The Carriage Driver³ - Fussy Eleanor
Griffin looked at the name in the book. It was the first time ever that a name was accompanied by two pages of instructions. Most of the notations were things that he always attended to anyway. ‘Sparkling clean Carriage,’ ‘Well Groomed Attendant,’ ‘A Team of Four Gleamering Black Horses’ – Well that was not going to happen. He continued reading, ‘Castle in the Sky,’ ‘Hand Stitched Gown.’ He closed the book. His fare was a modern day Cinderella. Instead of pumpkins and mice and singing birds, she had the devoted attention of her daughter.
Griffin smiled to himself. He walked up to Nuelle. “A fare has asked for her carriage to be drawn by four black horses. This may be the first time in our history, that a fare will be disappointed to see our arrival. We will both have to stay calm.”
After finishing with the carriage, Griffin put a check mark by ‘sparkling carriage.’ He drew the harness over Nuelle head, and guided her to be hitched. “Come on girl, we will pretend to be a well groom attendant and a carriage drawn by four horses.”
He reached the curb in front of the hospice house just as the daughter was leaving the house after a visit. Griffin stepped down, walked toward the daughter and placed his hand on her shoulder as she fiddled with the lock on her car door. Tears filled her eyes. Griffin continued to the front door and walked in unnoticed by the row of patients watching seated in front of a big screen TV.
A young Eleanor stood by the side of the bed. She took a comb from a little metal Victorian slipper shaped cup intended for pencils and combed the hair on the head of the eighty-nine year old that lay still in the bed.
Griffin walked to the closet and retrieved a hand stitched gown and brought it to Eleanor. “We are in no hurry at all.”
It wasn’t until Griffin handed her the gown that she realized she was standing there without clothing. She admired her new twenty-four year old body. Then stepped into the gown. The gown fit perfectly. Like in her dreams. “It is not customary for a man to enter a lady’s boudoir without an invitation.”
“You will find that many of the things that are customary in this realm, are unnecessary in the next realm.”
Eleanor smiled and thought, We’ll see about that. After years of pain in her knees, ankles and wrist, she felt wonderful. “Dance with me?”
Griffin stood there – unsure.
Eleanor turned to the nightstand where there was a CD player, brought by her daughter, which had helped pass the final days with music. She turned down the volume knob and flipped a button. An old Big Band song began and she walked over to Griffin and took his hands. The wood laminate floor was a perfect dance floor. The two glided in circles for the few moments the music played. “Thank you," she glanced at the body in the bed. She went and put her hand on the bruised hand of her former self. “You did good.” She turned to Griffin, “Get me out of here.”
The two walked through the gauntlet, passed the patients awaiting their turns and out the front door. When Eleanor saw Nuelle, she gasped. “She is the most beautiful creature I have ever seen.”
Griffin walked to the step of the carriage and held out his hand. Eleanor paused and eyed the carriage. When satisfied with the look and smell she took Griffin’s hand and stepped inside.
“I was married for fifty years to Bruce, my first husband. He fought and struggled and lost his battle just a short time after we celebrated our fiftieth anniversary. “There were so many in attendance to help us with the celebration of our life together. He was in the big war. When he went in, I promised to wait for him. He was not one of those glorified Flyboys that flew to work, then flew home. No sir, he said he walked everywhere they sent him. Of course that was not true. He spent weeks on a troop carrying ship. It was years, but he finally came home. Our small little town did not have much to offer. But we started our family and he went to school on the GI Bill.” She paused.
“He worked and went to school and after graduation went into teaching. Once my girls were grown some, I went back to school. Eventually we were both teachers. We worked to service the children in our community. The schools offered safety and we taught responsibility and citizenship, along with reading and writing.”
Eleanor threw her arms in the air. She felt marvelous. Her heart and soul were free. So far on this new journey, she had already danced with a handsome stranger.
She looked out upon the cobblestoned path. “I always dreamed of a castle. My husband and I travelled, but it was in an Air Stream motor home. Summer time would come, school was out. He would load everything he could think of and put it into the back. He’d hook up a big eight cylinder Chrysler and we would set out for parts unknown. We visited the Big Sky country and the National monuments. We would poke through the South with their mansions and their Spanish moss. One summer we spent in what Bruce called Lighthouse Country. We were the King and Queen of the road. We ended up with friends that we kept in contact with in the lower forty-eight.”
Stone angels stood on side posts along the cobblestoned path. “This reminds me of a fairytale entrance in a long forgotten dream. Everything is well maintained. Even the few leaves tumbling along the cobblestones have an air about them. She listened to the wheels talking to the cobblestones.
“He and I were both fighters. Every challenge, and believe me there were many, we tackled. We were never forced to change course. We were part of something big. The country was to be explored and men hardened by war and the women who stood by them explored it. I hope once I get to where I am going there will be many roads to explore. I am sure that Bruce will have a shiny Air Stream waiting and once again, he and I will set off for parts unknown. Once again, we will soak in a river along a tree lined bank. We will fry a freshly caught trout, drink an icy cold beer and try our hand at pan fired biscuits. And most of all I will talk and talk and talk. People should talk more. Don’t you think?”
Griffin cleared his throat.
Eleanor spotted a steeple that pierced the sky. ‘Is that the castle? It looks just like the castle of my dreams. I hope there is a big luxurious bed and people who will bring me coffee in the mornings and hot tea in the evenings. I mean just until Bruce shows up with the Air Stream. Then, once I get everything in its correct place and check over the supplies. I have to make sure I have enough shampoo. I have to verify there is a trailer jack, once we forgot the trailer jack and were on the side of the road for hours until another pair of vagabonds arrived. The men fixed the tires and the women made a meal and we swapped stories for a couple of days before we said…….”
Nuelle pulled the carriage up to the large double doors of the castle. Griffin stepped down and held out his hand to help her down.
A tall, quiet man wearing a tuxedo came from the castle doors to greet her. “Ma’am, your quarters are ready.”
Griffin climbed back aboard. Parked along the side of the castle was shiny Air Stream. A thin young man with red hair was polishing the outside. The man looked up and waved to Griffin.
Louis Armstrong - What a wonderful world
John Denver-"Rocky Mountain High"
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