Making History (PG-13)
I always loved the old mansion at the end of Main Street that housed The Greenville Historical Society. The house was built in the 1880s by Seymour O'Hara, one of the richest guys in town at the time. The Historical Society was formed in the 1940s to preserve the town's history and features monthly meetings with guest speakers, presentations and other activities that celebrate local history as well as the promotion, research and exploration of the history of the area.
The allure of the old building got me interested in history at an early age but my parents wouldn't let me get involved in volunteering there even though there's always something to do - the monthly newsletter and its mailing list; cataloging and filing of donated papers, letters, photographs, and artifacts; research and documentation of old cemeteries and other local sites; sponsoring the Farmer's Market; holding milestone dinners; and providing a general promotion of the town's history.
The Society is a private organization and receives its funds from member's dues, contributions and fundraising activities. It was organized by a group of townspeople including my grandfather who served as the society's first chairperson. A constitution and bylaws were established and several sizable donations allowed the society to purchase the old mansion house from Seymour O'Hara's son's estate as its new home. Volunteers work with the assistance of town historians to preserve and celebrate the town's history by serving as curator for the many documents, photographs, and historical artifacts held by the society.
There are four Officers (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer), five trustees, and nine committee chairs (Membership, Building, Programs, Newsletter, Collections, Fund Raising, Refreshments, Farmer's Market, and Historic Mapping).
Everybody involved are volunteers except for the 20 hour a week Administrative Assistant. Gertrude Ryan has been the Society's President for the past eighteen years. Unfortunately, my family has have been feuding with the Ryan clan like the Hatfield and the McCoys for years and that's why my parents wouldn't let me get involved in the society in my younger years.
I received a bachelor's degree in History from Green College and I figured I was old enough to make my own decisions regarding the Society so I looked up my former high school teacher who was in charge of the Newsletter Committee and I volunteered my services.
I didn't realize that Gertrude's daughter Margaret was the Society's Administrative Assistant until I walked into the mansion house one day and saw her seated at the desk. Margaret was a year behind me in high school and we never talked for obvious reasons. She and her mother hardly made me feel welcomed whenever I came in the mansion house as a volunteer but I wasn't going to let some stupid feud interfere with my historical interest. I did notice that Margaret works diligently at her job but that she's a shy person who barely looks up from whatever document she has her face buried in to greet visitors or offer customer service.
My contributions at the Society include running the society's interactive website, co-editing the monthly newsletter, and help categorizing the thousands of historical photographs in the collection. I'm only in the place three or four times a month (I can edit the newsletter on line from home) but I enjoy being a part of the cause and contributing as best I can even though I'm routinely shunned by the Ryan women. I think preserving history is a noble effort and I'm fascinated by the information we compile.
I usually give up a few hours of my Saturday to check on the computer system at the mansion house and do any other projects asked of me. The old mansion house is historically impressive - a three story stone house with all sorts of interesting woodwork, carvings, nook and crannies.
The first floor consists of a lobby, an office, and several displays in the other rooms. The second floor has a large meeting room, thousands of books, publications, photographs and other collectibles, and the attic is stuffed with all sorts of artifacts. The cellar is called "The Tomb" where a lot of the excess and unusable stuff is stored, waiting to be categorized and accurately filed.
This particular Saturday was a late summer afternoon with the humidity hanging in the air and the threat of thunder storms lurking in the dark sky. I put in a few hours at the mansion house along with Margaret who essentially ignores me whenever we're in the same room and Mrs. Dunbar, the Vice President who was generally hanging around being a nuisance. .
"Looks like it's going to storm," Mrs. Dunbar reported.
She has to eighty with blue-gray hair, beady eyes, and an annoying voice. She's a widow with no real life so she spends most of her spare time at the society not doing much except getting in the way.
"Maybe we should lock up and go home," I suggested.
"Good idea," Mrs. Dunbar said as she headed up the stairs to collect her things.
"Could you help be bring this stuff down to the tombs?" Margaret reluctantly asked, pointing to some boxes piled at the end of her desk.
Everybody knew that Margaret hated going down into the cellar alone. She found the place to be spooky and scary and while I had spotted some mice, she was convinced there were rats down there. She really had to be scared to ask me for help!
