The woman running down the hill stopped suddenly as she heard her husband scream out behind her.
“No!” The resounding high pitched sound of her husband’s voice breaking through the night was enough to give anyone chills in spite of the oppressive heat that permeated the night.
She turned to see the taboo of her husband and the man standing in front of him silhouetted by the large bright full moon behind them. The image reminded her of some cartoonish sight from an old movie scene. She watched as the ax swung through the night air making contact with the side of her husband’s neck slicing her husband’s head completely from his body.
This sent the head of the man she loved go spinning through the air end over end. The blood that the heart had shortly before pumped into it now sprayed the red droplets liquid flying out in a pinwheel pattern as it made it way outward and then took the arched pathway to the ground. The soft thud like sound it made as it hit the earth barely registered with the woman as she watched her husband’s head now roll downhill and coming to a wobbling stop face up on the toe of her right shoe. The shock of the horrific sight held her glued in place totally forgetting for that critical moment as the ax welding dark figure made his was slowly down the hill toward her.
The woman wasn’t aware of the ax welding silhouette being at her side until she heard a swishing sound and felt the razor sharp blade kiss the soft skin of her neck. This was followed by a quick unbelievable rush of pain through her head as her spine was sliced and her head was severed from her body. Now it was her head that went flying leaving a red trail of blood as her now numb body stood headless for a moment before falling first to her knees then forward onto the ground. The result of this was to remove the barrier that had held her husband’s prisoner and one of her feet giving it a slight kick as she hit the ground and his head went rolling again down the hill pursuing hers.
The man’s head hit something in the road and took a slight turn sending it rolling off toward the side of the road and coming to rest again on the soft shoulder of the night blanketed asphalt. The woman’s rolled a little further down the thoroughfare before it too came to rest on the opposite side from her husband’s.
The lone ax welding man watched the two oblong objects roll down the hill and come to rest before he turned his attention back to the body of the woman. She had been pretty he thought. He noticed a couple of locks of her dark curly hair lying next to her body where they too had been severed from her head when the ax had made contact with her neck. A warm breeze caused one of them to slowly spin like the pin on a compass in a ninety degree turn with the end of the lock of hair now pointing downhill toward the woman’s head as if it were pointing in its direction. It almost reminded the man of an accusing finger pointing out what he had just done. If this had been an act of passion or some unforeseen act it might have had some affect on him. He only found it to be interesting.
The man continued to stare at the woman’s body as his mind processed what he had just done. Yes it had been a brutal and messy way to kill but he had enjoyed it. As he stood over the woman, or what was left of her a pleasant sensation traveled up his spine and then made a return trip back down coming to an enjoyable end in the abdominal area of his body.
He had just brutally killed two people tonight but he wasn’t through. He had been holding this in for years and tonight it had finally broken free in him. He had tried to fight it but no longer could. He wiped the edge of the ax on the woman’s clothes and turned to continue down the hill. No he wasn’t through. He had others he wanted to dispatch the same way he had this couple. He wanted to get as many in tonight before anyone knew what was happening because he had no doubt that he himself would be dead by this time tomorrow night. Yes before this night was over there would be more.
“You wanted to talk, so talk.”
“Really? You just show up like this and that’s how you want to open this?”
“I got the message you wanted to talk to me, so here I am. How else would you expect me to open a conversation with you? We’ve never actually met so opening with some silly pleasantry didn’t seem like the thing to do. If it makes you feel better then fine I’ll start with one. Hello Katlyn, is nice to finally meet you.”
“Why do I feel like you’re being an ass?”
The man across from Katlyn let out a little chuckle. “Maybe in a way I am being an ass. Look Katlyn I’m not real sure how this is supposed to go myself and to be honest with you I’m a little nervous. I’m pretty sure you’re feeling the same way but in spades. I know if I were sitting in your place I would be.”
“Are you even going to ask how he is?”
“I know how he is. Believe it or not I’ve kept up with what’s been going on with him.”
Katlyn looked at the man in front of her. She had wanted to talk to him, get a chance to know him but now all she could think about was that he was sitting in front of her and the man was right, she was nervous as hell. Actually she was pretty damn scared at the moment but she couldn’t say why outside of the obvious reasons.
“I have to assume from your silence you’re trying to come to terms with me being here.”
“Ya think?” Katlyn knew she was being a bit of an ass herself but right now she was unnerved by this meeting and had honestly thought it would never happen. From everything she had heard it shouldn’t be happening now.
“Hey you’re the one who asked to meet me so here I am. Don’t you think it might be a good idea for you to lose the anger for a bit and let’s talk? I don’t have a lot of time and I’ve got to get back soon so I suggest we don’t waste a lot of our time together.” The look of sadness in the man’s eyes wasn’t lost on Katlyn.
