Sweet Thyme Baby – 28

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

28

(Start at the Beginning of Sweet Thyme Baby)

(Click here to read Section 27 first)

 

The screen door slammed behind Lance as he followed her onto the terrace. He spread his arms wide. “It’s beautiful in the garden this time of year. The bounty of creation all around us.”

 

God save me from Christian conviviality. If he tells me God is good, I will definitely hurl.

 

“I heard what you and Maggie were saying about taxes, Dee. I think I may have good news for you.”

 

Maybe the CCC wanted to loan her the money to pay the taxes, maybe the membership had met and decided to preserve the garden as a neighborhood resource. Dee didn’t know much about churches, but she thought they occasionally did such things.

 

“I miss the Ryans,” she said. “I just want things to go back to normal again.”

 

“From what I heard – and I apologize again, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but the front door bell didn’t work –-.”

 

“George keeps meaning to fix it.”

 

“Well, I guess doorbells are the least of your problems. How much do you owe, Dee? About seventy-five thousand?”

 

“About that.”

 

They walked on. Lance admired the size of the tomato vines and asked about the line of marigolds planted between their rows.

 

She told him, “They keep away the insects. They don’t like the smell of them, I guess. The bad ones don’t.”

 

“I didn’t know you had bad insects in the garden.”

 

“We do, of course. But they’re manageable.”

 

“How can you tell the difference, between a good pest and a bad one? Do the bad ones look the part?”

 

One minute taxes, the next entomology. She remembered Sam Green and wished she were walking with him and not Lance.

 

“The worms that eat young leaves are the loveliest shade of green, like celery. You wouldn’t believe the damage they do. And snails, when they hide inside their shells, they look like beautiful stones, every one of them different.”

 

Maybe the shells were like fingerprints. If she were walking with Sam Green she would ask him that question and he would probably know the answer.

 

“You have a soft heart, Dee.”

 

And?

 

“A gentle woman is a pleasure to the Almighty.”

 

She had to laugh.

 

They walked beyond the kitchen garden, and into the orchard and between the rows of peach and nectarine trees turning from green to pink and cerise. On fallen fruit gangs of yellow jackets filled the air with their kamikaze snarl. Lance and Dee sat on an iron bench with their backs against the orchard wall which had been drenched in sunlight and radiated heat like an electric pad.

 

“Dee, I would hate to see you lose the garden.”

 

His voice was soothing and she wanted to believe he was on her side.

 

“I wonder what options you’ve considered.”

 

She did not decide to trust him. She decided she did not have the energy left to spar with him. “I can’t borrow. I haven’t got a stitch of credit. And even if I did, the nursery barely makes enough to keep things going. There’s no way the income could stretch to handle loan payments.”

 

“What about friends? Do you know someone who might be willing to make you a personal loan?”

 

Dee looked at him. “Are you, is the CCC, offering to do that, Lance? Loan me money?”

 

His expression was momentarily puzzled, and then suddenly – in quick succession – surprised and amused. He looked at the ground and then up at her and shook his head in solemn sadness. And smiled. It was a smile Dee had seen before on the faces of young actors to whom charm came easily. Years ago, she had learned the lesson those smiles taught; those handsome boys were always after something for themselves.

 

“Why are we having this talk, Lance?”

 

“Now, Dee, don’t get huffy.”

 

“Answer my question.”

 

“To tell you the truth, Dee, I have an idea that’s going to strike you as a whole lot better than a loan.”

 

Dee heard the words, but she was thinking of something else. Earlier, Lance had said something, had known something he shouldn’t… But the memory was like the flashes of movement she sometimes glimpsed in the garden. Whatever it was always vanished when she turned her head to look at it directly. There was nothing there to begin with, of course. It was just the garden playing tricks. But this thing Lance had said, it was real and she needed to remember it.

 

“You haven’t even asked me what I have in mind.”

 

She came back to the conversation.

 

He said, “I think it’s about ten or twelve acres, a nice little parcel on the bluffs. A beautiful spot.”

 

“You want to buy the garden?”

 

“Weren’t you listening?”

 

“Tell me again.”

 

His words linked into sentences and then whole paragraphs about the role of the church in modern society, about spiritualizing the public discourse, the mission of the Cabrillo Community Church, the chance to make a difference in San Diego. Excitement sparked off Lance Whitby.

 

“We live in a time of spiritual foment, Dee, and a conference center where spiritual leaders, theologians and politicians – thinkers, Dee, all the great modern thinkers – can come together and talk, formulate policy –.” He took hold of her hand. “Now, I know Con thought there was something…special about the garden. Well, I want you to know right now I agree with him. There is something special about this place.”

 

“But you want to buy it.”

 

“Just a part of it. Just the Sea Meadows. And for a great purpose. The kind of thing Con and Carlotta – God rest their souls – would have approved of.” He added, “Given the tax situation.”

 

This might work, she thought and felt a great relief, a real possibility.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

 

Click here to read Part 29 of Sweet Thyme Baby

Filed under Books, Sweet Thyme Baby | Tags: , , , , , ,


Leave a Reply