"Well, I'll Be John Brown"

Real stories about folks who have blessed my life with the joy and fulfillment of laughter. Long may they live.

Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

A Southern Boy - Born In Alabama, Reared In Georgia, and Matriculated, Married & Initiated Into Manhood In Tennessee.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Autumn Belle - Chapter 5"

4:30 came early that Wednesday morning. The night before, Autumn Belle had gone to bed one full hour earlier than normal, made sure her outfit for the day was carefully selected and laid out, and even prepared her towel, washcloth and make-up ensemble so that once she did get up, time would not slip away from her. As she sleepily went through the motions of readying herself for the Silver Skillet, Autumn wondered if anything was worth getting up this early. The steaming hot shower helped wake her enough to keep her on time and on schedule. She pulled out of the driveway at 4:55 AM, five minutes earlier than she had planned.

The roadways of the burgeoning metropolis that Atlanta, Georgia, became in the late 1970's were a daily challenge to negotiate - especially during morning rush hour. A 5:00 AM departure ensured that the commute from the Hamilton's Alpharetta estate would not be a problem. And, it wasn't - except for the fact that Autumn Belle didn't factor in the Georgia State Trooper that clocked her flying down Interstate 85 at 95 mph.

He pulled her over and began to write the speeding ticket.

Autumn began to feign a contrite wave of weeping and sobbing. She had always managed to escape, or talk her way out of, traffic citations. The batting of her pretty green eyes, the pouty curl of her lip, and the playful wink she learned in charm school had served her well in the avoidance of speeding tickets. This encounter was no exception. The young trooper eventually let her go with only a "stern" warning. Feeling more than a little like the cat that caught the canary, Autumn drove away "grinning-like-a-mule-eating-briars." She could not have known that this particular encounter with the law would have its own set of consequences.

As she pulled in and parked her shiny, new, powder blue Jaguar in the Silver Skillet parking lot, she looked at her watch. It was 5:25 AM. Five minutes to spare! Autumn was checking her make-up a final time in the Jaguar's lighted rear-view mirror when someone abruptly began pecking on the driver-side window. Autumn gave a frightened shriek - leaning quickly away from the door. With the light from the rear-view mirror reflecting off everything inside the car, she could not see to tell who this was tapping on her window. She was reaching for the glove box flashlight when she heard, just as she had twice before, THE voice. It was HIM!!! "What in blue blazes are YOU doing here at this time of the morning?," the voice asked. She could see a grinning silhouette of a face peering in the car window at her. "Are you lost?," Beau asked in a facetious tone. Before she could answer he said, "In case you don't know where you are, Missy, this is NOT your daddy's tennis club!"

Autumn Belle Hamilton had never in her life held a conversation with another human being through the window of a parked car - in a darkened parking lot - at such an insanely early hour. She barely knew Beau Jackson, but she was already developing an extreme dislike for him. She could see his muscularly defined form in the dark t-shirt and blue jeans he wore, as he stood up and walked in front of her Jaguar. He turned, mockingly waved to her and quickly bounded up the stairs and into the front door of the Silver Skillet. He kept looking back at her in the car, laughing to himself and shaking his head. He seemed quite amused that he had just scared  the living daylights out of her.

She, however, was NOT amused!

Autumn Belle jumped out of the car in a huff, grabbed her legal pad folder and purse, and slammed the Jaguar door. The echo of the slamming car door rang out over the entire parking lot. As she turned to walk toward the restaurant, she heard an intensely sickening noise - the sound of fabric tearing like a paper bag in a shredder. Autumn looked down to see her brand new skirt, caught in the car door. It was now ripped, smeared with the black grease from the door, and looking more like a grease-monkey's coveralls than the finely-appointed business suit of a professional journalist.

With a frustrated gasp, Autumn repeatedly jerked the part of her skirt caught in the car door. After the third or fourth attempt to free it from the door, she heard THE voice once again. "Are you changing the oil, Missy, or are you coming in for breakfast?," Beau teased, as he leaned out the restaurant door. "If you ARE changing the oil, my Harley over there also needs a lube job," he said, giggling under his breath. Autumn stomped her foot and grunted, "Ooooooooh, just leave me alone!"

Finally, and with great force, she yanked the piece of her skirt from the door, hurriedly climbed back into the car and peeled wildly out of the parking lot. Now she would have to go all the way back home and change! Her brand new outfit was ruined! Her first assignment as a journalist - a complete disaster! And, to top all of this, Beau Jackson had found her out - and had made great fun of her in her most humiliating predicament. Her cover was blown! The whole world, no doubt, would soon know that she had not come to the Silver Skillet so early on that morning to see George Decker.

How could she ever go near that place again?

Autumn Belle was as flushed with anger. Having been totally embarrassed by a fry cook, and in perhaps the greatest hurry of her young life, she tightly gripped the steering wheel as she sped headlong down the ramp and onto I-85 North. Weaving in and out of the outbound lanes, she pushed her new Jaguar to the limit. Autumn Belle Hamilton was squarely in the middle of a four-alarm hissy fit. She was pushing to the max one of the most powerful cars in the world. Heaven help anyone in her way!

As fate would have it, the same young trooper who had stopped her earlier that morning clocked her at 120 mph as she flew past him. He quickly gave chase. This time, however, her grace and charm would not save her. The ticket she was handed a few minutes later read, "Charges: Felony Speeding, Wreckless Driving, and Insulting an Officer of the Law....Fine: $500 or 24 hours in jail."

Autumn thought to herself as she lowered her head to cry - and this time, her tears were very real - "Please, Lord, let me die now!"

Not yet, Autumn Belle.

Not just yet!