“Why? He loved you so much, he still does. His whole life had been centered around you and what he thought you would have wanted him to be like and in so many ways he feels like he has failed. He hasn’t you know? Oh he’s made mistakes for sure and some of them big ones but the truth is he is a good man. The problem is you just up and left him at a time when he needed you most. When you left him he was a very young man with a very young family and it was at that time he needed you most. I know at times he must have been angry with you but he never stopped loving or believing in you. You were and still are his hero.”
“You think I don’t know that Katlyn? I’ve had to deal with that ever since I left him. It wasn’t that I wanted to go, it was that I had to go.” The man looked at Katlyn with a look of longing in his eyes and she couldn’t help but be moved by what she saw.
“You must know his first marriage ended in divorce?” Katlyn really didn’t understand why she felt the need to bring that up.
“I know and if it hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you now.” A small smile lifted the corners of the man’s mouth as a bit of a twinkle brightened his eyes.
“You’re son always said you would have like me. I’ve always thought he told me that to make me feel better.”
“Like I said, I’ve kept up. I think my son did pretty good in finding you. I know you love him and obviously have always been willing to go to any length to try and make him happy. The fact that you’re sitting here now talking to me proves that more than anything else and there have been lots of other things that I know of as well. Steven isn’t always an easy man to understand, I guess he does get that from me.” The earlier gleam in the man’s eyes only got brighter with his last statement.
“Evidently he has a lot of you in him.”
“Don’t be confused, there’s some of his mother in him too.” This brought out another chuckle from the man.
“You think I don’t know that. Her I did get to know and let me tell you that was not an easy person to deal with. That woman did everything in her power to come between her son and me.” A shiver ran down Katlyn’s spine as she remember some of the things she had dealt with regarding Steven’s mom.
“She wasn’t always that way Katlyn. She was always a strong woman but me leaving her did something to her and I know it wasn’t good.”
“It wasn’t just that. You were around long enough to spoil the crap out of Steven’s first daughter but then you left before the second one even got a chance to know you. How do you think that made that little darling feel? After you were gone I think your wife saw in that first grandchild a connection to you because of the way you were about her and I don’t think that left your wife with a lot of time for the second one. I’m not saying that she did it out of meanness, she just did it.” Katlyn was trying to understand so much about the man who sat across from her.
“Yes I got word of that too and I wanted to do something about it but I couldn’t. I wasn’t in a position where I could. You know they don’t just let you pop out of where I’ve been just to put your family straight. There are rules.
“And yet here I am sitting here talking to you.” Katlyn wondered about that one most of all.
“That’s true but you asked to see me remember?” The man looked at Katlyn as if he could see right through her into her soul.
“Haven’t they asked?” Katlyn wanted to know how he would answer that question.
“They’ve asked to see me but it’s not the same. This isn’t the first time you’ve gone through this with someone in my position and you know how hard that was for you. Do you think I wanted to put my family through that? How did it make you feel sitting across from you mom asking questions she couldn’t give you clear answers to. Did it honestly help you? Did it make you feel better about the way things were?” The sadness had returned to the man’s eyes.
“Yes and no. When I sat down with Mom she seemed so distant to me. I wanted to feel her love but all I seemed to get from her was more like a cold encounter from a stranger. She didn’t even look like herself anymore. She had changed. All she kept telling me was this was how it had to be. I’ve talked to her a few times since and although she hasn’t been as cold she’s only got a short time to talk and she avoids talking about anything I think is important and I feel she only pushes me away.
“Katlyn she loves you, that’s why she does what she does. She can’t reach out and take you in her arms and hold and comfort you. There is no comfort in this. It’s lonely and sad. When you love your children and you have to leave them there’s no happiness in that. It’s simply the reality of things. Don’t you think we want to be with you? Wishing for that however can only make matters worse for all concerned. It can’t be changed. It can’t be undone. It is simply what it is.
“There’s so much you could tell me about him. So many things I want to know.” A tear ran down Katlyn’s cheek as she said this.
“You have all the answers you need Katlyn. They’re all there in the man you love. There is nothing I could tell you about him that you don’t already know or at least what you need to know. Don’t you understand that you’ve been with him now almost as long as I was with him before I went away? Don’t you understand that you’ve been helping build the man he is now for all these years?” The man really smiled at Katlyn this time.
“Well if that’s the case I feel like I’m screwing up.” That thought had never crossed Katlyn’s mind before and right now she didn’t like it too much.
“Katlyn is he a good man in your eyes?”
“Yes, a little grouchy at times but yes he is a good man.”
“The grouchy part comes with age I’m afraid but the good man part, a lot of that has to do with you having been there for him all these years just like he has affected the kind of woman you have become. If it hadn’t been for him you probably wouldn’t have written that first book. Oh by the way I like it. The others are good too but I really like the first one.”
