Authors: J. B. Reed
“Lucy, what’s wrong, are you alright?”
“No Vivie, I’m not. We just got word; there was a cave in at the mine. Several men are trapped, Vivie. Luke is one of the men.”
Vivie collapsed on the floor, still holding the phone in her hand.
“Vivie, are you there? Did you hear what I just said?”
“Yes, Lucy, I’m here. Are you positive Luke was in the mine?”
“His shift wasn’t over, Vivie. He was still working. Mommy, Daddy and I are going up there. Do you want us to stop and pick you up?”
“Yes, I’ll be waiting out front.”
Vivie told Mary what had happened and ran out of the door to wait for Lucy. When they arrived at the mine, there were already several people there, including a fire truck and an
ambulance. Lucy’s father saw the second shift mine boss and ran over to him, to see if he could get any information.
“It’s bad Hal. We can’t even get in there yet to see if there are any survivors.”
“My boy’s in there John, we have to get in there.”
“We’re doing the best we can. I’ll let you know as soon as I get the okay to go in. I’m really sorry Hal, really sorry.” The man put his hand on Luke’s father’s shoulder before he walked away from him.
Lucy, Vivie and Mrs. Snyder walked over to him. “What did he say, Daddy?”
“He said it’s bad. They can’t get in yet to check on those men. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Vivie and Mary held onto each other and cried. Vivie began feeling sick. Her stomach started cramping and the pain nearly bent her over.
“Vivie, are you okay?” Lucy was afraid the excitement may be too much for her friend.
“Lucy, I think the baby is coming. It’s not time, it’s too early. I need to get to Mama. Can you take me to Mama?”
Lucy’s father handed the car keys to his wife. “Here, take her home. I’ll wait here until you get back.”
Mrs. Snyder and Lucy helped Vivie into the car and hurriedly drove down the mine road to Vivie’s house. Mrs. Snyder blew the horn of the car to summon Mary. When Vivie got out of the car, her water broke.
“Sweet Lord, the baby is coming. Mama, help me get into the house.”
The three women helped Vivie into the house and into bed. Lucy took Vivie’s brothers and sister outside while the two older women tended to Vivie. An hour later, Rose Michelle O’Bannon came into the word.
“She is the most beautiful baby I’ve ever laid eyes on.” Mrs. Snyder proclaimed. Vivie held baby Rose to her chest and gazed upon her face.
“She looks just like Vivian did. She even has her red hair.” Mary was bursting with pride, and relief. Her first grandchild had made it safely into the world. Except for being so tiny, she appeared to be perfect.
Mrs. Snyder walked outside to let Lucy know the baby had been born. As they were talking a car pulled up and let Mr. Snyder out. Lucy ran to meet her father. She could see tears in the older man’s eyes. Lucy didn’t have to ask, she knew that Luke was gone.
“He’s gone, Bonnie. They pulled him out just a little while after you left.”
Mary stood at the screen door watching, knowing that it wasn’t good news. Mary made the sign of the cross on herself, knowing that now she had to tell Vivie that Luke was gone.
“Father in heaven, has my child not been through enough?”
Vivie sobbed as she held baby Rose close to her. She looked down at the ring on her finger.
“What have I done, Mama, for God to punish all those who care for me?”
“Vivian, this is not a punishment due to anything that you did or did not do. Luke knew very well the dangers of working in the coal mines. It was just his time, child. We can’t question the Lord about these matters. All we can do is pray for his soul and pray for his family. The young men only have the mines to go to in this part of the world. If they’re going to work, they work in the coal mine.”
Vivie was not well enough to go to Luke’s funeral, as much as she wanted to be there. Lucy came over to the Clancy home after the funeral to check on Vivie.
“It was a nice service. The whole town turned out. Luke would have been proud. Vivie, you need to know that my brother loved you so much. All he talked about was you, and marrying you and being a father to little Rose.”
“I feel so horrible, Lucy. I was planning to tell him I would marry him that evening. I was preparing a special dinner for him. Lucy, I’m so sorry for you.”
“I’ll be fine, Vivian. It’s you I’m worried about. Luke wouldn’t have wanted you to grieve for him. He knew each day he went to work that he may not come out of that mine in the evening. Everyone who lives in Matewan knows this is a fact of life. But what choice do our men have? Vivie, I wanted to let you know that I’ve decided to go to Ohio to live with my aunt for a while.”
“You’re leaving me too Lucy?”
“I hope you will understand, Vivie. I need to move away from here, at least for a while.”
“Of course you do. I want you to be happy Lucy.”
“I want you to be happy too, Vivie. I promise I’ll write to you everyday and I will call whenever I can.”
Vivie not only lost Luke, but now she was losing her best friend. Vivie never had a girlfriend in Hell’s Kitchen. She was going to miss her friend. Now it was only her family and her darling baby Rose. After the girls said their goodbyes, Vivie walked back into the house and sat down on the couch.
