Burying the Past - Chapter14

Eli slowly walked back towards the farmhouse.  It was the pain of humiliation that lingered on, not the physical trauma he'd just suffered through.  Sharon had bested him. Now, all he could think about was her ultimatum; marry her.  He never saw that coming.   Eli needed another - way to resolve this. The answers just weren't there. He had to play this out her way,  until the solution presented itself. The boy cautiously entered the tiny farmhouse, on the ready to offer up an explanation, to either parent who may have bared witness to their son's bizarre treament towards Shanon Wilkerson, on such a somber day in her young life.

The sweet smell of Georgia's peaches filled mom's country kitchen. The hot, August sun baked the valley floors of Vermont, scorching the landscape, and it's nearly failing crops.  Every mother's kitchen that dotted the hillsides, filled the afternoon air with the aroma of smoked briskets and Southern Style desserts, as they anxiously awaited their families return home from a long day of farming in the summer's sun.

Mom was busy working on her sewing machine in the next room, while Dad was in the basement searching through the cedar cabinets for a matching pair of dress shoes.  The viewing for Robert Wilkerson was to be held at Gulden's Funeral home.  Jacob Gulden was the brother-in-law to the recently deceased.  He never cared for his sister's taste in men. He knew the minute Carolyn introduced him to the family, that he'd be useless, and nothing but trouble.  Jacob took notice of the discoloration in the man's skin tone, and knew immediately that he was a hard-drinker.  When the dinner plates were cleared away from the dining table that night, Jacob broached the question with his sister about the attraction to this man, aside from his obvious stature and good-looks.   Jacob never minced with words when it came to his sister's choice in men. He never could understand why she always bought into their easy smiles and country boy charm.  These boys' had only one thing in mind when they saw Carolyn walking down the road; in her faded jeans and her sun-kissed skin.  Carolyn's beauty was a curse; not a blessing.  That's how Jacob saw his sister's story. Like Helen of Troy - her beauty only brought her sorrow.  And, the men that longed to possess her, but couldn't -  instigated battles with the men that did.  Carolyn's champion's were less than men, despite their outward appearance.  These rough riders were hard-working farmhands, who took their leisure time seriously.  When they weren't tossing around bails of hay in the fields were they worked - they could be found on the tailgates of their pick-up trucks with a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a Lucky Strike cigarette in the other. When the whiskey ran out - they jumped in their trucks, and drove to the next county for some feminine attention.  They were raised to believe that the union between a man and a woman was forever.  That lesson quickly left their minds with every passing mile marker.

Carolyn was seated next to her brother Jacob, at the dinner table. And, just like they always had in the past, growing-up.  They nudged each other's shoulders, or playfully poked fun at each other's wardrobe.  Robert, on the other hand,  cleverly seated himself next to their father's chair at the head of the table.  When he offered to say the daily blessing before the meal, Carolyn's father seemed exceptional pleased with the man's gesture, and allowed him to speak the blessing.  Robert recited the passages from the memory of his own families traditional Sunday dinner.  The family reached out and took each other's hand, and listened.  The young man's attempt to win over his girlfriend's father had succeeded.  When the prayer ended, Carolyn's father lifted his head then turned towards Robert.  A smile overcame him as he glanced at the young man, and said. "You should seriously consider working for the Lord.  That blessing revealed an extraordinary feeling of reverence for our father in Heaven, Robert!" he said, in all earnestly. "Thank you, Sir.  That prayer has been in our family for generations." he proudly boasted. Confident that he struck the right chord with his fiancee's, fire and brimstone father. Jacob couldn't help but to choke back his surprise at his father's unexpected response to Robert's sanctimonious rhetoric.  Jacob saw right through him. So, Why hadn't his father?   Carolyn looked over her left shoulder at her brother, who was now dumb-struck by his father's quick acceptance of this notorious philanderer.  Carolyn gave a quick poke of her dinner fork, into his thigh to distract him from his fixation on the conversation. Jacob's eyelid's widened with surprise, as the jab from the prongs of the utensil, startled him.  He turned his head quickly towards his sister Carolyn.   He then raised his index finger at her - as a warning. 

