Falling Beneath the Magnolia

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Callie Bee's tough decision...

Chapter 7: Callie Bee’s tough decision

7A.Callie Bee’s: Point of View.

Callie Bee had a rough go of it the last few days, she hadn’t been able to sleep. She had been caught up in the guilt and shame of kissing another man.

There was not a thing she had liked about that kiss, even the thought of it made her feel dirty. The night after the contest Callie Bee must have scrubbed herself raw in the shower, every time she closes her eyes she thinks of that awful man and his putrid breath.

Still the semester kept on moving despite her moral conundrum, Callie Bee is preparing for her finals which would occur after the week-long Thanksgiving break.

Callie Bee hadn’t seen Bruce much since the contest, out of guilt she had been doing her best to avoid him. Most of the girls in the house assumed she and he were fighting. When he showed up at the house or called, her sisters would tell him she wasn’t home.

She had heard from her limited communications with Bruce that the police had questioned Bruce and the Beacon staff, The police had stopped coming to the Beacon, they had blamed Rita for the robbery.

For some reason they had questioned Bruce hard. Thinking that he committed a robbery, the thought unnerved her. Apparently one of the suspects matched his height, it didn’t help that they found out that he had put Rita up to enforcing the radio silence rule.

But police could not find a connection between the robbery and Bruce, therefore the investigation stalled.

Callie Bee tried to focus on her studies, she has a history final to prepare for. Callie Bee is currently walking towards the library.

The weather outside is cold and the sky is overcast. The depressing day is made worse by the bitter wind, the breeze has a wet icy effect that makes the person stuck outside cold to the bone.

Entering the warm library, she removes her wool hat and leather gloves. She walks past the reception desk and enters the main gallery. Callie Bee finds her two friends, Alice and Lindsey at a table near a window.

Lindsey is a girl with an average face, she had messy brown hair and a small button nose. Academically Lindsey is one of the smartest people Callie Bee knew, when she studied with Lindsey she always got plenty out of the sessions. Taking her seat Callie Bee glances down at her textbook.

They were studying the industrial revolution, she always had trouble remembering all the details. She and her friends read the chapter, then they write a practice essay from the sample questions. The study session had taken three hours by the time, she had gotten to the point where she felt more familiar with the material.

Lindsey had a class after their session, it being dinner time Alice and Callie Bee decided to depart from the library together. They were walking past Peabody when Alice asks Callie Bee.

“What is going on between you and Bruce?”

“Nothing we’re fine”

“Then why have you asked me to lie on the phone when he called?”

Callie Bee remained quiet, Alice however is determined in her inquisition.

“Lindsey told me that when he asked for you at the house you told her to tell him you weren’t home, why?”

“You remember the contest?”

“Yeah?”

“During the contest while Bruce competed, one of the Troopers got very hands on with me, I walked away from the crowd trying to get some distance. He cornered me in the payphone bank near the bathrooms. He kissed me, and I tried to push him away. If it wasn’t for the robbery I don’t know how far he would have taken it.”

Callie Bee takes shelter in the side doorway of Bryant Hall, she cries into Alice’s shoulder. Alice wraps her up in a tight hug and tries to console her friend.

“It’s okay I felt the same way you did. Have you told Bruce?”

“I am so consumed with guilt but also fear that I haven’t been able to face him”

“You don’t have to be afraid of him he loves you he wouldn’t hold this against you.”

“I am afraid Bruce will get himself in trouble; this man is a police officer. He might arrest Bruce, or worse, you saw Bruce the night of the riot he would never let someone hurt me. If I told him, then it would only end up getting him in trouble.”

“Bee you have to tell him, if you can’t then maybe I can?”

Callie Bee looks alarmed; she didn’t know why she opened her mouth. He places her hand over Alice’s mouth.

“Please don’t! Swear you won’t, he isn’t gonna let it go, Bruce will get himself arrested or worse! Promise me!” She squeezes Alice’s shoulders hard.

“Okay fine I won’t say anything! Let me go will you!”

Callie Bee releases her grip on Alice but still weeps. She wipes her smeared makeup and once Callie Bee has herself together she continues walking home.

7B. Alice Point of View:

Almost home she sees a scene of Déjà vu, a police car idles at the entrance to Sorority Row. As she passes the Barnard Observatory her stomach drops in panic, waiting outside his car with his shiny bald head is the Trooper named Dean.

Callie Bee is about to turn around to take the long path home when he spots her. “Miss Parker! Please come here…”

Alice watches as Bee crosses the street, Alice walks down the street, she hides, watching the scene from the top of the sidewalk Alice is shocked at what she sees.

The Trooper reaches out and stokes her face with a finger. She looks away awkwardly, he says something to her, she looks at him in the face with a look of shock and fear.

Then Alice observes Bee nodding her head and the Trooper grinning like an ape. He opens the passenger door of his squad car and Bee gets in, not before the man creepily caresses her on the backside with his hand. Once he and she are seated he drives away with her.

Alice is torn as she walks back to the Tri Delta house, this guy was a creep but what would Alice do about it. She approaches the steps of the sorority house to find a familiar face walking away from the front door.

