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By Donna Flood
Chapter 21 - Weldon is Home

Week-ends at Chilocco were more for getting chores done at the building than anything else. There was a free time from the weekly schedule of academics and whatever trade we had chosen. I was a senior at this time and the girls on my floor were well disciplined with the life style they had lived from the time they were 9th graders. If they practiced doing their home work, then it was what any late arrivals learned to do, simply by being in association with the more trained veterans of the school. Socks, underwear were to be folded neatly, and other toiletries to be placed in carefully in our dressers. When inspections were made by the staff for order in our rooms, how well organized and clean the rooms were gave us a grade at the end of the semester, good or bad. On occasion, one of the women in charge, might take a day to really check up on our cleaning habits. It was rare, but once in a while an inspection of bedsprings, over the door dust or maybe a high shelf in a closet might be checked. We all knew the possibilities were there for stringent room checks, so we stayed ahead of this and kept everything in good shape. It wasn’t a bad time because, even though each girl was busy with her chores, we still took a bit of time to visit. We might take a break after finishing, sometimes to meet in the lounge, on the back steps, in the reading room, or together in front of the television for gab sessions.

The girl and I were finishing up and lingering in our room, while we waited for chow call.

“I’m starving. I hope we don’t have mutton, today. I don’t think I can walk into the dining room and get a snootful of that stuff.” She complained.

“We won’t. We’ve had that once this week, already.” I didn’t want mutton either. It always looked so wonderful on the tray, like rich, beef roast, but when I tried to eat the meat, it always tasted like lanolin to me.

“It keeps coming baaaaaaa ck up, my friend laughed at her own joke.”

A quiet knock at our door caused us to look at each other with a look of a questioning expressions on our faces?

When I opened the door, the girl who worked in the office was standing there waiting for us to answer.

“You have guests in the lobby!” She told me and was just as abruptly back down the hall to her duties.

My thinking was totally one of surprise. No one had told me they were going to visit. When Mother came for me, she always called or sent a note to let me know what time she would be coming for me.

“Wonder who in the world it is?” I asked my friend.

“One way to find out!” She grinned and waved me out of the room.

I skipped and ran down the long, highly polished floors of a hallway to open up into the lobby where those shining, polished, marble squares gave the room a look of grandeur.

Standing just inside the double, heavy wooden doors was Weldon and Uncle Dean. Weldon was a big man, but he was dwarfed, not only by the doors, but by the tall, small paned windows that were carved in a semi-circle at their top.

Weldon evidently wasn’t at all impressed with the elegance of this environment. He was scowling and I could not understand how this fun loving person I had known for my whole life was such a different person. His countenance, now was, dark and brooding. Where was the happy boy-man I had always known and loved?

I ran up to him and hugged him, but still he seemed cold and distant. The rough wool of his uniform was scratchy on the side of my face and less than welcoming too, not like the soft, western shirts he had always worn. His black curly hair was covered by the army uniform cap he was wearing. They didn’t stay for long and as he had always done, was gone and away in an instant. Over the years I had grown acquainted with this part of his personality and thought nothing about it, because I knew he would, in his own time, return.

I carried the gift he left, back to my room. Gone was the happy anticipation I had known only a short while ago. Something was wrong and I had no idea what it was.

“What’s happening?” My room mate must have sensed my feelings and asked about them. For whatever they were, I could not explain anything of it to her.

“I don’t know! I really just do not know.” I looked at her with a bewildered look, I’m sure.

The bed had been so carefully made up to a military sharpness, but I plopped down upon it.

“Now look at what you've done! How long did it take to make your bed?”

Without answering I quietly pulled the ribbon off the little package.

Inside, carefully nestled in tissue paper was the most beautiful necklace I think I had ever seen. I held it in my hand and let the light catch some of the beads as I gazed upon its beauty.

“Help me with this, please?” I asked my friend.

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