"Sure," I said, happy to help out knowing how much it irked her.
I took most of the boxes and she grabbed the small one on top and we headed for the stairs. The door closed behind us and Margaret muttered her disapproval but I kept on walking because my hands were full. Margaret directed me to where she wanted to put the boxes.
The cellar was cool, dingy and dark even with the naked overhead lights hanging down from the ceiling rafters. There was one large room and several smaller rooms all with shelves and bookcases and counters loaded with endless boxes of information and other collected material. There was also the hot water heater, the boiler, a deep sink, an old couch, a dented metal desk, and bags of shredded paper and other junk.
"God, I hate it down here," Margaret muttered, more to herself than to me.
She was a relatively attractive woman with soft facial features and silky brown hair that was cut around her round face dipping to her shoulders with bangs straight across her forehead, but she rarely wore makeup, her wardrobe choices were drably conservative, and she wore ugly horned-rimmed glasses. She didn't exactly emote a 'be interested in me' persona.
The boxes properly stowed, we headed back up the stairs, Margaret quickly leading the way.
"Ouch," she said when she reached the top, bumping into the closed door.
"What's wrong?" I asked standing behind her.
"It seems to be stuck," she reported.
"Let me try," I offered.
She stepped aside and I gave the door a push while turning the knob but nothing happened.
"I think it's locked!" I exclaimed.
"What?" She asked with nervous disbelief.
"You don't think Mrs. Dunbar assumed we left and locked us in here, do you?" I worried.
"Oh God," Margaret moaned. "She really is getting senile, isn't she?"
I glanced at Margaret who was standing one step below me looking like she was going to freak at any moment. I rapped on the door loudly and screamed out Mrs. Dunbar's name several times but there was no sound from the other side of the door.
"Do you have your cell with you?" I asked.
"It's in my purse at my desk," she groaned.
"Great," I sighed.
"Well, where's yours?" She accused.
"In my car," I admitted.
"You mean we're trapped down here?" She asked, horrified.
"It would appear so," I confirmed, walking by her and heading to the bottom of the stairs.
"Where are you going?" She asked.
"How long do you propose standing on the stairs?" I asked.
She sighed and followed me down the stairs. The basement windows had metal gates on them so there was no escaping through one of them and there was no other exit egress. An old coal chute had been covered and blocked years ago.
"What are we going to do?" Margaret demanded.
"Wait it out," I reasoned. "Someone will eventually notice we're missing."
"Who? When?" Margaret wanted to know.
"Well, you still live at home," I pointed out as I took a seat on the ratty old couch. "Won't your folks get concerned when you don't show up for dinner?
"I'm not twelve," she protested. "They don't keep that tight a leash on me," she said sarcastically.
"Sorry," I mumbled, not meaning to offend her.
"What about you?" She asked. "Won't your girlfriend wonder where you are?"
"She moved out a couple of months ago," I replied. "I don't think she cares what I'm doing."
"Great," Margaret grumbled, taking a seat at the old metal desk across from the couch which was tucked in a corner. "There's no telling how long we're going to be stuck down here."
I could tell she was edgy. She hated the cellar and it was making her nervous and I knew I was the last guy she wanted to be stuck with. She was staring at me long and hard and I could see how annoyed and disgusted she was.
"Why did you go and join the society for in the first place?" She demanded. It sounded like a question she had been wanting to ask for a long time.
"I'm a history major," I replied with a shrug. "Why wouldn't I?"
"Because my mother is the President, that's why," she said. "Besides, you work as a computer geek at the hospital."
"I still like to dabble in history," I replied. "And what does your mother have to do with it?"
"We're Ryans and you're a Robinson!" She exclaimed. "Isn't it obvious!?"
"Aren't you bored with all that Hatfield and McCoy stuff?" I asked.
"My mother says you joined to spy on us," Margaret complained.
I laughed but then I realized she was insulting me. "My mother said your mom ran against my Great Uncle for President out of spite and revenge," I rebutted.
"Oh, please," Margaret charged. "Robinsons had been in charge of this place for years. It was time for a Ryan regime."
