Horse Races & Buggy Rides

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a three chapter short story, a little over 2,000 words. --- Some might say this is a sad story, some might say that it is a story about friendships and what brings people together, still, others might say that it is about life in general. I would agree with them all.

Submitted: February 14, 2017

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Submitted: February 14, 2017

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The old man was stooped over the wooden bench gently filing the edges of a plank of wood. The plank was retained in a carpenter's vice with two hand-towels protecting it's beautifully carved surfaces.

A young woman, about 20 years old, sat on a stool on the other side of the table. She studied every move that the old man made, just as if she was entranced by the way his hands tended to the task at hand.

The old man took a damp cloth from a nearby bucket and gingerly wiped the surfaces of the plank.

"OK Kaitlin," the old man said, "Take firm hold of the end of the plank, it's time to move it."

(This old man has several names for Kaitlin and he uses them all depending on the circumstances and his mood. Kaitlin liked most of the names except for Gru-fus, which was short for {girl du-fus} which he only uses when she had made a simple wood-working mistake.)

Kaitlin jumped to her feet and nested the end of the plank in her arms; "I'm ready Saul," she replied.

With a hefty Oomph the two carried the plank to its final resting place; the center piece to a massive Dining table.

"Well done girlie," said Saul with a gleam of pride in his eye.

"Ooh, it is so beautiful Saul, and this final piece fits like a glove between the others," Kaitlin remarked as she gave the old man a big hug.

"My Mother will be thrilled! Kaitlin continued,

"For Mom to have a table that will seat the whole family at once, well, family gatherings will be more memorable than ever.

How can I ever thank you?"

Saul replied, "Don't worry about that sweetie. But I am concerned that your parents will be upset about that oak tree that is now missing from their back yard."

"Are you kidding?" Kaitlin asked.

Then she continued while sporting a big smile, "When Mom and Dad get home from their visit to Granny-May's, and they see that tree-house that we built. And when they see the way that it is perched on that old tree-stump, they won't be upset at all.

The grand-kids will have a ball playing in the tree-house. And don't forget, what makes the Grand-kids happy makes Mom happy, and what makes Mom happy makes Dad happy. So don't worry about that. No, this table and the tree-house are well worth the trade-off. Besides, there is plenty of usable wood left over and Dad won't have to buy firewood for quite some time.

Now come on, I'll make lunch and you can explain to me how we are going to move this huge oak table all the way over to my parent's house."

(Kaitlin filled a gap in Sally and Saul Fletcher's life. He and his wife couldn't have children, although they fostered a few along the way. They were mostly kids that no-one else wanted to take on, older kids, but the years they were there were short and the family bonding never took root in them. Each time one would leave Mrs. Fletcher would get very depressed.

Then one Saturday morning, a six year old Kaitlin and two of her older sisters showed up at the door selling Girl Scout cookies. It was friendship at first sight for Sally Fletcher; and eventually for Saul.

Kaitlin's mother and father both worked at the families Hardware store, so eventually and on occasions Sally Fletcher began baby-sitting Kaitlin, which seemed to make both very happy. After a short while Mrs. Sally Fletcher became Aunt Sally, and almost everything Kaitlin learned about baking came from Aunt Sally's magic kitchen.)

On occasion Mrs. Fletcher would have a doctor’s appointment, she had some heart issues, and Saul would have to fill in as babysitter. That is when Kaitlin got her first taste of wood-working, and she loved it.

She helped Saul assemble a baby-crib for Kaitlin's oldest sister, Kristie. And she painted most of a porch-swing for the Bergman family. Saul teased Kaitlin about that, saying, "I think you have more paint on you than on the swing, --- so that must means that you did a Good Job, kid."

Kaitlin was a quick learner and Saul saw a lot of potential in her.

 

Chapter Two

"Tragedies & Friendships"

 

It was very hard on Saul when his wife unexpectedly died, so he threw himself into his craft to take his mind off her absence.

It hit Kaitlin pretty hard too; she missed her Aunt Sally more than she cared to let on. Sometimes she would come over to the wood-shop and help Saul with whatever he was working on. They did not talk much; they just sort of comforted one another in a mixture of silence and wood-working talk.

 

Well time slipped by and it was not long before Kaitlin went off to college, she was the first female in her family to do so. And after collage Kaitlin landed a job with a Pharmaceutical Company.

Shortly thereafter she became manager of a newly opened regional sales office in the city she grew up in. That was a big plus for Kaitlin because she loved living at home with her Mom and Dad, and having family members dropping by to visit. She thought that if she had her own place, that would not happen so much.

Another big plus was the fact that Saul and his wood-shop were right next door.

 

A few more years passed by, and after the table was built Saul became a regular at Kaitlin's family gatherings. Saul loved the family atmosphere and Kaitlin's family was always very fond of Saul and his wife.

Somewhere along the way Saul became Uncle Saul to all Kaitlin's nieces and nephews.

Saul makes beautiful doll-house furniture, doll-beds, wooden cars and trucks, etc., and all the kids make it a point to visit the wood-shop as often as possible.

Quit often Saul will find them something to do while they are there, so they always have something to take home to show their parents; ("Look what we made!").

One afternoon Kaitlin came over to the Wood-shop.

"Hi  Saul!" Kaitlin said as she slipped between some furniture that Saul was working on.

"Oh Hi Kait! --- What's cook'n?" Saul replied.

Kaitlin sat down near Saul and said, "Well it's been one of those days and I just need to rest my mind. Have you got something that I can work on?"

