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Fiction:The Woman in the Holler

Janie 16 Jul 06 - 03:09 PM
wysiwyg 16 Jul 06 - 03:11 PM
katlaughing 16 Jul 06 - 03:12 PM
Janie 16 Jul 06 - 03:23 PM
Louie Roy 16 Jul 06 - 03:55 PM
Janie 16 Jul 06 - 05:00 PM
Louie Roy 16 Jul 06 - 06:41 PM
Janie 16 Jul 06 - 07:39 PM
Louie Roy 16 Jul 06 - 10:12 PM
Janie 16 Jul 06 - 10:31 PM
katlaughing 16 Jul 06 - 11:18 PM
GUEST,Janie 17 Jul 06 - 11:03 AM
Louie Roy 17 Jul 06 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,Janie 17 Jul 06 - 11:49 AM
Louie Roy 17 Jul 06 - 12:17 PM
Janie 18 Jul 06 - 09:48 PM
Louie Roy 19 Jul 06 - 11:24 AM
GUEST,Janie 19 Jul 06 - 01:06 PM
MMario 19 Jul 06 - 01:12 PM
wysiwyg 19 Jul 06 - 03:04 PM
MMario 19 Jul 06 - 03:12 PM
Louie Roy 19 Jul 06 - 03:45 PM
GUEST 19 Jul 06 - 04:55 PM
Janie 19 Jul 06 - 09:19 PM
Janie 19 Jul 06 - 09:48 PM
Janie 19 Jul 06 - 10:05 PM
GUEST,Janie 20 Jul 06 - 07:57 AM
Louie Roy 20 Jul 06 - 12:31 PM
Janie 20 Jul 06 - 06:39 PM
Louie Roy 20 Jul 06 - 10:35 PM
Janie 20 Jul 06 - 11:27 PM
Janie 20 Jul 06 - 11:33 PM
Janie 21 Jul 06 - 12:48 AM
Janie 21 Jul 06 - 01:00 AM
Janie 22 Jul 06 - 10:39 PM
Janie 23 Jul 06 - 10:18 PM
katlaughing 23 Jul 06 - 10:43 PM
Janie 23 Jul 06 - 11:05 PM
Amos 23 Jul 06 - 11:52 PM
MMario 24 Jul 06 - 09:06 AM
Louie Roy 24 Jul 06 - 10:03 AM
Janie 24 Jul 06 - 11:17 AM
MMario 24 Jul 06 - 11:25 AM
Louie Roy 25 Jul 06 - 12:45 AM
Janie 25 Jul 06 - 01:56 AM
Janie 25 Jul 06 - 08:30 AM
Louie Roy 25 Jul 06 - 09:26 AM
Janie 26 Jul 06 - 10:42 AM
MMario 26 Jul 06 - 10:57 AM
Janie 26 Jul 06 - 06:59 PM
Janie 26 Jul 06 - 07:33 PM
Louie Roy 26 Jul 06 - 09:29 PM
Janie 27 Jul 06 - 01:12 AM
MMario 27 Jul 06 - 08:49 AM
Janie 27 Jul 06 - 11:33 PM
Janie 27 Jul 06 - 11:48 PM
Janie 28 Jul 06 - 10:50 PM
katlaughing 28 Jul 06 - 11:05 PM
Louie Roy 29 Jul 06 - 10:39 AM
MMario 01 Aug 06 - 08:26 AM
MMario 03 Aug 06 - 10:57 AM
Janie 04 Aug 06 - 07:28 PM
Janie 04 Aug 06 - 10:32 PM
Janie 05 Aug 06 - 07:00 PM
Janie 05 Aug 06 - 10:46 PM
Janie 05 Aug 06 - 10:57 PM
Janie 06 Aug 06 - 11:18 PM
GUEST,Janie 07 Aug 06 - 10:12 AM
MMario 07 Aug 06 - 10:25 AM
Janie 07 Aug 06 - 11:10 PM
Janie 07 Aug 06 - 11:13 PM
MMario 08 Aug 06 - 09:44 AM
Janie 08 Aug 06 - 11:01 PM
Janie 10 Aug 06 - 11:31 PM
Janie 10 Aug 06 - 11:32 PM
Janie 10 Aug 06 - 11:33 PM
Janie 11 Aug 06 - 06:53 PM
Effsee 11 Aug 06 - 09:15 PM
Janie 27 Oct 06 - 11:20 PM
katlaughing 27 Oct 06 - 11:24 PM
MMario 28 Oct 06 - 09:06 AM
MMario 08 Nov 06 - 03:54 PM
Janie 08 Nov 06 - 08:01 PM
Janie 08 Nov 06 - 10:16 PM
Janie 08 Nov 06 - 11:01 PM
MMario 09 Nov 06 - 08:19 AM
Janie 09 Nov 06 - 01:57 PM
MMario 09 Nov 06 - 02:07 PM
Janie 09 Nov 06 - 11:33 PM
Janie 10 Nov 06 - 10:06 PM
Janie 10 Nov 06 - 11:47 PM
Janie 11 Nov 06 - 08:28 AM
Janie 11 Nov 06 - 02:05 PM
Janie 11 Nov 06 - 10:37 PM
Janie 13 Nov 06 - 10:03 PM
Effsee 13 Nov 06 - 10:10 PM
frogprince 13 Nov 06 - 10:24 PM
Janie 13 Nov 06 - 10:33 PM
Janie 13 Nov 06 - 10:54 PM
Leadfingers 14 Nov 06 - 05:57 AM
MMario 14 Nov 06 - 08:24 AM
katlaughing 14 Nov 06 - 10:22 AM
MMario 14 Nov 06 - 10:41 AM
GUEST,Janie 14 Nov 06 - 10:47 AM
MMario 14 Nov 06 - 11:00 AM
Janie 14 Nov 06 - 07:04 PM
Janie 14 Nov 06 - 07:30 PM
Janie 14 Nov 06 - 08:06 PM
Janie 14 Nov 06 - 08:24 PM
katlaughing 14 Nov 06 - 08:37 PM
MMario 16 Nov 06 - 02:43 PM
Annie 16 Nov 06 - 10:44 PM
Janie 16 Nov 06 - 11:13 PM
Janie 16 Nov 06 - 11:24 PM
Janie 17 Nov 06 - 10:31 PM
Janie 17 Nov 06 - 11:06 PM
Effsee 19 Nov 06 - 09:32 PM
Leadfingers 19 Nov 06 - 09:39 PM
Leadfingers 19 Nov 06 - 09:40 PM
Janie 20 Nov 06 - 12:40 PM
Effsee 20 Nov 06 - 09:20 PM
Janie 20 Nov 06 - 11:03 PM
Janie 20 Nov 06 - 11:22 PM
katlaughing 20 Nov 06 - 11:52 PM
Janie 21 Nov 06 - 12:56 AM
Janie 23 Nov 06 - 02:06 PM
Janie 23 Nov 06 - 02:15 PM
GUEST,Technical Non-fiction Mind 23 Nov 06 - 02:18 PM
Effsee 23 Nov 06 - 09:45 PM
Janie 23 Nov 06 - 09:52 PM
Janie 24 Nov 06 - 10:24 AM
GUEST 24 Nov 06 - 01:17 PM
GUEST,Technical Non-fiction Mind 24 Nov 06 - 02:17 PM
Janie 30 Nov 06 - 11:02 PM
frogprince 30 Nov 06 - 11:07 PM
MMario 01 Dec 06 - 08:45 AM
GUEST,Janie 01 Dec 06 - 01:52 PM
frogprince 01 Dec 06 - 03:58 PM
MMario 12 Dec 06 - 11:16 AM
Janie 26 Dec 06 - 07:44 PM
Cruiser 26 Dec 06 - 07:50 PM
Janie 26 Dec 06 - 08:33 PM
Janie 26 Dec 06 - 08:50 PM
Janie 28 Dec 06 - 11:00 PM
Janie 28 Dec 06 - 11:27 PM
Janie 05 Jan 07 - 07:39 PM
katlaughing 05 Jan 07 - 07:51 PM
Effsee 05 Jan 07 - 09:40 PM
Janie 07 Jan 07 - 12:03 AM
MMario 24 Jan 07 - 12:19 PM
Janie 23 Feb 07 - 10:24 PM
Janie 23 Feb 07 - 10:31 PM
Janie 24 Feb 07 - 08:07 AM
Janie 26 Feb 07 - 09:51 PM
katlaughing 27 Feb 07 - 12:21 AM
Janie 03 Mar 07 - 06:33 PM
Janie 03 Mar 07 - 07:13 PM
Janie 14 Mar 07 - 10:02 PM
Janie 15 Mar 07 - 06:01 AM
MMario 15 Mar 07 - 09:58 AM
GUEST,Janie 15 Mar 07 - 11:54 AM
katlaughing 15 Mar 07 - 09:53 PM
Janie 15 Mar 07 - 10:22 PM
MMario 16 Mar 07 - 07:43 AM
Janie 22 Mar 07 - 12:24 AM
MMario 05 Apr 07 - 01:33 PM
Janie 07 Apr 07 - 11:08 PM
katlaughing 07 Apr 07 - 11:17 PM
MMario 08 Apr 07 - 08:01 AM
Janie 08 Apr 07 - 09:08 AM
Janie 08 Apr 07 - 11:01 AM
Janie 08 Apr 07 - 06:08 PM
Effsee 08 Apr 07 - 09:32 PM
MMario 10 Apr 07 - 12:42 PM
frogprince 10 Apr 07 - 02:10 PM
Janie 12 Apr 07 - 10:25 PM
Janie 12 Apr 07 - 10:49 PM
Janie 14 Apr 07 - 12:24 AM
Janie 22 Apr 07 - 10:48 PM
Janie 25 Apr 07 - 10:34 PM
Janie 13 May 07 - 11:49 PM
Janie 28 May 07 - 04:32 PM
Janie 28 May 07 - 06:06 PM
Janie 28 May 07 - 06:47 PM
MMario 01 Jun 07 - 03:18 PM
Janie 14 Jul 07 - 07:03 PM
Janie 14 Jul 07 - 07:30 PM
Janie 14 Jul 07 - 08:02 PM
Janie 14 Jul 07 - 08:46 PM
Effsee 14 Jul 07 - 09:22 PM
Janie 14 Jul 07 - 09:34 PM
Effsee 14 Jul 07 - 09:44 PM
Janie 14 Jul 07 - 11:08 PM
katlaughing 14 Jul 07 - 11:56 PM
Janie 15 Jul 07 - 10:32 AM
Janie 15 Jul 07 - 10:36 AM
Janie 15 Jul 07 - 01:16 PM
Janie 15 Jul 07 - 04:17 PM
MMario 15 Jul 07 - 11:02 PM
Janie 15 Jul 07 - 11:16 PM
Janie 15 Jul 07 - 11:19 PM
katlaughing 16 Jul 07 - 12:37 AM
Janie 16 Jul 07 - 12:37 AM
Janie 16 Jul 07 - 12:51 AM
Janie 16 Jul 07 - 01:01 AM
Janie 16 Jul 07 - 01:49 AM
Janie 16 Jul 07 - 08:46 AM
Janie 16 Jul 07 - 10:08 AM
Janie 16 Jul 07 - 10:30 AM
Janie 16 Jul 07 - 11:48 PM
MMario 17 Jul 07 - 03:26 PM
Janie 18 Jul 07 - 01:03 AM
Janie 30 Nov 07 - 10:51 PM
katlaughing 01 Dec 07 - 12:14 AM
Janie 01 Dec 07 - 12:25 PM
Janie 01 Dec 07 - 11:06 PM
Janie 02 Dec 07 - 09:43 PM
Janie 02 Dec 07 - 10:48 PM
Janie 02 Feb 08 - 01:27 AM
katlaughing 03 Feb 08 - 12:27 AM
Janie 23 Aug 08 - 06:54 PM
Effsee 23 Aug 08 - 10:04 PM
katlaughing 23 Aug 08 - 10:27 PM
Janie 24 Aug 08 - 01:19 AM
Janie 24 Aug 08 - 01:26 AM
Janie 24 Aug 08 - 09:11 PM
Tinker 24 Aug 08 - 11:12 PM
katlaughing 25 Aug 08 - 12:24 AM
MMario 25 Aug 08 - 10:58 AM
MMario 25 Aug 08 - 02:36 PM
MMario 25 Aug 08 - 03:34 PM
Janie 25 Aug 08 - 09:54 PM
MMario 26 Aug 08 - 09:51 AM
Janie 26 Aug 08 - 11:26 PM
MMario 27 Aug 08 - 11:15 AM
MMario 02 Sep 08 - 11:40 AM
Janie 06 Sep 08 - 11:41 PM
Janie 07 Sep 08 - 12:04 AM
katlaughing 07 Sep 08 - 12:17 AM
Janie 07 Sep 08 - 01:49 AM
Janie 26 Jul 09 - 11:08 PM
katlaughing 26 Jul 09 - 11:34 PM
Tinker 26 Jul 09 - 11:40 PM
Janie 26 Jul 09 - 11:52 PM
Janie 14 Aug 09 - 09:04 PM
Janie 15 Aug 09 - 04:21 PM
Janie 06 Mar 10 - 09:53 PM
Janie 06 Mar 10 - 11:10 PM
Effsee 06 Mar 10 - 11:26 PM
katlaughing 07 Mar 10 - 12:21 AM
Janie 07 Mar 10 - 08:22 PM
Janie 07 Mar 10 - 08:33 PM
Janie 07 Mar 10 - 09:33 PM
Janie 13 Mar 10 - 02:27 AM
MMario 22 Jun 10 - 09:52 AM
Leadfingers 22 Jun 10 - 04:28 PM
Gweltas 23 Jun 10 - 12:13 AM
MMario 23 Jun 10 - 09:15 AM
MMario 23 Jun 10 - 09:50 AM
MMario 23 Jun 10 - 10:48 AM
Janie 23 Jun 10 - 11:01 PM
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Subject: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 16 Jul 06 - 03:09 PM

Inspired by this thread.                  

                      THE WOMAN IN THE HOLLER

    The old woman knew they were coming well before she heard the sound of the engine and the banging of the truck chassis as it bounced along the rutted dirt road. The dogs had been carrying on for several minutes. When they started their baying she put down the book she was reading and stepped quickly to the kitchen to get a pot of water going for tea or instant coffee. She wondered how many would come this time.

      Stopping briefly in front of the mirror hanging in the dog-trot to check that her gray bun was neat, she stepped out onto the porch, hushed the dogs, and stood there, waiting, one hand shielding her pale blue eyes from the setting sun


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: wysiwyg
Date: 16 Jul 06 - 03:11 PM

[GO JANIE!!!]

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Jul 06 - 03:12 PM

(Here comes that book, right?! Yippee!!)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 16 Jul 06 - 03:23 PM

"There she is!" cried Louie. Hanging onto the grip behind the truck cab with one hand, he threw the other up into the air to wave a greeting to the woman they all called Aunt Cathy. The truck hit another rut, and he toppled backward into the bed of the truck as several pairs of hands reached out to stop him from falling on the cased instruments.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Louie Roy
Date: 16 Jul 06 - 03:55 PM

Janie I know what the next line would be if I was writing the book,but I'm waiting for yours Louie


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 16 Jul 06 - 05:00 PM

"Dammit, Louie!" Joe grabbed his viola and jerked it out of the way as Louie tumbled on down into the truckbed. Sarah, Jake and Willie, on the other side of the truck, sat and glared at him.

Aunt Cathy had missed Louie's wave-the truck had passed behind a thin screen of black locust. As it rolled back into clear view, she absently noted the two feet waving in the air as she strained to see who had come to join her in music this summer night. She was always glad for the chance to sing and play a little music. But lately, she was thinking it was time to start talking, to pass on more than just the music. She wondered if tonight would be when she would start. It would mean something to have these people listen, and she really hoped her grand-niece and grandson were on that truck.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Louie Roy
Date: 16 Jul 06 - 06:41 PM

Aunt Cathy didn't realize how much trouble she was going to be in if she attempted to start a conversation with a group of musician when they only had one thing on their mind and that was jamming


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 16 Jul 06 - 07:39 PM

The truck pulled up to the gate and Louie jumped out and walked around to open it. The truck drove through and bounced on up the muddy track through the cow pasture. Louie trotted behind, keeping a wary eye the the dairy cow and the half-grown calf grazing about 15 feet from the track. That old cow of Aunt Cathy's could be mean sometimes. It didn't pay to not keep an eye on her.

The cow looked up from grazing as the truck drove past with Louie moving close behind. She lowered her head and turned toward Louie and for a minute he thought he might have to run. She must have decided not to mess with him this evening, because after one intent stare, she turned and went back to browsing. Louie sighed with relief and hurried on into the yard, closing the second gate firmly behind him. The others were already unloading their instruments and moving up onto the porch as He walked up to the truck. He reached over the side of the truck, grabbed his guitar and his concertina, and followed the rest up the steps.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Louie Roy
Date: 16 Jul 06 - 10:12 PM

Janie you failed to mention although Louie was not only a little unbalanced he also was not a cowboy or he would have been riding in the middle seat of that pu that way a cowboy never has to open or shut a gate.And another thing a range rider would never expose himself to a cow with a calf without a horse between his legs.That's the hell of it with a musician the only thing he has on his mund is a G STRING


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 16 Jul 06 - 10:31 PM

"Louie, when you gonna stop wishin" you was a cowboy and start rejoicing that you are a hillbilly?" Aunt Cathy smiled at her grandson's oldest friend, and extended a hand to carry the concertina as they walked into the house together.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Jul 06 - 11:18 PM

(LOL with Louie Roy and nice save, Janie! This is great!)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: GUEST,Janie
Date: 17 Jul 06 - 11:03 AM

"I had hoped Billy would be coming. Have you talked with him?" Cathy inquired about her grandson.

"He and Sharon will both be here late tonight or by mid-morning tomorrow. Sharon called this morning. If they weren't too tired after the final matinee they were going to drive on up from Charleston tonight. Otherwise they'll wait and come up in the morning" Louie nodded his head in the direction of the Parlour. "Sounds like they're about to start without us."   

They stepped into the parlour. Joe was over by the piano, viola tuned up and ready to play. Henry, Cathy's only contemporary in the group, was showing a new fiddle tune to Sarah.    Louie settled on the couch with his guitar on his lap as Cathy moved over next to Sarah, where she had already laid out her flute, recorder, pennywhistle and panpipes. She glanced down at the flute case, with all its stickers from so many places and venues, and thought back to that cold December night so many years ago, when she had been given the flute--an answered prayer.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Louie Roy
Date: 17 Jul 06 - 11:18 AM

Louie walked inand handed his beat old guitar to Joe and sid I think this is out of tune.Since this was one of Louie's favorite tricks he took the guitar and headeinto the next room where it was a little more quite and he could control his temper,Sarah,Jake and Willie glared at Louie ,but he knew that they wouldn't get to irate since he was the lead guitar player.Janie you forgot to mention that Aunt Cathy was their Aunt by marriage to Uncle Zeke who was over in the next Holler visiting with his new girlfriend.bAunt Cathy still had other thing on her mind besides playing music


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: GUEST,Janie
Date: 17 Jul 06 - 11:49 AM

(You hush your mouth now, Louie Roy. Cathy has her eyes set on Henry. He thinks she's a widderwoman and not a grass widow. He's a good Old Regular Baptist, even if he does play the fiddle where he don't think the Association will hear of it. Cathy won't have any chance with him if he finds out she's still married to that old rooster over on Tupper's Creek!)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Louie Roy
Date: 17 Jul 06 - 12:17 PM

I'm wondering what is going to happen when Zeke drops by unexpected and Bapist Henry is giving Cathy a fiddle lesson without too much music envolved.This was common practice over in Randolph County where Zeke grew up for the husband to ocassionly stop by even though he had more than he could handle over on Tupper creek,but that's a common practice of a hillbilly living in his own ego


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 18 Jul 06 - 09:48 PM

It was almost midnight when the dogs started up again. Henry, Sarah and Cathy were taking a smoke break out on the front porch, talking quietly and watching the quarter moon that had just risen above the ridge. Louie had been banished to the couch on the back porch. As usual, he had hit the whiskey bottle too hard and had become so obnoxious that Cathy had banished him from the main house. Joe, Jake and Willie had been hard at playing ragtime for the last 30 minutes or so, but from the sound of it they were starting to wind down a bit.

An old VW van chuckachugged up into the yard. Cathy smiled with pleasure as her grandson Billy and his cousin Sharon stepped out onto the ground. Her smile widened as she saw Big Bill, Becky and Ralph emerge from the rear door of the van. "My Stars and Bars," she exclaimed, "It must be Christmas in July! I can't believe you all have come all the way up Paint Creek from Charleston to see me. Come in! Come in!"


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Louie Roy
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 11:24 AM

Louie came to about 2 AM and to say the least he was extremely pissed that his friends would put him out on the back porch to sleep off a little too much of Cathy and Zeke's white lighting and the mosquitos had nearly ate him up.They made the best moonshine in slippery hollow and many people would drive all the way up from Charleston to buy it.He looked around and Cathy and Henry were still on the porch pitching whoo,Joe,Sarah,Jake and Willie were crapped out in various places throughout the house.Although they were up in slippery hollow they still had some of the modern things that was sold at the hardware store in Charleston.He thought now it my chance to get even so he started up the gas 110 honda generator and cranked up the Amp to the max strapped on his electric Yamaha guitar and blasted the entire valley with the black mountain rag.As this tune drifted down the valley Joe,Sarah,Jake and Willie came out of their sleep with blurry eyes and joined him and after about 10 minutes with this tune rocking the house and anything else that was standing within a 100 yards he tuned the amp down and changed the tempo and tune to his rendition to In The Mood and finished up with Sentimental Journey that brought tears to everyones eyes and earned him a standing ovation and forgiveness for his earlier action


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: GUEST,Janie
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 01:06 PM

(Psst...what is 'pitching whoo'?)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 01:12 PM

(pssst - Janie. "sparking"? "canoodling"? watching for submarines? There are a bunch more euphimisms.)

They were neckin' - probably on the porch swing.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 03:04 PM

(Well, the pitching refers to just the pursuing party.)

~S~


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 03:12 PM

mutual pitch?


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Louie Roy
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 03:45 PM

Janie I think I spelled whoo wrong it should be like haggard's Okie Fro Muskogee we like holding hands and pitching woo.Or maybe I should have said they were making out


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 04:55 PM

Naw--that's ok. I just had never 'heared tell of it' before. Now I am better edumacated!

Janie


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 09:19 PM

The blast of music startled Henry so bad that he jumped about 3 feet, breaking the liplock he had on Aunt Cathy. "What in tarnation!?" he cried, as Cathy hurriedly straightened her blouse before the others stepped out onto the porch. The noise set the rooster to crowing and the guinea hens to carrying on something fierce. But in just a few bars of Louie's seductive rendition of "In the Mood", they began to settle and soon were back to sleep, dreaming whatever birds dream.

Henry soon calmed also, and tho' it was 2:00 am, they were soon all out on the porch in the soft July night, listening to the katydids and other night-singing insects. A moonvine climbed a porch pillar and scented the night air. The moon was high up in the sky now. The folks from Charleston marveled at the night sky out here where there were no citylights to dull it.

Cathy picked up her flute, and looking up at the moon, began to play.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 09:48 PM

It had been a long time since she had all these dear people gathered near her. It had been weeks, in fact, since she had seen or talked to anyone but the boy who brought her fresh milk from his father's cow every other morning. He was a nice enough boy, but he was half scared of her and tended to just drop the milk off, mumble something unintelligible and leave. She could imagine the tales and the rumors that went up and down the holler about her and this old dirt farm at the head of the holler. They were probably pretty close the gossip she had heard as a girl about the old woman who had given her the flute, Miss Cassie. Well, this ol' holler WAS full of magic and mystery, as had Cassie been herself. The magic of the moonshine (in the sky and in the still,) the mystery of the mists that settled into the holler as the nights cooled, the music of the old hills and the creek and the worn-out pastures.

She never thought she'd live here after Cassie died. After Cassie had been buried there up on the ridge, Cathy had cleaned out the place, sold off the livestock, locked the door behind her and gone back to Cross Lanes to tend to her husband and kids. She remembered she had been almost annoyed when the will was read and she learned Cassie had left the place to her. Just something else to have to pay property taxes on.

No doubt about it, Cassie did 'see' things, though she never volunteered any information about what she 'knew.' Cathy had often wondered-did Cassie leave the place to her as payment for taking care of her, or had she 'seen' what was ahead for her protege, and done what she could to provide a refuge?


