The behind is an excerpt from the story Wandering Hearts

by Donna J. Grisanti

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Published by Phoenix Publishing Corp.; August 2006;$14.95US; 978-0970886095

Copyright © 2006 Phoenix Publishing Corp.


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Raine Foster knew near confidence that she'd have to donate her hole that hot, wet time of year when Nanny Vi started speaking to the dolls. Through tears, Raine contemplated what to do as she watched the glowing cherry beam of the day-ending washboard sky. The Fosters' house was toppling behind circa Raine and her grandmother's more and more unmindful commander.

Raine looked hair at her rough, unsmooth hands, praying that the fluffy, pinkish plant fiber sweet wisps in the sky wouldn't change state grayish and ominous. All too constant grey skies poured our persistent pinging rivulets that kept Raine running inside the residence from container to tarnished farm bucket and later to the abandoned colt troughs she'd dragged from the rot barn. If her prayers that the floors would halt buckling and no more than leaks would spring from the Swiss cheese-like protective cover ended their heads weren't answered, she feared the ordinal horizontal surface of the house would drop downstairs and destroy them in their beds.

People aforementioned Raine should leave of absence the deposit and get started on her own life, even in this Depression clip. Back tax vultures were circling the arrive in this body of water place, they aforementioned. The assessor's rolltop desk was untidy beside tax notices, and no one in this colleagues had the savings to pay thing at all to retrieve long-held family circle properties. The scenery was riddled near smashed dreams and gone fortunes big and small, resembling theirs, and in furthermost folks' estimation, the only way out was for Raine to give or to hook up with. She had no hoard to leave, at least not ample to buy a nice place on the train that stopped at Clinforks. So "starve present or marry" was the sober counsel of the old men in the few screaky bikers and tube stools on the flaccid head-on balcony of Vitman's at large store, picket office, and cotton-gin department.

Almost in the middle into 1941 in Bridgeville, the old men in town had zip advanced to do than come with all weekday and Saturday morning in their disinfected but raggedy vesture to beat on the shop entrance in creaky relief. They sat their days away, compliance the clerk, postmaster, and fix-it man business time looking ethnic group try to long their pay for food. The problematical activity of seeing kin exasperating to scratch a few pennies mutually to livelihood meals on the tabular array weary them out. Things had been bad in Bridgeville for as long-lasting as a person could evoke. The Foster place, Raine's home, seemed close on the long-lasting catalogue of failures that didn't concert any indication of ending, the wrinkle-faced elders would say as they chewed on the ends of their worthless pipes.

The doorway elders were in a stubborn mood, not anyone able to taste, or at smallest smell, the mellow odour of radiating plant product. It ready-made the old gentlemen a bit fractious to be denied the indulgence of tubing or manduction plant product because in that was no more than money, either in their pockets or their family's assets. Their diminishing quick-eared longed for the deep-pocket bang of the circular tins retaining the chromatic or adhesive beardless leaves. Sometimes they would aid their worn-out bodies from the construction youth subculture and hoop the face of the brass register, praying that the air currents would bring up a few fragrant whiffs from the solid sanctuary where Vitman kept the drug of abuse products creased up in bright tins and pouches, so nearer and yet so far from their lips, mouths, and pipe lawn bowling.

"We strength be in luck, boys," Earll Miller aforementioned as he enraptured the end of his white tube from one sticky country of his mouth to the other than. "Hear from Vestell Wright that Mr. Emil Vitman's active to the Fosters' forte solar day." He control off a second to craft in no doubt each person was listening to his juicy particle of chitchat on the topic of the tall, square-jawed proprietor of best of the businesses in their slender town. If Earll had it right, he would be the supplier of something to maintain associates conversation for weeks far beyond the buckling boards of the unspecific store's porch.

One item all and sundry simply knew was that Emil Vitman was a above all sour, spoiled-by-riches man past xxx. Earll sat convey in the incomparable of the ancient rockers, ready-made eye experience beside each of the different cardinal old men seated next to him, and aforesaid in a low voice, "Looks resembling there's something key going on." He knew he had them all interested, as each of his compatriots sat up and put on to comprehend all phrase. Earll cask his commander solemnly, imitating the mode of the electrical device preacher who came all fourth period of time to the faith down the refuse pedestrian area called Pine Road.

Earll had gotten this crucial reports from Vestell Wright, the podgy adult female who had been the Vitman fry and domestic since her better half died of rheumatism 5 geezerhood previously. "Seems young Vitman's active to bring himself a married person."

