The Carriage Driver³ - I Think I’ll Run
Death rode in hard on a black steed, under a multicolored, multilayered cloud covered sky. It was a dawn to remember, a dawn to mourn, a dawn to rejoice. The wind from the north cleaned the streets, and in its wake left dynamic air. It was a perfect morning to run, and that is what Kimberly did. She ran.
Two days prior she had received the phone call. “If you want to see Nonna before she goes, you need to come now.” She flew in, as did her brothers. It was a familiar scene. They had each played it out when Papa Joe passed.
Near the end, Kim had spent many hours with Papa Joe. When they were alone, he told her stories. The story she recalled now was about a man Papa Joe met when very young. He said, “The man turned his head like a serpent, flashed a practiced smile, and stared out of devil blue eyes, directed at me. That was long before I became ‘Papa Joe.’ The man was formidable at about 5’7” 210 lbs all muscle. His long dark ponytail reached the middle of his back. Left ear carried a gold chain about two inches; that held a gold cross with a diamond in the center. He wore dark clothing. His right hand carried about $15K in gold. Three gold rings, a thick, four-inch wide gold bracelet and an accompanying gold chain around the same wrist. Not knowing any better, I embraced his ways. That was years ago.”
Kim’s mother never talked about those days at home. On the surface, everything appeared fine. Years ago a rumor circulated in the family. Joe had something to do with a cousin sent to prison, for running cigarettes from a low tobacco tax State to a higher tobacco tax State.
Joe conned his way through his life. He went to a job and brought home a paycheck. But his time and his passion were the illegitimate schemes to make money. There was dark money to be made. He ran the small cons, even on members of his family. He felt if they were not blood, then they were fair game. That is how his mentor taught him. The old cliché, ‘never give a sucker a fair shake,’ was his unspoken motto.
Kim ran. She worried that Nonna, who had been free of Papa Joe these last years, would now once again meet him. She wondered if he would be waiting for her. Kim had often heard loved ones were waiting.
The sound of Kim’s footfall against the pavement helped her relax. She thought more about Papa. She felt he was a good Papa, and many times he entertained her and her brothers while in his garage, playing air guitar with them as he had done with his own children. His favorite song was Louie Louie, and none of the grandchildren could help but smile whenever they happen to hear the song.
She glanced at her ‘health watch.’ She’d promised to be back in less than an hour. Upon arriving back at the house, she took a quick shower and now sat holding the frail hand of the only grandmother she had ever known. She was aware of the moment her quiet pulse ebbed.
The Carriage Driver sat in his new quarters. The place was bigger than what he had become accustomed. The barn had more room than the one they left behind. The carriage newly relocated. The sturdy new barn offered Nuelle protection from the ageless north wind that reminded all of the temporary nature of their presence. He thought about Lilith and how she had gotten the better of him. And he thought about the man calling himself Dusty, who had gotten the better of her. He looked at the fresh, clean book, with only one name in it.
Griffin stood and put on his jacket and hat. In the barn, he harnessed Nuelle to the carriage. They walked out of the barn together, and Griffin patted his pocket to make sure he had remembered an apple. He climbed in, and the two went to find their fare.
They arrived at the front of the old house. It had a front porch, the kind that wrapped around to the side. And there was a tree for shade. Griffin watched as a stocky man wearing black and sporting lots of gold jewelry paced near where he had pulled to the curb. Griffin double checked the book, Dorothy Bengoetxea. There was a footnote: Dottie to her friends, Nonna to her grandchildren.
The stocky man turned his head, like a serpent, flashed a practiced smile, and stared out of devil blue eyes, as Dorothy approached the carriage. “You are promised to me,” he called out.
This was a new experience for Griffin. He climbed down from the carriage and went to Nuelle. Taking an apple from one jacket pocket, and a penknife from another he cut the apple into four pieces. He fed two to Nuelle and ate the other two himself as Kim watched the event unfold, from the front porch.
“Promised to you?” Dottie asked. “Who in the world could promise me to you?”
Gold clad fingers dug into a vest pocket and came out with an embossed card, “One Joseph Prieto Bengoetxea. He has been getting special privileges for the past fifteen years based on his promise.”
Dottie glanced at the carriage and Griffin, as he tossed his hat into the front seat of the carriage, and she took in the beauty of Nuelle. She watched Griffin as he walked to the step of the carriage and held out his hand to her. She glanced over to the muscled man with the dark ponytail.
Her usual reserved face, first twitched, then burst into full laughter, much to the dismay of the man dressed in black. Griffin’s face widened into a broad smile. “So, Papa Joe even conned the devil!” And she laughed some more.
Dottie took Griffin’s hand and stepped into the carriage before the man wearing black recovered. The dark red of his face faded. He took two paces toward the carriage, then stopped as the smile on Griffin’s face remained, but the eyes changed.
Gold clad fingers tucked the card back into his vest pocket. There would be hell to pay.
Kim’s two brothers walked out on the front porch. “What are you doing out here?” Bobby asked her.
Kim stood tall, sensing her brothers could not see the carriage or their Nonna beginning her new journey. She was proud that she looked so much like Nonna.
“Come on,” Joe Jr. piped up. “Let’s get some breakfast.”
They all went into the house and looked around one last time at their childhood.
Bobbie went over and flipped on the Westinghouse radio. Louie Louie blasted from the speaker.
The three began at once:
Oh, Yeah, we got to go.
I wear shoes with
Red shoe strings,
The children smile
When Papa sings
Oh, Louie Louie
Oh, Yeah, we got to go
I waited, so long
No place to hide
Now we’re here
But, no sign of my ride
Oh, Louie Louie
Oh, Yeah, we got to go
Griffin stepped into the carriage. “There is a blanket near your feet if you need it.”
Dottie didn’t hear him; she was still laughing and listening to her grandchildren singing. Like the old days.
Kimmie put one arm around each of her brothers, and the three walked down the front steps still singing Louie Louie.
Louie Louie - The Kingsmen (HQ)
Willie Nelson - Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
© 2016 mckbirdbks