“Sure. In that one in particular you captured my childhood home and I not only like it but I appreciate how you did it.”
“Oh about that little redheaded girl of yours. I like her. She’s a hoot. Lot of fire in that little redhead.” The man was giving Katlyn another big smile.
“I can’t deny the fire. She comes by it naturally I think.”
“If you’re going to say she got that from your mom, don’t. That is all you my dear woman.” The man continued to smile at Katlyn.
“I guess she did.” For the first time Katlyn smiled at the man.
“You have to understand Katlyn that no one is perfect. Not my son, you, those three girls and certainly not me. The thing is that you keep doing what you’re doing and try your best to do it right. Keep faith in your heart and soul, always try to be kind to others especially those you love, hold on to the hope for tomorrow, and never give up. Keep looking after my son, your girls, their children, and yourself.”
“I’ll try my best sir.” Katlyn suddenly had a sinking feeling in her heart.
“I’ve got to go now. They’ve let me stay a little longer than they should have. Just so you know. You’re mom does love you honey and don’t you ever forget that.” Now there were tears in the man’s eyes.
“How do you know my mom loves me?”
“Oh we get around up here and we talk. Your mom and I talk often. Boy that can piss off the wife at times.” Again the man smiled at Katlyn the tears still evident in his eyes.
“If you see any of my family members where you are will you give them a hug for me and tell them I love them?” Katlyn couldn’t hold back the wave of tears that now flowed from her eyes.
“I’ll do that Honey and you hug all those girls for me and all the little ones but most of all, hug my son and tell him I love him.” The man stood up to leave giving Katlyn one last long look.
“Remember Katlyn we’ll be here waiting when all of you are ready.”
With that the man turned and walked off into nothingness slowly vanishing as he went.
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This isn’t happening. Please tell me this isn’t happening. Oh God it is happening and my life started flashing through my mind. I wasn’t going to be given any comfort in this quick replay of my life because everything that swirled past in my head were the things that happened in one room. The one room where you should be able to lock a door and feel safe but for me that had often not been the case. The bathroom or in public the room labeled the ladies room.
From an early age anything bad that happened to me it most often happened in a bathroom or restroom somewhere.
I don’t know about before the time I was about five but my recallable memories of the horrors of that room started when I reached for the toilet paper and a huge spider landed on my hand and resulted in a scream from me that almost gave my mother a heart attack. That resulted in me getting a scolding from her that I felt I didn’t deserve. It also resulted in years of tormenting from my two brothers and sister that lasted into my adult years.
From rubber snakes tossed in my bathwater or shower if I left the bathroom after I started the water to them pounding on the door like madden monsters breaking in the door to get to me. This would be accompanied with menacing growls, shrieks of bone chilling intensity, and the most demonic laughter that would have made a sound producer’s mouth water at the thought of being able to produce such sound effects. My siblings had talent.
At seventeen while taking care of business the bathroom window was suddenly pushed open and some guy with wild hair stuck his head in the window. Of course I screamed. I don’t know if it was the surprise of seeing a young girl sitting on the toilet or my scream that made him rethink his actions but he left in a hurry. When the police arrived to take a report, boy was that one embarrassing, we found out that a business a few blocks over had been robbed and they felt sure the would-be intruder was probably one and the same and was looking for a place to hide. That certainly didn’t help my sense of security any and the crooked grins on their faces only added to my embarrassment.
Once while in a single person ladies room the door I was sure I had locked failed to stop some guy rushing in. Of course again I screamed and I think that scream came out in words to the effect of couldn’t you read the sign on the damn door ‘ladies room?’ The guy’s face took on a look of mortification and nearly broke his neck exiting the facilities. I might add he never did turn around however. Make what you will of that.
It goes without saying I’m sure that by this point I dreaded having to enter that one room anywhere. Oh I did. How could I not. I’m human and I have to do what all humans do. I also like to be clean so there you have it. This wasn’t a room I could avoid although I made a point of steering clear of public restrooms whenever possible.
The one time I ran from a bathroom was while I was at home and sitting on that porcelain throne a rodent managed to swim up the plumbing pipe and I suddenly had something poking me in the cheeks of my behind. I had to look. With my drawers dropped down to my ankles I made a quick exit from the room. Of course my new boyfriend was there at the time. What you thought that it would end with me just running from the room? Get real. I’m telling you when it comes to that one room whatever the worst things is that can happen to me it’s going to happen.
