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The Carriage Driver³ - The Ring

Updated on March 10, 2017

The Carriage Driver walked out to the stables to feed and groom Nuelle. He swung the big door open and to his surprise an elderly looking man sat in the carriage. He filled a bucket with hay and checked the water trough. Then grabbed a brush and started brushing Nuelle’s coat.

“Not often I find someone broke into my barn and sitting in the back of my carriage.” Griffin began.

“Just saving you the trouble of picking me up. See, now, I have all the time in the world. Besides, you would have missed grooming your beautiful horse this morning if I did not find my way here.”

“Well, how did you happen to do that?” Griffin dragged the brush down Nuelle’s front flank.

“Mister, this is a very small town. Everyone knows everything about you, and what they don’t know they make up.” Magruder smiled at his zippy banter.

Griffin made long sweeping strokes with the brush down Nuelle’s side. He waited.

“You see, Jules and Hamm, her boyfriend had a fight on their way to our house for the holiday. I mean it was already going to be tension filled as, the little woman insisted on bringing her aged Mother to the table. That meant picking her up, dragging a wheelchair around, and then after the meal bringing her back to the home. She would not even know she was there. But that is another story.

The table was set. There were frowns on Jules face and Hamm’s also. The little woman had her face pasted on, and Mother-in-law drooped in her chair. You know, just your everyday American family at home.

We passed the potatoes and turkey, cranberries and green peas. And lifted glasses of wine. Well, two glasses of wine, the kids still found refuge there.

"Am I boring you?” Magruder stopped.

Griffin was finishing up one side and had just moved to her other side. “No, go ahead.”

“Well, I escaped to the kitchen to clean up and avoid some small talk. Then when the kids think no one is listening, they continue their barbed discussion about moving in together and eventually getting married. Now, mind you I had heard this kind of talk before, in the recap sessions of all of our ongoing lives.” He paused, “Innocently, I walked into the living room where the four of them sat. I reached around my neck and pulled the chain that held the medical alert and my wedding band. I wore the wedding band there as I lost weight during an illness, and did not want it to slip off. I took the ring from the chain, and handing it to Hamm, told him that it held the strength to forge a thirty year marriage. I told him mothers often hand down a ring to their daughters. I told him, I did not see why I could not hand this down to him.” He paused again, “Just as Jules began to yell at me and the little woman, stood and approached me with fury in her eyes, I had a heart attack before they could speak their minds.”

Griffin tossed the brush aside and walked Nuelle over to the carriage and started getting her into her rigging. He walked Nuelle pulling the carriage out of the barn.

Magruder was quiet while Griffin worked. “Understand, I just wanted Jules to be happy. She did not have much hope, learning relationship lessons from me.”

The Carriage Driver climbed up into the seat. He reached beneath the front seat and pulled out the book. He signaled Nuelle to stop and looked over his shoulder. “Your name is not in the book.”

“What? How is that possible? I was led right to this place. Three nubile angels guided me. Every step was an exquisite experience. I witnessed my every attempt to help people throughout my entire life. My life, even had a soundtrack added as I journeyed here.” Magruder again fell quiet.

Griffin glanced at the blank page. “What hospital would they have brought you too?”

“Probably Saint Ann’s Methodists.”

Griffin gave Nuelle her rein. Nuelle was now more familiar with the area, and made her way easily toward St. Ann’s.

It was on the far side of town, and Magruder was able to view an unsullied and beautiful scenic journey through an earlier cleaner time.

“You're taking me to the hospital?”

Griffin took a deep breath, “Yes, I don’t think you are dead.”

That news took Magruder by surprise.

The waiting room was crowded when Griffin and Magruder walked inside. Jules and Ham were there, they were holding hands. The little woman was there. Magruder’s brothers and sisters milled about. They were keeping their distance.

Magruder went and stood behind his youngest daughter. He put his hands on her shoulders. She could feel the sudden warmth. “We argue all the time. Sometimes it is just heated debate. You are always challenging my thinking. I get that you think I am old fashioned. But that is the way I was taught. If you have kids, you can teach them your way of thinking. That is the way it is done. You were raised as a feminist, but you are in a world that still wants women to have kindness and gentleness in them. The guys you meet do not want to argue every detail of every decision. Heck, no one does. So let me suggest that you can be as strong as you can be, but leave a little tenderness in your heart.” He looked at Griffin, “Can she hear me?”

