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The Carriage Driver³ - Light in the Trees

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“Ten seconds,” he called while opening the curtains the slightest sliver to peer into the other side. “Is everybody ready?” He looked behind him at the hundred person choir that all volunteered to be here at the greeting. He looked out in the distance and saw the space between the two gas lanterns. “Where is The Carriage Driver?” He called over his shoulder.

“Nine seconds,” called, the caller.

“You fired him, sir. Once Lilith found the passageway, you told him that it was not safe for him to run his route.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. We could just move the entrance to the passageway. Go and find him and bring him back.”

“All of them, Sir?”

“What do you mean all of them?”

“Well, sir, three angels have been following him for weeks now. You gave permission, Sir.”

“Eight seconds – Sir, you look pale.”

“Go bring all of them back here.”

Nuelle rose up on her hind legs as the rebel yell pierced the night, reminding her of the day she and Captain Griffin Chaffey died. Griffin rushed through the brush in the direction of the yell. He saw a naked man, pinned to the ground with a naked woman on top of him. She had a knife in her hand and was grazing his chest with the blade. He saw him catch her by the wrist and squeeze; the sound of the bones dislocating from her wrist came next. She dropped the knife and the man on the ground caught it with his other hand. He rolled her off and with one last penetrating stroke impaled her foot with the knife up to the hilt, staking her to the ground. The woman’s eyes went fiery red and the howl raised her hair. “You owe me your soul,” she screamed.

When the man rolled and began to crawl away, Griffin noticed at some point; he had lost a leg, and he pushed himself along on one leg and the stump of the other. Nuelle ran to his side. Griffin arrived and got the man resting against the trunk of a tree. He looked at the multiple wounds and went to his kit. He found what he was looking for, then went to Nuelle and plucked a strand of her mane. When he was finished sewing up the wounds, he got the man some water and a blanket.

When he looked around, the woman was gone. Nuelle, Griffin, and the man needed to sleep. They would tell their stories in the morning.

Griffin woke first, put a fire together for coffee with water from a creek. Everything green within ten feet of the woman had baked brown. Nuelle was fed and watered. The man woke near noon.

He looked at all the new white hair on his chest, “I guess I have to thank you. You seen a chunk of cedar around here about this long?” He held his hands about twenty inches apart. He made a snort with his nose. “No matter, I was whittling another one. The wood splits after a while and once that happens, I begin to creak when I walk.” He put a finger from each hand in his mouth and let out a whistle that must have been heard for half a mile.

Griffin handed the man a cup of coffee. “I’m Griffin Chaffey.”

“Me, I’m Tibbs, but no one calls me that. Call me Dusty.”

“What did she mean; you owed her your soul?”

“Oh, that one; Lilith, she is a seducer, thinks any man will trade his soul to bed her. I figure I wasn’t done, so she did not deliver, and the deal was not concluded. Besides, like you, I have a bonded soul. That I am still here might just be the proof.” He started to say something else when a beige colored horse standing eighteen hands stepped into view. “Big John, where did you get to?”

Dusty got to his foot as the horse approached. He went to his kit and grabbed a blanket, and he changed. “Thanks for the use of the blanket.” He took his hat, with the brim pinned up in the front, from the saddle horn and put it on.

It is not often you see a man wearing only a blanket and a confederate hat. Griffin thought. “Where are you headed?”

With some effort, Dusty climbed on the back of Big John and turned him. “I’m just passin through.... and it's getting late in the day.”

Griffin knew exactly how he felt. “Haven’t we met before?”

“Come on; I know a place that serves a man's size breakfast. But we have to make a stop first, to get me some clothes. The place, it’s a forgotten community, just up the road a piece.” There was a long pause, and then Dusty turned as far as he could on the back of his horse. Looking back, he asked Griffin, “Are you being followed?”

Griffin turned, also looking back, “No, I don’t think so.”

Just a few miles from where they met was an abandoned shack with a second building used to shelter animals. The two men stopped. Dusty found the cedar wood he was near done with and hopped inside.

Griffin walked to the barn, such as it was and found food for Nuelle. He located a brush and began to give Nuelle’s coat a good brush down. It was not long before Big John came in to investigate. He waited his turn and soon received a good brushing as well. Just as Griffin replaced the brush where he found it Dusty walked in standing tall.

“You made a friend for life,” he said, nodding to Big John. “Thanks for taking care of him.”

Hearing Dusty, Big John came over and nuzzled his bearded face. He received a biscuit for his troubles. “Big John and I been through many adventures. I’m guess’n you and that beautiful mare have as well.”

