The story so far… “Old Wives’ Tale“
“Every day I feel like I’m dying inside just a little,” Amelia said.
She and Lester sat at a decorous distance from each other on the Carson’s front porch. James and Olivia Carson, Amelia’s employers and surrogate parents, sat at the opposite side of the porch acting as chaperones for the young couple.
Over the past few weeks, Amelia and Lester grew closer. She came to trust him, and told him about her life with her abusive husband, Charles, and the heinous thing he did to their infant daughters.
Lester’s hands laid out flat on his knees. He clutched as the fabric of his trouser, a secret sign between him and Amelia that he wanted to hold her hand.
“You could divorce him,” Lester said. “Certainly any judge would rule cruel and inhuman treatment towards you.”
Amelia looked around, fearful that their conversation could be overheard.
“I can’t prove anything,” she whispered. “He could claim I killed Emmy and Jessie. He’s the husband, who would believe me over him?”
“I would,” Lester said, leaning forward to lightly touch Amelia’s arm.
“He would never let me leave him,” Amelia said, a quiver in her voice betraying her helplessness.
“Then we will find another way. ” Lester stood, then walked over to speak with James.
Olivia joined Amelia, while the men talked.
“You think you can square this with your old man?” James knew Russell Branch. He was a hard man, and even harsher father.
“I’ve told him about Amelia, and he offered to kill the bastard himself,” Lester said.
“If I thought there was any other way, I’d never agree to be part of this,” James said.
“I’d never ask,” Lester turned to look at Amelia. “Her life will be torture if she can’t escape him forever.”
“I’ll let the foreman know he can let Charles go,” James said, nervously pulling on the straps of his overalls. “He wanted to fire him anyways. Then I’ll tell Charles that your pa has agreed to take him on as a farm hand. I’ll pad his severance. I know the man loves his liquor more than his wife. The extra money will mean more sour mash for him.”
A spate of rain storms had put off final construction of the Carsons’ new home for two weeks, and the crew’s close quarters brought tempers to a breaking point. The job foreman came to James ready to quit, and threatening to take most of the men with him if they didn’t do something about Charles.
“This will never come back to you, James.” Lester put his hand on the older man’s shoulder. “Your conscious will be clear. It will be my burden to carry.”
“God help me, Lester,” James said, “I’ve pondered on how to do the same deed many a night. Some men are just pure evil, and Charles Parker is the devil.”
“If all goes how I think it will, he’ll do it to himself,” Lester promised.
“We can help those poor baby girls too,” James said. “For Amelia to have a free life, she has to find a safe resting place for them. I’ll talk with ‘Livie, but I’m sure she’ll say, ‘yes’.”
“Knowing how Amelia feels about the two of you,” Lester said, “I believe she’ll agree with your proposal.”
The two men shook hands, and Lester left the Carson’s porch, blowing a kiss to Amelia.
James joined Amelia and his wife, to tell them Lester’s plan. Amelia gasped and began to cry. Olivia put her arms around the young woman in an effort to calm her. Sitting across from the two women, James spoke in hushed tones, explaining what could happen and what it would mean for Amelia.
When he told her where he wanted to lay her daughters to rest, Amelia quickly sobered. Looking to Olivia, who smiled and nodded her agreement, Amelia smiled in return.
“I could be rid of him for good?” Amelia hesitated. “And Lester or I won’t be blamed for it? You and Olivia won’t be?”
James shook his head.
“No, it will look like an accident,” he said. “With his habit of hard drinking, the blame will fall on him.”
“We won’t know for sure,” James said. “Lester said he’d tell us when it’s over.”
Amelia nodded, unsure whether to feel relieved or guilty.