Sweet Thyme Baby – 12

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

12

(Start at the Beginning of Sweet Thyme Baby)

(Click here to read Section 11 first)

 

Dee watched Victor leave. Lance stepped forward and put his arm around her. She didn’t want it there but a sort of paralysis had invaded her body.

 

Lance asked, “What did that guy want?”

 

“It doesn’t matter. He’s gone.”

 

“I wouldn’t count on it.” Lance gave her a handkerchief but she wasn’t crying. She never cried. “I don’t think you’ve seen the last of him.”

Perhaps not, but eventually he would give up. He would realize, finally, that the spell between had broken years ago. He would have to leave town then, wouldn’t he?

 

“It’s clear you need a friend, Dee. And it’s God’s grace brought me here when it did.”

 

Dee wondered, was Lance given this querulous alto voice at puberty or had he learned it somewhere? Was it meant to make her trust him?

 

“I’m here for you, Dee. That’s what the Cabrillo Community Church is about. Helping one another at times of crisis? Being present in peoples’ lives –.”

 

“I don’t think she cares about the CCC right now.” The stranger had a slight southern accent, and he was taller than Lance by several inches. “We can come back.”

 

“No, we can’t,” Lance said. “I’ve got a meeting in an hour and it’ll go on all afternoon. So if you want to see the garden –.”

 

“The garden?”

 

Lance squeezed her shoulder as if to reward her for finally paying attention. He indicated the tall, lanky man beside him. “This is Sharon’s brother, Sam Green.”

 

“From Texas,” Dee guessed and shrugged Lance’s hot hand from her shoulder.

 

“Austin. Glad to meet you, Ma’am.”

 

She said, “I need a cup of coffee. Why don’t you both come into the kitchen?”

 

She glimpsed Victor watching them from the other side of the chain link fence separating the house and the nursery parking lot. She turned her back and walked across the driveway and up the stairs. Sam stepped ahead and opened the door into the house.

 

Maggie called from the kitchen, “Is that man gone?” She stood in the kitchen, hands on wide hips as always, and looked up at Sam. “Well, I’m glad that nursery gate swings both ways.” She nodded to Lance. “Pastor.”

 

Dee said, “This is Sam Green, Sharon’s brother.”

 

“Another Holy Roller?”

 

Sam laughed.

 

Lance said primly, “He’s an entomologist at the University of Texas.”

 

Maggie did not look impressed. “Well, you all might as well come in and eat a cinnamon roll. They just got made. I don’t suppose you’ve eaten today have you, Dee? Good God, you’re white in the face. What’s the matter? What’s happened?”

 

Sam said, “I could arrange to come back –.”

 

“No.” Dee wanted to be distracted. For as long as possible she didn’t want to think about Victor. She managed a smile. In the movies she made for Victor, she learned to smile through anything. And on command she could moan and sighed and cry out for more and more, deeper, harder…

 

Dizzy, she balanced against the kitchen table.

 

“See what happens when you don’t eat?”

 

They sat at the table and while Maggie made coffee and set out the buns, Dee found out that Sam and Sharon had the same parents, but when they divorced, Sam had gone to Texas with his mother while Sharon stayed with their father in Porterville. Sam was in Southern California for some job interviews. He’d written his thesis on the subject of white fly.

 

Maggie, “Seems like a peculiar thing for a grown man to do. Study those little monsters.”

 

“Monsters is right.” Sam said. “They cause millions of dollars’ worth of damage to crops every year. Even with the wasp species we’ve introduced –.”

 

Lance said, “The government never should have banned DDT.”

 

Dee looked at him.

 

Sam said. “A garden’s like anywhere – there’s always going to be bad guys around. And some of them are going to look just as innocuous as my little old white flies. Chemicals aren’t the answer.”
“We don’t have them here,” Dee said. “It’s the offshore breeze, I guess. They can’t settle.”

 

“I find that hard to believe.”

 

“I brought him to see the garden, Dee. You don’t mind?”

 

A walk would detour her thoughts around Victor and movies and all the other memories resurrected that morning.

 

Lance said, “I told him about the Cloud Forest and he doubts –.”

 

“Won’t catch me going back there,” Maggie said. “Cloud Forest makes your brain go spongy.”

 

“Maggie –.”

 

“Well, it does. There’s something off about that part of the garden.”

 

“It’s just damp,” Lance said. “I was over there just yesterday and found it very stimulating. The fog and all.”

 

Sam said to Lance, “You coming with us then?”

 

“I told you, I have an appointment.” He looked at Dee. “With Joel Jackson.”

 

He seemed to be waiting for her to say something.

 

“He’s on television. On the Christian channel.”

 

“I don’t watch much TV.”

 

“We’re old friends.”

 

Dee glanced at the kitchen clock and saw that it was after ten already. George was in the shop but she would have to relieve him soon so he could go after the seedlings.

 

“We went to school together.”

 

“I could walk alone, if you’re busy,” Sam said.

 

“No. I have a little time. And it gets confusing in the garden sometimes. I’ll go with you.”

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

 

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