Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Chapter 316 What should I do?

“Omigod, omigod, omigod.... what should I do? What can I do?” Violet mumbled to herself, her heart beating frantically in her chest. “How can I stop this...this...”

“Just don't panic,” Richard said.

“Don't panic?” she said through gritted teeth. “This woman whom I barely know is about to kill herself and all you can say is don't panic?”

“She doesn't really want to do it. She just thinks it's her only option. You have to convince her it's not, that's all,” he said.

“Oh, is that all?” Violet said, dripping sarcasm. “Then after I'm done with that easy task, I can wave my elderwood wand and POOF, world peace magically transforms the planet.”

“World peace will have to wait,” Richard said, placing a calming, ghostly hand on her shoulder. “This is more important at the moment, Violet. Just look at her. Does that look like a woman who wants to die?”

Violet didn't have the slightest idea what a suicidal person looked like. She only knew that people intent on living don't usually heap morphine pills--enough to knock an elephant on its ass!-- next to their evening tea. Violet bit down on her bottom lip and watched Mrs. Beckel casually flipping through an old photo album still humming a song...a familiar song that she couldn't quite place.

“Ask her about it,” Richard said.

“What is that you're humming, Mrs. Beckel? I think I know it, although...I don't quite remember from where,” Violet said, loud enough for the woman to hear.

“Oh, you might not have been alive when the song came out back in the eighties, eighty-seven to be precise,” Mrs. Beckel laughed.

“I was alive!” Violet said indignantly, but she instantly deflated. “I was seven... but that doesn't mean I don't know music from that time.”

“Well, I doubt you'll know this one, because it was never popular, but here goes my favorite part,” the old woman said, closing over the book. Then she started singing in a clear voice.

♩ ♬ … People, you can never change the way they feel, better let them do just as they will, for they will... if you let them steal your heart from you...People will always make a lover feel a fool, but you knew I loved you, we could have shown them all, we should have seen love through…♪ ♫*

Violet listened until she finally recognized it, and she joined in, much to Mrs. Beckel's surprise and delight.

“So, you do know it!” Mrs. Beckel said.

“Yes, it was one of George Michael's  best love songs. I'm shocked you would know it, let alone like it,” Violet said, until she realized it may have sounded insulting, that an old person couldn't like popular music or some such. “Not that you're too old for it or's just... uh...”

 “Don't fret, Dear, no offense taken,” Mrs. Beckel said. “It was the song playing when I and Henry celebrated our wedding anniversary. We danced to it. It wasn't exactly a good kind of love song, was it? It's rather sad... a break up song, I think.”

“Um... I suppose so,” Violet said. “But it did the trick. I mean, you fell in love all over again doesn't matter now, huh?”

“True,” Mrs. Beckel said, a sadness creeping into her again. “Love song or not, the love is's over.”

“No, it's never over,” Violet said. “Love goes on.”

“That would be Celine Dion's line,” Mrs. Beckel said with a chuckle. “But anyway, it's getting late and you should be going. I'm sure you have somewhere to go on a night as special as this one.” 

“No, I don't,” Violet lied.

“Nonsense, I've seen you look at your watch at least four times since you've been here,” Mrs. Beckel said. “It's Christmas so you must have some place to go.”

“Yes, but...uh...” Violet cast about for something to say.

“Ask about her garden journals,” Richard said. “You know that's your kinda thing and when she turns her back on you, grab the pills!”

“Are you nuts? How will I get away with that?” Violet said.

“Just do it!” Richard said.

“Mrs. Beckel, about those garden journals. I've wanted to do one, uh... but each growing season I'm so busy planting and weeding that I never get to do it. I didn't really know how to start is the problem. Do you have one for each year?” Violet asked.

“Heavens no!” Mrs. Beckel said. “I wouldn't have room for forty-some years of garden journals.”

“I thought that was the point. Then how do you do it?” Violet asked, this time very interested in the answer.

And an extensive answer it would be.

“Don't get distracted by the flowers. Get the pills!” Richard said.

