Chapter Twenty One (I think) "He Loves Me he Loves me Not" property of Diane Ogden
I hadn't heard from Billy for two days. I'd left messages, but after the third one I decided it was time to refrain. You know, step back. Grandaddy told me Billy was making a bad attempt at teaching me a lesson, at which time i stopped dead in my tracks, turned toward my grandparents who were sitting at the dinner table, and of course inquired what sort of lesson that might be. All the while they were attempting to enjoy a quiet meal that once again Billy Connally was ruining because of his need to control my life from afar. And I said as much.
Grandad looked up from his T-bone steak square into his wife's eyes and said as he wiped his chin with a newly ironed white linen cloth napkin, "Pat, will you talk some sense into that girl?"
Her response was to address me with an invite to go shopping the following day.
Grandaddy slammed his fork down obviously showing the lack of masculine control going on inside his head. Then in a sharp southern drawl said, "Jesus Christ Pat, the girl has a million dollars in her bank account. You don't need to take her shopping."
Nana and I burst into laughter while Grandaddy just sat there knowing he was out numbered. He downed another shot of Canadian Club, smiled at us, and then turned back to finish his steak. He had taught me to know when to fold 'em. He was folding.
Nana was not my maternal biological grandmother, but she was my favorite. Maybe because she wore the finest clothes, and never left her master bath before having her hair done and her makeup on. She could ride a horse, shoot a bear, fish, and be a lady all in the same day. She taught me how to dress, what face creams were the best, and how to scoop a spilled tossed salad off the kitchen floor before the guests saw what she had done due to her overindulgence of the drink.
Once when I was something like six, she shaved my eyebrows off. To this day i have very blonde eyebrows. Her intension if I recall was going to be to stroke them back on thinly with the latest dye product. But after one more cocktail or so, she used a wide brush similar to liquid shoe polish applicators, and applied one wide near black strip above each of my eyes. I do remember this but not the details of the dye removal process. Must have been traumatic is all I can figure. For who you say? Both of us I presume. She did the dastardly deed because I appeared to have no eyebrows. Meaning she meant well but once again under the influence.
Morning came and went. It was spent visiting an old old Jr. High School friend I had not seen in years. She was attending the University of Texas earning a degree in philosophy. I figured good for her.... but in my head I could have told her and others what I'd learned in my life so far, which surely could have been enough to present me with a paper called a degree. Or so I thought. Of course I kept that little tid bit to myself. I had learned what a good southern girl should do. It was called "hush yourself. " Listen and smile. And so I did which made for a glorious afternoon of ice tea and gossip.
I found myself gladly driving back towards My grandparents home after such a superficial luncheon with my old friend who had fallen into the clutches of "Yes sir southern belle with no brain or say of her own." Southern belle was an action not included in my mid-western brain activity.
My mind was on how Duke was doing and how I would miss my Grandparents when I finally decided when to head west. A part of me was still sitting in that southern royalty bullpen. The one granddaddy wanted me to jump onto and ride for a lifetime called 8 seconds. You know? In Texas terms that is how long the rodeo bull rider has to stay on the bull to win the prize. I had fallen in love at first sight with the Governor of Texas Grandson, Bill Conally, but I wasn't sure I could stay on the ride, or if I would truly love the forever prize.
When I arrived at 4202 Bradwood Road there was Billy. Sitting outside in his fancy sportscar. The butterflies were flying overtime in a sudden flash of butterfly stomach flooding. In fact I thought I might barf. I did not barf....I did the deep breathing or you'll die that I always did on bridges over water so I wouldn't pass out, go off the road into the drink and die. I pulled my car into the parking area out back of the house and slowly walked up the long driveway towards Billy Connally, my fiance who never properly asked me to marry him. Nor had I been presented with a ring of any sort. Not a plastic cigar band, or even a dime store fake. Nothing. Rather he introduced me as his fiance at a negro funeral up in the hills overlooking lake Travis. Maybe that is how the rich and privedged did things. You know, believing they could and would have whatever they wanted. Like they had a magic wand full of fairy dust they could sprinkle over someone, and then that someone's eyes and heart would only see the good in them. Well my eyes did not conform to Billy Connally's magic rich and royal Texas dust. No... being the half breed I was, I had strong Midwestern old fashioned values as well as a mind I called my own. To be shared not controlled.
