The call of the lost Jay - Grandmother
Published Sep 20, 2012

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The call of the lost Jay - Grandmother

Part 3 -

The call of the lost Jay - Grandmother

Part 3 -
“Grayson, careful darling, hold on; don’t fall!”

“I won’t Ma; push me higher, higher!”

“Grayson! Grayson!....”

But Ma’s words of warning were lost on my ears as I soared higher and higher into the light.
“Cecil, will he be alright?”

“I hope so honey, for your sake as well as his.”

“It’s been three weeks since his accident though and they are still keeping him sedated.”

“You’d know more about that than me sugar; you are the nurse after all.”

The couple sat in silence for a while, both watching the unmoving figure of Grayson Jay.

“Higher Ma, higher....” he muttered.
In my dream, the light was getting closer and the voices in the background were getting louder. A man called Cecil had been comforting a woman, though I did not know her name. I wanted them to leave, I wanted to stay with my Ma; she said I would see Lisette soon.

The seat was getting higher and higher and the light growing closer and closer. Ma’s voice was fading and the seat tipped back as I swung over the top of the swing...
I found myself propelled forward, suddenly up right. Vertigo hit me and nausea made me gag. A woman cried and a man cursed.

“Cecil! Go and get the attending nurse he’s awake!”
There was a scraping noise and a bang. The noise shattered the inside of my skull and I swayed.

“Easy Gray, your safe now.” The woman’s touch was as soft and comforting as her voice as she held me steady.

I opened my eyes.
And Lisette Jay stared back at me.

“I’ve got you Gray, and I’m not letting you go.”
Lisette was true to her word and kept me close over the following weeks; whenever her shift ended at the hospital she was there, keeping a caring and watchful grasp on me.

It soon transpired that Lisette had registered herself under our mother’s maiden name; Félicie. She had met her husband, Cecil, when he had been admitted for a wound he’d received on the trail of a criminal. Cecil was a policeman, a quiet but wise man who was devoted to Lisette. I approved; he was the opposite of their surly and controlling father and would treat my sister well.

Cecil often came with Lisette to see me at the hospital and would help lift me from the bed to my wheelchair; not that I appreciated it. I found it demeaning and unnecessary, but Lisette insisted I go and enjoy the fresh autumn air.
The pain relief that they gave me made me woozy and nauseous. I spent a lot of my time asleep in bed. I’d sustained a head injury and broken my hip in the accident; it had had to be pinned back together so I couldn’t walk.

Voices often penetrated my dreams, and I could hear people come and go; visitors to the other man in my room, the nurses and doctors, Lisette and Cecil. Sometimes I could have sworn that I’d even had heard Jennifer a few times.
“Lisette, he’s always asleep when I come by, are you sure that he’s recovering well?”

“It’s the sedatives; the more he sleeps the quicker his body will heal. He is getting better though, even if he gets grumpier by the day.”

There was silence for a while as the two women watched Grayson sleep.

“I’d better get going,” Lisette said, looking at her watch, “Cecil will be home soon and he will want his dinner.” She rose, picked up her coat and bag and squeezed the other lady on the shoulder gently.

“It will all be fine in the end Jennifer, I promise.”
I awoke suddenly from the dream that I’d been having. It was a reoccurring one about Ma and I playing on a swing set. It perturbed me that nearly 11 years after she’d left her memory still haunted me. Shaking my head, I unsteadily sat up; the heavy cast around my waist pinning me down.

“Gently Gray, don’t hurt yourself now please.”

I turned my head and saw Jennifer sitting by my bed, rising to come and help me. Shame flooded me. I looked weak and pathetic sitting in a hospital bed; I didn’t want her to see me this way.

“What are you doing here?” I asked; but the words shot out more aggressively than they meant to and I couldn’t stop them. “Where is Lisette? Why are you here Jennifer? You should be at home not sitting at my bed side like a grieving widow!”

She looked visibly hurt but struck back immediately.

“I’m here because I care Grayson. I’ve sat here morning, noon and night so don’t you start giving me any nonsense; your pride cannot be dented and I will not tolerate you snapping at me because you have some chip on your shoulder. I watched you get hit by that car and I’ll be damned if I let you rot away in here.”
I closed my mouth and glared at her. She glared back at me. I swung my legs over the side of the bed like Cecil had taught me and turned my back to her.

“Bring me my wheelchair.”

“Please, Grayson, manners cost nothing.”

“Please.” I spat out at her.

She brought the wheelchair over to the side of the bed and I fell into it heavily. I still hadn’t grasped the knack of getting into it smoothly.