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 10:05 PM

The sound of the flute suddenly ceased. With abrupt movements, Cathy set the flute in it's case, snapped the lid and rose to feet. "At 83 years old, I don't have any business sittin' out here with you young fools, playing music all hours of the night. I'm going to bed," she snapped, turned on her heels, and marched resolutely into the house.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: GUEST,Janie
Date: 20 Jul 06 - 07:57 AM

Henry scratched his head, looking puzzled. He was thinking she was a bit long in the tooth to be PMSing. He shrugged. Womenz. 85 years old, and he still hadn't solved that cipher.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Louie Roy
Date: 20 Jul 06 - 12:31 PM

Louie met Cathy at the door and asked her if she'd checked the still tonight to make sure the carding pot was operating correctly,the water barrel was full of water for the cooling coils,that there was plenty of fire under the copper boiler to finish this batch of mash.She told him on but she would check it out and since it was a couple of hundred yards down to where the stillwas at he said he'd go with her.As they strolled down to the still with a full moon shining brightly she was a little bit disoriented from all the heavy petting that her and Henry had been doing for the past couple of hours.When they arrived at the still Louie asked her what she was using in the carding pot and she told him several pair of Zeke's wool socks some of her old sik panties and several loaves of stale bread and as she bent over to check it out her dress flew above her head and Louie was looking into her honey pot.His 8 inch colonel hit him on the belly button so he reached around and got a hold of spawk plugs hanging down fro Cathy chest and her carbrurator started leaking and Louie Couldn't restrain him self any longer so he slowly slipped in the 8 inch colonel and the fun began.After about 3 minutes she started having organsism and few men will ever have the pleasure to experience this for when an 83 year old women starts having orgasism they continuie about every 30 seconds for at least10 minute.When they got back to the house she smiled at everyone and then headed offf to beb.:ouie told all the musician he came with to get the instruments loaded and they would head back to Grizzly Holler,but he was riding in the back of that rough old Pick UP he was driving


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 20 Jul 06 - 06:39 PM

"Gawd, you're absolutely discusting!" Louie woke with a start as Big Bill grabbed him by the shirt collar and lifted him up from the arm of the old horsehair sofa over which he had passed out last night. The faces of the guffawing men and the distainful women blurred past his vision as Big Bill manhandled him into the bathroom and shoved him the shower, clothes and all. "How in hell some one as drunk and passed out as you were can manage to have a wet dream is beyond me."

"You better straighten up, boy, and start acting like a decent human being, or you won't be playing music with us anymore, I don't care how good you are on that guitar. And I happen to know that Aunt Cathy has about had it with you too. She loves you as much as she does Billy, but she is not going to continue to tolerate your churlish behavior."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Louie Roy
Date: 20 Jul 06 - 10:35 PM

Louie ,Joe,Sarah,Jake and Willie were just starting up Grizzly Holler when Billy contacted them on his cell phone and told them that they have no idea what Big Bill was smoking or if he was high on meth or maybe too much of white lighting but he came in and grabbed Baptist Henry called him all kinds of names and throwed him in the shower and also calling him Louie.Several of them finally were able to wrestle him to the floor and get him tied up.About that time Henry came out of the shower dripping wet and took off on the run down slippery holler and probably this will be the last time you will ever see him up this holler again.Louie knows what happened that night and he will take it to the grave with him.As he said before only a few men have the experience of having sex with a lady in their eighty.If there's another chapter to this Louie will be up Grizzly holler picking and grinning with his friends.Adios


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 20 Jul 06 - 11:27 PM

Smell of coffee brewing and bacon in the frypan awakened Aunt Cathy about an hour later. She pulled a house-dress over her head and walked down the stairs and into the kitchen. Big Bill had just pulled a batch of bisquits from the oven. Sarah was slicing German Johnson tomatoes that Billy had brought in from the garden. She passed the thick, sun-warmed slices on to Becky and Joe to put on the biscuits with the bacon.

Come on Angel band
Come and around me stand
Carry me away on your snow white wings
To my eternal home.

Becky and Joe harmonized as they assembled the biscuit sandwiches. Aunt Cathy hummed along softly as she headed for the coffee pot on the back of the stove. She joined the rest of the crew at the big old maple table in the middle of the kitchen. Although a little bleary from the late night of music and moonshine, everyone but Louie seemed in good spirits. He wouldn't look her in the eye as he muttered an apology about spilling something on her sofa. She sighed but told him not to worry about it. She'd use spot remover on it later.

By 10:30 the 'party in the pickup' had driven off, with ample hugs and promises to come back in a month to do it again, and several pints of jam made from the black raspberries that grew all up and down the holler. The day promised to be hot and humid. Big Bill and Billy headed to the shed for garden tools and the lawnmower. They wanted to get the hard work done before the day heated up any more. Aunt Cathy, Becky and Sharon headed for the house. Becky and Sharon insisted that Cathy just sit and visit while they cleaned up the kitchen. Their dear friend Ralph was somewhere up along the ridge, scouting out ginseng, goldenseal and black cohosh to gather in the fall.

Cathy wondered if now was the time to start talking. It was, at the heart of it all, a woman's tale, two women's stories in fact, interwoven, but different stories none-the-less. "That's not true," she thought. "It's also Zeke's story, and Mr. Howard's story, and, ultimately, it is Big Bill and Billy's story too, for who knows how their lives might have been different if they had lived through a different story than the one she had lead them through. Not their stories exactly, for each will have their own to live and tell, but it is their history of their bloodkin and their heritage just as much as this little wornout piece of holler is. Yep, it's a packaged deal, my story and the holler. I best bide my time until we
re all together for dinner this afternoon."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 20 Jul 06 - 11:33 PM

Oops, Louie Roy, I took so long on that last piece I didn't realize you had come back in with some more. It'll sort itself out I suppose.

Janie


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 21 Jul 06 - 12:48 AM

Make that 'disqusted' a couple of posts back--


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 21 Jul 06 - 01:00 AM

crappola. disgusted.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 22 Jul 06 - 10:39 PM

"I'm suprised Henry didn't stay over. It was past 2:00 when I went up to bed. I wouldn't have thought he'd have driven out of here in the middle of the night." She had noticed his absence as soon as she come down this morning, but hadn't wanted to say anything in front of Big Bill and Billy. They might mention something to Zeke, and then he was likely to start dropping by more often. He didn't want her anymore, but he didn't want anyone else to have her either.
    She imagined his reaction if he were to know of what passed between her and Louie last night. Briefly, she imagined everyone's reaction if they were to know. She faked a coughing spell to cover the giggles that suddenly rose up in her throat.
    Becky turned from the sink to make sure Cathy was okay. She and Sharon had looked at each other awkwardly when Cathy mentioned Henry. They didn't know what had got into Big Bill when he jerked Henry up off the couch like that--he hadn't had THAT much moonshine--but they doubted seriously if Henry would be back. Aunt Cathy had a temper on her and they didn't want to be the ones to tell her that Henry was probably gone for good. She and Big Bill could have epic rows, and it was best not to be around when that happened.

Janie


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 23 Jul 06 - 10:18 PM

Sharon began to tell them about the last performance of "Appalachian Spring." Based on Copeland and Graham's ballet, it had been adapted as a play with music by a drama professor at Appalachian State College down in North Carolina. It had been so well received that he and his students took it on tour. To save money, they hired musicians locally whenever possible and Billy and Sharon had successfully auditioned to play during it's week run at the Municipal Auditorium in Charleston. Sharon had really enjoyed the experience and was sorry for it to end. She was also sorry not to have a chance to get to know Aaron better. Aaron had played the male lead and Sharon had been rather smitten. But he was gone now, on his way back to the ANorth Carolina mountains, and although they had exchanged addresses and phone numbers, Sharon doubted they would keep in touch.

    As Sharon had hoped, the talk of the play distracted Cathy from further inquiries about Henry. The three women chatted amiably about family doings and events until the kitchen was cleaned up. Then, all three of them tired from the late night, they each went to lay down for a nap until it was time to start dinner. It being Sunday, Cathy would fix a big sit-down meal along about midafternoon, when the mean had finished the yardwork and had had a chance to clean1up and rest.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 23 Jul 06 - 10:43 PM

(Well-done, Janie!)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 23 Jul 06 - 11:05 PM

It was so hot in the house they decided to eat out on the porch. The men laid boards across a couple of saw-horses they had brought up from the shed to make a table. Becky ironed a cotton sheet to use for a tablecloth, and they all helped bring out the food. There was a platter of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, big soft, white yeast rolls, and corn, cucumbers, tomatoes and half-runners from the garden. Aunt Cathy and Billy stepped out onto the porch with a big pitcher of sweet tea and a plate brimming with slices of musk melon. Aunt Cathy said the blessing, and they dug in to the fine eats spread before them.

    Cathy waited until everyone had a chance to take the edge off of their hunger, then she began to speak. "Miss Cassie would be awful pleased to see all of us sitting here on her front porch. None of you ever got to know her well, but she loved every single one of you. She's been visiting me in my dreams lately. It seems like she wants her story told at last. Be warned. You will likely learn some things you'd just as soon not. I can't tell Miss Cassie's story without telling some of mine that I've kept close hid for many years. But you are bloodkin to both Miss Cassie and to me, so this is your story too, and you need to hear it."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Amos
Date: 23 Jul 06 - 11:52 PM

(Dang, Janie, this is teeriiffic!! A.)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 09:06 AM

As Cathy began speaking to her family, 'round the corner of the porch and up the stairs flowed a lean, long, battle scarred tomcat. With feline dexterity he wove through chair legs, rockers and feet until he was able to spring up onto the porch rail. Settling himself in classic cat pose, he curled his tail about his feet and assumed statue-like immobility - only the occasional slow blink of his eyes and a metronome-like twitch of the last inch of his tail revealing his interst in the goings-on of the two legs he had watched over for eight lifetimes.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Louie Roy
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 10:03 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 11:17 AM

"Miss Cassie was my mother's second cousin on the Adkins side of the family. Big Bill, you may remember that your Mawmaw didn't have much use for the Adkinses. She used to say....Well, that is a story for another time. Anyway," Aunt Cathy paused to pour herself another glass of tea. "Miss Cassie was the bastard daughter of Uncle James and Emma Cooper. Uncle James denied it for years until he was on his deathbed. But Ms. Cassie favored him so much that no one in the family ever doubted that she was his.
    "James and his wife Clara had a bunch of sons, but no daughter to help Aunt Clara with the house. They had got poor Emma from the orphanage over in Ironton and brought her to the farm to help with the women's work. And work that poor girl did. She was just little when they got her, probably only 9 or 10, but they worked her from the start like she was a mule. Miss Cassie said her mother had scars on her back from the beatings they gave her."
    "Everybody in Clay County knew that Uncle James was one to cat around," Aunt Cathy reached over to the old Tom and scratched him under the chin.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 11:25 AM

Being of an enlightened nature, the old Tom allowed the woman to caress him; gently nudging her hand into the proper spot with a quick movement of his jaw and a slight tilt of his head.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Louie Roy
Date: 25 Jul 06 - 12:45 AM

After two weeks up Grizzly holler with no jammig Louie was getting a little parenoid after all music is a hill billies life,maybe if he contacted Aunt Cathy she would invite him and the gang back up for another and more organized jam.He placed the call and got the answering machine. He left a message and would keep his finger crossed and his cell phone open for her repy


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 25 Jul 06 - 01:56 AM

""A lot of the Adkins men were like that. People up and down all the hollers off Paint Creek had a good time gossiping and keeping up with his doin's. But he supported the local school from the revenues from the moonshine still he ran, he could be counted on to help a neighbor in need, and he gave his 10th to the church at the mouth of Grizzley holler. Besides all that, Aunt Clare was known to be a quarrelsome and difficult woman. Mawmaw was always kind to her in spite of her mean ways. Said she reckoned she'd be mean and bitter too if she had to live with the likes of Uncle James.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 25 Jul 06 - 08:30 AM

"Emma was 14 when she turned up pregnant with what she said was Uncle James child. If it could have been blamed on one of the boys Clare might have let her stay, but they had all left home by then.

"She drove Emma off, and Uncle James just stood, shame-faced, and watched.

"Emma had no where to go and no one to turn to. She managed to get a ride down to the Union Mission in Charleston, and Reverend Murdock arranged for her to go the the unwed mothers home in Parkersburg. When Miss Cassie was born, Emma refused to give her up. She went back to Charleston and went towork as a maid at the Daniel Boone Hotel. You all know the Daniel Boone as a flop house for down-and-outers, but back in those days it was where all the lawyers and businessmen stayed when the legislature was in session.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Louie Roy
Date: 25 Jul 06 - 09:26 AM

Billy was taking notes to what Aunt Cathy was telling and was relaying the info to all the relation down in Grizzly Holler with his cell phone because he was sure Aunt Cathy would never repeat this info again.Louie was still waiting for an invite back to the next jam session up Slippery Holler and one thing he missed the last time he never got to jam with Baptist Henry a champion Banjo player who had won many contest throughout the state.He had also spent countless hours with Louie teaching him the tunes and proper tempo so Louie was deeply indebted to him


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 26 Jul 06 - 10:42 AM

"The hotel provided rooms to the housekeeping staff, but Emma couldn't stay there because of Cassie. She rented a room in a boarding house close by and paid the landlady to watch Cassie while she worked. Emma soon realized that many of the women at the boarding house were 'ladies of the night" who worked Frye's Alley near the hotel. But they didn't bring their tricks to the boarding house--the landlady wouldn't allow it--and it was all she could afford, so she stayed. The women were mostly quite nice and doted on Cassie. So Cassie spent her 1st four years in what amounted to a whore house.

"As Cassie began to get older, Emma knew she couldn't continue to stay in the boarding house with the hookers, nice as they were to her little girl. She also was determined to save some money and she couldn't do that while paying for room and board. With some reluctance, she wrote to Uncle James. I don't know if she threatened him, or if he came willingly, but a few weeks later he appeared at the Daniel Boone as Emma got off work.

"Uncle James was a Mason, and Emma prevailed upon him to make arrangements for Cassie to go stay at the Masonic Home in Huntington. Emma moved into the free room provided by the hotel, and would go down to Huntington every 8 weeks to visit Cassie."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 26 Jul 06 - 10:57 AM

The old tom stretched on the porch railing, and lifting a spread paw to his muzzle began cleaning the razor sharp claws. He remembered having to give James a little "encouregment" to make that trip to the Danial Boone. Not that somewhere deep down, James hadn't been willing to go, but a few not so shallow pinpricks in the leg had certainly added to the pinpricks his conscience had been giving him.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 26 Jul 06 - 06:59 PM

Aunt Cathy talked on as Big Bill and Becky cleared the trestle table and brought out bowls of vanilla ice-cream with slices of fresh peaches. She told of Cassie's time at the Masonic Home. "Cassie liked it there. The people were kind and there were other children with whom to play. Best of all, one of the house mothers was a music teacher. Cassie had shown promise from an early age, when one of the prostitutes started her playing a penny=whistle when she was only 3. The music teacher, recognizing Cassie's interest and talent, took special interest in her and soon Cathy was playing piano, flute and violin.

"She waited eagerly for the bimonthly visits from Emma. Emma was working hard, saving money, and making plans for their future. She had become head housekeeper at the Daniel Boone. One day, when Cassie was 10, her mother arrived at the Home flush with excitement. Mr. McJunkin, who was a manager with Island Creek Coal, was a frequent quest at the Daniel Boone. Over the years he had come to appreciate Emma's hard work, diplomacy and integrity. He had come to her with a proposition. He owned a boarding house up Paint Creek but was never there enough to properly oversee the running of it. He knew it could make money if properly run and had given up on finding some one he could trust to take care of the business for him. He offered Emma a 1/3 stake in the Boarding House if she would move to Paint Creek and run it for him."

By now, Cathy had been talking none stop for nearly two hours. Sharon had run out of tape in the recorder, and the tom, to whom Cathy looked occasionally as if for confirmation of the story, had disappeared off the porch rail.

"I guess I've worn your ears off this afternoon, and haven't really even gotten to the good parts yet. If it suits you all, I'll just stop now, and can tell you more when you back up here next month. I've already got a call from Louie. He and the rest of the gang are eager for another jam. Would you call them, Billy, to see if when they might come back?"


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 26 Jul 06 - 07:33 PM

Later that evening, Aunt Cathy and the old tom sat out on the porch watching the lightning bugs and enjoying the peace and quiet. Cathy had thoroughly enjoyed the weekend but was glad to be alone again. "Well, excepting present company," she said as the tom made to jump off her lap, as if offended.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Louie Roy
Date: 26 Jul 06 - 09:29 PM

While Cathy and the Tom cat were sitting on the porch Old Duke her price Raccoon and Cougar hunting dog came through the yard and when the tom cat seen him coming he jumped from Cathy's lap to the silver maple third branch and scammered higher up the tree just out of reach of old Duke.Hounds were apart of the life of all the holler families cats belonged in the barn or graineries


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 27 Jul 06 - 01:12 AM

Cathy wondered just how old the old tomcat was, and just what kind of magic was in him. She knew he was unnaturally old--Miss Cassie had been gone close to 20 years, and he had seemed like an old cat when she died. It was like he had been Miss Cassie's familiar. Not that she was a witch or anything, but she had definitely had the 'sight.' That wasn't all that uncommon among the undiluted Scots-Irish that had moved into these hollows 2 centuries ago. A fey people, they had found a fey home in these remote and very ancient hills.

Old Duke climbed up onto the porch and plopped down at Aunt Cathy's feet. His tail thudded on the weathered floorboards of the porch as he panted in the hot July night. Last time Zeke had been by, he mentioned coming up and going coon hunting with the boys and the dogs the next full moon. She knew Duke and the other hounds needed that and supposed she ought to call Zeke and tell him to come on. It was almost time to pour off another batch of 'shine' anyway.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 27 Jul 06 - 08:49 AM

From his perch in the silver maple Mjolnir (for that was the cats name) kept a weather eye on Cathy and the fool hound that lay at her feet. He groomed a bit more, not that it really improved his appearance, but a cat had to do certain things or people thought him strange. And Mjolnir was unusual enough for a cat without letting his behavior make people suspicious. Lean and long, he possessed the body type of a siamese temple cat, and the blue eyes to match. But his colouration was a deep rich ginger red - with darker auburn points and mask, feet and tail tip. There wasn't another cat in the holler or the state with his colouration, he thought proudly, though a few of his sons and grandsons or great-grandsons resembled him to some degree - they all showed some of the tabby striping of more ordinary felines, lacked the points and mask, or depth of colour.

Not a stripe marred the smooth flow of colour over Mjolnir's body - though more then a few scars made the fur lie less then perfectly. Many a night his distinctive yowl had broken the darkness as he fought, sometimes coons or possums, once a bear, and occasionally something else. Most of the scars came from those other times. He was far too skilled at combat to take injury from any normal fight. And those rare times were his duty, his privilige and his reason to be; first with Emma, then Cassie, now with Cathy.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 27 Jul 06 - 11:33 PM

(I'm leaving town Saturday and won't be back until Wednesday so I guess Aunt Cathy will take a little break during that time. She'll be real curious to see what all her pals and family have been up to while she's gone--or even to learn if there are some new arrivals on the scene.)

Janie


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 27 Jul 06 - 11:48 PM

"Well, it's getting late. I guess I better head off to bed." Old Duke stood as Aunt Cathy, groaning slightly from her arthritic knees, rose up out of the porch swing, gave him a pat, and headed into the house, letting the screen door bang behind her. She walked slowly up the stairs and turned into her bedroom. As she settled into bed she wondered if she should have asked Billy to be sure to call Henry. She never did find out why he had left in the middle of the night like that. Would it be too bold of her to call him in the morning?

After reading a few verses of a psalm, as she did every night, she turned off the light, laid back on the pillow, and promptly fell to sleep.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 28 Jul 06 - 10:50 PM

Cassie visited her again that night. She sat in the rocker by the open bedroom window, the old tom curled in her lap. Aunt Cathy could vaguely make her out in the occasional flicker of heat lightning.
"Now, don't make me or you either one out to be other than who we were. And don't hide the magic, but don't make it out to be any more than what is, just a little piece of mystery that one day will make cold hard sense. Leastways it will if humankind lasts long enough to figure it out."

Cathy nodded that she understood.

"Bet you don't tell 'em about you and Louie out at the still," Cassie said with a cackle. Aunt Cathy managed to look amused and a little chagrined at the same time.

Miss Cassie didn't say any more after that, just sat there by the window and rocked. Aunt Cathy lay there and watched for the longest time, until Cassie finally faded away. As she drifted back off to sleep, or back to dreamlessness, she thought she heard the distant sound of a flute from up on the ridge in the direction of the graveyard.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 28 Jul 06 - 11:05 PM

(This is one of those story threads which are the best of the Mudcat What a wonder, Janie! Louie, I love what you are doing with your character, too, and MMario, the Cat is Stupendous! MY curiousity is UP and ready to hear more. Thank yew, thank yew!!)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Louie Roy
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 10:39 AM

Mjolnir,living in Hill Billy counry always has a sharp eye out for the hounds for they are number one and old Mjolnir learned years ago to jump high and quick


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 08:26 AM

As the sun painted the sky with morning Mjolnir stretched out a few kinks before leaping down from the porch roof to the ground - He had time for a circuit of the yard and a nice nap before Cathy would be rising. She had been sleeping later these days; especially when she had company in the night.

Not that there was any problem with her sleeping late; things had been quiet lately - though Mjolnir distrusted the feeling he was getting from the southern boundary of Cathy's property. The crick flowing there was low, lower even then normal for the summer heat, and if the crick dried up there would be one less layer of protection to the south. So Mjolnir himself had better get some rest.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 03 Aug 06 - 10:57 AM

The ginger and auburn cat woke from his nap - much later then he had expected.

Cathy still wasn't up and about, and he found this a bit worrying. At her age and with the heat and humidity as they were it was to be expected she would be a bit under the weather, but Mjolnir had never known her to lie abed as long as she was today.

He began to regret the fancy new catch on the screen door that prevented him from letting himself into the cabin. He didn't sense anything wrong, but Mjolnir was also very aware that no mortal being was all-knowing.

He'd been caught out a few times over the past 8 lives, usually resulting in the loss of one of those lives.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 04 Aug 06 - 07:28 PM

The late morning sun was shining in the window when Aunt Cathy finally awakened. The upstairs bedroom was already unpleasantly warm. She groaned as she slowly pushed herself into a sitting position and then pivoted to allow her legs to dangle over the edge of the bed. Once she was up and moving she usually felt pretty spry, but her old bones and joints were stiff and achy in the mornings when she first started to move.

"It must be close to 10:00," she said out loud. "Why, I've slept away half the day!" She slowly eased her way out of the bed and walked over to the rocker where she habitually draped her housecoat. She noticed the cat hair on the front panel of the robe and remembered her visit with Miss Cassie.

She was glad the family had listened with such interest last night. Eager listeners always make a tale easier to tell.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 04 Aug 06 - 10:32 PM

High summer is a busy time in the country, whether one lives in the hollers or out on the plains. Aunt Cathy canned tomatoes and green beans, pickled peppers and cucumbers and made black raspberry jam and peach preserves. She started early each day, before it got hot, and planned her projects to be out of the heat of the kitchen by noon. Some mornings she would skip the canning, grab a basket and head for the woods and pastures to gather coltsfoot, mullein, skullcap, pennyroyal, and lobelia to tincture in quart jars with some of the moonshine.   "Doctors are fine," she thought, 'but they cost money, and these herbs help a lot of what might ail me as good as anything the doctor might give me."

She wondered how much the kids would really want to know. Or needed to know, for that matter. All she knew is she wanted THEM to know...and to understand. "People don't think us hillbillies understand anything," she grumped to herself. "They think we don't know nothin'. Fine. Let 'em think that. We have learned from hard experience that it is often best to keep your understanding to yourself. But we understand these hills and hollers and the spirits that dwell therein. We understand the music of the wind in the treetops and in the fiddle and the pipes, and the plain voice raised in song. We know what the voices of the creeks shout or whisper as the water pours down the mountain after gathering from all over the ridge side.

Cassie. Cassie with her second sight. Cassie, the bastard daughter. So completely of this place, this holler, these mountains, but never fitting in. When she fled from here she thought she was free, but she belonged to this place, and eventually it claimed her once again.

At least when she returned, she returned with grace.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 05 Aug 06 - 07:00 PM

Friday night was full moon, so aunt Cathy called up Zeke Wednesday evening. His girlfriend answered the phone. Cathy was polite but not friendly. When Zeke came to the phone she told him the still was ready to be emptied. Zeke said he'd get the boys together and they'd be over Early Friday to pour off the 'shine. They'd take the dogs and go coon hunting Friday night. Cathy allowed as that would be fine, that Old Duke and Jezebel needed a good hunt--they were starting to aggrevate the dickens out of the cat. Zeke said he'd bring some big catfish fillets if Cathy would fry them up. She heard his girlfriend snort in the background.

"Tell that stupid woman she ain't got a thing to be concerned about!" Cathy snapped at Zeke. "If I still wanted you I'd have you, but I don't."

"Aw Cathy, don't be sayin' that. You know you still got a soft place for me in that heart of yours."

This time it was Cathy who snorted. She ended the call and headed upstairs to get ready for Wednesday night choir practice.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 05 Aug 06 - 10:46 PM

Cathy checked the cars to see who was already there as she parked and walked up to the plain little church.   "Frank's Creek United Methodist Church" read the neatly lettered sign standing by the walkway.
      There was no narthex in the plain little clapboard church. She came through the doors directly into the sanctuary and walked up the aisle between the pews, her steps echoing slightly on the bare wood floor. The other 6 members of the choir were already there, as was the pastor's wife, who was the pianist. They were a small group of mighty voices. Homer sang bass, Aunt Cathy and Mr. Collins sang the tenor, Alma Mae and Edith were strong altos, young Susan Ramey had a lovely soprano voice, and Virgie Dobbins sang with her. Virgie's voice had a tendency to get screechy when it got really high, but they were careful with their song selections and choice of key, so that wasn't usually too much of an issue. Anyway, there were a number of strong voices in the congregation to join with the little choir for everything but the anthem. Aunt Cathy was usually bored and sometimes irritated by the 'hellanddamnation' sermons of Pastor Tidquist, but hearing all those voices raised together in song on Sunday morning made those sermons worth sitting through. Maybe she wouldn't have felt so irritated if the good Pastor were not one of her best 'shine customers—but Aunt Cathy was one to live and let live, and always she had come to church for the singing and the ritual and the comfort it brought. It didn't hurt a thing to pray with other people. She didn't know if she believed in God or not, even after 83 years of pondering the question—but she definitely knew the power of prayer and of voices raised together in praise or supplication. She'd never been able to get Cassie to understand. Cassie had come once and once only. After that she said wild horses couldn't drag her back.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 05 Aug 06 - 10:57 PM

I am feeling increasingly self-conscious that more people are not joining in on this bit of story. If it is because I haven't invited you, please forgive my bad manners and jump in if you are so moved. If it is because this is just boring and not very interesting, would some one please have the kindness to pm me to let me know that I am making an ass of myself?

