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Mr. Casiuss Monroe: The Ignorance of Love – Pt. 9 Historical Fiction

Mr Casiuss Monroe Pt 9 The Ignorance of Love

Disclaimer: 

This is meant to be a piece of historical fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of history and the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely historic and a work of fiction to guide the reader through history in an engaging way.

The following may contain mild language and references to historical traumatic events. Reader discretion is advised.

 —

I have always preferred wisdom; I never really was much for standard education. I learned quickly in matters of survival and it was because I could see things that others could not. It isn’t as simple as the abilities of a psychic or a gypsy woman, no, it was more about looking closer and seeing what the naked eye can’t see or refuses to see because it is too focused on the larger picture. I used to be more aware, but like all things, it has slowed with age and really hit me after my son passed away in the war. He served in World War Two and he fought on the beaches of Normandy, he survived, he was luckier than most. Sadly, two days later he was shot by a Nazi soldier while he and a few men from his company were doing a standard morning patrol.  

  Jarred by the abrupt sound of the front door slamming, I shifted in my chair and wondered what was going on. I stood up using my cane for leverage. I went over to the foyer to see what was the matter. Walking from the den and into the foyer, I saw Lilly sitting in the mud area taking her shoes off. She ripped at them with tears streaming down her face in frustration.  

“Gruhhhh!” she screamed in anger.  

I could tell she was sad more so than she was angry. Rose always did that; she would look angry even though she was upset more than anything else. She takes after her grandmother more than she ever did anyone else. I silently wandered over to her and plopped down beside her on the little bench. My smoking jacket scrunched in the back and I readjusted it to sit better around my trousers. I pulled out my pipe, loaded it up, and began smoking. We just sat in silence, me puffing on my pipe, and her just sitting there with her hands over her face, trying not to cry.  

I was the first to break the silence “Lilly?” I said waiting for her to respond, but she didn’t “Lilly, what is the matter, even if you don’t want me to give you advice I can at the very least listen?”  

She quietly lifted her head and through tear-streaked eyes and a strained voice said “It’s about a boy.” She whimpered some more and went back to silently crying.  

I shifted in my seat, puffing on my pipe and tried not to chuckle, well – I guess she is growing up, now twelve years old. I don’t know if I’m ready for this or not, but I guess I better be. Oh man, I should wring his neck! No, no, calm down, okay cool off it’s probably just young love.  

“Grandpa? You’re clenching your fists hard again are you okay?” Lilly asked.  

“Yes Lilly, I’m fine, so what did he do to you?” I asked stifling my anger.

“Well, I sent him a letter asking if he wanted to be partners in science class, and maybe just maybe, not saying I did grandpa, but in the letter, I might have told him I have a crush on him,” she said sniffling.

“What’s got you all upset then?” I could barely contain my laughter, I thought it was going to be him beating her up or even pulling her hair out. I guess they were growing up, I tapped my cane on the ground.  

“Well, he wadded it up and threw it at me” She began to cry something fierce.  

“Lilly, come here,” I said as I wrapped my arm around her.

We just sat there in silence while she cried, eventually I wondered if he had even responded.  

“Hey, Lilly? Did he respond?” I asked quietly.

“I think him wadding it up was answer enough,” she said getting even madder.

“Maybe, he answered you but you might have just overlooked it; I wonder if he wadded it to throw it back to you with the answer and you just didn’t look, you assumed that he didn’t like you?” I asked with a brief pause to puff on my pipe. “You do know what assuming gets you right?” I chuckled a little, “it makes an ass out of you and me, funny thing is your grandma taught me that lesson the hard way. Come with me, I have a story to tell you.”  

“Shouldn’t we wait for Robert?” Lilly asked  

“No, I just don’t think he would like this part of the story. No action. It’s more about your grandma and me, romance and all, it won’t take long today it’s a funny but short story,” I said beginning to laugh thinking back to those early years with Rose.  

  

Fall had started and laid its blanket of chill upon the land, the wood of the old structures of Parkersburg creaked and swayed from the weight of the sudden change in weather. I’d been courting Rose for a few months now, and it was going great, we were so in love. We couldn’t keep our eyes off one another, I would see her every day while I worked with Mr. Berdane by day, and then I would escort her home before working with Mr. Chancellor in the evenings. Sadly, my evening work wasn’t going well, the trail had run cold with the broker, and he had skipped town on a river boat, my next stop would be to the docks and figure out if he went upstream or downstream.  

But that is not what I’m going to talk about today. It all happened after that damned trail went cold, my luck was going from bad to worse. I still hadn’t got a coat yet which was making things worse. I’d been having a bad taste in my mouth since I lost the broker and I was in a bad mood for most of it. I went on scrubbing, sweeping, and polishing and none of it was sitting well. To make things worse, I was coming down with a head cold and it was starting to tick me off, man I was being a grumpy old ass, wasn’t I?   

