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Life on The Hill – a series of short stories to be posted periodically – purely fiction ;)


“ARTY”
I sat listening to the ladies of The Hill yesterday as they sat around in comfortable chairs in the common area discussing the events of a funeral of a relative of one of the younger agents, a descendent of one of the well known families on The Hill. The laughed and discussed the unusual eulogies and awkwardness of ex-in-laws in attendance. I honestly would love to attend one of these normally somber events, for it seems that characters abound and strange situations always occur. Three eulogies were given, each one more peculiar than the previous according to young descendant of a very old family who had resided on The Hill for many generations. During the eulogy given by the only daughter of the deceased, a voice interrupted saying “We need a doctor over here!” Considering the attendees, six doctors of various ages responded simultaneously! The daughter hesitated for a moment, and in those uncomfortable moments, a voice of an elderly women in a beautiful silk suit near the front, obviously hard of hearing because of the loudness with which she asked those sitting next to her, “Who’s gone down? “ The eulogy continued as the doctors worked at stabilizing the older gentleman and 911 was called. Out of respect, the Ambulance refrained from flashing lights or sounding sirens as they left the graveside service. It was sketchy as to whether the old gentlemen who had died would be buried or not because of the endless rain that had been occurring for that last few weeks. The graveyard was a soggy mess and the ground was quite saturated. The refined southern women were having to remove their designer shoes and stomp, just like the rest of us, through the mud puddles to honor the dead!

But I digress, the ladies continued to laugh and talk about strangely named individuals and how they were distantly related to the young woman. Then Kay-baby (as she is affectionately called at 75 years of age), began to tell about another agent’s uncle who had died some ten or so years earlier. Art Townshire was a self-made millionaire in the lumber business. He had acquired his wealth through some questionable deals that involved southern handshake trading and the lives of several million trees. He lived in a sprawling mansion that hugged the bend of Dog River and had raised eight sons. They all were southern gentlemen who loved duck hunting, fishing, golfing and were prone to acting socially unacceptable when they had indulged themselves in the liquid spirits. Art died one Saturday afternoon unexpectedly. The sons quickly gathered and like any true southern gentlemen raised their glasses of brandy to their father. They promptly sat him in a chair in the main living room and proceeded to take pictures with him. As if that wasn’t eccentric enough, they decided to take him on one last ride. Their mother sat quietly on the front porch in a rocking chair, slowing waving a fan to calm her nerves. She knew these boys were truly grieving for their father and these antics were their attempt to honor the man who had raised them. They came out the screened door carrying Arty sitting stiffly in a wing back chair in a hunting jacket, a cigar in his mouth and a glass of brandy in his hand. I stopped the story for a moment and asked “How did they get the glass to stay in his hand?” “Duct tape, dear, duct tape!” was the response. I was mortified! I had lived in Marston a good portion of my life, but outside the social status of being a descendant of “The Hill”. My family was not wealthy and our idea of a good time was boiling the crabs we had caught off the pier, then sitting around the table laughing and cracking crab legs, while the children ran in and out of the screened door while playing in the sprinkler outside! I tried to imagine a wealthy social figure like Art Townshire, dead as a doornail, riding around in the back of a pick-up truck. I couldn’t understand the reasoning at all! Skeeter interrupted my thoughts, “You should have seen the gas station attendant’s face when they stopped for gas!” Laughter exploded. This was just strange to me! I asked “Did they ride him around The Hill?” “Oh no, honey, up and down the riv-a” she replied! These high society people from The Hill are quite strange, I thought to myself, but I love them! Then I laughed right along with them!

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