Friday, December 12, 2014

Chapter 74


“You did what?!” Sawyer yelled. 

“I set a booby trap underneath the propane tank lid.  I nearly had a heart attack when you insisted on checking the lock behind me.  I was afraid it might go off accidentally.” 

“Cutter are you insane?!” 

Cutter looked like he expected to get kicked.  “Maybe.  Been called that anyway.  But … but I saw the way you looked at me this morning Sawyer.  Damn that hurt man.  I didn’t know any other way to prove to you that … that I hadn’t meant to get caught up in what happened.”  

While Sawyer stood just staring at his cousin I said, “Sawyer, did someone set it off?” 

Quietly he said, “Yeah.” 

“Who?” 

“Don’t know.  But they’ll be blue.” 

Sawyer snapped, “What the hell do you mean they’ll be blue?” 

He looked at me and tried the innocent approach and I realized what he wasn’t wanting to admit.  “It was you?!” 

“I swear … I … I …” 

Sawyer growled, “Cutter …” 

‘I had just started dating Beth and there was this other guy and … aw crap.  Beth is going to kill me.” 

I shook my head.  “I doubt it if you were really trying to protect her.  But geez Cutter … enough with the reliving of things I’d rather forget.” 

Sawyer growled again and this time asked, “All right is someone going to explain the big mystery or what?!” 

I patted Sawyer and said, “We had punks on our side of the school too.” 

“Your side?  You mean … uh …” 

“Stop tippy toeing around it Sawyer.  The special ed program side.  We come in all flavors the same as you normals do.” 

“Dammit, stop calling yourself names.” 

“I’m not calling myself a name Sawyer.  I was in the special ed program.  The reasons I was there might not have been the same as most of the students but that is the way it is.  And like I said, some of our own were as mean to us as any of the nor … oh all right, don’t blow an artery … the non-special ed program kids could be.  And Richie Carmike was mean and a pervert on top of that.  He was nasty to us, to the girls on the other side of the school, and to the teachers too.  It was that last that finally got him expelled and last I heard he was in jail for attempted rape … and getting a taste of his own medicine.” 

Sawyer and Cutter both yelped at the same time.  “Kay-Lee!” 

Exasperated by how the Hartford men could be downright nasty in their own way one second and then total Puritans the next I told them, “Well don’t expect me to have Preacher Don to pray over me for it.  Richie was a sicko and enjoyed being that way.  And what Cutter is dancing around about happened during my Freshman year only I wasn’t there to see it, only heard about it afterwards as I was still recovering from a surgery on my foot to deal … whatever.  What I heard happened was that somehow some of the blue dye that had been purchased to re-dye the cheer squad’s uniforms got all over him when he used a storage room to drill a hole into the girls’ shower area and he’d been using school equipment to try and take movies of what he was seeing in.  No one said anything about you being behind it Cutter.  No one seemed to even be suspicious of it since you were pretty well incapacitated at the time … or was supposed to be.” 

“Deputy Reynolds figured it out, let me know he knew, but said he’d let me off with a warning and keep it between the two of us if he had my word that next time I got wind of something like that I’d come to him rather than try and deal with it myself.  Hell yeah I gave him my word and that was my last prank in school too.” 

Sawyer asked, “This Carmike guy was blue?” 

I nodded before adding, “For at least two weeks except he was put in detention so no one is sure exactly how long the dye lasted.  He got expelled not too long after that and I heard that the blue in his hair was still growing out at his arraignment where they were trying to bring charges against him … but all he did was go to juvie that time.” 

Sawyer turned back to Cutter.  “So I’ll be able to tell who was here and set your little fun card off.” 

Cutter responded affirmatively.  “Sawyer … I …” 

Sawyer was trying to hold onto his mad but I could see he was losing.  Into the breach I said, “Cutter, no one has to know it was you who set the booby trap.” 

“Of course they’ll know Kay-Lee.  I have to own up to it.  My gawd I just … the family … what’s this going to do?  All this crap going on.  I thought Beth had to be imagining it, that it was hormonal or something.  But this morning … it … it shocked the hell out of me Sawyer … it shocked me more when it was going on and I realized how easy I got caught up in it.  We were just supposed to come over here and ask to see your set up, to see if it was different from ours.  You sip propane and it’s like we’re guzzling it.  It got so crazy so fast with Jamison egging us all on.  His wife is leaving him … going back to her family in Tennessee.  She said she wasn’t going to kill herself on a little piece of land if he wasn’t going to help make things better.” 

