Buster's Story Ch. 08byJaisen©
This is part 2 of the very long writing spree. Good times and bad in this section, so I am not responsible for your Kleenex bills. Once again, thank you Mazuri, Mokkelke, Wolf and the readers on my blog that have helped shape this story. Please remember to vote and comment.
"George! You as bad your Papa, that damn Henry!" yelled Brian. "You no tell that girl nothin'? You wonder why she scream and run? What you thinkin'? How long you date that girl? You think she virgin and stupid? That she jus don' notice you get all hairy? That you turn into damn werewolf like that Lon Chaney Jr? That it jus' some damn makeup?"
"Gran-papa, I was gon' tell her about us, but she much a city girl, I can' think how to start!" George tried to argue. If he'd been shifted, his tail would have been tucked between his legs.
"Jus like your damn Papa! Jus' like with that Betty. Whine, all the time! Well, we don' got to worry about that no more. She is gone. Two months you married! Damn!" growled Brian. He walked out of the kitchen and slammed the bedroom door.
George slunk out to the front porch. His grand-mere Natalie stood in the shadows. She walked over to George and hugged him. "It be okay. He jus a crabby old man. It don' help he get telegrams sayin' this son dead, this nephew dead. Jus be glad you don' go that Korea."
"Grand-mere, I want go that war. Let me go die. It be better than this pain," George cried against Natalie's shoulder.
"Non! Better you be here. Your maman, Maggie, she be grieving you go. She still not happy your papa go. It be okay. You find a new woman. Stick to shifters this time," she said.
George nodded and then after one long hug walked off to his mother's cabin.
Natalie walked back into the cabin. She picked up the small pile of paper off of the table and tucked them into her pocket. It had been a horrendous week. First the telegram about Petite Luc and Little Joe's deaths. Then the telegrams about their sons, George and Quintus. They'd been in the Battle of Kap'yong. George died, and Quintus survived his wounds. Three days after the telegram, a letter came from Dr. Andre Paquet. The letter itself was two weeks old.
Dearest Uncle Brian and Aunt Natalie,
I am sorry to have to inform you that my cousin George died today. I did everything I could to save him. It was only because of his inner strength that he lasted as long as he did. Considering the extent of his wounds though, his death was a blessing.
A day later, I was able to save Quintus. He will have a nasty scar on his face, but given time, he will heal. I am hoping that he will be sent home.
Know that I love you and miss you both. Give my love to Marie.
Natalie had read that letter and realized that David didn't know that Marie had disappeared a few weeks after he'd enlisted. She had no idea where Marie had gone, or even why. She had hoped that Marie had let David know. From this letter, it was clear that Marie hadn't. She'd simply disappeared. Marie's disappearance had wounded Brian. It was the second time she'd up and left without telling anyone. The only one who didn't seem too hurt was Marie's son Jack. He lived with his cousins and his Aunt Alice.
Then George, Henry's son had come home with the news that his wife Cindy had run off. It had been the last straw. When he explained that he hadn't told her he shifted, Brian blew up. They were young and the world as it had been was changing so fast. Faster than most in the family could cope. Natalie looked at the dishes and decided that she would do them in the morning. As she walked down the hall, she realized that one of the windows was open. She looked in her room and discovered that Brian's clothes lay on the bed and he was nowhere in sight.
Natalie put the letters from her pocket under the handkerchiefs in her drawer and undressed. She shifted and leapt out the window.
The she-wolf checked the ground for a scent trail. Her mate had headed up the road into the mountains. She loped along in the dark and headed up to the high meadow where she hoped her mate had gone. She didn't run as fast as she use to. Her muscles ached and some days she panted a lot longer after a run.
The wind shifted and she scented her mate. He was up on the rock where they slept. She approached slowly, head lowered and tail down. He huffed and she stopped. She sat on her haunches and waited. After a while, he huffed again and she leapt up onto the rock next to him. Licking his muzzle, he finally licked her back. She nibbled his ear and he grabbed her ruff and shook. Then the two of them sat on the rock and howled.
