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A FATAL LOVE OF PLACE
Book One of an Untangling Tale
By Adda Leah Davis
Abbott PressCopyright © 2014 Adda Leah Davis
All rights reserved.
My husband would be alive today if I hadn't been so determined to return to West Virginia. Oh God, please forgive me, Hannah prayed silently as she watched the rich dark earth fall on the casket, one shovel full at a time.
Hannah Horne Larkin knew she'd used every avenue available to get her husband, Bill, to move her back to West Virginia. Her love for the hills was so embedded into her being that she'd found no satisfaction in any other place, but today she was disillusioned, guilt ridden, and left to grieve.
She looked up at the tall uniformed officer who helped her to her feet as the interment prayer ended. Her son, Freddy, held her other arm. She was too weak to stand alone and certainly too weak to walk down the hill to the waiting car.
With help she was soon seated in the Sergeant's car. He had driven her and Freddy to the cemetery since Freddy had been released in his custody for the funeral. One part of her appreciated him, but the disillusioned and bitter part of her wanted to strike out and hurt him as she had been hurt when he had arrested her son.
She asked in a deeply puzzled sotto voce. "How can loving a place be so wrong? I love West Virginia and my home here so much, but look what that love has caused. It's as if my family got caught in a giant spider web. My husband is dead, my son is accused of murdering him, and I've caused it all because I love this place so much."
Tears, which Hannah had controlled all during the funeral, now crept down her cheeks.
Sergeant Keith McCauley looked at her solemnly and leaned toward her. "Mrs. Larkin, please don't cry. You didn't cause this to happen. Life is risky. We all love things and long for them. We even pray for them, but we have no way of knowing what may happen if we should get our wishes. We get up in the mornings and act as if we know what the day will bring, but we don't. That's just the way life is and we don't cause it to be that way."
* * *
Hannah and Bill Larkin started their married life in the house where she had lived since she first arrived in the state of Washington. Cam, her brother, had the house waiting for them when she moved there with her parents and her sister, Betty. The nearest town was Sheldon, Washington, a thriving community located on Highway 101 between Port Angeles and Seattle. The area was known for its timbering industries and had plenty of work.
Hannah's husband, Bill, had a well-paid job, but he was becoming more and more dissatisfied. He was an Operations Foreman with Plum Creek Timber Company whose operation was based nearby.
"A man with a degree in Accounting and Management shouldn't be expected to do manual labor when workers don't show up," he complained.
"I can't stand to come home every day looking and smelling like I've been working in a barnyard. My clothes are ruined and just look at my shoes," said Bill angrily, lifting each foot and looking down at the shoes he had polished to near brilliance that morning.
Hannah dearly loved her handsome 'spit-polished' husband and hated to see him so dissatisfied, but felt that his dissatisfaction could be used to her advantage. Every day since moving to the state of Washington her over-riding ambition had been and still was to return to West Virginia.
After her first few months in Washington she tried to stop grieving over her beloved home in West Virginia, but to no avail. Something would always remind her of home and the ache seemed worse. Finally, seeing how much her grief worried her parents, she tried to keep it hidden. Today, she knew that deep inside she was actually glad that her husband was dissatisfied.
When Bill left for his appointment at the barbershop she dashed to the phone. "Melanie, Bill is getting more and more dissatisfied with his job. Isn't that great?"
"Great! No, it isn't, Hannah. I don't want Cam working somewhere and not liking it," said Melanie.
"You don't understand, Melanie. I've been living out here for ten years and I've hated every minute of it. No, not exactly every minute, but almost every minute. You know that I've loved getting to know you and meeting Bill. If Bill isn't happy where he works, however, then I have a better chance of talking him into moving back home with me."
"Hannah, you love West Virginia, but Bill doesn't and I don't think you ..." She didn't get to continue.
"Melanie, I am going back to West Virginia and I don't care who thinks I'm wrong. I'll do whatever it takes to go back."
"I know, I know. We've all heard that since you first got here so I give up." Melanie laughed. "I'll even wish you luck."
Hannah put down the phone and once again revisited that idealistic haven of her youth. She stood washing dishes as one scene after another flitted through her mind.
The family never tired of telling Hannah about her father's reaction when he first saw her and now that memory became her focus.
"Ida, they've brung you the wrong baby. Looky here! This young'un's hair is as red as the comb of our old rooster," said Fred as his new daughter was placed in his arms.
But, Ida was so worn out from her twelve hours of hard labor in having Hannah that she didn't pay much attention to her new baby.
"What is it?" was her faint indication of interest when the nurse came in with a bundle.
"You have a beautiful little girl, Mrs. Horne. Do you want to hold her?"
Everything looked warped as Ida strained to open her eyes. "Does she have all her parts?" Ida could barely be heard and the nurse took over.