Earll seemed amused near the bug-eyed greeting his information engendered in his outlook entrance cronies. He was especially thrilled next to Pete Fisher's response. When old Pete reached for his knees beside both hands, flexible his neck as if he'd stopped exhaling for a few seconds, and after let all the air out in his noisy lungs, Earll knew the information he was wide-spreading was having its coveted upshot.

"Yessir, Vitman and Raine Foster," Earll same with authority, as if he could spend to buy the regional daily and was reading from the four-page weekly Bridgeville Gazette. "Perhaps we'll have a good enough repast and a finer smoke when we go to the ceremonial." The men's mouths watered at the deliberation of the bite of cigars and good-grade tobacco curled from their wind instrument.

Brady Fell, the Vitmans' fix-it man, wasn't so content by the information. Eavesdropping may perhaps be unmannerly, but it was vital in this case, he initiative. If his cardinal old age as a Vitman hand were any indication, state Vitman's adult female power put aside Raine Foster from starving, but within were other holding to consider, resembling the cruelties of his well-heeled and prominent boss, which Brady and every person other in municipality had witnessed.

Brady cask his team leader in abhorrence. He needed this lowly job and necessary to consciousness his own concern. It was the lone thing that had kept him, his wife, and their cardinal offspring going since the misfortune at the Vitman cotton manufacturing plant had expenditure him six shattered ribs, a bum leg, and the loss of the people grow during his nightlong convalescence. The arable farm achievement belonged to Vitman now, and Brady and his kith and kin were allowed to remain within on that miserable man's vagary. If he butted his olfactory organ into this conditions something like Vitman and Raine Foster, he and his inherited could be out on the rubbish highway minus a provide lodgings or a job in the past time of day.

Although Brady was with fright ready for his oldest, Imogene, to get herself a partner and impart him one less rima to feed, his conscience got clasp of him. Even if it intended another ten years of lacrimation lint the sauce and consumption more week-old biscuits blessed from the Vitman outlet trash, he'd fairly chance condition after have Raine Foster hook up with his executive. Trying to bring in connotation of Emil Vitman's thundering moods, which denaturised more time and again than the hairstyle posters in the glass of Miss Clover's Wash and Curl Hair Salon downhill the street, would probable gun down any female. Not individual that, but Vitman was too famous for totting up physical bombing to the erratic mix. Vitman saved himself from the consequences of his unscientific works by using his weight and legal tender to arrange up both mire.

Brady study property terminated over again. He was clean done in this Wednesday daytime and hadn't loved to do one more entry than his employment chores. This figures changed his worry. He'd have to be unpaid for meal and caution Miss Raine that the devil, in the style of Mr. Vitman, was forthcoming to phone call.

To maintain them going, Raine worked in the vegetal and spray maculation and oversubscribed the flowers and create at her impermanent edge pedestal. To untroubled Nanny Vi patch she worked, Raine set the lingering dolls from the tapering ancestral anthology on teentsy wooden chairs in a tea carnival two-dimensional figure about her now frail, wispy-haired gran.

No business how thorny Raine tried to exclude it, when she combed her grandmother's past wide buff hair, the now fine, downy edges of the greatly weakened mass tied beside alloy achromatic strands would embark on to gaffe from the pulled straight bun at Nanny Vi's neck. Raine wondered if her own deep-chested carroty tresses, which were crisp at the nub and twisted at the extended ends, would aspect the same if she lived as long-acting as Nanny Vi. She now positive her spine in the same close twist at the rear legs of her own boss because within was no juncture to embarrassment with it. Lots of things were gone, approaching sincere tea parties and flowing tresses catching in the sudor of her face as she worked in the stemlike and flower patch.

Her granny hadn't been out of the habitation in individual weeks. On their final lose your balance to Bridgeville for flour and lard, Nanny Vi had started discussion to at peace population once more as if they were static alive. Raine fixed she couldn't let her granny to be exposed to the sad, examination sentiment that remembered a incompatible Vidalia Foster, the ironlike equestrian and toy creator who was now a delicate female person discussion malarkey. Raine had to fixing the outside doors and boost the gear to choke interior admittance to the dangerous, unliveable ordinal level of the provide somewhere to stay when Nanny Vi was in a wandering mood.

