9 “Who is This, Again”

by admin on October 14, 2011

306 Mountainview Road

The phone rang in the small house at 306 Mountain View Road.  The phone hardly ever rang at the modest home of 93 year old Samuel Dunwell, never mind on a Sunday morning.  Easing himself up with his cane Samuel struggled to answer the call.  He was still bright and alert, but time had caught up to his aging body.  “Hello?” he said.  The operator said “I have a collect call for Samuel Dunwell will you accept the charges?”  “Well, who is it?”  He asked.  A nervous sounding voice at the other end of the line inquired “Is this Samuel Dunwell?” “Yes, who’s calling?” he asked again.  “My name is Ida Dunwell Bingham, I’m your granddaughter” she said, barely able to whisper the words.  Stunned by the words, Samuel sank back into his old leather armchair.  “Who is this, again?” he asked, hardly able to believe what his old ears had just heard.  A few more verbal exchanges were made with the operator but Samuel just sat there unable to fully comprehend to whom he was talking.  After Ida’s several tearful minutes of explanation Samuel collected his thoughts and began a plan to assist his… “granddaughter?”

A flood of mixed emotions washed over the old gent.  A swirl of old memories of England clashed with the nearly seventy years he had been in America.  Who was this woman?  How did she find me?  Was she truly Elizabeth’s granddaughter?  Oh, Elizabeth…  A sudden wave of guilt crashed down upon him.  Without warning all the misdeeds of his youth came calling.

It was time to call his son Charles and reveal to him his past life before he came to America.

At the end of Madison Street, in the corner 3-story brownstone the phone began to ring.  Laura Dunwell answered.  “Hello?” “Oh, hello Dad”, “why, yes, Charles is here, let me get him.”  Charles Dunwell picked up the phone and heard his father’s wavering voice.  “Dad, are you all right?” Charles asked.  Samuel responded affirmatively.  “Yes, I can be there in about 20 minutes” Charles replied.  As Charles hung up the phone Laura looked at him for some sign of what was going on.  He had none.

Minutes later Charles pulled up to the house on Mountain View Road.  Opening up the front door Charles called out, “Dad, are you all right?”  “Come in and close the door” the old man replied.  Samuel motioned for Charles to sit down.  Rising uneasily to his feet Samuel made his way to the small liquor cabinet in the den.  Retrieving a bottle of vintage scotch and two glasses he returned to the living room and sat down.  He poured the scotch slowly, deliberately.

Alternating between fond chuckles and warm tears Samuel proceeded to let his youth unfold to the bemusement of his youngest son.  Charles knew that Dad had been no angel and he certainly knew, through various business deals, that his father sometimes wandered through gray areas when it came to business ethics.  As his father spoke Charles wondered why Dad had chosen this moment in time to fill in the blanks of his youth in England.  He didn’t wonder for very much longer.  “Your granddaughter?” Charles said in amazement.  “She called you from where?” “But what, how…”  The questions flowed without answers.

The two men sat staring at each other with a rather dumbfounded look on their faces.  The old gent finally spoke.  “They’re stuck in Burlington, on the boarder.”  “Call Laura and tell her everything is fine but we have to attend to some urgent out of town business.”  Charles balked; he knew Laura would want details.  “Just make something up” the old man grumbled.  “Women.  They can’t just accept anything without an explanation” he mumbled to himself.  Charles picked up the telephone and dialed his number.  “Hello? Yes, Dad is fine, no there is nothing wrong.  Really, Laura, everything is fine.”  “We’re taking the # 7 at 4:15 down to Denver.  Railroad business.  We’ll be back in the morning.” “We’ll be careful.  I love you, too.” “Bye.”

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