There’s a story they tell up in these mountains about one of the inhabitants of our house, a certain Mr. Grant who lived here a few decades ago. When the women tell it they swoon a little bit and get misty eyed, for he was a good looking man by all accounts. The men just grit their teeth and mutter about him being an odd sort, didn’t hunt you know and a man who doesn’t hunt up here, well that’s a bit odd for starters. Either way, they both agree that he was a quiet fellow, tall with dark hair, dark eyes, flannel shirt, boot, and jeans wearing sort who went about exploring the woodlands and trails, keeping mostly to himself. If anyone came looking, at night he could be found stargazing or reading a book.
Well, one day he found a trail that led up and over the mountain to his neighbors’ house. Here lived a certain Mr. Jimmy Bean, who was a loud sort of fellow, given to drinking and carousing and shooting bullets at cats that ventured through his yard. The life of a party was Mr. Bean, full of laughter and bawdy jokes. He was a crack shot, with many an antlered deer head mounted on the walls of his house, bear skin rugs on the floors, raccoon hats hanging about, and stuffed fox, bobcat, and even a coyote staring upon you with glass eyes. Mr. Jimmy went about the woodlands leaving a trail of beer cans in his wake, along with ripped up Posted signs that he’d remove just as quickly as they were put back up. For all that Mr. Jimmy Bean lived in what looked like a man-cave, he had a Mrs., two children, a son and a daughter, and an aging ninety eight year old mother who lived with them. Mrs. Melinda Bean was a really sweet gal with long, golden curls and brown doe eyes. When she had found herself with child one day long, long ago, Jimmy Bean had put it to her that they best get hitched. Her heart hadn’t been in it, even then, but he was persuasive about doing the right thing, and she finally conceded.
A few years went by and Melinda Bean remained restless and uncertain about her life as Mrs. Bean, but Jimmy being the sly fox that he was, figured all she needed was another babe to settle her down, so along came Junior Bean. He assumed this had done the trick, and went about his life as before, never guessing the depths of his wife’s inner longings. Mrs. Melinda Bean liked peace and quiet and was happiest when her Mr. was away. His idea of fun and hers were vastly different, and she couldn’t abide his butt grabbing, bosom pinching sense of manliness; often she wondered what she had seen in him all those years ago when they were just teenagers, but she’d stoically look at her life and imagine it could be worse and go on her way, waiting for him to load up his truck and leave for the day. Then she’d put on a sundress and write poems, sip herbal teas, or dance in the meadows with the butterflies, tucking wildflowers into her long golden locks, humming as she reveled in the glory she found all about her.
This is how their neighbor, Mr. Grant, found her on one of his walks. He stopped and rubbed his eyes, thinking he was seeing a vision, an apparition, a dream. But it was no dream; she was real as could be, and they became very good friends very fast, discovering that they had a great deal in common. Kindred spirits they were and seeing as Mr. Bean was absent most of the time, driving around in his pickup truck, looking for things to shoot at, snakes to run over, or Posted signs to rip up, his Mrs. got to spend all kinds of peaceful moments with her quiet neighbor. These became magical moments that she began to long for, yearn for, dream of. Eventually neither of the two could stand being apart, their rendezvous were not enough, and she could no longer be as stoic as she had been before, for now she knew that her life could in fact be better, it could be all that she had ever dreamed of, so hand in hand they left these mountains leaving a note for Mr. Bean behind.
Mr. Jimmy Bean couldn’t read too well, but he got the point. At first he was stunned, dazed and disbelieving. This quickly turned into outrage and with that came anger. He was furious; he would find her and kill her, then Mr. Grant along with her. Many bottles of whisky were drunk and flung about the place. Eventually he found an outlet in uncontrollable weeping. The children, who Mrs. Melinda Bean had left with their father, began to wonder what was wrong, started asking questions. This galvanized him into action and he loaded up his truck to go hunting: for his wife and her lover, to bring her back come hell or high water. Now Jimmy should have left well enough alone, gone on as best as he could, but he didn’t. He had been cuckolded, felt like a laughing stock, and there were his two children to consider after all. What kind of woman leaves her family to face such unbearable pain? The shame of it; he would bring her back before the damage was too great, they’d forget all about her little affair, and go on as before. She was his wife; they had taken vows, which meant something in the eyes of the Lord. He would even forgive her, and this made him feel oh so magnanimous, for she was an adulterous fornicator, but he Jimmy Bean would over look that and be so generous as to forgive her sin!
