The Carriage Driver³ - The Ring
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.