Not comprehending the true state of affairs or how it happened so quickly I focused on what I could.  “What does she think she is going to find back in Tennessee?  And if it is so great why doesn’t Jamison go with her?” 

Sawyer snorted, “Because Jamison is Jamison and doesn’t think he should have to start at the bottom and work his way up like the rest of us and that’s exactly how it would be for him in Tennessee.  At least around here he is a Hartford.  I swear he is just like Bud.  They come down from Uncle Forrester’s first wife and she was like that too.” 

“That’s just stupid talk.  You can’t inherit attitude.  You can absorb it though and it looks like someone has.  Oh well.  Too bad so sad for them.”  Then I had a brief thought.  “Sawyer, when your booby blew did it damage anything?” 

Sawyer hollered at that and took off to check it out himself with Cutter close behind him. 

********** 

Later that night I asked Sawyer, “Are you going to stay mad at Cutter?  He really does seem truly sorry from what I can tell.” 

He snorted.  “Cutter is always sorry, but usually not until after whatever disaster he started is mostly over.”  I just stayed silent and waited.  “I guess not,” Sawyer finally let slide out.  “A couple of ‘em called me while we were at the hospital to say they had no idea things were going to get as freaky as they did.  To a man they said that Jamison was the one that sent things down the dark road.  I still got that to deal with whether he is the one that set off Cutter’s prank or not.” 

“So you’re saying it might not have been Jamison?” 

“I’m saying that I’m not going to convict someone without some kind of proof.  I’ve lived on the other side of that and it won’t help make things better if I’m wrong.  Cutter said he mixed some strong homemade pepper spray in with the dye and even if whoever it is manages to get rid of the blue the pepper spray was made from hot cayenne peppers and will probably look like a burn or rash where it landed.  It made my eyes water just walking around back there and Cutter said it had to have happened at least an hour before he got there because the oil had been absorbed into the ground.  We’re going to lose some grass.  It was already wilting … looks like it had been sprayed with round-up.” 

“And if it isn’t Jamison?” 

“Then I keep my eyes and ears open and we make sure that we keep everything around here locked down 24/7.” 

“Is that why you went around the house with a flashlight?” 

“Yeah it is.  I didn’t see any signs that anyone tried to break in … here or the barn … but it looked like something on the chicken coop door was messed with.  Good thing we shut the birds up in the barn.  I’ll turn the stall on the outside corner into a more permanent chicken room and rebuild the chicken wire fence so they can come and go through a little door I’ll build for ‘em.  Damn.  I did not need this extra work what with everything else that needs to get done.  Combining the corn is already a day behind.  What had you planned for today that we had to push off?” 

“Apples, collard greens and turnip greens, the muscadines, more pears and tomatoes … mostly the yellow and orange ones though and all of those cherry tomatoes that are in the frig that need to be pickled[1][2].  I need to get to those almonds before the squirrels get through that netting you put over them and call Docia to see if she will help for a share of the bounty since she can only drink almond milk.  I’ll get to that stuff tomorrow but that means waiting another day to do something with those pumpkins that you keep having to climb over in the dining room.  I need to bag some more pecans and walnuts so they can finish curing.  I want to pickle some of the green walnuts[3] off that one tree that seems to be taking forever for the nuts to ripen or whatever it is that nuts do.  I need to make a place down in the basement for the sweet potatoes too.  And then I need to check the persimmons, jujubes, and the hawthorn trees to see what is ripe.” 

“You make me tired just listening to that list.  I hope you know what you are doing with those jujubes; even Gramps thinks they are a waste of time.  Oh and … PS? … I don’t know if I want to know what a pickled walnut is.” 

I grinned and told him, “Gramps won’t say that by the time I dry the jujubes[4] and they show up in fruit cakes this Christmas.  Their nickname isn’t Chinese Dates for no reason.  As far as the pickled walnuts I guess we’ll both find out.  Supposed to be pretty good so long as you watch what kind of vinegar you use … need something mild and normal rather than fancy.  I’m going to use cider vinegar.  I also need to go out and do some foraging.” 

“Er … no.  Not until I can go with you.”

“But …” 

“I know Kay-Lee and I don’t like laying down the law and taking away your fun but considering how the family was acting this morning I’m worried about other people being just as, if not more, crazy.”  I was not happy and he looked at me with those eyes and that hair and said, “Please.  For me?” 

