Leland put the pedal to the metal. The shooting schedule would be

       accelerated. The equipment trucks had back-up everything so everything

       would be called up for active duty. Camera assistants became cameramen.

       Junior directors were now senior directors and Leland transformed his own 

       position of senior director into something akin to a traffic cop.

                  On a visit to Paula's record & curio shop, he found and purchased a 

        riding crop with a rattlesnake grip. The crop went great with the aviator

        shades and his pants legs tucked into his boot tops, most impressive.

                   No longer senior director, he became director general, maybe general

        director. As the vans left the parking area of the Willard motel, he would

        smack 'em on the tail lights with his executive riding crop and say something

        like “heeyah.” This, he thought, was what D.W. Griffith would have said, 

        or maybe, Black Jack Pershing.

                   When Penny told Celia, who found out from Jackson, her 

        confederate union, that the home of Irma Willard, now Celia's home, would 

        be a subject-skirmish-next on the docket, she immediately told Miles she 

        would not be on her morning's appointed rounds. Miles needed only to snort 

        his approval and consent.

                    From a two-seater porch swing that did not squeak, Irma and Celia

        smiled and waved as the van pulled up. Celia was up first, down the porch

        steps and by the van as the doors opened. By way of introductions, Celia

        expressed that there must be no swearing on this set or in this home.

                    As if scrutinizing the punctuation of a script, Celia correctly 

         surmised that emphasizing the Christian sanctity of Irma's home would

         serve to reinforce her own cover as the dullish local mail lady. For the

         occasion, she donned her postal blues, with the shorts no less, no knee socks

        though.

                    On this occasion the invaders numbered as follows; 3 cast folks

        (2 women, 1 guy) and 1 ambitious but clearly over-tasked camera woman

        who was not getting paid enough either but didn't seem to care. The driver, 

        who never got out of the truck, went right to sleep.

                    This was a “home redesign” show, where this really condescending

         trio would storm your domicile and tell you the walls were the wrong color

        or the rocker is an eyesore or the feng shui was interrupted. Heavens! 

 

                    The two newcomer women and Celia, now breathless and

        immovable, took in the sight of the home from a short distance.

        Irma sat, still rocking the porch swing, beaming serenity while butterflies 

        and honey bees danced with swaying sentry flowers. Had these women been

        gazing up at the Taj Majal or a restored Parthenon, those sights would not

        have shined and glowed with the wonder of wonders that was washing over

        the congregation now. That masculine member of the cast was not so

        spellbound.

                    “ I say we just toss a match and call it a day.” Max got shoved from

        behind when the encumbered camera woman passed on the way with her 

        cohort to the foot of the porch steps.

                     Irma rose, straightened her apron and descended the steps that 

        didn't squeak.

                      “Good morning, I'm Irma Willard. This is my home and you are

        welcome to it.” The women reached out immediately and Irma took their 

        hands with both of hers. Max, the arsonist, suppressed a groan while visions

        of wrecking crews danced in his head.

                       The interior of Irma's abode was quiet stillness and visual comfort.

        It possessed the good sense of Shaker design and an antique truth without

       sentimentality. Though always charmed by this environment, Celia had 

       become acclimated to it, so seeing these women tearing up at the sight of it

       was a new wonderment for her.

                        As they discussed what might be altered in Irma's home, the 

       women rebuffed Max at every turn, not merely for disrespect or bad taste 

        but for sacrilege. 

                       Celia had explained earlier to the group that Irma was near deaf.

        With the dismissal of all of his design revelations, Max's tone hardened, 

        his voice rose in volume and his vocabulary exceeded network guidelines.

       Irma and Celia were now back on the porch swing, as Irma could not be at

       peace with all those bodies and their gear in her home.

                      Quietly, slowly, Irma turned to Celia, “Celia child, you know that

       pantry off the kitchen?”

                      “Yes Irma.”

                      “Good, well when you walk in, down on the right, bottom shelf,

       behind the canning jars of okra and turnips, there is a florist's box.”

                        “Do you need me to get it out for you, Irma?” Celia jumped at any

      opportunity to be of service to her landlady.

                         “No no no. But there is a sawed off in the box and shells in a red

      Christmas cookie can. Be a dear and check and see it's loaded. Load it if it 

       ain't.” Irma patted Celia's hand and watched the activity around her bird 

       feeder.  

                “Wonder of wonders.”

                         Keeping Max restrained by both arms, the designers left Irma's

      perfect home. Irma and Celia rose from the swing and Irma wished them well

      on leaving, as she had on their arrival.

                 “No show here, folks, come on now, everybody move along.”

                           The van pulled away slowly raising little dust. Irma and Celia 

     swung a little more and sipped ice tea.

A Battle of

           Many

                    Skirmishes

CHAPTER 39

  "Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."