Last Days Of Summer by Scott Fields by Scott Fields - Read Online



It was the last days of innocence; the last days before a place called Pearl Harbor ushered in the horrors of war. Addie Watson was living the American dream in the small town of Millersburg, Iowa. Known for her sometimes bizarre and destructive inventions, Addie was warned, repeatedly, that she was forbidden to invent even one more device, and, yet, it was that one more device that led her to a toe-to-toe meeting with Adolph Hitler.
Published: Whiskey Creek Press on
ISBN: 9781603139380
List price: $3.99
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Last Days Of Summer - Scott Fields

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Chapter 1

It was a rainy day when he knocked on my front door, the kind of day that made you just a little bit sad about a lot of things. Been a while since anybody had been on my porch. Can’t remember the last time I ever let anybody in. I pretty much ignore them all. They’re either selling something or just plain meddlin’. I usually peek through the curtains at them. That kinda riles them a bit, knowing that I’m home but won’t answer the door.

This one was different though. He was a good-looking kid, well-groomed, wearing a suit. I’d say about thirty years old. Did I say he was good-looking? He was damn good-looking. Would remind you of a movie star or some kind of rock star.

I kinda like my privacy. The people in town call me a recluse, hermit, and just plain crazy lady. I don’t mind though, makes them stay away when they think about me like that. Stay in doors mostly. Can’t remember the last time I was downtown. Even have my groceries delivered. The kid sets them on the porch and picks up the money from a Mason jar. About the only time I get out anymore is to pull a few weeds around the flowerbeds. I usually slip out early in the morning before most folks get up.

As I was saying, I don’t hold much with people knocking on my door, but this young man was different. Couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was as if I knew him for some reason. Can’t imagine how. Hasn’t been anybody new in my life since Otis, the meter reader, died and they brought in some woman to take over. You know, it just seems to me there are some jobs that should be left for men to do, and that’s one of them. Not that a woman couldn’t do it, it’s just that there are some jobs that are best left to a man.

Whoever this kid was and who ever he looked like, it was about to become a moot point ’cause he was about to leave. Hell, he only knocked six times. Kids today ain’t got much patience.

I opened the door and stepped onto the porch. What are ya sellin’

I’m not selling anything, he said.

Well, what the hell do you want?

Are you Mrs. Burns? he asked.

I’ve been called that.

I want to talk to you, he said, stepping back on the porch.

About what? I asked.

About the summer of 1941, he said.

What about the summer of 1941?

Somebody in town said you might be able to tell me about that summer and about a young girl by the name of Addie Watson.

I stood there staring at him like he had antlers on his head. Hadn’t heard that name in a good many years. It kinda intrigued me to think about those days all those years ago.

And why would you be interested in Addie Watson?

I want to write a book about her, he said, his chest held high.

What in the world would be so interesting about Addie that you would want to write a book about her?

She met and, single-handedly, defeated Adolph Hitler.

Who are you? I said.

My name is Bradley Mansfield, he said.

Bradley Mansfield, you say. Any relation to Buddy Mansfield out on Route 12?

Not that I’m aware of.

You want to write a book about Addie Watson?

Yes, ma’am, I sure do, he said.

Well, don’t stand out there in the rain. Come on inside.

It’s funny how sometimes you just trust a body. Good Lord, I can’t remember the last time I let someone in my house, and along comes this stranger and I roll out the welcome mat.

Lord knows there’s a lot of reasons someone my age wants to be young again. Meetin’ up with this Bradley fella was one of them. Too bad he wasn’t around when I was young.

I motioned for him to take a seat, and then I sat down right across from him.

He leaned back and glanced around the room. Nice place you have here.

It’ll do, I said. Tell me, you ever write a book before?

No, this will be my first one, he said.

What makes you think anybody will publish it, or read it afterwards?

I think it has much appeal and will be widely accepted.

I needed some time to think about all of this.

Would you like some coffee? Just made a fresh pot.

That would be nice, he said.

I slowly walked to the kitchen and fumbled with the pot and cups. Seemed strange how some people come into your life and change things. I always figured there was a reason for most everyone who touches a life. God sends angels to answer your prayers and to even help you when you don’t ask for it. The people He sends have no idea they are angels or are doing the work of God. I think God sends them to help, and when they are done, they move on. Something told me that God sent this fella to me, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure why.

