Gramma Lily's Story by NT Franklin

Monday, September 19, 2022
When Bobbi Jean finds out her grandmother killed a man, Gramma finally tells her story; by NT Franklin.

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"What? You showed them where his body was buried?" Bobbi Jean asked incredulously.

"Well, sure. No sense fussing about him, he's dead and gone. No one even cared."

"But Gramma, you could've gone to jail..."

"Don't you worry your pretty little head about that, my precious."

"Is he still there? Can I go see him? Please?"

"No, precious, he's long gone."

Becky sauntered up to the long front porch and said, "Momma, don't you go filling Bobbi Jean's head full of nonsense. We've talked about this."

"Becky, your precious daughter asked a question, that's all."

"Mommy, Gramma showed the police where she buried a body. Did you know that?"

"Bobbi Jean, please fill my glass with sweet tea and head on over to play with the other kids. Mind, now, you don't say anything about this. Hear?"

"Yes, Ma'am. I'll get your tea."

Becky and her mother watched Bobbi Jean dance to the table, fill the glass of tea, and walk back with both hands on the glass. When her daughter skipped off to play with the kids and was out of earshot, Becky turned to her mother.

"Momma, you can't be telling that stuff to her. She's a child. She doesn't understand."

"Sit here, next to me, Becky. It's a beautiful Georgia day, the sun is shining, we're surrounded by family, rejoice in the beauty of the day. Look at all those lovely children playing in the pasture. How can it get any better?"

"By not telling children about murder, for one."

"Honey child, it's part of our history."

"Well, I'm not proud of it, Momma."

"And I'm not ashamed of it."

"Please, Momma, don't tell her."

"What do you really know about it, Becky?"

"That you killed a man but didn't go to prison."

Lily leaned back in her chair and sighed. "It's about time you knew what really happened. Things were a lot different back then, and yes, I was tried for murder in the first degree. It was late in the summer and still hot. Millie had taken up with a man and been with him for about a year and half."


"Name of Rupert Jones; scoundrel of a man. I told her, too. My twin sister about walked out of my life when I told her that."

Lily looked off into the distance at the children playing and her eyes started welling up. "Since that spring, he'd been beating on Millie something fierce."

"They arrest him?"

"Oh, honey, back in those days, that sorta thing wasn't taken too seriously. Times are different now."

Becky shook her head.

"Anyway, Rupert Jones had moved into the area and immediately took up with Millie. Everything was fine early on. One Sunday, Millie wasn't at church. I went to see her after the service, figuring she wasn't feeling well. She had a black eye and swollen lip. Looked plain awful. Begged me not to say anything, so I didn't."


"Yeah. It was about that time word came around that Rupert had left a small town two counties over; chased out by brothers of a girlfriend he nearly beat to death."

Lily stretched before she continued. "He picked up right where he left off. About a month later, Millie was beat up again. This time worse."

"That's awful, Momma."

"I know. Each time, he hurt her worse."

"Why didn't she leave?"

"Harder to do for some people than you know. Just like it is today." Lily blinked back tears. "It was mid-August, and I was at Millie's house trying to get her to come home with me when he came in. Drunk as a skunk and twice as mean. Ordered me to leave. Ha, leave Millie's house. Right."

"And?" Becky asked.

"Well, I wasn't going to leave Millie's house, not with him like that. He looked at me and said, 'Then you can watch.' and he slugged Millie."

"Good God, that's terrible."

"Yeah, it was. I grabbed the big cast-iron fry pan used for making chicken-fried steak, and clobbered him. He was winding up to hit her again and I caught him on the back of the head in mid swing. Dropped him like a bad habit."

"Was he dead?"

"He convulsed on the floor for a bit. We went to the front porch and sat while he stopped. He was dead after that. We drug him into a wheelbarrow and then buried him not too far into the woods at the edge of the field."

"That could be manslaughter or even self-defense."

"Sure, today, but not back then. We called the police and told them that Rupert came in, slugged Millie, then was going after me, I hit him with a frying pan, and he took off."

"But you were tried for murder."

"Patience, child. Rupert never showed up anywhere and about a week later the police came and took me in. Booked me for first-degree murder."

"It wasn't first-degree murder."

"I know. They didn't have a body and only my and Millie's testimony. You were but a toddler at the time. My lawyer told me to not accept any plea bargain to a lesser charge. I was nervous, but he said they did not have anything that would suggest premeditation. Turns out he and the district attorney went to lawyer school together."

Bobbi Jean came running up. "Gramma, I need a hug."

"You come right here, my precious. I have a big hug for you." Lily closed her eyes and held the child close, then released her. "Now you go on and play. Your momma and I are having grown-up talk."

They both watched her wave and take off.

"Well, the trial took less than a week and the jury deliberated about two hours. I think they just wanted a free lunch. Anyway, the verdict came back not guilty."

"What would you have done if they voted to convict?"

"Millie was ready to jump up and say she killed him in self-defense, and I was protecting her. Millie didn't have children. If that didn't work, you'd have been raised by her."

"Holy crap, Momma."

"About ten years later, I showed the police where the final resting place of Rupert Jones was. They dug him up and cremated him, as no one claimed him. Or wanted to anyway."

"You showed the police where his body was buried? You could've gone to jail. Why'd you tell 'em?"

"My word, like mother, like daughter. Sure, I showed them. My lawyer explained double jeopardy to me. Ever heard of it? I was found not guilty of the murder of Rupert Jones so I couldn't be retried for the same offence. Why'd I tell the police? Because both Millie and I wanted him gone for good."

Becky stared at her mother. "I never knew all that."

"Now you do. And I'd do it all over again. Go hug that child and enjoy the beautiful Georgia summer day."


  1. Excellent dialogue - reads like a scene from a play. Very natural writing, with a good pace, good voice and a real sense of character - not to mention a compelling story.

  2. Most notable about NT Franklin’s “Gramma Lily’s Story” is the rich dialogue, emblematic of the South and of the southern Midwest. It actually reminded me of my own grandmother. The contrasting vocabulary and sensibilities of Lily’s daughter was poignant and demonstrative of the changing morality respecting domestic abuse. It is a feel good story in that a violent male miscreant gets his comeuppance with something so prosaic as a heavy iron skillet. True justice. Again, like so many stories appearing in FOTW, this fiction was very short yet said so much. Bravo, NT Franklin.

    1. Thanks, Bill!
      I have to say -- that was my goal, so thanks for the kind words.


  3. I enjoyed the well-crafted story-in-a-story technique. Having Bobbi Jean in the beginning, middle and end adds to the sense of innocence of Grandma’s actions.
    - D. Henson

    1. D,
      Thanks for the kind words and yes -- that is why I had Bobbi Jean in those areas.


  4. Nice story. I particularly like the first line, the great hook we are always looking for. In addition, the story drags the reader along as you slowly unfold the explanation.

    1. Thanks for the kind words -- and for noticing! To me, an opening hook is what makes me want to read a story or move on.


  5. I really enjoyed this story. I like the feeling of time and place that the author invokes. And having three generations of women in the story made the story resonate with me.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed it.