9. Forget Me (K)not

September 1855   
[Not part of the original Heyes & Curry Story – a ‘DVD Extra’]
By Calico

 

“Alex, Hannibal, hurry up and get ready.  We’ll be late for church.”

Hannibal frowned.  Couldn’t his mother see he was busy?  If these new troops he’d had for his birthday went into battle without learning their drill…

“Hannibal, did you hear me?  Put your toys away…”

Toys?!  Could she possibly be referring to his crack skirmishers?

“…You can play with them later.”

Play?!  Outraged brown eyes stared at Sarah Heyes as she swiftly dried the breakfast dishes.  He was not playing.

A gen’ral is du-ty fulfilling,
When his troops are good at drilling.”

“You can drill them later.”

“A sol’jer does not brook delay
His duty’s…”

“Hannibal, what have you been told about answering back?”

The indignation writ large upon the small face intensified at this new evidence of how injustice stalked the land.  And, more specifically, stalked the Heyes’ place.

“I was quotin’!  Quotin’ isn’t ans’rin’ back.  It’s – it’s…”  Hannibal searched.  “It’s QUOTIN’!”

“To be fair, Sarah, he was quoting…”

Hannibal beamed at this support from his father.  Men had to stick together, huh?

“…AND, quoting a veritable literary genius.   Now,” Alex scratched his head, as if trying hard to remember.  “…What was the name of that gifted author who wrote; A Birthday Gift for Hannibal, or the Pachyderm Package?”

“It was – it was,” Hannibal bounced on his chair.  A small finger pointed.  “Mother.”

“So it was.”  A sorrowful shake of the dark head.  “She’s too dang smart for us, son.  If I were you, I’d do as she says and get ready for church.” Alex disappeared back behind the Kansas Enquirer.

A balled up damp tea towel smacked into the raised newspaper.

“Hey!”

“Alexander Heyes, if you don’t separate your posterior from that chair and get yourself and your son ready for church…!”  The threat remained unspoken.

“Can’t a man have…?”

“I am going to count to – one.”

—oooOOOooo—

Hannibal, face newly washed and hair wet combed into a tidy parting, sat on the edge of his parents’ bed watching his father tie his necktie.

“Why’se we hafta wear ties to church?”

“Search me, son.  My money’s on a female conspiracy.”

“Huh?”

“It’s like putting dogs on a lead.  Just be grateful…”  Alex turned away from the mirror. “…Women are satisfied with a halter round our necks and don’t want to put a ring through our noses.”

Hannibal knew his father was only joshing.   He held out his own tie, in mute request.   Alex hunkered down knotted it and then turned down the linen collar.   Instead of straightening up he remained squatting, studying his son, intently.

“What?” said Hannibal.  What the Sam Hill had he done now?

“Nothing.  Except…” With a sigh, Alex undid his earlier good work by ruffling the dark hair.  “You’re growing up so dang fast.”

Hannibal snorted.  Not fast enough!  He was still two inches shorter than Esther Curry.

“I think it’s about time you learnt to tie your own tie.  When we get back from church, I’ll teach you.”

—oooOOOooo—

Father and son sat side by side, facing the mirror above the dresser.   “Watch me first.  I’ll go real slow – then copy me.”

A youthful duplicate of his own features, nodded solemnly, brown eyes fixed intently on his throat.

“You cross the broad end – see how one end is wider – in front of the narrow end…”

“Whassit called?”

“Fold the… What do you mean, what’s it called?  It’s a necktie.”

“Knots are called diff’rent things ‘cos sailors give ‘em names.  Like when they splice the main brace.”  Kindly informative tone.  “That one’s a splice.   An’ Danny Boone, he uses a lariat loop.”

“Ah, I see what you mean.  Well this knot – if it was used sea – would be, I think, a buntline hitch.”

The small lips mouth, silently, committing this to memory.

“BUT, when it’s a necktie, this knot’s called a four-in-hand.  Now, watch.  You cross the broad end…”

“Why’sit called that?”

“I read somewhere it’s to do with how drivers with four horses tied their reins together.”

“’S’not reins though. It’s a necktie.”

“Well, since tying your own tie is a bit like learning to swim – one of those things you never forget once you’ve learnt – if you like, we can call it a Forget-Me-Knot.”

Hannibal considered this.  “Awright,” he said, indicating that his father – on this occasion – had fulfilled his obligation to act both as a fount of knowledge and as an ideas generation device.   “Carry on,” he gave permission.

“Thank you.  You fold the broad end behind the narrow end…”

—oooOOOooo—

“…Through the hole, Hannibal.  That’s it.  Don’t drop the other end.  Aww.  Nearly.”

“It won’t go!”

“You’re doing fine,” said Alex.  He eyed the scarlet frustration on the dimpled face beside him.  “D’you want to leave it – try again tomorrow?   There’s no rush.”

Hannibal tugged the much abused strip of fabric over his head and glared at it.

“No.”  Menacingly, “I’m gonna git this right even if I hafta…”  The woollen cloth is wrung like a chicken’s neck.

“Okay.  Nice and slow.   We take the broad end…”

The door opened, just a crack.  Sarah Heyes smiled as the hands of her two menfolk – and the two mirror images – moved in quadruple unison.  Quietly, she shut the door.

—oooOOOooo—

“I did it!”

Alex surveyed his son’s triumph.  The crumpled necktie would win awards for neither style nor hitting the epicentre of the collar.  But, it was definitely tied.

“You did it!  Well done.”

“An’ – an’ I’ll always remember how?”

“You’ll always remember.”

A smug beam.  Then, “MOTHER!  Come see what I can do!”

—oooOOOooo—

VALPARAISO 1863

“HEYES!  If you’re not ready for church in two seconds flat…”  The older boy, responsible for the East dormitory left the threat unspoken.

Jostled by neighbouring elbows, but wary of discipline points for Sabbath untidiness, Hannibal gave a final glance in the pitted glass above the long row of wash-stands.  His thin hands slid the obligatory Sunday necktie snugly into place.  Smoothing down the collar, he raised his eyes.
His heart leapt in sudden, joyous recognition… He remembered…
Hannibal almost gasped as an almost instantaneous gut punch of disappointment hit him.
Disappointment?  How could he be so dang dumb? 
He was looking into a mirror – who and what else did he expect to see?

Forget-me-knot.

 

 

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