The pair was quiet as they made their way to the patrol car, where Harley helped the younger woman with her seat belt. They remained that way until they drove down Bender to a spot a few miles down the road, past the school, where the Sheriff pulled the car over.
"This is where we stay until after the school lets out and the kids clear the road," the Sheriff offered.
"So," the writer looked around at the beautiful countryside and the trees lining each side of the small two-lane road, "you must have been on my tale for about four miles before I pulled over." She smiled a little and blushed with remembrance.
"Yeah, about that. I don't know what was on your mind, but you sure didn't seem to be paying any attention to me, or my siren." She gave a very cute pout with that and lifted her eyebrows in question.
"Don't take it personally. I just get a little pre-occupied in my thoughts once in a while. It's a writer thing." She said, trying to dismiss it. She was more than a little embarrassed that she led the officer on that merry a chase, and that she might have put those children at risk if Harley hadn't caught up with her.
Since that last touch they shared, Emily's mind had been tumbling over itself. She was frankly amazed she'd been able to make coherent conversation. Her thoughts just jumped from here to there and back again. Seizing on one she said, "Isn't Martha, Emerson's wife?"
The Sheriff nodded. "Yeah."
"I guess I'm a little confused here. Why would Emerson's wife Martha be e-mailing Cole about the mare going into foal? Does she live nearby?" Her brow furrowed. It just seemed so odd. Like THAT'S new around this place.
"Ahhhh. I can see how you might be confused here." She sucked in a deep breath and began. "Well, I can't tell you precisely how it happened, but I can give you a fair approximation of what I think probably did." She turned a little in her seat and looked at the woman full on for the first time since that awkward moment in the office .She was glad she did. Boy, oh boy, this is a nice face to look at.
"I'll bet that Martha heard it from Wesley, our mail carrier, and he heard it from Ellie, who's the stop right before the elementary school where Martha works, and she heard it from her brother Peter, who likely heard it from Ruthie, who probably heard it from her best friend Sadie, who got it from Hank Stevens, Charlie Stevens oldest boy, who's father told him that Trixie was ready to foal."
The city raised woman just sat there with her mouth open. The sheriff leaned forward and gently closed it for her.
"I imagine from Charlie's mouth to Cole's e-mail didn't even take twenty minutes."
The blondes jaw fell open again. Yet again the Sheriff closed it for her.
When all she got in response was a vapid stare, the Sheriff added. "You people in Tinsel Town think you know what a grapevine is. Dear, you have no clue." Her smile spread and her eyes sparkled as the writer tried to absorb what Harley just told her.
She let out a big breath of air and started, "Okay, I get where Charlie would have told his son, but why and how would Hank have told Sadie?"
"The Rimshaws and the Stevens live next door to each other. Now, Carl Rimshaw, Sadie's dad, doesn't want his daughter to end up living on a small ranch in the hills, so he disapproves of her relationship with Hank, but Hank and Sadie don't disapprove. So, they continue to see each other and will probably marry one day, even though Carl insisted that his girl get her Associates degree in business so that she could find a job down south. Sadie's been dragging her feet since she graduated and took a job as the receptionist/secretary at Jeanette's CPA office. Anyway, the only time she and Hank can see each other during the week is on Tuesdays and Thursdays when her Dad is down south for the afternoon to collect the receipts and do the paperwork on the other two gas stations he owns. Jeannette lets Sadie off so she can spend some time with Hank without aggravating her Dad. Chances are she showed up at the Steven's place and that's when Hank told her about Trixie."
"And Sadie told Ruthie?" the blonde inquired.
"Sure. Since Hank loves the ranch and plans to stay and run it when his Dad passes on, he wants to be in on the birth. That leaves Sadie with nothing to do, so she probably went home and called her best friend Ruthie Butler."
"And..." the anxious writer prodded her.