I returned to the living room and handed him a cup of coffee. So what’s this all got to do with me? I asked.

I’m not real sure, he said. The people in town said you would help me.

Land’s sakes, that’s a long time ago. Don’t expect too much from me. What do you know about her?

I ran across some old newspapers in my grandparents’ attic and read all about her. From what I could piece together, she was some kind of an inventor.

That she was. Pretty good one as I recall.

Seems to me I read about a few failures and mishaps.

I read somewhere in one of those newspapers that she blew up a barn among other things.

Well, you know, even Thomas Edison stumbled a few times along the way.

Bradley sipped his coffee and set down his cup. If you had to describe Addie Watson in one word, what would it be?

Oh, good grief, there is no one word to describe that girl.

Maybe you’ll think of one as we go along, he said.

I guess that’s possible.

By the way, if you don’t mind my asking, what relationship were you to Addie? Were you a sister or something?

I turned to him with a blank stare. Yeah, a sister.

Bradley pulled out a notebook and pen. If you don’t mind, I’m going to take notes.

Goodness sakes, where do I begin?

Bradley scribbled something on the page. Just tell me about the summer of 1941.

Well, to tell you the truth, all the summers kinda run together right up until that day when the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor. Things changed after that. Life never was the same. Seemed like the sweet days of youth died along with them sailors. You could almost say those last days of the summer of ’41 were the last days of innocence.

Now I’m about to tell you something that damn few people believe. We all made contributions to the war effort. Some served in the armed forces; others helped out here at home. But I purely doubt anybody did as much as Addie did when she went toe-to-toe with Mr. Hitler and stopped him from launching a missile on the Capital. I know how that must sound. Hell, sometimes, I don’t believe it myself.

I guess to really understand Addie, we need to go back a ways. You know it’s no surprise that she was a little wacky. She grew up in a house with two aunts and a grandmother who were all loonier than a roomful of clowns. Great source of entertainment, but a poor influence on a young girl.

I’ll tell you more about that bunch later. We really need to go back even further. Dad was a good man when we were living with him. He did the best he could. It’s just that he wasn’t the kind of man most women could ever stay married to. Pop tried. Lord knows he tried to please Mama, but I don’t think he ever really understood women.

I guess the biggest problem was the fact that Pop was a mechanic. He dealt in black and white issues. If a car doesn’t work, you find the bad part and you replace it. We all know that women are not quite so easy to fix. I gotta tell ya, if I was a man, I think I’d go crazy trying to figure out what makes females tick. You could never say a particular woman is always in a good mood, because that could change overnight. In fact, that may be the answer. Never let a woman go to bed. Seems like if she’s in a good mood, she’s that way all day. Same goes for a bad mood. Seems like it always changes overnight. Catch her in a good mood and keep her up for the rest of her life.

Anyways, I think the biggest problem Pop had was the fact that he was so darn quiet. It was just his nature. He didn’t say much and didn’t want much to be said to him. Mama was like most women, she loved to talk, and it damn sure aggravated her when he wouldn’t join in.

Pop didn’t smile much either. Don’t think I ever heard him tell a joke. If you told him one, he just stared at you. Didn’t laugh one bit. To this day, I don’t know whether he didn’t get the joke or he didn’t find it funny. Either way, it didn’t inspire you to tell him another one.

Mama was another story. She was the life of every party, not that Pop took her to many parties. I always said that God was especially good to Ma when he was handing out the looks. She was as beautiful as they come. Now don’t get me wrong. Pop wasn’t a bad looking man, but how he ever got a woman like Mama is beyond me. Surely must have been alcohol involved.

I always figured God made everybody so different to give the world variety. I don’t think He wanted everyone to be alike. That’s why there are fat people, skinny people, smart people, and those who ride the short bus.

