Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Chapter LXIV

      It was worse than a bucket of ice raining down on us.  Shifting gears from passion to fear literally made my heart stutter and my chest hurt like I had just gotten a powerful electric shock.  Jude didn’t seem to have the same problem.  I guess men’s hormones tend to be an all-purpose sorta tool. 

      As Jude and I opened the door and exited the basement Paulie started sending his troops down silently.  He also handed Jude his rifle and me the Glock.  Jude patted him on the shoulder in appreciation and for a moment I thought the buttons across Paulie’s chest were gonna pop right off from his chest swelling up in pride.  He stood straight and whispered.  There’s three of ‘em.  I can’t tell who they are.  They’re in behind the smokehouse and shed.”

      Jude nodded and pointed downstairs.  He only hesitated momentarily, only long enough for me to whisper in his ear, “You know what to do.  If it is nothing we’ll know soon enough.  If it isn’t … there’s the pistol in the cigar box above the potatoes.  Get them in the tunnel then pull the shelf in front of the opening.”

      He nodded and left and I turned to find that Jude had crawled over to a window and slid it open noiselessly.  I keep the windows waxed ‘cause that scratching they make when they go up and down makes it feel like someone is running fingernails over my brain.  The added bonus is that it keeps the windows silent.  I crawled over too and we sat and listened as the cold night air carried their voices to us with almost no resistance.

      “I thought you said this smokehouse would be full.  This is the third one tonight and none of ‘em have had a damn thing in them.”

      “Shhhh.  You want these hicks to hear us?  And I know the guy that is supposed to live here; he’s the friend of that idiot Don-Ray. Guy works on the equipment for the Expansion Crew and he’ll beat the crap out of anyone he catches messing with his stuff or his family.   He dropped Dallas with a single punch to the head and I didn’t think there was a man alive that could do it.”

      I looked at Jude and he hunched his should and waved his hand but when I continued to look at him while the guys doubled checked the inside of the smokehouse like they thought maybe there eyes were playing tricks on them Jude mouthed he’d tell me later.  Oh yes he would.  I wanted to know who this “Dallas” was and just why Jude got mad enough to drop him in one pop.

      The men came out and rubbed their hands together.  “You think they got it hid someplace?  He never seems to use the lunch truck.”

      “Don’t know.  Heard him complain about having to eat kudzu all the time.  What the hell is kudzu?”

      “That crap … them vines or whatever … that smothers out the trees and crawls all over the place.  Heard a lot of these damn hicks are eating it.  They might be more hard up than ol’ JD thinks.  I tried to eat some of that stuff and it was like chewing on wood.”

      I turned and sat on the floor and had to stick my head into my elbow to keep from laughing.  I’d gotten a sudden vision of those men with big ol’ kudzu leaves having out of their mouths and them chewing on them like cows chew on cud.  It took me a moment – my humor is sometimes poorly timed – but once I got myself under control I could hear the men talking about trying one or two more places.  “JD isn’t going to be happy unless we come back with some kind of good report for him.  He wants to know which places need to be prioritized for confiscation.”

      That drained all the humor out of me and I sucked in a breath in fear.  I didn’t feel much better when I looked over and could just make out Jude’s profile in the moonlight.  It looked like his features had been carved out of dark marble.  Even his beard looked sharper and more dangerous.  When the men had ridden off … in the wrong direction no less since it was down a path that only led to the old Hamner place … Jude looked at me and in no uncertain terms told me, “Stay here.”

      I stayed but only because the look on his face when he said it was about as forbidding as I had ever seen it.  He stepped out onto the porch and gave a whippoorwill call.  Out of the trees came an answering call and then Clewis stepped out.  The two met right off the porch so I could hear them through the still open window.  “Didja hear what they said?” Clewis asked outraged.

      Jude answered calmly, “Couldn’t help but.”

      “We gotta do something.”

      “I know it.”

      “Can’t have it come home on us though.”

      “Know that too.”

      “There’s an old well up at that cabin.”

      “Too close to our place.”  It comforted me to hear him call it ours.  “And we’ll need to get rid of the horses.  I recognize them … they’re that private stable just inside the town limits.  And you know who owns that place.”

      “Yeah, I do.  You think it is connected?”

      “I thought you said you were listening.  Who else would it be called JD that has enough authority to order confiscations?”

      “You sure about that Jude?”

      Jude enquired of him, “You getting’ scared all of a sudden?”

      Clewis growled back, “Of course not.  But him?  That’s whacked.  If it is true we got a mess coming at us.”

      “What do you think I’ve been telling Dad?  To hear him tell me that I just gotta be hearing things wrong?  That I’m over reacting?  That I don’t know what I’m talking about?”

      I started to put two and two together and then I remembered that the new man Carlsburg fit all the parameters … including the name JD for Jamison Deveraux.  I might look like my Hawaiian ancestress but I had my father’s Irish temper.  I stepped out onto the porch and said, “You are not going to kill those bafoons.”

      Startled by my abrupt appearance Jude snapped, “Dovie, go in the house.”

      “Oh I’ll go in but not before I have my say.  You kill those men I won’t shed a tear … but you are missing a royal opportunity Jude Killarney.”

      Clewis muttered, “Uh oh … she’s on a tear.”

      Jude just kept trying to stare me down.  I looked him straight in the eye.  “You won’t even have to hide the horses because they’ll carry the message for you.”

      “Dovie … this ain’t a lark.”

      “No it isn’t.  Nobody … and I mean nobody … threatens my family.  They want a feud I’ve got a way to lob the first grenade.  You catch them men and knock ‘em out.  While they’re out you blindfold ‘em, tape their mouths shut, strip ‘em nekked, and tie them butt upwards onto their borrowed horses.  Across their big ol’ fat backsides you write JD’s Looters or something like that … even got a Sharpie you can do it with.  Then you lead them horses with their riders over to that boggy bottom land outside of town and turn ‘em loose to find their way home … but before you turn ‘em loose you douse them nekked boys with some horse lineament and if they ain’t awake at that point they will be shortly afterwards.  They’ll start sweating and making enough noise to upset and confuse them horses so they trot around in that bog for some time, all the while giving all them no see ‘ums and other biting bugs a good sized target, ‘cause you know even in this cold that bog has enough bugs and chiggers to drive a sane man crazy.  Not to mention those horses will probably drag them through every patch of stinging nettle they pass by.  They won’t be dead that way but by the time they’re found they sure will wish they were.”

      Clewis was nearly falling down trying to hold back the laughter when I was finished.  Jude looked at me with awe.  “Remind me to never, ever, ever get you mad at me.”


  1. Oh....that's just mean. I love it! I hope those jerks end up with broken ribs from bouncing on saddle horns too.

  2. LOl yeah don't ever get her real mad at you, good one.