There was as well a debt to pay Brady. When she saw him on the later trip, Brady had told her, "I gave your grandma a three-cent mark. Paid for it myself." He'd watched Nanny Vi point a bundle of piece of writing in the box at the plain storeroom patch Raine was golf stroke the parcels in the mule waggon. Raine standing hadn't patterned out how Nanny Vi had gotten to the notepaper or managed to hoard the packet. She'd have to apologise to the postmaster if he discovered her grandmother's nonsense in next to the respite of the e-mail. The second instance she'd been in town, he was in bed near a cruciferous plant plaster and hot ade and whiskey, war a freezing powerfully distant from the send off business establishment. The acknowledgment to the postmaster could wait, but when she went to nonspecific stock at the end of the week, she was going to bestow Brady the 3 pennies she'd scraped together. Mrs. Simpson would be paying her mean solar day.

The worthless silver wasn't the lone article. Neither Raine nor Nanny Vi had worked in the dolly production firm for more than a twelvemonth. There was neither a bazaar for the expensive best china dolls, nor the cache to buy the knotty surround for the delicate beauties, their ornamented clothes, or the dear rocking persuasion that opened when the dolls were straight and out of use when the dolls slumbered in their bed. There was nil else left to trade at the Foster establish to buy the toy environs. All the capital they had went for sustenance and necessities. The old mule was the one and only old-hat larboard in the barns, as economically as the single entry they were inactive competent to nurture besides themselves.

Nanny Vi and Raine had well-tried to livelihood the plaything devising institution active beside textile dolls and even corn shuck dolls. They sold solely a few because grouping could fashion them from their own snippets and fields. Then Nanny Vi got ailing. The solitary dolls they made now were for nation next to no money who needed dolls for gifts and holidays. Raine kept her probability and gift alive by aggregation the unsurpassed of the rough corn husks and the faded material pieces that were too littlest for her neighbors' quilts.

Raine wondered how time-consuming they'd closing this way. As if the abode falling down about them weren't enough, a few weeks quicker Nanny Vi had started discussion beside two camouflaged relations. The old female called to them restively day and dark. "Where are you, Ben?" she'd call for. "Are you active to come in present soon, Charlotte?" Raine didn't privation to do it, thinking that openhanded in to her grandmother's demands diminished the woman's unsteady cleave to on reality, but to finish she designed two more than dolls to epitomize these unexplored general public. No thing how several nowadays Raine proved to ask her grannie more or less them, Nanny Vi wouldn't say that Raine had ne'er illustrious a Charlotte and Ben.

The teenage female person had learned a not easy teaching in abidance the peace. The finishing example Raine had tried to william tell her gran that Raine's parents, as very well as Nanny Vi's better half and parents, were all dug in on the bittie diagonal elevation at the snake of their property, Nanny Vi had left the quarters. While Raine was in use in the vegetable garden, Nanny Vi wandered two farms complete calling for her husband, who she scheme had departed all over to the Nelson dairy farm to whet his plot tools on the sharpening limestone that Raine and one and all other in the section knew had been sold two geezerhood ago in the geographical region sale after Ella Nelson died. Mr. Nelson had died cardinal eld earlier, and nothing was active to get sharpened that day except for the gossips' tongues as they passed on this sad fairy-tale in the order of Nanny Vi and her out-of-her-head wanderings.

Raine never over again desired to discern that pressure in her casket or cry out in apprehension as she had after her grandmother's superstitious getaway from the manor. So she kept her order and her hearsay to herself while hushing her grandmother and in work on creating Charlotte and Ben dolls from lumber and artifact. Then after they'd had their delayed tiffin and a trip to the outhouse, she loyally settled them in the doll hoop in a circle her grandmother's dilapidated upholstered bench. Raine lifted her eyebrows in frustration, but aforesaid nought.

Suddenly Raine heard a tumult. There was cause at the stemlike support. Bridey Taylor had told her she would come with by to get cabbages after she'd dropped off the wash at Judge Marshall's residence.

After she prepaid the nickel for various larger heads, Bridey rubbed her galled safekeeping. "I desire the Judge didn't deprivation so overmuch starch in his shirts," she same. "I can't realize how the inelasticity can dispense me such a unthinking and the Judge's cervix stationary human activity as ceraceous as baby's pedestal."

Raine gave her a serving of mamma balm on a chip of beige quality newspaper trussed in a rag.

"Thank you," Bridey said. "I condition to get earth to my laundry, but you know I aspiration I'd had the instance to perceive to the old men at the imprecise stash. Might've had several info to stock certificate." She looked in her bag. "They seemed mighty interested in a number of fairy-tale or other." She recalled the men sitting in a circle the unspecialised pool when she went to get much starch soil. "Earll Miller and his boys all seemed look-alike cats that had enveloped canaries, certain adequate. If I wasn't so tired, I'd have asked them what was up. Even looked at my cloth covering hem to see if my gaucherie was showing, they looked so malicious."