"Great Uncle Henry was a good President," I said. "This was all he cared about. Your mother ran him out."
"He was old and incompetent," Margaret said.
"Whatever you say," I said, not interested in continuing the idiotic debate.
"I've always detested you," she announced with acid in her voice.
"You don't even know me," I countered.
"You're the kind of guy who never paid attention to a girl like me in high school," she complained.
"You ignored me in high school," I pointed out.
"Big deal jock," she grumbled. "Always in the news"
"It's not my fault I was good at sports," I countered. "As if it really means anything now."
"I spent two years working on the history of the Greenville School System," Margaret bitterly complained. "And when it came time for its unveiling my junior year, your stupid baseball team won the state championship and got all the headlines and publicity."
"Your history is on display upstairs," I said. "What are you so resentful about?"
"Nobody cared when it first came out," she seethed.
"Look, that's not my fault," I replied. "I played baseball. Sue me."
"Oh, you Robinsons are all the same," Margaret barked. "Never responsible for anything."
"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked, surprised at how angry she seemed to be.
"The infamous feud began because you Robinsons refused to take responsibility," Margaret charged.
"That was a hundred years ago," I countered. "Does it really matter now?"
She looked at me incredulously. "Are you kidding me? Your family ruined my family! Of course it matters!" She was practically screaming at me.
"How does it matter to you?" I challenged. "You have a job. Thanks to your mom, no doubt," I added under my breath.
"Hey! I applied for, interviewed for, and got hired for this job fair and square!" She insisted. "I went to Blue County Community College and learned my trade. My mother excused herself from the hiring process. There was a committee who hired me."
"Yes, and I'm sure they had no allegiance to your mother," I replied.
I could see how red her face had gotten. "So typically Robinson!" I thought she was going to start crying. "So high and mighty. So pious. So know-it-all."
"Look, don't worry about it," I said, trying to defuse the argument. "I think you're a great administrative assistant and you do a great job. You just need to smile more and be more personable around people."
Her mouth dropped and she stared at me with hateful darting eyes. "You are such a jerk."
I shrugged. "Well, I am a Robinson," I said sarcastically.
"Don't you feel guilty about what your family did to my family?" She demanded, sitting with her hands folded on the desk top staring at me with evil eyes.
"Look, all that was long before our time," I said. "What does any of it have to do with anything now? Your mom runs a successful real estate agency and your Dad is a prominent business man in his own right."
"And your family still runs Robinson Enterprises when is should be Robinson and Ryan Enterprises," Margaret said.
"Your family sold their share of the business," I said.
"No, your family stole it from my family," Margaret charged.
"That's not the way I heard it," I replied.
"Go upstairs and read the documents," Margaret said angrily. "It's all there in black and white."
"What's there?" I asked with a frown.
"How the infamous feud began between William Robinson and Sean Ryan," Margaret answered.
"Yeah, because Ryan sold his share of the business to Robinson," I said.
"At a third of its worth," Margaret complained
"He took the deal," I countered.
"We take getting cheated very seriously," Margaret said.
"Look, Ryan wanted cash to invest in his new company," I said. "He wasn't cheated out of anything."
"He was given a bum deal," Margaret charged.
"He took the deal," I countered. "Nobody forced him."
"The Robinsons ripped him off!"
"He died less than two years later," I pointed out. "It was his heirs who believed he got short-changed but he never felt that way."
"All I know is what was passed down in family stories and lore through the years," Margaret stated.
"It's true that The Robinson Enterprises Company took off a few years later and really made out during the Great Depression because it was furnishing stone and other material to the FDR Administration to supply all the work projects taking place all over the country," I said. "Meanwhile, Sean Ryan's new business went belly up because of the depression and that's why your family was so bitter and felt cheated."
"Because they were cheated!" Margaret insisted.
"There's no evidence or documentation that indicates that William Robinson and Sean Ryan had any sort of disagreement or falling out," I said. "It was Sean's sons who made the charge years after Sean Ryan died. William Robinson claimed he did nothing wrong. It was the Ryan heirs who took him to court. The case was thrown out."