“Yes, she and I have been through many journeys.”

When the two men stepped out of the barn, they were greeted by Light in the Trees. Angels appeared to their left and their right.

“You are needed,” the beautiful woman said to Griffin.

“That’s always nice to hear,” Dusty responded, tipping his hat back.

The three angels glanced at each other and laughed.

“Seven seconds,” the angels heard the voice.

“Time to fly!”

Griffin climbed on the back of Nuelle. Dusty jumped on the back of Big John. And the group whisked away.

The eye peeked again into the other side.

The carriage was waiting between the gas lamps. Griffin, with Dusty’s help, puts Nuelle into her harness. Dusty seemed an old hand with the harness and the rest of the gear.

Dusty stood straight and tall, looking around when he heard the choir begin to sing. Griffin stood by the side of the carriage waiting. It was the first time in forever that he did not have an apple to share with Nuelle before their ride.

Dusty was trying to catch up with what was happening. Then he saw her. “Mary? Mary! So, good to see you. I guess I was meant to greet you.”

Dusty stood on one side of the step and Griffin on the other. The choir sang as Mary stepped into the carriage. She was going to miss her earthly friends, but she was joining many others.

I believe Mary found her

reason for being

Bob Dylan - Things Have Changed

© 2016 mckbirdbks

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Comments 48 comments

Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 6 weeks ago from Hereford, AZ

Beautiful commemorative to both of our lost brethren. Soon you will have another.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Becky - so sorry to hear. I believe you have the necessary strength. You have always carried the heaviest burdens.


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 6 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

Wonderful article. Mary Craig got such a beautiful, warm welcome at heaven. I am very happy to read this tribute.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Thank you Venkatachari M. Yes, I am sure you are right. The warmest of welcome awaited our friend.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 6 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

Oh Mike, I'm sitting here crying like a baby. Two beautiful people who have left us. Somehow I hope there will be a place for all we hubbers to sit and tell our stories. Mary and Dusty are smiling, and I bet drbj is talking about the odd things in towns across America. I miss her poems on my hub's. I loved this...


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Ruby - We have traveled many miles together and yes, I hope there are many more miles to go, including the beyond. You are right to mention, drbj, as she also entertained us with her wit and her charm. There is never enough wit and charm. What a tight community that has formed here. You are such a big part of it.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 6 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

Thank you Mike. It's funny how close we've all become, yet we've never met. Wouldn't it be great if we all could meet at a little café just up the road, and I wonder if Emmy and Earl would still be there? Smiling!


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Ruby - It would be great. I am sure the griddle is hot and the coffee is ready. Thanks for this special comment.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 weeks ago from North America

I think Mary on Earth would have loved this story and in Heaven, I know she does. Angels, Nuelle and Griffin's return, friendship between the North and South, and old friends reuniting in a paradise - an uplifting set of events to make us forget weird political debates and all the strife that is nonsense on this planet.

Too bad we lose people from this life, but it's a wonder to see them again on the other side and an exciting thing to contemplate.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Patty - Thank you. Yes, Griffin and Nuelle and the angels sent to watch over him all returned for the special greeting of one so elegant.

'Man' indeed has turned this spinning orb into something that is more cause for shame than anything else. And as for politics - well don't get me started. haha

Mary's spirit lives on in all of us. That is why the world still turns.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 6 weeks ago from southern USA

Ahhh...Mike, I knew when I read "Light in the Trees" this was going to be so special! Boy, that Dusty knows how to make an entrance ...I miss his bigger than life self here and now dear Mary. He is the perfect greeter from HubPages.

I'll never forget Dusty's comments on my hub about my Dad, the soldier, having PTSD, and how he went on to explain how he slept with his eyes open as he suffered with it too. I cherish those comments and those left by Mary. She was bigger than life here too and so it is hard to think of her gone on.

I also think of drbj and Mary Hyatt, who both had strong presences here too.

I just know I will see them all one.

Hugs and much love to you, dear man.


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 6 weeks ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

Thank you Mike for the beautiful tribute and good story.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 6 weeks ago from Jeffersonville PA

Today I can read this without sobbing. The comments above mirror my belief that we will all meet up one day - and what a fabulous Hub reunion this will be.

You could not have selected a better (Dylan) song to finish this sentimental reunion of the fictional and the virtual.

Becky, in reading your comment, please know my thoughts and prayers are with you and Dennis.

