Letters to Elliot Hawthorne Ep. 5


Gemma Arnold, the original Gemma Arnold of the Worthing, who married Thomas Lumley of Lumley Farms, had two sisters and they were like this: Rosy and Elaine. Elaine Arnold was the oldest Arnold. She went about her life as if she was the best because she was the oldest, that she deserved the best because she was the oldest and this didn’t surface until it was time for her to select a spouse. And it was selecting to Elaine Arnold, who was pretty and delicate and high-strung, because she believed her ability to select something very superior. When this day came, a certain young man travelling through Bower stayed at the Worthing and doted on the Arnold’s oldest daughter. This wasn’t the factor which caused Elaine to make up her mind and give herself a ring on his behalf, no, it was the information from the front desk that his name was Joseph Finkle and that name was the only name she needed to hear.

The Finkles were wealthy landowners and very old. Their oldest son, Joe, was in the position to inherit. He fell for Elaine’s manners and looks and they dated and were wed and just in time too. Joe’s mother had died and left her house in Devonsfield to the newlywed couple. But it wasn’t the house Elaine was after; it was the contents. For inside she found numerous treasures including a Herrington Man portrait of Dowager Countess Amelia Throthing, a signed Thomas Hart Benson lithograph, and a hundred-year-old Cartier brooch made of rubies and diamonds. She needn’t keep these finds, plus others of more or less value, but auction them off at a high price, so high in fact to make the new Finkles the richest couple in the county.

Elaine began to have children and her second oldest daughter, Lillie, was something very different. She wasn’t impressed by her mother’s expensive taste or lust for style, she wanted to get out; to be adventurous, but when men were shipped off to exotic countries during the war, her heart wasn’t it in anymore. She tamed her wildness to become a nurse and serve her country. After the war, at the nice age of twenty-three, she came home to celebrate with her friends at the New Town Public House in St. David’s. She chatted and laughed and sang and danced and when the night had almost burned out, she met the love of her life. Lillie Finkle sat down on the same stool Ethan Doyle had intended to claim and she nearly landed in his lap. They both laughed, excusing themselves, never minding the fluttering of nerves and heartbeats.

Ethan Doyle was a pilot. He flew for the army and then came home. His rank gave him a steady job at the School of Aviation teaching other young flyers how to pursue the sky. That winter night in St. David’s lakefront restaurant, a young woman fell into his life just as she had fallen into his lap. He never let her out of his sight and before the night was over, he had kissed her and vowed to be her man for all of her days. They travelled, getting the longing for voyaging out of their minds before having a son, and his name was Tom.

Tom Doyle was a red-headed boy and no one knew why. It must have been the Scotch in his family’s heritage, Mr. Doyle always said. He was hyper and the doctor told Lillie there was nothing to be done about it. She didn’t mind because she and her husband were happy sorts of people, sometimes pokey and sometimes quibblers, but her son was a happy toddler with very little to vex or annoy him. They raised him in a city away from the countryside of St. David’s and the town of Bower while Lillie worked as a nurse and Ethan rose in the position at the School of Aviation and Flight Training. Tom didn’t seem to mind being a city child but it was because he had never known the freedom of living in wide open space.

His parents moved many times from house to house, causing him to attend five separate schools before they thankfully moved back to Bower. Mr. Doyle bought a large piece of property with good incentive from his father-in-law, a Finkle, and started his own school of aviation; repairing old War Bird planes to use instead of text books.

Tom went to St. David’s Public instead of Bower Public; their green-sided farm house was just ten feet past the school board’s dividing line where one half of the county went to Bower and the other half to St. David’s. He developed a stutter, nothing too severe, but Lillie, being the perfectionist that she was, taking after her mother, forced Tom to outgrow it faster than necessary; taking him to speech therapy and ordering him to spend long hours reading out loud. The Doyles, being dependant on God, suggested the Bible, and Tom became well-acquainted with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as well as the Apostles, the Psalms and the Proverbs. Tom never minded because he thought the Bible to be something very true and very poetic. It was then at the young age of seven or eight that he became accustomed to loving songs and, in turn, music.

It didn’t happen overnight, it came surely and smoothly, a mounting inkling to hear music, to sing and to write lyrics every day. It wasn’t until he sat down at his Grandmother Elaine’s house on the Thanksgiving he turned twelve that he realized there was much more to life than he figured.

His index finger fell onto the Middle C and then D, E, F and so forth until he became aware of how the notes could sound together and back and forth and over and under and simultaneously, and the music resounded in the empty living room, alone in the quietness of himself yet in the boisterous noise of the keys. After that it was hard for him to apply his energy to anything else. School became a burden except for music class and spare period when he would jam with his buddies (Matt Sleeth, Joe Finn and Jasper Lauzon, who I will tell you about when the time is right) who also loved music the way only Tom Doyle loved music. He thought he was pretty set in life because all the girls at his school thought he was cute and because he played with a band called Tom Doyle and the Parade at the Campus Pub every Tuesday and Thursday.

And that’s how Tom became Tom Doyle as you might know him, attending St. David’s College playing trumpet in the school’s orchestra presently behind Bridget Welles who was playing the violin near Gemma Lumley who sang like birds in the springtime in the choir in Conservatory Hall. The Tom Doyle who wore a lot of plaid; his dad’s old capped Oxfords and played the piano like Billy Joel; the Tom Doyle who lived in the apartment above his parent’s garage only because it was within walking distance to the college campus. The Tom Doyle who had no idea he would befriend someone like Elliot Hawthorne.

 Returns next Tuesday

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