Seeing this vengeful Angel of Death standing over me with my only means of self-defense in his possession, shocked me. My whole body tensed, and my face must have displayed a look of fear and trepidation. Then a thought crept into my consciousness from long ago, “Today is a good day to die.”
Looking pointedly at Ahab, I smiled and relaxed my feeble body back into the caresses of my bed.
This ploy wiped the smile off Ahab’s face. He was hoping for me to show constant signs of terror and dread.
I continued to look him in the eye and said, “Go ahead. Do your worst. I can’t stop ya.”
He looked down at me with a hatred that could melt iron. I quit smiling, but looked at him with all the malice I could conjure. This must have been more to his liking because he nodded his acceptance that we would always be enemies. He dropped the Colts on the bed, turned and stalked out of the room.
It took me a few moments to let both my mind and body catchup with what had just happened. My heart was still pounding to beat 60. My mind was racing with all the scenarios that could have happened. When I finally got both settled down, I realized that I had to be on my guard around Ahab from now on because I was fair game.
Letting out a deep breath, I murmured, “So be it.”
With trembling hands I picked up the Colts, checked them to see if they were actually loaded, which they were, and put them under the bed covers.
Bessie came into the room and put my saddlebags on the bed so that I could reach them. I hazarded a look at her, and when she saw that I was looking at her, she averted her gaze.
“How long have ya been married to Ahab?” I asked.
She was caught completely by surprise with my query, but answered proudly, “We jumped tha broom ‘bout five years ago, after I was bought to replace one of tha house servants that died. We married right off.”
I looked at her thoughtfully for a few seconds. She returned my gaze with equanimity. She wasn’t playing the game of being a servile person anymore. She revealed her true character, a strong and mature woman.
Then she quietly asked, “How come you’re alive? He came in here to kill ya. What did ya do?”
“That’s between him and me,” I retorted and looked at her with a new level of understanding of the undercurrents that ran through the Newcomer household.
She just nodded, put on her demeanor of servitude, turned and walked rapidly out of the room. I looked after her and thought, “That’s another one to be leery of. She’s as dangerous as Ahab.”
Daphne traipsed into the room with her toothbrush and a look of contentment until she saw my countenance.
“What’s wrong?” she demanded.
“Nothing. I just had an insight as to how things really work in Virginia,” I chuckled.
With a worried look she questioned, “How do ya mean?”
“Oh, it doesn’t matter. Let’s brush our teeth in unison. Can we get a communal bowl of water for the baptism?” I quipped.
This must have tickled her funny bone because she laughed out loud and yelled, “Bessie, fetch us a bowl of water.”
From the hall we heard, “Yes’m.”
In a jiffy, Bessie entered the door with a half filled bowl of well water and left the room.
I asked Daphne, “Can you help me sit up for this necessary health procedure?”
She laughed again and said, “I sure can. Just don’t do too much too soon.”
I raised my hand and said, “I promise. Scout’s honor.”
I could tell she had never heard of this 20th century colloquialism. I had made a faux pas. So I reached out with my arms and said, “Help me up.”
She rushed to help me, and after a few moments of maneuvering, I was able to get propped to a sitting position in bed. I extracted my dental paraphernalia from my saddlebags. Daphne picked up the bowl and sat down on the edge of the bed. We immersed our brushes in the water, put dental powder in our palms and dipped the brushes in the cleaning solution, which coated our cleaning instruments. We looked at each other like two kids about to embark on an adventure and began the age old brushing motion we learned in our youths. The sweet-tasting dental powder quickly enticed a swift flow of saliva for which we weren’t ready. Soon we had white foam coming out of our mouths and must have look like we had hydrophobia. We got to laughing so hard that we were spraying foam over each other and the bed covers. Finally, we spit enough of dental cleanser into the bowl to regain some control of our taste buds. Then we went on laughing for a few minutes. Once we had regained some semblance of propriety, we looked at each other and again collapsed into howls of laughter.
We hugged and gradually she rested with her head on my chest. I reached down and took her beautiful face in my hands and said, “I love you.”
She was too choked with emotion to respond, but kissed me deeply with tears running down her cheeks.
Suddenly, from the doorway we heard, “Here, here, what is all this?”
We looked up to see a squat-body man viewing us with an appalled glare.