"Yeah, because the Judge was a distant cousin to William Robinson's wife's brother-in-law," Margaret charged.
"You really believe that's why the case was dismissed?" I laughed.
"Well, I'm glad you find this so funny," Margaret stewed. "God, you Robinsons are so full of yourselves."
"Look, William Robinson showed up for Sean Ryan's funeral to pay his respects," I said.
"And he was told his presence was not needed, he was not welcomed, and he was asked to leave," Margaret countered. "These feelings were passed down from one generation to the next," Margaret explained. "We've always believed that William Robinson cheated Sean Ryan out of his fair share of the business and I see no reason to believe any different now."
"That's because your family went on with their lives believing what Sean Ryan's sons had to say," I said. "But it wasn't what the sons thought that mattered. It was what Sean Ryan thought and he was dead when all this went down."
"You don't know what you're talking about," Margaret said but I detected a tone of uncertainty in her voice.
"The documents upstairs you cite begin after Sean Ryan's death," I said. "There's also documentation in the Robinson Enterprises archives that contain the original agreement between William Robinson and Sean Ryan that are all on the up and up. I spent an entire summer in high school going through all the files and researching the Register of Deeds looking for any and all correspondence on the original sale," I said.
"Why'd you do that?" Margaret asked suspiciously.
"Because I thought the whole feud thing was stupid," I answered. "My parents wouldn't let me get involved with the society because of some idiotic family fight? Because your mother was the Society President? What did any of that have to do with my interest in town history?"
"Did you find anything?"
"Supposedly, William Robinson and Sean Ryan celebrated the deal by going to the Greenville Country Club for dinner together, I revealed.
"Where'd you hear that?"
"I found a note attached to some old documents," I reported. "It was just after a golfer named Jim Barnes shot a 289 to win the U.S. Golf Open at Columbia, Maryland in 1921. Apparently both Robinson and Ryan were big duffers and they celebrated the victory together. Unfortunately, all of the country club memorabilia from that era was lost in the great clubhouse fire of 1948 so I couldn't find any proof."
"That's because there never was any proof," Margaret said. "I know Sean Ryan felt he was ripped off."
"No, his sons felt he was ripped off," I clarified. "Big difference. Sean Ryan was a widower in 1921 so his kids probably had no idea about what really happened because there was nobody left to tell them."
"Well, rest assured, everybody else feels the same way they did too," Margaret said.
"Even though it's not based in fact," I complained.
"So says you," she argued.
"I just don't know why you're still all worked up about it," I snipped. "I don't even care about it anymore. Why should you? Forget about it! Move on! Get over it!" "Like that's really going to happen," she replied with a healthy dose of sarcasm.
"I think you guys love all the bitter feelings," I theorized. "Gives you something to bitch about."
"No, we're just passionate about our family's honor," Margaret commented.
"Actually, you're passionate about carrying a grudge," I replied.
"There's nothing wrong with that if your family's been wronged," Margaret countered.
"Whatever you say," I said, tired of arguing with her.
She sat back in her chair with her arms folded across her chest fuming for a few moments, pouting at me with a disgusted look. There was a long period of silence.
"Did you say the Greenville Country Club?" Margaret finally spoke up.
I glanced at her. "Why?"
"I think there's a box down here somewhere," she said.
"No, believe me, I looked when I first started volunteering here a few years ago," I told her. "There's no country club stuff here."
"I think the box was labeled 'golf'," Margaret revealed. "Old Man Masterson's niece brought some stuff to us about five years ago. There was a bunch of golf stuff I didn't know what to do with."
"Bucky Masterson?" I asked, my eyes going wide.
"Yeah, why?" Margaret asked with a frown.
"He used to be the golf pro at the Greenville Country Club!" I said with amazement. "Where'd you put that box!?"
Margaret scratched her chin while she glanced around the cellar. "I think I put it in the dead room," she said.
The Dead Room was what we called the place where we stored stuff we didn't know what to do with.
"Come on!" I said with excitement as I leapt from the couch and headed for the dead room at the far end of the basement.
"It's creepy down there," Margaret protested.
"Do you want to solve the mystery or don't you?" I called back to her as I rushed down the passageway between the various shelves.