Well, Granny looked after the tots and Mr. Bean hunted and hunt-ed and hunted, until eventually he found dear, sweet Melinda and Mr. Grant. There was much shouting and screaming on his part at first, with Mrs. Bean trying to explain calmly how she was in Love with Mr. Grant, how he was her Beloved, how their union was Holy Communion, they had drank of the Holy Grail together, and Love was no sin in the Lord’s eyes, but something to be cherished, nurtured, and sacred. Jimmy understood none of this poetic talk, he had never been one for fancy words, and began spitting about temptation and seduction, with Mr. Grant turning into the serpent, the devil, satan himself coming to drag her immortal soul into perdition, away from holy vows, away from her innocent children who would suffer. How could this love that she called it be so wonderful if it was causing such anguish to so many, did she not see that she had a duty to her family, responsibilities to her children who must not suffer under any circumstances?
Sweet Melinda of the soft heart began to doubt the Love that she had for Mr. Grant as being some-thing she could hold and have in this world, perhaps it was enough that she had found the Greatest Love Ever? Perhaps she could carry that with her and share its sweetness with her children and others too? Perhaps she didn’t realize that as Great a Love as theirs came with suffering and pain, and that was the price for such Love? Perhaps she didn’t realize that this Great Love could be shared, as long as the Lovers maintained Union; Communion. Perhaps she did not know that to drink from The Grail alone is to die, that the Cup had to be shared with the Beloved to overflow. Perhaps she didn’t realize that the pain and suffering could be endured, that her children were not as fragile as she believed, that they would be able to endure and pass through torment. Whatever she realized or did not realize, she once again allowed her-self to be persuaded by Jimmy Bean, and shedding many tears she load-ed up like a good dog into his truck and went back to her innocent children. Mr. Grant simply watched her go through a haze of tears and a shrug of those broad shoulders that he’d carried her around on so she could reach for the stars.
Jimmy Bean was satisfied that he had brought Melinda back; he reckoned she’d seen the error of her ways. But it was not so. Melinda Bean saw Mr. Grant every-where: in the dust on the kitchen counter, in the dewdrops on the morning grasses, in her reflection in the windowpane, in the exhale and inhale of her breath, he was always with her. This gave her a certain power that excluded Jimmy Bean from her in an intangible way that he could never quite put his finger on. There was Melinda, he could see her whisking eggs, boiling peaches, washing clothes, reading to the children, pulling weeds, yet she didn’t seem quite all there even though she was. She didn’t fight or argue with him, she listened to everything he was talking about, even made comments or asked questions, yet he got the feeling she wasn’t really interested in any of it, in him, in their life together, some-thing was not right. This went on for months and months and many more months. Other folks noticed how Melinda just didn’t seem her-self anymore, and Melinda would smile an ethereal smile and go on doing what she was doing, her whole heart and being filled with her Beloved.
It was true; Mrs. Bean was not the same anymore. The person she had been was dead and gone, re-placed by something new, someone who Jimmy Bean did not know at all. She no longer waited for him to leave before she began enjoying the day, instead she would engage with all her heart in everything she held dear and treasured, right before his very eyes. Mr. Bean found her strange, she was turning into one of those weirdos that he’d never understood and couldn’t abide. And his friends would just shake their heads as if to say Jimmy old chap, you should have left her be. Deep down inside Jimmy began to wonder if maybe he should have let her go. After all he was beginning to feel like he was with someone else’s woman. Anyone could see, and everyone knew the tale, that sweet Melinda was lovesick and pining for her Beloved. They tsk, tsk’d and spoke in whispers of a man’s pride and things like that, and even Jim-my began to feel like he was the wrong-doer, like he had torn some-thing beautiful apart out of his own greed, lust, desire, pride, and ambition. He wept many tears and spent long hours on his knees praying to the Lord to change things, but the Lord remained silent, and Melinda hummed away shining with an incandescence that made Jimmy feel guilty and uncomfortable.
Then what happened? Well, word came up these mountains that Mr. Grant had died. He’d been in the woods and heard screaming, ran off to see what it was, turned out to be a mountain lion attacking a child, so throwing caution to the winds, no weapons in hand or any-thing, Mr. Grant had fought the mountain lion until they were both dead. The child lived to tell the tale. When news of this reached Melinda Bean, she simply smiled a mysterious smile, didn’t shed a tear or any-thing. Later they found her dead, as she had gone to be reunited with her Beloved. Jimmy Bean was left behind with his two children and aging mother, just as before, only now he was riddled, some say consumed, with guilt and plagued with nightmares for having had a hand in this tragedy. In fact, he could not help but feel like he had defiled and corrupted something that was pure and holy, turning it onward to where it ended. What happened to all those Beans, nobody knows, for by the time we moved here they were all long gone, just the tale remained to be told over and over again, and here and there in the woods there are glimpses of lovers meeting on a path, a sigh, a kiss, a burst of light, and then what looks like a beanstalk emerges, as if all those beans got planted and grew into giant beanstalks, all reaching for the stars.