“Alice?”

“Hi Bruce!” Alice had always like Bruce, he was friendly, easy on the eyes and a very attentive boyfriend. Alice had often found herself jealous of Callie Bee’s relationship, it was an innocent jealousy devoid of being envious.

Alice always felt that Callie Bee deserved him because of how good a person she was. When Bruce had saved her the night of the riots this had reinforced her conceived notions about him.

7C. Bruce Point of View:

“Have you seen Bee?”

Alice stares into his eyes, they held pain and confusion, the poor guy didn’t know the situation Callie Bee had gotten herself into, despite being sworn to secrecy Alice felt that she owed Bruce an explanation he wouldn’t get from Callie Bee.

“Bruce come over here I have somethin to tell you.”

Alice and Bruce take a seat by the curb and she tells him everything that Callie Bee told her and what she had witnessed.

Bruce remained silent after he had been told, he clutches his fists tightly, so tightly that his nails have pierced the skin drawing blood, as the blood pools under his fingernails he feels himself becoming angrier.

After he said goodbye to Alice, Bruce went across the street to the parking lot and sits in his car and waits. As he formulates a plan in his head he wonders what he would say to her, or what she was doing.

He wasn’t naive enough to know that this guy wanted a chat with her, it is infuriating thinking of another mans unwanted hands on her,

‘What if they weren’t unwanted hands, what if it was consensual?’.

That sickening image had been a reoccurring thought of his self-conscious turmoil.

It wasn’t until twenty minutes to curfew that the Troopers squad car appeared in front of the Tri Delta house. Bruce got out of his car and lingers in the bushes.

“Miss parker”

The Trooper cockily calls from his window, Bruce can hear him clearly from his hiding place.

“Your soft kisses will keep me warm through Thanksgiving, I look forward to seeing you during finals week”

He drives away, Callie Bee turns away from the road and cries into her hands.

Bruce stood on the sidewalk and calls to her as she is halfway up the walkway.

“Bee?” He calls, she turns around.

Callie Bee feels the overwhelming shame of the situation drive her to the brink, she falls to her knees and Bruce rushes to her side, he lifts her up in his arms, he spies several girls looking out the window. Bruce carries her to the side of the building and sets her on a bench, she cries into his chest.

“What happened?”

It took her several long moments to be able to speak.

“He said that he had evidence to arrest you, if I didn’t go with him and answer his questions. He, he said that because you came up with the radio silence rule that they could charge you with the robbery because they didn’t have any other suspects.”

“Bee that’s bullshit, I have been cleared of any wrongdoing”

“Bruce he scared me, during the contest he, he...”

“Bee, I know what happened Alice told me, I am not mad at you. I promise don’t have to worry. I had nothing to do with the robbery, they are looking to blame someone for their carelessness. Please tell me what happened tonight?”

“He showed me this envelope and he said it was a warrant for your arrest, he said that he would tear it up if I…”

“If you what?” Bruce presses the question.

“Bruce please don’t make me repeat it, please”

Bruce wraps his arms around Callie Bee, he lets her cry into his shirt. Once she stops Callie Bee looks at him, her stares bares down on his soul, the cold had made her cheeks red. Her eyes were bloodshot from her continuous tears. These eyes are more serious and binding than he ever saw them before.

“Bruce please promise me something?!”

“What?”

“Please leave this man alone, I can’t have you going to jail please swear!”

Bruce wanted to kill this man, he wanted to cut his lips off and feed them to the dogs. Bruce swallows his pride, his anger and all of his sorrow, all for the sake of the girl he loves.

“I promise.” Bruce walks her to the door.

“What time is your father picking you up to go home?”

“He is going to be here first thing in the morning, he spent the night in Memphis. I won’t see you until I get back from Thanksgiving. Bruce you swear you won’t do anything...”

“Yes, I promised you wouldn’t, I’ll give you a call on Thanksgiving, Bee I love you always no matter what.”

She said nothing further to him as she entered the house, she didn’t want a kiss or embrace from Bruce of any kind.

The next day she had gone, Bruce had spent the following days sitting in his home alone. The Thanksgiving holidays were always a lonely time in a college town, all the students with loved ones spent time at home with family.

Not having this support network, Bruce relied on a bottle of Jameson for comfort. Bruce didn’t like to drink alone but desperate times called for desperate measures.

Currently Bruce took a break from drinking, he had been sitting outside of a small home on the southeastern edge of town.

The small house had a large Magnolia tree in the front yard. The tree sits twenty yards from the dining room window, standing tall its bare branches loom over the building.

Finally, Bruce sees a man emerge from the house, it was Thanksgiving day, Bruce watched as the man walks his garbage to the curb. The house is the last house on the block, Bruce had parked across the street, he used Ashley’s car which Chuck had left when, he and Ashley went to Nashville to visit Chucks parents.

Bruce watches Dean drop his garbage inside of his can and then walk to his squad car. Dean is wearing civilian clothes. Bruce assumes he is going to run a last-minute errand. Once Dean is down the block Bruce walks over the trash can and takes the bag of garbage. He returns to his car and places the bag in his trunk.

