tagNovels and NovellasBy Air Mail Ch.02

By Air Mail Ch.02

byTaLtos6©

While Craig is dying to get off Iron Mountain and get back home to the girl that he's always loved, that girl wants him just as much and more, because she's finally figured it out.

Not only that, but she's figuring out the best way to do that, too.

She knows Craig because she always has - even right down to what she knows he holds in his heart, and that means not only for her.

There are a pair of interesting characters in this, who are a lot of fun to write, and this chapter shows what they'd do for someone that they love who is in a bad way as well as to show how one of them is somewhat gifted in possessing a pretty solid ability for foresight.

All characters in this are over 18. Not one is even under 21.

0_o


************

Cascade, Idaho - 19 September, 1946

She drove up Main Street in the old 1937 Chevrolet that her father had given her, idling along as she looked for a parking space. Main Street was only two lanes and there was an allowance made to angle-park forward so long as you eased in until you felt your front wheels against the concrete curb.

She saw one spot open on the other side and she checked her mirrors and looked around quickly. Main Street was deathly still, since it was a little cold for this time of year and the only reason that there were so many cars out there in the first place was because of the movie theater on her side of the street.

She'd already seen the picture that they were showing. These days, Amelia had lots of time to go to the movies alone.

She'd worked late over at the sawmill in the offices the last three days running to get their month-ends all wrapped up in exchange for a day off before she started her week of vacation and one day after. She didn't mind the hour because it would get her out of there well after the men who hung around for an hour after their shifts ended, trying to pick her up when she left, even though it never worked.

She wasn't about to do that again.

That was how she'd gotten fooled into falling for a really good actor, only to find out that he was a prick once they were married. That was long over with now, but Amelia was only now coming out of the shell that he'd kicked her into.

Getting out at 9PM also got her away from the place long before the next batch of hoons got off at midnight, though she wouldn't have wanted to do it every day.

In her heart, she held on tightly to her reason to want the next day off. For the first time in so long, Amelia felt as though she almost knew what she was doing, and she'd dreamt of it for a long time.

She looked over once more quickly. She could get in there as easy as pie if she pulled a U-turn, but that was illegal here and she'd just gotten her driver's license. Out this far from the big places, all you needed to do to get one was to go to the post office and buy it, since it was almost a hundred miles to the nearest place where there just might be a driving school. And since Marjorie ran the post office ...

One more quick look and she was about to hit the turn signal when she saw the state trooper sitting parked a little farther up the street where there were no buildings. She sighed and drove on, making a flawless three-point turn about half a block past the cop. Then she sidled down Main in the opposite direction and nosed in three spaces up from the café.

As she got out and locked the car, she looked up and saw the trooper roll past, looking at her. She nodded and he nodded back and then he was gone while Amelia stepped onto the sidewalk and up to the door of the café. Cascade was a good long haul out from Boise and there was nothing between here and there but Horseshoe Bend - over forty miles, she guessed. You hardly ever saw the law out this far. She pulled out her key and opened the door.

She was here because the café had always been one of the touchstones of her life - since Marjorie owned it and because she worked there often to help out. Tonight, she'd thought about it and it had come down to flipping a coin.

Her father was away with her uncle Deke on a cattle drive down south. So that meant either going home to a likely empty house or just coming here, since dollars to donuts, her mother was here anyway with Marjorie and if she had the choice, Amelia found that tonight, she wanted a little of their company and wisdom.

If she was really lucky, she thought, Rosa might be there as well, but she hadn't seen Rosa for days due to the hours that she'd been keeping and besides, it was no good trying to call her on the phone, though she'd missed the fun that they always shared.

Once inside and after locking the door again, she turned to look across the empty café by the light of the only bulb left on so that a cop walking by could look in - whenever that happened. Putting the key back into her pocket, she walked slowly, trying to be silent on her way to the kitchen. With any luck, it wouldn't be too hard to heat herself a cup of old leftover coffee, if there was any left.

As she tip-toed around behind the counter and walked back, she saw the bulk of someone there in the dark and her heart was in her throat in an instant.