While Mrs. Beckel went to the shelf, Violet scooped up the pills and dropped them into her pocket. The old lady didn't notice anything awry when she returned with her first attempt at a garden journal. She briefly thumbed through it to show Violet what a disaster it was-- funny, it looked perfectly fine to Violet, but what did she know?-- and then she showed her the last one she had made. 

This was a comprehensive encyclopedia of every perennial, annual, shrub and tree in the entire yard, its location in said garden marked on a map, plus all the pertinent information about its growth, date of initial emerging in spring, when it blooms, when it sets and drops seed, its hardiness zone, and each plant was illustrated with actual leaf, flower, seed and stem samples included, and each labeled with botanical name, common names and cultivars.

“Dang, this is...the attention to detail is just...holy moly, this is fantastic!” Violet said. “This would really come in handy for...geeze, anybody who has any interest in horticulture.”

“I've had enough practice to eventually get it right,” Mrs. Beckel said, proudly.

Violet continued to look through the photos of the plants at the back of the journal, shaking her head in wonder. “You know who would love this...I mean really love this? Garrett.”

“I'm sorry, who?” Mrs. Beckel said.

“Garret Johansen, he's my supervisor at Weston Botanical where I work, although it often feels like I'm his,” Violet said.

“Weston Botanical? Do you mean to tell me you work at one of the finest botanical gardens in New York State and you neglected to tell me this rather important fact?” Mrs. Beckel said indignantly.

Violet looked up from the book on her lap and blinked stupidly. “Well, I only just met you, so when would I have had the chance before now?”

Mrs. Beckel burst out laughing. “Got me there! But you should have told me.”

“Yes, I was saying, Garret would love to see these,” Violet continued, running her fingers over the pages. “He'd love to talk your ear off too. He'd ask you a million questions. We could learn so much from you. I've never even heard of this plant. I'd love to see it in person... I mean growing in your garden. I doubt Garret's ever seen it, either, and he's been all over the world collecting plants for Weston. It says here this one is from Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania. Where the heck is that? Ooh, do you think we could have some cuttings or seeds from this plant and maybe some of the others you said you have...the rare ones? Garret in particular would love to add them to Weston's collection.”

“My dear, did you forget as of day after tomorrow this cottage is yours and along with it the gardens and everything within it?” Mrs. Beckel said, her expression clouding once again.

“But, Mrs. Beckel...”

“Please call me Bonnie. I'd like someone to call me by my given name before I ...go,” she said on a sigh.

“Well, Bonnie, I think you have to come with me some day to meet Garret at Weston... or better yet, you can come right now,” Violet said, excitedly. "And when I go back to work, I can introduce you to the director of Weston, Walter Bettencort. He'd probably offer you a job on the spot!"

“I don't think...”

“Bonnie, I'm late for a Christmas party and Garret's supposed to be there...if he doesn't chicken out, that is, but regardless, you have to come with me. It'll be fun!”

The old lady smiled faintly, but shook her head.

“Give me one good reason you can't come with me to a nice Christmas party?” Violet said, angrily.

“Well...for one...I am Jewish, so...Hanukkah...”

Violet's mouth fell open. “No, you're not! You can't be. You had all those beautiful Christmas decorations all over your yard every year... except....for this year.”

“Yes, well, that was Henry's thing. Regardless that we were Jewish he insisted on all the Christmas stuff, all the elaborate decorating. He did it for the kids in the neighborhood. They all got such a kick out of it,” Mrs. Beckel said fondly. “You see, we felt that Hanukkah and Christmas are very similar in that we both celebrate miracles.”

“Wow, I never thought of it that way,” Violet said. “It's true...kinda.”

“I mean, if Jews can, if not exactly believe, we can at least give the benefit of a doubt that an unwed teenage girl was visited by an angel sent by God and was impregnated with the savior and...”

“And in turn Christians can give the benefit of a doubt that one day's worth of oil lasted for eight nights,” Violet added. “Sounds fair to me.”

They both laughed.

“Well...Happy Hanukkah, Bonnie,” Violet said.

“And a very Merry Christmas to you, Violet,” Mrs. Beckel said. 

* From George Michael's love song "Kissing a Fool".  RIP George.

©2016 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved ♩ ♬ … …♪ ♫

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