Memoirs of a Yankee Cowboy

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Ben is on his way to pursuit of a new life, but finds it hard to rise above his raising.

Chapter 4 (v.1) - Westward to New Worlds

Submitted: April 29, 2019

Reads: 26

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Submitted: April 29, 2019

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Chapter Four

As I traveled out across Pennsylvania and Ohio toward Indiana, I was mesmerized by the beauty of it all from the back of a motorcycle.  My original plan had been to go to California and I was bound and determined to get there.  Along the way, the lure of the scenery and people gave me the hankering to take side trips off the highway.  I found small jobs and explored the towns.

Some places and people were hard to leave, but some I couldn’t get out of or away from fast enough.  The women from the bars were sometimes as loose as the ones I left behind in New York.  Once when I left a bar in Ohio, a bar fly that had been bugging me all night followed me out to my bike when I left.  Now I hadn’t had a woman in a while, but this lush was a turn off, even for me.  Besides, I liked to be the pursuer and not the pursued.  I was on my seat and had my engine going when the long-legged witch threw her leg over the buddy seat and tried to get on.  I threw my left leg out and kicked her off.  When I drove off, I looked back and she was sitting on the parking lot screaming at me.  I picked up my pay check from the local co-op farm the next day, where I had picked up temporary work, quit the job and turned in my motel key.

In a small town in Indiana, it was time to stop for gas and the bike engine was sounding a little rough.  I pulled off the main road into a small village that reminded me of my birthplace, except for the horses and buggies.  Well, I thought, I doubt that I’ll find any needed bike mechanics or tools here.

Pulling into a one tank gas station, I got off my bike.  Not seeing anyone around, I examined the pump.  I pulled out the nozzle and was happy to see that it actually was giving me gas.  An old man came limping out and grinned as he got closer.

I said, “Hello sir, I didn’t see anybody around here, so I helped myself.”

The old man answered.  “Oh, that’s o.k.  When you get done there, just pay inside the restaurant next door here.  You can also get a good Amish style meal for a reasonable price.”

I shook my head.  “Sounds good, but I need to move on and find someplace that can help me with my bike.  The engine is running rough.”

The old man came back with, “Don’t have no mechanic, but if you want to tinker with it yourself, I have tools in my garage here.”

The conversation ended with an agreement that if I needed parts, I could use the old man’s truck to go about twenty miles north to a suburb of Detroit, Michigan at a dealer that most likely had parts.

I moved the bike inside the garage and the old man stuck to me like glue.  He sat on an old bench and gave me the history of the town and his extensive family.

“I’m what’s called a jerked over Amish, a Mennonite.  By the way, my name is Sam.”  He explained the pecking order and rules for an Amish family.  As interesting as that was, I was in a hurry to get my bike back on the road.  The day was wasting.

“I’m Ben.”  I said and we shook hands.

When I had my engine off and on the floor, I made my determination and a list for parts.  “It’s pretty cooked.  I may be needing to buy a new machine and my money is running out.”

“How about you coming in to the restaurant for supper on the house.  You can stay in my house in back for the night.”

As I entered the restaurant with the sign, “Miller’s Family Restaurant,” I was surprised to see that there were a good number of customers sitting and eating at a long dining table.  Through the window behind the table was a parking lot full of cars.  “Tourists.”  Explained the old man.

As Sam and I sat down at a table for four by the back door, a sweet looking waitress came out of the kitchen with two glasses of water and table service.  Our eyes locked and I figured that hanging around this little burg was not going to be that painful.

“Ben, this is my daughter, Rose.  She’s a single girl with a ten-month old baby boy and we run this restaurant together.’

My interest did a drop.  “Ah, her husband wouldn’t happen to be a good mechanic, would he?”

Rose looked at her father.  “I’ll go get the baby.  I heard him whine.:  She left and Sam said, “Best not to mention the father of that baby.”

“Why?  I’ve got my ghost.  Everybody has people who don’t exist in their lives anymore.”

“Hers was a case of rape.”

“I’m sorry.”  I had never met anyone who had ever created or participated in non-consensual sex.  I really didn’t know what to think about a woman who had been a victim of what should have been the most satisfying event of two people’s lives.”

“Don’t let her know I told you.  She tells me I can’t keep my mouth shut all the time.  My nickname is Blabbermouth.”

I chuckled.  “Yeah. Well, I’ve been told that I don’t know when to keep my mouth shut either.”

When Rose came back, she handed a smiling little cherub to her father and pulled up a high chair.  She took the baby back and strapped him into the wooden chair.  I thought about the high chair that my brother had busted and chuckled.

Rose looked at me strange and went into the kitchen as the baby banged his spoon on the high chair table.  Sam grabbed the spoon and held it down.

I told Sam, “My brother busted up a high chair like this one time.  Wasn’t funny, I guess, but I just got a picture of that just now and it was a funny sight.”

Rose came back with plates of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy.  It was amazing how she handled the big tray and sat it down on the folding strap table, that she expertly unfolded with one hand.

“You’re pretty talented, you know.”  I complimented her.

