(Hello beloved readers. I just wanted to let you know, I posted this story a year ago under a different name, locked myself out which explains why I now update under this username. I did not steal this story. This is MY story so it would be impossible to steal my own story. I wanted to clarify that one thing before someone says, "Hey you stole that story!" With that out of the way, enjoy "The Lies He Told" )
It was March of the year 1925 and Kelsey Vanguard Madden was sitting outside in her garden planting. Unlike most families that hired people to work for them, Kelsey was raised to do her own work. And when she married her husband Todd Madden in the summer of 1923, she vowed they would do the same.
The day wasn't warm yet and far off into the distance, clouds could be seen making their way from the west.
"John, hand me the shovel will you?" she asked. Ever since Todd left on business seven months ago, John Greene played the role of supporter and his wife Daisy confidant.
"Sure thing Miss Kelsey. You hear anything from Todd yet?" he asked.
Kelsey wiped a bead of sweat off her forehead and said, "Not yet John. I really wish he'd write. I can't plant all these crops on my own."
"It's a lot of work Miss Kelsey and he should be here to help you. Why don't you go into the house and I'll finish these here plots."
"John, you have done enough for me today. Why don't you go home? Daisy I'm sure needs you," she replied.
"Daisy isn't working out in the sun now is she? Come on, you can make me lunch," he said with a smile.
Kelsey debated in her head and finally stood up and wiped the dirt off her dress. "You win this time John. I'll be out shortly," she said.
When Kelsey and Todd married, Todd said living out in the country was better than in the city. "It gets way too noisy and all the people make a ruckus. Raising a little farm while raising our children is the perfect way to live," he had told her. And he was right. However there were no children to run around the farm the way he had described but to be married only two years and he always away there was never any time to start a family.
"Miss Kelsey! Miss Kelsey! Come quick!" yelled John from outside. Kelsey ran out of the kitchen and stood on the porch as one of those fancy automobiles approached the house. The truck slurred to a stop and a short bald man with a round belly exited the vehicle.
"Good day Mrs. Madden. How do you do?" he announced.
"Hello Mr. Teller. What can I help you with?" she asked. John came in from the field and stood beside her.
"Well I was wondering if your husband has returned yet because you see, Mrs. Madden, he owes me money and every time I come to collect you say he is away." He said.
"Mr. Madden has been away for quite some time and you best leave the young lady alone," said John.
Mr. Teller looked at John and said, "You best mind your own business and go back to tending to that farm," said Mr. Teller rudely.
John was about to retort but Kelsey interrupted him and said, "I understand that Todd owes you money. You have told me that since the day he left but I don't know where he is. He could be dead for all I know and you are here bugging me. When he comes home, I'll tell you."
Mr. Teller scratched his baldhead and said, "You do realize Mrs. Madden that if what you say is true and your husband is dead then it will be your responsibility to pay me my money right?"
Kelsey grew indignant and said, "I do realize that but unless I receive a letter that my husband is dead you will be receiving no money from me until he returns. You may get off my property now," Kelsey said. She turned away and entered the house.
Mr. Teller looked at John and said, "You tell Mrs. Madden that I will come back and if she doesn't pay me I will burn down her house. Good day," he said. When Mr. Teller had left John entered the house after Kelsey to check on her.
Upon entering the kitchen John saw Kelsey hunched over the kitchen table crying. "Aw Miss Kelsey, don't you worry about that Mr. Teller he's just being a jerk is all," said John with a hand on her shoulder.
Kelsey looked up at John and said, "I wish Todd hadn't taken all the money from Mr. Teller now we owe a fortune. I wish he hadn't left at all!"
"I'm sure Mister Todd had good intentions when he did it. He was trying to provide for you and the young one, even though he didn't know about that." It was hard to hear about her pregnancy and the pain of having the miscarriage grew harder for her to bear. Kelsey began crying again and John never felt so helpless. He didn't even know how to comfort Daisy when she felt down. It was thing a man would never know how to fix, he supposed.