Mercy Bucket,

Janie


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 06 Aug 06 - 11:18 PM

'...Oh yes I'm feasting from the mantle of a bountiful supply
for I am dwelling in Beulah Land.'

Choir practice rarely took long. They had all been singing the old hymns their entire lives. They had quickly run through 'Come Thou Fount", "A Few More Years." and "Gospel Ship," They hadn't even used the hymnal for "Beulah Land." Cathy loitered outside the church for a few minutes after practice, chatting with Virgie and Homer. She was hoping Pastor Tidquist would drive up before his wife came out so she could let him know that a new batch would soon be ready. She wondered if Sherry Tidquist knew of her husband's tippling. "Who knows?" she mused, "Sherry may join him." Weren't none of her business, but she opined to herself that Sherry Tidquist could use a good stiff drink every now and then to loosen her up some. Pastor Tidquist pulled up just as Aunt Cathy was getting in her car. With a few cryptic words she passed her message, then headed for home.

As the crow flies Frank's Creek was only 3 or 4 miles from Grizzly Holler, but by road it was a good 15 mile drive. Grizzly Holler branched off near the head of Paint Creek, which ran along the base of the south side of Eskew's Ridge. Frank's Creek ran into Cabin Creek, which was the main creek and holler at the base of the north side of the same ridge.

Cathy took her time on the dark, twisting roads. It wouldn't do to hit a deer. As she drove she made a mental list in preparation for Zeke and the boys arrival on Friday. She needed to make sure she hade enough mason jars washed up. Zeke's boys often brought their young sons with them. She didn't want them up at the still and wondered if she could keep them down by the creek. Maybe they'd enjoy searching for fossils in the creek. It was hard to imagine this high, hilly country at the bottom of a sea, but the many beautiful fossils of shells and fishbones didn't leave much doubt. It was just as hard to imagine a time when these old, worn and rounded mountains had been as towering, as rough and raw, as the Rockies. "Oh! These ancient, mystical hills."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: GUEST,Janie
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 10:12 AM

Cathy pulled into the gas station at the corner of Cabin Creek Rd. and Rte. 60, and stopped at the full service island. Louie walked out to see how much gas she wanted and to clean her windshield.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 10:25 AM

Mjolnir finished pacing the bounds of the cabin property. He still didn't like the feel of the southern boundery, and the crick was lower then ever. Perhaps he had better cast the wards twice daily - at least until after the full moon. No sense in being lacksadasical. If a little extra effort prevented problems - well, so be it.

Besides - the time spent casting the boundaries would be that much less time spent in the company of the fool canine. When the creator gave out brains, that creature certainly had missed the line for her gifts.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 11:10 PM

Louie set his NeHi Grape pop on the roof of Aunt Cathy's car, started the gas pumping, raised the hood and checked her oil.
    "You ain't low, but it looks pretty diry. Better bring it in soon and let me change it for you." Aunt Cathy leaned her head out the care window to hear him talk as he cleaned the windshield.
"Zeke called about coonhuntin' Friday night," he said. "I'm gonna bring my Walker pup. Let Ol' Duke and Jezebel show him how it's done."
    "You be sure to tell that pup to take lessons from Jezebel, and not Duke, when it comes to dealing with Mjolnir. He's gettin'kinda long in the tooth, slowin' down. He don't need no more aggrevation from the canine persuasion." Aunt Cathy was only half joking. "Bring your D-28. Zeke, Junior and Mickey will want to make a little music after they sleep off the hunt. Zeke and I ain't sung together in a long while, and I'm thinking it will be a good time."
    "Yes M'am."
    Cathy handed Louie the gas money through the window and started the car. It was getting later than she liked to be out and she wanted to get home. Louie remembered his grape pap as she pulled away and reached up to grab it. It tumbled toward him off the roof and grape pop spilled over his shirt front before the bottle crashed to the ground and shattered. Louie looked down at his stained shirt, sighed, and headed into the station to get a broom.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 11:13 PM

(I have plumb forgot how to NeHi, Nehi, whatever, is spelled. Is it still made? And does anyone know how it is spelled?

Also, everything I know about coon hunting I learned from "Where the Red Fern Grows." If anyone reading this knows coon hunting, I sure hope you will come on into the story and help it along.)

Janie


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 08 Aug 06 - 09:44 AM

NeHi is right and yes, you can still get it.

I get the feeling Cathy knows a bit more about Mjolnir then she lets on.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 08 Aug 06 - 11:01 PM

Cathy bounced along the rutted track that passed for a road up Grizzly Holler. The eyes of white-tailed deer grazing in the pastures along the Bottom glowed briefly in her headlights. A Barred Owl swooped silently along the track in front of her before turning into the woods, and a red fox, jaws clamped on a small rodent or frog, darted across her path. She was tired and glad to be almost home. She had enjoyed the past weekend and the choir practice, but she liked her space and wasn't used to being around people so much anymore. Now she had Zeke and the boys coming this weekend. Kinda made her tired just to think about it.

    The cabin was at the very end of the holler. As she rounded the last bend in the rutted dirt road she felt a chill and shivered. "Some one must have just walked over my grave," she joked to herself. Still, she was somehow uneasy as she approached the turn-off to the pasture gate. She saw at once that the gate was opened. "Did I forget to shut it when I left," she wondered? "No. I distinctly remember stopping and walking around the car to close and latch it. I wonder if the cow is out?"
    The farmer below her had offered several times to buy the cow, and she was thinking of letting him--she bought her milk from him rather than fool with milking her own cow--she let the calf have all the milk. If the cow was indeed out it would probably head down toward his place, and maybe it should just stay there. She was too old to be chasing after livestock.
    It was also strange that Old Duke had not come down to the gate to greet her when she stopped, but then the tomcat appeared out of the darkness and began rubbing up against her ankles. She bent down and rubbed the cat back, saying "Did you tree those old dogs, or did they take themselves off hunting?" Mjolnir took a few steps toward the house and then looked back at Cathy as if to reassure her that all was safe. At least for the moment.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 11:31 PM

When the neighbor called the next morning, Aunt Cathy told him to go ahead and keep the cow and calf. She wouldn't take money for them, saying she owed him something for keeping the road clear as best he could in winter. In fact, dispite the son's obvious leeriness of Aunt Cathy, the neighbors kept an eye out for her, checked on her when they were all trapped up the holler by snow or mud, and were always good to help if a pipe froze or some other problem occurred. They also listened in on the party line when she got phone calls, which is why she and Zeke always spoke 'in code' about the still, not that the whole holler didn't know about it anyway. And not that she didn't know that some told somewhat bizarre stories about her, but that was simply the way of folk up these hollers. After all, that is the way of extended families, and there were few people living up any particular holler and its branches who couldn't reckon themselves to be kin to one another by marriage, blood, or both, even if it was 5th cousin twice removed. The farmer reluctantly agreed to accept the cow without paying her, but allowed the least he could do was keep her in milk and cream without charge.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 11:32 PM

Thursday night it rained, and when Aunt Cathy awoke early Friday morning the sky was still overcast. She hoped Zeke and the boys wouldn't get soaked dealing with the contents of the still.   Aunt Cathy had helped raise the boys, who were Zeke's sons by his first wife. She had died of childbed fever 2 weeks after the youngest had been born. She was 17 at the time, and Zeke was only 19.    The boys were 10 and 11 years old when Zeke and Cathy were wed.   Cathy always had a special tender place for them. She knew what it was like to lose a parent. Her own father was killed when the mine roof caved in on him when Cathy was only 9.   She often thought that being fatherless had shaped Cassie and her in some similar ways.
    Zeke, Zeke Jr. and Stevie pulled up into the yard about 9:00 am. The rain seemed to have broke the heat wave of the last several days and the clouds were breaking up so that large patches of blue showed in the sky. The boys had not brought the grandkids, for which Aunt Cathy was guiltily glad. She loved 'em, but didn't much feel like foolin' with 'em today. Junior and Stevie walked over to kiss her on the cheek. Zeke gave her a big hug and tried to get in a smack on the lips, but Aunt Cathy turned her head, and he, too, had to settle for her warm, dry cheek.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 11:33 PM

"I've already got the mason jars washed and dried, and lined out on the kitchen table," she told them. She offered breakfast, but they had stopped for sausage biscuits at the store and grill at the mouth of Paint Creek. They each did accept a mug of strong, black coffee. They were eager to get the work done so they could rest up for hunting that night, and didn't dawdle over their coffee. Soon they were headed up the mountain behind the cabin, following a steep, rocky deer trail that more or less followed the creek, each toting an empty 5 gallon water container. They would pour the mash off into these containers to carry back down to the kitchen where Aunt Cathy would fill the mason jars. Then they would head back up the mountain with what was needed to start another batch. Junior and Stevie carried the corn and potatoes that Zeke used for the mash, but he always carried another tightly closed sack with other ingredients. His recipe was secret and not even Cathy knew everything that went into the mash. Zeke was insistent that the still be well-cleaned before he began a new batch of moonshine, so they would make a third trip up and then down the mountain, nearly two miles round trip, because of the switchback trail. They carried the parts they could to be washed in the kitchen, and lugged a big steel pot back up. They'd light a fire and heat water to boiling to clean the larger parts of the still at the site. By the time they had made their last trip down the mountain and secured the mason jars in the hidden cellar near the hayfield, it was 2:00. They had done a good days work and were tired. They quickly ate the meatloaf sandwiches Cathy had made for them then headed off to beds and couches to sleep until dark.

    Whether it was due to Zeke's secret recipe, the clean still, or a combination of both, it was generally acknowledged all the way down the river into Charleston that Zeke Ross made the best (and the safest) moonshine in three counties.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 11 Aug 06 - 06:53 PM

Aunt Cathy decided to take a nap herself. She certainly wasn't going to join them on the coonhunt, but she really hoped for some good pickin' and singin' the next day. She hoped Louie remembered to bring his guitar.
    As Aunt Cathy napped, a revelation came to her in a dream. In the dream, she was standing at a podium in front of a crowd of people. She was telling a story. At first, people listened attentively. As she talked, she looked around the room. She wasn't sure, but she thought there were several other people there who knew parts of the story, maybe some parts of it that she didn't know. Sure enough, a few people occasionally arose and added their knowledge or perspective. The longer she talked, the more interested she herself got in the story. She didn't notice that she began to ramble. It took a longer while for her to notice that after the first bit, no one else was particularly interested. A few polite people watched her attentively and nodded occasionally or murmured polite encouragement. Then she realized that even they had fallen asleep.
    When Cathy awoke, she knew immediately that she was being a foolish old woman to think a story about Cassie and her, and life in the holler would interest anyone in the family but herself. They liked to hear tidbits of local and family history, but didn't have the time or inclination to listen to chapter and verse. "Well, if it matters to me, I can tell the story in my head, or write it in my diary."
    She went downstairs to start supper for the men. Wouldn't do to hunt and drink moonshine on empty stomachs.
    Louie arrived with his pup right at supper. The men ate hardily. After drinking several cups apiece of Aunt Kathy's good, strong coffee, they set out back up the mountain, dogs in tow, hip flasks filled with new moonshine. The moon hung high in a clear sky.
    Aunt CAthy cleaned up the kitchen then went out to sit on the porch. Mjolnir came and curled in her lap. They sat there for a long time, watching the moon and tracking the hunt by the beautiful bell-tones of the hounds in voice. Sitting there, rocking, they both fell asleep.

THE END


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Effsee
Date: 11 Aug 06 - 09:15 PM

THE END
Aw, Janie say it isn't so!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 27 Oct 06 - 11:20 PM

This story keeps on living in my head. I ended it so abruptly out of self-consciousness--with so few people joining in or commenting, I began to feel really embarrassed. I thought I might take the time to just go ahead and write it for myself. But I apparently need to know that some one might possibly be listening-reading--maybe even thinking of coming in (or back in) with their own character so we can play.

So. Here it is, back again. I can't seem to bring myself to work on it on my own, privately. But like I said, I can't just drop it either. I don't know where it is going and I need to find out. So just don't open open it if you find it uninteresting. But if you do find it interesting, please let me know you are reading. And if you are inspired to join in, please do.



Sitting there, rocking, Aunt Kathy's mind began to drift back over the years.
"Lordy, how changed life is!" She spoke out loud, addressing the night air around her, briefly startling Mjolnir from his cat dreams. He quickly settled down and commenced to dreaming again, paws and mouth twitching. Kathy wondered what he dreamed of. Magic? Mice? Or was he chasing down rolling cans of catfood?
She felt a twinge of guilt at the irreverence of that last thought. Mjolnir was, after all, a force to be reckoned with, not your usual mouser at all.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Oct 06 - 11:24 PM

Dee-lighted to see this again, Janie! Sorry I dropped out and wasn't able to join in more. May do, soon, but please DO keep writing. It is a GOOD read and I know what you mean about knowing someone is reading it. It is motivating to know one is sharing with folks who appreciate what it being written.:-)

kat


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 28 Oct 06 - 09:06 AM

The sun was just rising in a glory of pinks, golds, and reds, as Mjolnir completed his rounds and leaped lightly to the railing of the porch. He contemplated the passing of time, and how, especially at his age, months could slip by nearly unnoticed. The last vestiges of Autumn now surrounded him, though it seemed only yesterday that he had had the first warnings of danger in the high summer.

Not that he wasn't as alert as ever, nor slipshod in any of his duties. But where in youth each day seemed endless and eternal, now sometimes they slipped by as if leaves floating by on a stream, silent, skimming the surface without being aware of the depths of the water.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 03:54 PM

Late Autumn and Early winter - the dangerous part of the year when the darkness and the things that dwell in it can sneak up without notice. Now the Hunter's moon had past, Mjolnir knew his vigilence must double. He was grateful that Cathy herself was more then a little sensitive, and even that dratted Duke was aware of the more blatent intrusions onto the property.

But given it was hunting season he hoped that just perhaps one of the family might be dropping by with a haunch of venison for Cathy. Like Cassie before her, Cathy wasn't finicky about sharing a few bites of her meal with a handsome Tom, and some venision would certainly be tasty.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 08:01 PM

A common story in the hills and hollers throughout West Virginia, the mineral and lumber rights to the land on which Aunt Cathy's old house sat had been virtually stolen early in the 20th century, traded to agents for out-of-state business and mining interests for little more (or even less) than a song. Still, with the price of fuel these days, there was real benefit in getting free natural gas to heat with as her royalty from the gas well that sat on the branch about 200 yards behind the house.

The big old space heater in the parlour could be cranked up until nearly all the downstairs was toasty warm on a dank, November morning. There was no heat upstairs at all, though. Until just a few years ago, Cathy slept upstairs all winter, in spite of the cold. She liked the feeling of being snug and warm under the comforter and quilts,with the feel of the cold on her cheeks as she slept. Her bedroom window faced east, and when it was really cold, and frost formed in the inside of the window overnight, she liked to lie in bed in the morning to watch the sun shimmer and glint through the frosty glass until it warmed the window enough to begin to melt.

But her bones were getting old, and her blood thin. Last winter, she had often found herself sleeping on the couch in the parlour rather than brave the cold upstairs at bedtime. This fall, she had moved into the guest bedroom off the parlour for the winter. It was well-furnished, and she had to move a padded chair out to make room for Cassie's rocker. It had been a real struggle getting it down the stairs by herself. But she didn't want anyone else touching it.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 10:16 PM

The rain had begun about mid-day of the previous day. One of those cold, November drizzles that matted the fallen leaves, robbing them of all rustle as Aunt Cathy slogged out to the root cellar for some appled to make a pie. Big Bill, Billy and Sharon, and maybe some of the others were coming tonight. They'd eat supper in the kitchen, then pull out the instruments to make a bit of music.
    BAck in the house, she deftly cut the lard into the flour to make the pie crust. She was thinking about last night. Cassie had come to her again. That had been happening alot lately. They had argued, something that had rarely happened when Cassie was alive. Cassie wanted her to get their story told. Cathy kept insisting that the family didn't want to hear. They were too busy with their own lives to care abut what an old woman had to say. Finally, because she couldn't stand to waste these precious times with Cassie in arguement, she told Cassie she would start to write it all down. They could read it after she was dead, if they wanted. That seemed to appease Cassie somewhat and she stopped pressing the issue.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 11:01 PM

When the weather had turned Cathy had started letting Duke in the house--his old bones seemed to ache as much from the cold as her own. He was grieving Jezebel, who had simply dropped, dead as a door knob, on that coonhunt after the still was emptied in late summer.Aunt Cathy missed her, but knew whe had died doing what she loved to do, running along the ridge in pursuit of a coon.
    Preoccupied with her thoughts ogf last night's visit with Cassie, Aunt Cathy didn't notice that Duke had come in and laid down on the kitchen floor behind her. She tripped over him as she backed away from the counter where she had been rolling out the pie dough. Unable to catch herself, she fell, hard, landing on her right side. A searing pain ran through her pelvis, down her right hip and radiated down into her leg.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 08:19 AM

Janie - don't you DARE kill Cathy off before the story gets told!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 01:57 PM

Cathy lay sprawled on the kitchen floor, breathless from the pain. She knew immediately she had broken her pelvic bone, and possibly her hip.

"Damn, damn, damn, you old fool of a woman!" she said to herself when the pain had faded enough for her to begin to think again. She knew what a broken pelvic bone or hip could mean to a woman of her age. Duke whined anxiously while nuzzling her shoulder. He laid down beside her, restless, still whining, then went to the back door.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 02:07 PM

*sotto voce* hope that dumb dog is smart enough to get the door open.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 11:33 PM

Mjolnir was back by the gas well, watching the rhythmic motion of the pump moving up and down, toying with a vole he had caught in the tall grass above the branch. He had been careful to avoid the oily film that seeped up out of the well, blackening the grass for 4 feet around the pump before it filtered down into the branch. The oily sheen always apparent on the water beside the pump was pretty much dissipated by the time the little creek flowed past Aunt Cathy's house. Only during long dry spell spells, when the flow of the branch was greatly reduced, could one see, and sometimes smell, the oily residue as it washed on down the branch toward Paint Creek.   

Cathy kept the great grandkids away from the branch during those times. Other times, she would help them make little boats from reeds and leaves to set sail down the little branch. Cathy would make up stories for the children about how the boats would sail on down into Paint Creek, then to the Kanawha River and on to the Ohio and Mississippi, until they would at last sail out into the Gulf of Mexico, having had many challenges and adventures along the way.

When Aunt Cathy fell, Mjolnir jumped like he had been touched by a cattle prod, then took off running, hard, toward the house.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 10:06 PM

Mjolnir reached the back stoop, jumped up onto the rail and from there, to the windowsill. He looked in through the window. He could see Aunt Cathy on the floor, and Duke pacing back and forth between Cathy and the door. He sensed that he was going to need to cast a spell, but how to get into the house to do it? Just three weeks ago Louie had driven up and spent the better part of a Saturday tacking clear plastic over the old, drafty windows of the house, a chore he did for Cathy every year just before the weather turned. Only the window in the kitchen that looked out on the backyard and the ridge rising beyond had been left uncovered. Mjolnir could easily rip through the plastic, but that wouldn't get him through the windowglass.

He yeowled loudly to catch Duke's attention. Cathy heard him too and turned her head toward the window. She felt her fear and panic subside just a little at the sight of Mjolnir peering through the window at her. He'd find a way to summons help, worldly or otherwise. Cathy had tried to drag herself over to the phone, but the pain was so great she had nearly vomited. She was truly stuck there in the middle of the kitchen floor, in great pain and distress. It would be several hours before Big Bill and the kids were due to appear. Who knew what kind of shape whe would be in by then? She needed help as soon as it could be had.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 11:47 PM

Duke was feeling pretty desparate. For one thing, he needed to take a whiz. He knew something was bad wrong with Aunt Cathy, or she woulda let him out by now. He was thinkin' how they both needed some help about now.

He was a good dog. A smart coonhound. But in a situation like this, being a hound was definitely a limitation. He was smart about hunting and the woods, and could guess what a coon might do before the coon thought of it hisself. His old nose nearly gone, and he wasn't drawn off by the many odors, near and distant, that used to entice him to roam the ridges and the holler. That's why he was unaware that the little mountain feist who lived with the farmer at the mouth of the holler was in heat. She was just too far away for his old nose to catch that particular message.

When that damned uppity cat showed up, he actually was glad to see him. Figuring out what to do in this kind of situation was definitely more up the cat's alley than his own.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 08:28 AM

From his perch on the window sill, Mjolnir took a minute to size up the scene more carefully. The back door was closed, but the cat knew that it often did not latch. He jumped down onto the porch, and nosed along the bottom of the door. He thought he detected a little 'give' when he gently pushed at it with his nose.

Good. Not latched. There was a half inch gap between the bottom of the door and the door sill. Crouching, he eased a paw, claw-side up, into the crack, dug his claws into the door as best he could, and pulled.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 02:05 PM

The cat, with the claws of his right forepaw dug into the woodgrain on the bottom edge of door, backed away, pulling as hard as he could. He was in an awkward position, and not at all certain he was strong enough to pull the heavy door open. It would have been a difficult move for a young tom in his prime, and Mjolnir, remember, was a very old cat. Ancient, even by human years. On the other side of the door, he could hear Duke's excited panting. From further into the kitchen he could hear the low sound of Cathy's voice, muttering and moaning. She seemed to have slipped into a delirium.

    Nothing appeared to be happening. Mjolnir strained and pulled with all his strength. The door seemed to sway a tiny bit, but was not swinging free of the jamb. Mjolnir disengaged his claw, pulled his forepaw out from under the door, and sat back on his haunches to consider the situation. Maybe if he.... The cat moved from the center of the door to the the edge, directly beneath the door knob. He inserted his upward-facing paw back under the door and pulled again. He pulled with all the strength he had. At first, nothing happened. Then, slowly, the door began to move. It didn't move much, but he didn't need for it to. The hinges creaked faintly as the door swung past the jamb, leaving a 1 inch gap between the facing and the door. Mjolnir quickly disengaged his claws, stepped back a pace, nudged his head through crack, then slipped his body through and pushed to open the door wide.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 10:37 PM

He knew the screen door would be latched. His hope was that he could entice Duke to bust through it. This was one of the few times in his long life that he regretted not learning to communicate with canines back when he had the chance. Cathy was still muttering from the floor of the kitchen. Something about her flute...Cassie...her mother....


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 13 Nov 06 - 10:03 PM

Then Mjolnir realized he was hearing a flute. Faint at first, but getting stronger and louder with each passing minute. He peered through the screen door toward Aunt Cathy and saw Cassie sitting on the floor beside her, hands raised, the flute to her lips. She finished the air she was piping then laid the flute down, reached out her hand and gently stroked Aunt Cathy's forehead. Cathy reached up and took Cassie's hand in her own. Mjolnir relaxed and started purring. He must be getting senile to forget that Cassie didn't need a spell from him to come to Cathy. He'd just go on in now and join them--or he would if he could get inside the damned house!
    He yeowed again, loudly. Cassie and Aunt Cathy both turned to look at him. "Sorry, my dear old familiar," said Cassie. "I would love for you to join us while I summon Louie to come and help, but I can not possibly do something so corporeal as unlatching the screen. You will have to find your own way in. And while you are at it, find a way to let this poor dog out before he bursts his bladder." Duke was continuing to pace back and forth between the door and the women, whining and panting.
    Mjolnir sat glaring at the dog, wondering what it would take to get the old dog to bust through the screen door. He rose again, peered one last time into the kitchen at the women it was his destiny to protect, then turned abruptly and disappeared from view. When he was gone, Cassie raised the flute to her mouth once more.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Effsee
Date: 13 Nov 06 - 10:10 PM

Oh man, the suspense is getting too much for me!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: frogprince
Date: 13 Nov 06 - 10:24 PM

Go, Janie, go, Janie, go, Janie, go...


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 13 Nov 06 - 10:33 PM

Deer trails ran along the tops of the ridges on either side of Aunt Cathy's place. Louie's deer stand was 25 feet up in a large poplar along the trail, about 100 yards past the gas well. He had climbed up into his seat about an hour before daybreak, hoping to get a chance at that big buck he had seen in Aunt Cathy's yard a few weeks ago when he had come by to cover the windows. But it was now mid-morning and he had seen no sign of the buck, or of any other deer for that matter. He climbed down to the ground, stiff and cramped from sitting motionless for so long.   Thinking he'd better get a nap in if he was going to be in any shape to jam with the others after Cathy had fed them one of her fine meals tonight, he started hiking back down toward the mouth of the holler, where he had left his truck.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 13 Nov 06 - 10:54 PM

(Thanks, Effsee and Frogprince! It helps to know some one is tuning in and enjoying it)

Janie


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Leadfingers
Date: 14 Nov 06 - 05:57 AM

I am also a regular reader Janie !!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 14 Nov 06 - 08:24 AM

Just minutes after disappearing from the porch, Mjolnir returned, dragging with him a vile smelling bone he had retrieved from the shallow pit Duke thought he had cleverly hidden it. The taste in his mouth was revolting, How could dogs enjoy gnawing on what was essentially carrion?

With great relief he dropped the bone fully in view of the old hunting dog and hunkered down, pretending to gnaw on the decidedly unappetizing object, infuriating Duke.

As Mjolnir had known it would - the sight of a *cat* usurping Duke's favorite bone nearly drove the dog berserk. Duke threw his weight against the screen door, belling loudly at the feline's audacity. In the quiet air of the holler his cry, voiced at full hunting timber,rolled out from the porch and echoed from the surrounding hills, even as the dog continued to throw himself at the door.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 14 Nov 06 - 10:22 AM

Janie! Wonderful...can't wait to read more! You, too, MMario.

