Selected Scenes: Enter Roxie Blue

Selected Scenes are a recent scene pulled out of my WIP. They are raw and minimally edited. 


“Oh wow,” Victor said. “That really is an old Florida Cracker house.”

Tony got out of the Wrangler and stretched. “Yeah, you don’t see that many anymore, especially in this condition. Roxie put a lot of work into the restoration and remodeling.”

steamboat days cover 01 smallJack pulled their minivan in next to them and smiled as he killed the engine and undid his seatbelt. The back passenger door slid open and the boys burst out laughing and pushing at each other as they came around the van.

“Wow, that’s a bright blue. I’ve never seen a house that blue,” Bobby said.

Johnny, his older brother, said, “I like the yellow trim. It makes it look happy.”

Tony gave his nephew a one-armed hug. “It does look like a happy house doesn’t it?”

Bobby scratched his head. “Why’s it got that open hallway all the way through? I can see the river.”

“That’s called a dogtrot.”

“What?”

“Yup, see the Florida pioneers, started out with one small square house. Then as their family grew, they just build another one next to it. They left that open area to let the breeze through. Remember, they didn’t have air-conditioning back then. And see, they added the second floor. That screened in porch was called a sleeping porch.”

“They slept out on the porch?” Bobby asked.

“I imagine it was cooler than the house in the summer,” Helen, their mother, said.

Johnny gave the old house a skeptical look. “We aren’t gonna sleep outside are we?”

“Oh I want to sleep on the porch,” Bobby said.

Two dogs barked behind them.

Tony turned around. An attractive woman approached from the barn. Her gray hair turned golden in the light of the late-afternoon sun. Tiny blue beads on her long flowing dress glinted like the surface of a deep and cool pond. “And here comes Roxie.”

“Or Goldberry,” Victor whispered.

Tony turned to him with a questioning look.

He shrugged. “Not important.”

“Dogs!” Bobby exclaimed.

Helen sighed and gave Tony a sideways glance. He shrugged back at her. Bobby had been nagging his parents about getting a dog, spending three days with two golden retrievers probably wasn’t going to quell his desire. “Yes. They’re Whiskey and Rye. I think Rye’s the girl.”

“Can I play with them?”

“Probably,” Jack, his father, said. “But you need to ask Miss Roxie permission first.”

Bobby nodded excitedly and grinned up at his brother. Johnny ignored him and slouched in a board way that a sixteen year old might think was cool.

The glass bangles on Roxie’s wrist made a pleasant tinkling sound, like water in a fountain, as she spread her arms. “Welcome to Whiskey Creek and my family’s farm.” She stepped forward and gave Tony a warm hug. “I’m so glad your family was able to come.”

“I’m glad there was a cancellation. I know how booked you are.”

She stepped back. “Yes, sad that the Wilson’s had a death in the family.” She turned to Victor and shook his hand, “I’m so happy you’ve finally made it out here.”

“So am I. It seems every time you have an open house or a vacancy, I’m overseas with a travel group. But this weekend, it’s all about local events and places to stay.”

“Good.” She said. “About time Blackwater gets some press. Bennett Bay isn’t the only attraction in the county.”

Bobby was on his knees between the two dogs. “So do you live here? Can I play with your dogs?”

She knelt down. “Hi, I’m Roxie.”

“Oh, yeah, I’m Bobby, sorry.”

“That’s fine,” she said. “And yes we live here, out in the barn.”

Johnny blurted out, “You live in a barn?”

She stood up and smiled at him.

“Oh, I’m John.”

Helen glanced at her husband. When had he become John?

“Hello, John. Yes and it’s a very nice barn. You must come and see it. I’ve converted the ground floor into my glass studio and the old loft into a very nice apartment.”

“What’s a glass studio?” Bobby asked.

“Oh, I turn sand into glass and make things.”

“Oh cool. Can we watch? Mom, can we?”

“Now don’t go bothering Miss Roxie.”

She laughed and held her hand out to Helen. “You must be Helen and it’s no bother. Most of my guests take a turn at glass blowing.” She gave Victor a wink. “Something that makes staying at Whiskey Creek special.”

He winked back. “Well the story is just writing itself.”

“Now, let’s get you settled,” she said. “It’s an interesting old house. The kitchen and dining room are on the left side and the living room is on the right. The bedrooms and the bathroom with the shower is upstairs. We made the bathroom rather large when we remodeled and most folk get buy sharing.”

Jack tapped the wood frame and studied it with the eye of a builder as they stepped into the dogtrot. “Oh, we’re a family; we’re used to sharing a bathroom. After all this is a home, not some hotel.”

“I’m glad you said that. Not everyone appreciates what it means to stay in a house that’s nearly two-hundred years old. We’ve added electricity, plumbing, and air-conditioning, but it’s still an old house.”

Victor chuckled. “Two-hundred? That’s nothing. Parts of my family’s house back in Arizona go back to the 1700s.”

Tony glanced at him. Victor never talked about his family back in Arizona.

“Oh how wonderful,” Roxie said. “We’ll have to tell family stories around the campfire tonight.”

Tony saw Victor’s face harden.

“Campfire?”

Roxie nodded to John as she unlocked the doors to the downstairs room. “Oh yes, campfires are a tradition here. Often my friends from town drop by. We have a very nice fire pit on the west side of the barn, right next to the garden. Everyone’s always welcome. We usually have sangria.”

“Sweet,” John said.

Helen gave him a sharp look. “Not for you.”

“Here you go,” Roxie said. “I’ll let you unpack and stop back by in an hour or so to answer any questions. We have a nice beach here and there’s a more secluded one down at the cove were the creeks runs into the river. But it’s Florida, so keep an eye out for gators and snakes.”

Jack nodded. “We live on the Little Cypress, down by Rice Creek, so we know all about that.”

“The critters do keep us on our toes, don’t they? Well I’ll leave you be for now. I have some things in my annealing oven that need checking. If you need anything I’m just across the yard.”

Jack shook her hand, “Thank you Ms. Blue.”

“Oh Dear, you are quite welcome, and it’s Roxie.”

Her dress seemed to flow around her like water as she turned and walked back along the breezeway. Jack gave a little sigh and glanced at Tony. “That’s some woman, Brother. You should have warned me.”

Helen snorted. “Really? Kind of old for you isn’t she?”

John whispered, “Old isn’t bad.” Everyone but Bobby looked at him. His face flushed beat red as he realized he’d said it loud enough for everyone to hear.

Jack grinned and mussed up his son’s hair. “Like I said, some woman.”

John managed a darker shade as he pushed his father’s hand away.

“I don’t get it,” Bobby said.

“Good,” Helen said. “Now both of you can help with the luggage.”

Author: Stephen del Mar

Stephen del Mar lives in the Tampa Bay area and writes in the Southern Literary tradition. His stories are character driven with rich settings. They often have a touch of the paranormal, supernatural, or magical realism. Although he writes about serious subjects, they are sweetened with humor and wit. He says, "It's a southern thing."