“Now where too?” She asked, grasping the handles of my chair.

“I can do it myself! Excuse me.” And I began to reverse, regardless of if she was behind me or not.

“Put this on please Grayson, it’s cold outside. Do it, you know that I do not suffer fools gladly.” A jumper landed in my lap and the click of heels told me that she was striding out of the room.
The cool night air hit my face and immediately soothed my temper. Inside it was claustrophobic, the sick and the invalids all lined up in iron beds, visitors grieving as if they had already passed. I understood Lisette’s passion for nursing but it didn’t suit me at all.

“Is there anywhere we can talk?” Jennifer asked.

“There’s a garden around the corner.” I set off before she could answer.
“Grayson, why do you keep running from me?” Jennifer asked when she’d caught up to me in the garden.

“I told you; you shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t see me this way.” I snarled at her.

“In what why Gray? In a wheelchair? Grow up, my father spend three years in one.” Her eyes bore into mine and I squirmed.

“I’m finding it very demeaning though.”

“And you don’t think a 76 year old man who’d reached the pinnacle of his career and been feared by all of Bridgeport didn’t too?” She laughed at me mockingly.
I shut my mouth and glared into the darkness. Jennifer sighed when she realised that she wasn’t getting through to me. She pulled one of the garden chairs closer to me and sat in it.

“I do not understand why this is affecting you so much Grayson; you are stronger than this.”

“No; I’m a weak man Jennifer.”

“You are scared Grayson and I cannot help you until you tell me what is causing you to lash out at me.”

We sat in silence for a while, watching the spot lights from the City below sparkle against the cloud lined sky.
“My Pa told me once that the wounded had no hope in society.”

“We both know that you Pa was an idiotic pig who didn’t deserve what he was given in life.”

Silence once again. I felt awkward, like I was making excuses, but it was how I genuinely felt.

“You just don’t get it.”

She clenched jaw and tightened her fist.

“I see we are getting nowhere with this.”

“Then change the subject.”

She sighed and slowly unclenched her muscles. Calmly, she asked “What did you want to say to me, that night that we were on the balcony? You do remember it don’t you? It’s just been bothering me for so long now....”

“Jenny? Stop babbling. Come here please.”
She leaned in and rested her hand on my thigh. I cupped her chin gently and planted a kiss on her cheek.

“I was going to tell you that I thought I was in love with you.” I whispered.

She smiled back at me.

“You are infuriating Mr. Jay.”
After three months of being stuck in a hospital bed I was discharged. My hip had set perfectly and the large cast was swapped for copious amounts of bandages and padding. I hated my wheelchair and had stayed in bed most of the time to avoid further arguments with Jennifer, Cecil and Lisette, often to the attending nurse’s disgust.

I was discharged into the care of my sister and her husband. They had a spare room and wanted to help me with my rehabilitation. Their house was a single storey bungalow clad with painted pink wood (much to Cecil’s disgust).
Lisette became my primary source of care, with her helping to move me into and out of my wheelchair, bringing me food and drink and trying to entertain me. But with her and Cecil often working long and awkward hours I was left alone most of the time, and soon grew depressed and stir crazy.

I stopped letting Jennifer drop by and our communication whittled down to a phone call twice a week. I felt isolated and alone. There were few books and the television was of no real interest to me.
“What did you do today Grayson?” Lisette asked me. The same question every damn night as we sat in front of the television once again.

“Not much. Bit of this, bit of that. Watched some television.”


“Why don’t you go out tomorrow Gray? The bus stops right outside?....”

“Damn it Lisette I don’t want to!”

“Honey, just leave him.”

“Did you tell Gray about the trip to see your Grandmother?”

“I don’t think that’s appropriate Cecil.”

“Well I do.”

“We have a Grandmother?”
“Yes Grayson; unfortunately we do. She’s Ma’s mother and a nasty piece of work.”

“Why didn’t you tell me? She might know what happened to Ma...”

“I already tried Gray and she’s a selfish woman and not worth our time!”

“Lisette please tell me.”

She bit the inside of her cheeks and sucked in a breath. She glared at Cecil who blanked her and began her story.

“There is a house down main street, a mock Tudor brick build one which is nestled in between all of the skyscrapers. Do you know the one that I mean?”

I nodded. I had always thought it had looked out of place in the middle of the city.