Across the valley, other wolves picked up the song and howled in sympathy. George walked out on the front porch of his maman's house. He shifted and howled for his uncles, and the loss of his wife. Across the town, Tilly and Georgina stood on the porch and listened. Tilly threw back her head and howled the best she could for a human. Georgina just stood there and let the tears run down her face. As in the Great War and WWII, there would be few burials. Just a stone with the names of the dead would be erected. So many widows, broken families and very few individuals to hold everyone together.
Brian dodged the truck as it went racing by. Traffic along the main road was busy. Where once the biggest event was a lumber truck or a wagon full of beer, now there were cars racing up and down the new highway. This made all the little villages more accessible. Brian who had learned to drive during WWII even had a truck and Natalie had a little sedan she drove around to see patients. Life was changing. Sometimes too fast for Brian and Natalie.
It was June, and people were moving. Quintus and his wife Estelle were heading for Montana. Grand-pere Buster had kissed his namesake and the two granddaughters goodbye the day before. Lizzybit and David had moved to Calgary. Grandson George and his second wife Jane moved to Lethbridge. As he looked around, he felt like everyone under sixty was leaving. He headed for the Saloon for a beer.
"There you are Buster!" shouted one of his neighbors just as he reached the porch of the saloon.
Brian waved. He still wasn't comfortable with the fact that his grandchildren had started calling him Buster, or that it had stuck so well. "What you need?"
"Just wanted to let you know I sold that piece of property of yours. Came to bring you that money," the man said handing him a check and walked away almost as quickly as he'd approached.
"Thanks," said Brian calling after the man. He looked at the check. $28,000 dollars Canadian. It wasn't bad considering the economic slump that was running through Canada. Prosperity and calamity ran hand and hand through rural Canada. The saw mill was still doing well with Kent in charge of the family business. More non-shifters were moving into the area. They bought up land and built little houses that looked modern, but sterile to Brian. Shops and little businesses were sprouting up everywhere. That was why so many of the families had moved south to Montana. It was harder and harder to run at night or to shift without someone seeing that shouldn't. Plus, the hunting was getting difficult for a large population of shifters to hunt with ease.
He'd asked Natalie if she wanted to move. She'd been so mad at him for even bringing it up, that she didn't cook for three days. Instead, he sold off some land, preserving their meadow, the main cabin, Grandma Davy's house which was now a real clinic and enough land to be comfortable. He headed towards the bank to deposit the money.
That night at the table, Brian brought up another topic he'd been trying to get Natalie to consider. "Natalie, why not go on a trip?" he asked. "We go see that Alexander and Jelka. Or we go see Lizzybit. Better yet, Mebbe that Andre find him our Marie. He is down in that Washington state," said Brian.
"Non. Too much to do. We have this house to fix. The clinic is running full all the time. How can I go?" said Natalie.
"Easy. Put up sign. Says CLOSED. Or better yet, let that Tilly, that Georgina run that damn fine clinic. Then we go the car, drive all that new highway and see places. Then come home in September."
"Oh, I don' know. We go running tonight?" Natalie asked changing the subject.
The two wolves ran. It had been a long time, and they stretched their legs in a flat out run. They spooked a deer and ran after it. Wolf leapt and caught the deer at the back of the neck ands swung around and under, snapping the spine in a fast twist. Wolf offered the soft hot liver to his mate. She took it daintily and ate it. When they were full, they each grabbed a foreleg and dragged their catch back towards the wooden den.
Brian hauled the deer up on the crossbar he'd used for ages to finish skinning and dressing out the deer. They'd come home in the early hours and curled up to sleep for a bit. Then they'd shifted and begun the day's work at dawn. Brian worked swiftly and cut the meat up and gave it to Natalie to be canned or dried. He picked up the tray of meat and took it into the kitchen.