As those memories and others passed through my head I realize my worst fear was coming true. I would be eventually found lying on the remains of my bathroom floor with my undies around my knees or ankles with a look of fear, horror, and mortification so permanently plastered to my face the mortician would never be able to do anything to change it. You see my toilet was shaking. Not just a little bit either. Things were falling off the wall and shelves and even a little porcelain figurine had managed to be dislocated and hit me squarely on the head. How’s that for ironic? I was sitting on the toilet when an earthquake hits. I mean this is a big one. As a crack appears in the ceiling and I am nearly rocked off the toilet seat I do the only thing I know to do. I grab hold of the edge of the damn thing and pray they never find my body.
She watched as the blood collected at the end of her fingertip and then the tip of her long nail. It grew in its small size as more blood made its way to the glistening half formed globular mass. It seemed to hang there on the tip of her nail quivering before releasing its hold on her nail forming the telltale shape of a drop of liquid and falling gracefully to the ground in front of her feet just missing the toe of her shoe. She watched another moment as another began to from as the other had and then as if seeming to lose interest in the whole process shook her hand sending drops of blood in every direction.
Bending over she grabbed the man’s body by its belt buckle and began dragging it alongside her as if it were nothing more than a garbage bag full of feathers. About a hundred feet from where she had taken the man’s life was the bluff that overlooked the swollen body of water that was the Mississippi River. When she reached the edge of the river she lifted the dead weight and tossed it into the fast current and watched as it first bobbed up and down before being swirled around in the water and then started its journey down river. She wished the body a happy farewell and safe passage all the way to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico beyond but knew the chances of it making it that far were slim to none. Some poor fool would probably catch it in a fishing line and get the scare of their life long before it reached the next state line. For some reason this struck her as funny and she let out a blood curdling laugh.
She suddenly remembered that her intention had been to get the man to the edge of the bluff before killing him but her anger and blood lust had gotten the best of her before she had reached her goal. If he had just kept his mouth shut for a few more seconds it might not have gotten quite so messy. Oh well, patience and temperance had never been her strong suite. For some reason this too struck her as funny and again the demonic laugh escaped from her mouth as she made her way back to her car.
Her car…damn that posed a problem. She was a bloody mess and she didn’t want or need to get that all in that expensive little toy. She noticed a boat ramp only a few hundred feet from where she was and turned in that direction.
She had only barely made it into the water when she noticed the boat trying to make its way to the ramp under manpower and oars. The two people inside the boat were fighting the current with everything they had but from the way it looked they could very well make it ashore before she got all the evidence from her body and could get away without them seeing or hearing something. Even if it were only the tail lights of her car that they caught it was still too much for her to chance.
Slipping under the water she swam under the boat and gave it a hard shove back toward the middle of the river and heard as well as felt it when it flipped and both the people in the boat hit the water. They had been thrown from the boat much closer to the middle and in the worst part of the current but there wasn’t much that could be done about that now. The only thought she gave the two was that she hoped they were good swimmers and she quickly turned back the way she had come and back to her car. Striping the wet clothes from her body she put on the wrap around dress she kept in her car for just this sort of occasion. Looking back toward the ramp she could see no signs of the two people she had just dumped into the fast moving water. Again the hope that they were good swimmers crossed her mind but that was all it was, a passing thought. Getting into her car she started it up and headed back toward town. It was a long ride and she was ready to be home and in her bed.
During the long drive she thought about the man she had just killed. He had been a real piece of work. Right now there were several charges against him regarding crimes against women but the judicial system didn’t always work the way it should. One of his victims had realized this and decided to go another route in seeking justice. She had found out about Felicity and come to her. That’s what Felicity did. She took care of the things that the courts didn’t and in a much more permanent way. A much more violent way. She wasn’t however usually quite as violent with her form of justice as she had been with this one, or quite so quick. They had barely stepped from the car before he had grabbed her and tried to shove her up on the hood telling her what he intended to do to her. The goon had found she wasn’t the one to try that with. She had reacted quickly and with such deadly force the man had really no time to realize just how bad it was. Felicity had turned from innocent little beauty to full on demon in a flash and ripped his heart out of his chest and tore his throat open in seconds. She had meant to take her time with him but that was the way it went sometimes.
Felicity thought about the nice little paycheck that had come with this job and decided she wasn’t that upset. She wondered if she should take the money and move to another location but Memphis was such a hotbed for crime right now and people were always needing her services. No she would stay where she was for a time and enjoy the local culture. Business was booming and for the most part she like the type of people she met, desperate.
Karen was a little late leaving work and it was already dark when she unlocked her car and settled inside for the drive home. She had felt a little uneasy while walking to her car because hers was the only car left in the parking lot. The parking area seemed to have an eerie sense of quiet stillness that she had never noticed before. She guessed she shouldn’t be real surprised that everyone had already gone home, after all it was Halloween.
