Timeline: Mid-March 2008
Ann-Marie hadn’t had much time to talk to her brother with getting situated, seeing Ironclaw, the fighting, etc. He had been a great help in getting her moved in a few months ago, and in many ways was still the little boy she knew all those years ago.
She invited John over for wine and asking him to bring his guitar. She had her violin ready and the sheet music for some Woody Guthrie, Allison Krause and other folk music, plus a number of her favorite Celtic arrangements.
She poured the wine near the appointed hour and waited for the knock on the door.
John showed up wearing a ratty old denim Jacket a worn ball cap, T-Shirt and faded blue jeans, he stopped outside the door took his guitar out of its battered case and started to play an old Hank Williams song, “My buckets got a hole in it …”
Ann-Marie heard the music and opened the door. There, wine in hand, she leaned against the door jam, listening to the music of ol’ Hank sung very well by her brother as he had done many times before. When completed, she said, “Thanks for the serenade!” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “Come on in and have a seat.”
“Well I thought if I told everyone I went seranading a beautiful woman tonight, they would leave off with all the virginity nonsense.” John said with a grin.
John sees the piles of newly purchased and some older sheet music lovingly placed in the room. Two chairs and a tall table were set in the center, each with music stands. Beside one was the family violin.
Ann-Marie, dressed like a 50’s beatnik (black turtleneck, matching capri’s and flats) walked over to the table took a seat and her instrument and began playing one of Woody Guthries’ Dustbowl ballads, “Dustbowl Blues”. She hoped John would pick up on the guitar part.
John listened to what Ann-Marie was playing for a several measures then gave a half-way grin and sat down and started playing with her. When they were done, John said for a second there I thought we would be playing beat-neck meets red-neck, but that was good you been practicing.
“You know I always loved Woody Guthrie. I still have the old ’78s around here somewhere. He usually doesn’t have fiddle, but I improvise. Folk music doesn’t have to be the same every time. Good to see you still remember Hank. Dad loved hearing his songs on the radio.”, said Ann-Marie.
They continued for awhile, playing music and commenting on the past when Ann-Marie said, “Do you want to take a break?”
“That would be good,” John said as he examined his fingers. “I’ve been practicing medicine not guitar and my clauses aren’t what they used to be. So how is life in the slow lane of Eldonwell going for you? You and Ironclaw still doing okay?”
“This place is looking better and better, though I know there are many strange things about it I need to be wary of. Rumors from our friend’s statements and from others I know. But in general I like it.”, she replied.
“As far as Ironclaw, well we are doing fine. What I am worried about is you. Are you seeing anyone?”
John looked a little puzzled but open when he answered, “Why are you worried about me Grace? You hear something I should know about?”
“Actually I’ve heard very little. You are a good doctor and you do your best with your ‘extracurricular’ activities. You can read minds, etc. But can’t a sister worry about her brother a little? Hope for a little happiness for him?” she replied.
“Well its nice to hear people think I’m a good Doctor, always nice to be appreciated,” John said with a wry grin “and I AM happy Grace, moreso since I have some family around.”
“I appreciate that you appreciate me being here Johnny. I was wondering why you hadn’t been married like our other siblings? You seemed the most likely to when we were little,” she asked.
“Well lets see, it could be that my high school sweetheart, married while I was in Nam. It could be that what I saw over there changed me, when I came back home, I was a little messed up in the head. I could be that I just never found someone that I really wanted to take home to Mama. It’s sort of like asking why didn’t I stay home or why did I go to Nam. All I can say is at the time I made the choices, it seemed like the right thing to do.” There was a far away look of old pain in his eyes but also acceptance. Only someone that knew him well could see it, but Grace did know him well enough. “When am I going to get a Morgan to hang over my bed? You should paint something for Mama. I can tell her I found promising young artist and what does she think. I bet she would be tickled pink.”
She put down her violin and hugged her little brother, “It must have been horrible there. I too have known horror, but you have to do your best to move on. You should enjoy life and find someone to enjoy it with, someone you can love. That’s my opinion though.”
“Grace, it was horrible and the best time of my life and in my own way, I have made peace with it. I do enjoy life and I didn’t say I hadn’t been looking, just haven’t found that special someone. I cherish your opinion Grace. I may not always listen but I do cherish it.”
“Concerning Mama, I’ll do the painting for her. Do me a favor though. Take my camera and photograph the day. I miss it actually, and I want to see it through your eyes. From there I’ll compose a piece for Mama, perhaps part of a series and I’ll give you one too, and perhaps for the whole family.
“On that, I thought we could introduce me to mother as her own great granddaughter, or someone you think is. I have it somewhat planned out.”
“That sounds like a recipe for hurt Grace, just how good is your Gillian Morgan cover Grace? Was she an orphan or adopted? Cause if we say, ‘You are someone she can check up on,’ she will, but if we say ‘Well I saw her and thought wow she is the spitting image of Grace, but she is a foundling and hey wasn’t Great Uncle Randolf a traveling sales man out this way.’ It’s a dead end and she draws her own conclusions. But you are probably better at covering your tracks than I will ever be.”
