The Hawkins Place

bythornapple©

"Nate, you are one of a kind." Aggie kissed me warmly and I escorted her to the living room and offered her wine. We talked until I poured the last of that bottle. "Shall we try the dining room Aggie?" I put her arm in mine and we went to dinner.

"Nate, you have really outdone yourself. This looks wonderful. Did you bake the rolls?"

"I did, yes."

"You are amazing."

"I used to really enjoy baking, but I was getting fat so I had to quit."

Before we started I toasted Aggie. "To the prettiest, smartest and most wonderful woman I have ever known."

"Why thank you Nate." We sipped our wine and I continued, "Aggie, you have fed me, nursed me, been a source of information, a confidant, consoled me on bad days and made me laugh for these many months. Your friendship is utterly priceless to me."

"Nate you're going to make me cry in a minute."

"I've wanted to tell you all of that and more for a long time." I walked around the table and kissed her longer and with more emotion than I ever had.

"Nate, you're not getting drunk are you?"

"I'm sober as a judge Aggie." We were quiet for several minutes as we ate. After dinner we went back to the living room and finished with a little more wine.

Aggie said, "Nate, you have made this a memorable evening. Thank you so much for making me feel needed and loved."

"Aggie, one day while sitting on the porch I thought about you, and the only way I found to describe how you appear to me, is your aura could warm this house and heal the sick. When I was looking at this house it was talking to me. I had to buy it. When I met you, I had to get to know you. You affected me like this house did."

Aggie came over and kissed me again. Her lips were so soft. "I wish I was twenty years younger."

"Aggie, you said you're fifty seven. I think you forgot to inform your body. It still looks like forty five."

"Nate, thank you for saying that, but I'm going to have to keep an eye on you. Your eyes are failing."

After a little pause I asked Aggie, "Would you be interested in going through all the things with me that were left in the house? The basement has a ton of stuff, the unfinished area on the second floor has a lot and I haven't even looked in the unfinished area on the third floor. Maybe you will know some of the people in the pictures or whatever. It will be god awful dirty though."

"I think that would be a lot of fun. Maybe we will find treasure."

"We'll most likely find junk, but maybe we can find some photos to frame and hang on the wall for atmosphere. You interested in doing it tomorrow?"

"I'd love it. Nate." I had arranged my sparse furniture around the fireplace. We finished the evening by finishing the wine, watching the fire give the newly finished wood a golden glow, and I could watch the flickering flames make Aggie's eyes sparkle and her cheeks glow. I guessed I was getting drunk. Arm in arm I walked Aggie home. We couldn't be more comfortable with each other. We had known each other our whole lives somehow.

Saturday morning I had breakfast and was enjoying coffee on the front porch when here came Aggie, dressed in jeans and a tee shirt. "It looks like you're ready to do battle with the cobwebs Aggie."

"I'm ready."

"Coffee first or are you full of coffee?"

"I'm full."

"Before we start I have to know. Is Aggie short for Agnes or Agatha?"

"It's short for Agnes and if you ever call me that I'll go home."

"Understood. Let's start in the basement."

We spent hours going through clothes, boxes, pictures, broken furniture, an amazing amount of old dishes, coins and it went on and on. I saved things like pictures, an old shaving mug and razor, an old yellowed expense log, a few letters, the dishes and the coins just to name a few. I had a large box that was full of odds and ends. The larger pile I would have Andy haul out to the trash sometime. "Is this as much fun as you thought it might be Aggie?"

"I'm having a ball. I'm sharing somebody's life, or perhaps several lives. A part of them is still alive if even for this brief time."

"You have a lot of romance in your soul Aggie."

"I'll take that as a compliment and thank you."

When we finished I said, "I think we need a cold drink and a break before we hit the dust on the second floor."

"I could really use something to drink and the bathroom."

We went upstairs and got some sodas. When Aggie came out of the bathroom she said,

"I forgot to tell you last night, I think the bathroom is wonderful. You did a great job on it Nate."

"Thanks Aggie. The fixtures were in wonderful condition surprisingly." We finished our rest and we headed for the second floor. "How long has it been since you've seen this part of the house?"

"I'm not sure I ever did now that I think about it."