"Sure Pun-kin, level this board and take the corners off the sides. OK?" Saul said while handing her a couple of files.

Then Saul asked her, "Do you want to talk about it?"

Kaitlin replied right away, "Oh, it's just very hectic at work now days; it is disrupting my Yen and Yang I guess. I can't seem to calm down unless I am doing something over here."

"Do I give advice today, or am I just listening?" Saul asked with a smile.

"Maybe some advise, that might help," Kaitlin replied.

Then Saul said, "When the race-horse is too fast, maybe it is time for a farm horse and a Buggy."

"Oh geez, is that a parable?" Kaitlin questioned.

"I don't know," Saul replied, "it was just the first thing that came to mind.

It seems to me that it is time for you to find something that you love to do, not something that you have to do. And buggy rides are always more pleasurable than a horse race. People notice life around them to a greater extent when riding in a buggy." 

"But I love working this close to home. If I take some other job then I may have to move away, and I do not want that," Kaitlin confessed.

"Well then, that is a horse of another color, "Saul said as he touched her on the end of her nose with his sawdust covered finger.”Now get to work on my casket board. OK?"

"A Casket? --- Gross!" squealed Kaitlin, "Is that what your making?"

"Sure," Saul replied, "it is going to have a great history."

Kaitlin laughed a little and asked, "History, how can a casket have a history?" 

"The wood tells a story, Miss Smarty-britches, when you know why the wood was chosen. Every scrap of wood going into the making of my casket came from jobs that I did during my lifetime. Not all the jobs, mind you, but my favorite ones. I will be surrounded by my memories, my accomplishments, and my loves.

The wooden pegs and dowels are from your parent's oak tree, and the lid is from leftover wood from the pews that I built for the church. The sides are leftovers from my house and wood-shop woods. The trim comes from the wood that I used to make the snow sled that I built for your eighth birthday.

The bottom is from my wife's first porch swing, and the baby crib that we never got to use.

Lastly, my head will rest on my sweet Sally's favorite pillow, and the inside will be covered with two of my favorite quilts that she made."

By the time Saul stopped talking Kaitlin was in tears.  

Well you had better take a long time making this casket, Saul Fletcher, 'cause I do not plan on letting you go until you teach me all that you know about woodworking. OK?" Kaitlin muttered with sniffles and a good nose blowing.

"OK then, I will be around for as long as you need my help," Saul said, then he handed her some sandpaper.

 

Chapter Three

"More Are Better"

 

Saul was killed in a freak storm about a month after the casket talk. He was on his way home from a meeting at the VFW Lodge when it happened.

Saul had stopped to help a lady, her car had slid off the road and was stuck in a muddy ditch. He had tied a tow-rope to their two vehicles and was pulling her car out of the ditch when another car lost control and hit Saul's truck; he never knew what hit him.

It was a beautiful day for a funeral, if there is such a thing. The temperature was in the mid 60's, so they decided to hold Saul's service outside due to the number of people that showed up. The service came after the viewing.

During the eulogy Kaitlin was last to speak. And because there was a lot of very comments about the casket Kaitlin felt everyone should hear the story that Saul had told her about where the woods and materials came from.

I do not think that there was a dry eye in the crowd after she finished.

Kaitlin also told them that the casket was not finished on the day that Saul died. Everything was in various stages of completion and materials were available, but nothing was assembled, sown, stitched, glued, doweled, stained, varnished, or waxed.

Kaitlin told the attendees that she worked day and night trying to complete the casket, but with only days left she knew she was not going to finish. She was heartbroken and ashamed.

Kaitlin explained to the crowd, "That night I fell asleep at the work bench and had a dream that Saul was there with me. I cried and told Saul that I had failed and I asked Saul what to do about the casket.

Well people, I expected an answer but not the one that I got, that's for sure. Saul looked straight into my eyes and replied, ("Two hands are good, more are better.")."

At that point Kaitlin lifted her head and looked out at the crowd and said, "I'm sure Saul is saying thank you right now. But I want to say it out load, for him and for me.

I want to thank the carpenters, the cabinet makers, the seamstresses and quilters. I want to thank those that applied the stains, or painstakingly applied the coats of varnish, and everyone else that helped lend a helping hand. Here's to those that transported materials, made phone calls, brought coffee and food for those working around the clock. And a special thanks to those that prayed that we would finish on time.

May God Bless you all for your kindness!

Saul was right, two hands were good, but more were needed."

With that said the casket was carried out the front doors of the church to the waiting Limousine. As it moved into the sunlight there were gasps from many in the crowd.

That Casket shimmered in the sunlight like a newly waxed Baby-Grand Piano, like a work of art on display. And it was a work of art; it was Saul's work of art and his history.

 

(Some time passes.)

 

Kaitlin received a call from Saul's lawyer some time ago. It seems that Saul left Kaitlin his house and everything in it. That included the work-shop and all the tools, and the land that they sat on.

Much of his assets, stocks, bonds, etc, went to church and charities of all sorts; it seems Saul was a wise investor. But Saul had a substantial savings at a local bank, and that went to Kaitlin. As noted in the will, Saul referred to it as her (Buggy Fund).

Kaitlin quit her job soon afterward and started taking woodworking jobs from some of Saul's former customers.

So far they are pleased with her products and she is gaining a solid reputation.

On the rare occasion that Kaitlin doesn't know what to do, she just asks Saul. The answer always comes to her by morning.

 

D. Thurmond / JEF  ---  02-12-2017


© Copyright 2017 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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