“Patty, Tommy’s here,” I yelled from the doorway.
Patty flew out the front door. I was right behind her.
“Mary, come back here,” Mother called.
“Why? I want to say goodbye too.”
“You just give them a few minutes alone. Then we can all go out and tell Tommy goodbye.”
This didn’t seem at all fair to me. I was supposed to be watching for the movers. How could I do that from the kitchen? And besides, I loved Tommy, too. I waited until Mother stuck her head back in the refrigerator, and then slipped out the back way. I carefully closed the screen door on the back porch. Walking close to the house, I ran my hand along the white stucco. When I got to the front, I peeked my head around the corner. No Patty and Tommy in sight. His car was gone so they must have gone for a little ride. I walked back up to the front steps, sat down and hugged my knees.
I didn’t last long like that. I got up and ran to the end of the sidewalk. Perched on the curb I could look far down Wilson Dam Boulevard. From there I could see almost into the town of Sheffield. That’s where the movers had gone when they left last night. There was an orange truck coming. I was sure it was the one, so I ran across the yard toward the house yelling, “The movers are coming. The movers are here.”
They pulled up and parked as Daddy came out of the house.
“You can finish up in the bedrooms. The beds are ready to go in and there are a few boxes with bedding to go. My wife is almost through in the kitchen.” Daddy issued them their orders too.
“Yes sir, Mr. Stout,” said the man who drove the pickup truck. “We’ll be finished up in no time. These boys know how to load a truck. I’ll say that about them.”
Just then my brother came out of the house with a couple of suitcases.“Will you unlock the trunk so I can put these in?” He asked Daddy. “I can’t find Patty’s suitcase.”
Daddy unlocked the trunk of our car then went back in the house yelling for Patty to bring her suitcase out to put in the car.
I sat down on the sidewalk in the shade of the moving van. I was not in the way, but I could watch the men bring things out of the house and put them in the van
All of a sudden Daddy came running out the front door looking very angry. I had seen that look before and knew better than to ask him any questions. He ran across the street to the Crosby’s and banged on their front door. Mother came along behind him. I could see she was crying, but I had gotten used to that. Mother and Patty had been crying a lot lately. They were both sad to be moving.
Daddy came back out of the neighbor’s house. I heard him tell my mother that he had called the police and that they were going to try to catch “them”. With that, my mother really started crying. I ran over and hugged her.
“Don’t cry, Momma,” I piped. I was scared now. “Why did Daddy call the police? Did someone steal something?”
Daddy glared at me.
“Hush now. Patty and Tommy have run off to get married. The police are going to bring them back.”
A deathly silence settled over our house. The movers kept on bringing furniture and boxes out of the house and placing them carefully in the van.
A long time passed. It was almost lunch time when I saw Tommy’s car turn onto our street. It was closely followed by a police car. They both pulled up behind the moving van. The policeman got out of his car first. His light blue uniform was already showing dark areas under his armpits and on this back where the sweat had soaked through. Tommy and Patty just sat in his car snuggled up next to each other. Daddy was standing in the shade of the sweet gum tree smoking his Chesterfield’s one after another.
“Well, Mr. Stout. I caught up with them, but there’s not much I can do. Your daughter is 18 and she can get married if she wants.”
“Let me talk to them,” Daddy said. His jaws were clinched and his face was dark red.
Just then my mother came out of the house, grabbed my hand and took me inside. I struggled for a moment.
“You get in the house this minute and stay there.” I knew from her tone I was out of options. I went in the house and found an open window to watch from.
Daddy was talking to Tommy and Patty through the car window. I couldn’t hear a word, but after a while Patty kissed Tommy and got out of the car and headed into the house with her suitcase in her hand. Tommy and Daddy shook hands and then Tommy drove away.
The movers finished up and closed the big double doors on the van. Two of the men got in the cab and drove away. I waved to them and shouted,
“See you in Idaho.”
My family made one last trip through the house, then all got into our blue Buick Roadmaster. Mother, Daddy and Nancy were in the front seat. Patty, Junior and I were in back with me perched on the fold down armrest in the middle.
My father started the car, shifted the gears and we pulled away. No one said a thing about what happened as we waved to the neighbors who had come to see us off.