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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Hannah Dawson creates more mystery with a call to Larry, while Arianne and Larry make plans to go with George and record what really happens during his bizarre visits with his claimants.

Submitted: March 18, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 18, 2016




A Short Story

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Three


Larry liked George, as did Arianne; so did just about anyone who ever met George, but this Mormon stuff was beginning to nettle Larry.

Since their visits to Mrs. Soames and Mr. Harrison, Larry thought he perceived a strange aura surrounding George whenever he spoke of the LDS.

The air would be sucked out of the room he was in; the size of the room would appear to seriously shrink; George would appear to be more substantial, as though he was enlarging himself by squeezing out the air and crushing the dimensions of any place where he was talking.

Lately, Larry couldn’t slow down his own thoughts about the whole issue of religion; and the Mormons in particular. He felt as though he was being pushed along some concealed track; a descending, almost palpable path, where he could feel his ability to resist rapidly waning.

He felt helpless.

He knew there was some answer to this abnormal conundrum, but his cascading thoughts and emotions were preventing him form having the time available to discern and analyze the conundrum. If he could, he knew that it would simply be a matter of poking the correct conclusion off the assembly line of canned responses to such issues, responses that he had stored for distribution over the course of his twenty-six years.

He and Arianne had talked all night following their soiree in the Buena Vista.

Of course Larry pressured her to tell him what she meant by the ‘something’ and why it would be ‘unwelcome.’

“Sweetheart, I just can’t quite put my finger on it; but I have an idea.”

“What; what . . ?”

“Well, I want to take a day away from the office and go with George on a few of his calls; and I want you to be there too.”

Larry’ shoulders twitched as he thought of their happy trio wandering into some poor bugger’s place and proceeding to engage them on stage while Arianne filmed her two trick dogs as they went through their routine. 

He laughed. Suddenly he felt calmer, more capable, “Sweetheart, that’s a tremendous idea. You know—or maybe I didn’t tell you that when George and I were parked after the visit with Mr. Harrison, I told George that you had some of ‘whatever it is’ within you; an understanding; some ability to unravel these types of things. He was both amazed and delighted; so, yes; perfect. maybe you could take a video camera and tell the claimant that you’re doing a story for the company . . . something like that, okay?” 

His face glowed with the thought of chasing this vexing situation and getting it recorded once and for all. After that, they could all review and dissect it, with the expectation that there was a logical answer to the rapidly-spinning-out-of-reality episodes that were beginning to pile up in their lives.

“I’ll take our camcorder and maybe even a light attachment; oh, darling, this could be exciting. And, I hope, we can discover what’s behind or underneath all this.” They  hugged ,they kissed; and they kissed some more.


Larry called George and gave him the proposal.

“Larry, that’s terrific, but; I don’t know; the company might get ticked off. I mean, if one of the claimants complains; or just follows up and calls the office when you and I are out and Fullagas or Piper get wind of our plans . . . I don’t know . . . ”

A long silence followed, while George weighed the risks; and Larry didn’t want to interrupt the process.

About a minute later, “Larry, I’ll do it. By the way, does Arianne really understand how spooky all this is?”

“I’ll say; it’s been topic one here ever since the other night.”

Despite the candor of their last meeting over drinks at the BV and although he and George had been work mates for months, drifting company cars around the hills and flats of the City, in pursuit of the correct address for an insured with a claim to be investigated, Larry continued to sense some peculiar barrier between himself and George—a very thick locked door to a deeper understanding of what the hell was bugging his friend.

George was calling Salt Lake City almost every day now, in an effort not only to unload his cares but also to virtually beg for advice.

He pressured his brothers and sisters to tell him of any memories they had which would help their brother solve his haunting puzzle. He particularly implored his mother and father for even the most insignificant event or change of situation that they could offer him; some past occasion or occurrence that would act as a master-key to open the doors of past perception..


George’s mother, Mrs. Hannah Young Dawson was quite tall and very sturdy. Her carriage was that of a Mormon pioneer. She was a direct descendant of Brigham Young’s wife Hannah, the latter being Mrs. Dawson’s Great Grandmother.

Hannah Dawson was in her late fifties. However, her face retained almost all of the facets of beauty from her young womanhood. Her features were perfectly spaced and her skin had remained an almost translucent pearl color, one that spoke of the healthy hours that she had passed over the years in the warm Utah sun of both summer and winter. . . . ..

Although Mrs. Dawson presented a commanding physical presence, her speech and affect were, rather surprisingly, those of a gentle woman; a woman possessed of a kindly nature; both measured and smooth.