Billy was leaning on his car with his arms and legs crossed. I could see he had closed himself off. God he was a handsome creature of God's making. God must have gotten up real early to have perfected that specimen of a man. The longer I stared at him on my walk up the long driveway the more I realized I was losing mental and emotional ground regarding my decision to leave him. His eyes were looking directly into mine. Surely he could see and or sense my trembling. Just as I had trembled that day in the hills overlooking the beautiful lake where I laid on the blanket naked, the sun glistening off the tiny beads of perspiration on my body showing evidence of the deep sensual lovemaking that had just taken place. I felt as though I might faint as I relived it in its entirity. Every gentle kiss. The movement of his soft hands and mouth over my entire body until I cried out in total surrender to this man. God he was beautiful. And then, there I was, standing before the tall handsome cowboy Billy. All I wanted at that moment was for him to take me in his arms and hold me forever. But he didn't. He stared at me for what seemed an eternity. His eyes were not the warm caring eyes I had come to know nor were they the eyes of the man I had just made love to in my mind. They were cold. Maybe even a bit angry. Oh fudge I felt like a child who had misbehaved.
And then he said sternly, "Get in the car Julianna!"
I responded in a rather timid whiny voice,, "But I have to take Duke out."
Billy slowly turned back toward me and once again said sternly, "Get in the car. We have unfinished business Julianna. Duke will be fine." And then he stared at me until I slid down onto the leather seat at which time he closed the door. Rather forecably I noted.
We drove to the edge of the city on the main Expressway. All the while in awkward silence. And then onto some backwoods Texas country roads I was not familiar with. I had begun to feel uneasy. Like I was riding with a stranger. That is when I got the courage to speak up.
"Where are we're going Billy?"
He answered simply, "To the ranch."
As I look back I recall my brain feeling like Humpty Dumpty after he fell off the wall. My thoughts were steadily unraveling as my imagination took off. How well did I really know this man? Could he be crazy mad and murder me out in the wilderness of central Texas? No one would ever find me. And Duke, what about Duke? That is when I started to cry. I tried to hide it by looking out the window but Billy knew. He pulled the car over to the side of the road and shut the engine off. I thought surely he wouldn't kill me right there out in the open. This was almost as bad a situation in my head as crossing the Mississippi River on the dreadful draw bridge.
He looked at me and said, "Stop it."
I sat up proudly, looked at him and said like a child, "You stop it!"
And as usual we broke out in momentary laughter. I hoped the curse was broken but I was wrong. Billy started the car and peeled gravel as we fishtailed back out onto the old country road.
My mind was back. Somehow it had put Humpty Dumpty back together again and he was mad. So mad Humpty and Julianna screamed at Billy to pull the car over, they were getting out.
Billy said, "Oh no your not."
My response was if he did not stop the car and let me out I would jump out, at which time I reached for the door handle.
I was shocked at his response. He ignored my threat to jump out and began ranting and raving about Roger, Joseph Justice, his Grandfather, politics, and how could he ever marry a lying woman, even if he loved her to the moon. Why did I not tell him his Grandfathers best friend and hunting buddy deposited a gift of one million dollars into my bank account. Did I have any idea what a fool I had made of him with everyone? And so the rant went on. All about Billy Connally and his Texas manhood. The manly man rant seemed to be winding down a bit when we came to a wooden framed gated entrance to the Connally home ranch. Billy got out, unlocked the wide security gate, opened it to the side, got back in, but not before I once again was taken away by his near perfect physique. I had to stop doing that to keep a clear head.
His car bounced over the cattle grate onto the long gravel road toward the ranch. Dust was flying behind us like a Kansas dust storm. Sometimes I think that makes men feel powerful. Kicking up dust like a stallion or straddling a motorcycle like its his woman. Billy was on his home turf and it was obvious. In my mind he might as well have been out in the yard territorialy pissin' on all the trees showing me whose boss. I might have laughed but I knew this story wasn't over yet. I would explain it all to him when he settled down some. Mostly I was concerned about Duke.
Just then I looked up and there was the most beautiful two story white colonial ranch house with four white pillars. The yard was landscaped to perfection. A few hundred yards away was a guest house resembling my Grandparents home. There were bunkhouses for the ranch hands. Horse barns, cattle shoots, and cowboys on horses all about the place. I was beginning to think I was out of my league. And then I recall coming back to my senses. That is when I saw two black limos parked on the opposite side of the house. My nightmare had just begun once again. How could Billy do this to me? He could because he hadn't learned to think about the feelings of others. He was still a man-boy.
I had to decide which half of the Julianna half breed was going to be present at the confrontational judgment ring between Joseph Justice, the esteemed Governor of Texas, his Grandson Bill Connally, and in the other corner, me. Would I be the Northern Wisconsin speak your mind girl. Or the apologetic hush your mouth Southern belle.
Billy opened the front door, and we walked into the ring.