Irritated I snapped, “You are a dirty, rotten, stinker Sawyer Hartford.  You know good and well when you throw all your greek …” 

“None of that … I just want you to do it for me, not cause I’m supposedly blasting you with some charm that I don’t have.  I’ll try and make time day after tomorrow to go with you.  I’d do it tomorrow but I already promised Uncle James that I would help Tommy glean the last of the fruit trees at his place.  They’re even behinder than we are.  He offered some of the fruit to us in exchange for the work but I told him …” 

Shuddering I begged, “Please tell me you told him to keep it.” 

Sawyer tiredly chuckled, “Yeah I did.  Maybe under other circumstances I would have taken it but I owe Uncle James and Tommy both for a lot of things and we’ve got enough to trade this season.  Toby’s grandfather sure is happy to get what we can barter.  And if you have any extra walnuts or pecans out of their hulls I know they’ll look favorably on those as well.  They made the mistake of taking out their trees a couple of years ago when they enlarged their pasture land and now wish they’d kept some of them at least.” 

“Hindsight is 20/20 according to Aunt Suzanne.” 

“Sure is.  The grocery list on the frig is looking kind of short.  You keeping it someplace else?” 

“No.  I’ve just been trying to be careful after the prices I saw last time we were in town.  But if you think it is all right I’m going to add more wheat, rice, and oats to the list even if we have to get it from that feed store on the other side of town … maybe even the one in Hightown if we have to split the order.  Beyond that there may be a few other odds and ends but I’m trying to stick to the bulk items as much as possible.  And … uh … we need to make another personal hygiene run.” 

Sawyer cleared his throat.  “Kinda worked a deal with Burt.” 

I was silent for a moment before asking suspiciously, “What kind of deal with Burt?” 

Sawyer chuckled.  “Yeah, it does sound bad doesn’t it?  Actually it isn’t though.  A company he ships for buys in bulk for these machines they put in restaurants and malls and … er … motels.” 

“Machines?”  Then it clicked.  “You mean those coin operated machines on the wall in the ladies’ rooms?  Are you telling me guys have that in their bathrooms too?!” 

Sawyer laughed out loud.  “You kill me sometimes Kay-Lee. They sell condoms in the men’s room.  I’m surprised those don’t sell them in the …” 

I put my hand up to stop him.  “Okay … TMI … I don’t want to know and I don’t want to know how you know.  You may not have been an angel before we met but that doesn’t mean I want to know about the details.  So if you have …” 

“Whoa,” Sawyer said wrapping me in a hug.  “I didn’t mean it like that.  We’ve got stipulations.” 

I sighed realizing I had made more of it than I should have.  I shook my head and told him, “I over reacted.  Just ignore me.  I trust you … I just don’t want to hear about how you come to know … well … some of the things you know.  OK?  And I guess the thing with Jeannie … I’m just tired, we both are, and should probably get some rest while we can.  Next couple of days are going to be full of catching up and trying to get ahead.” 

Sawyer looked like he wanted to say more but didn’t.  Sometimes it is best to say nothing rather than to say something that is just going to bring up what is best left in the past.  It didn’t take much more for us to get ready for bed but there was a change in our normal routine.  Instead of the shotgun being in the closet, Sawyer put it and his rifle in the corner of the bedroom closest to his side of the bed.  He also took his pistol out of the night stand drawer and set it on top next to the alarm clock. 

I’ve held the guns a couple of times but each time I had my chest had tightened up and there was a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach.  My reaction is stupid and I know it but that is the way I felt.  I also know that some of my reaction is due to all the stuff I’d been fed as a kid … guns are evil, guns kill, junk like that … and it just isn’t true.  Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  You could outlaw and destroy every gun on the planet and people would still kill people even if they had to do it with their bare hands.  And I know that some of my reaction is leftover crap from being told how my parents were killed by those eco-terrorists … guns, explosions, and general mayhem by human jackasses.  But knowing that and being able to control how I feel are two different things.  And now Sawyer expects me to learn how to use them because I might have to use them against other people.  It’s a big pill to swallow.  But … what is almost freaking me out is the fact that if I’d had a gun in my hand this morning I might have shot Jamison … and I might not have regretted it.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Kathy great chapter I like the dye and pepper, surprise trap on the propane tank.
    Wayne

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