Janie, this would be a wonderful NaNoWriMo novel!!

luvyakat


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 14 Nov 06 - 10:41 AM

I was afraid Mjolnir would thrpw Janie off - but she seems to have woven him seamlessly into her narrative.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: GUEST,Janie
Date: 14 Nov 06 - 10:47 AM

I have had a lot of experiences, but to the best of my knowledge, I have never been thrpwed off. Would i recognize it as a thrpw when it happened?

Mmario--my son has to know...do you play Runescape? (And thankyouthankyouthankyou for that wonderful cat and for coming out to play)

Kat--what's a NaNo WriMo?

Janie


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 14 Nov 06 - 11:00 AM

no - I don't do role-playing - I tried but drove people (especially the guys running the games) nuts because I never did what they expected me to.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 14 Nov 06 - 07:04 PM

Louie heard the frantic barking of a hound somewhere in the holler below, but couldn't tell where it was coming from because of the way sound bounced around down low like that. "Danged, if that don't sound like Duke," he thought. He knew, however, that Duke was too well trained to run deer. He had half a mind to track down whatever dog it was. Any dog low enough to run deer deserved to be shot as far as he was concerned. "Naw," he muttered to himself. "I just want to get home, get warm and dry, and get that nap in." He turned back onto the trail and kept walking.

Duke was absolutely furious at that arrogant twit of a cat. If he ever did make it through the screen door he'd chew that cat worse than he had ever chewed any bone. But it hurt his old shoulder, slamming into the cross piece of wood on the door, and he finally appeared to wear himself out. Tweren't like he was backin' down from a coon now, was it? It were just an old stinkin' bone. He hoped it made the furball sick. Still, the door appeared to be weakening. He thought he might have cracked the vertical 1x6, and he was tempted to make one more run at it. Then he saw the cat move away from the bone for a minute, retching. He decided it would be more fun to watch Mjolnir be miserable, and sat down squarely in front of the door to watch. Mjolnir was was furious himself. He'd subjected himself to that vile carrion smell to no avail, and now the brainless, sorry excuse of a four-legged was actually sitting there laughing at him, thinking he'd done something. The drooling embecile had beat himself almost silly on the wood brace, not even able to figure out that he could have simply gone for the screen itself and torn through it with one good lunge. Mjolnir needed another plan.

He moved back around the corner of the house again, where he could crouch in some dignity while his digestive tract settled from the terrible experience of the bone. He hoped Cassie and Cathy appreciated all that he went through for them. Immediately he chastised himself for that unworthy thought. Breathing deeply, he refocused himself. Ah! The cat trotted out at a brisk pace, headed for the farm at the mouth of the holler. It wouldn't take long to get down there.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 14 Nov 06 - 07:30 PM

The deer trail ran right along the old broken fence of the graveyard at the top of the ridge. Louie wasn't up this way much, but when he was he always took the time to sit a spell with the folks up here. Old Cassie and Aunt Cathy were probably the only people on earth that really knew Louie; Knew the depths of the young man who most people thought of as a clown and a redneck. Truth was, Louie had the true heart of a hillbilly. He had poetry in him, right down to his toes. He knew what mattered.

No one would ever have believed that Louie read poetry, that he had committed to memory countless poems that moved him, that really said something. Truth to tell, he would have been mortified for most anyone to know that about him. Why, they might think he was a pansy or somethin'! He remembered, as clear as a bell, the first poem he memorized because it meant something. He had been in the 7th grade when Muriel Miller Dressler came to talk to his American Literature class. He had rolled his eyes and thought about cutting class the day the teacher announced that the Poet Laureate of West Virginia was going to be there. But he didn't--he was afraid of the hiding he'd get if his Paw found out he had skipped school. And boy, was he ever glad later that he had been there. Otherwise he might not ever have learned to notice that words could be magic. He listened as she recited that poem, "Appalachia", and his spirit was changed forever. He went home and spent three nights memorizing those lines that were his story, that shed light on the heartwood of his people.

And whenever he stopped here in the graveyard, up on the ridge, he took the time to speak those magic words to the folks laying up here in the ground. He thought it important that they know they still mattered.


Appalachia----by Muriel Miller Dressler

I am Appalachia! In my veins runs fierce mountain pride; the hill-fed
streams of passion, and,
stranger, you don't know me! You analyzed my every move--you still go away
shaking your head. I remain enigmatic. How can you find rapport with
me--you who never stood in the bowels of hell,
never felt a mountain shake and open its jaws to partake of human sacrifice?
You, who never stood
on a high mountain, watching the sun unwind its spiral rays; who never
searched the glens for wild
flowers, never picked mayapples or black walnuts; never ran wildly through
the woods in pure
delight, nor dangled your feet in a lazy creek, You, who never danced to
wild sweet notes,
outpourings of nimble-fingered fiddlers. who never just "sat a spell" on a
porch, chewing and
whittling; or hearing a past time the deep-throated bay of chasing hounds
and hunters shouting with
joy, "He's treed!" You, who never once carried a coffin to a family plot
high up on a ridge because
mountain folk know it's best to lie where breezes from the hills whisper,
"You're home". You, who
never saw from the valley that graves on a hill bring easement of pain to
those below? I tell you,
stranger, hill folk know what life is all about; they don't need the pills
to tranquilize the sorrow and
joy of living. I am Appalachia; and , stranger, though you've studied me,
you still don't know me


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 14 Nov 06 - 08:06 PM

He remembered the college students with VISTA that used to come up the holler when he was a young boy, gonna make their lives better some how. They were nice kids, really, with their New York accents and their eagerness to 'save' these 'poor, ignorant, poverty-stricken' hillbillies. Some of 'em even stayed long enough to learn to play a pretty good fiddle. (The holler folks used to laugh at those that moved into the really old, abandoned places with no water or electricity. "Tryin' to 'out West Virginia us'," some folks said, resentful. That resentment came from somehow feelin' shamed, and Louie remembered feeling that shame himself.) Those kids thought they were gonna 'live off the land.' Well, some of did, for a little while. But ten years, three kids, an emptied trust fund, and one divorce later, most of 'em headed back up North.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 14 Nov 06 - 08:24 PM

But Miss Cassie hadn't had any shame, nor any resentment. Many of those kids learned to play the fiddle right there on Cassie's porch. Aunt Cassie had gone away, and years later, had come back. She knew there was goodness and evil in hearts anywhere. She knew the power of music to draw people into knowledge of their real kinship. She knew it was good to see other places, and just as good to have a sense of place. And she forgave, but never forgot, what it was like to be a 'woods colt'up these hollers, to be forever an outsider.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 14 Nov 06 - 08:37 PM

LOVE IT!!

NaNoWriMo

katwhoisat26,634wordsandcountinghavingbeeninspiredbyhesperisandCapriUni!:-)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 16 Nov 06 - 02:43 PM

The world seemed disjointed as Mjolnir headed for the farm at the mouth of the holler. Not a good sign at all, and he ought to know.

Somehow he knew things would stabilize soon and Cathy would tell her kin as much of the story as they could handle; Mjolnir himself might finally be able to rest.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Annie
Date: 16 Nov 06 - 10:44 PM

Go Janie. You're doing just fine! I'm really enjoying this. Can't think of a thang to add. Fuzzy will chime in soon as she wakes up.

A


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 16 Nov 06 - 11:13 PM

From his perch in the graveyard high up on the ridge, Louie gazed out over the low, rugged mountains. On this cold, wet November day, the fog lay heavy down along the hollers. Up high, where he stood, the mists were thin, lightly veiling the ridgetops and muting even further the sepia tones of the mountains in early winter. In this dreamscape, the thin, faint sound of a flute gradually penetrated his awareness. It was a melody he remembered hearing Cassie play when he was just a very small boy. Suddenly nervous, he glanced around the graveyard and then took a good hard look at Miss Cassie's grave, actually relieved when he saw nothing unusual.

Reassured, he listened more carefully to the flute, trying to locate the sound. He finally decided it must be coming from Aunt Cathy's place. He wondered if Big Bill and Billie had come up early, and decided to head down the ridge to Cathy's to see.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 16 Nov 06 - 11:24 PM

Mjolnir trotted into the farmer's yard and headed for the shed behind the house where the little mountain feist was confined. He jumped onto the chair beside the door, stood on his hind quarters and pushed on the oblong block of wood that served as a latch. The door swung open. The dog within looked up in surprise as Mjolnir jumped down into the opening, raised his tail, sprayed the door-facing, then took off running like a bat out of hell. The feist sprang after him, outraged at the temerity of the old cat.

Calling on sources of strength and stamina not available to other cats, Mjolnir headed back up the holler to Aunt Cathy's, the little mountain feist running hard behind him.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 17 Nov 06 - 10:31 PM

(Well hiya Sis! I'll be e-mailing you pictures of our new baby, Stella, tommorrow. Be sure Fuzzy gets to see her brand new 1st cousin.)

Janie


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 17 Nov 06 - 11:06 PM

Louie dropped off down the side of the mountain, headed down into Grizzly Holler. There were some rhoddedendron thickets, as well as two steep, rocky outcrops he had to skirt around, but with the underbrush mostly dormant for the season, he was able to take a fairly straight downhill course to reach the branch at the foot of the ridge. He emerged from the woods into the old, abandoned apple orchard at the head of the creek at about the same time as Mjolnir, the mountain feist bitch in hot pursuit, raced around the back corner of the house and scrambled wildly up into one of the trees in the backyard. Louie heard the frantic yelps of the feist, then, in quick succession, the crack of splitting wood, a loud bang that sounded like a screendoor slamming, and Duke's sudden and frantic bellowing.

"What in tarnation is going on down in Cathy's backyard?"   He could no longer hear the flute. It's song had stopped when he had reached the foot of the ridge. By the time he reached the gas well, the yelping had stopped and Duke's voice had also gone silent. Suddenly apprehensive, Louis broke into a trot as he approached the gate in the wire fence that marked the start of the backyard. When he got there he notice two things--Duke locked up with some small bitch in heat, and the busted screendoor.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Effsee
Date: 19 Nov 06 - 09:32 PM

And? AND?


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Nov 06 - 09:39 PM

Its MUSIC to MY eyes !!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Nov 06 - 09:40 PM

IF I was a writer , I would turn this into a bloody good song !


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 20 Nov 06 - 12:40 PM

I don't care whether it is above or below the line. There was a consensus, a number of months, maybe even more than a year ago, that those starting a story would start the thread with the fiction prefix, so I followed that convention, and it seems the moderators have concurred.

But again, it really doesn't matter to me. If it really matters to you, Guest, a post to the help forum would insure the moderators see your request. They may or may not see it in the body of the thread. I suspect you already know that, but just in case....

Janie


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Effsee
Date: 20 Nov 06 - 09:20 PM

I don't care either, but ....and, AND!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 20 Nov 06 - 11:03 PM

Louie made a bee-line for the back porch and the broken kitchen screen door. He could not help but grin at Duke in passing, giving him a wink and high sign, but he did not slow his pace. He saw Kathy as soon as he entered the kitchen. Moving toward her, he called her name, then knelt down at her side. Immediately he began to assess the situation, his VFD 'First Responder' training kicking in. Aunt Kathy was conscious, but appeared to be in shock. She looked at him and slurred "She said you would be right here...."

After checking her vital signs, he got blankets from the bedroom and threw them over her, then went to the phone and dialed 911. He returned to Aunt Kathy's side to more carefully assess her condition. The room had gotten very cold with the back door opened and he was concerned she was hypothermic. He talked to her, assessing her level of consciousness. She was somewhat confused, saying Cassie had been there and had called him, but she was able to tell him she had fallen and probably had broken something in her hip. Assuring her he would be right back, Louie went into the bedroom, got some more covers and hung them over a chair by the living room heater to warm them. He returned to the kitchen to find Mjolnir curled up against her side. He closed the back door, checked Kathy's pulse again, went to the living room to get the warmed blankets, exchanging them with the blankets that he had first thrown over her, took those covers back to the living room to warm, checked her again, went to phone and dialed Dougherty Company where Big Bill ran the sheet metal shop. Hanging up, he went back to Kathy and sat down, telling her that Big Bill would meet them in the ER at Charleston Memorial.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 20 Nov 06 - 11:22 PM

After the ambulance squad arrived, Louie walked through the house, turning off lights and the space heater. Turning to take one more look around before he walked out of the living room, his gaze fell on the flute case, sitting open, the silvery metal of the flute gleaming against the wine-colored velvet. He felt the hair raise on the back of his neck.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 20 Nov 06 - 11:52 PM

On this cold, wet November day, the fog lay heavy down along the hollers. Up high, where he stood, the mists were thin, lightly veiling the ridgetops and muting even further the sepia tones of the mountains in early winter. In this dreamscape, the thin, faint sound of a flute gradually penetrated his awareness.

Bee-yew-tee-full descriptions!! Gives me the shivers. Well done, please don't leave us hanging for too long...:-)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 12:56 AM

"Dammit, Billy, I ain't crazy, and neither is yer grandmaw! It weren't the wind playin' tricks on me. I heard that flute and it is what brought me down the mountain. Aunt Kathy'd prob'ly be dead now otherwise." Louie glared at Billy across the table in the hospital cafeteria. Aunt Kathy had been moved back to her room last night after surgery, and the boys had sat with her all night. Louie had kept quiet about the flute as they had all sat and waited during Kathy's surgery, not sure what to make of his experience. But when Aunt Kathy woke this morning, still groggy and on morphine, she had talked of Cassie coming to her, of Cassie summoning Louie with the flute. Weird and spooky as it sounded, Louie knew she had to be telling the truth. It fit exactly with what he had experienced.

Zeke had come up to the room just a while ago, so the boys had come down here to give him a little time with Kathy alone. Louie had just told Billy about how the sound of Cassie's flute had lead him to head on down to the little house, thinking Billy would take Kathy's conversation as confirmation. But Billy was obviously skeptical. "Tell you what," said Billy, wanting to pacify his friend, who had indeed rescued his grandmother. "Let's give Aunt Kathy a few days to get her mind clear. Then she can tell us what happened." Louie knew Billy was just humoring him, but was too tired right now to press his point. The boys headed back up to the hospital room. It was fine for Zeke to have a little time with Kathy, but they both knew that a little Zeke went a long way where Kathy was concerned.

Zeke stood when they cam back into the room, and handed Billy a package. "Make a thermos of tea with this and bring it in every day for Kathy to drink as much as she wants. Don't say nuthin' to the nurses about it, though." He turned back to take his leave of Kathy, planting a kiss on her forehead.

"Thanks for bringing the comfrey root, Zeke" she said with a weak smile. I'm not worried about my kidney's, I just want my bones to heal fast so I can get home. These doctors don't know everything. "She waved weakly as he went out the door.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 02:06 PM

Three days before Thanksgiveing, Cathy was moved to Carver Rehabilitation Center. She'd be there for 2 to 4 weeks, and if all went well, would be released before Christmas. The doctors were amazed at how quickly she was healing from the surgery on her hip, especially considering her age. One of them even allowed that there maybe was something to Cathy's insistence that the comfry root greatly speeded up bone repair.

The family had always gathered at Aunt Cathy's for the major holidays. That obviously couldn't happen this year. Zeke invited his son and grandson over to Tupper's Creek for Thanksgiving dinner. They were reluctant to go, but Cathy urged them to accept. "They'll be serving a fine dinner right here in the dining hall, and it will give me a chance to get aquainted with some of the other folks here," she insisted.

"We're planning to come and eat with you in the dining hall," said Big Bill. He didn't much like his father's girlfriend, or her cooking.

"I'll be fine here. You all go on to Zeke's." She was insistent. Cathy appreciated time and attentiveness her family had shown since her fall, but she was feeling the need for a little space. They'd been hovering around her like worker bees around the queen, and it was beginning to wear on her. "Use that phone right over there. Go ahead and call him and say you'll be there."

Big Bill and Billy looked at each other, then shrugged. Big Bill nodded at Billy, who walked on over to the phone and dialed Zeke's number.

Janie


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 02:15 PM

Billy hung up the phone and looked over at Big Bill. "He says we'll sit down to eat abut 2:00. Says to leave our instruments at home. His girlfriend don't like music."

Big Bill snorted but made no other comment. He turned to his mother. "We'll come by here for a visit Thanksgiving evening, then. Except for the year I spent in 'Nam, there's never been a Thanksgiving I haven't spent with you, Mom. I'm at least gonna see you."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: GUEST,Technical Non-fiction Mind
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 02:18 PM

Janie,

I am a technical guy, I hate fiction, and usually only like the written word that teaches me something. However, I enjoy your writing. I am sure many more do also but just do not bother to say so or do not want to interfere with the continuity of your story line. It also took me a long time to bother opening the thread since it said Fiction.

This thread does belong up here in the music section and not down below in the mud of Mudcat where people would miss it.

Keep on writing, you have a talent, and thank you.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Effsee
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 09:45 PM

Well said Guest 02:18, I entirely concur! Wonderful. Go Janie, go!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 09:52 PM

Big Bill and Billy were surprised to find Louie visiting with Aunt Cathy when they walked into her room at the rehab center on Thanksgiving evening. He usually drove his mother up to Dayton, where they spent the Thanksgiving holidays with Aunt Edith and his cousins. Edith and her husband had moved to Dayton 25 years ago, unable to ride out another long lay-off when the coal industry slumped again. In Dayton, they had both found work in a plant turning out radial tires.

"Edith and Bill drove down here this year," said Louie, in response to Billy's question. "They're starting to look around for a place to buy, somewhere on this end of the county. Both of 'em will retire next year, so they're getting ready to come on back home.

"Come on in and sit down. Aunt Cathy and I was just gettin' down to comparin' stories about that day she fell."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 10:24 AM

"You go on with what you were saying, Louie," Aunt Cathy said once her son and grandson had pulled up chairs and settled in. "He was just telling me about hearing Cassie's flute," she explained to Big Bill and Billy. Louie was reluctant to continue their conversation in the presence of the other two men, but Cathy said it was time the story got told and pressed him to continue. "You two keep your mouths shut for awhile, and just listen," she warned. "You're going to hear some things that are going to be hard to swallow, but you ought to know by now you can trust me to know what's true and what's real. We'll start with that day I fell, just by way of introduction, Now go on, Louie, tell us what happened."

Louie didn't look at the other men as he recounted how the sound of Cassie's flute lead him down off the mountain to Cathy's backdoor. He didn't want to see the skeptical looks he knew they were exchanging.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 01:17 PM

This is nice but it belongs in BS


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: GUEST,Technical Non-fiction Mind
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 02:17 PM

This thread belongs right where it is.

I first thought the same thing you did GUEST until I finally opened the thread and read it. See my post above.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 11:02 PM

"Big Bill, if you know what's good for you, you'll change the way you're lookin' at me right this minute!" declared Aunt Cathy when she had finished telling her part of what happened the day she fell. "You've spent your adult life runnin' from it, but you know as well as I do that you have got a touch of the Sight' yourself."

Big Bill started to sputter a denial, but his son leaned over and put a hand on his thigh. Billy looked over uncertainly at his grandmother. Her pale blue eyes met the same blue eyes of her grandson, and she studied him for a long moment. No one spoke. Then, she nodded as if satisfied and leaned back on the pillows propped up behind her on the bed.

"Dad, I've heard Cassie playing her flute, up there in the graveyard. Not often, maybe only 2 or 3 times in the ten years since she passed over. And I have sensed her presence there at Aunt Cathy's – grandmaw's – many times since she died. And you have to. I know this because you talk in your sleep."

"Funny that you have never mentioned it before," Big Bill retorted.

"I'd a been a fool to talk about it to you, Dad, the way you have always ranted when I've tried to tell you about such things.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: frogprince
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 11:07 PM

Tune in...next week? Whenever you can, Janie; we'll be waiting.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 08:45 AM

hmmmm - have to figure out if the Carver Rehabilitation center takes pets. Not that Mjolnir technically qualifies as a "pet" - but that's the way the staff would view him.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: GUEST,Janie
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 01:52 PM

Sorry the goin's so slow, Frogprince. Working late a lot of nights and no time to write.

Mmario--we have a new cat. Zip her up inside your jacket or a covered basket and she is snug as a bug and happy as a clam and ....well--don't worry about if he is 'allowed' or not.

Janie


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: frogprince
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 03:58 PM

My intention was more encouragement than complaint, Ms.Janie; I was assuming you have some other priorities in life : )


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 11:16 AM

Mjolnir allowed himself to be carrassed by a number of hands as he wove in and out of numberous legs, those of people and those of chairs and tables. He ignored the soft murmers of 'Here kitty, kitty' but did deign to stop and sniff delicately at a saucer of lox conveniently placed on the floor next to one wheelchair. He nibbled a bit and gave the occupant of the chair an extra stropping before moving on across the floor of the common room at the Carver Rehabilitation Center.

He hadn't managed to make it into Cathy's room yet - the staff at this facility was *not* well trained in the appropriate behavior towards felines; but over the last day or two had made himself a fixture in the common areas od the center. That he had not yet encountered Cathy outside her rooms concerned him a trifle. But if there is one thing cats excel in, it is patience.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 07:44 PM

It was during Emma's visit on Thanksgiving Day that she told Cassie they would be moving to Paint Creek. The young girl felt confused and guilty at her reaction to the news she would be going to live with her mother. She loved Emma, looked forward to her visits, and often day-dreamed about being with her mother all the time. But in those day-dreams, her mother came to work and live with Cassie at the orphanage. Cassie had only vague memories of living with her mother in Charleston. The orphanage was her home. The other children were as sisters and brothers to her, the caring overseer like a father.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Cruiser
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 07:50 PM

Good to have you back ma'am.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 08:33 PM

The Sight would not come fully to Cassie until she reached puberty, but she possessed intimations of the 'gift' from a very young age.   That had made the day dreams seem even more plausible to this young girl who often had some diffuse sense of what was coming, even if she couldn't exactly name or predict it. So her mother's announcement that she would be leaving the Masonic Home by the 1st of the year was an especial shock. Cassie was alternately excited and hopeful then fearful and sad. The staff at the orphanage recognized and understood the conflicting emotions she was experiencing and were wise enough to let her feel them. They did let her know that, because they loved her, they were excited that she was going to be able to reunite with her mother, even as they would miss her and knew she would miss them and the other children.

    Christmas Eve was a poignant time for all of them. Mrs. Hodges, Cassie's dorm mother and music teacher, had to excuse herself several times to hide her tears from Cassie and the rest. Her gift to Cassie was the rather ragged violin Cassie had been play8ng on ever since she began her instruction with Mrs. Hodge. The music teacher had included a note to Cassie, which Cassie declined to share or discuss with anyone, including Mrs. Hodges herself. Emma had written to say she would be there to get Cassie on New Year's, but she could not afford two train fares so close together and so would not be able to come to the Masonic Home on Christmas, as was her wont.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 08:50 PM

Christmas night, Cassie dreamed she was floating down a river on a leaf. She had the violin with her, which she hugged for comfort, but did not play. As she drifted downstream she could hear music playing, and see flickering images along the banks that appeared to be the people making the music. The music, and the images changed as she floated along with the current, sometimes fast and sometimes slow. There were times as she floated that the leaf rocked and threatened to spill her out into the waters that surrounded her, or when the leaf got caught in a whirlpool, spinning her round and round until she was dizzy and gleeful, then sick, before the eddy spat the leaf, with her still clinging to it, out into the main current again. Other times, the leaf rocked gently and the music she would hear would go soft and sad. At some point along the way, she began to see occasional glints of silver coming from the images along the riverbanks, and she realized she kept hearing a flute, and that the flute itself seemed to be drawing her and the leaf down the river.

She wouldn't recall having that dream the next morning. But the memory of it would spring full blown into her mind on Christmas, 10 years later.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 28 Dec 06 - 11:00 PM

One week later, on New Year's Day, 1903, Emma and Cassie boarded a passenger car at the C&O Station and headed east, to Paint Creek. The railway ran overland until it reached St. Albans, and from that point it paralleled the river. Cassie watched coal barges move along the river below them. Emma pointed out the steam packet that ran three days a week from Charleston to Point Pleasant and then down the Ohio to Huntington. Cassie wondered what it would be like to travel on the packet. At the Masonic Home, they were occasionally allowed to go down to the Ohio for a picnic, and Cassie always watched for the paddlewheelers that traveled up and down that river. She'd run down to the riverbank and wave if one passed by near enough. Sometimes she could hear the sound of a piano and other instruments being played from somewhere inside the boat. At night, she would listen for the distant sound of the steamer horns and whistles as she lay in her bed, waiting to be carried off into sleep.

    Cassie turned and look up earnestly into her mother's face. "Momma, somethin' always stirs in my brain when I see riverboats. I can't say exactly what it is, but it feels kinda scary and kinda thrillin'. Do suppose I'll be a steamboat captain when I grow up?"
      
    "Whatever do you mean?" asked Emma, studying her daughter.
    "I mean just what I said, Moma. Can a girl be steamboat captain."
    "I got that part, Cassie, it's the brain stirrin' I'm asking about. I hope you haven't inherited my headaches."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 28 Dec 06 - 11:27 PM

"No, Momma, not like a headache. It's like...I can't put words to it...a stirry, shifting feeling that I get sometimes a knowing that isn't really. Nevermind. What's the name of this river again? The Kanawha?"

    Mr. McJunkin came onto the train at Charleston and he and her momma talked business for the remaining hour of the ride.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 05 Jan 07 - 07:39 PM

"Cassie said she never forgot that first day-did I tell you it was New Year's?-on Paint Creek. It was the first time she ever heard a mountain fiddle."

