"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.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Autumn Belle - Chapter 18"

"I still remember the first time I saw you," Beau began, "in fact, I will never forget it."

In total harmony with what George Decker had shared with her, Beau recounted for Autumn the night at the Woodward football game. To the last detail, Beau recited what she wore that night, recalling her every move at the game. He then called to mind the events surrounding her debutante ball and their first "meeting." He spoke of that first morning she came to the Silver Skillet, and then everything thereafter. Just as Mr. Decker and Beau's mother had said, this young man had Autumn Belle in his sights long before she had known that he was even alive. Autumn's occasional hissy fits about Beau's being a mad stalker had all been pure foolishness. Listening to him, she could tell he had been in love with her for a very long time. Hearing him talk about all of these things touched her.

Beau took her hand in his, and launched into a long series of declarations. He began with the disclaimer, "I've got some serious things I want to say, so please don't stop me."

"You are a rich girl...Your family has more money than Davy Crockett...But, that really doesn't matter to me...Your parents seem like nice, down to earth people...I really like them...And, they seem to like me...I really enjoyed being at your house the other day," he said.

"Autumn," he continued, "as the song says, my life is not the kind that gives a woman peace of mind, nor does it provide the settled, nine-to-five world that I know can be a really important thing to a female...Too, I may never make a million dollars...And, I don't know that I would ever fit in with high society folks," he said, taking a deep breath. "My life is crazy most of the time, with occasional periods of it being almost nuts...Not many people are cut out for that," he added.

"Too, I have known a lot of women in my time...And I've had lots of 'opportunities'...Some of those women wanted to own me...And, some wanted to change me...That's one of the reasons why I am still single today...I have never found a woman that wanted me for who I really was...Some days I am very tough to deal with...I am a very hard worker...And, I have some screwy quirks that some women have found a little difficult to tolerate...Such as," Beau dropped his head as though he was too embarrassed to continue. Autumn kissed the back of his strong hand and said, "You don't have to say anymore."

"No, that's OK," he said, "I need to get this stuff off my chest." He continued, "I have been raised in a pretty conservative home, Autumn...Both of my parents came from strict moral and religious upbringing...And, that's the kind of environment they maintained in our home while I was growing up...So, as a result...Boy, are you going to think this is really far out there...What I'm trying to say is that I have never been with a woman before...I am a 26 year old virgin, my dear...And, no I am not a funny boy...I have just always been taught to wait on THAT until marriage."

Autumn was blown away.

She was about to say something when he stopped her. "Let me finish, please...Don't get me wrong...I have had more than my share of chances...And, I really DO like girls, a LOT...As a matter of fact, the dress you're wearing tonight makes my decision to be a monk seem all the more ridiculous and stupid...But, whenever I make a promise to myself I usually try my dead level best to keep it...I guess, too, I never really met anybody that I thought I wanted to have that kind of relationship with...Until now," he said, looking up at her and nodding his head as he spoke.

Beau slid out of his chair and down on one knee. He took Autumn's hands in his. He was trembling. "Autumn...What I am trying to say is...I guess I really love you...As corny as it sounds, I love you with all my heart...I have for a very long time...I know we haven't been together all that long...And, I know that there are lots of things we still have to learn about each other...I don't know everything there is to know about how to treat a lady...Sometimes I am very backward about knowing what to say or do," he said, taking a deep breath and reaching for one of the glasses of grape juice. He drained it dry, wiped his mouth, and continued.

"I don't know where the Navy is going to send me when I go back...My goal, up to now, has been to serve my twenty and get out...You know, settle down, get married, open my own restaurant, and have a regular life," he said. "But, until that finally happens, I could be deployed just about anywhere in the world, sometimes for months at a time...I could easily get wounded and spend the rest of my life without an arm or leg, literally...Or, I could be killed," he admitted, pausing for a long moment. Looking down again, he patted Autumn's hands and resumed, "My wife, if I ever have one, might very well have to spend long stretches of time without me...She might even wind up a widow...She will have to be a very understanding and brave woman..Like my mother has always been."

Autumn's eyes filled with tears. She pressed her lips together, forcing a smile, and nodding her head in affirmation. "I understand.," she said.

Beau interrupted her, " I hope you do...I really hope you do...Because...Autumn Belle Hamilton...I guess what I am saying, or asking...Is that I want you to be my wife...Will you wait for me?," Beau paused, swallowing hard, "Autumn, will you marry me?"

As he spoke, Beau reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring box. He opened it, revealing a large, center cut diamond in a shiny yellow gold setting. It sparkled brightly in the Tennessee moonlight. He handed it to Autumn. Now her hands were shaking. Though she had dreamed of this day since she was a little girl, and though she had fully expected Beau to do exactly this, she was now at a total loss for knowing what to say or do. She simply sat there, staring at the ring, then at Beau, then back at the ring. Tears were running down her cheeks. She took the ring out of the box. Beau slid it on her finger and kissed her.

Autumn Belle extended her arm out straight, tilting her hand back and forth as she admired the ring. It looked marvelous on her hand. And, it felt perfect on her finger - like it had always been there.

She got up from the chair and wrapped her arms around Beau. They began to sway back and forth - as though they were dancing. After several minutes, she gently pushed away from him and said, "I also have a lot to say too, but before I do, I have GOT to go to the bathroom again...Can you give me a few minutes?...I'll meet you right back here...Promise!"

Beau nodded in agreement, and assured her that he was not going anywhere.