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Rawley

Rawley Ferron was an interesting character.  He treated Margo like dirt and used every opportunity to take advantage of her.  She loved Rawley.  If she didn't love him then nobody else would.  Rawley was one of those people whose good intentions always went wrong.  He was the kind of person who acted on impulse and in so doing, he developed the skill of manipulation.  He was an intuitive decision maker.  He wasn't like most of us whose innocence was sacrificed on the alter of false pretenses.  He wasn't hindered by pre-determined expectations of Orwellian notions.  Rawley invented great schemes which never seemed to materialize.  He was a dreamer like the tin man who was overwhelmed with emotion but didn't know how to express it.  He thought everybody was out to get him and he kept things secretly hidden away in his emotional gunny sack.  He didn't want anyone to know what he was up to.

At the next stop, Rawley climbed into the old yellow school bus and took his usual seat next to Margo.  He muttered something under his breath that sounded like he was sobbing.  "What's that ?" asked Margo.  His eyes were watering as he looked up and said, "My father just told me that I was going to go to boarding school up north in Indiana."  His face was flushed as he settled back into his seat.  "They are sending me off to Indiana Military Academy."  Margo asked him, "Why do you let him treat you that way ?  Just tell him you don't want to leave home."  The bus driver turned around to check to see that everyone was in their seat and the bus lunged forward toward the next stop.  "Are you going to let everyone push you around for the rest of your life and treat you like a little puppy dog with his tail between his legs?  When are you going to stand up for yourself and stop letting people walk all over you?"  Rawley didn't answer and just pressed his cheek against the window staring into the distance.

Rawley's mother, Nancy, came from a long line of Southern aristocracy.  Her grandfather owned several plantations and cotton mills.  Her ancestors settled in the piedmont of the Carolinas in the early 1700's.  She was well placed in local society.  Her husband, Zachariah, Rawley's father, was the son of a PhD who held high academic status at the local university.  Zachariah graduated from Durham University and was appointed as the administrator of the Memorial Hospital.  Rawley's father had the reputation for being a kind and generous person but in truth he was the sort of person who expected and even demanded that things be done his way.  He was a perfectionist who expected perfection from everyone around him, especially Rawley.  Rawley's two older brothers had conformed to the family traditions and met the family's expectations by studying medicine and theology respectively.  Rawley was the third born and was an unexpected addition to the family.

Rawley and Margo were brought up in a society where being appropriate was the rule.  Acceptable behavior was the measure of civility.  Their examples of role models were shared by characters such as pentecostal preachers, bass fishermen, bank executives, and banjo pickers. As the bus rumbled over the pot holes, Rawley reflected on this morning's routine at home.  He had a tendency to find ways to spend time annoying others around the house by marching up and down the staircase while banging a stew pot with a wooden spoon.  Janie, the housekeeper, who always polished the silver on Wednesdays, tried to warn him to stop but he kept it up until his mother shouted, "Stop it! I hate it when you do that.  It goes all over me and gives me one of my migraine headaches.  Stop it, right now."  Nancy reached for the bell on her bedside table and rang it vigorously to call the housekeeper for help when  Zachariah yelled from the back porch asking what all the confusion was about. "Why don't you take one of your headache pills?" he asked, "unless you have taken them all already.  If so, I will get your prescription refilled at the hospital today."   Rawley, feeling that he had accomplished his mission of disturbing everyone's peace of mind, stopped banging and prepared to meet the bus.  He heard his mother say, "Don't forget your overshoes and hurry or you'll be late.  And, oh yes, come straight home from school to practice the piano.  Remember also that you have horseback riding lessons this Saturday.."  He replied, "OK, Mama, I hear you."

Rawley squirmed in his seat as the old yellow bus came to the last stop at school.  His personality was similar to his father's in a way because he was manipulative like his father.  It was hard to tell if Rawley was sincerely upset or if he was just faking to gain sympathy.  As they stepped down off of the bus, Margo continued to investigate by asking, "Why do you think your father is sending you to military school?"  Rawley answered with a pouting expression, "Because Indiana Military Academy molds young men of refinement with discipline and honor." he continued, "and this will be instilled into my character along with morality and ethical behavior."  "No !," Margo corrected, "your father is sending you out of his way.  He is trying to get rid of you."  Shocked by her answer, Rawley asked, "Why do you think I am in the way ?"   Margo explained, " You are eight years younger than your brothers.  He thought he was through having children and was expecting a life of leisure but then you came along.. Now you are in the way of his career, of his success and of his position in the community.  Now he has to worry about what kind of reflection you are going to be on the family tradition.  He is going to make sure you get it done right.  He had great dreams for the future and you are just in the way."

After school was out, Rawley and Margo rode the bus back home and they got off at their stops.  Margo.was suprised to see a large black sedan parked in the front yard of her house.  Mommie called the children to the front steps and introduced a lady from the social services agency to them.  She had a black A-line skirt with a white ruffled blouse and a tortoise shell comb hidden in a tightly wrapped bun.  She explained to the children that Mommie had asked for her help in finding a place to live now that Ernie was in jail.  One of the places that was in consideration was the Baptist Home.  She said we could stay in the mountains with granddaddy in the mean time.  Mommie told them to get dressed in their best Sunday clothes and to pack a bundle of things that they wanted to take in a pillow case.  Margo picked her pretty pink blouse with the floral eyelets.  She was excited about leaving but for what she didn't know.  Little did she know that this would be the last time she would see the house never to return.

Things didn't go so well at granddaddy's house because he had remarried and his new wife didn't pretend that she was glad to have seven step-grandchildren moving into the small frame house.  Margo could easily tell that she was not wanted but luckily after only a few months the case worker returned to notify Mommie that the application for the Baptist Home was approved.  The prim and proper lady from the welfare office returned to pick up the children the next day at granddaddy's house in her large black sedan and led the children into the waiting car.  As they drove away, the mountains faded and disappeared into the blue ridge in the distance as Margo watched through the rear window.

When they arrived at the gates to the home for children, they saw the wrought iron entrance way arching high over the drive between two large brick pillars on either side.  They drove onto the grounds under the Baptist  Home archway and were taken to the cottages where they were to be assigned to a houseparent.  The younger children were assigned to a separate section from the older ones and the boys were separated from the girls.  Margo was very well mannered and her pretty pink blouse was cleaned and pressed.  The case worker in the A-line skirt clapped her hands and sternly said, "Supper will be in one hour.  Some of your housemates will show you the way to the dining hall."  Margo walked out onto the front porch of her cottage and found herself alone.  She sat on the stone steps overlooking the valley  where the campus was nestled, propped her elbows on her knees, cupped her chin in her hands and sighed, "Home."