Aunt Cathy, just back from physical therapy, was no longer surprised to find Little Billy, Louie and Sharon waiting in her room. This was their third day back in a row. It sure made her stay here more bearable, and took her mind off the pain and fatique of the physical therapy. She had been moved to see these young people were genuinely interested in this story she had to tell. She was more aware than ever that her days on earth were limited, and it was a relief to be able to tell what needed told. To tell the young ones what she thought it important they hear.

The day after Thanksgiving, Little Billy and Louie had come back, bringing Sharon and a tape recorder with them. "To catch Big Bill up," said Billy, "When he's ready to hear."

"Cassie said when she heard that fiddle, it stopped her dead in her tracks. Her momma was eager to get on to the boarding house, less than a block from the train depot at Pratt, but Cassie stood in the middle of the muddy road, listening, refusing to budge. Remember where Pritchard's store use to stand, before it burned down? Cassie said there was a little gatherin' of people in there, for a New Year's get together. There was a wood stove and she could smell the corned beef and cabbage simmering in a cast iron pot on top of it. When the song ended nothin' would do but she had to go right up to the fiddler. Okie Hernshaw is who it was, Old Man Jacob Hernshaw's pa.
"She asked him the name of the tune. 'Thorny Patch' he replied. 'I'm new in town,' she said. 'Will you teach me to play a violin like that?' Can't you just see that, Billie? This little ten year old girl marchin' up like that, just as bold as you please?

"He told her straight away that when you played it like that, it wasn't no violin. It was a fiddle.

"You'd think it would be movin' into the boarding house with her mother that she would remember. but she never said a word about that."

"Well, hello old friend! I wondered when you'd turn up." Mjolnir had found his way to Cathy's room.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 05 Jan 07 - 07:51 PM

From the campfire: Brava! So good to see you continuing with this, Janie!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Effsee
Date: 05 Jan 07 - 09:40 PM

Hear hear!!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 07 Jan 07 - 12:03 AM

Mjolnir jumped up onto Aunt Cathy's bed, as delighted to see her as she was to see him. Cathy paused in her story to make over him, stroking his back as he turned back and forth under her hand, purring, arching his back. He had been feeling a little down--it was Cassie and Louie who had actually rescued her. All he had managed to do was see to it that the idiot hound got his rocks off. But the welcome he received from Aunt Cathy drove the sef-doubt from his mind. When he thought about it, protecting her from corporeal dangers really wasn't in his job description anyway. he settle in her lap, continuing to purr loudly while his front paws kneaded the blanket that covered her.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 24 Jan 07 - 12:19 PM

Mjolnir strolled, tail aloft in regale display, through the common room of the Carver Rehabilitation Center on his thrice daily inspection tour. A harder then normal winter had reduced the number of visits from Cathy's kinfolk, and slowed the pace of life in general. This pleased the feline as Cathy was slowly regaining strength she hadn't realized she had lost; and he himself didn't mind the time to recoup health and spirit. The afternoons spent on her lap as she mentally reviewed and composed her tales for the next visit were welcome to them both.

But Mjolnir also gave attention to many of the others in the Center, visiting the common areas several times a day. Since his advent at the center the staff had instituted a policy that allowed what they called 'companion animals'. Mostly this had resulted in a number of the residents bringing yappy little brainless lapdogs to their rooms.

What the creator had been thinking of the day the Shih Tzu came into existance Mjolnir didn't know - but strongly suspected a lapse in judgement had occurred.

However, last week a large perch had been installed in the corner of the 'Media Room' - right next to the wide screen television; and upon the perch now rested a large Hyacinth Macaw, the purple-blue iridescence of her feathers brightening the corner. Mjolnir had heard the Director of the center discussing the bird, (and the problems involved in the legalities of housing it) with the parrot owners grandson. It seems this particular parrot had the distinction of having belonged to one family since well before the War Between the States.   But Isis had been placed in the media room rather then the patients private room as the venerable macaw genuinely preffered socialization with many people.

Mjolnir purred as he walked beneath Isis' perch. Though they had never met before her arrival at the center, recognition had been instant and mutual. Like will draw to like;no doubt about it.

Mjolnir had seen more then a little interest light the eyes of Isis' human Abraham when Cathy had come into the commons. The people hadn't spoken to each other yet, but Mjolnir and Isis were both aware it would happen. Most likely sooner rather then later.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 23 Feb 07 - 10:24 PM

Cathy wasn't sure what had drawn her to the common room this afternoon. She normally avoided it this time of day. The blaring noise and distraction of the wide screen television made bonifide conversation nearly impossible as far she was concerned, and what was the point of sitting with people if not to have interesting conversation?

"Aha!" She knew why she had come as soon as she laid eyes on the macaw. She pointed her walker toward the opposite wall and made a bee-line across the room toward the big, colorful bird. "I'm really moving pretty good," she thought to herself as she made her way across the room. "Maybe I'm ready for a cane."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 23 Feb 07 - 10:31 PM

A cane. When she could walk with a cane, she and Mjolnir could go home.

She didn't dwell on that thought, however. There were other fish to fry right at the present moment.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 24 Feb 07 - 08:07 AM

"My, My, my," Cathy breathed as she neared the perch on which Isis sat. "Ain't you something else!" The macaw bobbed her head, as if in agreement. She had halted her preening and watched with obvious interest as Cathy had moved toward her from across the room. She would have recognized Cathy as Mjolnir's human even if the tom had not paraded proudly in front of Cathy, as if clearing a path for her as she approached the brilliantly colored bird.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 09:51 PM

Isis looked just exactly as Miss Cassie had described her, but the gentleman who stepped up to introduce himself as the patron of the bird was white, unlike the mulatto jazz drummer Cassie had run off with to New Orleans. "What am I thinking," Cathy thought. "Of course not! That man would be dead these many years."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 12:21 AM

(Great stuff, Janie and MMario!!)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 03 Mar 07 - 06:33 PM

Cathy studied Abraham's face as she accepted his hand in greeting. She liked what she saw. He had the look of man who had spent most of his years outdoors. The skin on his face was heavily wrinkled and leathery, but the brown eyes peering out from that aged face looked young and full of life. He held a greek fisherman's hat in his other hand, and from the flattened, slightly oily look of his salt and pepper hair, it was clear the hat rarely left his head. In contrast, his completely silver beard was immaculately groomed and trimmed.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 03 Mar 07 - 07:13 PM

Though they had never met, they recognized one another immediately. Spirit kin. As close-or closer-than blood kin.

"I knew there was more to me coming here than rehab for the knee replacement," he said. "I've been watching and waiting for you for a week, ever since I saw Mjolnir. He was a young, spry tom the last time I saw him, but he really hasn't changed that much. Isis was thrilled to see him again."

"Then you must have known my darlin' Cassie when she was a fairly young woman?" inguired Cathy. She was a little disconcerted to have not to have had any premonition of this meeting. The surprise, the lack of forewarning. That must be why her pulse seemed to be racing a bit right now. It had nothing to do with the way his hand had lingered when they introduced themselves.

"I met Cassie when I was just a young boy, on her first trip down the rivers to New Orleans."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 10:02 PM

"A very young boy," he hastened to add, as Cathy's expression turned to one of disbelief.   "Daddy was a riverman. Back then he was Capt'n of a tugboat. Pushed coal barges up and down the river. Every now and then he'd talk Mama into letting him bring me along. It was me found her, black as a kitten with coal dust where she'd been hiding on one of the barges. Like to scared me to death when I saw her rise up out of the side of that pile of coal."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 06:01 AM

"When Cassie crept aboard that barge and buried herself in the coal, she thought she was leaving the hollers behind forever. Instead, she brought the hollers with her. She never did get all that coal dust out of her pores. She knew early-on that one day she'd come back to stay."

Abraham nodded in agreement. Cassie had said as much to him on more than one trip up and down the lower Mississippi.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 09:58 AM

Isis glanced down at the slightly scruffy feline purring quietly below her perch. A bit worse for wear, that tom appeared to be, but cats didn't have the advantage of a naturally long lifespan, unlike parrots. Still, she sensed an inner strength and vitality that refuted the scarred and worn exterior. And the spirit at the core of the women he accompianied was brighter then she'd seen in any except her own family for many a long year. In fact, the last time she had seen a spirit core that bright had been the young woman Abraham was even now reminiscing about.

Strength and light were good qalities to have about these days, Isis mused. Her best efforts hadn't been able to keep New Orleans safe in recent times; though she prided herself that things would have been much worse without her presence.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: GUEST,Janie
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 11:54 AM

(Hurray, Mmario)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 09:53 PM

(Beautiful, you two!)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 10:22 PM

Little Billy felt a twinge of fear when he stopped by that evening and couldn't find his grandmother in her room.

"Where's Aunt Cathy?" he demanded of the first aide to pass by the room. "Is anything wrong?"

"Why no," grinned the aide. "I do believe she'll be goin' home soon. Seems she has got better all a sudden. Go on down to the solarium on the east wing. I think she'll have a surprise for you."

The aide refused to say more, just grinned and chuckled as she walked away.

Billy watched her go, shaking his head in puzzlement. Then turned and headed for the south wing. He was glad to know his grandmother had not taken a turn for the worse, but he could not help but have a new worry as he turned onto the south wing and approached the solarium. Sometimes grandma's surprises were a bit more than the family was prepared for. She had a way of shaking things up. Usually just as eveything was getting comfortable and routine.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 07:43 AM

As Bily entered the corridor leading to the solarium he heard music pouring from the room ahead. Fiddle music, played as he'd only heard in the hollers, but with a bit of a undertone of something else, something a bit foreign to the hollers but enhancing the old tune in a way he'd never heard - even when the family got together.

As he entered the solarium itself Little Billy spotted the source of the music, Aunt Cathy and some gentleman he'd never seen before - facing each other and both of them fiddling, moving with the music, fingers flashing on the frets and bows blurring. A huge purple blue bird of some sort perched on the back of a nearby divan, adding an occasional grace note, while Mjolnir sat in spynxlike stance on the seat of the same divan, eyes locked on the pair of music makers in front of him. Scattered about the room were a considerable number of smiling residents, all appearing to be as entranced by the music as was Mjolnir.

Billy stopped just inside the door as his grandmother's music poured over him, the unknown gentleman flashing him a grin over her shoulder as the notes soared towards a musical peak. The bird (Lord! The thing was *huge*! where in the world had it come from?) adding a strangely effective trill that built on the theme Cathy was playing


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 12:24 AM

"There you are!" sputtered Louie, walking up behind Billy just as the music stopped. The stupid aide told me the solarium was on the East Wing. I bet I've walked a mile through these halls, trying to find you." Then he brightened. "Lots of really interesting old people here. It wouldn't have taken me so long, 'ceptin' I could help but stop and have a chat hear and there."

Billy nodded. "Now I think of it, she told me East, too," he said. I already knew where the solarium was so I guess I just didn't pay attention. Come on."

Cathy and the stranger were smiling at them both, beckoning for them to step on into the room. Billy was eager to find out who this person was who seemed to have his grandmother looking so lively all the sudden. When he had last been here, three days ago, Cathy had looked tired and old. He had been worried that her recovery was taking so long. Although he had kept pushing the thought away, he had begun to wonder if she would ever go home. Now here she was, looking 10 years younger and as perky as a Carolina Wren.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 01:33 PM

((Will Cathy return to the holler for Easter? I can't do a spring return to the holler justice....But it seems appropriate if she does go home. Maybe Abraham goes for a vist? Hmmmmmm????))


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 11:08 PM

Aunt Kathy sat in the front passenger seat of Big Bill's car, Moljnir curled in his usual place on her lap. Bill didn't drive the old Galaxy often, but the big bench seat would allow his mother to keep her leg elevated on the drive home. Little Billy parked himself in the middle of the back seat where he could lean forward and rest his arms and chin on the front backrest, seatbelts be damned. The three of them chatted easily, talking about work the boys had done to the old house while Kathy was in the nursing home, pointing out landmarks to one another along the way, and sharing what little gossip they had about the goings-on in the hollers. Now and then one of them would start a song and the other two would join in, their voices sliding around each other with the ease that only a life time of singing together brings.

"Do you want to plan songs we'll sing up at the graveyard tomorrow morning, or just wait and and do as the spirit moves?" asked Bill, his voice matter-of-fact, eyes straight ahead on the highway.

Kathy started. "I thought you said...."

Bill turned his head and looked at his mother, a wide smile on his face. "Your neighbors have missed you, and wanted to do something to welcome you back," he said. "Elmer Johnson 'borrowed' his bulldozer from the State Rd. Commission last week and ran it up the track to the top of the ridge. Louie got his grandpaw's old dodge truck runnin', the one with the mule gear? I'm not sure even it could make it to the top on slick mud, so I didn't want to say anything until I was sure the weather was going to stay dry. But it hasn't rained in a week. We'll be on top of the mountain for Easter sunrise."

Bill waited, but Kathy didn't speak. He turned his eyes from the road again to look at her. She was staring straight ahead out the window, tears running down her cheeks.





                o---------------o---------------o---------------o

They had come to the graveyard on the ridge just as the eastern sky began to lighten. Louie and Billie lifted the kitchen chairs from the bed of the truck while Big Bill helped Kathy out of the cab. It had been a bit of a rougher ride than Kathy had expected, but now she was here it was worth it. Sharon wanted to rush her into a seat, ready to wrap Kathy in a blanket against the chill April air, but Kathy waved the blanket away irritably.

"If you want to be useful child, give me your arm and walk me over to Cassie's grave. There. Now. Go away and give me a little space."

Sharon backed away, and turned to join the others. They quietly arranged the chairs, facing east, keeping their voices low. They left the baskets with the food in the back of the truck for now.

Kathy stood directly on Cassie's grave. It was still too dark to make out the words carved into the granite, but she could detect the faint gleam of the daffodils that encircled the stone. She closed her eyes and breathed in deep, taking in the sharp smell of the wild onions she had trampled underfoot. With her heel, she dug shallowly at the ground, hoping for a whiff of the new earth and something more, the clean, chlorophyll smell of chickweed, or the peppery scent of the tiny winter cress. "It will come." She opened her eyes. The sky was growing lighter. It was time to join the others.

"OK. We're ready." she called.

This time it was Big Bill who offered his arm. He escorted his mother to her chair and helped her situate the blanket. Kathy looked back toward the grave, her eyes following the trail they had left on the dew-covered grass and spring weeds. "There will be more smells once we get to stirring around up here," she thought with satisfaction. She turned her face back toward the east, straightening her shoulders. The new day was afoot now, the sky lightening rapidly as the sun approached the horizon. As the first bright rays broached the edge of the facing ridge, the bells of the many little churches tucked away in the hollers below began to ring.   Up here on the ridge at the head of this furthest of hollers, The sound was faint and muted, as if the sound had been made almost mournful by the journey through these old mountains.

They waited expectantly, straining to be sure to hear. There it was, even fainter than the bells, but joyous, lively, piping in the rebirth that is spring. The notes of the flute coming from the direction of Cassie's grave danced over, around and through them, playing the first measure of the song. The rim of the sun appeared across the mountain, and they began to sing.


Beautiful morning! Day of hope,
Dawn of a better life;
Now in thy peaceful hours we rest,
Far from earth's noise and strife.

Morning of resurrection joy,
Day when the Savior rose,
Singing shall greet thy opening hour,
Singing shall mark thy close.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 11:17 PM

(Janie! That is SO beautiful! I am awestruck and what a lovely idea...to visit the graves on Easter morn. Thank yew!)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 08 Apr 07 - 08:01 AM

Thank you Janie!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 08 Apr 07 - 09:08 AM

(No. thank you Mmario!)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 08 Apr 07 - 11:01 AM

They kept on with their singing, one of them starting into another hymn as soon as the notes of the last faded away. Beautiful Morning, The Easter Carol, I know That my Redeemer Liveth, Angels Rolled Away the Stone, Death Hath No Terror, He Lives, and even a bit of The Halleluhah Chorus. They sang as the sun rose and the shadows in the holler below retreated. Faint tendrils of mist arose from the ground as the dew evaporated, and the scents of spring Kathy so craved rose up with them. Spring ephemerals weren't to be found in a spot so sunny and humanized as a graveyard, but violets, wood's sorrel, purple deadnettle, henbit, heal-all, pepper grass, and three species of chickweed made for a raggle-taggle carpet. Redbuds and dogwoods grew along the edges of the clearing. Sharon noticed that some of the dogwoods were showing signs of blight infection, and offered up a hope they would not go the way of the chestnut and the elm. Down in the holler, the lilac bush Cassie had planted by the porch was starting to bloom, but the one up here in the graveyard was just starting to show color.

In deference to Aunt Kathy's age, they had brought a folding table on which to lay out breakfast. Louie carried over the baskets and helped Sharon and Cathy begin to lay out the simple feast. Billie walked over to the southeast corner to have a word with ol' Duke, who had died back in February.



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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 08 Apr 07 - 06:08 PM

He saw the Creeping Charlie had nearly obliterated the outline of the grave, knitting the edges of the sod to the surrounding ground. He needed to find a big rock or something to mark the place before the outline disappeared all together.

He still felt really bad about Duke. Billie had taken Duke to care for when Kathy went to the hospital. The old hound had not adjusted well to life in a city duplex. He was used to roaming as he pleased, hated the leash, and pined after aunt Kathy somethin' awful. Billie gave him all the attention he could, but he had to work, which meant Duke was closed up in the apartment all day. The neighbors hadn't been too happy either. He'd howl mournfully at the sound of a trainwhistle, or sometimes just from a lonesome spell. Billie had taken up to Aunt Kathy's when he met Louie there to work on the huse, but ended up having to keep him tied. The old dog would disappear into the hills on them. Once, Billie had to spend the night at Aunt Kathy's, waiting for him to show back up. One evening, Duke apparently decided he'd had all the city life he was going to tolerate. He slipped through the opend door one evening as Billy was entering the apartment and took off running. Billy took off after him, but couldn't catch him before he ran into the street in front of an on-coming car.

Kathy patted the chair beside her, beckoning Billie to come and sit beside her at the folding table where Easter breakfast was now laid out. It was simple. there were both scotch eggs and pickled eggs, cold biscuits and a canned fruit salad. Kathy asked Big Bill to say the blessing.

Heavenly Father
We give thanks for the return of spring, the promise of life renewed. We that our veins not be clogged by this cholesteral we are about to eat.


Kathy snorted, half amused have annoyed, but made no ther comment.

They didn't linger over the meal. The day was sunny but not particularly warm, and Kathy was obviously wearing out.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Effsee
Date: 08 Apr 07 - 09:32 PM

Poor ol' Duke. RIP. Janie, keep up the good work! Fantastic stuff.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 10 Apr 07 - 12:42 PM

(a day later then I had planned on posting this - just turn the clocks back to Easter Monday)

Mjolnir stretched in the pool of sunlight spilling over the porch. It was *good* to be back in the holler again. As a cat, home was (of course) wherever he decided to light a spell; but the holler was special, and not just for duties sake. He'd spent most of the previous day pacing the bounds, checking the property and inspecting the house.

Kathy was still inside this morning - yesterday's excusrion had taken a bit more out of her then she or Mjolnir had expected. He should have accompianied her, and was a bit irritated with himself for allowing her grandson to evict him from the cab of the truck before they started off. Sometimes even a cat with his experience didn't have all the answers. Funny how the two-legs, with all their differences and all their silly superstitions and customs and play-acting and all; somehow they still managed to find and follo the path. Mjolnir even thought sometimes that some people, at least some of those who were most associated with the holler, had almost as much sensability as cats. The holler even seemed to effect some lesser species.

He planned on a trip up to the burying ground himself in a day or two; before the moon waned fully he would seranade Ol' Duke in the moonlight and shadows of the night. It's not as if the hound had chosen to be canine, and he had been a long time resident of the holler. For a dog, he hadn't been a bad companion, and he might even be worthy of rebirth as a cat.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: frogprince
Date: 10 Apr 07 - 02:10 PM

(Delicious, youse guys)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 12 Apr 07 - 10:25 PM

Sharon sat out on the front porch in Aunt Kathy's rocker and watched a male Carolina Wren start on his 2nd nest of the day, determined to outbuild his competitor over in the eaves on the north side of the house. The fickle female just would not make up her mind. She was toying with his affections, flirting, interested, but with a still roving eye. He'd worked hard on the first nest, and sung real purt and bright, but she wouldn't make up her mind. Kept flittin' around the corner to that other fella's place to let him woo her too. He had finally decided to go check out the competiion.

    The other guy's place weren't built near as nice as his (in his humble opinion), but it was tucked up in that eave right cozy. Flying back to the porch, he pondered a bit, studying up on the situation. It was a fine nest he had built, if you asked him. More substantial than that of the rounder around the corner. How could she not see the difference? He hopped around the rails of the porch, jumped up to the joists of the ceiling, hopped down to the windowsill. He spied the rucksack hanging on the hook between the door and the window. Interesting. Very interesting. Paying little attention to Sharon, just a few feet away, he flew over to inspect. For a few moments he clung to the strap. He turned and twisted, checking out the immediate surroundings. Could the cat get to it? What about the black snake that lived in the crawl space? He jumped down to the rim of the pouch, hopped back up on the strap, flitted over to the porch rail, sang lustily for a bar or two, then back to the rim of pouch. He cocked his head sideways to get a clear view of the interior, then disappeared down into the depths of the bag. Soon he was back up on the rim, singing again to make sure the female knew what he was about. From there, he flew down to the ground to scratch for bugs, flew off, and returned in less than two minutes, the first piece of detris from which he would build the nest in his beak.

    Sharon wondered if he would finish it before dark. She heard a slight noice behind her and turned her head to look at the door. Aunt Kathy stood in the doorway, not opening the screen, her eyes on the wren. She started to rise, but aunt Kathy waved her off with one hand, pointing at the bird with the other.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 12 Apr 07 - 10:49 PM

Sharon got up anyway. The wren flew off, but Sharon wasn't worried. It would be back.

Kathy opened the door and stepped out onto the porch. "I wonder if that is the same fella from last year?"

"I bet it is either him or his son," said Sharon. "It's gettng a bit cool out here, are you sure you want to come out?"

"For a minute or two, anyway," replied Aunt Kathy. I've been closed up too long."

It had been over 4 months since Louie had found Kathy on the kitchen floor. Four long months for Kathy, for all of them.   She had taken much longer to recover than any of them had expected, and it was clear she was not fully up to speed.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 14 Apr 07 - 12:24 AM

Sharon resisted the urge to take Aunt Kathy's arm as the old woman stepped out onto the porch, though she did allow herself to steady the rocker as Aunt Kathy settled into the seat Sharon had just vacated.

"Why don't you go get us a glass of tea before you sit back down?" asked Aunt Kathy.

"Sure." Sharon started into the house. "Want I should bring the afghan off the couch out to cover your legs?"

Kathy started to shake her head,no, then thought better of it.
"That would be right nice, dear, I appreciate it."

Sharon brought out the laprobe, then returned to the house, heading for the kitchen to pour tall glasses of sweet tea. Kathy sat and waited, breathing in the scent of the lilac bush beside the porch. She was pleased to see the boys had managed to repair the rail on that side without damaging the bush. They had also replaced some of the floorboards. She breathed deep, trying to catch the smell of the new wood through the perfume of the lilac. They had wanted to paint the porch, but Kathy had stopped them.

"The weathered wood just suits me," is all she would say. "Those new boards will match the rest soon enough."

Mjolnir had gone off on patrol, and she hoped the wren would return to its work soon. The little bird flashed restlessly among the branches of the lilac, eager to get back to building its bower. It flew away, however, when Sharon backed through the screendoor, a glass of iced tea in each hand.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 22 Apr 07 - 10:48 PM

She handed Aunt Kathy her tea, then pulled an old vinyl-and-crome kitchen chair over close to Kathy's rocker. The two women sat for a few minutes in comfortable silence, drinking their tea.

"Oh look, the mustard's a'wavin' at us." Aunt Kathy gestured toward the little patch of mustard greens, now gone to flower, that grew along the barbed wire fence that separated the front yard from the pasture. There was just enough breeze to make them sway and nod.

"They act like they are as glad to see you back as you are to be here," Sharon replied, "As glad as we all are to see you home."

"And there is nobody happier than me. They was real nice down there at the nursing home, but that is no place to live. It was right depressin', bein' around all those old people who live there now, who know they'll finish out their days there. Real depressin'. A lot of 'em don't have homes to go back to, even if they could. Had to be sold to pay for the care and to get the Medicaid to kick in. Thanks to you, I didn't have to worry about that."

Sharon looked puzzled. "Waht do you mean?"

"Nevermind, I'll tell you later. I want to enjoy my porch now, before it gets too cool for me to stay out."

Sharon opened her mouth to speak, then closed it again. Aunt Kathy would say what she needed to say, when she needed to say. If an explanation was needed, Sharon knew aunt Kathy would give it. They lapsed back into silence. The male wren had decided he could handle the two women as long as the cat was gone, and had resumed his nest-building. The female stayed out in the yard, but was showing renewed interest in the brassy little male.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 10:34 PM

"Have you seen Dukes's pups?" Sharon asked.


Kathy smiled. "Louie brought the one he took by the nursing home while I was there. Said it was so ugly he knew it needed rescued, and he was just the man to do it. She paused. "I didn't argue with him."

Sharon laughed. "The whole litter looked like that. I'm afraid coon hound and squirrel dog didn't mix too well in the looks department. But you know what Aunt Kathy? I believe Ugly has got Duke's great heart, and he is just as smart a pup as you could want. He adores Louie. Louie takes him to work with him. It won't be long before that dog will be pumping gas and changing oil! And he might not turn out quite so ugly in the end. He's what, 5-6 months old now? His face is starting to grow into those long ears now, though I don't know if that barrel body will ever sit on top those long legs to look right or not. that's not true, you can already tell niether the body or the legs are going to change much. but he's a wonderful mutt, has real character. Let's go on in and start supper. This little rooster of a wrenn needs some time alone with his girlfriend over there.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 13 May 07 - 11:49 PM

Gathering up their tea glasses and the lap-robe, they moved back into the house. It was cool enough inside that Sharon closed the front door behind them, then went to the Warm Morning space heater in the living room and turned it on.

