I left the library unaware that someone was following me or that I was slowly running out of gas. I barely made it into cousin Jake's gas station. I gassed up and was on my way back to the house. As soon as I pulled in, I saw him, through my rear view mirror. "Hello young lady, sorry did I startle you"? This time I had an entirely new opinion of this so called Rev.. "Oh my dear I saw you coming out of the library so I decided to come by and say hello. So you and your family are still staying in your grandmother's house? he asked" I walked toward the house trying to dismiss this guy or else I feared I might have blown up at him. "Oh I think I am bothering you Missy, I'll be on my way" he pouted. "Just what is it you want Mr. McDonald or who ever you really are" I stared as I spoke. "Why, what did I do to offend you dear?" he asked. "Listen, don't call me dear and don't come around here anymore" I shouted. He started to leave. "But wait you tell me how was it you knew my grandmother, just what was your relationship really?" Rev. McDonald's face reddened and I swear I saw him clinch his hands. He calmed himself, taking a step toward me and for some reason I flew in the porch locking the door behind me. Something told me this wasn't the man who had written those gentle love letters to my grandmother, or maybe if Rev. McDonald had- this was not Rev. McDonald.
It seemed I was the only one home. I made myself a cup of tea and decided I would tell someone about the letters. The tea was relaxing me. I had learned to tolerate tea since our stay. It was all anyone else liked to drink. Charlotte had brought with her an extensive collection of rare herbal concoctions, which actually were beginning to grow on me, especially the raspberry and onion blend. Charlotte was such a nut, such an outrageous yet lovable mix of drama and spiritual emotion, even though Ellen was the pastor it was Charlotte who delivered much of the unwanted religious advice.
I finished my tea as Ellen returned from the market. She had a bounty of turnips, cabbages, rutabagas, potatoes, carrots, kale, and pounds of beef and even some venison. "They have some beautiful vegetables, don't you think" Ellen smiled. "Yeah yeah, I'm glad it's just you and me. Ellen I've got to tell you something you won't believe it but Grandmother had a lover" I blurted out. "You been into Charlotte's herbal blends I see" joked Ellen. "No, no listen to me." I pulled her along and stopped at the closet bottom. We sprawled on the floor as Ellen opened and read and dropping her jaw could only exclaim "hmmmmmm mmmmm oh...Carol you've got to get rid of these immediately, you know that right" she stressed. "Are you crazy Ellen, listen there's more. You know that crazy Rev. McDonald that's been coming around, well I think he's the author of these letter, but only he's not really Rev. McDonald or well I don't have it all figured out yet. Ellen patted my head in an amused way,"listen that's somebody, put those away now!"
At dinner Ellen avoided my eyes, but I had already made up my mind to bring it up then. "Hey everybody." It was the weekend so all were there. "I've got something I need to tell everyone" I started. "Have some more rutabagas Mom" Ellen tried to distract. "Do the name Ruby Begonia mean anything to ya" William joked. "What are you talking about it's rutabagas" scolded Joanie. "But rutabagas always remind me of that Flip Wilson line" laughed William. Ellen laughed uncharacteristically, only to delay or prevent my telling what she knew I was about to tell.
"Grandmother had love letters" I stated. "Oh really dear, that's sweet" sang out Mother. "No no not from Granddaddy " I argued. "An old boyfriend probably" said somebody. "No not an old boyfriend, a man-while she was married, I think" I was starting to think this was a bad idea. "Just what are you saying Carol?" asked Daddy. "You know I came home today to find Carol gulping down that darn tea mixture of yours, Charlotte, I don't know what you've got in that stuff" Ellen was trying. "My teas are wonderful, let her talk Ellen" Charlotte was interested. I finished my story and not much was said. Mother said I shouldn't have let Daddy know. I did feel a little sorry for that. but we had to deal with the truth and that was my intent.
The sun was blazing in my window as I turned to check the clock, wow it was late 10am. I guess I had a restless right after my abrupt disclosure of Grandmother's indiscretion. Oh well big deal. It was so long ago. Everyone just needed to get over it and help me solve this mystery of Rev. McDonald.
The house was unusually noisy for a Sunday morning. Guess everyone had skipped out on church. My parents were the only ones who had gone to the little church down the road, Liberty Baptist Church. Grandmother had gone there and her mother before. Her daddy had never darkened the door, but great-grandmother was a charter member. My daddy was treated like royalty whenever he attended. He was the country boy who had made it good in the big city. Mama and Daddy certainly weren't wealthy, but always had enough. Grandmother had definitely embellished Daddy's salary to anyone who cared to listen. I always felt sorry for my uncle Alvin, my daddy's younger brother. He had stayed down the way, just a few lots from Grandmother's house. He had done probably equal to Daddy in monetary ways, maybe better, but he was never bragged about. It never appeared to bother him. It would have me.
Charlotte had made a load of pancakes and was serving me up some. "Carol you and I've got to get this thing figured out. Where's those letters?" A part of me didn't want to share this scandal too much, especially with Charlotte. I knew she would take over and I'd be robbed of the satisfaction of figuring it out. "Carol did you hear me." I'll get them, just let me finish my pancakes would ya." I used the time to decide just how much of the letters I would share with her. Suddenly I wished I hadn't told anyone at all.
Later as Charlotte and I went through the letters- i held out a few-, Charlotte agreed that this Rev. McDonald guy needed much more attention. "Have you looked up in the directory, Carol?" "Yes and he said he hadn't lived here for some time anyway. I've even gone to the library." "Well, what did you find out" Charlotte was really getting into this, just like I knew she would. "Not much. I was looking for papers with more information about the bank robbery. I was also hoping to find out more about the woman that was shot the one named McDonald." "Well, well did you find anything out?" "No no and the clerk, that old guy, remember he's somebody in our family related somehow. He acted so weird, said maybe I didn't need to stir things up or something like that. He actually gave me the creeps, and by the way, that same day that Rev. McDonald followed me home from the library." "He did! What did he say?" "Not much. He's always so southern and polite, but I think I touched a nerve with him, when I lost patience with his small talk. I blew sorta up at him. I swear he was seething inside, kinda scared me so I ran in the house like a fool." "Okay, okay Carol I'm on it for sure now, I don't care what old Ellen says!"
"Hey, what are you two cackling about? Can I play?" joked William. We clued him in on everything and the three of us were on a mission.