Chapter 18

Ronald’s wife lived up to her name. Ada a true southern belle that had been living a hard life. She met us at the front door. Her hair pulled back in a tight bun and a weather-beaten face that may have come from to much life.
Josh had contacted her earlier with no response.
“Well I knew you’d be by, after Ronald’s death in front of the Sheriff. I should have come to Ina’s funeral today. Your here to find out why Ronald was on the receiving end of your mother’s wrath.”
She stepped into the kitchen and brought was a tray of tea and some pictures.
“The picture is of my son James. Ronald was his stepfather. My first husband was killed two years after we were married in a moonshine still explosion. You have to understand this was back about nineteen fifty. I had just found out I was pregnant.  Ronald knew my family and he owed my Dad some money. Dad told him he’d let the debt go if he married me. Back in those days Ronald was a decent looking man. He was good to me and treated James like his own. He was strict.” Taking a drink of tea. She looked around her neat but sparsely furnished living room before she continued.
” James had learning disabilities. He had trouble making friends. That was why I was so thrilled when he made friends with Roberta. She was a sweet girl. She often would show up and help me in the garden. She began to like James. She helped him learn to read better than I could.Sometime after that they got together. She was about sixteen and James about eighteen.”
She played at the the hem of the old blouse she had on. Her face seemed to dissolve from a hearty farm wife to a shriveled old woman as she whispered,
“When Ronald found out he went crazy he called Roberta all kinds of names James told him to, Shut up, this my baby and I want it.
The kids were sitting on the old wagon. I watched from the window. I had been on the receiving end of Ronald’s wrath. I saw Ronald back hand James. He kept hitting James he couldn’t stop. James fell off the wagon and hit his head on a pile of rocks. Ronald didn’t stop even then, he stomped my son to death. Roberta was screaming and she ran. I guess that’s when she went out of her mind.”
We sat there for a long time not saying a word. Josh shook his head. “I never knew who my father was. I don’t know that they knew for sure.
She handed Josh a picture of James. He looked like James except he was darker. “You can have that if you want it. I have another.”
We got up to go. Josh turned to the woman. “Where is my father buried?”
The tears in the woman’s eyes, “I don’t know but I think down in the bottoms there’s an old cabin down there. Ronald told me one time that he’d buried my boy under that cabin.”
Josh nodded, “Well Thank you for your time. Miss Ada how did you stay with Ronald knowing what you know?”
“The man cheated my son out of life and me from knowing my grandchild. I stayed with him for one reason. I wanted to make his life a living Hell. He never got to touch me again. I shouldn’t say this but I enjoyed watching him burn. Which makes me as bad as him.” Her lips composed a thin line as the tears started to roll down her cheeks.
“No Grandmother, it makes you human.”

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