The eeriness of the night only seemed to grow as she traveled the streets and roads to her house. At first she had seen one or two cars along the way but now fifteen minutes into her forty minute drive home there didn’t seem to be any cars on the road. Living as far out as she did you didn’t expect to see a lot of other people but you did expect to see some. There was no one. It dawned on her that when she had driven through the couple of neighborhoods that she had to navigate through after leaving work she hadn’t seen one trick-or-treater out either. The unease she had felt earlier managed to take a tighter grip on her now.
Karen began to notice that there were no lights on in any of the houses she passed, no lit up Halloween decorations, no movement anywhere. She felt like she was suddenly in some bad end-of-days movie where all the people had disappeared except her. She turned on her radio hoping the background noise would help calm her now very rattled nerves.
What the Hell was going on here? Pressing the little buttons on her steering wheel she tried to find a station she could pick up. Nothing. It was all the same.
She breathed a sigh of relief as she finally pulled into her drive but that was short lived. Why wasn’t her front porch light on? She distinctly remembered leaving it on this morning before she had left the house. She did, didn’t she?
Unlocking the front door she stepped inside to find nothing but darkness. One thing she did know she always left a light on in the hall and in the kitchen when she left for work. She lived alone now and rarely were those two lights turned off. She reached over to turn on the lamp close to the door but when she tried to turn it on nothing happened. When she tried the light switch by the door hoping to get a better reaction it only resulted in the same thing, dashing those hopes and her spirit. Nothing.
Was it possible there had been some major power outage in the area while she was at work and she hadn’t heard about it? She had been the last one to leave today with most people trying to get out of there to either take their kids tick-or-treating, make it to a party, or just simply trying to beat the mad rush of what was to come.
She sat her things down and pulled her phone from her purse. Pushing the one button that should connect her to her daughter who lived over two hundred miles away she placed the phone next to her ear. All she got for her efforts was a strange beeping sound that served to set her even more on edge.
Karen hadn’t realized she had left the front door open until she heard the low guttural growl behind her. At least now she knew she wasn’t alone. It was the last thing she knew.
It was a balmy night this year as the little girl made her way with her family down the street. She was so excited because she had been looking forward to this all day. They were going trick or treating.
The small girl walked up to each door anticipating the wonderful excitement of screaming boo at the poor unsuspecting adult who would answer her knock. Then the adult would drop handfuls of sweet tasty treats into her bag in appreciation for how frightening she was. She didn’t understand why adults rewarded you for scaring them on this night because normally when an adult told you that you had scared them it meant you were in trouble. Of course to the little girl’s way of thinking not much of what adults did made any scene to her. Like tonight, her mom and dad had insisted she and her little brothers wear a coat even though it wasn’t cold and on top of that they hadn’t worn a coat themselves. Maybe adults were afraid of kids more when they didn’t have something hiding part of their costumes.
The more the little girl thought of this she figured her and her little brothers were scarier than she thought and it might have been a good idea for them to wear the offending overly warm garment. After all she didn’t want to scare people so bad that they wouldn’t get the candy when they screamed boo. Maybe they could even give an old person a heart attack. She remembered her mom saying more than once that she or one of her brothers and even her dad had scared her nearly to death. Maybe she should cut back on the boo part a little, she certainly didn’t want to give an old person a heart attack. She definitely didn’t know what a heart attack was but it didn’t sound like it would be a lot of fun.
The little girl was so caught up in her own thoughts she had stopped paying attention to her surroundings. The long high hedge that she was about to pass didn’t even register in her mind as she drew near.
The poor child was suddenly catapulted back to reality when something horrible jumped out from behind the hedge and stood with its arms stretched over its head growling at her. She looked up into the face of the horrible monster that would soon devour her. The little girl screamed letting out all the fear in her in one piercing howl and dropped her bag of treats. She did the only thing she knew to do and that was to run. She knew she had no chance of outrunning the hideous beast and she could hear her parent’s cries of anguish as well as the heavy footsteps of someone right on her heels. The child put everything she had into a last desperate attempt to outrun the monster.
When the thing reached and jerked her up into his massive arms she fought for everything it was worth. She kicked and screamed, she struck out with her tiny arms and hands and clawed at the beast. She was going to fight until her last breath.
“Cathy, stop it now. It’s your dad honey. I got you. Nothing is going to hurt you.” Cathy’s dad tried to restrain his frightened child but it was taking all he had.
When her father was finally able to get through to her she wrapped her arms around the strong shoulder of her father and buried her head into his neck crying. It broke the man’s heart to see his brave little girl so broken at this moment. He wanted to go back and hit the man who had scared Cathy so bad. He knew however that he couldn’t do that. He knew that his little girl had to face her fears or she would never love Halloween again. She would never go trick or treating again. So with a heavy heart he took his child back to the house with the man who had caused Cathy to run away.