Just as she about to let out the dumbest thing that anyone could say as she almost asked who was there, she caught the sounds of the sighs and the wet kisses in the darkness.

"Mom," she exhaled, and both women answered yes.

Amelia rolled her eyes, "Honestly, you two scared the heck out of me just now, but ..."

"I thought that you might be coming here," Marjorie smiled, "and Rebecca said that she knew that you would. I still don't know how she does all that 'wise knowing stuff' after all this time, but I wanted to make sure that you'd have hot water for coffee or maybe a tea, or hot chocolate for when you got here."

"And I came down because she took too long," Rebecca smiled.

"I was only gone for a minute," Marjorie said.

Rebecca nodded with a shrug, "Too long."

Amelia smiled. This was one of the family's secrets. The two women had been lovers since before Tad had been born in the snowy sunshine out at Big Southern Butte. They were now married to a pair of brothers who loved them so and they shared the same last name, but they still loved each other to death and whenever they had the chance of it - like now - they made no bones about making a few nights of it since they always had. The only thing which was different these days was that Amelia was a grown woman so they didn't feel the need to hide much of anything anymore.

This - this tie that bound was one of the reasons why all three of the kids had grown up with two mothers and were treated as what they were by the two men - the children of an extended family between them.

It was one of the main reasons why all three, Tad, Craig, and Amelia had grown up close. The two couples didn't live in the same house, but the kids came and went wherever they pleased to either household at any time.

Exactly two seconds later, Amelia was in the arms of her two mothers and feeling their soft kisses as they welcomed her.

"You're naked," Amelia said, rolling her eyes, though she was smiling a little.

"So?" her mother smiled, "The door's locked and the blinds are down out there and nobody can see in here anyway. We're not too old and bad-looking yet and we like to see each other like this. Have you eaten? Are you hungry?"

Amelia had to think about it for a moment. She wasn't particularly hungry right then, but she hadn't eaten anything all day. Mostly, she was feeling unsettled.

In taking the time to think about it, she found that she'd used up the time that her mothers would wait for her to decide. But before they could set to warming anything up for her, Rosa wandered downstairs in her nightgown and came around the corner into the café's dark kitchen.

"What are you doing here?" she asked in her too-loud voice because she'd been startled and mostly because she was deaf.

The fact that Marjorie and Rebecca were naked meant little to her. She's been here with them long enough to know about them anyway and she liked them even more for it.

---

Rosa had made her memorable entrance into their lives the year that Amelia was learning that being married to a young psychopath was not exactly a bed of roses. It was closer to living in a thistle patch, the truth be told. With Amelia married and not knowing anything about Amelia's hell, Marjorie found that she needed a bit of help, since Rebecca couldn't be there every day, though Rebecca had been there the day that Rosa parked her old Harley-Davidson Servi-Car out front and almost stumbled in.

When they asked her what she wanted, Rosa looked for a moment as though she was about to cry.

"Ma'am," she said, speaking a little slowly in a fairly loud whisper, "My name's Rosa De la Hoya and I can't go no further.

I know I look like a killed armadillo by the side of a Texas road, but I'd work for something to eat and I'd like a glass of water, if I could have one, please. The sign out front says you need help.

I'd do about anything for the job."

Rebecca and Marjorie looked at her and then at each other before looking at the girl again. She was very thin, though she was just a little taller than Amelia. In fact, it was an incorrect estimation, since at the time; Rosa had been wearing jeans and cowboy boots and she was a little shorter.

She had long black hair that needed a date with a brush very badly from how windblown it appeared and she looked as though she spent a lot of time in the sunshine. Which she did until that day - if it wasn't raining.

"Why are you whispering?" Marjorie asked.

The ready to cry look came back for a second before it was fought down again rather obviously. Rosa looked down for a moment as though to gather strength or maybe curse her life and then she looked back up.

"I had the mumps real bad when I was a little kid and now I can't hear much in one ear and even less in the other one. When I talk, it sounds too loud, but I can't tell. I just see people take a step back. Then I know, but it's too late then."