Brian walked into the kitchen and found Natalie sitting at the table with her head in her hands. On the table in front of her was a letter. "Nat, you okay? Who that letter from?" he asked softly.
"Marie," was all she said.
Brian picked up the letter.
I thought it time I write. That war, that Korea, it make me crazy. I think I cope with David gone. Non. I don' cope. I don' cope with fact I have this baby. His baby. David, he so strange about his family Never say anything about them. Hell, after all that time, all that love and no baby, I din' believe it when I realize I have this baby. So, I ran. Wanted to go that British Columbia, far away. Maybe no see any family. Don' know what this baby be like. Afraid it not be right. Afraid that it too late I find out to tell David, bring him home. I am heart sick. I try find our Andre Paquet. I no find him. I am that heart sick twice.
Yes, I was stupid. Big time dumb. My fairy girl, Libellule, she born in 1952. Little, curly wispy hair. Big gray eyes. Born so easy, not like Jack, that son mine. Doctors worry she so small, but I jus' say she is like rest of family. Could be true! I don' know that family David's. They make me stay that hospital two weeks, all kind tests. Nothing. I worry they find out I shift, but non. She is jus' small. Slow to grow, but ver smart. Grand-mere Celia, she'd say old soul.
So, I write. Tell you I alive and have this new daughter. Can you talk that David? Let him know I am the stupid bitch? That I am ver sorry.
Marie and Libellue
Next to the envelope was a black and white photo of Marie and Libellue. Marie hadn't changed much except for her hair. The little girl in her arms looked to be about a year old and a small copy of Marie, except for her eyes. There was no mistaking the eyes that looked like David's.
Brian slumped into a chair, and put the letter and photo down on the table. While Jenny had always been his favorite, Marie was the one who wrapped herself around his heart. "Where that Marie live?"
Natalie picked up the envelope. "Say here, Vancouver Island. Town called Nanaimo. What you thinking?
"I'm thinking we call that David. Drive down that Vancouver Island and make sure those two aren't stupid. And you see that new granddaughter. We got money. I try get you take that vacation. Now, we have reason to go," said Brian.
Natalie nodded. "Not before we get this meat canned. I won' waste it."
Brian shook his head, but knew that Natalie was being practical. "You go get that Tilly or Jenny help you."
Natalie smiled, dropped her bloody apron and then ran off for her daughter and friend.
Two days later, Brian and Natalie were loading up Natalie's little sedan with their baggage. They'd called David and said they were coming for a visit, but didn't mention Marie or the baby. Jenny agreed that it would be better to tell him in person, especially if he was living with someone. Brian was against waiting at first, but was finally persuaded by the women.
"You tell that Marie hello for me," said Jenny. "I keep that clinic going good. Don' worry!"
"Is just first time I leave the valley! So strange!" said Natalie.
"You'll be fine, Auntie," said Tilly. Georgina next to her nodded in agreement. The two Englishwomen had become pillars of the family, in spite of the nasty reception Celia had given them nearly fifteen years ago. Their children were strong and happy, as were many of the war orphans that lived with them. In fact, the summer promised to be a busy one with many of the children just beginning to show signs of shifting for the first time. The women hugged and Natalie got into the car.
"I just nervous!" smiled Natalie. She waved as Brian started up the car. The mob of family, neighbors and children all waved as the car pulled away.
"I never tell you, reason I don' want to go on that vacation," started Natalie.
"I think I figure it out jus' now. Never though about you not leaving the valley. You always there. Jus like that Celia, and Grandma Davy. All us men, we go war, travel, do all sorts of things and never think of women not going," said Brian.
"Aye. That why Marie leaving hurt so bad too," she said.
Brian nodded. "Where that first stop?"
Natalie pulled out the map they'd bought at the new General Store and traced the pencil line Henri had drawn. "Sparwood. Then Cranbrook is the hotel stop." Henri figured it would take them three days to get to Everette, Washington, where 'Andre' now lived. They had all been practicing the name so there would be no awkward moments. Andre had a small medical practice that he started once he returned from Korea.