When he stepped up on the porch of the house the man lived in he had taken off his mask and did everything he could to help calm her. He gave her the mask he had been wearing for her to examine. Once she realized what had happened she got mad at herself
Then the greatest thing happened. The man and his wife started pouring things into her bag as fast as they could. They nearly emptied all of their candy into Cathy’s bag. They even gave her a Coke. Man this was great Cathy thought. All this because I got a good scare and then there it was, her mom’s favorite thing to say.
“Cathy, baby you nearly scared me to death.”
All Cathy could do was think I scared you? If this was what it meant to really scare someone she might need to rethink the scaring part of Halloween.
Soon the little girl was eager to get back to trick or treating. Now she knew how this worked. Oh yes she was going to make an even bigger haul than she already had. She was ready to go. She had some old people to give heart attacks to tonight.
"Oh, I bought a tractor.” My husband said as he stepped out the front door of his family’s place.
"You did what?” I was flabbergasted.
"I bought a tractor."
"Because I wanted one.” Buddy's reply was delivered with a sheepish grin on his face?
"When?” I'm still trying to take this all in.
At present the place we are visiting is a farm but we live about three hundred miles away. We live in a fairly large city in a smallish house that sits on a very small piece of land. There isn't enough room to turn a tractor around little on be able to use one of those darn things.
"Where?” I saw all kinds of logistic issues with this right off the bat.
"In Cape.” At this point you can see the look of confusion on Buddy's face at my lack of enthusiasm.
"I suppose we now have to pick up said tractor and haul it home?"
"Yes.” Buddy's confusion was increasing by the minute now.
"And just how do you propose we do that pray tell?” I realize that my confusion must be as apparent as Buddy's at this point.
"We'll just put it in the back of the truck."
"Are you saying it will fit in the back of the truck?"
"Well yes, of course it will."
A little light of comprehension comes on in my brain. "Oh you bought a riding lawn mower?"
"No, I bought a tractor.” Buddy appeared to be insulted by my label of his new toy.
Now you might think the story should be about over and not much more to convey at this point. Oh no, no, no, no, no.
After breakfast we head off in pursuit of this, God only know what, and the adventure begins.
I now know why men get lost and why they don't stop and ask for directions. They neither know how to follow or how to give them, but I digress.
Trying to follow this guy’s directions, or Buddy's way of writing and or verbally recounting them, was less than helpful.
Anyway, after searching high and low for this guy’s house we finally locate the elusive place way out in the middle of nowhere and we arrive at our destination. Here again you would think that the story would be pretty much over. Absolutely not.
After all the male bonding and exchange of funds we now own a glorified riding lawn mower. Actually it is a John Deer and Buddy says it's a lawn tractor. If he wants to continue to call it a tractor then so be it, I'm not about to take his fun away. Turns out the guy who had this, don’t tell Buddy I’m calling it this, tinker toy tractor also owns a whole lot of them, all shapes, all sizes. We spent over an hour there with my husband wondering around Tractor Land and I’m grateful Buddy didn’t buy another one.
Now it's the end of the story, right? NO.
We load the lawn mower/tractor into the back of the truck and head back to the farm three hundred miles away from our home. No, there weren't any incidents on the way back. We got back to the farm safe and sound with no incidents what so ever. Now this is where the story really begins.
Buddy decided he is going to take this piece of machinery for a run around the yard. No biggie. The yard around the house itself there on the farm would set you back more than a million where we live. Yes it’s that big. He gets the ramps out, for some reason he puts the hood up on the truck at this point but I haven't had the nerve to ask why, and hops up into the bed of the pickup. He cranks that little bad boy up and starts backing it down. This next part I will never understand.
I'm sitting on the front porch at this point and from where I'm sitting I can only see the top of the cab of the truck and the raised hood. You'll understand why this is important to the story shortly.
About half way down one of the ramps breaks in half, right smack dab in the center. Now this should have caused, at this point I’ll just call it the tractor, to go tumbling off the back of the truck right? Again no.
Now for the good part. When that ramp broke the front of the truck went skyward while the tail gate of the damn thing made contact with the ground. The moment that the tractor was firmly on the ground the front end of the truck fell back to earth with a resounding thud and the hood came crashing down. Instead of the blasted thing tumbling over and pinning Buddy underneath he somehow manages to get that damn thing to land on all four wheels just like a cat landing on its four feet. Needless to say it scared the crap out of me and left Buddy visibly shaken.
After I managed to put all my nerves back where they belonged I called a friend. You would think her first concern would have been is Buddy OK, did it damage anything, or are you all right. Once more I must answer you with a resounding no. Her major response was did you get it on video.