She patted Ida's shoulder. "You're too weak to care, aren't you, dear? Your daughter is perfect, Mrs. Horne, but now I think you need to sleep. I'll bring her back later."
Ida nodded and closed her eyes again. An hour later she began hemorrhaging and nothing else was mentioned about the baby by the doctors or Ida's husband, until two days later. An anxious and tired Fred Horne had kept a silent prayer-filled vigil at her bedside since the bleeding started.
On the third morning Fred was startled when a nurse came in with a bundle and placed it tenderly into his arms. "Here's your daughter, Mr. Horne. Pretty isn't she?" stated the nurse with a wide smile.
Ida must have remembered his first reaction for she suddenly acted more alert. She mumbled, "Let me see. They better not bring me somebody else's young'un."
"This is your baby, Mrs. Horne. I'm the nurse who helped deliver her and she had a head full of red curls when she popped into the world.
Fred stood looking down at his daughter. "Who do you reckon she got that hair from? There ain't nobody in my family with hair like that and I never heard you mention no redheads in your family either."
That scene faded as Hannah recalled their amazement when Uncle Jim Baker, her father's oldest living uncle, had visited when she was five years old. When he saw Hannah his first words were, "Well, pon-my-honor if that young'un ain't Sarie Wagner come back to life. You do remember your granny Sarie, don't you, Fred? She had that same red curly hair."
In her mind's eye Hannah could see her father with his usual puzzled expression when he couldn't recall something. "I remember Granny Sarie, but I don't believe I ever saw her without her black bonnet. She was pretty old when I was born though. Her hair could have been red, but I always just remember her black bonnet."
Uncle Jim shook his head. "I shore remember her. Her temper was as fiery as her hair. She knocked me plum out once with a stick of stove wood."
So, Hannah Sarah Horne was born in Raleigh General Hospital, in Beckley, West Virginia on September 23, 1963 of "questionable lineage", or so the family joked as they recalled Fred's astonished reaction when he first saw her wealth of red hair.
She was born in the same year as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 23rd of that year. This didn't matter to Hannah of course, being only two months old at the time. It did matter to Fred and Ida Horne, however, and the older children told and retold the story when the family gathered for any event.
"Mommy sat right down in the floor and cried like she'd lost a brother," said Cam, laughing merrily at the memory.
"She cried, but Dad was so shocked that he dropped the axe and almost cut my foot off," said Junior, also laughing as he held out his foot with an angled scar across the top.
"Well, Hannah had just been born and Mom nearly died having her. When she did come home she was still weak as water and cried over everything anyway," said Miranda in defense of her mother.
So in young Hannah's mind Kennedy was somebody with a halo and she kept that image until she studied history in school.
Her father was an avid news hound after he acquired his first radio and the Kennedy assassination was a big event, which he and his neighbors discussed on every meeting. Fred's comment was always, "I believe that Lee Harvey Oswald had help. It was jest too well planned for one man to carry out. I may not live to hear it, but someday they'll find out that some organized bunch of thugs had a hand in killin' him."
When Hannah studied history she felt that Abraham Lincoln was a much better president, but she didn't dare say this to her parents. They were, "dyed-in-the-wool Democrats" according to some of their neighbors, but politics was seldom brought up in the Horne household except when an election was looming.
Hannah's parents, Fred and Ida Horne, owned a little mountainous farm on the banks of the Guyandotte River near the town of Mullens, West Virginia.
The Horne children lived a happy carefree life, isolated from much of the mobility, turbulence, and growth of the sixties. The three older children, beginning with Fred Hysom Horne II, called Junior, Miranda Ellen, and Ephraim Campbell, were either in or nearing their teen years, a very vulnerable age for temptations and the sixties had many of those. The Horne children, however, seemed immune to those temptations.
Later Fred surmised that the older children had too much work to do at home to get into trouble. That had changed, however, by the time Hannah and her sister Betty, who was four years her senior, neared the teen years. Cattle still grazed on the farm and they still raised a garden each year, but they no longer had sheep, goats, turkeys, and pigs, which left Betty and Hannah with plenty of free time.
Hannah loved school from the first day she was allowed to attend.
She came running through the door that first evening yelling, "Mommy! Mommy! The teacher said I was smart. She give – no gave me a star. See!"
She proudly held up a paper with circles and straight lines and a bright gold star in the top right corner. When Ida bestowed a hug and a pat Hannah turned toward the door. "Daddy will want to see too, won't he, Mommy?"
She didn't wait for an answer. Ida looked through the window and saw her red curls disappear around the corner of the barn and shook her head, smiling fondly.