"Let me show it to you before we start." I started on the right and showed her the bedrooms with the adjoining bathroom, then the bedrooms and a smaller bathroom, then turning around I pointed out the small door that we would be going in and finished by walking into my master bedroom and bathroom. I sat on the bed while she looked around. Aggie came over and sat next to me on the bed without thinking about it. "You have quite a suite here Nate. When it's done it will be so very impressive." I looked at Aggie and started to tell her thank you but instead I kissed her. Not as a good friend and neighbor but with passion. Aggie kissed me back. When we broke Aggie was flushed. "You just caused me to have some wonderful feelings I haven't felt in twenty years Nate. I really like the feeling but it scares me too."

"We don't have to act on them if you don't think we should, but I would like to kiss you again though. I can't get enough of those." We kissed even more passionately than before. Aggie was breathing hard and her eyes were moist as they looked into me. ' '

"Nate, maybe we better go treasure hunting. Then we should have a talk okay?"

"Okay." I gave Aggie a warm hug and we left the bedroom before one of us changed our minds.

I had flashlights for us and we entered through the little door. I had to smile when I thought of Mava and her torn slacks. This house already had more memories than my other place ever did. We started near the door and worked our way back toward the small window. I found a child's rocker in perfect condition, a lot of children's clothing in very good shape and several toys that would have value as antiques. I stopped and stared off for a minute. "You okay Nate?"

"What...oh yeah, I'm sorry Aggie. I get these feelings some times. It's hard to describe. It's like somebody is talking to me but I don't hear voices. Maybe I'm going nuts."

"Then again Nate, maybe not." That sounded a little cryptic. There was some more junk then Aggie found a small box. "It's heavy Nate. Let's see if we can get it open." I couldn't open it without some tools so we laid that aside and moved on. We came to an old briefcase of stiff dried out leather. When we opened it we found a few hundred dollars in old bills. Aggie was animated. "Nate, this is getting exciting."

Shaking my head I said, "That's an odd way to handle money. You said they were strange and you weren't kidding." There were more clothes and old books again, some old 78-rpm records and a small empty steamer trunk that was in perfect shape and would look great downstairs. There was an old bible with a lot of family history written in it, and a couple of journals somebody had partially filled. We found more pictures and a long wood box that opened easily revealing an old gun. That made me smile. If it didn't have a lot of antique value it would look great on the wall in the library. As we neared the back we could see a wooden box about four feet long by a foot and a half square. Aggie pulled it near the window and tried to open it but without success. I said, "Let's drag it out and we can open it and the little one downstairs." We dragged all our finds out into the light and looked them over again, then hauled them downstairs to the library. They would be out from underfoot until I had time to do something with them, and there would be room to put the things from the basement as well. "I forgot about the third floor Aggie. Do you want to check it out or save it for another day?"

"If you don't mind, lets save it. I'm anxious to see what we have found so far."

I got some tools and after briefly looking at the journals and pictures we got the small heavy box. It wasn't locked, but seemed jammed for some reason. Aggie held it and I pried it trying not to damage the interesting looking box. It reluctantly opened to reveal its secret. There in front of us was a whole box of what appeared to be very old coins. "Oh my God Nate. This could really be valuable."

"Even if not valuable it's a neat find. This is exciting." I picked up several coins and they appeared in excellent condition, all dating back to the nineteenth century or before. It had been somebody's collection. "Nate, I told you this would be fun." We looked at the toys and the gun, and then our eyes fell on the large box. We attacked this one more vigorously. The box was nothing worth saving. I pried, scratching the wood then tried again. It was nailed shut. "That's weird. Why would they nail it shut?" We pried some more and it finally started to give. I stood and pulled the lid open. Aggie gasped and stepped back. There, lovingly wrapped in what was once beautiful white silk was the skeleton of a child. "I guess the rumors were true Aggie."

"Oh, that poor thing." I held Aggie as we looked at the child. "I guess we better call the police Aggie."

Chapter Six

The police were there for quite a while. They took pictures, talked first to Aggie then to me. Later they talked to the two of us together. When we walked to the front door with them we saw TV news trucks out front. "Oh damn Nate; they'll drive me nuts when I go home."