“Thanks.”  She smiled at me softly.

I wondered if she lived at her dad’s house.  That was answered for me when Grandpa Sam took the baby and he led me up the hill to the farmhouse in the back.

As we walked to the house, Sam said, “Rose has to finish shutting down for the night.  She’ll be up later.”  Other than that sentence, he didn’t say another word.  I guess he was just afraid to wake his grandson.

Sam put the sleeping baby in a crib in the front bedroom and guided me upstairs.  “This is where you can sack out.  The bath is next door here.”  He said as he opened the door to a back bedroom.  I looked around at the simple but clean room with a high poster single bed and chest of drawers and suddenly felt every muscle and road tensed up nerve in my body.  I threw my back pack and satchel down in the corner of the room and sat down on the rocker in the corner and fell asleep.

Along about midnight, I woke when I heard the front door open and close.  There were muffled footsteps, the sound of the baby crying and then nothing.  I stood up in the now dark, but moonlit room and found my way to the bath.  Turning on the light, I looked at my now bearded face in the small mirror and decided that I now fit in with the Amish men.  Perhaps tomorrow I would shave.

But I didn’t.  I was up early.  It was a habit that I had always had, except when I was sleeping off a drunk night.  I realized that I didn’t even miss the booze taste.  Not yet, anyway.  But then, I had nothing to stress about, even with the break-down of my motorcycle.

As I was coming down the stairs, dressed in my old workpants (I had two sets of clothes.  One for working and one for riding.) I smelled bacon and eggs and I was ravenous.

I was looking forward to seeing Rose, but Sam was the cook and the baby was in a high chair.  “Little Donnie and me were hoping you’d be down for breakfast, so I fixed you a plate.  Rose is back at the restaurant and cooking breakfast.  Have a seat and eat up.”

“Rose doesn’t sleep much does she?”

“No, she’s a hard-working woman and takes responsibility as a mom.”

“I can’t ask for a better daughter.”

“She doesn’t have a man friend.”

“If you’re asking in the romance sense, no.  She just can’t get over what happened to her I guess.”

“Did they ever catch the guy?”

“No, she wouldn’t go to the cops, but I made sure the word was out about what she went through.  She was mad at me about that, but I wanted this pious community to know that my daughter ain’t no whore.”

“She seems like a good woman.  I’m surprised that some good man doesn’t take a liking to her.”

“Oh, there have been quite a few, but not the hard-core Amish.  She doesn’t trust many men and she’s too busy to go outside the community.”

He paused while chewing his food.  “Are you interested?”

“Oh, I can’t say that I’m not attracted to her and this little man is a sweet little guy.”  I nodded and winked at the little cereal face.  “But I’ve got a mission.  I need to get my bike on the road for California.”

“What’s out there that’s pulling you?  Got a woman there or a job?”

“No, but I set my sites on that and when I plan something, it gets done.”

After breakfast, I left a couple of dollars on the counter and headed out to the garage and Sam took the baby up the hill to the restaurant.  In a little while the old man came down the hill.  “Get your list and let’s head up the road.  We can get a jump on all the customers there so that you can get that bike going.”

It was apparent throughout the rest of that day, while we traveled and while I worked that Sam was cooking something up to get me and his daughter together.

On the way back from the suburb we passed a barn with a big sign on it that read, ‘Country Fever.’  Sam pointed it out.  “There’s a country dance at the barn tonight.  It would do Rose good to let her head waitress take over one night and go kick up her heels.  She used to dance all the time and she was happy then.”

“Is that where she met her baby’s daddy?”

“Yeah, but if she had another man, I know she’d be happy to go back there.  She doesn’t mention him anymore.”

“So where is he if he didn’t go to prison?”

“He took off.  Somebody said he’s still living up above Detroit, but others said he headed out west.”

I was exhausted by the time I got done working on the bike.  What should have been a small job turned out to be twice as hard.  For one thing, I didn’t have the right tools and the shop Sam took me to didn’t carry them.  I ended up staying another night.

We had lunch and ‘supper’ again at the diner.  I ended the meal by holding Donnie on my lap.  This time Rose paid a lot more attention to me.

Later when I was sitting on the porch swing holding Donnie, Rose stepped up on the landing and sat down beside me.  Well after all, I was holding the bait.

The baby started fussing and Rose took him.  “I’d better get him to bed.”  She started to stand up just as Sam came out the door with a bottle.

“Grandpa’s got this.  The two of you just sit and relax.”

“Ah, so that’s what your Dad’s up to.”  I chuckled as he disappeared inside with Donnie.

“Yes, and he must really trust you, because you’re the first one he’s ever tried to fix me up with.”

“Not even the baby’s daddy.”

“Especially not him.”

“Pretty nasty guy.  From what your dad said, I’m not blaming him.”

She turned in the swing and said, “So, tell me about yourself.  What’s your full name, Ben?”

I thought about it and then decided to give her the fake name that I’d been using since I left New York.

“I’m Benjamin Raymond Jones.”  I said.