Do what? No I didn't get it on video because the last thing I expected was for Buddy to manage to put his Dodge Ram Hemi with mega cab on its ass and its nose turned skyward. Note to self, in future be sure to always carry a camera and have it ready to go anytime Buddy decides to do something that might result in some similar situation. Oh crap, I'll be carrying a camera all the time.
Later it occurred to me that the man damn near gave me a heart attack on our anniversary trip. Happy Anniversary Sweetheart, here's a heart attack.
Dedicated to my husband and whose story of his childhood inspired this one.
The young boy pulled the rifle close to his shoulder and looked down the barrel as he led the bird in the sights, the bird making its path across the distant sky unaware of the boy or his gun. His little finger carefully tightened on the trigger and took his shot. The bird stopped mid-flight and tumbled to the earth. The little boy watched this as if it were in slow motion. He did it, he had brought down his first kill. The boy turned and looked up at his father as if expecting to get praise for what he had just done but his father was silent.
The man had stood behind his son watching him take the shot. Now he looked down into the face of his small son and knew what had to come next. This young eight year old child was about to be taught the hardest lesson in his young life. The rustling of the brush made by the dog sounded like the deep haunting toll of some far away bell. The man took a deep breath as the dog returned with the bird in its mouth.
The boy wondered why his father hadn’t said anything. Had he done something wrong? Now it was him watching as his father picked up the lifeless bird that the dog had dropped at his feet.
The man took a deep breath. “Son how do you fix this?”
“I don’t understand.” The confusion of the child evident all over his young face.
“How do you fix this? How do you make this bird well and make it fly again?” The man tried to keep the tears from breaking through as he looked at the child.
“I can’t.” The boy now felt like he had done something wrong.
“That’s the point Son. When you pick up a gun and pull the trigger you can never take it back. You can never fix it when you take a life. That’s what you have to remember. Never aim that gun or any gun at something you don’t mean to kill. Life is precious son, all life. Even this bird. This bird will feed us tonight but never kill just for the sake of killing. Someday Son you might even have to pick up a gun to protect your life, your family, even your country but be sure that if you do that you have no other choice. Most important, make sure you can live with what you’ve done afterwards. Do you understand?”
Unlike his father the boy wasn’t as successful at holding back the tears that now burned a streak down his tiny little face.
“Let’s go home Son.”
The man whistled for the dog who had been exploring the surrounding area and turned toward the house. Placing his hand on the boy’s shoulder the man lifted his head skyward while one lone tear managed break loose and slip down his face.
Although this story is fictional it is based on what my husband’s father did the first time Buddy made his first kill and yes he was about eight years old. Buddy’s father may have been a hunter but he knew the value of life. In everything Buddy’s father taught him he taught him well. He also served in WWII and was a navigator and gunner on a B17 bomber. I know he carried the pain of what he had to do in that war with him the rest of his life.
I was never fortunate enough to meet this remarkable man because he died a couple of years before Buddy and I met. I think he and I would have liked one another. I know not meeting him was my loss. This is dedicated to Mr. Matthews. Thank you for raising the wonderful man I married. I also thank my husband for trying to instill in our girls what his father taught him. So far I think he has managed to do a fairly good job of that.
Dedicated to William Gross
Billy sat alone at his desk looking at the screen of his computer. He lived in a world apart from others. He left his tower of solitude every two weeks and only because he like everyone else had errands and he had no desire to die of starvation or do without the day to day necessities of life. Billy might live alone and rarely ever mingled with others but he still had to live with himself and like all other people he had a nose and he didn’t want to offend his own senses any more than he wanted to offend others.
Of course when Billy went out it was on four wheels instead of two legs but that wasn’t the reason he kept himself separated from the rest of the physical world. Yes he had lost his legs in a horrible accident many years before but the real pain that he carried with him was the loss of the woman he had loved since high school. Billy had lost her the same day he had lost the use of his legs. Of course the biggest loss had been the loss of the sweet little girl who had been the result of his love for his lady. That sweet little angel that had been the center of his and his wife’s world and his whole world had crumbled and vanished as if it had all been a beautiful dream. He had awaken to a cold hard reality that he had never been able to face. Billy had retreated into his own little prison more and more as time went on.
As he looked at the screen in front of him he felt something he hadn’t felt in a long time. Billy felt the stirrings of something warm in his heart. He had become someone who lived through social media where he could keep people at a safe distance without them truly touching the softest parts of his soul. Oh he cared about several of the people he talked with regularly but without the personal contact with them he managed to keep his emotions in check and his delicate heart protected.