She knew she was aggravating her by not telling the whole thing, but she was really enjoying herself. After the little hand gesture she gave that clearly meant 'get on with it', the Sheriff gave in.
"And since it's after two o'clock the rush hour at the diner where Ruthie works is over and she knew Sadie would have a few minutes to talk. So Sadie called her and told her about Trixie and that she was probably free for the afternoon, since Hank would be otherwise occupied and wanted to see if they could get together when she got off work." She stopped here deliberately to annoy the smaller woman and it seemed to be working splendidly. The writers face started turning red and she jumped a little in he seat as she nodded for her to continue and said. "And thennnnnn..."
"Oh, right." She couldn't keep the smirk off he face this time as she continued. "Well, Peter Blister is the front desk manager at the Feed and Grain store. He takes his lunch late every day, so that he can cover the shift of the owner, Bob Beerly, who likes to go have lunch with his wife and family. He's a widower and it doesn't really matter to him when he eats lunch, but it does matter where. Every day for the last eighteen years since his wife died, he eats at the diner we went to yesterday. Always has the same thing too, so waiting on him is easy. The minute he walks through the door they start to make his BLT on wheat and pour his decaf. It's more than likely that Ruthie passed on the information about Trixie just making conversation with one of her favorite customers," she finished.
"Which led tooooo...?" The color in the smaller woman's cheeks was just adorable. She was really getting into this.
"Ellie Gravitz, Peters older sister. Now Ellie has a heart condition and since her husband died three years ago, most of the town has tried to persuade Ellie to either move in with someone or let someone move in with her. She won't hear of it. Proud woman that she is, she refuses to admit that she can't care for herself at the young age of 72. As a result, her only close relative, her brother Peter makes it a point to check in with her four times a day, before work, after lunch, after work and before Ellie's bedtime at 8:30. It's my best guess he told her about Trixie when he checked in on her after lunch at the diner. And before you ask, it is also my best guess that Ellie shared that with our mail carrier, Wesley Simms who gave the information to Martha as she is usually in the office at that time of day and takes care of the mail herself." There was a short pause while Emily tried to see it all in her head, and then Harley added. "Marvin Gaye had no idea how fast our grapevine runs."
The slow smile that began to blossom on the blondes face was like the sun coming out. The whole story was just enchanting. She felt as if she had fallen into an old episode of The Andy Griffith Show, only she hadn't met Aunt Bea yet, but it was maybe just a little too... odd for that. Maybe Northern Exposure or Twin Peaks. This was GREAT! This just cried out to be written down, and she was just the one to do it.
When after a few silent minutes passed and the smile never left that pretty face, even though no words came forth, her curiosity got the better of her. She just loved this town and she really wanted Emily to love it too. The whole set of probable causes for the e-mail she had just described was one of the reasons. She just had to know how the girl felt about it.
"Emily?" she offered, quietly. She got no response. The blonde was still sitting there, smiling like crazy, and staring at nothing out the windshield.
"Emily." Louder this time and she put her hand on her shoulder.
The writer jerked a bit in surprise, but never lost her smile as she turned around to face her. "What?"
"I just had to know what put that smile on your face. What was it you were thinking so hard about?"
"This place. The town. Bramble. It's...it's just...it's great! Don't you think it's great? It's really great!"
Before she could respond, the blonde went on nearly oblivious to her companion.
"I've just got to get out there and meet some of these people. Steph was right. I really need to find out what's important and get my muse back. I have to talk to them and ... see them." Her speech was rapid and halfway through she stopped looking at the Sheriff and started to get that same glazed look Harley interrupted. She was focusing on ... nothing, over the Sheriff's left shoulder as she rambled.
"You grew up here, so you would have no way of knowing what it's like to grow up in a place like L.A. Everything and everybody for themselves all the time. I've lived in my condo for two years and I don't even know my neighbors names. It would never even occur to me to find out my mailman's name, and Twyla, gods, Twyla knows everything! She's been here for years and knows everyone." Her brows were nearly touching as she scrunched up her forehead. The whole thing simply amazed her.