Hoping everyone has a peaceful weekend. Thank you, Mike - just perfect.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Theresa – The news caught me by surprise. I had been sending rail car loads of energy to Mary, but it was only enough to raise a smile. Dusty had such a lasting impact to all who crossed his path. He was, and is bigger than life. Reading the comments on Bill’s posting, I see Mary was the same. She touched all who knew her. Seems to me, many giants have shown up here at Hubpages.

My path did not cross that of drbj and Mary Hyatt, though I knew drbj and her comic wit. My guess is part of the reason HP seems to be getting smaller, is that many of the giants have gone on to more interesting journeys.

Your kindness as always is very much appreciated.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello cam8510 glad you could stop by. Mary had so many friends, so this seemed fitting. (Though I was very reluctant to add an addition story to The Carriage Driver series.) By your headline, it looks like you are moving. Best of luck.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Good morning mar. I do like the idea that we will all meet someday. That is a pleasant thought. Let me address your note to Becky – I just sent out an email to those from the days of Emerald Wells Café with the bad news. My thoughts are with her.

I did not know how much I like Dylan until I started writing. Now, thinking back, I have used his music to accompany several of my stories.

Glad I could accommodate.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

For those of you reading the comments, a word to the wise: buy this man's book on Amazon. It will make the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who enjoys reading. Please, follow my advice. This man is a skilled craftsman.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Thanks Bill. Very nice of you to say.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 6 weeks ago from southern USA

Will keep Becky in my thoughts and prayers.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Thank you Theresa. Your kind heart is beautiful.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

Mike, It is bittersweet to see this addition to your wonderful collection of The Carriage Driver series. We seem to be at the age where we are losing friends far too frequently. When I saw the illustration of Mary's book I knew this would be a welcomed tribute to our mutual friend and author.

How wonderful that you were able to work in the memories of our other lost brother, Dusty, into this journey. Oh, how he loved a big breakfast and to spin a yarn. It was like a trip back in time to the days of Emerald Wells and the regulars who shared fellowship and food there. How I miss those stories and comments from folks who sipped special tea and sampled Rosemary's baked goods. Like others, I am hoping one day to join a gathering of all those we know and love here when we meet on the other side. Going back now to listen to the music selection.


suzettenaples 6 weeks ago

Yes, they are reading this from above and know they are not forgotten. Beautiful tribute,,Mike!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 6 weeks ago from Phoenix, Arizona

This series is simply superb, Mike. You are a very good author.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Peg, you are so right. We do seem to have reached an age where many of those we have gathered around us are moving to a new leg of their journey. Mary was certainly a bright spot when she left a comment for so many of us. She was a pleasure to work with as we pushed her novel to the finish line. Her children’s book offered both of us a challenge. She wrote the story and contracted beautiful illustrations. All there was for me to do was pull it all together.

Dusty again has been on my mind. He seemed to me the perfect Greeter for Mary. Funny, that Emerald Wells Café has been on my mind also.

Thanks for helping me celebrate Mary’s journey.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello suzettenaples. Your New Mexico adventures have been captivating. It looks like you had a great time. Our friends certainly are sharing laughter and their many stories. The pressure is off.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Will - I certainly hope you are writing and publishing your work somewhere. Thanks for the nice comment. Your absence here has certainly been noticed.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

Mike, it was wonderful how you brought the carriage driver back, and especially to pick up Mary. Such a lovely gesture. I didn't know Dusty, but it has been sad seeing a number of dear hubbers depart this world recently. Thank you for writing this.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello John - You would have really liked Dusty. He 'had enough' and moved himself off the grid (and freeways) of California to the desert of Arizona. He built himself a sanctuary and lived out his life with his animals and his satellite connection. He was strong, he was opinionated and he made everyone feel they were important to him. Hey, this description sounds like you.

Thanks for stopping by.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

Hey, I thought you were describing me for a minute apart from the move from California to Arizona :) Seriously, he sounds like he was a great guy. Did he really have a wooden leg? I love the line, "Dusty got to his foot as the horse approached."

Not sure if I am that strong and opinionated either, but I try to get my point across about things I'm concerned about.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

He left a foot in Vietnam. But it did not slow him down. I guess you could say he was pioneer strong. I don't see much of that.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 weeks ago from South Africa

Good to see the beginning of Carriage Driver 3, and wonderful to see Dusty and tillsontitan aka Mary Craig with the Carriage Driver. I could also see drbj and Mary Hyatt in the carriage, chatting about their hubs. We should have a 'Wall of Remembrance' here in HubPages.

Best of luck with this 3rd in the series!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 weeks ago from TEXAS

Beautiful tribute, Mike. Thank you for writing and sharing it. Hugs.