“Maybe it’s time to contact Michael.” Vivie thought to herself. If he wouldn’t speak to her she would understand, but she had to try.
MICHAEL MEETS BABY ROSE
As much as Vivie wanted to contact Michael, she was still uncertain if that would be the wise thing to do. So many questions and scenarios ran through her mind. Perhaps Michael had changed his telephone number; if not, would he even want to talk to her after all this time? Would Michael feel that being in contact with her would place him in danger? Would calling him, place her family in danger? She had to consider Rose as well. Would Michael even care that she had been born? So many questions, so many doubts.
“Mama, I’ve been thinking that maybe I should try to contact Michael.”
“I have been expecting this, child. Talk to me, tell me what’s on your mind.”
“Do you think the reason Luke died was because I was about to make a mistake marrying him? Do you think that God, in his infinite wisdom, took Luke from me because I was meant to be with Michael?”
“I would never attempt to question the reason God does anything, Vivian. It was Luke’s time to go. Whether or not it was to keep you from making a mistake, I would not dare say. I do believe that our Father in heaven has watched over you and has brought you through many difficult times. Vivian, I don’t think you will be able to move on with your life until you have, at least, spoken with Michael.”
“What about the dangers of contacting him, Mama? Would I be putting you and the kids and my precious baby in harms way?”
“No. I do not believe that a phone call will put us in danger. Call him Vivian; put your mind at rest.”
Vivie walked over to the telephone and dialed Michael’s number. She felt her body tremble, as his phone began to ring.
“Michael, its Vivie.”
“Vivie? My God, is it really you?”
“Yes, Michael, it’s me. I had to call; I needed to talk to you.”
“Is everything alright? Your family, they’re all well?”
“We are fine, Michael. I wanted to let you know the baby came early. It was a little girl, Michael, a beautiful little girl. I named her Rose Michelle O’Bannon.”
“Yes, Michael, the Michelle is for you.”
Michael was silent on the other end.
“Michael? Are you still there?”
“Yes, I’m here Vivie. I can’t believe she’s here. You said she came early? Is she okay? Are you okay?”
“We’re both fine. She is a little small but perfectly healthy. Michael, how are you?”
“I’m well. I miss you Vivie. I can’t begin to tell you how much I miss you.”
“I miss you too, Michael. I hesitated calling you. I didn’t know if you would want to talk to me. I also didn’t know if it was the right thing to do…to contact you. How are things with Joseph?”
“Of course I would want to talk to you. Just hearing your voice has made my world a little brighter. Things with Joseph are going well. He believed that I carried out his order regarding you. He has never questioned anything.”
“So, I am officially dead?”
“As far as Joseph is concerned, yes. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, I wish you and Rose were here, with me.”
“As do I. We both know that can never be, not as long as Joseph is alive.”
“Vivie, I need to see you. May I come to see you and Rose?”
“You want to come here…to West Virginia? Michael, do you really think that would be a good idea? How would you explain your absence to Joseph?”
“Let me work that out. Please, permit me to come see you. Please tell me that you want to see me as well.”
“Michael, there is nothing I would like more. I’m just concerned for your safety and the safety of Mama and the kids.”
“I would never put you or your family in danger. I’m not sure what I will tell Joseph, but I will come up with something that he will not question. I can leave here tonight and be in West Virginia by morning.”
Vivie gave Michael directions to Mama’s house. A part of Vivie was worried this was a mistake, but another part of her, a very big part, wanted to see Michael. She could not help but feel excited and happy. Her heart was beating just a little faster, knowing that in a few hours, Michael would be there, in Matewan.
“I need to make a couple phone calls and then I’ll be leaving. I will see you soon, my darlin Vivie.”
“Take care, Michael. I will see you soon.”
“Mama? I have news. I just spoke to Michael; he’s coming here, to Matewan. He wants to see the baby.”
“Vivian, do you think that is prudent? “
“Michael said he would work it all out. He’s leaving tonight and will be here by morning. Oh Mama, I’m so happy. He still loves me, I know it.”
“I’m sure he does, Vivian. The fact remains that he is who he is. Coming here to see you and Rose does not change anything. He will not stay in West Virginia and you cannot go back to New York.”
“I know that, Mama. I know that as long as Joseph is alive, that Michael and I will not be able to have a life together.”
“Joseph aside, do you really believe that you could have a life with Michael? He’s a killer, Vivian, a professional killer. Would that be the kind of life you would want for yourself and Rose?”
“You need not remind me of who Michael is. You cannot choose who you fall in love with, either, Mama.”
“Well, I do look forward to meeting him. I would like to thank him for what he’s done for you, and for the rest of the family. Although, I do not know that I can forget that he is the reason your Papa is dead. I know I need to remember the reason he did what he did. He believed he was avenging you. I realize he did not intend for those monsters to come after your family.”