"Then you won't go home. By tomorrow they will have told their story on the late news and perhaps will hound us a little less tomorrow. We can face them together then."

"Nate, this takes us back to where we were earlier you know, unless you have a spare bed that I didn't see."

"I hadn't thought that far ahead. It's up to you. If you'd rather face the cameras I'll go out with you. If not, you can sleep in my bed with me and I'll do my best to behave."

"I noticed you didn't promise to behave."

"I'm not that sure of myself Aggie."

"Could we talk a little?"

"We can talk all night if you need to. How about a little wine? I have one bottle left."

"That might help."

We shut the lights off and sat by the light of the fireplace. I said, "This is very romantic. It's not exactly what we need right now, but I'd just as soon leave the lights off until they are gone."

"Nate, first of all I want you to know it would be wonderful to make love to you. The very thought of it takes my breath away. There are three things that complicate it for me. One thing is it will change our relationship forever. We can never go back to the way it was again. It might change it for the better but I don't know that. Another thing is what if I fall deeply in love with you? I can't get past the twenty years difference in our ages so that gets complicated. The last thing is purely a physical thing that is manageable but it scares the hell out of me. I haven't been with a man in more years than I care to think about. All those issues are complications to what should be a spontaneous and beautiful experience."

"Aggie, just knowing you think it would be wonderful pleases me. The first point I agree is a big one. I have loved being with you from the first time and I'd hate to lose any part of you. Second, I have trouble worrying about our age difference. But if it is a major concern to you then it's important. You are so pretty and sexy I can't see past that. The last point doesn't matter. We could overcome those fears if that was our decision.

I guess you're right though, making love would not be a good idea right now." We were quiet a long time, finishing our wine and looking at the fire.

"Nate, let's just go to bed and be close." We undressed, took a shower and got in bed together. We held each other for a long time feeling each other's warmth. "Nate this feels so good. I'd forgotten how wonderful it could be. For right now I'm very happy just holding you." We fell asleep together.

We woke about daybreak and I said, "It seems so natural waking up and having you next to me." "I could get used to this so fast, but I'm getting up because I feel my will power weakening. Besides I have to pee."

We got dressed and went down for coffee. I looked out the window and the street was deserted. We no longer had an excuse. I still didn't want her to go home. "They've gone I'm afraid,"

"Why are you afraid?"

"I don't want you to go home."

"Then I won't for a while. Do you have a spare toothbrush?"

"I have all sorts of things. When I packed that stuff I just threw it all in a box. I'll get you one." Pretty soon Aggie was back smiling.

"That's better. By the way Nate, you look wonderful naked."

"So do you Aggie. It was harder than you can imagine for me to behave myself."

I took a deep breath and changed the subject. "You want to go through the third floor stuff?"

"Why not." We went up and entered the third floor room. Aggie asked, "Why do you suppose they finished this area? I can't see why they would need another bedroom and bathroom."

"I wondered the same thing."

There was a storage area on each side of the room. It wasn't tall enough to stand up in so we went in on our hands and knees. It was more of the same things. We even found some antique Christmas decorations. We pulled most of it out into the room and crawled out so we could stand up. We then went to the other side and did the same thing, pulling everything out and crawling out to stand up. I said, "It looks like the other stuff. Clothes, old records, mostly junk.

Aggie said, "All the clothes or anything you don't want you might donate to a historical society. They have a different idea of what is important than we do."

"Good idea. I'll save it all and donate it later."

"Why don't I take the journals and things home and go through them. Maybe we can learn more about the family that way. I know you don't have time and it might be fun."

"That would be great Aggie. I'll get them boxed up and have Andy bring them over to you."

We went downstairs and Aggie said, "I have to go home and take another shower and put on clean clothes. I'm gross."

"I disagree but I understand."

Aggie wasn't gone an hour and I was looking at the coins and money when Mava called. "Nate, what the hell happened there last night?"

"Nothing much, Aggie and I found a skeleton in a box is all."

"Then it's true."

"I'm afraid so."

"So do I get to hear the whole story or are you going to make me read the damn paper?"

"I guess I can tell you."

"Put the coffee on, I'm coming over."