There are some

Who, passing,

Cast longer shadows,

Who, having passed,

Leave larger spaces.

Their indelible traces

Remain upon the lives

They touched.

______© Nellieanna H. Hay


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 weeks ago from TEXAS

I'm excited about the newest Carriage Driver 3. You write them nearly faster than I can read them!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 6 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

Nellieanna, your poem is touching. I emailed Becky and received a lovely response. I know that many of us that are older have lost a husband through death. Mike you have the ability to bring us all together and that's beautiful.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Martie – I like your idea of a ‘Wall of Remembrance’ so many good authors have graced the halls of HP. When I first arrived, I heard over and over, about those that were here before me, and how talented they were and are.

I look forward to The Carriage Driver 3, since I have no ideas. Other than…..


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Nellianna. Your poetry is most fitting and most welcome. It expresses so well what we feel when something special has come into our lives and then is called to fill other special places. Thank you for your kind words regarding The Carriage Driver 3. I had better get busy.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Ruby – Emerald Wells Café was a special place and Becky was a ‘Regular’ as I refer to the wonderful people who stopped by for a cup of special tea, some poetry and all the friends you could hope to have. Becky shared that experience, and we all heard her stories, as she heard our stories. Thanks for the nice compliment.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 6 weeks ago from Massachusetts, USA

What better way to begin TCD3 than with a tribute to our dear, beloved Mary, and Dusty. I have tears as I read this beautiful story. Thank you! The Dylan song is perfect. And I was so saddened to hear of Dennis' passing. I know that Becky is in the thoughts and prayers of many.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Genna. So much sadness is swirling around. We had some time to prepare for Mary, yet the pain is real. Dusty made a big impact here on HP and luck brought him to us and to this story.

All our good wishes and prayers are extended to Becky and her family.

Good to see you.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 weeks ago from TEXAS

Dear Ruby and Mike, Thank you for your kind words. I guess I didn't know Becky, but I knew and loved both Mary and Dusty, as well as so many others I've been privileged to know with whom to share ideas and dreams here on Hubpages for these 6 and a half years I've been here, but, sadly, who have since passed on. I so agree that a "Wall of Remembrance" as you suggested, Martie, would be lovely. Still, simply taking the time as we are now to remember is important, too. We can do so as often as we are inspired to.

Losing beloved ones is difficult. My kind neighbor, Earl Sullivan, across the alley, passed away the 19th and today was his funeral. He and his precious wife, Barbara, have been such dear neighbors and friends to George and me, and have continuously helped me in several ways since my George's passing in 2008. Sweeter people could not be found anywhere. I was honored that Barbara gave me a little assignment to do today to help with their huge, loving family and friends who are now gathering at their house to share the love and quantities of food they all pitched in for after the service.

What a beacon is the love shared in the world!


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 5 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Nellianna. The community at Hubpages is amazing. We have had so many talented people show up here, share their creative self without fear and even receive high praise. My guess is for many it is the high praise that was lacking elsewhere. You share a great story here about your neighbor. We all need to share more of the good. We get a heavy dose of bad, and ugly from the media. I thank you for sharing your gentle soul with all of us.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 5 weeks ago from Hereford, AZ

I wanted to thank all of you for your kind thoughts and good wishes. Dennis' family is all going to miss him badly. I know he will be happier than where he was in the nursing home. Not being able to move around and interact with his friends and family had been the worst. He was stuck laying on his back and relying on the nurses to turn him regularly was the pits. Now he is free from pain and able to run around in nature like he used to love to do.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 5 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Becky. I am sure Dennis is now fully back to his youthful existence, free from the anxiety and stress of his final days. Sending all good wishes your way. The word went out to our friends from EWC days and I am hoping that many reached out to you.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 5 weeks ago from Hereford, AZ

They have Mike, and I received your card today also. Thank you.


savvydating profile image

savvydating 5 weeks ago

How kind you are to honor your friend, Mary, through this beautiful hub. I did not know her; consequently, I was intrigued by the book with the warm cover. Now I know...

Her lovely spirit lives on.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 weeks ago from Central Florida

Mike, this gave me goosebumps. What a wonderful tribute to Dusty and Mary! I believe the journey may have gone exactly as described here.

Just beautiful!


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello savvy - I never received a notification of your comment. So, sorry that I have not responded earlier. Mary was in our circle, I helped her get her books ready to publish. (She did all the work.) Thank you for your visit, kind words and continued encouragement.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Sha. Thank you. Mary touched many of us, as well, Dusty made an impact on so many. Circumstances brought all this together to create this story. I appreciate your continued support.

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