Jacob hadn't established a healthy relationship with his father, although de did all that was required of him as a son. Their was a wedge that was driven between them were the bonding should have taken place between him and his father.  And, because Jacob expressed no interest in becoming a Baptist preacher, like his father had.  The gap in their already strained relationship, widened as he grew older.  Now at the age of 21, Jacob was working at the funeral pallor preparing cadavers for their final viewing by family members.  This was as close to the Almighty, Jacob dared to get. And, his talent to preserve the temple from the final putrid state of decomposition, was the one thing that kept the thin line of communications open between him and his father. 

Jacob remained silent for the remaining minutes of that meal. He listened intently while his brother-in-law painted a masterpiece for his new family,  to marvel at.  He'd almost had Jacob convinced he was everything that he said he was; and more.  And, that's what troubled Jacob the most.  Even though, Robert Wilkerson was bred as a farmer. He had a charisma about him.  He was well-spoken, brutally- honest and believeable.  He could now understand how his sister got so swept away by him.  And, that's what made him such a threat, at least in Jacob's eyes.  Jacob had spent years perfecting his public image, right down to his swagger.  Robert Wilkerson resembled the screen actor, Paul Newman in his portrayal of a convict sentenced to a chain gang in the deep Southern states of America. He knew just what to say, and how to say it.  Growing up, Jacob knew that he was alone in his efforts towards becoming a man.  The space between him and his father had grown to wide a margin.  And, decided what makes or breaks a man's image, on his own.   Jacob felt foolish standing in front of his mirror rehearsing his facial expressions and responses, but knew it was necessary -  if he wanted anyone to take him seriously. 

Not long after Robert's infamous introduction into the Gulden's Family album; Jacob and Carolyn's father suddenly passed.  It came as a shock to everyone, even to the deceased.  Rev. Gulden took exceptional care of himself; both physically and spiritually. Still these preventive measures were hardly enough, from keeping the Grim Reaper from the his doorstep.  It seems he developed a blood clot, that formed deep in his legs. It then travelled straight to his heart, causing a blockage in one the valves of his heart.  Robert found the man, slumped over the oversized wheel of his tractor, in the corn fields early one morning.  He must have just died, because when his son-in-law found him, the body was still warm. Jacob suspected foul play on Robert's part, but that theory was quickly debunked, when the autopsy reports came in and it was concluded that his father had died of natural causes.  That's when the feuding began between the three in-laws. A stock pile of 27K gold bullion bars, along with other sources of wealth he'd aquired during his lifetime, had been unveiled. So, it was no surprise that when the reading of the will was read, Jacob had been left with next to nothing from his father.   And, Carolyn?  Well, she inherited it all.  That good for nothing husband of hers never had to work a hard day on the valley floor, again.  Needless to say, Jacob was furious.  He prepared his father's corpse with all the dignity and respect, he deserved. Only, rather than embalming the remains with the usual remedy of formaldehyde and other preservatives.  He filled the chest cavity with vinegar -soaked straw hay, and cinders from his fireplace. This formulation representing his father's bitterness and burning hatred for his only son. And, when it came to the preparations for R. Wilkerson. Jacob buried the remains filled with the one thing that would sum up his miserable existence: horse manure. He masked the smell with the chemicals he would have normally used into preserving the body temple. And, when Carolyn had died, year before, while giving birth to Shanon;  Jacob took exceptional care into preparing her remains; filling her chest cavity with rare orchids, from the canopes of the rainforest, and the finest oils imported from the Orient.  After all, Jacob loved his baby sister. Despite, everything that happened. He never blamed her for any of it. Instead, he assigned the blame to the one person responsible for all of his missed opportunities for happiness; their Imperical father.  Jacob's constant isolation as a child, made any social function,  a nightmare. He found it impossible to remain focused on one topic, for longer than a minute.  And, often found the conversations, that he had managed to engage in, too be filled with inuendos about the town's residents, rather than meaningful solutions towards the communities current problems.  This lead him to persue a career that involved little interaction with the town's inhabitants. So, when their time here on Earth, was over. Jacob took absolute delight in his life's vocation.  He had the last laugh.

 

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Comments

I like your writing Dana. The characters are busy and its easy to see them. You also give your writing quite an evocative feel with descriptions of smells and scenes.