"The sun is still coming in the kitchen, so it will be fine, especially with the stove going," said Kathy. You head on out to the garden and pick us a salad and some Kale. I'll get the hamburger patties made."

They walked through the house to the kitchen. Sharon went on out the back door toward the spring garden. Kathy stayed in the kitchen and got busy with the rest of the meal.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 28 May 07 - 04:32 PM

They sat down to a meal of hamburger patties in mushroom gravy (God bless Mr. Campbell and his golden mushroom soup, Kathy added to the blessing), boiled new potatoes and kale. Dinner had been delayed when Aunt Kathy found Sharon's lightly steamed kale unacceptable.

"Goodness, Sharon, don't you know you have to boil the farts out of kale? There. Back in the pot with it. I thought you knew how to cook!"

She made Sharon return the Kale to the pot, cover it completely with cold water, then turn the heat on high. It boiled hard for 10 minutes. In the meantime, Kathy set another pot of water to boil.

"Pour off the water of that first boiling. You see how green it is. That's the farts. Zeke could blow us all out of the house unless I boiled it three times. Me, I'm not so gassy. I think two good boilings will do it."

Under Kathy's direction, Sharon returned the drained kale to the pot, poured the second pot of boiling water over it and tossed in the chunk of fatback Kathy handed her. 10 minutes later, Kathy watched with satisfaction as Sharon dished out the slimy green mess onto their plates.

"Now that's home cookin'" said Kathy as she dug into her meal with excellent appetite.

"Looks and feels like that algae that grows on the rocks in the creek, if you ask me," retorted Sharon. She took a few nibbles, but decided to stick with the salad for her greens.

"You hear anything from Abraham?" Sharon asked over her shoulder as she dried and put away the supper dishes. She had insisted that Aunt Kathy stay seated and not help with clean-up. She had made no bones about her worries that Kathy was not getting back her strength and vigor as they had hoped would happen when she returned home to her beloved holler. Kathy would talk about that, but she did, surprisingly, stay at the kitchen table and let Sharon do the cleaning up alone. That was comment enough, as far as Sharon was concerned.

"I've invited him up for Memorial Day," Kathy answered. I haven't heard back yet if he will come."

"If you aren't feeling a lot stronger by Memorial Day, Aunt Kathy, I'm not so sure you should let everybody come."

"Nonsense. I know things are moving slow. But Sharon, I am, after all, 84 years old. Not exactly a spring chicken. And if you will think about it, I have never done well in the winter. I've often hated this holler in winter. Don't look so surprised. I"m not a complainer, you know that. But how often have you heard me fuss about the mud and the dark and the gray skies that set in along about Thanksgiving and stay until yer afraid it won't ever be blue skies and sunshine again? Your uncle Bob has been sweating out the last 3 winters, afraid I'd arrive on his doorstep down there in Sarasota on a February morning, ready to take up residence with him and Rosalee. A few days on the porch with my lilacs, then another fewworking a little in the yard, and I'll be good before you know it. Good as I'm likely to get anyway.

"Come over here and sit down. Leave the pots in the drainboard Sharon, they're fine. I want to talk to you."

Sharon turned and studied Aunt Kathy's serious face, taking in the kindness in the bright blue eyes, the fine wrinkles and deep lines that patterned the skin around her mouth and eyes, the pale, thin, almost translucent skin, still smooth over the planes of her cheeks. Sharon realized she could see a trace of the cherokee woman from 4 generations back in the beloved old face that was looking up at her from Kathy's seat on the other side of the kitchen table.

She nodded, rubbed her hands on the sackcloth towel she had been using to wipe the dishes dry, then pulled out the chair across from Aunt Kathy and sat down.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 28 May 07 - 06:06 PM

"I know you and the boys are not ready, so I don't plan on dying anytime real soon, Sharon, but with each month that passes, the margin between this life and the one on the other side gets thinner. I am blessed to be one of those who can actually experience that and know what it is. I have Cassie and her training to thank for that.

"Before I moved up here to take care of Cassie, I was like Big Bill. I was so full of fear and ignorance that what I knew scared me, so I denied what I knew. For the longest time, I thought you didn't have the same gift. Over the past few years, though, I've come to realize you just didn't think you were entitled to the gift, so you never claimed it. But I have watched you in the graveyard, watched you with Mjolnir, watched and also listened with eyes closed as you play and sing.

"So one thing I want to say is this; It is time to start your training. I'd like to start tonight.

"It is also time I told you that the farm belongs to you and Louie.
Quiet. Let me finish. You, because part of the magic resides in the land, and it is particularly strong here, at the head of this holler, where two long ridges meet. You will come to recognize the magic is always strongest at such places. places like New Orleans, at the mouths of great rivers, are not the starting points. They are simply the basins where all the magic from the beginnings of such things accumulate. It all begins in places like this. The heads of tiny hollers, the beginnings of creeks where mountains meet and water runs downhill. The places where mist and soil, and the echos among the hills begin. The places where oceans once stood, only to be pushed out by the upheavals of the heart of the earth. That is the true home of magic and mystery and creation. that Mississippi delta may be home of the blues, but remember, it was first the final resting place of the dirt of these ancient and fey mountains.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 28 May 07 - 06:47 PM

"Get off it, Aunt Kathy. Cassie would be rolling over in her grave (if she was actually in one,) to hear you say the Delta is 'simply' anything! And one thing it for sure is not, is Hillbilly Heaven. It wasn't a bunch of hillbillies who planted and picked all that cotton. It wasn't a bunch of enslaved scots-irishmen who died from the heat and mosquitos."

Kathy actually blushed. "Well....perhaps I did get a little carried away there."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 01 Jun 07 - 03:18 PM

[wow. So what happened over Memorial Day? Did Abraham (and Isis) come for a visit? Please tell us they did, and that Sharon and Louie brought Ugly pup up with them for the jam session.][yes, that's a hint, but I have trouble handling the Homo Sapiens part of the narrative...]


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 07:03 PM

"Now, what was I saying?

"I say training, Sharon, like it is some big deal, but it's not. It's just being willing to be open to what you can't explain. I opine that magic is nothing but that. Anything we don't know how it happens, or don't know enough to be about to figure out the whycomes and wherefores of, we call magic. Mystery is a better word. There are some who would dig and poke and investigate until they did know the hows and whats. Matter of fact, I'm sure the day will come when some scientist will publish a big paper with it all laid out in terms of string theory, quantum physics, or something like that. For myself, I don't know why anyone would want to go ahead and spoil a good mystery.

"Anyway, my question for you is, are you willing to be open?"

Sharon didn't know what she thought Aunt Kathy had wanted to talk about with such seriousness, but she hadn't expected this. She hesitated before answering, looking both perplexed and perturbed.

Aunt Kathy waited, saying nothing.

Finally, Sharon spoke. "I was always a bit afraid of Cassie when I was a little girl. I always kind of dreaded it when we'd come up to visit the two of you. Not that she wasn't always very kind. I didn't understand why you left Billy and Uncle Zeke to come up this holler and stay with her. I think I was jealous that you moved away from us and Tuppers Creek.    I knew Cassie was sick and needed someone here, but I didn't understand why it had to be you. But it was so lively up here, even with Cassie so sick. It was like the music was more at home here, especially in the summer when we'd gather out on that front porch.

"No, that's not what I mean to say."

She searched for words.

"Here, up this holler, is where I learned to let the music flood my soul, and to let my soul flood the music. And it was Cassie that showed the way. It was like her years on the Missippi had taken the fear of flood away from her. Had taken away the fear of contaminated waters. The flute with the fiddle. The banjo. The guitar. Unlike anyone else I have ever known, she was able to trace out and embrace the threads of kinship between the ballads we had made our Appalachian own, the reels, rags and hymns, and the jazz, blues and Cajun music she took into her self during her years going up and down the Missippi. It is just what you were saying a bit ago. She washed down this creek, to the Kanawha to the Ohio, to the Missippi, like a fleck of the shale that seams these mountains. When she came home, she was tracking a bit of Mississippi mud. It is all of a piece. All the music of people used to hard work and hard times, who knew the touch of heaven would some how make it worth it in the end."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 07:30 PM

Sharon slept in Aunt Kathy's old upstairs bedroom that night. On Kathy's instruction, she took the flute with her. The night air was chill, but she sat in the rocker by the open window, and played the flute as best she could for a few minutes before she went to bed.

In the middle of the night, she startled awake. Mjolnir had jumped up onto the bed, pushed his face down close to her own, and commenced to purr as loudly as he could. She shoved him away and sat up, worried. Mjolnir always slept with Aunt Kathy when he deigned to stay inside at night.

She heard a low chuckle and looked toward the sound. Moonbeams shone through the opened window, illuminating Cassie where she sat in the rocker. Mjolnir, so rudely ejected from the bed, crossed the floor and jumped up in Cassie's lap.

"Hey old man," crooned Cassie as she stroked along his back. "I know you are getting tired, but I need you here just a wee bit longer." Then she turned her attention to the young woman leaning up against the pillows on the bed, the old quilt pulled up against her chin against the chill of the night.

"Don't rush yourself, Dear," said Cassie kindly. "Your path may take you many places over the years. Kathy sometimes forgets how important the journey is, all unto itself. Now lay down and go on back to sleep."

Surprisingly, Sharon did just that.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 08:02 PM

Sharon called the office the next morning to say her aunt still needed her and she would be out another week. The boss, maybe in retibution, and maybe not, told her business was slow and he had already decided to lay her off after Memorial Day. Although she didn't say so, that suited Sharon just fine. She had already decided she was ready to return to school, and had applied for Pell grants for the fall semester. She had been wondering if her band could make enough money at festivals to allow her to quit by mid summer anyway.

Kathy didn't ask, and Sharon didn't offer any information about that first night in Kathy's bedroom. It wasn't necessary. Sharon slept there three more nights, but had no more visitors. Nor did Mjonir return to disturb her from sleep. He stayed inside each night, which was very unusual for him, but curled up at the foot of Kathy's bed each night, staying there until Kathy arose each morning.

Over the next week Kathy grew noticably stronger every day. By the end of that week, Sharon felt comfortable leaving her there alone for several hours daily while she drove to Charleston to rehearse with the band. Louie was working evenings at the service station. He came up nearly everyday while Sharon was gone to check on Kathy and help with minor chores, Ugly Pup at his heel like a shadow.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 08:46 PM

Sharon's band had a gig Friday night before Memorial Day, and she did not return to the holler until late. Kathy had gone to bed hours before. She was snoring gently and rhythmicly when Sharon peeked in to check on her.

Late that night, she was again awakened by Mjolnir purring loudly in her face. She sat up and looked at the rocker. the moon was in the last quarter so the light was dim, and she could just barely make out the outline of the old woman sitting there, rocking gently.

"You should have called for me, and not climbed those steps on your own," she said to Aunt Kathy.

"I'm much stronger now," Kathy replied. Strong enough that I wanted to sing. Is your voice worn out from tonight's gig, or will you join me?"

"Want me to get my guitar?" asked Sharon.

"I don't think so. I think the night just calls for our voices."

I can feel the sweet wind blowin'
thru the valleys and the hills.
I can feel the sweet wind blowin' as I go, as I go.
I can feel the sweet wind blowin' thru the valleys and the hills.
I'm goin' home to Jesus, bless my soul. Bless my soul.

I can hear the children's laughter
thru the valleys and the hills
I can hear the children's laughter as I go, as I go.
I can hear the children's laughter thru the valleys and the hills.
I'm goin' home to Jesus, bless my soul. Bless my soul.

I can see the dawn a'breakin'
thru the valleys and the hills.
I can see the dawn a'breakin' as I go, as I go.
I can see the dawn a'breakin' thru the valleys and the hills.
I'm goin' home to Jesus, bless my soul. Bless my soul.

I can hear the Master call me thru the valleys and the hills.
I can hear the Master call me as I go, as I go.
I can hear the Master call me thru the valleys and the hills.
I'm goin' home to Jesus bless my soul. bless my soul.

I can feel the touch of Heaven thru the valleys and the hills.
I can feel the touch of Heaven as I go, as I go.
I can feel the touch of Heaven thru the valleys and the hills.
I'm goin' home to Jesus bless my soul. Bless my soul.


The gentle sound of the two women singing in harmony wafted out the window and drifted out over the holler, the old voice intwined with the young in a loving braid of soul and solace.

When the sound had faded completely away, Kathy arose from the rocker, wlaked over to Sharon's bed, and patted her gently on the cheek.

"Thank you so much, my dear, dear child. I'm going to go rest now for awhile."

"Why don't you sleep here tonight, Aunt Kathy, in your old bed? I go downstairs and sleep in the bed down there."

"I think I'll take you up on that, sweetie. I think I'll do just that."

Sharon arose from the bed and helped Kathy take her place. Kathy was already dropping off to sleep as Sharon arranged the covers. She leaned down and kissed the crepey skin of her aunt's cheek.
"Sweet dreams," she whispered, beforing turning and heading down the stairs.

When she arrived at the first floor bedroom, she was not surprised to see Aunt Kathy's body lying still and cold upon the bed.











I can


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Effsee
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 09:22 PM

"I can " ...Aw, Janie don't be a tease and keep us waiting so long for the next episode! This is wonderful!
Bejaysus, I was just wondering the other day what was happening in the Holler...you must be psychic!
Keep it going, please!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 09:34 PM

Big, puffy cummulus clouds moved slowly across the blue sky, sailing on winds that gentled by the time they reached the ground to soft caresses on the cheeks of the mourners gathered around the plain pine box. A surprising number of people had showed up for the funeral, especially considering it was Memorial Day. Even more surprising were the number of people who followed the hearse up to the head of Grizzly Holler, parked along the creek and in the cow pasture, then trudged behind the old hay wagon drawn by the neighbor's mule as it ascended the rough track up to the cemetary on the ridge behind the house. A few people looked askance at the unsightly dog that trailed behind Louie as he climbed the hill, and even more seemed slightly scandalized at the sight of the old nicked up cat that insisted on riding on top of the coffin, but the family ignored this.

Louie, Big Bill, Billy, Uncle Zeke, Henry and Abraham lifted the coffin from the wagon and processed over to the the bier above the gaping hole next to Cassie's headstone. Louie pulled a harmonica out of his pocket to accompany Sharon as she sang in her clear, true voice. Friends and family gathered round to hear the preacher's last few words, and as the box was lowered into the ground, the whole big crowd joined in singing come Thou Fount. As if by pre-arrangement, although it was not, all other voices ceased at the last verse, as Big Bill and Billy continued in close harmony:

Then we'll walk the streets of the city
With our loved ones gone before.
And we'll sit on the banks of the river
Never to depart no more!


Uncle Zeke cried unashamedly throughout the whole affair.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Effsee
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 09:44 PM

Excellent!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 11:08 PM

Sharon felt guilty about the relief tht washed over her when Louie's pickup pulled out of the yard and disappeared down the dirt road out of the holler. The lights disappeared as soon as he rounded the first bend in the creek, but she could hear the sound of the truck engine grind along for another quarter mile. She waited until the sound was completely gone before she turned and walked back up onto the porch.

"Cassie? Kathy?"

Sharon waited. Nothing stirred.

She felt like slamming one of the chrome chairs against the wall of the house. Instead, she checked the soil moisture of the lilac start in the pot at the top of the steps, then walked on into the house, letting the screendoor bang loudly behind her. Once inside she went from room to room, making sure everything was in order, and that she had not forgotten to pack anything essential. No. Everything was in order. The car was loaded. All she would have to do come morning was pack her toiletries, wash up the breakfast dishes, close the door, and leave.

The light on the answering machine was flashing. Billy? she walked over and eagerly jabbed the 'play' button.

Not Billy, but Big Bill, asking her to stop by on her way through Charleston in the morning. She couldn't help but cry a little as she listened to his warm voice on the recording.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 11:56 PM

the old voice intwined with the young in a loving braid of soul and solace.

What a beautiful image!

Oh, Janie, I am crying my eyes out to see Aunt Kathy go and seeing Sharon leave the holler. You realise you have a book here, don't you? It should be published! Beautiful, beautiful, darlin'! You, too, MMario!

Thank you so much,

luvyakat


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 15 Jul 07 - 10:32 AM

She walked into the bathroom, watched herself in the mirror as she wiped away the tears, then washed her face and brushed her teeth in preparation for bed. She made one last walk thru of the rooms on the lower floor, turning out lights as she went before she headed for the stairs.

She was nearly at the top when she heard the faint sounds of a flute.
"Well, it's about time!" she said out loud as she strode the last few steps into the bedroom. She looked immediately to the rocker by the window, then halted, surprised to see that it was empty. The room was bright with moonlight, but she walked all around it anyway, searching corners, even looking under the bed. The anger and relief she felt at the sound of the flute faded. She could still hear the flute but couldn't tell from where the sound came. It seemed there was another instrument also. A fiddle? She stopped in front of the window and looked down at the yard. In the bright moonlight she saw Mjolnir trotting across the yard toward the house. surprisingly, he was trailed by another cat. From the size of it, it looked to be a half-grown kitten.

"Ooo kitten, if you value your life you had best leave that old Tom alone," thought Sharon.

The music had stopped. More disappointed than she could say, Sharon turned and headed back down to the ground floor. She didn't want the kitten following Mjolnir into the house. She wondered again if she was doing the right thing to leave him here. Louie would be moving into the house in just a few days and she knew he would take good care of the ancient feline. But Mjolnir obviously preferred the company of women. She shook her head. A rooming house in a college town was no place to bring the likes of Mjolnir.

The flute and fiddle started up again as soon as Sharon reached the bottom of the stairs. The music was clear and strong and obviously coming from the front porch. Queen Anne's Reel. She headed for the front door.

Cassie and Kathy finished out the tune then laid down their instruments. Kathy patted the rocker beside her.

"Come sit a spell," she invited.

Sharon did not hesitate and settled quickly between the two old women. Mjolnir was purring in Cassie's lap. She was thinking the kiteen had found the good sense to get lost when Kathy reached over and deposited the animal onto Sharon's knee. "You'll want to stop and get a carrier for this one on your way out tomorrow. They will have them at that Walmart in Belle. The one right off the Turnpike exit."

Cassie and Kathy finished out the song


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 15 Jul 07 - 10:36 AM

(Ignore the last line of the above post. It is obvious I don't do much copy editing as I write.)

Janie


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 15 Jul 07 - 01:16 PM

"Where have the two of you been?" demanded Sharon. "Why did you go so quickly, and without warning? It wasn't but a week before you died, Aunt Kathy, that you assured me you wouldn't be dying real soon! And why have you left me here, waiting and wondering, for nearly 3 months without a single word or sign from either of you? Do you know what a mess you have caused, not telling Billy about the house before you passed? Do you have any earthly idea?

"Stupid question. Nevermind.

"I hope you haven't come thinking to persuade me to stay. It is way too late for that. I'm out of here first thing tomorrow. The tuition is paid, the lease at the rooming house is signed, and I'm going. The way I'm feeling right now, I don't know that I will ever come back. Your magic and mystery can kiss my rosy red cheeks!"

She stopped, afraid she had gone too far. She held her breath, waiting to see if they would fade away. At some point during her tirade, she had lifted the kitten into her arms to cradle against her chest. She lowered her head and rubbed her cheek against the soft fur, seeking comfort, then looked to either side to see if the Shades still occupied the rocking chairs on either side of her own.

Her long sigh of relief was audible. They were still there. She looked from one woman to the other, waiting. Cassie nodded at aunt Kathy. "Why don't you start, Kathy. I'll fill in as needed."

The moon had disappeared behind the western ridge, and the stars were beginning to fade in the eastern sky when Cassie suggested she and Kathy play another tune. It was a quiet, gentle lullaby. sharon leaned her head back to listen, and fell asleep. When she awoke, the empty chairs were still faintly rocking.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 15 Jul 07 - 04:17 PM

Sharon rose and went back into the house to gather and pack the last few items to load into her car. She started a note to leave on the table for Louie, then changed her mind. Instead, she rang him up and told him to get breakfast going, she had some things to tell him before she left and would stop on her way out of the hollers. She didn't look back as she closed the door behind her for the last time. The cat was waiting for her by the car. She scooped him up and sat him down on the passenger seat as she slid behind the steering wheel. As the car bounced down the track through the pasture, she resisted the urge to look in the rearview mirror.


The sausage was sizzling in the pan and the bisguits were just out of the oven when Sharon arrived at Louie's little shack. They sat out in the swing suspended from a branch of the big white oakTaking care of the most pressing business first, Sharon reminded Louie to keep the lilac pot watered.

"Be sure to wait until it goes dormant in fall to transplant it. Don't plant it by the grave, plant it beside the gate going into the graveyard.

"I left food and water on the back stoop for Mjolnir, but he was no where to be found. He can't get back in the house now with it all locked up. Would you go up and check on him this evening?"

She had planned on telling Louie about last night's visitation. Somehow, though, she just couldn't bring herself to do it. She did ask if he had talked to Billy.

"Nope. And I don't want to, after all the things he said to me. I can't think why you would want to talk to him either, Sharon. We both know that farm ain't worth even a quarter of the life insurance policy Aunt Kathy left for him. I never thought he would be so greedy!"

"It's not about that, Louie - "

But Louie held up his hand and stopped her.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 15 Jul 07 - 11:02 PM

One last time, Mjolnir walked the bounderies of the holler, his steps slow, not from age or injury, but from concentration. This warding, his last, would have to last a long while.
Isis had promised to keep a mental "eye" on the property - but there would be only so much even so powerful a familiar could do at her distance. The young one wouldn't be ready to do his own castings for some time.

If a cat could grin,Mjolnir would have, thinking of his youngest son. Abiram, the youngster called himself. Abiram. He knew from his own Naming that Sharon would think she had chosen the name herself, but it was the young tom who had chosen how he would be called in the human tongue. Not a bad legacy, mused Mjolnir, to leave in the world.

Now his steps did grow weary, the last of the bounds and wards completed, he returned to the cabin and the porch where he had spent so many years. Curling on the cushion of the rocking chair he let go, finally, of the determination that had carried him through this last little while and as he fell asleep, it seemed as if the summer sun were warming him, and he felt the touch of a hand stroking him lightly.

And as the last breath left the body of the battered and aged tom, a voice seemed to whisper "Well done, well done my good and faithful servant. rest now and join your beloved friends."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 15 Jul 07 - 11:16 PM

"Don't stick up for him, Sharon. Little Billy's been my best friend since the first we saw each other, right after Aunt Kathy moved up Grizzly Holler to tend to Cassie. And don't you think for a minute that I don't know and appreciate how good a friend he's been. He's been more brother to me than my own kin. Heck, all of you, your whole family, has been been more family to me than all my own blood kin put together.

Now Miss Cassie, she was somehow blood kin to me, though I ain't really got it straight how that was. All I know is once she moved in to Uncle James place, I was drawn to there like a bee to honey. Aunt Cassie looked out for me, found chores for me to help her with that kept me out of the house when Daddy was drunk and mean. When things was really bad, she'd drive down out of the holler and tell Mommy and Daddy she needed me to stay with her for a few days. She'd make up some lie about feeling poorly, or her leg hurtin', or somethin' like that. I think Mommy knew what she was doin', and was grateful. Daddy would curse and threaten, but Cassie would face him down, and he'd always give in.

"Truth to tell, Daddy was afraid of Cassie. Said she could put the evil eye on people. Bottom line was, he was asceared to cross her when she put her foot down.

"Anyways, Billy has been as a brother to us both, and he was raised up to know what bein' a brother means. Now he done spit on that, knowin' exactly how serious a thing that is. He done disrespected the memory of his grandmother by the way he been actin'. He has direspected and dishonored the whole lot of you, and me as well. My heart is closed to him. And it will stay closed until he proves hisself man enough to come before us all and say he is sorry.

"You go on down to Charleston, and you do what it is you think you have to do. I've said what I can to you about that, and I know you ain't gonna change your mind. I guess women can't help but be tender hearted when it comes to these things. Even so, come Saturday week I aim to move on in that house up there. It needs some one in it, and ain't nobody will look out for it the way I will. Ain't nobody knows and loves the head of that holler the way I do, which is why Aunt Kathy signed over half-interest to me to start with, even if I ain't blood kin to her, but only to Cassie.

"You know I am not a hard person, Sharon, but there comes a time when I man has got to stand by his principles. I'm tellin' you now. Unless or until he comes, hat in hand, and apologizes, do not speak of him in my presence again. Shunning is what he deserves, and shunning is what he is going to get from me."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 15 Jul 07 - 11:19 PM

(Perfect, Mmario. Absolutely perfect.)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 12:37 AM

(More tears...dear, good ol' tom cat. Beautiful, MMario. You two are so good!)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 12:37 AM

Sharon watched Louie's face intently as he talked. He was two years older than she, but she had always thought of him as a little brother. While not stupid, he wasn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier, and between his clowning and his insular holler ways, she had often felt both condenscending and protective of him. She knew Little Billy had felt the same.

For the first time, she saw him as a grown man. She saw some of the hardness of his Daddy in him too. Not the meanness, no. At least not yet. Life in these hollers had always been hard, and it had taken hard, tough people to settle in these places. The soil was hard, infertile and rocky, the coal was hard to get to, and the boss-men in the mines even harder. A man could work himself down to bone, and his wife and children too, and still see his family go hungry. But a man needed his pride to keep going, even if his only pride was in his own toughness.