The small room was packed with all sorts of boxes, cartons, plastic file containers and other junk.
"Do you remember which box it was?" I asked hopefully.
"No," Margaret sighed. "But I do think I wrote 'golf' on it.
I started scurrying through the various boxes, moving some to get to others behind them while Margaret nervously stood in the doorway, refusing to come into the room.
"Aren't you going to help?" I asked.
"There could be rats or spiders or snakes in there," she said frightfully.
"Oh, brother," I groaned.
And then I saw it. A Kelloggs Corn Flakes cargo box with a sticky taped to it that read "Buck M."
"It doesn't say 'Golf," I told Margaret. "It says 'Buck M."
"That's it," Margaret confirmed. "I thought I wrote golf on it."
"You know, maybe I would have looked in here years ago if you had," I said with annoyance.
"Sorry, my bad," Margaret replied.
I dragged the box off the shelf and hauled it back to the desk where Margaret had been sitting to be able to spread the contents out and because the light was better there. I opened the carton and saw that the box was full of envelopes, smaller boxes, and folders containing all sorts of correspondence and photographs.
"Look for stuff from the twenties," I said. "Do you think you'd recognize Sean Ryan if you saw him in a photo?"
"It's kind of hard to miss a Ryan," Margaret replied.
We spent a half hour going through the stuff and I had just about given up hope when I heard Margaret mumble 'Oh My God'.
"What?" I asked, turning to her.
She fell into the chair holding several photographs in her hand, her face having gone white.
I leaned over and took the photos from Margaret's grasp. Sure enough, there were three photos of William Robinson and Sean Ryan sitting together at table at the Greenville Country Club clubhouse smoking cigars and drinking. One photo was actually signed on the front by both of them.
I glanced at the back of one and it said 'Celebrating U.S. Open, July 1921'
"I told you!" I said as a wide grin on my face. "Does this look like the photo of two guys who hated each other?"
"No," Margaret admitted weakly. "It certain doesn't."
"Where'd you find these?" I asked
She pointed to a faded yellow envelope on the top of the desk. I picked up the envelope and looked inside, pulling out a faded yellow letter with Robinson and Ryan Enterprises letter head on top.
"Holy shit," I said holding up the letter to the light.
"What does it say?" Margaret asked.
I handed her the letter. "Look at the date," I said.
"July 28, 1921, Greenville Mass.," Margaret read. "My Dear Mr. Ryan," she continued.
Thank you for your company of the 26th and the gift of the golfing book, which I am sure will come in handy in the coming weeks. I have not yet had a chance to look over the book and don't suppose I will for a few days as I am going to Boston tomorrow for two or three days, on business, but will get into it as soon as I can.
Please do your best with the new business as I wish you the best of luck. Robinson and Ryan has been a good team for these past twenty years and I shall miss your friendship and partnership in the years to follow.
I think this could be worked to as good if not better advantage for you as you start your new venture. I hope you feel as satisfied about my helping you as we worked out in our most recent business agreement as I do. Both Masterson and Daniels are for the same party and I feel sure you can do the rest. Of course you know I have not said anything about this, honoring our gentleman's agreement regarding this deal. I hope you are satisfied with the monetary agreement even as we both agree it is below the fair market value. Securing the loan for $570,000 enables you the cash advance you are looking for and allows my company to continue without hardship.
You understand of course I could do nothing with this agreement without your cooperation, but rest assured that the amount agreed upon while perfectly agreeable to you, I am sure, still bothers me.
I will talk this agreement over with you again when I see you next.
I am sorry I cannot help you more with the transaction but I do hope our gentleman's agreement gives you the capital and resources needed to begin your new venture.
I think you can use this to good advantage but I regret the end of our partnership.
I remain in your Good stead,
Wm. R. Robinson
I heard Margaret let out a loud and long sigh. "This is unbelievable," she finally acknowledged, staring at me with a look of dismay.
"How the hell did Bucky Masterson end up with this letter?" I wondered.
"And why didn't he say anything all those years?" Margaret asked. "Certainly he was aware of the feud between our families."