Brian left the back roads and pulled onto Crowsnest HWY/BC-3. As they drove, he pointed out various sights. Natalie felt like a giddy school girl.
After a restful night in Cranbrook, they drove to Creston and then down into Idaho. Natalie giggled again as they crossed the border. Not only was she leaving the valley for the first time, but Canada as well. There in the middle of the forest was this little hut with a lone guard taking names and giving out maps of the United States. Brian and Natalie thanked the man for the map and headed to Spokane for the night.
"You know, this Idaho, is not that much different than home," said Natalie.
"Non, much the world is alike. Trees, rocks, mountains and wolves," Brian said with a smile. They'd seen a variety of animal life crossing the highway. Twice they'd seen wolves, not knowing if they were family, distant cousins or simply wolves. Only recently had cars and trucks invaded the valley in numbers large enough to cause issues for the shifters. Luckily there had only been one death.
As they approached Spokane, the trees thinned as the farm lands encroached. It grew warmer too. Brian had taken off his jacket at the last gas station. Natalie had put her hair up into a bun to cool off. Spokane was a good sized city, and once again, Natalie felt like a small child, looking at all the wonders. After they'd checked into their hotel, Brian had driven around the city so that Natalie could grasp the changes. Then they ate at a small diner and headed for bed. Tomorrow they would be in Everette. They followed I-90 across the state. When they turned onto HWY-2, Natalie pulled out the map that Andre had sent them. His house was on Grand Avenue.
"Look! There's the turn!" said Natalie as soon as she could spot the street sign. Brian turned and they began to count the house numbers. "There it is!"
Brian pulled up in front of the turn of the century Victorian house with a lush garden. Natalie got out of the sedan and walked up to the house followed by Brian. She barely knocked on the door before Andre opened it up and greeted them.
"I've been waiting all day for you!" he said as he hugged first Natalie and then Brian.
"Oh Andre, it's so good to see you," said Natalie.
"Come in. We'll get your bags in a few minutes, but come in and sit down for a few minutes," said Andre. They walked into the living room and sat down on a small sofa. Andre sat next to Natalie.
"Do you live alone?" asked Brian looking around at the neat and tidy house.
"Yes. I have a maid that comes in once a week, but I..." Andre started.
"You still love her?" Natalie said softly as she took Andre's hands in hers.
"Love her enough to forgive her?" Natalie asked.
"Aye. I just want to see her and know that she's okay. Her disappearance hurt me unlike any other relationship," Andre said.
Natalie looked at Brian. Brian nodded. She turned back to Andre. "Enough to forgive her for not telling you about your daughter?"
Andre came to a moment or so later to hearing Brian laugh and Natalie checking his pulse. Brian was smiling an impish smile. "I can't believe I did that."
"Lots of men faint when they discover that they are fathers," said Natalie with a smile.
"Usually at their births, not when the child is at least two years old," said Andre. "Besides, I've seen the insides of more people than you can count and I only passed out once."
"Aye. You think all that blood and guts make you stronger? Ha! You wan see picture that Libellue?" asked Brian as he pulled at piece of paper out of his pocket. It was Marie's letter and the photo.
"Yes, She named her Dragonfly?" said Andre.
Brian nodded and held out the paper. Andre took the paper from Brian. He looked at the picture first and then read the letter. He looked at the picture again. "Where is she?"
"That Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Henri said it a day's drive from here. You wan go tomorrow?" asked Brian.
"Would... would she even want to see me?" asked Andre still off balance from the news.
"You read that letter. You tell me. Tomorrow is Wednesday. You got work? Can you get away?" asked Brian.
Andre thought for a moment. He walked over to a desk and took a look at his calendar. "I've got to make a few phone calls. Just a moment, as the phone is in the kitchen." He walked down the hall.
Brian looked at Natalie. "That Andre, he is some happy."
"Aye. Now we see how that Marie act. We don have no phone number to call her. How we sure she home?" asked Natalie.