Family portrait

vintage photos

The story so far… Old Wives’ Tale

Casper stayed outside with me while Marshall and Doc Simon inspected the abandoned bones.

“Thank you, Casper,” I said. “Neither of us would have ever said anything without your interference.

“You two belong together, and it’s been too long,” Casper punched me lightly on the arm. “Don’t screw this up.”

On the drive to my mother’s, I tried to think of how to ask about the locket. I hoped she could clear up some questions for me.

Her house hadn’t changed since my high school days. The chintz upholstery on her ornate settee was a rose floral that matched the fuscia of her two velveteen Queen Anne chairs. Mahogany accent tables and cream satin panel lamps filled out her ultra-feminine living room decor.

Together with the dark, wood-panel walls, the room always reminded me of old west parlors from my pre-teen television watching days. I expected Matt Dillon to walk through the kitchen swinging doors any second.

I sat down on the couch, kicking off my shoes. My mother brought me a glass of sweet, iced tea, then sat across from me in her favorite wing-back chair.

“How’s work on the house going?”

“We had a bit of excitement today.” I took out the locket, opened it and handed it to her. “Do these people look familiar?”

“Where did you get this?” She placed the readers she wore on a beaded chain around her neck on the tip of her nose to get a better look.

“Casper found it inside one of the bedrooms when taking down some old drywall.” I didn’t mention who was wearing the locket at the time.

“That’s Charles and Amelia Parker,” she said, then handed back the necklace.

When I didn’t say anything, she made her exasperated face and huffed. “I’ve told you stories about Amelia.”

I did remember the name from her childhood reminiscences, since she told them so often, but I needed to know more about this young woman, especially if my mother knew anything about her special children.

“She and her husband Charles were migrants, they came through here when your granddaddy was raising the house,” she talked in a sing-song voice, the way she does when she believes I should know the people she’s talking about. “Charles helped raise the house, and Amelia helped Mother with the cooking for all the workers? After the house was done, Charles got work over at Russell Branch’s place? Amelia stayed on to help Mother with all us kids?”

“That’s right, you used to call her, ‘Amy,’ sometimes.” I lied effortlessly, feigning a hazy recollection. “Her husband died in a farming accident, and Grams let Amelia stay with you all for a while.”

“Yes.” Mom clapped, applauding my refreshed memory. “She took up with Russell’s youngest boy, Lester, a few years later.”

I nodded, but had hoped for more information.

“Oh!” My mother squealed, then jumped up to leave the room. She came back a moment later with our family photo album.

Sitting beside me on the couch, she began leafing through the pages. Finally stopping on a faded black and white picture of the same couple eternalized in the locket.

“Here’s a picture of Amelia and her first husband Charles.” She leafed through a couple of more pages, pointing out various photos. “And, this one is of her and Lester on their wedding day, and this one is of them several years later. That’s their two kids. I forget their names.”

“Did Charles and Amelia have any children?”

“No, it was just the two of them when they arrived that spring.”

“Do you know what ever happened to Amelia and Lester?”

“Sure. Lester got a job with the railroad and they move to Toledo.” Mother closed the album. “Amelia wrote to us for a while, sent that picture of all of them. But, after a few years, the letters stopped. Why do you ask?”

“I was just thinking, maybe one of her kids or other family, might want this locket back.”

“Russell’s grandson, Roger, still lives on the family farm. He might know something.”

“Thanks, I’ll follow up with him later.”

“It’s nice that you’re thinking about passing the locket along.” Mother laid the album on the coffee table. “Family is so important.”

I knew where she was going, and didn’t want to hear it.

“You’ve been home almost three weeks, and you still haven’t gone to see him.”

“He hasn’t come by here either.”

“He’s been busy at his new car dealership,” she said. “It wouldn’t kill you to make the first move.”

Before I could answer, my phone hummed. It was Marshall, texting that he was done, and asking me to meet him at the local diner.

“Can I borrow this?” I asked, picking up the photo album.

“Certainly.” Mom called after me. “Where are you going?”

“To do something dangerous,” I called back.

This week’s Studio30 Plus: “Pernicious” and/or “Dangerous

7 thoughts on “Family portrait

  1. This story is already a page turner. I actually don’t read for a few days so I have more to come back to.

    Nice job adding to the mystery and keep us coming back for more.


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