Betty came trudging into the room. "I guess you saw Hannah's star. She's talked about it ever since we got off the bus. I tried to outrun her just to shut her up."
Ida smiled at Betty. "She's excited since it's her first day at school."
Betty grimaced. "Yeah, and now she is trying to talk like her teacher. She wants to be teacher's pet."
Ida stooped to hug Betty. "I'm glad she liked school, Betty. I wish you liked it better."
Next to school Hannah loved the farm and especially her many forays into the woods with Ida or Fred to look for mushrooms, ginseng, and medicinal herbs. She watched and studied every plant her parents gathered and asked so many questions that Fred often stopped her.
"Hannah, you must be planning to write a book. I bet you know more about wild plants than all of the other young'uns put together."
Hannah stopped and looked at her father, "I think I just might do that, Daddy. I'll ask the teacher to show me how to write a book."
Fred Horne grinned. "Well, I believe I'd wait a few days before I started on a big project like that."
"I can write already, but I'd need to know more about the plants, wouldn't I?"
Still grinning, Fred said, "I'd say writin' a book would take a right smart more learnin' than you have right now. It may take a year or two."CHAPTER 2
Hannah hadn't been in school very long before the family began noticing how correctly she tried to speak and often poked fun at her for 'talking fancy.'
"Hannah talks just like Miss Holbrook and she's the teacher," said Betty, in a taunting voice.
"Now Betty, you hush. Miss Holbrook is a fine young woman and I'd a heap rather Hannah tried to be like her than some of these young women you see in places like Beckley," said Ida.
When Betty turned fourteen she felt she was a grown-up and should be able to go to town and do things on her own. Her father, however, didn't see it that way.
"You can go if you can talk Hannah into goin' with you," was his usual response.
So, Hannah, who was only ten years old, became the bane of Betty's life. Everything that Betty wanted to do Hannah didn't want to do, and Fred had meant what he'd said.
"Hannah, if you didn't act so silly and would stop acting as old as Granny Cosby we'd get to go to dances and to movies. You'd like movies if you had any sense and I know you can dance. Daddy's old friends are always giving you money to dance, so why won't you go to dances with me? You know that Daddy won't let me go by myself. Everybody thinks you're so sweet, but you're not. You don't care about nobody but yourself. You just don't want me to have any fun do you?"
Betty stood glaring down at Hannah who was placing pictures in an album for her mother.
"I'm not going with you, Betty. I told you the last time I wouldn't go anymore and I won't. I'm not the one who acts silly. If you'd quit trying to flirt with every boy you see, Daddy would let you go."
"Flirtin'! What do you know about flirtin'? You're so stupid. You don't know nothin' about life. It ain't all in books," sneered Betty.
Hannah stopped placing pictures and looked up at her sister. "Why don't you ask Daddy to let you ride in with Cam and meet your friend Marie? That way you won't be by yourself. You two can see a movie and Cam can bring you home." Hannah wanted to ease the situation. She knew it could end in a fight if she didn't and she didn't want to fight today.
Betty glared at Hannah in disgust. "Cam acts like a watchdog. He even goes to the movie and watches me. If you wouldn't so silly, Daddy wouldn't know about Charlie Benson. Just because I let him kiss me that time, you acted like I'd committed a crime and run straight home and told Daddy."
"I was ashamed, Betty. People around us were laughing and pointing. Didn't that make you feel bad? I don't like for people to laugh at me," said Hannah and got up to leave the room.
She turned before she reached the door. "Besides that, Charlie was doing more than kissing and you know it. I'd slap his jaws and you should have, but you just giggled and acted silly."
Betty yelled at her retreating back. "You don't know a thing about boys. They like girls who like kissin'. You just want to act like a little angel in front of Daddy. If a boy ever kisses you, I'll bet you'll change your tune then. Your angel wings will fly right out the window."
Hannah turned back into the room. "I'm not trying to be an angel, but I certainly don't want boys to think I'll let them do anything they want to me. That's what they think about you, Betty, and you cause it."
Betty whirled around with her fist doubled. "That's a lie. Boys don't think that about me. They just think I like to have a good time. If you tell Daddy anything like that, I'll black both of your eyes like I did the other time."
Being near the open door Hannah looked at Betty scornfully. "The truth hurts, doesn't it? You know I'm telling the truth, but I've not told Daddy yet. If you ever hurt me like that again, I will tell, though." Hannah felt brave since Betty looked uneasy.
Seeing her unease, Hannah warned, "You'd better think about never getting to go anywhere else before you use that fist again." Hannah's brown eyes were spitting daggers at her bigger sister as she stepped into the hall.
Excerpted from A FATAL LOVE OF PLACE by Adda Leah Davis. Copyright © 2014 Adda Leah Davis. Excerpted by permission of Abbott Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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