“She knows you are here. Do you want to see how you are doing?”

Griffin led him to an operating room. People were attending him, he was opened up wide, and looking rather pale.

Griffin saw the three angels that had been following him since the incidence with Lilth on the bridge. They looked at him, shrugged their shoulders, and smiled at him.

The taller one that stood in the middle, said, “It is now time for him to go home.”

The angel to her right spoke up, “I think it is time that you went back to the castle and clear this mess up. No one has seen Lilth, since the man stabbed her in the foot.”

Magruder sat up and climbed off the table. The quiet angel draped a silk robe around his shoulders.

In the waiting room, Jules burst into tears. Her wailing brought everyone to their feet. The little women quickly squelched a smile. Magruder’s brother came to Jules and hugged her in his sadness. When he was done, Hamm held her tight. One by one the family drifted out.

Magruder sat in the back seat of the carriage. Two angels sat on one side, and one on the other. He had requested to wait until they had all left.

Ham helped support Jules as she walked down the stairs. Magruder’s brother and sisters made their way to their cars, another chapter of their lives drawn to a close.

The little woman had a new bounce in her step as she walked down the steps. She stood at the curb with her cell phone. In a few moments her car was pulled around driven by the man in her life.

“Where to?” Griffin asked.

Magruder looked at the angels on his left and his right. “Well, first off, can you take me to the end of the rainbow?”


Three months later Jules slipped a simple gold band onto Hamm’s left index finger. It was a simple ceremony. One filled with tenderness and love for each other.

One Less Bell to Answer / the Fifth Dimension

Just the Two of Us

Otis Redding - Try A Little Tenderness

Chicago Just You 'N' Me


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    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 7 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Magruder arrived early so he could witness how much his family loved him, and passing the wedding ring down was a tender moment. He lived in a town much like mine. " This is a small town and everyone knows everything about you. " Seeing the end of the rainbow is something we all would cherish. Guess who was hiding in the video, One Less Bell To Answer? My man George and of course I had to listen to his 50th anniversary tribute. Thank you again for a sweet addition to The Carriage Driver.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 7 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Ruby - Thank you for the visit this morning. Yes, wouldn't it be grand to see for ourselves the end of the rainbow. 'One Less Bell to Answer' is a song that I remember well from the past. It was popular just prior to my exit from life, into the Army. Your support is appreciated.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 7 months ago from South Africa

      This episode hit home - those unexpected (or perhaps expected but always surprising and unpleasant) misunderstandings during what's supposed to be a peaceful and happy family gathering. While a parent can see all the potholes and abysses on their child's path of life, the child dashes forward with no idea what lies ahead.

      I could feel that fatal pain in Magruder’s heart!

      Sad story in spite of Jules slipping a gold band onto Hamm’s finger.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 months ago from North America

      These tales are becoming more interesting every week and I hope a very interesting (in the Chinese sense) ending will be had by "the little woman."

      Having three angels around all the time would be a delight, and I think some of us have them and don't know it. I saw a circular rainbow once and would love to see that again.

      One Less Bell To Answer is one of the biggest memories I have of the 1970s. Good music and a bad war.

      Have a great weekend!

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 7 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Martie - I think we all have an ‘image’ in our head as what makes up a family unit. I also think, we all have trouble matching reality to that image. I suspect there are some happy unions out there but it is only a suspicion. I shout about potholes all the time. In my own case, when the girls were younger, I advised them not to dig holes larger than I can dig them out of. Now, they have many of their own potholes to shout about. It was a sad story, now that you mention it. Macabre is how it felt writing it. Thanks for the visit and your support.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 7 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Patty – I wish you angels watching over you at all times. And a circular rainbow, that sounds intriguing, there must be a story there somewhere, somehow. I use to put on a headphone set, the big ones that covered your ears and listen to music in the 70’s. (No one else wanted to hear it.) I found myself in the Army shortly after that song came out.

      Thanks for the visit, wishing you a great weekend as well. The shopping can wait.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 7 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      "Try a Little Tenderness" - sure goes a long way, the older I get. It's my most sincere wish for all the Jules out there.

      The end of the rainbow sounds like a glorious destination for Magruder - may he find his heart's desire there.

      Love all these songs and enjoying them one by one...Happy Friday!