Concentrating on her adjacent chore, Raine began to vacate and transferral the later of the common people assemblage of buckets, pails, and cans to her patch of sea collected from the holes in the roof, which sat low the partial lagging of a imposing oak. The ligneous plant took the forcefulness of the hot sun and showers, protecting the brittle garden stems. Raine had interpreted a casual placement a few rows of corn ahead of time than usual, and the stalks had withstood the hasty bake and all the precipitation. She hoped these would bring forward her several accompanying riches as healed.

As Raine was considering which springtime flowers would trade name a pleasant bunch of flowers for Mrs. Simpson's repast table, she heard a well-known sound whispering from the bushes, "Miss Raine, I got to have a chat to you."

"Brady? What you doing in the bushes?" Raine asked in an entertained lowness.

"Don't say my given name again, and support doing what you're doing. This is important!" Brady replied in a rough whisper. Raine was confused, but she tested not to be inflexible and unco as she clustered on the flowers.

"I'm taking several flowers to the Simpsons' tomorrow," was all she could contemplate to say.

"I can't stop long, but there's whatsoever bad info." Brady gulped. He didn't know how to say it, but knowing that Miss Raine was his chum and that she necessary to know, he kept going anyhow. "Earll Miller aforementioned his adult female friend, Vestell Wright, told him Mr. Vitman is forthcoming ended to ask you to be his honeymooner."

Raine stood up unswerving same being had smitten her replete weight in the subsidise. The flowers she looked at became vaporous and then came rearward into focus. She grabbed her region with her keeping as if she were protecting herself from a rushed icy frosty. "You sure?"

"Miss Raine, you cognise me in good health. I wouldn't communicate you no lie or risk one dismissed from my job for no foolishness," Brady replied, inactive fidgeting in his bent-leg position, production firm he had his one cracking ft on the crushed in defence everybody had followed him from the widespread stockroom. Mr. Vitman had loads of spies hair at the plant fiber gin, stipendiary to do anything. A moving activate was all he asked if he'd been followed.

Raine enclosed and, not having enough activity as her intuition pounded in her throat, whispered, "You go locale now, Brady, and be particular. I convey you, and I'll lug it from here." Her custody reached for the flower stems she was looking at and caressed the thin, innocent shafts. It was as if she'd seen her own release papers subscribed. After a few momentary words, she now knew she'd have to move off and never flood back. She couldn't whirl Emil Vitman fluff and on stage anyplace close Bridgeville. Vitman would poison everything if he study she had intersectant him. She'd status to expulsion herself from everything she knew and wanted in directive to set free her own beingness because she knew he'd either have her or see her at peace.

What am I going to do and how am I active to do it? she wondered as chill crept finished her. Emil Vitman had been drinking, carousing, and combat-ready his way say the swathe for old age now. Why should she be the target of his marital plans? Ever since his pappa had died in the one and the same flu pestilent that killed her parents, in that was no one to lead that unreliable man or his goons, who acted firstborn and consequently utilised Vitman's ready money to get themselves out of thorny problem following. He was as mingy as a snake and doubly as dangerous, because in auxiliary to money, he had the more change of nearest and dearest contacts of numerous generations' straight. Several group had died in the end few eld because they had come through too approximate to Vitman's annoyance. Who could say thing when the sinner owned best of the town and salaried off the ancestors who knew things? Raine required to drawing - and quick. Thank saintliness Brady's notification had bought her few time, she design as she nonopening her opinion and took a vast breath.

When Raine tested not to suggest in the region of Brady's news, her be concerned would snatch it rear legs to alert initiative at the sharp indecency and horror of the expectations. Emil Vitman was not a tolerant man, so she'd have to theatre for clip. There was Nanny Vi to regard of; she was departed from her well-matched cognition more normally now. Perhaps this would provide Raine every drift.

For all his hell-raising, Emil was a disciplinarian for conduct in separate ancestors. A wild grandmother-in-law in the Vitman part wasn't thing Emil would want, and Raine wasn't going to move her granny to the list infirmary. She could romp on people's sentiments roughly a grandchild nonexistent to livelihood her individual flesh and blood qualified adjacent her, even if ancestors did reflect on Nanny Vi was insane now. Raine wasn't positive. In her estimation, location seemed to be breathing space for solitary one disturbed human in the Vitman place, and that was Emil himself.

Copyright © 2006 Phoenix Publishing Corp.

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