Can you believe it, Hearties??? We have arrived at the Friday before premiere day! This is my final post before we will see the first glimpse of the “hip and modern” Hope Valley, as Erin called it. Just a reminder, I’m having a premiere party on Monday evening, so if you’re going to be in the Austin, TX area, let me know so you can join us.
Also, you should know I’ve promised my guests that I would wait for them to watch the episode for the first time, so I will do a special post on Tuesday this time. But all the other new episodes will be reviewed on Monday, as I will be watching them very early Monday morning. This coming Monday will be AGONY, but hopefully, I will survive!
Well, we have come to the conclusion of Crossing Wires. I still think I must have been crazy to write this. Most people will tell you I am NOT a #Henrigail fan. But it was actually fun writing something different; made me think outside the box. So, this being our last post before Season 6, I’ve decided to post the entire story. That way you can remind yourselves of the previous installments, and read the “much-anticipated ending”. (Cough, cough) 😀 So, I give you Crossing Wires, in its entirety:
Henry Gowen allowed half a smile to touch his lips, but only after ensuring he wasn’t being watched. His eyes softened, and the muscles in his shoulders began to relax as Abigail came into view, briefcase in hand. How lovely she looked, how calm and confident. Henry discreetly gazed at her forest-green clad figure as she crossed the street from her café to her office. Somehow, that office being formerly his wasn’t irritating him at the moment. His mind was far too occupied with wondering if that was a new gown, and how becoming her full golden curls looked when she left them unpinned.
Then Florence Blakely walked into his sightline, hands clasped, eyeing him down her nose very suspiciously. And just like that, Henry’s smile melted in the light of the sun, and his neck tensed again as he tipped his hat to Mrs. Blakely. She hesitantly went on her way, and he, slowly but efficiently, limped toward…where was he going? Ah! The mercantile! That seemed as logical a place as any, if only to cover his true errand this morning. As the sidewalk boards creaked and groaned under his boots, Henry let his mind wander back to Abigail. He was not comfortable with these sentiments that had slowly been overtaking him; slowly, but aggressively. He’d not felt this way for anyone since Nora; he didn’t even remember his feelings for her being so all-consuming. All the emotions suddenly became very exhausting; so, the mercantile forgotten, Henry took a seat on a nearby bench. Time passed as he sat almost motionless, pondering his predicament.
“But what can be done about it?” Henry asked himself aloud as he forcefully banged his cane down in frustration.
“Pardon me?” inquired a startled voice. Panicked, Henry looked up, but it was only Molly Sullivan, passing by on her way to the mercantile.
“Oh, nothing at all, Mrs. Sullivan. Good day to you.” He offered a somewhat forced and patronizing grin, and again tipped his hat. Mrs. Sullivan moved along, and Henry returned to his thoughts. You’re a fool, they chided him. Henry certainly had to agree. He’d already lost his status as the town’s public official, then most of his dignity with his prison sentence. Why would he sacrifice what was left of it for something that could never be?
“Planning your next business venture, Henry?” a familiar voice questioned. Henry knew that voice that always interrupted everything! He shook his head, and emitted a sardonic one-syllable chuckle before raising his eyes to meet those of Sheriff Bill Avery.
“Not at all, Bill. Just having a moment’s contemplation.”
“Is that so? What about?”
There was a long pause as Henry tried to mentally craft his next words, while attempting to stare Bill down. Unfortunately, Bill had an infamous glare of his own, so Henry settled for, “Nothing that concerns the local law.”
“Oh, so you’re going for something with a farther reach, huh?” Bill retorted.
Henry shook his head again, and squeezed his cane head extra hard before offering a very controlled, “Nothing that concerns…you…” Henry’s words trailed off as he heard someone approaching. It was Abigail, basket in hand, heading for the mercantile. Was it her lunch time already?
“Afternoon, Bill. Henry,” Abigail smiled as she walked between them. How fetching her smile is, Henry thought. He nodded and smiled in return, his eyes following her by their own volition as she passed by. He watched until the last glimpse of her disappeared into Ned’s store.
When Bill cleared his throat, Henry knew he’d made a mistake. He tried to remain aloof, but Bill’s snake eyes saw straight through his façade. “Henry,” Bill began as he sat down, uninvited, “may I tell you something as a…friend?” The word pushed past his teeth as if they were being pulled. He obviously hated saying it as much as Henry hated hearing it. At Henry’s grimace and skeptical glance, Bill gave an annoyed growl. “As someone you’ve shared a drink with then?”
“You’re welcome to try.”
Bill scoffed, then went on. “You might be able to fool some people, but I’ve known you too long. I know what you’re trying to do.”
“And what exactly might that be?” Henry countered. If Bill was going to spout unsolicited advice, Henry was going to make him say every bit of it.
Bill was never one to back down from a challenge, however, and he shot back, “You’re trying to alter yourself to appear as an eligible and appealing bachelor…a bachelor who will catch the eye of a certain lady who happens to hold your former position.” Once again, Bill had twisted everything around, but Henry refused to dignify his accusation with a response. There was a very long and tense pause.