Louie was tough. She saw that now, and wondered how she could not have seen it before. His whole young life had been hard, but he had been, and would continue to be equal to the task of living it.

He was a grown man. As she sat beside him, watching him as he talked, she understood in contrast that she was not yet a grown woman.

When he had finished speaking, she simply hugged him and said, "I understand."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 12:51 AM

"Walk me to my car, there is some one I want you to meet." Sharon hooked her elbow around Louie's arm as they moved toward the front yard. She had left the windows down, somehow knowing the little cat would not run off. She saw him as soon as they rounded the corner, sitting in the shade cast by the old Toyota Corolla, calmly grooming himself.

"I can't believe that old cat....Wait. That's not Mjolnir, is it?Good Lord, but he is the spittin' image! Where'd he come from?"


"He followed Mjolnir home last night, if you can believe it. I was afraid Mjolnir would kill him, but the old guy didn't seem bothered by him in the least. I'm taking him to Morgantown with me. I'm afraid if I leave him, Mjolnir will change his maind and nail him."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 01:01 AM

"Hey , little buddy," Louie bent down and picked up the kitten. Ugly Pup whined and crawled out from unger the car at the sound of his master's voice.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 01:49 AM

"Yessir, yer the spittin' image of yer daddy. Whoddathunkit! I never woulda thought that old coot could still get it up, but this here little buddy is the proof! That reminds me. Remember the night that Aunt Kathy's beau, Henry, took off at a run? You'll never believe what happened up at Uncle Zeke's still. I went up there to help Aunt Kathy and...."

Louie suddenly realized the inappropriateness of what he had been about to say.

"Nevermind. I fergit where I was goin' with that."

He turned his attention back to the kitten he was holding. "Have you named him yet?"

"Not yet. I haven't had time. I just got him, Louie. I don't even know what he is like yet."

"Well, it will conme to you. But here's a name to think about, considering who his Daddy clearly is. I heard the preacher talk about this guy on Sunday. Had something to do with Moses. I forget just what. I got distracted by Hazel Goins' fanning her bossum in the row in front of me and didn't hear the rest of what the preacher said. But the guy's name was Abiram. Preacher said it meant 'my father is exalted.' Mjolnir's one heck of a cat. No doubt about it. He was old when Cassie moved up Grizzley Holler. I bet that ol' Tome is at least 30 years old. And judging from the size of this here youngin' of his, he was still makin' bacon 6 months ago."

Sharon laughed. "I'll certainly give that name serious consideration.

"I've got to get going, Louie. I still have to stop at Big Bill's to sign the papers before I head up I-79 to Morgantown."

She turned to face him and they grabbed one another in a quick, fierce hug. "You will remember to check on Mjolnir tonight, won't you?" she reminded him.'

Louie nodded. He was suddenly fighting back tears.

Sharon went on,. " I almost forgot to tell you, I have the flute with me for safe keeping. I hope that's alright.

Louie nodded again.

"I probably won't come home for Thanksgiving. Gas prices are just too high to travel for such a short trip. I'll definitely be here for Christmas.

She meant it at the time she said it.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 08:46 AM

Sharon stooped to scratch Ugly Pup behind the ears. "I'm expecting you to keep a close eye on things, Ugly. When I come home for Christmas, I want to hear that you kept the 'coons out of the corn and the squirrels out of the attic up there."

Quickly then, she got in the car, closed the door, and turned the key. Louie handed the cat in through the window then stood back. Sharon backed around, then pulled out onto the road, waving and giving a short toot of the horn as she drove off.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 10:08 AM

"Two more stops, then I'm really on my way," she thought. She glanced over at the cat curled up in the passenger seat and extended her hand to stroke along the curl of his back. He rolled onto his back and grabbed her hand, ready to play.

"Oh no you don't. We can't play and drive." She withdrew her hand and placed it back on the steering wheel. The kitten mewed, but immediately curled back up to nap. She sped past the sign that said "Exit 81, Belle - Kanawha City, 1 mile." Maybe she didn't need a carrier. It sure would save time if all she had to do was stop at Big Bill's and not get into the mess that Walmart always seemed to be. No, she had better do as Kathy had said. At least about this small issue. She flipped the turn signal and bore down the exit ramp.

30 harried minutes later she was back on the road, the carrier, a litter box and other supplies for her new charge stowed in the back seat. "One more stop, Abiram. Just one more stop." The kitten immediately raised his head in recognition of the name. Sharon raised her eyebrows. "Looks like Louie got it right." She was more than ready to get the goodbyes over with. Ready to stop looking behind, and start looking ahead.


She soon pulled off the interstate again, drove through the back streets of Charleston until she came to Big Bill's shop. She reached into her purse for the papers she had come into town last week to sign at the office of Kathy's attorney. She hefted the packet in her hand, thinking. Instead of taking them with her, she shoved them under the driver's seat of the Toyota.

Jimmy Smith looked up from his desk as she walked through the door. "Bill's out back, getting ready to load up a bulldozer," he said. Sharon walked on through to the fenced gravelled yard behind the building. Bill had been watching for her and headed her way as soon as she appeared in the wide doorway to the equipment bay.

He smiled warmly at his niece and put his arm around her shoulder as they walked back to his office. "So, are you all ready to go be a college coed again?" he asked brightly.

"I am, Big Bill. I really am."

They walked into his tiny cubby of an office. The desk has strewn with grease-stained papers weighted down by assorted small parts to prevent them from getting blown around by the fan propped in the window. Bill moved behind the desk and picked up a shoe box, one of these big boxes that men's work boots come in. The labels were yellowed with age, and the cardboard was mottled with mildew. It showed some signs of water damage.

"I found this up on the shelf in Mom's closet when we were going through her things. It has taken me awhile to get to it to see what all was in it. I finally got to it last week. It is full of letters between Cassie and her mother, Emma. I don't know why, really, but somehow, you seem the proper guardian."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 10:30 AM

Big Bill walked Sharon out to her car and watched as she carefully placed the cardboard box in the trunk. Promising to call when she got to Morgantown to let him know she had safely arrived, she hugged him, got in the car and drove off, glad to be done with this last good bye. She had been at the shop a good 45 minutes. during that time, neither she nor Big Bill had mentioned Little Billy's name.

70 miles north of Charleston, she stopped at Burnsville to gas up and grab a burger at McDonald's. There was a post office next door. She reached under the seat and pulled out the packet she had shoved there earlier. She sat in the car while she addressed the envelop, then strode into the post office and got in line. She watched with grim satisfaction as the lady behind the counter applied the postage and dropped the envelop in the bin for out-going mail. The papers signing over her half-interest of the farm to Billy were on their way.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 11:48 PM

According to the clock in the dash, it was only 4:30 when Sharon pulled up in front of the old Victorian house at the top of High Street. Before exiting the car, she pulled out the letter from Mrs. Poteat, the landlady. Following directions, she walked around to the side of the house and located the flattish rock lying under the biggest azalea. She retrieved the two keys from under the rock. The skeleton key unlocked the front door. The other key would open the door to her third floor room. She walked back to the car to retrieve Abiram before heading up the front steps.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 03:26 PM

Louie wasn't sure why he had driven up to the cabin the day after Sharon left. But He and the Ugly Pup (looks like the name was stickin' to the dog and it certainly was a fittin' one) had hopped into the pickup and the cabin was where they ended up.

Louie was on just pouring a bucket of water into the potted lilac when the most mournful noise he had ever heard broke forth from 'round the corner. He dropped the bucket and ran - Ugly Pup might be only a dog - but whatever was making him crie out like that wasn't something Louie wanted to leave him alone with...

But as he rounded the corner - there was just The Ugly Pup, plopped on his hindquarters facing the screened porch; howling fit to wake the dead; in a deep basso that somehow sobbed. Saddest thing Louie had heard in the last month of Sundays. Whatever was making the fool dog go on so?

When he stepped up onto the porch to check the door, Louie spotted the diminished body of Mjolnir curled on the cushion and felt like plopping down himself to add to the Ugly Pup's noise. Instead, he bowed his head a moment, then pulled his jack-knife from his pocket and cut the cushion away from the spokes of the rocker where it was tied on. He picked it up, cat and all, and carried it out to the truck, where he placed it carefully behind the seat.

"C'mon there Ugly", he called - "we've got a chore".

An Hour or so later he shoveled a bit more dirt into the gaping hole next to the gate of the graveyard. It was still plenty deep enough to take the lilac bush Sharon had left; though he wouldn't be tranplanting the lilac until later in the Autumn. Until then, Mjolnir was buried deep enough that nothing would bother his remains, and he was close to those he had loved.

Louie thought about calling the emergency number Sharon had left with him; but no, She'd be home for Thanksgiving - that would be plenty of time to tell her about Mjolnir and where Louie placed him.

"Well Ugly", he told the still mournful dog, "They say all things shall pass, but I somehow never really expected either Aunt Kathy or that danged Tomcat to go and leave us her in the holler. I'm glad Sharon has that youngster. A bit of the holler to be with her."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 18 Jul 07 - 01:03 AM

Sharon decided to unload the car before she went in search of a pay phone to call Big Bill. By the time she had hauled everything up three flights of stairs she was hot and tired, ready for a break. Abiram looked at her with what appeared to be a rather forlorn expression when she announced her intent to go find a pay phone, a brew and bite to eat. She had already set out bowls with water and food for him. She took the top off of the cat carrier,lined it with a small fleece lap robe she had grabbed at Walmart, and placed it ina cozy corner of the room. She patted the blanket invitingly, but Abiram was having none of it. "Well then. Just be that way." She was a bit nervous about leaving him in the room unattended until she knew how he might act, and prayed that he was neither destructive nor vocal when left to Guess we are both better finding that out now," she said to him as she left the room. She stood outside the door for a couple of minutes and listened. All was quiet within. She hoped it stayed that way. Turning, she headed down the step and out of the house.

Sharon was no stranger to Morgantown. She'd been up to visit high school friends, had come up for more than a few football games (along with half the population of the state), and had played at a number of bars and festivals in and around Morgantown. She decided to walk down to Marsha's grill. There was a pay phone by the door there. She'd order a sandwich and brew, then call Big Bill while she waited.

She got Big Bill's answering machine,so left a brief message that she had arrived safely, already had the car unloaded, and would call back later in the week, once her own telephone was installed, and asked that he pass the same information on to Louie. She was kind of relieved to get the answering machine. She wasn't ready to talk about signing the farm over to Billy, but doubted she could have held that information back had they talked at any length.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 10:51 PM

"Whew!" Sharon paused at the top of the landing to catch her breath, thinking that these three flights of stairs were gonna be a bear. She walked the few steps to the door of her room, fumbling in her jeans pocket for the key.   A strange feeling was washing over her, sort of like she was swimmy-headed in the mind - not the brain - it wasn't physical - it was the mind. On the other side of the door, she heard a soft thump as Abiram jumped lightly down from the bed. As soon as she opened the door he came toward her.    She scooped him up into her arms and plopped down in the chair by the bed, thinking to ground herself. She stroked the cat, vividly aware of the feel of Abiram's soft fur under her hand, listening to his purring, feeling the sharp pricks of his claws as is paws kneaded her upper arm. She looked around the room,,,,,, at the arms of the chair in which she sat, at the dimming light outside the window.

"What is this?" Abiram looked up at her with calm eyes. The feeling subsided. After a few minutes Sharon arose from the chair, intending to unpack.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 12:14 AM

(She's back! Yeehaw!)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 12:25 PM

Most of what she had brought with her was stacked on the floor at the foot of the bed. She looked over the pile, glad that she had decided to keep stuff to a minimum. There were two suitcases, 4 banker's boxes with miscellaneous personal effects, plus the box Big Bill had loaded, her guitar, two fiddles, a mandolin, and the flute.   She reached for a suitcase, tossed it on the bed and lifted the lid.

Abiram sat up on the stack of pillows at the head of the bed. From there he had a good view from which to supervise the proceedings. Sharon made short work of the suitcases, quickly finding places in the drawers and the large closet for her clothes. She decided the linens could be stored in a suitcase as well as anywhere, so put them back, zipped up the lids, and shoved both bags under the bed.   She placed the 4 banker's boxes on the bed and removed the lids to inspect their contents. One box was filled with nothing but file folders of papers and essential records. She put the lid back on and stowed that box under the bed with the suitcases. The next 2 boxes held toiletries and general "stuff." She set those boxes aside to deal with later.

She removed the top layer of crumpled newspaper that concealed the contents of the 4th box. "OK, Abiram, how do we want to arrange the Rogue's Gallery?" One-by-one, she lifted the small assortment of framed pictures from the box.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 11:06 PM

Sharon placed the picture taken at that last Easter gathering at the graveyard on the desk.    All the Easter mornings they had sung up the sun from that graveyard, and the only record of any of them was this photograph of the last one. They all sat grinning and squinting into the morning sun, surrounded by modest stone markers. Aunt Kathy had laughed when she saw it. "Look at us, grinnin' like possums in the middle of all those gravestones. We look like we're celebrating the passing of a rich uncle!"

The next frame held a copy of a poorly restored lithograph of her great, great, maternal grandparents, Joseph and Verlina Dobbins Ross.   Straight mouthed, steely-eyed, grimly enduring the difficult business of life on a poor dirt farm in Eastern Kentucky, sustained by the promise of rest and reward in heaven. She hung that on the wall above the bed, along with a small portrait of her parents, taken before Sharon was born. The files she had stashed under the bed included a copy of her mother's obituary. Now, having removed herself from the people that were really her family, she wondered briefly but bitterly where her drunk of a father might be. He'd written to Big Bill about a year ago from Tulsa, wanting to borrow some money.

The last picture was a snapshot taken of Billy, Louie and herself when they were 9 and 10 years old, They were standing on a flat rock in the middle of Grizzly Creek, leaning into each other, proudly displaying a large glass jar filled with creek water, shiners and crawdads. She remembered how mad they were when Cassie made them pour it all back into the creek after the picture was taken. She held the little picture in both hands, studied it, searched their three faces, noticed the easy intimacy of their prepubescent bodies crowded together on that little space of rock.   She rewrapped it in newspaper and added it to the box of files.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 02 Dec 07 - 09:43 PM

The cardboard box Big Bill had given her was all that remained. Abiram watched intently as she lifted it from the floor. She turned and sat on the bed, placed the box in her lap, and raised the lid. Abiram moved over to her side, rolled onto his back, and swatted at the box lid she held in her hand.

"I'm neglecting you, little one. You want some attention!"   She replaced the lid, shoved the box up on the closet shelf, and turned back to Abiram, who happily wrestled with her and chased a shoestring for the next half-hour, until they had both had enough. Deciding to call it a night, she headed for the shower, got into her pajamas and climbed into bed with a Lee Smith book to read herself to sleep. She watched with bemusement as Abiram, with great concentration and dignity, patrolled the perimeter of the room, paying special attention as he sniffed and nudged at each window and the door. At last satisfied, he returned to the bed and curled up against her side.

It wasn't long before Sharon laid down the book, turned out the light, and scooted down under the covers. Abiram stood and stretched, then moved up to the neighboring pillow. Sharon reached over to scratch his ears. "You know what buddy?" she queried. "It is gonna be awhile before I am ready to look at those letters. I need to move forward not back. Besides, it somehow just doesn't feel right that they are with me.   I don't know who should have them. But something is saying it isn't me."

Abiram, enjoying his head scratching, didn't respond.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 02 Dec 07 - 10:48 PM

It didn't take long for Sharon to fall into the routine of of being a full-time college student again. She talked with Louie nearly every week, Big Bill less often. When she did, he never mentioned her signing of the farm over to Billy, so she didn't either. In fact, it was clear that Billy was going to be a taboo subject between them. She guessed she understood, Billy was his son after all. But it hurt that the estrangement brought about by the son also put distance between her and the man who had been the nearest thing she had known to a father.   

In November, it was Louie she told that she wouldn't be home for Thanksgiving. He was sorry to hear that, but said with Aunt Kathy gone, no one in the family had been able to come to agreement about Thanksgiving anyway.

"Don't matter none to me what they do," said Louie. " I wasn't plannin' on sittin' down at a table with that jackass Billy anyway. I'm goin' with Hazel Goins to her momma's house for Thanksgiving."

A day or two later Big Bill called. "Billy and I are going out to Dad's for Thanksgiving.   Louie said you aren't planning on coming down?"

"That's right. And if I were, Bill, I'd find somewhere else to go. Billy, as I'm sure you know, still won't have anything to do with me." She had to say at least that much.

"Damnit, Sharon. I'm so sorry about all this." Then, "You did the right thing, girl, giving back to Billy what should have been his to start with. I didn't see it that way at first, but Mom didn't have no business cuttin' him out of the farm like she did. She shoulda known it would cause trouble."

Sharon was too stunned to say anything in reply.

"He's got no excuse now for not speaking to you, or reaching out in some way. I think...."

Finding her voice at last, Sharon cut him off. "Nuff said, Uncle Bill. I'll talk to you soon." She hung up the phone.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 02 Feb 08 - 01:27 AM

The day before Christmas break Sharon finished her last exam, then headed to the Registrar's office to withdraw from school for the Spring semester.    Back at the rooming house, it didn't take her any longer to move all her things out than it had taken to move them in. In fact, it was a mite easier, since she was lugging stuff down the three flights of stairs this time. The first trip down, she carried the box of letters and placed them on the floor of the front seat of the car. Abiram, temporarily crated, was all she carried on her last trip down the stairway. Once outside, she sat the crate down gently on the sidewalk, walked around the house, and placed the key under the rock where she had originally found it. The landlady would be by tomorrow to get it.   That done, she retrieved Abiram, turning him loose in the car, and set out on the long drive to Tulsa.

It was time she found her father.

--------------------0----------------------0--------------------

She and Louie kept in touch.   When he and Hazel drove down to Parisburg, VA to get married the next summer, he sent her pictures, some of he and Hazel with her belly proudly starting to swell, taken by the magistrate, and a few others of the New River as it turned and headed for the Narrows, gathering speed for the wild run through the gorge.   

Hazel lost that first baby, but three more followed, Katherine Sally, Louie Jr., and Henrietta. Louie sent pictures, and Sharon sent birth presents for each one, and later, as they grew, birthday cards and token gifts.   When Henrietta turned twelve, Sharon sent the box of letters to Louie with a note saying she wanted Henrietta to have them. She couldn't say why she did that. it just seemed the right thing to do.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 03 Feb 08 - 12:27 AM

(Delighted to follow this, again! Thanks, Janie!)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 23 Aug 08 - 06:54 PM

Louie turned around and shipped them right back to her.

Dere Sharon,

You got no biznes gettin rid of these letters, speshly since you have never red them in the 16 years you have held them. I ain't never figgered out if you has been chasin' ghosts or runnin' from them these years, and I dont reckon you have figgered that out either. You has done played in every band that almost made it between New Orleans, Memphis and Tulsa, covered every inch of country west of the Mississippi, and got yerself a graduate degree that you ain't never used. But you ain't never been back home once.

Now Sharon, I has held my peece and minded my business all these years, but that hole that you been tryin' to fill ain't gonna be filled with nothin' but home. It is time you came back here, at least for a visit. Besides, I'm probly gonna have to do some time on these moonshinin' charges, and I need you here for Hazel and the kids.

                                                                               Yer Oldest Pal,

                                                                               Louie


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Effsee
Date: 23 Aug 08 - 10:04 PM

Lord be praised! Welcome back Janie.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 23 Aug 08 - 10:27 PM

Yes!!!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 24 Aug 08 - 01:19 AM

Sharon laid the letter down on top of the box of letters sitting on the desk.

Home. Where was home?

It certainly wasn't here in this tiny rented apartment in Tulsa. How many times had she come back here, always certain of finding work with one of the companies who supplied the pipe for the oil industry? She had been here close to two years this time, but no one would know that from the appearance of the apartment. It was as personal as a suite of rooms at one of the hotel chains that catered to consultants and construction workers who came into town for a few weeks or months to work at a job site for their parent company.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 24 Aug 08 - 01:26 AM

Abiram had been twining around her legs as she stood at the desk, reading. He jumped onto her lap when she finally sat, purring loudly and kneading her thigh, pricking through her jeans with his sharp claws.

He had always clearly disdained Tulsa as a completely boring place with insufficient connections to warrant patrolling, much less warding, in any but a few and very rare circumstances.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 24 Aug 08 - 09:11 PM

She thought back to that last night on the porch of the house on Grizzly Holler. The memory was as fresh and vivid as if she were just now opening her eyes to see the ebbing motion of the empty rockers to either side of her. She had never fully understood everything the two old women had said to her - there was much they didn't understand themselves. But as Aunt Kathy had said, eyebrows raised, "If magic could be fully explained, why, then it wouldn't be magic, would it?"

She reached again for Louie's letter, reread it and studied the the picture he had enclosed showing Hazel and Henrietta brandishing blooms cut from the big lilac bush by the cemetery gate before carrying them to lay on as many graves as they could find markers for in the small burying ground. From the date-stamp on the back, she guessed that must of been this past Memorial Day, early, judging from the shadows in the photo. They probably left there and headed up Paint Creek to the branch holler where Hazel's people lay, high on their own ridge.

All those old bones, traces of bones, and the good earth that most of them had already become again....molecules of what had once been the corporeal body of Mjolnir had been taken up into that lilac, the blooms now decomposing on the ground above where Cassie and Aunt Kathy's bodies lay....

Abiram had jumped from her lap to the desk and was staring intently at her eyes, demanding that she meet his gaze.   

"Okay, fella. You and Louie are right. It is time we went back for a visit."

He was about to drop down to the floor when she stuck the picture under his nose, tapped the lilac bush with a fingernail and said, "Here's your Daddy!"

His tail twitched in irritation as he stalked away from her.

.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Tinker
Date: 24 Aug 08 - 11:12 PM

Yeah !


Oh and thank you.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 Aug 08 - 12:24 AM

Oh, love that Catitude!:-) Thanks, Janie!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 25 Aug 08 - 10:58 AM

Abiram wasn't at all pleased with himself. The Firearms Tobacco and Alcohol charges brought against Louie would serve the purpose of bringing Sharon back to the Holler; but were clumsy at best; manipulations barely worthy of a dog.

He was also a bit uneasy that the stretch in prison could conceivably cause a violation of the "Do No Harm" paradigm which governed his actions. Still, the chances of that happenning were mostly centered around Henrietta, and with both Sharon and Abiram himself back in the Holler, those possibilities would diminish rapidly. And Abiram wouldn't be facing the high energy costs of long distance wardings.

Henrietta in her 13th year. Yes, it was definately time for Sharon to return to the Holler. And despite the absurdly human state of the emotion; Abiram did want to see and smell the lilac that marked his father's final resting place.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 25 Aug 08 - 02:36 PM

Secure on her perch in the modest shotgun house in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Isis mantled her feathers; then preened. The youngster was a bit clumsy - but he WAS very young. Even so, things were beginning to fall back into place.

She streched, wings, neck and body; as a young man entered through the front door of the shotgun; precious fiddle tucked under his arm. "Isis! Always ready to greet me," he murmered softly, giving a gentle rub to her head. He carefully, but tiredly placed the fiddle on the table beside the perch of the Macaw and dropped into the padded recliner on the other side of the perch. "I thought Grandpa Abe was nuts when he gave you to me, but you have been a lifesaver. Always here, and always awake when I get home, no matter how late the gig."

He leaned back in the chair, popping the footrest out as his head sank into the pillowed back. His eyes closed as he continued to talk to the Hyacinth Macaw as if she could understand. Sometimes he thought she understood more then some people did; certainly more then Lilith, his current girl.

"I'm tired, Isis. I think it's time Judah Davidson took a break from the gigs and the recording studio. What do you think? Maybe the two of us head up north and visit Grandpa Abe in that retirement home of his? And maybe take a side trip through the hill country and see if we can get some more inspiration from people who aren't saturated in videos and MTV 24/7?"   He glanced sideways at the bird that had seen many generations of his family. "Being a celebity isn't all that it's cracked up to be, old girl; even if Dad grins all the way to the bank after every concert. Maybe Mom and Grandpa are right; music *needs* to be made for the joy. Not that the money hurts," he mused, but I miss jamming with Grandpa the way we did when I was little. And I Still say Mom is a better musician then any I could hire."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 25 Aug 08 - 03:34 PM

And in the shadows of some scrub, just outside Tulsa a particularly large and handsome specimen of coyote grinned to himself as he curled into a dusty hollow, his brush covering his nose. Despite the youngster's feline superiority and disdain for any type of Canid; Coyote would miss him. NOT just for the energy Coyote had been able to divert to his own purposes; though all the Powers knew that between the young familiar and his human partner Coyote had had more energy available then he'd had in generations. No, he had to admit, at least to himself, that Coyote would miss the curiousity, the seeking spirit, and the companionship offerred by the proximity of another familiar. Raven may have visited on occasion; but normally stayed far to the NorthWest. It would be many a year, Coyote knew, before two familiars could relax and hunt voles together in a moment of ease after a moonlit ceremony. But it was time, and past time for Abiram to take up his duties in earnest. Isis would be within his reach, and even Coyote could take the time to look in on the young cat occasionaly.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 25 Aug 08 - 09:54 PM

(absolutely spectacular, Leoluv!)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 26 Aug 08 - 09:51 AM

(just figured the Tulsa years must have had SOME purpose in the scheme of things; and a training period for Abiram under a(much)older being seemed logical.

I wanna know what's in those letters! Seems like Louie knows more about them then Sharon.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 26 Aug 08 - 11:26 PM

(Good on you! In sending them to the West, I sent them to a land I do not ken, and put them beyond my vision. ) And learned a valuable lesson in the process.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 11:15 AM

"Well, will you take a look at that!" Hazel exclaimed, spreading out the most recent edition of the Charleston Gazette. "Did you know anything about this?" , she continued; staring into the eyes of the man seated across from her.

