by DiVoran Lites
Chapter Fifty Six
Bill and Shirley arrive
After a visit with Alice and Phil and the children Aldon and Ellie went to the train station to meet Aldon’s brother, Bill, and his wife, Shirley.
Bill’s heart leapt when the train pulled into the Clifton station. Seeing Aldon and a girl he assumed was Ellie walking toward the slowing train, his first thought was that the two of them reminded him of a pair of leggy, matched colts. I won’t say that to Aldon, though, he decided. It might make him mad. That Ellie sure is a dish. Won’t say anything about that either. Shirley is sensitive about me looking at other women, and it wouldn’t do to rile my brother.
“Don’t let me get stuck in the doorway,” Shirley’s doe- brown eyes sparkled with laughter as Bill took her hand to help her down from the train. “Thank you kindly, Sir.” She placed the other hand on her protruding belly and Bill thought about the little one that would soon become the umpteenth generation of Leitzingers at the Blue Spruce Ranch.
Aldon introduced Ellie, and Bill told them proudly that Shirley was the new Mrs. Leitzinger. Oh, they’d got married a year ago, but he still thought of her as his bride. Ellie gave Shirley a wide-armed hug and turned to hug Bill too. That was all right, but he sure hoped Aldon wouldn’t be jealous.
The four of them packed themselves into the flivver. Bill was glad it was still light enough to see the snow on the mountains. The sky above the peaks were like the sky above the ocean Bill had first seen when he went to California. You never knew what surprise the vista might present.
The road leading to the ranch, though, was mention-worthy rough and cracked, every bump pleading for someone to drive the grader over it. Maybe I’ll apply at county maintenance so I can make a bit of extra income, Bill thought. I could keep up the ranch and do that on the side.
When they had parked the flivver beside the barn, the four of them walked up to the house together. On the back porch, Ellie pointed out the new electric refrigerator. Bill looked over the coats and jackets on the outside wall and nodded, all the same. How good it was to be here. Now that little tyke of his would be a natural-born Coloradoan just like he was and his father and grandfathers before him.
A woman of color and a small girl met them in the kitchen and Aldon introduced them. These people coming in now must be the Eyetalians he’d heard about. They were all right, but it was hard to understand what they were saying. At first he thought the curly-headed young man with the big eyes was with the dark-haired young woman, but when he saw her lean against the white haired gentleman, he recalled from Aldon’s letters it had been a May/December marriage.
He checked out the younger man again. He’d bet Aldon didn’t like that one a bit. He had those lustful eyes when he looked at Ellie. At first he tucked the information in his mind to tease about, but then he decided to leave it alone. He had already tormented his brother and fought with him enough for a lifetime. He wished Paul was here, but he and Dad were long gone now. He and Aldon would have to make the best of it they could.
His mother came in with Molly. Three strangers came too, and he knew they belonged to Ellie who looked like a younger version of her mother. He had been taught to hug Nancy and Molly and followed his training. He didn’t think Nancy would ever let go of him and she might not have if Molly hadn’t insisted. He shook hands with Ellie’s family. They have a houseful, he thought. Aldon’s sleeping in the loft for sure.
Shirley needed to rest before supper so after introducing her, Bill escorted her up the stairs to the bedroom where Molly directed them to go. Here he was, the prodigal coming home. He settled Shirley on the bed and covered her with a quilt. As he turned to leave he looked down at a quarter acre of shiny, black basalt from the bedroom window. The boys had tried every summer of their lives to dig that gigantic stone out of the meadow, but no matter how long or how hard they worked it stayed right where it was.
Family stories had that the house was built on an even bigger slab of basalt. A house built on the rock, he thought, the best place to raise the little shavers as they come along.
He went back downstairs wondering what Signor Solano would want to know about his time in California. It felt strange to ask for a job on the home place and to take orders from a man he didn’t know. But he was fed- up with Hollywood and all it stood for.
“Come in, Mr. Leitzinger, Welcome home,” in his office, the white-haired man motioned for the brothers to sit in chairs facing the desk. Bill gazed up at the gorgeous painting of the mountains on the wall behind it. “You like the painting. You probably saw the ones upstairs, my Lia is a great artist.” Signor Solano swiveled to look at the painting, then turned back again. “We’ve been looking forward to meeting you and your lovely wife. Your brother has talked about your childhood here together.”
“Name’s Bill, Sir.” They shook hands and sat down. “I brought Shirley home to foal because whether it’s a boy or a girl, it belongs here.”
“I could not agree more.” Signor Solano hid a smile. “My dear wife is also expecting the stork, as you Americans say. We talk about going back to Italia, but although she is in good health, I will not risk a long sea voyage. I’m afraid when we arrive at our country home, we will have much renovation to see to because of the war. A faithful few are still there. They took care of the vines the best they could, but the villa was used for a hospital and the cellars for a prison. It is an old farm, so we will work hard to restore it, but we will come back to America sometime, too. We especially love your ranch. It has made me well and brought my beautiful wife such happiness.” Signor Solano sat back in his chair touching tented fingers to his lips. “I will be sorry to leave and I wish to take away a vision of a thriving ranch, so I am glad you came home. Best of all, like our farm in Italy, it will remain in the family. We will be here at least another year, so we will still help a little, with your renovations, Si?”