She was the second person to ask about the light. As he hurried to catch up with her, calling “wait! Tell me what you know about the light,” she politely but firmly reminded him that it was time for her afternoon nap.
She and Hiram had both been so cavalier when asking about the light. Had they seen it or had they just heard about it? Jones decided that it was time to pay Hiram another visit.
He walked the extra thirty-nine steps to Hirams’ house and knocked. After three tries, Jones sighed. He wasn’t sure if Hiram was gone or couldn’t hear him or just didn’t feel like company.
After walking up the driveway of the grand lady, he took his daily stroll under the weeping trees. More than once he had asked aloud, “why do you weep?” Of course, trees don’t talk…at least they didn’t talk to Jones.
Just as he got to the side door, something caught his eye. He bent down and picked it up. He was delighted to see a tiny, green toy soldier but it was disfigured. Whether through the attack of an animal, a frustrated child or simply the ravages of time, both of his arms had been amputated. As he held the tiny soldier in his hand, he wondered how old it was and how long ago it had been discarded or lost in the yard. To him, it was another treasure.
He had a collection of treasures and he had purchased a two-tier table just for them. His treasures ranged from old cafe curtain rod holders with an “L” and an “R” imprinted on them, to an army folding shovel and pick, to numerous skeleton keys in all sizes. He had old cast iron hinges, elaborately decorated as well as hand-forged nails and a rusted iron rest. The little soldier would take his place on the two-tiered table, nestled between two milk glass doorknobs.
Jones loved old things. He loved the craftsmanship. It was, to him, as if old things had a story to tell. They had belonged to someone. Someone had once treasured them. But he also knew that old things most often, gave way to new things and became nothing more than memories.
Although he enjoyed modern amenities, he had memories of old outhouses, chamber pots and wood-burning stoves for cooking. He had memories of wavy windows that rattled when the wind blew like a large, angry bellow. He had memories of when you could get a good, peaceful nights’ sleep with your doors unlocked and your windows open.
He sometimes wondered if his love of the past, kept him in the past. He loved feeling nostalgic, although he knew that the word meant pain from a past wound. Wondering was all he did. He was unapologetic about his loves and remembrances and those would be put aside for a while. His love now was getting more information about the grand lady.
The next morning, Jones made the trek to Hirams’ house. He knocked loudly and heard the familiar “hold on just a darned minute!” Jones smiled as he thought “Hiram is what I would describe as the true definition of a curmudgeon.”
When Hiram told him to come in and “set a spell,” Jones got straight to the point. “Hiram,” he said. “Will you tell me everything you know about the grand lady? I spoke with Miss Tinsley and she told me that she believes one of the original owners still lives in town. Do you know if she’s right?”
Hiram didn’t feign deafness. He put his head down and said “I’m going to need a little of that..what they call, liquid courage.” He got up and brought back a bottle of Jack Daniels Whiskey and two glasses. Jones politely declined but Hiram was insistent. Jones reluctantly accepted and periodically touched his lips to the rim of the glass, as if he was drinking.
Hiram looked down and began to talk.
To be continued__________________________