“That’s true, Mama. Michael has made some bad decisions, but what he did, it was for a noble cause. He would never do anything that he believed would cause me more heartache.”
“We will make him welcome, my dear. I just hope you know what you are doing.”
“Thank you, Mama. I need to see him; I need to talk to him, at least one more time. I need to try to make up for the terrible things I said to him, the day I left.”
Michael pondered what excuse he would use to leave town. Joseph was not a stupid man. Whatever he tells Joseph, it has to be something that would not raise suspicion in his mind. Michael had not gone anywhere since Joseph told him to lay low. The trouble with the Westies, and Flannery was still very much an issue.
“Joseph, it’s Lucky. I need to get out of town for a while. Staying in like this has made me a little stir crazy. If I don’t get away for a while I feel that I may lose my mind.”
“Lucky, this is a bad time for you to be taking off. Flannery is going to be looking for you and I’m sure his boss has already put a hit out on you. Where the hell are you thinking about going?”
“I don’t know. I thought, maybe, you might have a suggestion, Joseph.”
“Hell, I don’t know. I think it’s a bad idea for you to take off. Wherever you go, it needs to be far away. What about LA? You’ve never been out west, have you Lucky?”
“No, I haven’t. LA sounds great. I could leave tonight. I just need a little time away, Joseph.”
“Okay, go on out to LA, get yourself some sun and clear your head. You need to get laid while you’re there too. It does wonders for a man’s state of mind. Maybe you could hook up with one of those Hollywood starlets.” Joseph laughed a big hearty laugh.
“Yeah, sound like a good idea. I’ll call you in a few days to let you know how things are going.”
“Be safe Michael. Talk to you soon.”
Michael packed his bag and left the apartment. Opening the trunk of the T-Bird, he viewed the contents.
“I hope I don’t get pulled over by one of those southern good ol’ boy cops. I would hate to have to try to explain why I’m carrying this cargo. I would also hate to have to off a cop. But you do what you have to do.”
Michael placed his bag inside the trunk and closed the lid. The thought of reuniting with Vivie and seeing baby Rose was all the incentive Michael needed. In a few hours he would be there, once again holding Vivie in his arms.
“Mama, someone just pulled in, and boy do they have a fancy car.” Vivie’s brother Liam, yelled from the front door.
Vivie rushed to the door where she saw Michael’s T-Bird sitting in the driveway. She walked out onto the porch, her heart beating fast. Vivie ran down the porch steps to meet him. Michael held her tightly and kissed her.
“Who is that, Mama? Liam questioned.
“That, my son, is your brother-in-law, Michael.”
Vivie and Michael walked into the house. Mary and the children were standing there, not knowing exactly what they should say.
“Mama, this is Michael.”
Michael offered his hand to Mary. “It’s an honor to finally meet you, Mrs. Clancy." Mary looked at his hand, then walked over to Michael and hugged him.
“Please, call me Mama. I’m happy to meet you too, son. Welcome to our home.”
Vivie introduced her brothers and sisters to Michael.
“That’s some car you have.” Liam, now 16, was in awe of Michael’s T-Bird.
“You like it, do you? Perhaps, with your Mother’s permission, we can take a ride later, if you like.”
“Would I? Can I, Mama?”
“Hush now, Liam, Michael just got here. Give him time to settle in before begging him to take you somewhere.”
“There is someone else you need to meet, Michael.” Vivie took Michael by the hand and led him over to the bassinet where Rose lay sleeping.
“My God, she looks just like you, Vivie. She’s beautiful.” Michael’s eyes started to tear.
“She’s been a blessing to me. She’s a wonderful baby, Michael.”
“How could she be anything else? She’s your child.”
Michael turned to hug Vivie again. No one was happier, at that moment that Vivie and Michael. After lunch, Vivie asked Michael if he would like a tour of the area.
“Can I go too? Liam was still trying to get a ride in Michael’s car.
“No, not this time. There will be plenty of time for you to take a ride in Michael’s car.” Mary knew that Vivie and Michael need some time alone.
As they traveled down the road, toward town, Michael reached over and took Vivie’s hand.
“There are so many things I want to tell you, darlin.”
“How are things in New York, Michael….truly?”
“There’s big trouble with the Westies, Vivie. And with Tommy.”
“What has happened, Michael?"
Michael told Vivie about the hijacking of the furs and Joseph’s order for him to take care of the men responsible. He related how it had gone down, with Tommy escaping him, and how now, there was a hit out on him.
“Jesus, Michael. Is there no end to the torment Tommy is capable of causing?”
“I blame myself. I’ve never let a hit go unfinished. I’ve always been able to follow through on a job. Tommy is like a sewer rat. He hides in places where no one will find him. I now have to find him and finish the job.”