"Miss Kelsey, how about if I work for Mr. Teller, do you think he'll accept that as payment?" asked John.
Kelsey instantly looked up and asked, "You know how he would feel about that, don't you?"
It was true, John was well aware of how Mr. Teller might take the proposition. Even though slavery had been abolished many years before it didn't stop the racism and with John and Daisy being only a few African Americans living Bruell, they were constantly subjected to ridicule and pain.
"I know he might laugh at me for even thinking the thought but Miss Kelsey…"
Kelsey held up her hand and said, "Not another word John. This is my responsibility not yours. Don't even think of it again you hear me? Now, how about that sandwich?" Kelsey stood up and began preparing a sandwich for the two of them. They ate in silence and neither spoke about John's proposition.
Thunder could be heard in the distance and there was no doubt a storm was heading in. "'Afraid the crops are going to have to wait until after the storm Miss Kelsey," said John thoughtfully. Kelsey nodded and looked out the window to the approaching darkness.
"I agree John. I think you should go home now. I don't want you walking home in this storm. Daisy would have just a fit if you walked in all wet," replied Kelsey.
John chuckled and said, "She'd outright have a cow that's for sure. Miss Kelsey, do you think you'll be fine in this storm? I can bring Daisy over and stay with you." he offered.
"I think I should be fine John thank you. However, will you come to town with me tomorrow because I would like to speak to Mr. Teller again and I'd appreciate it if you were there with me."
"Yes ma'am I'll come by in the afternoon. Well Miss Kelsey you take care of yourself you hear and I'll come by. We're not too far away just down the street so if you need anything you just holler, or ring that bell you hear?"
John was referring to the bell he put up several months ago during one of Todd's business trips in case Kelsey was in trouble he could come and help without her having to travel to his home.
"You tell me that every day John now get a move on," said Kelsey.
"Tomorrow then Miss Kelsey," he said while walking out the door. It was a good thing Todd had befriended John and Daisy Greene otherwise Kelsey would definitely be alone. The Greene's were very suspicious of any white folk but Todd, with his kind attitude and warm smile, earned the trust of the Greene's and now they were her absolute best friends.
John picked Kelsey right on time and they arrived in town twenty minutes later. The storm had brewed all night and although outside it was still dark and chilly the rain had slowed down enough for John and Kelsey to make it to town.
The city had been growing a lot as of late since people from the east coast and even from other countries made their way to California where it was cheaper and less populated. It was incredible how much Bruell had grown since Kelsey moved here two years ago.
John opened the door to Mr. Teller's office and Kelsey walked in. His eyes looked up at her and he smiled, although it was not kindly, and he said, "Mrs. Madden what brings you to town?"
Kelsey sat in the oak chair opposite Mr. Teller and quickly took a glance at his office. The walls were bare and white, the floor was oak but spotted and dirty and the furniture was mismatched not to mention there was only one tiny window that afforded no light nor air.
"I'd like to speak with you concerning the payment my husband owes you. I am planning on repaying you myself but I will have to use the money I make with my crops but if this storm continues any longer I am afraid I won't have enough money to pay you and take care of my home. Is there any way we could work out some sort of a deal?" she asked.
Mr. Teller looked at Kelsey and licked his lips and said menacingly, "I'm sure there is something we could work out if you catch my drift Mrs. Madden."
Kelsey gasped and resisted the urge to slap Mr. Teller. "How dare you utter such a thought!" she exclaimed.
"Listen, by law I have the right to take away your home and your farm and everything you own. Now unless you want to end up on the street then pay me my money and since you have none this seems like a perfect payment to me," he said arrogantly.
"What kind of woman do you think I am?" she asked, enraged.
"A woman who wants to save her home is what I think. Listen Mrs. Madden, I'm an unmarried, successful man and you've been alone yourself for quite some time. This would be a perfect arrangement."
Kelsey stood up and said, "I will never consider that proposition and how dare you even propose that idea to me. You'll get you money when I can afford to give it to you. Good day Mr. Teller." Kelsey picked up her purse and walked out the door where John was waiting for her.
"The insolence of the man," she muttered.