The Sheriff just couldn't keep the satisfied grin from her face. Her only thought was that she hoped like anything that this was not just a novelty for the younger woman. That the wonder of it wouldn't wear off. That she really admired the quality of life here and might want to stay, because she really wanted her to stay, and she'd only known her one day. She realized she'd been concentrating on her thoughts to the exclusion of her guest and tuned back in.
"... almost like living in another country. I think it's really kind of, ya know, culture shock. I have to do some research. I have to make some notes." She started to come back to herself when she realized she was scanning the car for her laptop or at least a pen, and then she twitched her fingers and gasped at the pain as she remembered her injury.
Seeing the woman's dilemma and where she was headed Harley quickly offered, "If you can wait for a few minutes, we'll drop by my place before we start the drive-through and I'll let you use my tape recorder. Will that help?"
The thought of going to the home of the beautiful woman suddenly brought all of her thoughts to a screeching halt.
"Oh yeah." She whispered, then caught herself, and spoke in a more normal tone of voice. "That would be, ah, great. So helpful. I mean it's really thoughtful of you to offer. I'd like that."
"Glad to do it." The officer replied casually, but her thoughts weren't casual. She wants to go to my house. She wants to go to my house. She wants to go to my house. Yippee.
Just then, they heard the school bell ring in the distance and they sat quietly until Harley started the car, turned it around, and pulled back onto Bender, headed for home.
Since she couldn't seem to quiet that little voice in her head singing the coming to my house chant endlessly, and since Emily hadn't made any conversation, Harley felt the need to provide some. Either that, or she was going to burst into the vocal rendition of the chant, and that would never do. So, the tour of Bramble began.
"That's where I pulled you over yesterday, remember." She pointed to the chain link fence on her right.
"How could I forget?" Emily answered, and looked over at the small house set far back from the road, behind the fence.
"Well, that's where Ellie Gravitz lives. She's the last stop before the Elementary school for Wesley Simms, our mail carrier. After the school, Wesley's done for the day."
Her instincts told the writer that all of Harley's speculations on how the news of the Steven's mare got to Cole were absolutely right. Emily's need to verify it before recording, caused her to make a note to herself to finagle an invitation to go see the feisty old woman, as well as the others the Sheriff mentioned, to confirm it.
"Ellie Gravitz," she said, speculatively, "isn't she the one Twyla told me about who worked at Lockheed during the war?" The name suddenly made her remember her breakfast conversation. Twyla called her one of the original Rosie the Riveters, who lied about her age to get to work for the war effort. She was already married to Doug Gravitz and she wanted to help him come home to her. Her parents disowned her when she secretly married him at sixteen and they had to flee from Chicago in order to avoid her parents getting the wedding annulled.
Oh, this is going to be great!
"Yep, that's her. As soon as the war ended and Mr. Gravitz got back home, they moved up and have been here ever since." Harley added. "Peter came to see her a few years later and he fell in love with the place. Met his wife here."
She remembered Twyla saying much the same thing, something about Peter's family disowning him for associating with his sister and being cut off from the family fortune. Wow, that takes integrity. These are people are real, no façade, no pretense, no hidden agenda. She wasn't at all sure how to go about talking to them. It would be like learning a foreign language. She was raised so differently. She let out a small little sigh that didn't go unnoticed.
"Something wrong, Emily?" She could hear the concern in the voice that spoke the words.
Funny, she'd heard those same words uttered by any number of her so-called friends but she'd never heard anything in them but curiosity. The weight of that brought on a whole new sigh, as the realization of just how shallow and insubstantial her life and her relationships have been.
More importantly, why didn't I ever notice it before? Though
she never before questioned her life or lifestyle, she suddenly realized
just how very hollow it was. Guess this is what they mean by Introspection,
huh. She wasn't at all sure she liked it.
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