Stories in the Sand: Whatever Happened to Lawrence?

taken from wikipedia

“What are you doing hiding in here, Liza? Eddie was asking where you were.” Edie closed the door to the small bedroom and went to sit beside Eliza, who was crouched on the setee, her head in her hands.

“Did anyone see you?” Eliza raised her head quickly and looked at the door in alarm. “Did John Robert see you?”

“Is that what you’re worried about? He’s been coming for weeks now, and he’s always got a drink in his hand. I’ve even seen him chatting up some of the girls.”

“Yes, he has a drink in his hand, but do you actually see him drink it? And which girls? Not you or Lucille or Caroline. He’s watching for me. He wants to catch me in sin and drag me out of the bar for all to see.”

“That’s just crazy. I know he’s a bully, but you’re his sister in law! Why his family practically took care of you from the moment your parents died.”

“That was his idea too. He had me all picked out for his brother – the naïve little preacher’s daughter.”

“Oh come on, honey, he’s all bluster. All bark and no bite.”

Eliza stood up and glared down at Edith. “He just know where to bite so no one can see the marks. He’s more than a bully, Edie. He’s a dangerous man, a dangerous man with a cause. And because he’s powerful he can get away with it. No one questions him.”

“Good grief, Liza, you make him sound like a monster.” Edie tried to laugh.

“More like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Remember Lawrence?”

Edie was silent then. Lawrence Sumpter had been the mayor of the town. At first, it had seemed like he and John Robert were friends. But eventually they disagreed, and Lawrence wasn’t one to back down and fall in line like the rest of the town did, despite the McCollum money. Then suddenly he wasn’t elected mayor again, and almost as suddenly he disappeared. Eliza’s mother-in-law had said h ran with his tail between his legs, but Eliza didn’t think so. His children lived just outside, and his wife was buried at the Methodist cemetery. He wouldn’t have just left Decatur with no word.

“You think John Robert’s gonna run you out of town for drinking at a speakeasy? The same one he’s been drinking at?” Edie laughed. “You’re crazy!”

Eliza sat beside Edie, took her hands, and looked at her seriously. “Edie, I don’t think John Robert ran Lawrence out of town. And I don’t think that’s what he’d do that to me either.”

At first Edie tilted her head, confused. Then, as Eliza continued to look at her, realization dawned. “On my God, Liza, you don’t think…..now I know you’re crazy. You actually think your own brother would kill you?”

“Only after he completely destroyed me. No, he wouldn’t kill me; he’d get his little puppet, Cranston to do it, or Memphis Joe. And no one would ever know.” Eliza let go of Edie’s hand and turned away, slumping in defeat. “And all in the name of righteousness.”

Stories in the Sand: Grains of character information

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Stories in the Sand…..grains of character development

Here’s a glimpse at a few of the characters found in Stories in the Sand

Maggie Callahan: Maggie is a prostitute employed at Miss Kate’s brothel in 1890. She discovers in the late fall that she is pregnant, and she wants to start a new life before she becomes a mother.

Joseph: A kind older man, married to Elizabeth. He meets Maggie on a train ride.

Jesse: Maggie’s son, who grows up to be an itinerate preacher. At the age of 34, he returns to Decatur, where he was conceived, in order to share the Good News.

Eliza: An unhappily married woman caught up in the world of speakeasies and adultery.

Richard: Eliza’s husband, married under protest after being pressured by his older brother to do so.

John Robert: Richard’s older brother, whose political aspirations, social standing, and quest for power direct most of his choices

Eddie: Eliza’s lover and owner of a local speakeasy

Geraldine: local church pillar, head of the temperance society, and Eliza’s mother-in-law

Cranston: a small, weasel of a man who is John Robert’s sycophant. Usually accompanied by Memphis Joe, who is quieter, larger, and much more dangerous

There are, of course, other characters who come and go and affect the lives of the central characters – Maggie, Jesse, and Eliza. However, the above players make choices that have a lasting impact on each other’s’ lives and the town as a whole.

Stories in the Sand: Opening

Chapter 1 – 1890

The sun was too bright. That was Maggie’s first thought when she woke on Thursday morning…or was it Thursday afternoon? The evening before had been long, as most of them had seemed lately, and Maggie had taken to sleeping later and later. With a groan, she sat up, and then clutched the sides of her head while the world spun for a few seconds. Her stomach churned, but she reached for the wafers at the side of her bed before the nausea became overwhelming. After a few bites the walls and floor righted themselves, and Maggie slipped out of bed.

