'And the Rough Place,


Chapter 42

                “He feels a little chill, can I give him this blanket?” Penny had found

        an old horse blanket, clean and folded on the well ordered shelves in the 

       back of the P.O.

                 “Sure” Miles told her and returned his attention to the conference on

        the big well ordered counter at the front of the P.O. Nobody was talking   

        much. Mostly, they were sipping. Chipping away at the half depleted half

        gallon of bourbon between them.

                  Celia, Miles, Babby, Morris and Mary sipped and stared. Penny's

        drained glass kept her place on the counter as it was her turn to stay with


                   They were waiting for the doctor from two towns over to come tend

        to Morrow's wound, nasty business that. “Probably going to need a tetanus

        shot.” “In his arm, right?”

                    In the center of the building, sort of in between the P.O., the sheriff's

        office and the church, was this strange not square windowless space which

        the architect ( who was not an architect at all, just someone that was called 

        to over-see putting up a barn or a chicken coop. To this account, all

        the barns, chicken coops and sheds around Ardensville looked a lot alike 

        due to their obvious lack of right angles) had designated on his building

        plan as 'undetermined?' To his friends and relations, he described the 

        'Ardensville Pavilion' as his “Opus Magnum”.

                   The room had one door which opened to the P.O. In it was; an old

         swivel chair that no longer swiveled, a 1962 calendar from a fertilizer

        distributor and a framed photograph of Ike costumed the golfer. 

        Add to this still life one shivering shaking and possibly 'talkin' in tongues',

        sheriff/minister Morrow.

                    None of the conferees felt bad for him. Indeed, they considered if

        this remarkable finale might serve to make a human being out of Morrow.

        A long shot, but, maybe. Clink. There was so much to understand and so

        much more they could not understand.

                     Immediately following the 'great revelation', Harold rose,

       straightened his Gwendolyn hair and skedaddled from the church saying

      good morning to no one. He walked back to Irma's and perched himself on 

      the rocker in his room, ticking and muttering a bit as well.

                    Celia found him there. He requested of her respect and, his solitude.

       Wordlessly, she complied to his request and returned to the P.O., resolved

       to spend the night at Bo's.

                                  “What the hell just happened here?”

                    The doctor had arrived. Along with some fancy bandage work and 

       a tetanus booster - in the arm ! - he gave Morrow a shot of phenobarbital and

       left a few more doses and syringes with Morris who claimed to know how 

       to administer them. Additionally, Morris volunteered to take Morrow back 

       to his apartment above the VFW and keep an eye on him there...for a couple

       of days. Penny offered to man the bar if that would help or, keep an eye on

       sleeping beauty.

                    Penny and Morris found themselves of like minds about these 

       matters. The difference was, Penny talked about it more. To his surprise,

      Morris didn't mind. In fact, he enjoyed it. 

                     For the first time in better than a week, the odd and oddly

      accessorized people with their out of state vehicles, did not crowd and clutter

      the downtown plaza of Ardensville, U.S.A.

  "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."