Those were bound to be fighting words.

More chapters from Nelson and Cora

A VG Serial: Nelson & Cora

Chapter 29 – 2

George looked down at his hands. He walked over to the fireplace and put them behind the log. He dumped the water from the basin out the window and wiped up the stains with another towel. He put that towel in the fireplace too.

“That’ll do for now,” Randall said. “But, in the morning, you’ll want to take those down to the burn pile and get rid of them.” George nodded.

Randall put his feet on the ottoman where Nelson’s had been. “I’ll be sleeping here.

You take the floor,” he said to Nelson.

Nelson looked at his father and said nothing. He grabbed a blanket and headed into the bedroom. He’d sleep on the floor in there. Part of him wanted an explanation from his father, and the other part hoped he would never find out what happened.

George stayed in the living room with their father. Nelson could hear him say in a quiet voice, “Who?”

Nelson couldn’t hear his father’s reply.

Just before dawn, George came in the bedroom and crawled back in the bed. Nelson whispered, “What happened?”

George whispered back, “Not now.”

Neither one of them said anything else, but soon they could hear their father snoring.

Nelson watched the sunlight filter in the room. It was morning. He couldn’t lie still any longer. He wanted answers.

He sat up and looked at George, who was lying in the bed with his eyes open, staring at the ceiling.

“You alright?” Nelson asked.

George turned his head and looked at him. He shook his head. Nelson waited for him to say something, but George was silent.

Nelson stood up and went in the living room. Randall McGinnis was gone. Nelson went back in the bedroom.

“He’s gone,” Nelson said.

“I know. He left about an hour ago,” George said.

“I didn’t hear him,” Nelson replied.

“I know. You were snoring,” George said as he sat up in the bed.

Nelson sat back down on the floor of George’s bedroom. “What happened?”

“Are you certain you want to know?” George asked as he threw his legs over the side of he bed.

Nelson nodded. He expected the worse. What other option was there after seeing the clothes. Nelson could guess what happened. He just didn’t know who. “Just tell me who it was,” Nelson said.

George stood up and Nelson followed him into the living room. Other than the clothes in the fireplace, there was no sign that Randall McGinnis had ever been there. Nelson was tempted to check in the fireplace, but he didn’t want to see the bloody clothes.

“A young man, our age,” George said.

Nelson sat down in the chair and put his head in his hands. “I want to know what happened. Did he tell you how this happened?”

George started explaining what he had been able to get from his father last night. The story turned back on itself several times. He and Nelson tried to figure out a timeline, but it was difficult.

The young man had been a Union supporter, Randall had made that part clear.

George couldn’t tell if the man had been a soldier, though, or only a supporter. If it was a soldier, George told Nelson, that would mean even more people looking into it.

After Randall left them at Gertrude’s school, he had gone to see Judge Parker. Randall had gone to see him at his home.

George said, “I could get in trouble for that.”

Nelson looked at him. “For that? That’s what you are worried about right now? That?”

“No, no. Of course not. Just one more thing on the pile, I guess. That’s all,” George said.

As much as they could figure, their father and Judge Parker must have spent several hours lamenting the news from President Johnson and praising the bravery of the rebels in Texas. George said that from the smell of their father last night, he thought there must have been a great deal of whiskey involved in the meeting.

Randall had told George that he left Judge Parker’s house, riled up about the Union and Texas and the news from President Johnson. And, George added, their father was drunk.

“If he’d just made it back here, back to the apartment, he could have slept it off,” George said.

Nelson didn’t say anything.

“If he had just made it here, none of this would have happened,” George said again.

Nelson stopped him. “George, he didn’t make it back here until it was too late. So, what happened?”

George finished telling him what his father said and what George could piece together after thinking about it all morning.

Randall McGinnis had started driving the wagon back to George’s apartment after leaving Judge Parker’s house. On the road, he saw a group of young men, George wasn’t sure exactly how many. He thought maybe three, but it could be four.

Their father told George that he recognized they were Union supporters, celebrating.

He raised the buggy whip in his hand and yelled at them.

“I can’t figure out what he said to them. Each time he told me, it was something different. Regardless, they were fighting words,” George said.


Chapters of the serial are published on Sunday.

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