embarrassed now. "Oh my, William, I am so sorry. I am sorry I jumped to conclusions."
"Rachel, it's okay. What were you supposed to think? How would you have known?"
Avery spoke, "So do you think this guy is looking for you? Are you in danger?"
"Possibly. He is not one to let things go. So we have been laying low. I made it look like we went out west. In that area, he is well thought of and respected. No telling what he has said."
Avery looked at me and then said, "Let's eat. We will figure out what to do about this. I don't want you to have to live looking over your shoulders the rest of your lives. I don't want my family in danger if he tracks you here. I have some ideas I will discuss with you later."
Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
Photograph Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole