Welcome to The Miller House
Don Lehman, 2018


Cover Index
Chapter 01
Chapter 02
Chapter 03
Chapter 04
Chapter 05
Chapter 06
Chapter 07
Chapter 08
Chapter 09
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21

Chapter Eight

A few days later when Carl was sitting in the garage attic, he could not remember the walk back from the falls after his mother told him those stories. He was lost in his thoughts. As he saw it, there were two possibilities. Someone wanted his daddy dead for some reason and saw this as an opportunity, or this unknown person was trying to save his mother. The guy could have done the shooting himself but he would have lost his anonymity. Someone knew who put the gun in his mother’s hand, maybe more than one person knew. The other question that troubled Carl was whether his mother wanted to kill his daddy or if it was really an accident. He needed to talk it over with Cappy but there were some things Cappy would not talk about.

Carl thought he noticed a change in his mother after she told him this story. In some ways she seemed less like his mother and more like someone he worked with and had a lot of affection for. Maybe it was just because he knew things now and was more grown-up in that way. Francis had decided that he was ready to learn the combination to the big safe, where the money and important papers were kept. There was a cash box in the desk drawer that was used for daily payments from guests checking in. Every night Francis had opened the safe alone and placed money there. Now she was showing Carl the combination. It was an important responsibility. Carl was always careful to close and lock the door before dialing the combination and opening the safe. Francis had a back account that was transferred to her name from Aaron. She had a checkbook but seldom used it. She preferred to operate on a cash basis either by bill collectors or cash was delivered by Cappy. Carl knew she kept a lot of cash in the safe but did not know how much.

Carl and Francis worked together, doing their daily chores of making beds, cleaning floors, doing laundry and cooking meals. Francis did most of the cooking for breakfast and supper. Carl did the cleanups and they each made their own lunches. Carl sometimes made something for Cappy but if it wasn’t raining or cold, Cappy walked to the Woolworth lunch counter on main street for his lunch. That activity occupied a big part of his afternoon. He didn’t walk fast on account of his bad leg and he had his friends that he chatted with over coffee. Sometimes he invited Carl to go with him but mostly Carl stayed back to do his regular chores, work in the yard or just read one of the latest books given to him by Mr. Barkley.

Carl always had the latest editions to the Hardy Boys from Mr. Barkley. “These are advanced copies,” he would say, “I’ve got a trunk full of them. Mr. Barkley also gave him text books on geography and arithmetic. He would say, “Carl, I want you to do the work assignments in these here books before I get back.” Carl knew he would be back in about three months. Cappy or Francis would sometimes help him with the arithmetic but he knew his multiplication tables and had learned how to count money when he was just five or years old. Carl like geography because he would pretend that he was traveling all over the world. He was also still reading from the encyclopedia books his mother had bought from Mr. Barkley. Francis told Carl he was ahead of other boys his age who were going to school but he didn’t know any other boys. That was about to change because in the spring before he turned fourteen, he met Ozzie.

Carl was riding his bike now almost every day. He was mostly riding in the afternoon after his chores were done or after supper, in the evening. He was very careful at the stop signs and in the traffic but he was getting more confident and going further around town. He rode by the Woolworth’s where Cappy ate lunch. One Saturday, he rode all the way to the end of town where the road went into the mountains. He never forgot the time he was knocked down by bullies a year earlier when he was twelve. He kept a watchful eye for danger. He was stronger now and he thought that he would be able to stand up for himself. He wasn’t even stammering as much. He did not want to fight. He just didn’t want to be afraid of other kids. He liked his life and the new freedoms he had to ride his Green Phantom bike and explore the town.

Carl always had some money in his wallet and could stop for a soda. That’s what he was doing when, he was paying for a bottle of Grapette and, this kid walked up. Carl was aware the the kid was standing next to him and he went ahead and paid for the soda. When he turned and walked toward the door he knew the kid was following him. Carl had not gotten a good look at him but he just kept walking out the door and stopped at his bike. He was ready for anything. He sat the soda on the bench in front of the store next to his bike, balled up his fists and turned, straight on, facing the kid. He was not as big or as close as Carl thought he might be. The kid just said, “Hi, thought that might be your bike. Just wanted to ask how much it cost and where you got it?” Carl didn’t say anything at first. He was pretty much taken aback. Then he said, “M-my mom gave it to me at Christmas. S-she had it delivered to the house - don’t know what it cost.” He relaxed his fists and realized he had not stammered that much - just a little. Then the kid said, “My name is Ozzie, what’s your name?” Carl picked up his Grapette and said, “I’m Carl.” Then Carl just sat down on the bench and looked at his bike. The kid just remained standing. Carl told him it was a Schwinn, Green Phantom. Ozzie said, “Yeah.” Then asked Carl where he went to school and that started a conversation that went on for a while. Ozzie said he wished he didn’t have to go to school like Carl but then later he said he liked his teacher. Before Carl got on his bike and said goodbye, He told Ozzie where he lived and invited him to stop over. Ozzie said that he knew where the Miller House was and then he told Carl where he lived and Carl said he might come by some time. It was only three blocks from the Miller House. Riding home, Carl was feeling strange but a good sort of strange. He felt strong and more independent. He had been prepared for a fight but instead he had met someone who felt like a friend.

  Chapter 09