During that time, I had caught Rose out of the corner of my eye, she told me she was too busy that day for me to walk her down to the Blennerhassett. She didn’t even tell me why and with all the other issues going on in my life, I was just a keg waiting to boil over. Why does everything have to happen to me like this, for pity’s sake? Seeing her just frustrated me to no end. She didn’t have time for me and still made it down to give her father his lunch  

Then I saw why. Escorting her into the hotel was a fine gentleman, to say the very least fine. What is he doing with my woman!  

Suddenly, I felt Mr. Berdane’s hand on my shoulder. “Boy, if you grip that broom handle any harder its gonna bust,” he said quietly. 

I loosened my grip and went back to work, my skin cold from the cool weather seeping through the walls of the hotel. They hadn’t got them steam pipes working yet, that reminds me I should go ask Zacharia and Mr. Brine what is going on with that. How it worked was the broiler in the basement runs off coal much like a steam engine and it releases all that steam into the pipes in the walls and it heats the hotel inside comfortably.  

I shook my head and began sweeping again, trying not to think about the guy that was with Ms. Campbell, if she’s going to play that way, I’m not going to call her Rose anymore.  

“Mr. Monroe, what you saw may not necessarily mean anything, were they holding hands, were they kissing one another, that would be a different story now wouldn’t it, but right now you know very little of the situation. Any man can escort a lady for her safety, now take Mr. Jack and Ms. Kimble if they were acting like those two, you’d have a problem.” Mr. Bedane said stifling a laugh  

“No, I won’t believe it! Just look at him, he’s a southern gentleman through and through, I bet he even has a thick southern accent that just pulls it all together. That slick necktie, the gold watch chain with a twenty-dollar piece added to it. Straight lace shoe laces, those new wingtip shoes that just came out, and a pin-striped suit, grrrr! Just look at him!” I said angrily, throwing the broom down in disgust.  

“Now Cas, if you’re not careful you’ll revert back to your old ways, and are your ignorant thoughts about love worth throwing away everything that you’ve worked so hard for?” Berdane asked.

“It ain’t worth it, but if he even put a single hand on her that I don’t like I’m gonna…” I shut my mouth – I was so angry, ripping off my apron and throwing it on the floor I started walking away in disgust. “I’m going on break!” I said as I rounded the corner. 

I went into the lobby and past the front desk as I observed them from a distance. I was sitting in one of the chairs reading the paper. What the hell was she thinking pulling me around like this? It was about that time – and I will never forget as long as I live – that the Irish chef busted through the front door in all of his excitement and rushed to the center of the lobby.  

“It’s a lad! It’s a laddy! My son and his wife have birthed a handsome young lad!” he said in his thick Irish accent giggling as he spoke.  

He’s so excited for his grandson being born and I’m over here pissed. Lucky Ol’ bastard! I usually like the guy. The kitchen staff usually calls him “dad” because he’s always there for them. For me, though. I just couldn’t get out of my own head, but just like everyone else, I clapped anyway. I watched and observed Ms. Campbell as the news spread to everyone, she was so overjoyed that she grabbed her new friend and hugged him, and clapped along with everyone else. That was it I’ve had it!  

I jumped up, ran out the front door, to my flat, and began to punch a wooden pedestal I had rigged for practicing. Tears streamed down my face, and my anger had reached its peak, I punched and punched it and my tears continued to flow harder now than before. Finally, I bared down onto the pedestal so hard that it broke. I sat down covered in sweat; my muscles were strained and I breathed heavily. Without thinking my mind slipped away and my muscle memory took hold and I began smoking my pipe, I grabbed my whiskey bottle and began to drink, and drink I did, heavily. 

The morning came and I decided I was going to go and meet up with Ms. Campbel and discuss with her what I saw. Now this would have been okay, but I hadn’t sobered up since last night, I was still two bottles deep and I could barely walk let alone have this conversation. The world turns though, doesn’t it? Not my greatest moment, but I still had many more and many of these moments behind me so I should’ve known better but I guess I wasn’t thinking. Life has a funny way of throwing you a curve ball, doesn’t it?  

I did just that I walked up Julianna Street to her house and I waited across that street until she came out. This was about the time she went and delivered her father’s lunch to him. Lighting my pipe, I stood there just observing their home it had such ornate woodwork I could make out roses that were reaching up to the heavens. She came from inside the house and following behind her was that southern gentleman, man was I mad, he was in her house, Mr. Campbell allowed that? I’ve had it. As I ran across the street, I noticed she held a parcel in her hand, I walked right up to her gate and stood there angrily.  

She told her friend to wait there and came down to me.  

“What is the meaning of this Cas?” She asked in a sophisticated voice which annoyed me every time she did it.  

“Don’t call me that, you gave up that right when you got in with him!” I said in a rough tone my Irish accent slipping out a little.  

“What do you mean Cas? Not him?” She said pointing toward the man on her front stoop.  