Bill took the silence as relenting, though, and his eyes were filled with triumph. “Frankly, I don’t know why you think Abigail would want you to court her.”
“What wouldn’t I want, Bill?” Both men’s heads shot to the right like starter pistols. Abigail had already finished her shopping, and was heading straight for them to go back to her office, her basket bulging with supplies. Bill stumbled over his words momentarily when Abigail stopped in front of them, but he recovered quickly as he stood; too quickly, in fact. “I was just telling Henry here that you would never want to go to court again.”
Abigail visibly shuddered. “Ugh! Two experiences I will never forget, but never want to repeat; not unless it’s absolutely necessary, of course.”
Not only was Henry disappointed that Bill had been able to recover his blunder so smoothly, but he also couldn’t help wondering if those two experiences were so unpleasant to her because he was involved. He stood as well, and was just opening his mouth to strike up some pleasant conversation, and leave Bill’s “advice” in the dust, when a voice across Main Street turned Abigail away from him…leaving his mouth gaping to catch the flies.
“Mayor Stanton!” the voice called cheerfully. Henry felt bile rise in his throat, and sat back down as the new “distinguished gentleman” in town met Abigail in the middle of the road.
“Oh, good afternoon!” he heard her call back to…what was his name? It didn’t matter; the bad taste was there all the same. Ever since he’d arrived in Hope Valley, he’d been monopolizing a very large portion of Abigail’s time. “Business,” he’d said, but Henry knew better! How could he not be attracted to her? Henry reluctantly watched as the two walked back to the mayor’s office. He was certain he heard something about plans to meet the following evening, and her laugh echoed in his ears, like the memory of a fantasy.
Henry was yanked back to reality by the very real, and still lingering, presence of Bill, whose smugness was reaching new heights of glory. He winced.
“You see, Henry? Abigail needs someone stable, someone kind, someone without a record. Trust me when I tell you that you’re better off forgetting all about this little venture. Stick to business.” Bill stood and walked away, seeming very confident that he’d told Henry what’s what. But there was one thing Henry did realize from Bill’s little lecture: if he stayed silent much longer, his opportunity may pass him by like the train to Hamilton.
“We’ll just have to see about that, won’t we, Bill?” Henry whispered to himself.
TWO DAYS LATER
Abigail Stanton stood in a corner of her office, barely able to contain her excitement. Her cheeks were as pink as her blouse, and her hands fidgeted with each other as she watched workmen from the telephone company install Hope Valley’s very first telephone. This day had been a long time coming! Abigail had checked and double checked, stretched and saved the town’s budget until the expense could be covered. Now it was finally happening, and she felt she was doing her job as the mayor to bring her town into the modern age.
When the four men exited, Abigail didn’t dare move. She was glad she hadn’t when they returned, straining to keep the switchboard balanced between them. Her eyes grew wide, and her breathing tensed. Goodness, that was big! How was one person to handle all that? Then they began to connect all the wires, and she felt full-blown panic set in. There were so many!
“Pardon me, gentlemen,” Abigail inquired, trying to remain composed, “what happens if the wires get crossed?”
“You end up with a mess of a tangle, ma’am,” the head man snickered, and the others laughed with him. Abigail joined in, albeit it was stilted and reluctant. Sensing her genuine concern, he gave a serious explanation. “All joking aside, Madam Mayor, wires have to be crossed sometimes to complete a telephone call. The important things to remember are where the call originates, and how to make the right connection.”
“Aha, I see,” she acknowledged, wishing she felt calmer about this entire ordeal. It was exciting, but a big responsibility! Then Abigail remembered something! She wouldn’t have to deal with the switchboard at all! What a burden off her shoulders! She was just starting to breathe normally again when something chased all the air from her lungs.
“Abigail!” Rosemary said a little too loudly for standing at the open office door, mere feet away from Abigail’s ears. Even the workmen were startled. Luckily, they hadn’t been holding anything heavy at the moment.
“Oh, Rosemary! Oh, you gave me a fright!”
“I’m sorry. I just had to see this! I did knock, but you looked so preoccupied, I thought it better to just let myself in.
“Oh.” Of course you did, Abigail thought as she rolled her eyes; but she couldn’t help but smile. With Elizabeth in school this time of day, she was grateful to have a friend with whom to share this moment. Speaking of which… “Have you seen Bill? I thought he’d want to see this.”
“I passed him on my way here,” Rosemary explained. She then went into storytelling mode, deepening her voice to imitate Bill. “He called the installation of the telephone ‘a lot of fuss and bother’, and made up some excuse about having ‘a mountain of paperwork’. He’ll come over later.” Rosemary turned her attention to the workmen finishing their task of hooking up the telephone system, and clapped with excitement. “Isn’t this thrilling? A telephone in Hope Valley! Lee said he would have one installed in our home too!”
“Well, isn’t that wonderful!” Abigail replied. Just then, the lead workman planted the telephone in her hands, and tipped his hat.