I took the letter from Margaret's hand and reread it. "Perhaps he was part of the gentleman's agreement," I said. "Maybe he was bound not to say anything?"
"Wouldn't the agreement end with Sean Ryan's death?" Margaret asked.
I shrugged. "Who knows?"
"So, William Robinson didn't cheat Sean Ryan after all," Margaret realized.
"And for ninety years your family has been defending a non-existent argument," I said.
"I've been treating you like crap for nothing," Margaret sighed.
"Don't worry about it," I replied, putting the rest of the stuff back in the box while keeping the photographs and William Robinson's letter of proof aside.
"That's it?" Margaret asked with surprise. "Don't worry about it? After all the mean and snarky things I said to you over the years? For all the mistreatment my family gave yours?"
"The mystery is solved," I replied. "Let bygones be bygones."
"I can't believe how forgiving you're being," Margaret admitted with a shocked look on her face.
I laughed as I scooped up the box and brought it back to the dead room. When I returned, Margaret was seated on the couch re-reading the letter and studying the photographs.
"They really were friends," she deduced.
"Sean Ryan wanted to venture out on his own and William Robinson helped him do it," I said, taking a seat next to her on the couch. "Unfortunately, Sean Ryan died a few years later and the stock market crashed in '29 and that was it for his new business venture."
"But Robinson Enterprises survived and flourished," Margaret sighed. "I guess Sean Ryan's kids couldn't handle that."
"Robinson and Ryan were in their fifties when they made that deal in 1921," I said. "Ryan's kids were probably in their early thirties when the stock market crashed and they lost everything. I don't blame them for being resentful and bitter and without this letter I'm sure it was natural for them to jump to conclusions."
"That still doesn't make it right," Margaret reasoned. "It was all based on a lie."
"A misunderstanding," I offered gently. "And it was a long time ago."
"That was my grandfather who caused all this trouble between our families," Margaret sighed. "I'm so embarrassed."
"Don't be," I said. "It had nothing to do with you."
"I perpetuated the myth."
"No, by choice," she corrected me. "And you're right. We did like to bitch and complain and feel sorry for ourselves for no particular reason other than we felt slighted."
"I feel awful."
"The feud is over," I said, taking the photos and letter from her and sliding them back into the faded large yellow envelope. "Let it go. No guilt. Just freedom."
She stared at me with a surprised look on her face. "I don't think I could be so forgiving if the roles were reversed," she admitted. "I spent years hating you for no good reason."
I laughed. "Do you still hate me?"
"No, of course not," she sighed. "I have no reason too, do I?"
"Well, you thought I was a jerk in high school," I reminded her.
"For all the wrong reasons," she sighed. "I guess I was just envious and jealous."
"Because I was good at sports?"
She nodded sheepishly.
"None of that stuff matters now, Margaret," I told her. "My sports career ended with the last out of baseball season senior year."
"Oh," she said, sitting back on the couch.
I put the envelope on the floor next to the couch and sat back too. "I thought your history of the Greenville Public Schools was really good," I let her know.
"Really?" She asked hopefully.
"Thanks," she said with a smile. "I was very proud of that project." She glanced at me and sighed. "You are being so incredibly humble and gracious," she determined. "I can't remember the last time I met a guy like that."
"I also remember that mock debate you did your junior year," I remarked.
"Oh God, against Amber O'Brien?" Margaret moaned. "She cleaned my clock. How could you possibly remember that?"
"I went to it because my pal Stumbler was dating Amber," I said. "And actually, I thought you won the debate on points and substance but…" I trailed off, realizing I didn't want to reveal the real reason Amber won.
"But Amber was a lot better looking than I was with the sexy smile and the curvy sweater and I didn't have a chance," Margaret finished for me.
"Yeah, that," I agreed.
"I'm surprised you even noticed me in high school," Margaret sighed.
"I just couldn't talk to you," I rebutted.
"Because you were a Ryan!" I laughed.
'Oh yeah, that!" She said sheepishly.
"How stupid, huh?" I remarked. "We could have been friends."
"Maybe we could be friends now," Margaret suggested hopefully.
"I'd like that," I said warmly.
"You were right, you know," she sighed.
"I have this job because of my mother."
"You do a good job," I assured her. "There's nothing wrong with a little nepotism as long as the job is getting done right."
"I was supposed to get married," she said quietly.
"Huh?" I asked, not sure if I heard her right.
"He called it off the morning of the wedding," she revealed. "I didn't leave my room for a month. My mother was desperate to get me back on my feet so she made me take this job."
"I'm sorry that happened to you," I said, feeling awful.
"I've been damaged goods ever since," she sighed.
"That's not true," I told her.
"I've never told anybody that before," she said, glancing at me with such a look of sorrow on her face that I almost wanted to cry myself.
Well, that explained why she was such a quiet, shy and uninvolved person and I couldn't blame her for being detached and disengaged.
"I'm doing better now, I guess," she admitted. "Actually, having you around allowed me to refocus my anger, resentment and bitterness away from Jared and back on you, a Robinson."
"Well, I'm glad to have been of service," I joked.
She smiled. "I lied before," she said.
"About what?" I asked.
"I always thought you were a great athlete in high school," she admitted. "I loved watching you play."
"Thanks," I said with a smile. "I really enjoyed playing."
I wanted to ask her all sorts of questions, like who was this jerk who jilted her at the altar and if she ever thought about me as somebody other than a hated Robinson in high school and if she thought that maybe we could explore some sort of relationship together in the future now that the great Ryan-Robinson Feud appeared to be over but I was afraid to say anything.
All those wasted years. Here I was thirty (and she twenty-nine). We could have talked and laughed and gone out and done stuff instead of ignoring each other and getting sucked into the stupid family feud. How idiotic.
And now here we were – trapped in a basement together, the feud over. But where did we go from here? Could a Ryan and a Robinson really get along!?
Suddenly, there was a large ka-boom outside as the storm that had been brewing for hours finally let go with a huge thunder crash so loud that Margaret literally flew off the couch.
"Oh no!" She wailed.
"It's just a storm," I observed, glancing out the window, surprised at how dark it had become even though it wasn't quite dusk yet.
"You don't understand," a nervous Margaret said as she paced back and forth in front of the couch. "I'm absolutely terrified of thunderstorms! I have an irrational fear of lightning striking me."
"I don't think that's going to happen down here," I said, trying to keep it light.
"I freak out any time there's a storm," she revealed. "I just can't help how embarrassingly terrified I am of them."
"Well, just try to relax and de-stress," I suggested, trying to be sympathetic to her fear. "You're safe here."
There was another crack of thunder and flash of lightning. Suddenly the lights flickered and then went out, engulfing us in darkness.
'Oh My God!" Margaret shrieked, although I could barely hear her above the heavy rain as it was coming down in sheets and buckets outside.
"Calm down," I advised but suddenly there was another flash of lightning and I saw Margaret literally flying through the air, diving on top of me on the couch, knocking me back prone.
"I can't take this," Margaret revealed. "The cellar. The storm. It's too much."
"Shh," I said, brushing my hand through her hair. "It's going to be okay."
I felt her tears falling on my face and every time the lightning flashed I saw the fear on her face in her eyes as she stared down at me.
And then her lips were on mine and she was kissing me and clinging to me and shaking and shuttering on top of me. I could feel her fear, panic and fright as I wrapped my arms around her and returned her kiss, hoping the distraction of our making out would take her mind off the booming storm outside.
I'm not sure exactly what happened after that. There was kissing and groping and squeezing and holding and the removal of clothes. Every time there was a flash of lightning I would see Margaret in various states, expressions, positions and moments as she pressed herself against me
"Are you sure you want to do this?" I asked with uncertainty.
"Please," she murmured, her shaky voice laced with fear and desperation.
Now her tongue was in my mouth and I was afraid she was going to stick it all the way down my throat the way she was squirming and moving with each crash of thunder and flash of lightning.
With the next prolonged flash of lightning I saw that she was naked and somehow my clothes were gone too. I was feeling her everywhere and she was clinging to me as if I was a piece of driftwood deep at sea.
I felt myself enter her just as another clasp of thunder shook the cellar windows.