“Well that was Ma’s house when she grew up and our Grandmother still resides there.”
“I’d only been at nursing school for about 9 months when I plucked up the courage to go. I knew that Ma originally came from the city, so I did some research using Ma’s maiden name, Félicie. Her family was one of the most influential in the 1930’s but her Pa gambled away the company to our Pa’s father. It caused a huge scandal at the time and the family was disgraced. Anyway, I wrote a letter and an appointment was arranged. I arrived ten minutes early and was made to wait twenty outside the gates. The house was dilapidated inside but the butler showed me up to the drawing room.” “There was this elderly lady sitting in an armchair at the end of the room. She was draped in fur and had all of this make up and jewellery on; she looked like a pig and bears no resemblance to Ma or either of us. Anyway the first thing she says to me is “You are late.” I told her that I was kept outside for twenty minutes and she called me a liar. I apologised trying to placate the situation and she nodded and pointed to a chaise lounge opposite her. She then started attacking what I was wearing “Black? Are you in mourning?” “No.” “Well I am not dead yet so don’t wear it in my presence again.” My hair was too short, I was not lady like enough when I sat, I spoke with an accent. Even my name was too ‘unusual’. Urgh. Pretentious woman.” “Anyway, I asked her if she knew where Ma was. She said that she hadn’t heard anything from Ma since the autumn of 1949, which was when Ma left Pa. She was outraged; Ma had caused shame upon the family by leaving Pa, turns out Grandmother was the one that set up Ma and Pa’s marriage in the first place. Since our Grandfather had died, Pa had been sending Grandmother a very large monthly allowance, of course when Ma left he cut her off! She was outraged and declared Ma out of her mind and should we ever speak to her tell her to go back to Pa to restore some honour in the family!” “She then told me all out her family’s line and how pure and noble it was for two hours. She then dismissed me with a “Thank you for coming; I shall not expect another visit until your mother is reunited with your father.” She then told me we would not be receiving any inheritance as Ma had shamed her; so she would let me take two items each for you and I from the house (providing they weren’t worth too much)” “I was to make a list and give it to the butler. There was a nice portrait on the wall of a man called Narcisse; he was concert pianist. It was one of a few originals apparently, so I took it; I donated it to the Bridgeport musical museum just to annoy dear grand mama. It’s a shame really because it was such a lovely portrait, but it would have looked out of place here.” “So I went for a walk around the house; most of the antique things having been sold; there is nothing left downstairs in the living room and dining room and the kitchen is spot less but old, she still has a larder! The servant’s quarter’s are only occupied by the butler and only one bathroom works. But I found Ma’s room. It was dusty and dirty and nothing had been touched since she left. Her diaries were even on the bedside cabinet.” “I found myself drawn to the balcony outside and stood there for a while. It was calming and peaceful, you could see City hall and the art centre! But you could also see the wall and security gate around the complex and you felt closed in and trapped. I felt sad for Ma, she could never have been happy there.” “And so I left the list of items with the butler and came home.” She finished, shrugging her shoulders.

“What did you get?” I asked.

“The Narcisse paintings and some heirloom silver for me and an antique globe and some leather bound classics for you. But I did walk out with some items; Ma’s possessions. Clothes and jewellery for me and Ma’s diaries for you.”

“Where are they now?”

“In the study. Come; I’ll show you.”
Lisette left me in the study after pointing me in the direction of my heirlooms. She’d picked well, the classics and globe were indeed pretty and heirloom objects. But Ma’s diaries were on the table. I was surprised that I’d never noticed them before. It was hard, knowing that there was a connection to my Ma there, laying within those pages. Years had gone past, but not without me thinking even fleetingly about her once a day. I reached for the pile and pulled the string that bound the five books together. I opened the top one at a random page and began to read. “Today, I finished my governess training. I am very excited as it now means that I can work anywhere, even on the continent. How I would love to teach the children of Paris! I am fluent in French now, so I am hoping that the agency sends me there. Mama does not approve, but then again when does she? Papa is having difficulty with his company, but I think it is mostly to do with the gambling. Mama keeps bringing young men into the house for diners, I know her intentions but they do not interest me. Society bores me; I wish to be an educator! But there is one man who she favours above all, a Grayson Jay from Appaloosa Plains. His father is in agriculture but is wealthy even amongst the city men. I do not like him, for he seems heavy handed and even at his young age too fond of the drink.....”

I slammed the book shut. Less than 6 months later my Ma would be married to the heavy handed drunk mentioned in the diary. There was an old black and white photograph tucked into the page of the dairy. It was Ma; her hair swept back wearing a blazer and long skirt reading a book. My Ma, who had so much potential, was ruined by the selfishness of her parents. I put the books back on the table and went to my room, where I couldn’t stop the tears from falling.
Life in Lisette and Cecil’s house seemed to be in a constant downward spiral. They began to fight over the silly things, who’s turn it was to get gas for the car and which television program to watch. I stayed out of the way, still in my wheelchair. Nine months had now passed since my accident and I had not attempted to walk once. The window for me ever being able to walk again was closing; but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to so why should I bother? “Darling, we need to talk.” Cecil said one evening when they were in the living room alone.