Once home, Bruce slices the bag open inside his garage. Sorting through the trash he finds a receipt from the local grocery store.

He sees that a ten-pound bird has been purchased leading Bruce to know that Dean will be home tonight. Bruce had been watching Deans house ever since he followed him home from work the day Callie Bee Parker left for Nashville.

Dean lived alone apart from his wheelchair bound brother. Bruce had witnessed that no woman lived with the pair. Bruce resisted the urge to shoot Dean in the street, remembering Bee’s words he had only watched, he is waiting for something that he could use.

Leaving the garbage in the garage Bruce walks into his house and gets a beer from the kitchen. It was three pm, he went into the living room. He picks up his address book located near his white slimline telephone.

Bruce dials the number for Bee’s parents home in Nashville. He waits as the phone rings, on the third ring there is an answer the voice is the deep tone of her father. “Parker Residence.”

“Hello sir, I am Bruce McKean calling to wish Callie Bee a Happy Thanksgiving.”

“Hello Bruce, let me get Bee for you.”

Bruce only waits a few moments.

“Hello” says the sweet drawl of his girlfriend.

“Hi Bee...”

Bruce and she make fifteen minutes of small talk then the subject turns towards a more serious topic.

“Bruce I have to tell you somethin, I swear it’s true and the timing of all this is just coincidence. When I got home I found out that momma is sick, very sick. The doctors in Nashville have recommended an experimental procedure in Los Angeles, the trial starts December first, meaning I won’t be able to return to school for finals. Daddy contacted the school to make arrangements for my tests...”

There is a moment of silence and then Callie Bee continues, her voice trembles as she says her next words.

“Bruce, I told momma what happened with… him, she said that she doesn’t want me back for the spring.”

Bruce is speechless for a moment. “Bee what does this mean for us?”

He could hear Callie Bee crying this isn’t going well for him he needed to do something to reassure her, but what?.

“Bruce it wouldn’t be fair to make you wait for me knowing that we might not see each other again.”

“Fuck that, we can make it work... Bee I love you!”

“Bruce even if we could, I don’t know I could ever get passed the guilt of betraying you!”

“You didn’t do anything! You were taken advantage of by a, a coward, don’t let this guy win...”

“Please don’t make this any harder than it has to be! Bruce that is daddy calling, I have to go please don’t call anymore, I am sorry”

The tone soon dies as she hangs up.

Bruce paces around, he holds the bottle of beer feeling his rage build up he throws the bottle, it smashes through the front of the TV, cracking the tube, the liquid from inside the bottle causes sparks to fly out of the breech!

He goes to his room, he rips open a loose floor board, at the bottom of the hole a bag full of money looks up at him. Bruce takes the two suits hanging in his closet and a couple changes of clothes.

Next he takes his pistol and rifle. Once returning from putting the items in his trunk Bruce packs a bag of toiletries. Going through the top drawer searching for socks and underwear, his hands brushes the box containing the engagement ring...

Bruce sits on the bed and opens it; his world shattered Bruce holds the box in his hands and loses it. Bruce balls his eyes out. He was going to propose while they took a stroll in Memphis during formal.

Then suddenly his rage takes over and his tears stop. Bruce walks out to his car determined, he tosses his bag of toiletries into the passenger side, he sees his 1911 inside it’s leather holster...

Bruce then notices he left the garage door open. Going inside to close it Bruce spots a saw on the wall. He does not know why but he takes the saw from the wall.

Bruce drives to Deans, he watches from the curb, all the lights in Deans home are on. Bruce takes the saw and steps from his Red Chevy 150 coup; he carefully closes the door. He silently crosses the empty street, it is 6 pm, the sun had set. He can see his cold breath from the moonlight.

Walking over to the large Magnolia tree, Bruce can see into the dining room of Deans house. Dean’s brother is sitting at the chair to the right of the table nearest to the window.

The brother sits in inside his wheelchair, he portions out the side dishes between two plates.

Bruce observes two place settings; he begins to saw into the wide three-foot base of the tree...

Dean walks into the room with a small ten-pound turkey, he has it on a serving tray and sets it down between his brother and his seat. Dean stands at the head of the table as he carves the bird, he places a leg on each plate and a large hunk of white meat on his brothers plate.

Bruce keeps sawing...

Dean takes a seat and soon the brothers bow their heads in prayer. Tucking into their meal Dean and his brother laugh at a joke told.

Bruce had been sawing for nearly half an hour, then he heard the groan of the wood as the weight of the tree bares down the base splintering from the crack of the saw cut. The trunk splinters down the center, and then the loud crack of the tree falling on its own weight is heard...

Taking a sip of wine Dean doesn’t turn around, Bruce sees him look up at his ceiling, the tree smashes through the top of the house falling right onto the dining room, the lights from the chandelier are out in an instant!

The crash of the tree is deafening, with half the house flattened Bruce felt his rage begin to dissipate...

Forty minutes later Bruce finds himself on highway 55 bound for Jackson Mississippi. With his world having come crashing down, he felt as flattened as Dean must surely feel...

He didn’t have a destination in mind, he only knew that if he had spent one moment longer in Oxford, it would drive him to insanity!

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