Hazel and Henrietta were making their bi-weekly visit to the Paint Creek Association Assisted Living Complex. When Abraham had decided to retire to the area Hazel had taken it upon herself to make frequent visits to the residence. Abraham had a long association with Louie's family; and Hazel frequently would take a disc recorder with her as she visited; transcribing the stories he told later. She thought maybe someday she would try to put them together into a cohesive book. Meanwhile they were a record of two families that had interacted over many miles and more then three generations. The contacts hadn't been frequent, but somehow West Virginia and New Orleans were tied together thorughy the two families.

"Do I know anything about what?" he responded; moving a rook in the chess game he was currently playing with Henrietta. "Hankerchief my girl, I've got you on the run now!"

"'Bout your grandson coming up here to play a benefit concert;" Hazel came back. "Right here!" she exclaimed, pointing at an article mid page of the Gazette.


JUDAH AND THE PROPHETS - Concert for the Benefit of the Paint Creek Watershed Renewal Project. September 1st. One show only!

Internationaly famous jazz violinst Judah Davidson and band to perform in a rare charity event.



Abraham pulled the paper closer and scanned the article. "It's news to me, Hazel. But look at the last couple of lines!"

"Mr. Davidson will be taking a sabbatical following the performance. I'll be spending a few weeks enjoying one of my favorite areas of the country; catch up with relatives and just maybe work on some new music"

A big slow grin spread across his face. "Bet it was suppossed to be a surprise visit. Hankerchief? You remember my grandson, don't you?"

Henrietta grinned "As if I could forget someone who came to visit with the biggest bluest bird I'd ever seen in my life! Will he bring Isis?"


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 02 Sep 08 - 11:40 AM

aw heck....I was hoping for at least ONE post over the weekend


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 06 Sep 08 - 11:41 PM

She called Louie the next morning, after checking with her boss. "OK. I'm coming. I can take 2 weeks, anytime between now and the middle of October, but I have to be back here by November 1.   And I guess I have to decide if I'm going to drive or fly. What works for you all? Do you have a court date yet?"

"Naw, and anyway, Homer is going to keep asking for postponements until at least after the 1st of the year," Louie replied. "But you come on as soon as you can. You and Hazel need to get reaquainted - you two never did know each other very well - and you can finally meet the kids face-to-face. Be prepared, it will be a let down when they discover you are not a fairy Godmother with little wings, a magic wand and one of them little silv'ry crowns on your head. Leastways, I don't think it likely you've grown wings, have you?"

Sharon laughed. "Horns, maybe, but no wings."

"I still have to talk to Michael and Tim. We have a couple of gigs coming up, nothing major, but we'll need to figure out who might be able to fill in for me." We've got a practice tomorrow night so I'll talk to them then." She felt her stomach tighten a little.   "I'll give you a call on Friday and we'll firm things up then."

"Sounds good. Oh, and Sharon?"

"Yes?"

"Both Big Bill and Billy said to tell you how glad they were to hear you might be coming."

"Cool," said Sharon, cooly.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 07 Sep 08 - 12:04 AM

Cool. Cool as a cucumber. Got to be cool as a cucumber.

Compartmentalize. Function.

Be Here Now. Sort of. Be here now, checking these invoices, making and taking these calls, ordering those pipes, cajoling a promise of payment, threatening to cut off that line of credit.

Oops. The door to the Michael compartment just cracked open. Close it for now. Got work to do. Thankfully, Big Bill and Billy stayed safely locked away, not interfering with her work or concentration at all. No surprise there. The three of them had been studiously practicing that one for years. The wound was healed, a big scar sealing where the raw scab had once been. Probably wouldn't have scarred so bad if she had only stopped picking at it sooner. Seems like she would have learned from that to leave those kinds of scabs alone.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 07 Sep 08 - 12:17 AM

Ah, good, they are back!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 07 Sep 08 - 01:49 AM

The dream was different this time.

In this dream, she actually saw them, naked and moaning, on the couch. Caught in the act. Jeanie's fiddle lying carelessly on the floor where either one of them might step on it if they jumped up, realizing they had been discovered. They didn't see her, didn't notice she was there.

She watched the light play on the back of Michael's head as he moved. He had beautiful hair. Wavy, shoulder-length, the color of clover honey. How many times had she looked up through the veil of that lovey hair as he moved over her in the exact same way.

Not nearly so romantic from this angle. Kind of silly-looking, actually.

In the dream, she waited for the rage and the anquish to hit.

In the dream, she was only mildly surprised to realize that what she was feeling was relief.

The dream abruptly shifted, as dreams do.   She was no longer standing in the studio of the house there in Tulsa that she and Michael had shared. She was in a small bedroom on the second floor of an old farmhouse, the moon shining through the open window, and she could hear the faint sounds of flute wafting through the window from somewhere high up on the mountain behind the house. A warm, furry presence curled up next to her, under her outthrown arm. The arm encircled Abiram as she turned on her side and settled back into dreamlessness.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 26 Jul 09 - 11:08 PM

Almost there.

This late, traffic was light light as she drove through Charleston on I-64/I-77. She kept turning her head to gaze at the illuminated Capitol Dome covered in gold leaf as she sped along. It was commonly supposed that the Rockerfeller's were the "anonymous" donors who made that possible, but it continued to be a well-kept secret and had never been confirmed. She was tempted to exit at the Capitol-complex and pay a late night visit to the War Memorial designed by her friend JB. Abiram let her know, however, that now was the time for heading home, and that he would brook no late-night interlude this close to Grizzly Holler.

She exited the freeway onto Rte. 61 at Cheylan.   The silver moonlight on the river rivaled the gold glow of the Capitol Dome 10 miles behind her. Occasionally she could see barges being pushed along the river by sturdy tugboats, those headed downstream laden with coal, and those pushing upstream empty. An image arose in her mind of Callie, covered in coal-dust, emerging from behind a mound of coal to face the startled eyes of Abraham.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 Jul 09 - 11:34 PM

Yes!! She's They're back!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Tinker
Date: 26 Jul 09 - 11:40 PM

(Gleefully waiting for more....)


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 26 Jul 09 - 11:52 PM

Louie wasn't expecting her until late tomorrow morning. She drove past the darkened house where he lived with Hazel and the girls, and drove on up the rutted dirt road to the old farmhouse at the head of the holler, grateful that it was dry. It was obvious the road hadn't been graded in a long time, and she never would have made it in her Corolla is it had been the least bit wet. As it was, she could hear the bottom of the car scrape the center ridge of the road more than once, and sent up a little prayer on behalf of her muffler.

The gate to the pasture was open, and she cautiously drove through, onto the track through the pasture to the yard. The pasture was completely overgrown and it was clear there was no cow pasturing there. The gate to the house was also standing open, but Sharon felt compelled to stop short of driving into the yard. She turned off the ignition and got out of the car, gazing at the old, weathered farmhouse in the bright light of the moon. Abiram jumped down from the open car door as she stood, and twined around her ankles.

She had no legal right to be here, and found herself regretting for the first time her decision to sign over her interest to Billy in the midst of her hurt, grief, and feelings of betrayal. Still, she knew she belonged here, and knew she had the right to be where she was standing just now, under a late July moon.

Abiram bit her ankle, softly enough to leave no mark, but certainly enough to get her attention. She dug her sleeping bag out of the trunk, walked through the gate, past the lilac, green now with the blooms long gone, and made herself a pallet on the front porch between Callies and Cathy's rocking chairs. She crawled into the sleeping bag and listened for a few minutes to the chorus of cicadas, hoping - half expecting - to hear the sound of a flute wafting from the ridge behind the house.

Within minutes she was sound asleep. Abiram had curled up at the back of her knees. As soon as he heard her faint snores, he rose and jumped down lightly off the porch.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 14 Aug 09 - 09:04 PM

The sound of Louie's truck coming through the gate from the pasture woke her. She sat up in her sleeping bag, yawning, and squinting at the eastern sky. The sun was just fully over the horizon.

Louie pulled to a stop, climbed out of the truck and approached the porch, stopping at the bottom of the steps. "I was sitting out on the stoop in the dark when you drove in last night. Figgered you'd a stopped if you wanted. Come on down to the house. Hazel's got sausage fryin' and a pot of coffee waiting."

"Not even a hug for this wayward child?" asked Sharon, snaking her way out of the sleeping bag, then standing upright.

Even before she spoke, Louie was headed up the steps to the porch. They grabbed each other in a bear hug, laughing and spinning.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 15 Aug 09 - 04:21 PM

Hazel turned from the kitchen sink as they walked in, dried her hands quickly on a dish towel, and walked toward Sharon with her arms outstretched to embrace her in a warm hug, even as she she scolded, "Well then, Louie kept telling me not to break your plate, you'd come one of these days, but I had about give up on listening.   Hank? Don't be shy, come on over and give your Aunt Sharon a hug."

Although she didn't show it, Sharon was momentarily startled. Aunt? Well, yeah.   She guessed she was. She turned to Hank, who had been hanging back, a bit shyly, at the corner of the table. "Hank? Oh Hank, I feel like I have known you so long, and now I get to actually lay eyes on you! " She wasn't sure whether to offer a hug or a handshake.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 06 Mar 10 - 09:53 PM

"Hug or handshake?" she asked with a smile. Hank stepped forward, grinning, and offered a quick embrace.

"Now," Hazel said to Sharon, "Get yourself a cup of coffee from the stove, then you and Hank can set the table. We'll eat as soon as the potatoes are brown and the biscuits are out. Show her where the plates are, Hank."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 06 Mar 10 - 11:10 PM

Hazel headed off for church right after breakfast. Sharon and Louie sat out on the front porch while the kids cleaned up the kitchen. Abiram had staked out a sunny spot on the porch rail where he could relax and still keep an eye on things. He studiously ignored all overtures from Third, (i.e. Ugly Pup the Third).

"When Hazel gets back, we'll head back up to the farm and help you get unloaded and settled in.   I hope you don't mind - it's a bit crowded here with all the kids and only one bathroom, and besides, if figger you'll want a little space for yourself. Thought we'd take a Sunday drive after that, let you get a look at all the old stompin' grounds. Hazel has already stocked a few provisions up there, but take a look and see if there is anything else you'll be wanting. We can make a stop at the IGA on our way back home after the drive. We plan on you taking supper with us. If you're up for it, thought we could play some music tonight. I don't get a chance to do that as much as I like anymore."


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Effsee
Date: 06 Mar 10 - 11:26 PM

Aaaah! Thank you Janie!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: katlaughing
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 12:21 AM

YES!!! Thanks!!!


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 08:22 PM

After supper that night, Louie brought out his bass, and he, Sharon and Hank spent a low-key hour in the kitchen playing tunes until Hazel spoke up to say the kids needed to get to bed - they had school tomorrow. Hank had been playing guitar for a few years, and had recently taken up the fiddle. Sharon thought she might have the makings to be a fine old-time fiddler if she kept working at it, and told her so.

Sharon stood to put her guitar back in its case. "I'm gonna head on up the road myself, if you all don't mind. I'm pretty worn out from my trip."

"You gotta flashlight?" hazel asked, as she and Louie walked her to the door.

"In the glovebox. come on Abiram." The cat stood and stretched, then headed for Sharon's car.

"I oughter be able to get out of the shop by 'bout lunchtime tomorrow. Weather's s'posed to be good. If you want, I was thinkin' we could take a little hike around the farm.   Oh, and be sure you close the gate at the main road. don't MR. Hensley's cows gettin' out."

"I won't. And sounds good, Louie. Nite. Nite Hazel"

Hazel, backlit in the doorway to the house, raised her arm in acknowledgement.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 08:33 PM

Sharon didn't see any sign of the cows as she drove through the gate. The moon was half full and casting a fair amount of light, and she didn't need the flashlight to make sure the gate was securely closed behind her. Abiram had jumped out of the car after she drove through the gate, and trotted along in front of the car and to the side as she bounced through the ruts in the track through the pasture. He waited patiently while she got out of the car at the second gate, drove through, stopped, and got out a second time to close the gate. Then he ran ahead to the dark front porch of the old farmhouse.

Sharon didn't linger. She went straight into the house, sitting her guitar down beside the sofa in the living room. Abiram distained to enter. He had work to do outside. "It's going to be chilly tonight, and I don't intend to get back up once I'm in bed. If you're coming in, come in now." Abiram looked up at her, meowed, then turned and disappeared down the porch steps.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 09:33 PM

Playing with Louie and Hank to night, Sharon realized that she had probably lost a bit of the touch and feel of a true old-time Appalachian fiddler. Her fiddling technique had moved more toward Texas swing and Zydeco over the years. She was briefly tempted to pull out the fiddle, then thought better of it. She really was too pooped to pop. Before heading for bed she called for Abiram, in case he wanted in. He appeared when she stepped out onto the porch, and wove himself around her ankles a few times, but when she bent to pick him up, he wriggled free and moved away to the far corner, tail twitching in irritation.

"Your call," she said, and stepped back into the house, closing the door behind her. She settled in under the comforter in the downstairs bedroom, murmuring "Nite ladies," as she switched off the lamp.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 13 Mar 10 - 02:27 AM

"Any visitors last night?" Louie inquired while he watched her finish packing a couple of sandwiches into the small backpack

"Nope. Good thing, too. I was plumb worn out."

Louie nodded, but his brow furrowed. "Well, I'm glad you got the rest you needed. Mebbe they were just respecting that.   I just--never mind - forgot what I was going to say."

Sharon glanced up from lacing her boots, eyebrows raised in question, but Louie only shook his head and shrugged.

"Ready," she said, shrugging into the pack.

Louie pulled the back door closed, and they headed out. Third ran out ahead of them as they followed the creek, the way getting more narrow and steep as they climbed. The creek itself petered out as they scrambled higher up the steep, narrow defile. In spring, the rocks they sometimes scrambled over, and sometimes were able to use like stair-steps, would be transformed into small waterfalls. In late September, there was no running or pooling water this high up, but still enough dampness to keep the moss and lichens growing on the rocks green. Third was right with them now. Abiram had followed them as they set out on their hike, but soon headed up the east slope. Sharon figured he would meet them sometime time after they reached the top of the ridge.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 22 Jun 10 - 09:52 AM

How did I miss this im march?


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Jun 10 - 04:28 PM

And there I as thinking we had further instalments !


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Gweltas
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 12:13 AM

Only found this today and read the whole way through and really enjoyed it. Thanks Janie and MMario. However, I am hoping that there will be further instalments really soon............hint hint !! This needs to become a book !!
Very Best Wishes,
Anne XX


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 09:15 AM

Abiram padded softly up the hillside, winding his way around trees and bushes; luxuriating in the moist green scents. Coyote wouldn't believe the scents; if he were here.

Maybe he could link with the elder spirit and allow it the use of his nose? No; he remembered now, Coyote had told several tales of when the desert around Tulsa had been green and fertile; no need to show him something he knew about. Though the temptation to link with the faint sense of being in the west; to allow his mentor to check the wards Abiram had renewed last night was great. Or perhaps he should link with the much stronger and nearer presence; introduce himself to Isis; or rather re-introduce himself...he had some recollection of her guiding him during his kittenhood.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 09:50 AM

And in that other direction he could only sense, not travel, Abiriam perceived the welcoming warmth pervading the land within his wards. It was strongest at several points; the cabin, the cemetary, and at the crest of the ridge ahead. A warmth with a distinct feeling of ownership, with overtones of quasi-maternity and the occasional foray into what seemed to be distinctly feline notes. Abiram had never encountered anything quite like it; and made a mental note to consult those with more experience.

The closest he had felt to what filled the land about him was what he had felt the day Coyote had taken him to an old Pueble to meet Kocopelli

And - as if summoned by that thought; a faint hint of flute music wafted from the ridge ahead.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: MMario
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 10:48 AM


In the darkness, no light. no warmth.

Forcing the boundaries. pain, burning;

HUNGER!

another attempt; like acid it burns

it divides it's efforts. one portion circles the minute seed of power just beginning to grow within the steel hard walls of parental love and layer after layer of other protections. not a crack.

the other probes again and again at larger boundaries. recoils from the wounds, salves the burns in the deep earth, far below the extent of the warding powers.

Again. the hunger burns almost as badly as the attempts on the wards.

the parts join once more. hatred. hunger. fear.....
NO!
no fear!
NO fear. HUNGER!

a tendril follows minute cracks in the rock, flows through pores as do the gases of the earth, flows and follows the paths.

Here.

a pipe pierces the wards. and

there....

not a breach, but a weakness.

and there, the same pipe, going through the wooden walls.

A mold spore, black like the darkness. black as ptich, black as evil.

Focus. Encourage the mold into growth.

[NO! growth burns!! WRECK! EAT! HUNGER! ]

Destruction in growth. slow. subtle. the one who cast the wards is young. it will not suspect the subtlety.

The mold adds another cell, pulling nutrients from the wood, weakening wood and ward by minute increments.

they will not suspect.

darkness.

hunger....


anticipation.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 11:01 PM

"If I could a took off the whole day I'd 'a brought a couple picks and feed sacks so we could dig a little cohosh and wild yam," said Louie. "Another few days and the tops will be too gone to find 'em. I did get a little goldenseal and ginseng earlier, but there ain't much of either left. I been orderin' roots and plantin' em' when I dig the last few years, but don't know as it is helpin'. I can't get up here enough to keep the Elmores and and the Adkins from crossin' over the ridge to poach.   Some feller lives at Frog Pond, Tennessee sells the roots and the seeds both. Frog Pond. That name tickles me. See over there where the slope is not so steep? On the other side of the deadfall? Look, see that big tree trunk all covered with moss? Anyway, that shelf there used to be covered with goldenseal."

"Is there anything left of the still?"

Louie shook his head. "No." There was a long pause before he continued, "I don't think I am gonna get out of this one, Sharon... But we'll pow-wow about that later, you and Hazel, Big Bill, Homer - did I tell you I switched and hired Homer for my defense attorney? and Billy - like it or not, Sharon, the farm could be at stake. You all ain't the Hatfields and McCoys . You was the one stupid enough to undo what Cassie and Cathy wanted by deeding over your half to Billy. Big Bill seen his mistake a long time ago, but can't speak against Billy. Hell, they both know they done wrong. You did to, Sharon, by caving into your hurt pride like they did. Cathy expected better of you.

"Course, Cathy should a told everybody what was coming and the whys. She was a might cowardly about that in my view. Don't get me wrong, I understand. If I was in your shoes I maybe would have done the same.

"I take that back. I would not have done the same. Seems like I am the only one of the lot that understands what keeping this little patch of mountain holler and hill means. To get rid of his shame, Billy wants to allow exploration for coal. He sees the money bein' made just across Coal Mountain by the Wheelers who sold their mineral rights, and in in his drunken brain thinks erasing this place will erase his shame. I'm all that stands in the way."

Sharon stared at him, shock and anger clear in her expression.

He stared right back for a long moment, then looked away. "But then, I was the one stupid enough to get busted. I don't know what we can do, Sharon. But we gotta try to do something."

Sharon said nothing, but gestured up the hill. The rest of the climb was made in strained silence.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 24 Jun 10 - 12:15 AM

Strained by lack of breath, anyways, as they made the final, steep scramble to the top of ridge.

As she hauled herself up the last hundred yards of the steep ravine, Sharon allowed her senses to fully open to the rugged, ancient hill, a formidable mountain at one time, eons before the western mountains had been shoved up to form the Rockies. She thought about this low ridge, a hard steep climb going straight up as they had chosen to do, but probably not even close to 1500 feet above sea level. Not technically part of the mountains, but on the Appalachian plateau.   For now.    She pondered how many billions of tons of rock and soil and leaf mold, trillions or more tons, really, from this ancient place had washed down the watersheds of the New/Kanawha, the Ohio, the Mississippi, to the Gulf.    How low had this land been when it had been sea? Deep sea. Deep enough for trilobites.   How high had this land been when the pressures beneath the crust had belched and farted the sea floor up toward the sky? How deep would one have to dig into the sea floor, or the Mississippi delta, to touch the leavings of this ancient, ancient mountain, now only a rugged hill among rugged hills.

Too old, too ancient for any person to comprehend. Must have scared the hell out of the fey folk who somehow, and most likely unintentionally, encountered and found themselves channeling some of that magic.   



The grave yard stood about 200 feet ahead of them, at the very top of the low ridge.

Sharon wrapped an arm around Louie's shoulder. " Let's just be right now. The mess can wait."

Abiram had been waiting for them under the lilac. He sat up and began preening, pretending that Third was not there at all.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 13 Aug 10 - 09:36 PM

Down along the roadside in the holler there were still lots of white and lavender asters, and even a few bidens blooming in the ditches. Up here on top of the cleared ridge, there had already been a couple of hard frosts. All the fall flowers in and immediately around the graveyard had been frost killed. The ridge was girded by the forest, however, and along that edge blue wood asters, some late goldenrod, and even a bit of ironweed still bloomed. Billy brush-hogged the graveyard itself 3 or four times a year, and the hardy grass was green as a lush pasture in the cooler temperatures of fall. Up against the gravestones, protected from early frost by the sun-warmed granite, chickweed formed pillowly mounds at the base of the markers.

They made a quick homage at Cassie and Kathy's markers, then parked themselves in the center of the cemetery enjoy their lunch. They sat there in the fall sun, not avoiding anything, just being. The surrounding hills were awash in color. The annual swan song of the forested hills. To be sure, all those trees were second, even third growth.

"Does that matter?" Sharon wondered outloud. "Had they never been clear-cut at all, a substantial population would still have been at least 2nd growth. Nothing lives forever, after-all. Before the hills and trees were towering mountains, so steep and sharp and severe that only bare faced rock and alpine plants were there. Before that were swamps and seas. Before that, who knows? After the seas, and at intervals throughout the long ages when towering new mountains were shoved up, only to slowly wash down creeks and rivers to seas, glaciers descended, moved,knocked down ancient virgin forests, carved out highland glades. Gaia."

"Do tell," said Billy. "Like you say, it doesn't matter. What is now, is now. That's good enough for me. If I got to explain where I am comin' from with what I say next, yer answer ought to be no. If I don't have to explain where I am coming from, your answer ought to be yes.

"I'm thinkin' we are supposed to get nekkid and let nature take it's course. I don't think it is about lust or breakin' my marriage vows. I don't even know that gettin' nekkid will result in any activity most folks, especially my wife Hazel who I love dearly, would disapprove of. I don't know what I am sayin' or thinkin', Sharon. I'm just sayin' what is comin' to me to say.




Or does it?


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 24 Nov 10 - 01:44 AM

Sharon looked at him, eyebrows raised, and said, "No explanation needed. No way Jose. No explanation needed or offered here either."

They grinned at each other in understanding, then shifted to face the early afternoon sun, shoulders leaning comfortably together in support. Louie's face showed a little disappointment but no trace of pout or wounded ego.

At least, that is how Sharon chose to read him.


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Subject: RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler
From: Janie
Date: 26 Mar 18 - 02:05 PM

A tall, dark-blonde young man with deeply blue eyes under startling black lashes turned slowly, his eyes surveying the rather desolate acres of the popular ATV park from the mound of rubble on which he stood. The green forested hills and mountain rills that once were here were gone. Even so, here and there hardy cedar and sumac saplings poked up, and tenacious weeds were establishing footholds. Up in the sun where the rubble was fine and dirt-like, mullein was just starting to send up what would become tall flower stalks, and coltsfoot covered a steep clay bank. Both well established but originally invasive plants from Europe. The same could be said for his ancestors. Over to the left, a mountaintop spring had managed to seep its way to the surface once again. A person with imagination, which he had, could see they were witnessing the rebirth of a mountain stream - at least if nothing else happened unnatural to the land over the next 50-100 years.

The old family graveyard had apparently been bulldozed and/or blasted to smithereens several years ago - assuming, of course, he was in or near the right spot. No way to be sure, given the gaps in the family oral history. He did know he was at least in the vicinity, having definitely located the foundations of the old house much further down the holler where the fill from the mountaintop mine had not reached except to diminish the flow of the creek and kill off most of the creek-dwelling fauna.

The fading leaves of daffodils, a few old apple trees and a blooming, old lilac shrub had helped him know where to look to find the stone outline of the old place. From there he had climbed, at first able to follow the remnants of the old creek before it disappeared under the thousands, maybe millions of tons of tailings from the played out surface mine at what had once been the top of the ridge behind the house.

Late the previous afternoon, near the top of the now truncated ridge, he had marked his location with his GPS, then turned back and retraced his steps while he still had daylight to do so. He wasn't a nostalgic person, but did have a sense of family obligation, plus liked a bit of an outdoor challenge. He had spent the night in a bivy sack near the lilac bush and had been surprised and pleased to have the company of an old tomcat that had appeared out of nowhere. Now, at midday on the rented ATV, he figured he was as near as he was likely to be able to figure to get to where his mom's people were buried. He reached into a side pocket of the backpack he had strapped onto the back of the 4 wheeler and pulled out the mason jar of ashes, dumped them without much ceremony onto the scree, watching as some of the ashes were carried away by the light wind, and as the rest sifted down among the rocks and boulders.

He had 2 days before he needed to be back in North Carolina for work, and since he had spent his scarce money to rent the ATV and had never had the experience before, decided to enjoy the rest of his time. Machines really weren't his thing, but always up for trying something new. One last look at the wisps of ashes still carried on the breeze, one more glance at the ground, a quick text to his girlfriend and his aunt, and off he for a thrill ride. He'd done his duty. May as well have some fun.

Very low, under the sound of the ATV engine, he caught what may have been the sound of a flute.

The End.


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