Hannah Dawson taught diction and pronunciation as part of her very popular English course at Brigham Young University.

Her tone, as well as her emphasis, was precisely correct.

All these factors rendered her a delightful person to hear speak, and especially to engage in conversation.

Whenever she spoke, the lilt and timbre of her speech acted as a mild tranquilizer for her audience. Then she held them in her sway, while she delivered her message, or made her point. She drew in the listener with some intangible force. Like the perfect sedative.

Shortly following George and Larry’s outings to visit Mrs. Soames and Mr. Harrison, Mrs. Dawson called Larry at home one rare sunny Saturday in January.

Her gentility and fine manners were such that she immediately asked Arianne if this was a good time to call; was Larry watching a football game; were they going out; was he doing something important; did they have plans?

To Arianne, the time required for these solicitations concerning her husband’s entire life as well as his present ability to take her call, seemed to last about a century.

Arianne wriggled her nose and raised a brow as she handed the phone to her husband.

Pavarotti was singing in the background. From their fireplace came crackles and errant sparks and soothing warmth on the chilly day.

“Over to you, darling.”

Larry inhaled, took up one of the instruments of the Devil and dove in.

In what seemed to Larry to be sometime in 2018, he slipped the receiver off his sweaty palms and asked for food and drink—and hold the food.

Jesus; as it were,” feebly, “yeah, Jesus H.,” then smiling “she has to be one of the most amazingthe most amazing—woman I have ever talked with.

“She gave me the entire history of the LDS. She covered everything from Joe peering in his hat at the plates to last week’s inauguration of the new Genealogical wing—and pretty much most of the LDS’s controversies as well,” inhaling and exhaling, “however, what a hypnotizing voice; absolutely inescapable. I could listen to her talk for ages.”

With a kiss and a laugh, “you did,” another kiss, “and?”

“Well, she’s very concerned about George,” rising and stretching, “thinks he’s had some traumatic experience and can’t quite bring himself to confess—at least not over the phone—and so she wanted to know if I thought George would be ashamed if his mother turned up at his bachelor pad on Buena Vista Avenue, you know, the one with the mesmerizing view.”

“I certainly do my darling; it’s unforgettable”.

Larry, with a big inhalation, “ Well . . . I told her that George would probably be more comfortable working his way through whatever problem he has—or about-to-be-problem—on his own.

“But I assured her that George would be constantly calling the family compound to talk with either her or her husband; or one or more of his nine sibs.”

Larry started walking to the kitchen for another beer. “Can I get you something ,sweetie, I’m up,”

“No thanks, I’m fine darling; hurry back; I can hardly wait; there must be a lot more; you were on there for hours . . .well, seemed like it; thirty minutes, maybe.”

Larry, walking back to his chair before the fire, “felt like weeks,” chuckling, “but I say again; it is something magical about the way she speaks. I always expect some supernatural or fantasy-land subject to come op  . . .or have her say something that could only be interpreted as ‘other-worldly; you know what I mean?”

“Sure do; I had that same anticipation while she was ticking off your entire schedule for the next millennium to make sure you were available. Yes; I did too. Odd, don’t you think?”

“In what way?”

“Well, like you said; something about her speaking; sort of mystical; magical,” sighing, “I don’t know; but we can both say that she’s unique; what does she look like?”

Larry went through an exhaustive description of Hannah Dawson and felt as though he was learning things about Mrs. Dawson even while he was describing her.

“And what . . . so is she coming here, or waiting?”

“Good question, honey; I just can’t remember—in fact, I can’t recall—or even reconstruct—a whole lot of what we just talked about;  and I sure as hell never remember having this type of thing—this sort of amnesia or short term memory loss—happening to me before. Maybe when you and I were talking long distance form New York to Chicago; before we were married—but not even then was it so drifting; so floating; almost like having a dream over the phone . . .hmmm; well the conclusion to all of this was that she agreed and—oh Christ!,I forgot to tell you the most important part; maybe I should knock off the booze here. She told me that George had been adopted.”


“I damn near dropped the phone; yeah, adopted. And, this is by a mom and dad who have nine of their own. You know, this thing is getting even weirder the more we think and talk about it, don’t you think?”

Arianne breathed in, exhaled through her nose and stared at her husband.

Arianne was five eight, blond with a slim body and long legs.

In addition, her face and her figure were such that they prompted smiles from strangers and sparkling-eyed greetings from friends.

 Arianne’s eyes were what people talked about most: wide, deep-blue and they glittered with an inner joy. Some people, besides Larry, say they had seen flashes of gold bolt across those eyes, an effect that momentarily stopped their world.