She forced herself to go on, "A lot of folks think I'm crazy or stupid.

Please Ma'am, I need the work, but if you don't want me, then ... could I please have that glass of water? I'm flat broke and I've only got a little gas left. I'm outta bullets too, so I can't even hunt for something to eat.

Please?"

They were stunned but Rebecca was quicker to recover as she walked around the counter. Rosa jumped back a little and said hurriedly that she was leaving and didn't need to be thrown out. As she'd said it, her natural speaking voice came out of her and they understood what she'd said about her voice, but it only made them more determined.

Rebecca smiled and reached for Rosa's hand as she spoke slowly, not being loud or anything, just trying to see if Rosa could read her lips as well as it appeared that she could.

"Please come with me, Rosa. I want to talk to you and you can have anything that we have to eat on the menu with water, coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Please come and sit down. I'm paying."

Rosa was shocked, but she was starving - literally, since it had been days since she'd eaten. As she ate slowly a little later, closing her eyes often just out of the feeling of having a meal such as this, they learned a little of her astounding story.

"They used to call me by many names in Mexico, mostly puta," she said a little uncomfortably, "but my name is really Rosa De la Hoya. That's what it said on the ripped little paper that I found the afternoon before I left. I always knew that, but I hadn't heard it in a long time by then.

The man I was with because I'd been sold to him was passed out drunk and I was tired of getting kicked around. I found that card and I knew that I could go back home - not that there was anything or anybody waiting for me there.

My mother was a whore living on the Arizona border to Mexico and she was killed when I was maybe eleven. I went to get help, but a man grabbed me and took me to Mexico and it was years before I got free."

She looked down for a moment and then lifted her face, "I ain't gonna tell how I did that, but I took his money and I started to walk. I walked all the way from the Gulf of California to the Arizona border. From looking at that old card, I was twenty when I crossed into the United States and the first thing that I did was go find me a government office, but it took me a while.

I had to get a ways north of the border because every time I found a cop, he threw me back across. I ended up going across at night and then a day later, I found a burro who liked me enough to walk beside me for a couple of days before she let me get on to ride. I called her Jacinta. I don't know if she even had a name, but she seemed to listen to me when I said it."

She shrugged, "Then again, I talk loud.

It's not hard to cross over there because there are no roads if you're in the right place and only Tohono O'odham people like me can travel there without dying. Finally, I got to a place with a tribal office and agency and I got me a new card, since Indians are American citizens by law. That's what they told me in every little place I went through on my way across the reservation.

They asked me if I could drive and I lied and told them yes, to they typed me out a driver's license while I was there and they gave me some food because they looked up my last name and they found my mother's death record and it said that she had a daughter, so they recognized me as belonging there."

"What are you also?" Rebecca asked, "Your mother was Indian. What is the rest?"

Rosa shrugged, "Damned if I know. I just remember that I'm lighter than she was so maybe he was white. My mother never talked about him - whoever he was. But I know O'odham from my mother, English from the school where I was before I got stolen, and I learned Spanish by picking it up."

"Go on," Marjorie nodded, her chin on her hand as she listened closely and looked at the girl, "How did you get here? That's not a burro out front."

"When I got out of the office place, Jacinta was gone," Rosa said, "I looked all over for her, but nobody that I asked had seen her. I hope she made out alright. She was the first friend that I had in a long time.

I walked and walked but along a road this time until I came to a store in another little pace and I bought something to eat and I saw that motorcycle three-wheeler outside. I'd never seen one like that, so I looked at it some and a man came out and told me that it was for sale. Well I had enough, so I bought it, but I made sure that he gave me the papers for it and taught me to work it some.

Then I bought me an old pistol and ammunition. From there, I rode to Casa Grande and I asked around until I got to the place where they sell license plates and I had it put in my name.