“Yeah, you might be right. Perhaps, aspiring artist Gillian Morgan is a better story. Spitting image of Grace Beckett, except a little more mature . Let me do the paintings first though. On that note, would you be able to help me establish a firm ID as Gillian and help me sell my stories and art?”
“Well selling the stuff shouldn’t be hard at all, but as for the ID, what did you have in mind? I can help you get established here as Gillian, if you want me to establish Gill in the Government network thats a little harder. I do have a contact with the FBI that might help, I have a few old army buddies, that owe me their lives. What exactly did you have in mind?”
“A little of both,” she replied. “But absolute privacy has to be maintained. I have things to share with the world, ideas, art, insights; but I can’t give up privacy or put kindred or any of you at risk. I doubt it will happen, but experience tells me to be careful.”
“Well if you want it formal, I can have Daniel draw up papers asking me to act as your agent, insofar as local sales go, although we don’t really need it,” he replied. “If you turned 18 this year, you wouldn’t have filed any income tax before and if you had been living overseas with relations then there would be no past income tax. Would need a record of your birth I suppose, might be able to slip something in here. I don’t really want to call in Bailey if there isn’t a need. But that has drawbacks of its own. Who all knows locally your ummm, situation?”
“Let’s see. Lyla, Ramiel, yourself, Ironclaw, Michael and Daniel know I’m a vampire and your sister, though they all have been informed that I am for the purposes of me living here your niece. Hopefully every one of them can be trusted to keep a secret. The Honeywells know we are related and I am a vampire; how I do not know. Honoré, Chaska, Rose, and some of Ironclaw’s other friends may suspect I am more than I seem, but if it has ever come up, I have referred to you as Uncle Johnny and I have never admitted anything. All of my followers, if they have asked, have been told you are my uncle.
“To be honest, way too many know what I am. I find it disturbing, but I’m dealing with it, trusting in their sincerity and honesty. I hope my trust is honorably placed and I don’t find myself hounded by a fundamentalist vampire hunter or a Buffy want-to-be.”
“The Honeywells know?” said a surprised John. “Well, that makes things easier. This community used to used to be pretty insular and cut-off. People from outside the community didn’t usually stay here because of a spirit that was controling the area.
“The area is still remote and the Honywells are still listened-to. If someone does come looking for you I don’t think they will have an easy time finding you. I can put out the word that you have had a bad break up and if anyone comes looking for you to send them to me, given my postion on the community, the acceptance of the Honeywells and my friends. I think you are as secure locally as you want to be. You keep mentioning followers. Are were going to have an influx of the church or the revealed goddess or something? I mean how many people we talking here?”
She replied, “I have a few people in the area, not so much in town, but in around the county and northern New Hampshire mostly. They are fellow seekers, people looking to learn more about the goddess. They don’t know of my true nature, but they are well aware of my beliefs. I’m a priestess to them. It is one of the reasons I agreed to move out here, several of my friends had moved in this area and I went to Concord to be near them. That’s all. Eldon Well simply lets me be closer to my brother, and I’ve made new friends as well. There won’t be an influx of cultists if that is what you are worrying about. These are free thinking, intelligent young women who don’t pose a danger to anyone; as long as they don’t harm anyone they should be allowed to do as they please. It’s a edgier version of druidism, very feminine and powerful. Lyla saw one of our informal gatherings and I doubt she felt threatened.
“I agree with your explanation about the bad relationship, etc. Those who should be able to find me, know how. As far was everything else, well I for one want to run with the niece angle. It would be best. However, I don’t think that lawyer likes me much. Then again, few seem to be willing to trust me, so its not out of the ordinary I suppose.”
“Daniel doesn’t really like many people but I think since he’s been here, he has been re-evaluationg his relationship. That aside, insofar as I know he has never allowed personal feelings to interfere with a business relationship. Which is what this request would be, and it wouldn’t be you asking but me asking him to prepare the paperwork if you even want to bother with it.
“I can always take your work to the hub and ask a few of the shops to display it,” John continued “Lyla would hang something up in the Brew if she liked it and you asked her. I can commission a number for my office and use them as a tax write off for all that matters. Poetry and the like we can handle throught the library and the internet. And Grace for what its worth I trust you.”
“Thanks Johnny, I appreciate that.”, said the grateful sister.
“No problemo, what’s family for, ya know. Grace I want you to know that it’s made me really happy to have you back from the grave as it were. I know we never said it much growing up but I love you and I wanted you to know that. Since Dad died the whole family says it more, and I wanted you to know that it means a lot to me that you are willing to risk your secrecy just to be here.” John said with absolute trust and love in his eyes.
She’ll lean over and hug him, “Know that you can always ask me anything little brother. Some things I might not be able to answer, but I’ll do my best. You know I have always loved you, even when we were apart. I followed your successes and your tough times as best as I could. At least now I can share in them.” She picked up her fiddle, “A little Ralph Stanley?”
“Music to my ears Grace, music to my ears,” John said with a grin, relieved that the touchy feely part was over but glad he had said it all the same.