Arianne tended to wear dresses as opposed to pants but never hesitated to wear skirts and blouses with a slim gold necklace or a silver bracelet to her job with Floorison and Morister.

Her sublime figure shone through all materials; even through her three dazzling coats that she alternated during the foggy rainy summers and the cold clear winters.  

Arianne moved closer to her husband. “Isn’t that some kind of mortal sin of some strain; I mean, nine under the roof; did she really have to take on another; hunnh . . . isn’t that a bit strange, I mean, even a bit grotesque, bringing a kid into a huge family of strangers. This sounds abnormal to me,” rising and taking her glass for a refill.

Walking to the kitchen, over her shoulder, “maybe she should come here and chew the whole whatever it is over with George in person . . . oh, wait; does George know that he’s adopted?”

Larry stretched and pulled the large beige footstool under his legs while the fire tickled his bare feet.

“No, that’s just it; I guess that’s the main reason for her call; but why did she tell me the entire history of the LDS, if the nub—or the rub—is the fact that George is adopted? I’m baffled, I admit it.”

Arianne returned and handed her husband another Stone Brewery IPA,“Well I can’t think of anything more personal than who the partners were who created your birth; except maybe the circumstances; you know, prostitute leaves you on the doorstep; but, somehow I don’t see Salt Lake City as a focal point of a teeming prostitution industry.”

Arianne sat and shifted, while she snuggled tight to her husband and clinked her glass against his.

Now Pavarotti was beginning Nessun Dorma.

“Here’s to the tootsie community, wherever it is,” Arianne, knocking back a good slug, “so, what’s the story; is she dropping by to discuss birthing with George or what? And where do you—or I—fit in all this?”

“Got me, sweetie,” a thinker’s pull on his ale, “maybe she thinks I should be; well, like a mediator or whatever; I thought she would tell me; I thought that’s why she was calling; you know, to ask me to help in some way; but she didn’t say or even ask anything like that . . . so, now the question is; what wasn’t she telling me about George and his birth; and his real mother; hmmmm.”

Arianne sipped in silence for a few moments, while staring into the undecipherable flickers of the flames.

“Did you think then that she had a specific plan laid out for her call to you; you know a list to read off to you; it certainly sounds like it, what with the history of the church and all. I get the impression that she had a final point to make—and she didn’t make it—say it; you know what I mean?”

“Exactly. She talked so quickly; nervous I guess; but very rapidly through all the history,” Arianne leaned closer to her husband. Larry dispatched another pull on his beer. “as I said; and you’re right; just when I expected the “and”, there was a long gap. For a moment I thought we’d been cut off; and then she wound up and thanked me for listening and how much she appreciated my being a good listener for George.”

“Did she say ‘for George’ or did she say ‘my son’?”

“No; definitely: “George”; do you think that means something?”

Arianne worked as a paralegal for the largest firm in the City and planned to attend law school when time and finance permitted.

Maybe it was the legal ‘atmosphere’; or perhaps it was some tortured form of osmosis, but Larry could tell immediately that since beginning at F&M, she had become even sharper, quicker—faster-focused, than she had been before, a newly-discovered talent that sometimes Larry perceived as intimidating. Larry drew Arianne closer to him, “would you call a friend of your son’s and refer to him by his Christian name instead of my son or my child or our son; and where does Mr. Dawson fit in here?

“Wha! This is getting byzantine; this is getting into leave-a-trail-of-breadcrumbs land; why do I smell onions?”

This had become a favorite expression of Arianne’s when some situation or a news item—often about a case at work—would be described as being ‘like peeling an onion.’

Larry had adopted this simile—old as it was, but tried and true—himself and had told his bride how helpful she had been by dropping this term in his lap,now that he had been assigned the more suspicious—and difficult—claims to investigate.

He was coming to discover that a large number of his insurance claimants had a lot more to tell than just what they had penciled in on the claim form.


While Arianne was attending roasted vegetables in the oven, Larry sat with his mind suspended over a large red onion while he hauled in a précis of Mrs. Dawson’s disclosure—exposition—and mentally began to peel away the skin—the story—while Arianne did the same.

Not surprisingly, Arianne was better equipped for the process because her mind wasn’t cluttered with Mrs. Dawson’s detritus from her peculiar life story.

The happy couple exchanged ideas and theories while dinner was prepared following a joint peeling of the onion.

After dinner, they made up a list of items to take, as well as strategies to pursue, on the next day’s adventures with George and his unsuspecting claimants.

End of Chapter Three

© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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