She looked at me and shook her head.  “There you’ve already told me a lie.  I’ve just learned everything I need to know about you.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I was out in the garage and saw your papers on your bike.  Your name is Benjamin Patrick and you lived at Rural Route 60 in Timberlake, New York when you registered your bike.”

“Why did you ask me what my name was if you already knew.”

“I found out you were a liar, didn’t I?”

“Oh, and what is your full name?”

“Roselee Mary Miller.”

“How about going to the dance at the Country Fever with me tomorrow night?”

She started to speak and I cut her off.  “Don’t give me any excuses, your dad said you can get people to cover.”

“That’s not it.  That place is a curse.  That’s the first place Donnie’s Dad took me.”

“Why didn’t you report the rape?”

“What rape?”

“That’s the story I wasn’t supposed to tell you I knew about.”

“I know.Dad doesn’t want the community knowing the truth and that’s what he told to keep face.  So, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t contradict him.”

“What’s the real story?”

“Donnie’s dad is Amish and he doesn’t live north of Detroit or head out west.  That’s another of Dad’s stories.  When Amish boys and girls come of age, they are encouraged to sew their wild oats before settling down and getting married.  Donnie’s dad disguised himself as English for a night of learning to line dance and doing me in my daddy’s barn.  Shamous Yoder is the son of the highest member of the area council and he had been promised to the daughter of another council member.  After Shamous came back from his time rolling in the hay with me, he rolled in the hay with his intended back in her daddy’s barn.  Neither of us ever told about what we did and when I got pregnant, I told Shamous when I caught him alone at the restaurant.  He got wild about how he couldn’t take this to the council because he would be shunned.  There was no way that his father or the council would forgive him for sleeping with an English girl.  In Dad’s mind it was rape, but as a Mennonite, he was already shunned by the council.”

“Whoa, that’s a lot of information.”

“Yes, so now spill that beans.  Are you a wanted man?  Is that why you’re using a fake name?”

“Not by the law, as far as I know.  But there might be a few women in New York that want a piece of me.  Really, I just want to find a place in this world where I can find peace.  I’m bound and determined to make it to northern California.”

“Then I have to tell you something.  Dad has a whole set of tools to work on motorcycles out there in the garage.  And if you look out there in the outside shed, you’ll find an old Indian bike that he had years ago.”

My mouth dropped open.  So why did he…”

She stopped me.  “Is that so hard to figure out?  He’s trying to get me a good husband.  His doctor told him that he might have a year or two left before he dies.  He’s leaving me the restaurant, the land and a good bank account, but he wants Donnie to have a good man to teach him things that guys should know.”

“So, will you marry me?”

“What?  Just like that?”

“Sure, why not?  If that makes your dad happy, we can get married and I’ll stay til he passes and then we can get an annulment and I can go on to California.  In the meantime, I’m a good worker and I can help around here.”

“You would do that?”

“Sure.  I’m not tied to anything.”

“O.K.  But we have to set this up right.  Let’s go out to the Country Fever tomorrow night and when we come home, we’ll tell Dad that we’re in love and we’re getting married.”

“Why wait?  Come on up to my bed now.”

“Hey, not until after we’re married. You might change your mind in the morning.”

Well, by the time I finished spooning her, we did make it to bed.  It was the best lay I had ever had.  It was making love and not just sex.

Saturday morning, I was up and out of the house before everyone else, or so I thought.  Sam’s motorcycle tools were laying on the garage floor beside my bike.  On the workbench was a hot thermos of coffee and a breakfast sandwich from the restaurant.  I looked out the window above the bench and saluted toward the lights in the restaurant kitchen.

Sam didn’t come into the garage all day, and by afternoon, I had the bike running like new and I took a trial ride around the garage and down the farm road in back of the house and barn.  I noticed that Sam’s truck was missing.  I pulled up to the restaurant for lunch and sat down at the four-chair table by the kitchen.

Another waitress brought me my favorite sandwich without asking.

“Thank you.  Who set this up and where are they?”

“Rose and Sam are in shopping for you some new duds for tonight and she set this up for you.”

“How’s her Dad feeling?”

“Oh, that old geezer will be around longer than me.  They thought he had cancer a few months back, but it was just a benign tumor.  The doctors say he’s as healthy as a horse.”

“How did she…oh never mind, I’ll ask when she comes back.”

After I ate, I left a tip on the table and walked up to pay my bill.  The waitress said, “It’s on the house, Ben.”

Well, I can tell you, I hadn’t had that kind of treatment since I lived with Lottie when her mother had spoiled me.  The thought of being pampered again chilled me.  And the lying or half-truths that those two had been telling.  How could I change if no one would allow me to fail?  One thing was for sure, I would not be trapped into my decisions.

I went into the house and sat a moment at the kitchen table.  I pulled out a ten-dollar bill and left it on the table.  I thought I might as well take advantage of the time to test drive my bike on the highway.  First, I grabbed my few belongings and after packing them into my saddlebags, I headed out.


© Copyright 2019 Cookie Reece. All rights reserved.

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