Page 47 - From "John R. & Son" - A Story in Tessie Gillis' book, The Promised Land
ISSUE : Issue 62
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1993/1/1
word that the party'll be the day after." "Yiss!" said Molly. She was never one for wasting words. The wedding was as private as a ceremony of four people can be; but at the party the following night, John J. made the usual earthy boasts of his prowess, much to the delight of the guests. Old men made sly references to their own virility. Old women gave Molly advice on the sly. Young people hovered around tiie couple as if hoping in some magical way to steal a glimpse into the marital bed. Molly blushed through it all. Every farmer with a still had made a special run for the occasion. Everyone was feeling good. Theresa, bottle in one hand and a glass in the other, moved from one group of guests to another as long as she was able to walk. Then Molly took over. The house rocked in rhythm to the thudding of booted feet. The rafters and joists sfrained. A bed? lam of shouting echoed through the valley. In the parlour, the sparse furniture seemed almost new. The room had been opened only twice since Theresa's own wedding, and that was when the priest had called. Now, sitting in a circle, holding hands, a group was singing Gaelic songs. John J. stole away with his bride as soon as he could. Children occu? pied all the beds in the house: all the cubicles in the men's loft and the two beds in the women's loft, even the guest bedroom off the parlour. Not a child woke as Molly and John J. lifted tiiem gentiy and found room for them on another bed. By sunrise, the wedding was over. The festivities were complete. Everyone went home except the usual handftil of men who always re- ftised to leave until the last drop had been drunk. The family was alone at last, and young Molly had to adjust to a Ufe very different from the one she had known. Theresa took to Molly as if she were her own. Molly quietiy took a share of the work and would have accepted more if Theresa had taken advantage of her. Theresa was thirty-six now and looked twice her age. She was bent double from carrying buckets of water up the steep hill from the barn, and her face was furrowed. Molly responded warmly to her mother-in-law's affection, and a rare friendship sprang up between them. John R. made it known from the start that he had no intention of rele? gating himself to the rocking chair. He continued to rule the house? hold with an iron fist • Molly included. John J., still reluctant to take any responsibility himself or accept his father's domination, found himself about to become the father of a child for whom he could buy not even a diaper. John R.'s sharp eyes missed nothing. Since the moonshine business had been stopped, he hadn't found a job on the farm to suit his son. But he tried again. He bought a sawmill and a big truck. At meal? times, John R. seemed to become over-talkative. Theresa's nephews, Ben and Tim, still worked on the farm and lived there. John R. direct? ed all his talk to them, ignoring his son. Ben and Tim were setting up the mill. The nephews showed a remarkable bent for anything me? chanical, especially battered old machinery. "Yer set up, ain't you?" said John R. "Think that ol' motor's gonna run her? Next week'11 tell the tale. If everything goes right along, should have a load of lumber to take to Wrexham come the end of the week. Best try that motor this afternoon. Know what's what then. Ben, ye'U truck the load when we're ready." Then without apparentiy noticing the eagerness in John J.'s eyes, he got up, pulled his old cap down on his forehead, pushed it back into place, hair and all, and went out. John J. left his meal half finished and followed his father. Nobody found out what passed between them; but the following week, when the big truck, piled high with freshly sawn lumber, pulled away from the mill, it was John J. who sat at the wheel. John R. stood watching, a triumphant smile on his face. At first, John J. was content to make a few dollars every trip; but soon he began to enjoy the feel of money in his pocket. A merchant in Cro? marty was only too glad to pay more to have his order delivered from Wrexham the same day. Before long, John J. was carrying for anyone who asked him, and his list of customers kept growing. John J. had started a delivery service. John R. disapproved and considered repri? manding his son, but intuition warned him to be satisfied that John J. was working at all. There was no chance he would ever be an asset to his father; but at least, he wasn't underfoot and giving orders. Molly gave birth to a son. John J. insisted that the child be called John R., after his own father, as was the custom. As for the rest, they could be called One, Two, Three, Four, Five, as far as he was concerned. 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