“Yes him, I saw how you hugged him and whispered in his ear and how he put his arm around you!” I was furious, blinded by the whiskey and my rage “I bet that package is from him too, that arrogant son of a bitch!” I scolded her, not letting up one bit.   

“Mr. Monroe you are out of line! You clearly are not seeing the truth of the matter. This was for you” she threw the package down onto the wet street I could tell she was tearing up, and the tears started flowing down her cheeks. “And for your information that is my uncle and he has come to stay with us since my father is out of town. We had a small break-in about a week ago and you were busy with the work Mr. Chancellor had given you and I didn’t want to bother you with it.”    

I stood dumbfounded in the street and she pushed past me running towards the hotel crying as she went. I just stood there frozen, I couldn’t move, Mr. Berdane was right, the old fool. Maybe it was I the fool. I looked up and appeared before me was Rose’s uncle. A tall man with muscles creasing his suit at every turn. His long hair was tightly wrapped in a ponytail, and he wore a slick plantation-style hat. He smiled with a menacing grin almost villain-like, and something told me that he was going to enjoy berating me. Rings and other jewelry were scattered throughout his fingers and hidden beneath his collar and a simple piercing in one ear. He was by all purposes a highly sophisticated man who had a slight criminal hint about him.  

Flicking his cane up and in my face, he said in, and I was right, a thick Georgian accent “Let me tell you, son, if you’ve any sense, you would go and get that woman.” He paused, taking his cigarette out of his mouth, he blew smoke into my face “You were right about one thing Mr. Monroe, I am an arrogant son of a b-, and I paid good money for what is at your feet. That’s what she wanted for an early Christmas present, and so I obliged. So going forward until you change your Yankee attitude towards me you can just suck my cotton stock!” With that he walked away back into the house, flipping ash towards me and twirling his cane as he went.  

I bent over and picked up the package and ripped it open right there in the street and I pulled out the most beautiful black peacoat with knitted fingerless gloves and a note attached with a big pin.  

  

‘Cas, I knitted these gloves for you with love, I was never good but I’m improving so says Ganny. Likewise, I gave up my one gift from my uncle this year for you. I love you and I can’t stand to see you shiver and only have your vest to throw over my shoulders, I see the pain in your eyes when that is all you can give me with the cold being ever-present these past few weeks. I know pride is a lot to my strong handsome Irishman. Take this and never forget that the same warmth you receive is how I feel every time you embrace me with your tender touch.’  

Yours Forever,  

Rose Campbell  

It was at that moment that I knew that I messed up. I threw that coat over my shoulders and shoved my gloves in my pockets and dashed after her.  

  —

You see Lilly, sometimes you just don’t see the truth about a situation. How about tomorrow you walk down to the playground and see if that note is still there? I began to reload my pipe and pack it down, settling in for the evening and walking back into the den leaving Lilly there to think.  

Calling back to her as I went to the den “Lilly why don’t you go and wash up for dinner Grandma will be finished with it soon. I can smell it cooking!”  

I had just settled down in front of the fireplace which was now lit, I readjusted my smoking jacket so it wouldn’t bunch my trousers and wrinkle my shirt. Rose never liked my shirts wrinkled, she would just go on and on as she ironed them. I’d nod and shake my head saying yes dear. I was going back down the rabbit hole again thinking of my days gone by. I then heard a small knock on the door.  

“Well, dab blasted I just got settled in!” I said jokingly more than anything else.  

I went to the door and I opened it ever so slightly and appeared before me was a young boy. He was about twelve or thirteen, he had brunette hair that hung into his eyes. He was wearing a simple brown sweater vest and simple plaid trousers with a navy-blue overcoat.  

“Sir, Mr. Monroe, Sir, is this where Lilly Monroe lives, I just wanted to tell her yes and give her the letter back,” he said all nervous like.

I chuckled at him thinking back to what Rose and I went through. “Why Yes young man! Come in out of the cold how ever did you find us?” I questioned “Well, that can wait. Go wait in the parlor.” I walked to the base of the stairs and yelled up “Lilly, your sutor awaits, he’s in the parlor.”   

“How did he find where we live? Ohhhh! That’s right! I addressed my letter! How could I have forgotten? I’ll be down soon, hey can we invite him to dinner!” I heard her call back.

“Well, we’ll see about that.” I walked away from the stairs shaking my head and chuckling.  

Here we go again, just like her mother and Rose before her. 

About the author:

My name is Logan M. Saho I am the Concierge at The Blennerhassett Hotel. I have been in the tourism industry since my thirteenth year of life, I started out as a tour guide at the Beauchamp-Newman Museum in Elizabeth WV. I also since that time have become an early American period reenactor (1730s-1890s.) Beyond that I have a dual-degree in History and Political Science with a minor in communications concentrating on theatre. After my college years I worked as a living historian at Blennerhassett Island Historical State park for 2 years which geared my path to be working where I am today.

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