"Oh, Marty," she murmured. "M-Marty!" she groaned.
She was panting like she had just run ten miles. She was still squirming on top of me but now she was sitting straight up erect and with each flash of lightning I saw her breasts in the light. I reached up to them as if they were buoys in the night.
"Oh god, oh god, oh god," she was screaming, but I wasn't sure if it was out of fear or ecstasy as she rode me.
I pushed deeper into her as I held her by the bun cheeks and her moaning and panting increased with each inward thrust and each clasp of thunder. She screamed out when it happened and almost at the same time that we reached mutual satisfaction there was one last boom of thunder and then suddenly everything went quiet. The lightning stopped, the thunder seized, and the rain let up.
Margaret collapsed on top of me with a whimper. I kissed her neck and she curled up, burrowing into my chest. I captured her in my arms and held her tight. We fell asleep like that.
I don't know how long we slept like that with her on top of me, the warmth of her body keeping me warm. I felt her stirring and I opened my eyes.
"I have to pee," she said in the darkness.
The clouds had cleared and there was some moonlight and stars offering dim light through the windows but the power was still out and it was dangerously dark in the basement.
"I think I saw an empty coke bottle under the desk," I said as I gently rolled her off of me.
She stood and I glanced at the silhouette of her nakedness as I went to the desk and felt around underneath until I found the bottle.
"Here," I said, handing it to her.
I turned and let her relieve herself in as much privacy as possible.
"I need my glasses," she announced. "I can't see."
I glanced around but it was too dark to find them.
"Just feel your way," I said, turning my back to her again.
I listened to the sound of her stream flowing into the bottle.
"Okay," she said with relief when she was done.
I turned and she handed me the bottle. I turned my back to her and mixed my pee with hers as I relieved myself too and then I placed the bottle as far away from us as possible.
When I turned back to face her, Margaret was still standing naked in front of me as if she had no idea what to do next. I lay on the couch and motioned for her to return to her position on top of me, which she did.
"Thank you," she whispered as I felt her face close to mine in the dark.
"Does this mean the feud is officially over?" I asked.
I heard her laugh.
We fell asleep again and when I awoke the next time the power had come back on and the lights were on, bathing us in a dim hue as we lay naked on the couch, Margaret a dead weight on top of me.
She stirred, finally, and opened her eyes, looking at me with wonderment.
"What did we do?" She asked as she sat up and glanced around for her clothes that were strewn all over the place.
She stood but I held her by the hips from behind and kissed her naked fanny.
"Marty," she said with embarrassment. "I'm really a very shy person."
"I know," I said.
She turned to face me, her muff almost in my face.
"Are you okay with this?" She asked quietly.
"Yes," I said, rubbing my finger along her stomach. "Are you?" I asked, looking up past her breasts to her face.
She nodded and smiled ever so slightly. "What do you think our parents are going to say?"
"They are going to say the feud is over," I grinned.
We quickly dressed when we heard the noise upstairs, footsteps on the floorboards and voices calling out. I found Margaret's glasses behind the couch and handed them to her.
"Down here!" Margaret called out once we were safely attired. "I kind of wish we weren't rescued quite yet," she said to me with a smile.
"Me too," I said, kissing her on the nose before I trotted up the stairs and banged on the door. "Hello!?"
The door opened and there stood Mr. and Mrs. Ryan staring at me with disbelief and then catching sight of their smiling daughter coming up the stairs with the yellow envelope in her hand. I saw from the battery clock on the far wall that it was 3:15 a.m.
"What happened!?" Mrs. Ryan wanted to know.
"Mrs. Dunbar accidentally locked us in," I explained.
"Mom, Dad, look what we found," Margaret beamed as we stepped into the hallway and she handed them the envelope before she wrapped her arm around mine.
Mrs. Ryan did a double take at the sight of her daughter holding on to a Robinson but when she heard her husband whistle her attention went to him as he read the letter.
"The feud is over, folks," Margaret announced happily.
They both looked at us with amazed expressions on their faces and I knew it was true. A Ryan and a Robinson had solved the great mystery and made love in the process. Was there a better way to end a one hundred year disagreement?