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 7 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      I found some nice songs for this weeks Carriage Driver Tale. I don't have one sentence written for next weeks episode. Hoping for some inspiration. Seems I am writing about both love and hate. That will present a challenge, for sure.

      Perhaps each of our lives are like rainbows. We are all searching for what is at the end of it.

      We made it to the weekend. It becomes more and more of an accomplishment.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I remember a few of those awkward and uncomfortable moments at family gatherings while growing up. Still, the love was always there. Family loves....that's where my brain, and heart, are today after this fine read, Mike.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 7 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello this time of year families assemble and the results vary widely. At the end, they are still family. That is a nice thing. All families have the 'someone' special, we certainly do here.

      Thanks for the visit today.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 7 months ago from Texas

      I think Ruby is right, this is one of my favorites.

      Life goes on, and like the ring without an end.

      You are a fantastic writer Mike.

      Blessings to you my friend

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 7 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Shy - What a nice thing to say. Thank you. I find Ruby is always right.

      I appreciate all of your support.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 7 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      This is truly an example of family gatherings that happen this time of the year. It reminded me of the countless hours spent on preparation of the dinner and the fifteen minute experience of eating it. In between the cooking and the cleanup, sometimes drama seeps out. I imagine most families experience the tension and frustration of the gathering, in particular, during these times of political unrest. You've captured the essence of what ifs in this down to earth tale. I liked it.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 7 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Peg - I imagine that holiday tables all over the country found themselves in similar situations. We all show up with our individual problems and concerns. At the end of the day we are family. As you likely can tell, The Carriage Driver tales are floundering.

      Thanks for stopping by to say hello. I appreciate all your support.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 7 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Our family relationships are more complicated than we think...with each of us viewing through a different lens. You've captured this so beautifully, with realism and tenderness. Stunning writing, Mike.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 7 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Good morning Genna - Peoples feelings are such delicate flowers. They are so easily damaged and so difficult to repair. Thanks for staying with these stories and your nice comments.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 7 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Your stories truly depict reality, Mike. When you describe the elderly Mom visiting from the home, wheelchair bound and barely present, I'm reminded of last Christmas when we showed up for the holiday party at the Skilled Nursing home. Mom and her sister were already dressing for bed (at 6 pm) forgetting completely about the gift exchange and pies that awaited down the hall. In Mom's hand she held the Activities sheet with the notice for the event that night.

      Your stories remind us of what's truly important. I know that you will find additional slices of life for this fine series that serves to awaken the consciousness and remind us to enjoy others while we still can. I see no evidence of floundering here.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 7 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Peg - I have learned so much here at HP. One thing is that everybody copes the best they can with the situations they face. That is a simple thing, but there have been so many stories told here that it became crystal clear.

      You stepped in and took care of your Mom and Aunt when they needed you. And you were close by in the times when they did not. That is an important lesson.

      I appreciate your kindness and continued support of these small stories.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 7 months ago from Central Florida

      Although Magruder thought he was already dead, his presence at the hospital was necessary in order to send the message he so needed Jules to receive.

      May he find eternal happiness at the end of that rainbow!

      Love your music choices, Mike.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 7 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Sha - They just don't make music like they rock and roll made it to the scene. The Fifth Dimension, what a great sound.

      Yes, Jules needed to hear what Magruder had to say. Hopefully she does.

      Thanks for your attention to detail and continued support.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 months ago from SW England

      Delightful! I love the idea of the wedding ring. There is such a gentle, subtle humour in your work, Mike.

      btw, a little grammar thing: 'you would of missed' should be 'you would have missed' but I'm sure you know that. Many mistake the spoken contraction 'would've' as 'would of'. Hope you don't mind me mentioning it.

      Great to read one of your stories today. I've missed quite a few but I'm working up the list! Hope all's well with you and yours, Mike.


    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 4 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Ann. Thanks for the visit. Thanks for the grammar tip. I believe that people don't speak using all the rules of grammar. I made the correction you pointed out. (I may not have known the difference, without stopping to give it a thought.)

      I hope your neck of the woods has begun to warm up.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 months ago from SW England

      Yes, it's really warming up here, thank goodness. Finally I believe Spring is on the way! Daffodils, primroses and bluebells - lovely!


    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 4 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Ann - There are people counting the days until spring. The east coast of America has had it tough this year. Glad Spring will soon be here, as a sense of renewal, and hope is in order.

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