Now something new had been added, a small child. Over the past several months Billy had looked at the photos of that sweet little face and thought what a beautiful child. A small tiny little girl way too small for her years who somehow seemed to always be smiling. The little girl’s grandmother had told him that she was pretty much that way all the time. It didn’t seem to affect her that she had been born with certain physical problems, she continued to smile and never seemed to understand there were things she couldn’t do. Like him this little girl was in a wheelchair but she still found so much in life to laugh at and explore.
Her grandmother had posted a new video of this precious child. The child’s mother was holding her in her arms and spinning her around and around under a blooming tulip poplar tree. Well to be honest it was a purple magnolia but it didn’t really matter what you called it. The tree was in bloom and the sun was shining on it in a way that it gave the tree a bright golden glow as if it were lite from within the branches and looked almost otherworldly. The petals of the blooms were falling as if by some wind that was coming straight down from the heavens above were making it look as if the purple petals of the blooms were in fact raining down. The soft delicate petals appeared to dance in the air around the mother and child as the woman continued to turn with the small girl in her arms. The child had her arms held straight our and had her head thrown back letting the delicate material fall on her face and then float off appearing to dance around her little head. She laughed as her mother continued to spin and the sound was a soft musical sound that reminded him of the most delicate bells you could imagine.
The more and more he had watched the video the more the petals had looked less and less like the parts of dying flowers and more and more like the fluttering wings of fairies and they were paying homage to the child as if she was their little queen. Toward the end of the video Billy would have sworn the mother disappeared and the little girl looked like she was floating in air suspended by all the little purple winged fairies that were her loyal subjects. The golden glow from the sun reflecting off the tree appeared to grow even brighter. The effect of the sunlight made the little queen looked as if she were dressed in flowing golden robes that spiraled and fluttered in the air as the girl continued her midair ballet. Her long dark hair was animated by her mother spinning her but the force that was driving the petals down caused the child’s hair to fan out as if too were being played with by a gentle breeze.
When he had watched the video the first time he had imagined he saw something that he knew wasn’t possible. Billy had to watch it again to see if his mind would pick up the same whimsical images and somehow knowing that he would. After he had viewed it the second time he had slammed the top shut on his laptop not believing what he had just see. If possible it had taken on an even more surreal appearance as the mother disappeared even quicker the second time he watched it and the petals from the flowers appeared to pair up and tiny little bodies had formed and joined the two. The golden glow looked as if it now showered the child in golden fairy dust that clung to the child’s skin, hair, and her shimmering golden garments. The third time the mother disappeared almost from the beginning and everything else that he knew couldn’t be there became more pronounced.
The man had watch that video now more times than he could count and every time the magical world he saw became more defined and more real than anything he had ever seen in the real world. The first time he had watched it was two days ago and the past two nights when he had fallen asleep he had dreamed of that child who now ran through open fields and danced in the wind. She always seemed to be calling to him to come and run and play with her. When Billy would wake in the morning it had been with regret and he felt an even bigger loss than he had ever felt before. The sadness of losing the feeling of the wind on his face as he followed the little fairy queen into her world of magic, wonder, and freedom was like falling back to earth and landing with a bone jarring thud. Finding himself back in his utilitarian apartment would make him feel like his heart was being ripped from his chest as he opened his eyes. This morning he had awakened to a new pain. A pain that was physical and was centered in his shoulder blades and left him almost paralyzed by the sheer force of it.
Now Billy sat in his wheelchair looking at his bed and was torn between returning to the magical world of the video and his dreams and fearing what new agony might accompany his waking in the morning. He wanted to go back to that land of dreams where he would run and fly and follow his little queen with all her other subjects but he was also afraid. Was he losing his mind and what did he do in his sleep that was causing him even more pain than he normally endured. Billy realized the pain, no matter how severe it was, was worth those hours of freedom and joy he experienced in his sleep.
He moved himself into position to relocate himself from his chair to his bed and settled in. He wanted to go to sleep. He wanted that other world even if it were just a dream. That dream world had become his heaven, his idea of the total separation from the cold world he lived in and the cruelty of his memories. Billy closed his eyes and soon was asleep and almost immediately he was first running and then flying through the air in pursuit of his golden clad queen as she led him and all the others through the beautiful world they occupied. He ran farther and faster than he had before and when he took flight he flew higher. Sometime somewhere he thought he heard something in the far off distance but he paid no attention to it. Billy continued to run and fly. He laughed and played and realized he was nothing more than a small boy himself. He decided he would stay here forever and never go back to that other place.
They didn’t find the man’s body for several days because he didn’t go out much and he didn’t interact with many people. Billy had lain in his bed undisturbed until his landlord hadn’t heard anything from his apartment in almost a week and became worried about his quiet tenant. When he was found he was lying on his back with his arms outstretched as if he were flying and there was still evident a look of total peace and almost happiness on his face even though his body had become bloated from death and was showing the advanced stages of decomposition.