Mostly, ever since then and it's been two years, I've just been traveling, working where I could and hunting when I had to, and I can tell you that it ain't exactly easy to hunt with a pistol, but I've got no place to put a bow even if I knew enough to use one. My grandfather taught me a little when I was a kid, but I think that mostly I just amused him. There's no room for a rifle either. Everything that I own's gotta fit into a couple of feet square.

I'd been through a few states before I figured out that I can't just ride forever. I gotta get parts for my machine and tires too, and ..."

She sighed, "And now I want to BE someplace and not just pass right on through."

"Well when you get done with eating that, Rosa," Marjorie smiled as she held out her hand, "I've got a sink full of dishes for you to start in on because you've got a job now. I can't pay you much, but I'll do what I can. The first week, you'll be doing that whenever I start to run low on plates and cups, and I'll teach you how to cook the way that folks'll want to pay to eat. You'll be bussing tables and we can try you out on waitressing if you think you'd want to.

Have you got a place to live? I kind of have my doubts the way that you showed up."

Rosa didn't know what to say and so she did something very uncharacteristic for her.

She finally burst into tears.

As she tried to force herself to stop, Marjorie finished her when she smiled, "I've got two sons. One is up on fire lookout and won't be back til the fall, and the other one has been gone for years, flying for the army, though I expect he'll be coming home one day. Until at least September, you can stay in their room."

Rosa nodded and tried so hard to say thank you that Marjorie waved her hand and told her that it was alright, "If you really need to say it, I can wait for another time, Rosa. In case you're wondering, Rebecca and I know what it feels like to go hungry and not have much of anything."

"We had plenty of snow," Rebecca smiled hopefully, "so it wasn't like we had absolutely nothing."

Rosa stayed and in a little time, she met the husbands of Rebecca and Marjorie and after a few more days, she met Amelia.

Amelia had her own troubles, but they became friends and liked to talk when they could. Amelia would wait patiently as Rosa spoke and she tried to teach her how not to blow anybody over when she said hello, though it was a long and difficult thing for Rosa to manage.

Before the summer was out, Deke arranged for a tutor for Rosa and she began to learn the now-difficult art of sign language at an age when it was a hard thing to do, as they all struggled with it, to that they had a more practical way to communicate with her than only reading lips. It was a struggle, but Rosa proved herself to be quick on the uptake at it - well, at anything, really.

When Craig came home at the end of the summer, he met Rosa and they found that they shared an interest in motorcycles while he helped her move to a spare room in Harry's house where she stayed and helped Rebecca and Harry in anything that she could.

When Amelia finally couldn't take any more of her husband's abuse, it had been Rosa who was there for her along with her mothers as she cried and cried, since at first, Craig wasn't there, being back on the mountain again.

Now, all of that was in the past was Amelia was finally getting better.

----

Rosa looked past Rebecca and Marjorie and she saw Amelia. "Where've you been the last three days? I haven't seen you once."

"I've been working late so that I could have tomorrow off. Craig comes home tomorrow," Amelia smiled.

Rosa nodded with a smile, knowing how those two had been kids together. She found that she envied her friend a little bit. Rosa knew what was in Amelia's mind and she liked Craig. But she still had baggage of her own and even if she could ever find a man to ever trust again, she knew that she wasn't a beauty like Amelia.

Besides, she told herself, she had a place here in Cascade and to her, it was enough - at least for the moment.

----

Fifteen minutes later, Amelia was eating some warmed-up roast beef on a platter and sipping hot tea as she sat at the small table in the large kitchen talking quietly to Rebecca and Marjorie.

Rosa said goodnight and went to bed, telling Amelia that she'd leave the nightlight on for her. Rosa knew that she liked to sleep in Craig's bed sometimes. She didn't understand it much, but it made a little sense to her if she thought that maybe Amelia did that to try to give herself some courage or something.

"A long time ago, I - I waited too long," Amelia said as a beginning, "and I missed my chance, and instead, I made my big mistake and married Bobby."

Amelia paused as she remembered not being able to go on and going to the café one day instead of to her job while Bobby was at work, and once they got her alone, she told them of how bad it was being Bobby's wife and she showed them the bruises that she hid from everyone.

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