That’s the only way I could explain why Mama had someone like Addie. She wasn't anything like her. In fact, she wasn’t like any girl I ever knew. She was a classic tomboy. Don’t get me wrong, she was a pretty little thing if you could look past the straw hats, bib overalls, and the chewing tobacco that sometimes dripped down her chin. In spite of all that and if you really looked at her, she was a very pretty girl. She was thin and tall and had this wild looking unkempt hair the color of straw. Her blue eyes seemed to dance when anyone came in the room. I guess that was a part of her charm. She sure did like to be around people. She was a tomboy all right, but a darn pretty one.

We were teenagers when it happened. It was a horrifying experience, one that nobody should endure. I wouldn’t even talk about it again, but I think it is important for you to know if you want to understand where we are today. For this was truly a life changing experience for everyone involved. I know God does His best to protect children, and I think He did the best He could, but what happened was a tragedy that will stay with us forever.

It all started on the fourth of July in 1940. Mama liked having parties and having the neighbors over as often as she could. Since Pop had just built her a barbecue in the backyard, the fourth of July seemed like the perfect excuse to invite everyone over.

As I recall, it seemed like the whole neighborhood showed up. Don’t think I ever remember that many people in one small backyard. Strangely enough, even Pop was smiling. I think he was really proud of his new barbecue and was showing it off. The men crowded around it, asking Pop questions on how he built it, and all the time Pop was beaming with pride.

It was a hot day; I remember that very well. It was the kind of day that even a fan did little good. People were drinking lemonade, iced tea, and others were drinking beer. Not many people were seen drinking beer in the afternoon in those days, but no one objected, seeing as how it was a holiday and so damn hot. Pop didn’t drink in those days, but Mama would on occasion. She would have some fancy drink with an umbrella in it once in a while. I would even see her drink the hard stuff on the holidays, but that was rare.

For some reason, she was drinking beer that day and firing ’em down one after the other. After a while, it was obvious to all that she was intoxicated. She never stopped laughing even when I asked her if I should bring out the potato salad. It was like I wasn’t even there. She just kept on with that hysterical laugh that I’d never heard before. She would laugh until she ran out of breath and start up again.

I remember she had on the prettiest summer dress I ever did see. You probably should know she had the best figure in town. Even at her age, she turned many a head. They didn’t have them breast implants back in those days, so what you saw with Mama was the real stuff. Strangely enough, I don’t think Pop minded when men looked at Mama. I think it made him kinda proud.

All the men were looking at her that afternoon, including Bryan Ballows. Never did trust that man. He lived two doors down from us but it seemed like he was always hanging around our house. He’d had too much to drink as well, and I didn’t like the way he was looking at Mama. The thing that bothered me was that it sure didn’t seem to bother Mama. Most of the time, she just smiled back, the kind of smile that sent a message first class.

Now I don’t know whether the top two buttons on her dress popped open on their own or she did it on purpose. Most of her breasts were now exposed. More than one man noticed, and when Mr. Ballows saw it, it was like bees to the honey. He never left her side.

I knew right then and there that what they were doin’ weren’t none of my business. I should have gone off and found something to do, but I couldn’t leave Mama alone with that man. She was obviously too drunk to make the right decision. They were talking, laughing and all the time getting closer to each other. I turned to Dad. He was still at the barbecue with his friends. Seems a bit ironic when you think about it. There was Pop having the best time of his life, and yet his wife, my mother, was walking off with another man.

I waited a while, then made some excuse about getting the potato salad. I figured I would be able to interrupt them, and, of course, save my parents’ marriage. Unfortunately, when I entered the kitchen, they weren’t there. I checked the living room and the front porch, but they were nowhere to be found. They probably went out the front door for a walk. That’s what I wanted to believe, but something told me different. I pretty much knew that something bad was going on. Mom and Pop’s bedroom door was closed, but it was always that way. I thought I heard someone snickering behind that door, but I guess I just didn't want to know the truth. I simply told myself that they went for a walk and ran out of the house.

It was sometime after that that our lives changed forever. It’s funny how one person’s actions can affect so many other people. To this day, I blame myself for what happened. I should have opened that bedroom door. If they had been in there, they would have only suffered a little embarrassment instead of what eventually happened.

It was a rainy day, sometime in late summer or early fall. Pop came home from work early that day. Had all his work done and decided to surprise Mama. He walked through the backdoor and hung up his