“There you are, Mayor Stanton. You’re all set, and ready to go.” He walked out, and the others followed suit, tipping their hats in turn.
“Thank you,” Abigail called to them, a little unsure if she should move or not. The lead workman noticed her sudden stillness, came back up the steps, and added, “We made the wire extra long, so you can even carry it outside.”
Abigail sighed and smiled in relief. “Well, in that case, I’ll walk you out…part way, at least.”
Abigail and Rosemary walked to the edge of the staircase, and watched him descend, and get into the driver seat of the company automobile. The four of them gave a final wave as they drove away. Rosemary waved back, and Abigail gave a smiling nod, as her hands were a little full.
“Oh, Abigail! I keep meaning to ask you, who is going to run that giant switchboard? You can’t possibly do it all, not with everything you already have to do! I’d offer to do it myself, but…”
“Actually, Rosemary, that’s what I was thinking about when you came in. I was feeling overwhelmed about that very notion, then suddenly, I remembered! I hired a woman named Fiona Miller. She’s a telephone operator from Union City. With everything going on, I had honestly forgotten. But now, I can…”
Abigail was interrupted by an unfamiliar, shrill sound. She looked down, only to realize that the object sitting in her hands, the town’s telephone…was ringing.
Abigail froze. It worked. The telephone worked! Two rings. Abigail could hardly believe it! She had the honor of being the mayor in a frontier town that actually had a telephone. Now it was ringing! Three rings. “It’s ringing,” Abigail said quietly, but her excitement kept building. “It’s really ringing!” she cried to Rosemary. Four rings.
Rosemary could only laugh with joy, her signature smile decorating her face from ear to ear. “Yes, it is!” Five rings. “Well? Abigail?”
“What?” Six rings.
“Are ya gonna answer it?” Bill yelled from the jail. Obviously, the ring could be heard down the street, and he’d ventured out from under the “mountain of paperwork” to see what was all the commotion.
Seven rings. “Oh!” Abigail exclaimed while Rosemary giggled at her flustered manner. Abigail lifted the receiver, and let it dangle in her fingers for just a moment before putting it to her ear.
“H-Hello? Hope Valley, M-Mayor Abigail Stanton speaking.”
“Hello, Mayor Stanton. This is former Mayor Gowen.”
“Henry???” Abigail said, very surprised. Rosemary looked on completely baffled, and for once, completely speechless. Bill looked downright shocked, and even a little angry. Obviously, he thought Henry wasn’t the person to commemorate such a milestone. Abigail looked at the contraption as if it held the answer. Then her eyes immediately scanned the streets, trying to find him. Silly! she scolded herself. He’s on the telephone. Of course I won’t see him! “Where are you calling from?”
“Benson Hills. Am I, indeed, Hope Valley’s very first telephone call?”
“You certainly are, but why on earth did you want to be?”
“Well, I thought one momentous occasion deserved another.”
“And the other is?”
“Abigail, I know we’ve not always seen eye to eye; in fact, it hasn’t happened very often at all. I know in the past I have made your life rather miserable, but for some strange reason, despite all that, you still seem to believe in me. Well, I’d like to return that kindness with a gesture of good faith.”
“By doing what, exactly?”
“Well, I’d like to bring you here to Benson Hills next Thursday evening, and take you out for a fine meal…if you’re willing.”
Abigail’s mind began reeling! The last time Henry had asked her to join him for a meal, it had been lunch, the idea had made her insides crawl, and she’d pondered the repercussions of using her skillet as a weapon. Abigail shuddered as she also remembered using the incident as a way to find evidence that Henry had been responsible for the death of her husband, her son, and half the men in Coal Valley. For that last reason alone, Abigail knew she should decline; but for some unknown cause, she hesitated.
“What did he say, Abigail?” Rosemary’s insistent question startled her back to the present.
Abigail covered the mouthpiece of the receiver, hoping that would muffle the sound enough for Henry to not overhear them. “He’s…he’s asking me to dinner.” She was glad Bill was too far away to hear; this would put him over the edge. But he was staring. He took a few steps to come over, but Abigail put up a hand to stop him.
“Oh dear!” Rosemary’s baffled expression took on a bit of concern. “Well, are you going to accept?”
“I…I don’t know.”
“Abigail?” questioned Henry’s voice.
“Yes, I’m still here.”
“So, w-would you like to join me for dinner next Thursday?”
Abigail could hear the nervousness in his voice, and felt for the poor man. Should she accept? The idea sounded crazy! Although, it was just dinner. But still, should she start this? Then the telephone workman’s words returned to her mind:
Wires have to be crossed sometimes to complete a telephone call. The important things to remember are where the call originates, and how to make the right connection.
Well, she definitely knew the origin of this encounter; and even if she didn’t know the outcome just yet, maybe now was the right time to make a connection. Hopefully it was a right one
Abigail was still feeling hesitant and unsure. Maybe she wouldn’t accept. But despite her hesitation, a smile crept it’s way to her lips. “I’ll consider it.”
Well, everyone, have a marvelous weekend, and I hope you love the first episode of Season 6. This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom!