Sunday, December 9, 2012

Charles "Hap" Hazzard Arrives in Town

Chapter Fourteen
Charles “Hap” Hazzard Arrives in Town

What kind of a place is this? Looks like it's out of a movie script. I can see why Melanie thinks she will be happy here. It's make believe and she is living in a dream world. There is The Merryweather, that's where she stayed when she came for a weekend. That weekend seems to have turned into a lifetime. Well, I'm here now and I intend to put a stop to this foolishness. Hap Hazzard had been spouting to himself all the way from JFK. He hadn't been near New York in thirty years. It hadn't improved any, crowded, hot, unfriendly. Give him the California sunshine any day of the week. He'd rented a car at the airport. He got lost a couple of times getting here and was too stubborn to stop to ask for directions. What was supposed to be a three hour trip had taken him over five and he was in no mood for the cheerful faces he saw in this saccharine town.
What was the name of the street she was living on? Lake Street. It's on the lake. How original. Myrtle wrote down the number, what the devil did I do with that note. Here it is 121. Look at this place. You might know it would have a white picket fence around it and those stupid flower boxes. Now I know Melanie has lost her mind. She'd better be home. I didn't come all this way to find she is out gallivanting with the rest of the commoners.
Before Hap got out of the car, he reached in his briefcase and took out his bottle of antacids. I must have had six cups of coffee on the plane. Maybe I shouldn't have stopped at that fast food joint and ordered a double bacon cheeseburger with fries. He chewed the antacids and got out of the car. He rang the doorbell.
Who are you?” Hap said when Aggie opened the door.
And just who are you?” she answered back.
I'm Charles Hazzard and I'm here to see Melanie Fairchild. Where is she?”
Mrs. Spencer is not accepting guests. I suggest you call for an appointment in the future.”
Look lady, I don't have time for this nonsense. Where is Melanie? I demand to see her now.”
Melanie walked in the back door. “Hap, what on earth are you doing here? Come in, you look terrible. Are you feeling alright?”
I was alright until this woman gave me a hard time. I've come to talk some sense into you, Melanie. I want you to think about what you are giving up. You can marry any bozo you want, just come back home where you belong. We can talk about your directing. It's unusual for the studios to accept a woman director but I can try to talk them into it.”
Samantha followed her mother in the house. “Dr. Joe isn't a bozo, Mr. Hap. He's going to be my new daddy.”
I'm sure he's a great guy Samantha, but your mother belongs in California where she can make movies.”
Agatha couldn't remain quiet any longer. “You mean she can make movies and make you money. Don't you dare come into this house and bad mouth Dr. Mackenzie. He's a much better man than you are, you old grouch.”
Okay, you two. Stop with the name calling. Hap, come sit down. Did you take your blood pressure medicine today? Your face is as red as a beet. Sit and let me get you a glass of water, where are your pills?”
I don't need pills, I just need this woman to be quiet and let me talk to you alone.”
Aggie, I'll be fine. Maybe it would be best if you and Samantha went into the kitchen while Hap and I talk,” Melanie pleaded.
That is the most exasperating woman I have ever met in my life,” Hap said holding onto his chest and doubling over in obvious pain.
Hap, what is wrong? I'm taking you to the hospital. You look like you are having a heart attack. Aggie, help me get Hap into the car.”
Aggie helped Melanie with the protesting Hap. He was frightened but didn't want to show it in front of the women.
Stop being so stubborn you old fool. We are trying to help you. Now, get your feet in there. Melanie, be careful. I'll call Joe and tell him you are on your way.”
So Aggie is your housekeeper, is she? Is she married or is she too mean to trap some poor guy.”
Aggie is a widow. Hap, don't talk. This could be serious. You work too hard, drink too much and never touch a vegetable. I suppose you are still smoking those terrible cigars too.
Never mind. Don't talk. We'll be there in just a few minutes.”
I hope you aren't taking me to some quack. Can't imagine any doctor worth his weight would be living in this puny little town.”
Puny little towns need doctors too. Shane Howard Memorial Hospital has a wonderful reputation. Stop knocking Camden Corners. If you gave it a chance, you might even like it yourself here.”
Melanie pulled the car into the emergency entrance. Joe was waiting for her with a nurse and a wheelchair. Melanie introduced the two men as Joe pushed him inside.
Twenty minutes later, Joe came out to the waiting room. “Hap has a severe case of indigestion. I've told him if he doesn't completely change his lifestyle, the next time he won't be so lucky. I think it scared him, Melanie. Although he won't admit it.”
Thank you, Joe. I know he seems a bit gruff, but he has always been good to me. He's very protective of me and now I want to help him, if he'll let me. I learned a long time ago that his bark is worse than his bite.”
I've recommended that he stay here in Camden Corners for a couple of weeks. I didn't know if you would want him to stay in the house with you or not. He could always go to The Merryweather.”
I'd rather he stayed with me. Oh Joe, our wedding is on Saturday. I can't very well leave him with Aggie and I don't want to start our married life together with Hap in the guest room.”
You do what you have to do. Hap can always stay in my house. It may not be the ideal honeymoon, but at least, we will be married. I've given Hap something that should cure his indigestion and the dietician is giving him a diet to follow. He admitted to eating a double cheeseburger with fries on his way here. I asked him if he has given any thought to cutting back on his workload and he scoffed at the idea. I do think he will agree to stay here for a short time. He thinks the world of you and Samantha. He will be ready to leave shortly. I'll finish up my shift here and stop by to check on him later.”
I guess I'll brace myself to face Aggie with the news that Hap will be our house guest for awhile. They took an instant dislike to each other.”
That's funny because Hap had all kinds of questions about Aggie. He told me he liked a spunky woman. I had the feeling he liked her quite a bit.”
Isn't that interesting. I never met Hap's wife. He was a widower when he first became my agent. He talked about her sometimes and I could tell he had loved her very much. He's really an old softy. I think I'll call Aggie before we leave for home. Give her a chance to let off steam before we get there.”

Melanie, dear. How is Hap? I feel so sorry that I spoke to him the way I did. I hope I wasn't the cause of his distress.”
No Aggie, Hap had a lunch of grease today. He is only suffering from indigestion. I don't know how you will feel about it, but Joe thinks he should stay in Camden Corners for a couple of weeks. How much of a problem would it be for you if he stayed with us?”
Oh my, I will take care of him and make sure his meals are healthy. No more fried foods for him. We didn't hit it off very well, do you think he will be able to put up with me?”
Melanie thought about what Joe said about Hap asking about Aggie. “I think he will be just fine with it. If not, he will have to put up with me too and it will be two against one. He'll never know what hit him.”
Melanie, I never meant to burden you with a sick old man. You are getting married on Saturday. Why don't I stay at that fancy hotel you seemed to like so much.”
Nonsense, you are coming home with me. My bet is Aggie has a chicken simmering in a pot on the stove already. She mentioned something about chicken soup making you feel better.”
She must hate me. I was so uncivil to her. I don't know why. I'm afraid I was out of sorts and took it out on her.”
You both got off on the wrong foot. Let's just get you home and make you comfortable. I want you to relax, Hap. Don't worry about Aggie, she feels guilty about the way she treated you too.”
Samantha greeted them at the door. “Hi Mr. Hap. I'm awfully glad you are alright. I helped Aggie make up your bed in the guest room. Maybe you can go fishing with Mama and me when you feel better.”
Samantha, I would like that. I can't remember the last time I went fishing. It sounds like fun. I hope Aggie isn't going to any trouble for me. I will be just fine. I just need to watch what I eat for a few days.”
You will need to watch what you eat for more than just a few days and I'm here to make sure you do,” came the voice Hap was waiting to hear.
There she is, the woman who brings sunshine wherever she goes. Have you missed me, dear lady?”
I've missed you like that toothache I had last winter,” Aggie laughed. “Seriously, Charles, how are you feeling? I'm sorry if my being disagreeable harmed you in any way.”
I think it was the double cheeseburger that did me in. Do you know, Aggie, whenever my wife was worried about me, she would call me Charles. You remind me a lot of her. She didn't put up with my guff either.”
I think we will get along just fine as long as we know who is in charge here. Now, how about we sit on the porch. A little fresh air will do you good. You have no color in your cheeks. Just how long has it been since you have relaxed for an entire afternoon?”
I guess it's been awhile. A little bourbon would taste mighty fine right about now.”
Don't even think about it! Bourbon? Do you want to end up in the morgue the next time we have to haul you off to the hospital. There will be no bourbon for you as long as I'm around.”
A few hours later, Joe knocked on the door. “How's our patient?”
Come see for yourself,” said Melanie as she led him out to the porch.
Both Hap and Aggie were sound asleep in lounge chairs. Both had slight smiles on their faces. Melanie had never seen Hap look so relaxed.
I haven't heard a harsh word between them all afternoon. I think Aggie is the best thing that has happened to Hap in a very long time.”

Early Saturday morning, Melanie answered the telephone. “Hi Mel, it's Julianna. Rick and I are on our way. The paper gave him the weekend off. We ran for the airplane and I didn't have a chance to call you. We stayed in the city last night and we are just leaving for Camden Corners. I told you I wouldn't miss your wedding.”
Julianna, that is wonderful. I was afraid you wouldn't make it on time. Guess who's here?” She told her friend about Hap's visit and how much calmer he is under the care of Aggie Jennings.
Julianna hung the phone up. “We'd better head down the road. We don't want to be late for the wedding. I didn't mention your name to Melanie, Kevin. She will be surprised when she sees you and Rhonda.”
Good, I want to surprise her and I want to see this guy who won her heart when I couldn't,” he said smiling at his wife from across the room. In his heart, Kevin knew he was staring at the only woman he would ever love, but still, Melanie's rejection didn't do much for his sensitive ego.

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