"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, August 13, 2010

"Autumn Belle - Chapter 9"

Autumn's parents had remarked many times that whenever she was about to drop a bomb on someone, there were always warning signs. The sitting up straight, the clearing of the throat, and the coy smile were hints that something jaw-dropping was about to come forth.

Autumn explained to George Decker that her "orders" from Mrs. Sibley regarding this story required her to be as thorough and "investigative" as possible. This subtle aggression was also a sign of Autumn's nature. Whenever she was on the trail of something she wanted, she almost always managed to find a scapegoat. In this case, Mrs. Sibley would do just fine.

Flipping the pages of her notepad as though she was genuinely reviewing their conversation, Autumn said in a much-too-mater-of-fact tone, "Now let's see...Who is missing?...Oh yes, the employee of yours that was escorting me through the back door earlier...I don't think we discussed him yet...Did we?" Mr. Decker took a long, slow sip of his coffee and said, "No, I don't guess we did." With that there was a noticeable silence from his side of the table.

Autumn looked up from her pad, trying not to seem too anxious. "What do you want to know?," he asked. "Oh, the usual...His name...What he does around here...How long he's been with you...That sort of stuff," Autumn said, feigning innocence and readying her pen. Still, there was silence from George Decker. After a long second or two, he took yet another S-L-O-W sip of coffee.

"What IS he waiting on?," Autumn wondered to herself. Could it be THAT bad? Was there more to tell than Mr. Decker could reveal? Why was he hesitating? Maybe this fellow WAS a stalker or ex-convict of some kind. Maybe there was no good way of explaining who this Beau character truly was. Was he embarrassed? "Why doesn't he say SOMETHING?," she thought.

When Autumn looked up again, Mr. Decker had put his coffee cup on the table, and was sitting with his hands folded. He was grinning from ear to ear. "What?," Autumn asked.

"Miss Hamilton," he began, "before I answer, may I please ask YOU a question?" Autumn nodded - trying to hide the expression that she KNEW was on her face - that of a little girl who had just gotten caught stealing from the cookie jar. "Might it just be possible," he said - with a chuckle in his voice, "that HE is the fellow you came here to interview today instead of me?"

Autumn's face flushed. Was she THAT obvious and transparent? "Why, whatever do you mean by that?," she asked - in her best Scarlett O'Hara voice. Mr. Decker laughed heartily and shook his head. "Miss Hamilton," he began again, "if you want to meet my cook, why don't you just say so...I will go out and get him for you?"

Mr. Decker began sliding out of the booth as though he was headed for the kitchen. Autumn grabbed his arm and shook her head in a wildly animated fashion. "No, no, no," she said, "let's not bother him right now...I am sure he is busy cooking or cleaning up or something...I just need to know a couple of things about him anyway!"

George Decker got up and freshened his coffee, offered a refill of sweet tea for Autumn, and then sat back down. After another sip from his cup, Mr. Decker suggested to Autumn that she just sit back and relax. She got the distinct impression that whatever she was about to hear was going to take a while.

Her intuition was spot on.

After another brief period of silence, Mr. Decker said, "Hang on just a second," he said - winking and patting Autumn's hand, "I'll be right back." He got up, went over and opened the door, summoned one of his waitresses and said, "Miss Hamilton and I are going to be a while longer...Please make sure we are not disturbed." The waitress agreed and asked if they needed anything. Mr. Decker glanced toward Autumn. "No sir," she said, "I don't need anything except a quick trip to the ladies room." As she got up and walked through the kitchen toward the restroom, her pulsed quickened. She hoped that she wouldn't run into HIM.

The trip to the restroom was uneventful. Not many patrons were left in the outer dining room, and the workers in the kitchen were busily cleaning up. No sign of Beau Jackson. It was now a few minutes after 2:00 PM. As she came back into the room, Mr. Decker was on the phone. He motioned for Autumn to sit down. "I'll only be a minute," he whispered. She was certain that whatever she was about to hear was going to be significant. She swallowed a mouthful of the crushed ice left in her tea glass and anxiously waited. 

The long-awaited revelation of the mystery that was Mr. Beauregard Jackson was about to unfold. As nervous as she was, the excitement she felt was a lot like one of many movie premieres she had attended during her teen years.

Except for the fact that this was no movie.

Autumn Belle Hamilton's life was about to change - forever.