It was probably late morning, she decided, when she looked out the window. The sun wasn’t straight above yet, but it was bright, and the window was warm when she placed her hand on the pane. People walked along the path between the house and the river, and white cranes landed on the water. It was late fall, and the white cranes always came in and took a rest on the Tennessee River. They didn’t stay, though. Maggie smiled a bit and envied them, as she always did. Maggie Lynn, the woman with wings. A knock interrupted Maggie’s thoughts, and she tied the sash of her robe tightly before answering it.

“Mornin’ Miss Maggie,” the robust woman on the other side of the door, Ella, was holding a tray with fried apples, eggs, homemade biscuits, and coffee. Normally the smell was wonderful, but on this morning Maggie took a deep breath, and then she knew she would be sick. She motioned for Ella to come in quickly and barely made it to the wash basin in time. She finished and then propped her hands on the table and rested her forehead against the cool glass of the mirror. Ella came up behind her, poured a bit of cool water onto a cloth, and pulled Maggie’s head away from the wall.

“You come sit down now Miss Maggie,” Ella said softly. Maggie followed her to the bed and sat on the edge. Ella washed Maggie’s face and hands and then shook her head. ‘You been feeling poorly for a while now. You need to eat though.”

Maggie smiled as Ella stood and retrieved the tray. Ella had been at the house since long before Maggie arrived, and she was more like a mother than a housekeeper. As usual, once Maggie’s stomach had been emptied, she was famished. She picked up a biscuit and took a bite. Ella poured her some coffee, and Maggie took a sip of that as well, allowing the warmth to travel down her throat and into her belly. Ella watched her closely for a minute of two before patting her hand and standing up. “I think you gon’ be alright now. You just rest on this Thursday. Remember there ain’t no workin’ tonight. Mr. McGee gon’ be home.”

“Thank you Ella, I feel much better now,” Maggie smiled and took a spoonful of fried apples.

Ella went to the door and studied it for a long moment before turning to look at Maggie. “You know, Miss Maggie, Miss Kate is always distracted on Thursdays. She probably wouldn’t even notice if you didn’t come back from your walkin’ today.” She smiled sadly. “You gots more than just you to think of now.”

Maggie dropped the spoon with a clatter onto the tray and stood so quickly that her head spun again. “Ella, please – “

“On Miss Maggie, I gots enough of my own to know. And I won’t be tellin’ nobody. But I’ll tell you plain. That last one ‘bout broke your heart. You don’t belong here, Miss Maggie. Never did. Your daddy…” her voice died as she saw the pain in Maggie’s eyes. “You got better things in you. You go somewhere Miss Maggie. You go anywhere away from here and start a life. I know you can. I seen that bag of coins and dollars you been saving under your mattress when I change the beds.”

Maggie sat again and looked at her hands. “It’s not that easy. I don’t have any place to go. And I don’t have any way to get there.”

Ella took a few steps until she was right in front of Maggie, hands on her broad hips. “Now that just ain’t true, Miss. There’s a train just down the street runs anywhere you want to go. And that bag is pretty full. In fact,” Ella said, smiling with a bit of mischief, “you might just find some extra coins in there.”

Maggie tilted her head and looked at Ella closely. “What did you do, Ella?”

“Oh, old Mrs. Ella don’t steal, Miss Maggie. But I don’t need much most of the time, what with my kids grown. I just been putting lotsa my money in an old mason jar for rainy days. I figure after watchin’ you these last weeks you might have some rainy days need tending to.”

Maggie felt her throat tighten, and tears blurred Ella’s bronze face. Before she knew it, her shoulders were shuddering, and she was sobbing. Ella sat down and gathered her close, rocking her. “Miss Maggie, you just use that rainy day gift. You promise me you’ll use it and take your new life. Do it today. For your daddy and mama and that baby.”

After taking a few shaky deep breaths, Maggie was able to quell her tears, and she pulled back from Ella, smiling weakly. “Thank you Ella. Thank you more than I can say.”

Ella waved off the gratitude and pulled herself back up into the role of no-nonsense housekeeper. “You thank me by bringing that son to see me when he’s nice and tall.”

“How do you know it will be a son?” Maggie laughed.

Ella winked. “Your Daddy wasn’t the only one who knew how to talk to Jesus, Miss Maggie.” She left then, and Maggie could hear her humming an old hymn as she walked down the hallway,