"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.

Friday, July 30, 2010

"Autumn Belle - Chapter 6"

It was well after 9:30 AM when Autumn finally got to the newspaper offices that morning. She was still a seething cauldron of anger, humiliation, and disappointment. Mrs. Sibley met her in the hall and asked how her initial interview with George Decker had gone. "It went fine," she lyingly replied. Plopping down at her cubicle, Autumn was NOT in the mood for work. She sat staring at her typewriter for most of the morning. She was still too mad to really care if anyone noticed that she was not really doing any work.

The phone suddenly rang at her desk at about 11:15 AM.

"Miss Hamilton," the switchboard operator said, "the receptionist in the front lobby says that you have a delivery." "A delivery?", she asked in a bewildered voice. "Yes, please come down right away and pick it up," the operator concluded. As she rode the elevator down from the 5th floor, Autumn could not imagine what had been delivered to her. When she turned the corner out of the elevator and saw what was sitting on the the receptionist's desk, she gasped with surprise. The largest vase she had ever seen, filled beautiful deep-red roses and cut flowers.

"Miss Hamilton," the receptionist said, "these just came for you."

Autumn could not believe it. On this terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day, who could have known that this was JUST what she needed? "Daddy must have sent them," she mumured to herself as she spun the vase around and around. Rhett Hamilton, she surmised, must have known that his little girl was in a state of turmoil. She had flown through the house that morning changing from the business suit she had ruined with the car door, and rushing back out she completely by-passed her parents without so much as a word of explanation. Daddy must have known that his little girl desperately needed this.

As she looked at the envelope with the card inside, she was surprised to see that the flowers did not come from their neighborhood florist in Alpharetta. To her further surprise, she noticed that they had, in fact, been delivered from a florist located just across Fourteenth Street from none other than the Silver Skillet. She curiously opened the card. It read, "Sorry for scaring you this morning. And, sorry about the speeding ticket. If you will come back tomorrow, breakfast is on me...Sincerely, BJ."

Autumn threw the card on the floor. "Of all the nerve!," she bellowed. "What's wrong?", asked the receptionist. "Of all the nerve!," she repeated. "Well, if HE thinks HE is going to get the best of ME with a few flowers, boy has HE got another thing coming!", she declared. Autumn picked up the card, grabbed the vase of flowers - causing its water to spill on the floor, and stomped back toward the elevator.

When she got back to her floor with the flowers, all the female staffers gathered around. They fired question after question at Autumn. "Who is he? How long have you two been dating? Is he THE one? What does he look like? Is he rich?," they asked. Autumn refused to answer any of the questions. She mumbled that someone was trying to play a smart-aleck joke on her, and that she was going to return them to him without delay.

When Mrs. Sibley heard the commotion, she came out of her office with some questions of her own.

"Why are we all gathered around Miss Hamilton's desk? Why aren't we all busy with our work? Have we forgotten our deadlines? Would we like to have an extended leave of absence from our duties through the issuance of an Editor's Pink Slip?," she curtly asked. As everyone went briskly back to their desks, Mrs. Sibley stared a long moment at the flowers, looked disapprovingly at Autumn Belle, and turned to go back to her office.

"No one ever did that for me," she whispered.

Autumn heard Mrs. Sibley's comment, and it instantly changed her whole perspective. In an instant, she began to re-think her attitude. Slowly, she began to see the gesture in a much different light. As she continued to gaze at and stroke the beautiful bouquet of flowers in front of her, the anger that had consumed her began to subside. In its place, a growing sense of curiosity took over.

Who is this man? Why had he taken such an interest in her? How did he even know her? How did he know where she worked? And, HOW did he know about the speeding ticket?

This was all too weird. Was he stalking her? Was she in danger? Maybe he was setting her up for some sort of kidnap and ransom ambush? Should she call the police? Should she notify security? Should she tell her daddy?

Autumn began to feel somewhat helpless to be able to make sense of all that was shooting through her brain - or to have the strength to stop it. She felt drawn to the Silver Skillet, and to this stranger. He was, after all, THE most genuinely gorgeous man she had ever seen. Her mind was made up. Whoever Beauregard Jackson was, and whatever he was, and for whatever reason he had suddenly come into her life, she now HAD to find out.

It was almost noon. Autumn went to Mrs. Sibley's office and made up a story about having an afternoon filled with appointments - including a sit-down interview with George Decker after the Silver Skillet had closed for the day.

With Mrs. Sibley's approval, Autumn went back to her cubicle, gathered her things, stroked and sniffed the flowers a final time, and then headed for the elevator. Fate seemed to be leading her back to the Silver Skillet. As she rode the elevator down to the newspaper lobby and hopped in the Jaguar, she planned her afternoon's work. Her number one goal - getting some answers to the puzzling questions confronting her.

"Look out Mr. Jackson," she said as she walked off the elevator, "here comes trouble."