“About what?” Asked Lisette putting down her book.


“What about him?”

“We need to get on with our lives. We want a family don’t we? But his selfishness is stopping us and I’ve had enough. You run around all day at work and come home to his selfishness and laziness. I think he needs to go into a covalence home now.”

“No Cecil it’s only been nine months since that accident and he was severely traumatised! I’m just trying to...”
“Leave it. We are not his parents Lisette! I want him out or else I am going. I cannot deal with him anymore, constantly treating us like dirt on his shoe! We feed him, clothe him; hell he’s 20 and you bathed him for three and a half months! He needs to know that we are not taking any more of this; I cannot deal with it, it upsets me to see you shot down by the pig headed idiot!”

“Please Cecil you cannot make me choose! He’s my brother! You are my husband! It’s just his medication making him irritable...” She cried.

“He was meant to be off of that stuff 5 months ago!” Cecil roared back at her. He shook with fury. “I cannot cope anymore. 3 weeks and I’m gone Lisette! I don’t want to see you waste your life caring for your brat of a brother!”

With that he got up and left the house.
I’d heard the shouting from the study and the front door slam. I placed down one of Ma’s dairies that I’d been reading and wheeled myself into the kitchen. Lisette was crying as she pulled ingredients out of the fridge.

“Lisette? What’s wrong?” I asked her.

“Nothing Gray, Cecil and I had an argument.”

“About what?”
“Nothing Grayson.”

“Evidently since you are sobbing your eyes out! What did he say to you?”

“Nothing Gray drop it.”

“Do you want me to talk to him?”

She laughed sarcastically.

“I doubt that will do much good.”

“Why? He doesn’t get to bully you.”
“Oh so only you can? Fetch me some water Lisette. Fetch me my slippers Lisette. Don’t talk about my husband that way when you treat me worse you hypocrite!”

“What on earth did I do to deserve that?” I cried at her.

“What on earth did I do to deserve your arrogance and pride? You could be walking by now Gray but you let your self-pity get in the way of your happiness? How come Jennifer never come by any more huh?”

“Because you know I don’t want her to see me this way.” I growled at her.
“YOU MIGHT NOT BE THIS WAY IF YOU GAVE IT A GO GRAYSON!” She roared at me, the roasting tray in her hand rattling, “Cecil is right, you are selfish; you love the attention and the self pity. You demand and command and you know what you are worse than Pa.” She snarled at me. “My marriage may be over because I care for you so much, I feel trapped, I can relate to MA!” She kicked the oven door shut and turned her back to me panting from her outrage.

“How dare you.” I hissed at her.

“No, Grayson, how dare you.” She said back.
I let out a roar and wheeled myself towards the archway. Lisette thought I was out of ear shot but I still heard her sob.

“And if you cared Gray you’d let us be and get on with your life.”
I pulled open the front door and wheeled myself onto the lawn. I didn’t know where I was going but I had to get away. I was not our Pa!

In the distance, I could see Cecil approaching the house. I let out a roar of anger.

“YOU!” I screamed at him.
“How dare you turn my sister against me!” I tried to wheel my chair closer to him, but it jammed in the mud. “How dare you turn my wife against me Gray! Do you enjoy breaking apart families? Does it make you feel big? Huh Grayson? Tell me! Come over here and tell me!” “Come on Gray, come and tell me what you really think!” Cecil called as I got closer to him.

“I think, I think...”
I stumbled and Cecil’s arms were around me like a shot, supporting me, holding me like him and Lisette had been doing for the past 9 months.

“I think I’m sorry Cecil.”

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#1spladoumSep 21, 2012

What a terribly sad family--especially Grandmother, who was so concerned with "honor" that there was no room left for "happiness." Grayson has unknowingly absorbed a lot of selfishness and bitterness over the years--good to see that he can still break out of it. Great update. \:\)

#2fabrizioammolloSep 22, 2012

Great job! A very well done chapter. It seems that all the relatives they can get in touch with are not too worth of it. I tought their father was the worse, but their grandmother isn't any better. Gray was indeed being a foolish and conceited, I'm glad that Cecil, shaking things up, was able to force an improvement out of him. Now Grey go to tell Jennifer that you have been an idiot! \;\)

#3eviOct 11, 2012

Very well done!

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