Mava's car pulled up, so I poured our coffee and set them on the kitchen table, then opened the door for Mava, and... Sheila? I was surprised to say the least. I kissed Mava and told Sheila to come in and I'd get another cup. We sat at the table and I told them the whole story. "Damn Nate, you sure got this little town buzzing."

"I'm afraid to go out now." We talked it all through then Mava said, "So tell me about Aggie."

"She lives next door and has been wonderful, always cooking for me and so forth." Mava smiled and said, "I'm not jealous but what's she like?"

"She's fifty seven years old."

"Oh." I knew that would shut that down. Mava didn't need to know the rest of the story. In a somewhat disapproving voice, Sheila said, "This place is huge. Will you ever get it all redone?"

"Oh sure. I have the front half of the first floor done already, plus most of the exterior. I'm way ahead of schedule. Would you like to see it?"

"Uh, Yeah, sure." That sure didn't sound enthusiastic but I ignored it. Mava led the way, and as we walked toward the living room, I saw Sheila absentmindedly take Mava's hand for a second. That was an interesting development. Sheila was impressed with the grandeur of the room and especially the fireplace. "This looks very romantic."

"Oh it can be very romantic." We went to the library with all of the refinished paneling and all the dusty relics from the attic on the floor. "Oh yuck, what's all of that junk?"

"Those are all antiques that will be donated to the historical society."

"Whatever." Sheila was showing her true colors rather quickly. As we worked our way upstairs I said, "And that's where we found the body." I intentionally said body hoping to gross dear Sheila out.

"Oh yuck, get me out of here." It worked perfectly. We went back downstairs and they left. That would be the end of Sheila and I figured that would be the end of Mava.

Monday I went to work and the boss got me right away. "Nate, let's stay back here in the break room for a minute. I know you want to get on with your workday, but I fear that everybody will want to talk to you and keep you from your job. Why don't you take the day off with pay and tomorrow I'll have some things for you to do in the back where it's a little more private. You've set off quite a stir. In a few days this will blow over."

"Thanks Dean, I appreciate that." I slipped out and went home.

I was hard at getting the kitchen ready for demolition when I heard a knock at the door. I looked through the peephole and saw Mava. I let her in and went for my coffee. "You want some coffee?"

"Sure, why not." We sat at the kitchen table and nothing was said for a minute.

"I guess you saw enough yesterday didn't you Nate?"

"I saw enough to know that you are bisexual or think you are. I suspect Sheila is well beyond bi."

"You have a pretty good grasp of it I guess. I didn't know I had those urges until I met Sheila."

"I'm not sure you had those feelings before Sheila but it's whatever floats your boat as they say."

"Nate, I'm still trying to sort things out and Sheila thinks she has it figured already."

"I think Sheila has it figured for you. It's what Sheila wants and that's all that matters."

"How can you know that?"

"It might as well be hung on a billboard Mava. I have no bad feelings toward you at all and I'm not being mean. I'm calling them as I see them. Sheila will use you up and spit you out in a few weeks."

"I don't think so Nate."

"No, I'm sure you don't, and I hope I'm wrong for your sake."

"I better get going I guess."

"Stay in touch Mava. I still like you, you know."

"Thanks Nate, I'll do that." Mava left and I went back to my kitchen project. Damn I led an exciting life. By the time Andy got there I had several cabinets for him to haul out, and then I had him take some boxes of journals and pictures over to Aggie.

Over the next six weeks I gutted the kitchen and redid the walls and wiring, and added venting for the stove. It was Aggie to the rescue again. She kept me from starving but I didn't spend a lot of time just talking with her like I wanted to. I laid new flooring with Andy's help then started the cabinets. I hated living without a kitchen, so I was pushing myself even more than usual. The more the cabinets went up the better I liked the look. I put in cabinets that looked like old country cabinets, Corian countertops, a dishwasher, a trash compactor, a built in microwave oven and a little computer station. It ended up taking me nine weeks and a lot of money, but I had a kitchen to brag about. I even had a hanging rack over the island counter for pots and pans. You could feed an army from that kitchen if you wanted to. I even bought a gas stove that looks like an antique but was really a very modern appliance.

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