David Madden had made the long trip to California in a total of fourteen days. New York was a lot farther than he had thought. He arrived two days ago and had been staying at the inn. He wore a dark long trench coat and a hat to disguise his face. He didn't want to risk being recognized as Todd's brother.
After spending two days roaming the town of Bruell and questioning people, a shopkeeper pointed out that Mr. Madden's wife was the lady in the light green dress leaving Teller's Bank. David couldn't get a clear view of her but she was young and had a young black gentleman with her. David resisted questioning the shopkeeper more since he was afraid it would raise suspicion.
It had been a month since he received the letter stating his brother disappeared shortly after leaving Bruell and his whereabouts were unknown. The letter also stated Kelsey Vanguard Madden, his wife, was the last person to see him and has not reported him missing; she was also a suspect in his disappearance.
David planned in his head how he was going to go about interrogating his sister in law if that's who she really was anymore. He would make a trip out to her farm first thing tomorrow morning and talk to her.
Who was this Kelsey Vanguard that his brother married? Sure, it had been years since David had talked to or seen his brother but that didn't mean Todd couldn't write to tell his own brother of his nuptials. David later asked that question to his friend James when he found him in the tavern later that night.
"Do you really expect Todd to write after what happened between you two?" asked James instead of answering David's question. James was tall and burly with an accent David couldn't quite place. Was he English? Irish? Maybe French?
"That was years ago I can't believe Todd would hold onto that forever," replied David.
James chuckled and took a swig of his whiskey. "Dave, you stole his girl and then made love to her on the day Todd intended on asking for her hand. That sort of thing is hard to forget."
"Amelia could have told me that she and Todd were getting serious," David said in his defense.
"Why were you making passes on your brother's beau any way? You should have known better, considering you are the elder one," replied James.
David sighed. "Amelia was my greatest mistake. I lost my brother to her and it's been ten years now since the ordeal and I still haven't spoken to him." David gulped down his glass of whiskey and the bartender quickly filled it up.
"Should have thought about that sooner don't you think Dave? So what did you find out about your sister in law?"
"Her name is Kelsey, she's fairly tall and from what I could see, she had dark brown hair. She also had some black man with her." David didn't mention that he noticed how slim Kelsey was, or the voluptuous curves of her back or…
"What did you say?" asked David.
"I asked you what you were planning on doing about it?" asked James who was unaware that David was thinking of Kelsey.
"I'm thinking about going to her farm tomorrow and asking her some things. Hopefully the rain will let up for one day so I can get over there."
"And what happens if she notices a similarity between you and her husband?"
"I haven't seen Todd in years but I am pretty sure that we look different now. Besides Todd had this mole on his face and a scar on his back from when we were kids. I'll just wear my hat and she won't see my face."
James took another sip of his whiskey and patted David on the back. "Hope it works out for you brother," he said.
The rain managed to let up enough for Kelsey to go outside and check her crops. All night she had fretted about how the rain might destroy them and she was really counting on making money off them to pay back Mr. Teller. If only Todd were here…
John had told her last night that he would stop by later this afternoon as he was also building a crib for Daisy's newest baby. Kelsey loved children and always wished that she and Todd had been able to expand their family, but the one time she thought it was going to happen she lost the baby.
Kelsey stood up and dusted the mud off her apron as best she could. In the distance she saw a horse and its' rider coming towards her. She walked to the gate that bordered the property and waited for the rider to stop.
He was dressed in a black coat that was so long if she were wearing it it'd be sagging on the ground. He had a dark hat that covered half his face and a nice sturdy build. It'd been a while since she'd seen a man that nicely toned.
"Can I help you?" she asked as the rider dismounted the giant brown beast.
"Yes," he took off his hat and said, "I was wondering if I could ask you some questions."
Was this true? Was it possible that her husband was standing right in front of her? Kelsey closed her mouth since it was gaped open and opened the gate. She walked up to him and put her hands to her mouth. "Todd?" she asked. "Is that really you Todd?"
There were no words to describe what David felt right at this moment…