The Carriage Driver³ - The Song in My Head
Saint Cecilia hurriedly set up chairs for the concert. She could not remember when the last time she was this excited about an arrival. She selected the orchestra from the thousands on the list of celestial players. The volunteer list seemed endless.
There were musical scores to select. The details seemed overwhelming. Hearts palpitated as the news spread throughout the kingdom. Extraterrestrial anticipation and cosmic excitement prevailed.
On earth, as it is in heaven was not holding true. A cloud hovered over the family that had for years been held together by the sheer force of strength of Aunt Mary. Her gravitational forces held the children and great grandchildren of her brothers and sisters through many of the trials families face as they trudge forward through the wilderness of life. Her faith consoled many along their paths. Her energy carried many through the hail storms and fierce winds that blew.
She told every child and grandchild that they were her favorite and she meant it. At ninety it took the widest focal lens to get her family in one photograph. Her children and grandchildren numbered in the forties. The satellite family members added another sixty. The only traditions, these members shared were held together by her wisdom and willpower. Where other families were scattered and alone, her family clung together.
St. Michael searched for Uncle Joe. He drew the worst job in the kingdom, as those World War two pilots were the most adventurous of all those that arrived. They could be anywhere throughout the many corners of the galaxies. His only hope was to follow the laughter and squealing of young women that the pilots entertained with their stories and good nature.
Every golden pathway illuminated the way along Bode’s Galaxy through Cosmos Redshift 7. Announcements would be hung from every lamppost to aid the search and herald the arrival.
Of course, her brothers, Rocky, Johnny, Lou, and Michael would be at the guests of honor box along with her sister Jenny. Her parents were proud. Ninety years is a long time to be proud. The plush red velvet and golden trim would be rolled out for the occasion.
There was talk of a guest pass for Mary’s sister Antoinette. That idea got vetoed at the highest level. Her son Gary grumbled at the invitation when he read black tie. He just was not a black tie guy. But he would do it.
The hospital was like a mob scene. Mary’s sons and daughter, of course, were constant figures. Their children flew in from Chicago and Indianapolis, Saint Augustine and St. Paul. The women of the family gave orders to the staff. They saw to Mary’s every need. Every test known to medical science was applied.
The prosperous son paid the staff to keep hopping. The staff began to feel like labors at a luxury hotel during her stay.
Captain Griffin Chaffey stepped out of his back door and walked towards the barn. When he glanced up a young man was leaning against the side of his barn. His khaki slacks sported a sharp crease. There were silver wings pinned above his shirt pocket. He wore a worn leather jacket and Flyer's cap. He wore a smile that would light up the night sky.
Next to him stood a worn out St. Michael. He exuded that weary traveler look about him. “He’s all yours,” was all he said, and then he went on vacation.
Joe stood up and walked toward Griffin. He held out his hand, “Captain Joe; you probably don’t remember me.”
“Captain Chaffey.” Griffin and Joe shook hands.
The two men walked into the barn. Griffin fed Nuelle and picked up her brush and began to give her her morning brushing.
“You two been together long,” Joe asked.
“Since we fell together in the Battle of Bloody Lane, Antietam. What about you?”
“Me? I survived World War II. I had a choice of bodies and lifestyles when I got my ticket, and I choose this period of my life. Our marriage lasted fifty years. I have not seen Mary for twenty years. The truth is, I have no recall from the last seven years on earth. I heard, through many prayers, that it was a tough time. Well, the family thought it might be nice if I was there to greet her.”
Griffin continued brushing Nuelle.
“She’s beautiful. What’s her name?”
“Nuelle. She and I have been transporting people up the path since the day an angel came to me. I wouldn’t leave her or my men that died that day. Of course, they did not all pass questioning at their tribunal.” Griffin stopped brushing, found an apple and cut it into four pieces. He offed Joe a piece. Then he fed the apple to Nuelle.
“Are you from around here?”
“They found me telling the biggest whoppers I could think of to three angels who had the travel bug and were experiencing the sights and sounds found in the farthest galaxies. That’s why that St. Michael fellow was so tired when he got here. We kept him up all night.” Joe had forgotten the question. He walked to the barn door and looked around. Then he studied the sky. He returned to Griffin and his work. “Where are we?”
Griffin stopped again. “I have not been here long. I am not exactly sure where we are. There are not very many people around. The ones I have transported so far have been very interesting.”
Joe scratched his chin, “You know; this looks like where I met Mary. Oh, that was years ago. There were Magnolia trees and fireflies. All the young men were marching off to war. Things were changing fast for all the young women as their men were being sent off to all parts of the globe. No one knew what the future would be. I proposed to her in a place just like this. This must be the place. That is the only thing that makes any sense. Maybe that is why you are here.”
Griffin returned the brush to its place and picked up a cloth and started wiping down the carriage. Joe found a rag and began to help. A thought occurred to Griffin. He reached in under the seat and picked up the book. He turned to the last page. It was blank. He knew better than question. He’d been around long enough, he knew of few mistakes. He knew they would not drag out St. Michael if this wasn’t something big. Something universal, something earth changing.
“Do you think you would recognize the place you proposed?”
“I don’t know; it has been seventy years. There was a grove of magnolias. There was a white steeple visible above the tree line. The sound of a nearby brook added a pleasant background. We were near a little wooden arched bridge. The moonlight made the leaves sparkle. I think if she is coming here that would where she would expect to meet us.”
Nuelle knew the place that Joe described. She walked over to the carriage and waited for the two men to catch up with her thinking. Once hitched to the carriage, Joe climbed into the back unassisted.
Griffin climbed in and gave Nuelle her rein. She went down through a tree covered lane. The fireflies were out in force. The scent of magnolia was in the air. The noise from the turning of the wheels added to the scene.
They stopped at the bridge. Joe put his foot against the rail along the back of the front seat. Griffin put his foot on the ridge along the front of the carriage. The two men talked about their time at war. They all waited.
In a few minutes, Joe put his foot down. “Did I tell you how stubborn she is? If she had gone to war, and I stayed home the war would have been over in half the time. This could take a while.”