Friday, January 9, 2015

Chapter 79


The door rattled and the dogs growled until a voice said, “Hush you two.”  Then, “Kay-Lee?  You in there?  I left my door key in my other pants.” 

I jumped up from the chair and over to the door to open it.  “Oh Sawyer, you look like you’re freezing.” 

Shivering he said, “I am.  Damn heater is out on the truck.  What’s going on?  Why are you sitting in here?  I wouldn’t have known what door to try if I hadn’t seen the light coming around curtains.” 

Pulling him over to the stove and then pouring him a cup of the cocoa that I’d wound up making to stay warm I explained about the lights flickering and then going out.  He kissed my forehead.  “I see you were able to get the lantern lit.” 

“Only because I had lit the stove first and used the little bit of light that fire made to see what I was doing.” 

“You didn’t have the lantern close to the stove did you?!” 

“No,” I told him ignoring the overprotective tone since it was just who he was.  He didn’t really mean to make me sound like a complete idiot.  “What took so long?  I was worried.” 

“Sorry,” he said.  “This has been a hellava evening.  I tried to call from Delly’s but their phone and power have been out almost all day.  Some out of towner took a curve too fast and went over the side at the overlook, taking out the pole where their electric and house phone lines routes from.” 

“Oh no!  Was anyone hurt?” 

“I don’t know.  Looked bad when I drove past it hours after it happened.  And Delly said the reason why she was so short with you over the phone was because she was worried about running out of battery on her phone.  She didn’t mean to make it sound like some big mystery except she didn’t want a rush on from the rest of the family.  She wasn’t sure how Gramps would take things.” 

“Why?  I thought Delly had gotten square with the family?” 

“It’s Dabney.  Him and his dad … who died when I was a boy which is why Mrs. Penny has his brother living with her … had a hard feud with Gramps and Uncle Junior for a long time.  Started when Gramps and Dabney’s father were boys and just … well it’s just plain stupid because it started over a girl they were both trying to court and neither one of them wound up marrying her so you’d think they’d have gotten over it by now.  Became like a bad habit and didn’t start to die back until Dabney moved away.  Delly was just trying to keep things from going stupid and wasting time.” 

Unwilling to express my opinion about feuds that outlived the original participants I simply said, “Wise of her.  But what was the big deal?” 

“Dabney needed diesel and someone to help him change a couple of belts and a tire on his truck.  Frankie is strong but easily rattled – you’ve met him those few times at church he didn’t hide out in the children’s area – which makes him useless with that sort of thing, especially the way Dabney bosses him.  And Mr. Carmichael’s arthritis and stroke make him unable to do it as well.  Burt was willing but Dabney ain’t the world’s best teacher so they agreed to wait for me to come over.  Belts weren’t the problem, it was the flaming tire that took a while and then we had to syphon the diesel out of Mrs. Penny’s farm tank.” 

“Won’t she need it though?” 

“No, she sold all that farm equipment she had sitting around when she sold the land to that guy that wanted his own private mountain or some such foolishness.  Wasn’t good farm land to begin with which is why Burt and the rest of his generation never bothered going into farming.” 

“Oh,” I said trying to keep up with the new information I was taking in.  “So she didn’t need the diesel.” 

“Nope.  And Dabney does … did.  He has it now and is on his way south, though between you and me I think he’ll get stopped somewhere between here and Atlanta and rerouted and might run out of fuel again.  Dabney even mentioned it but he said so long as he can get close to be within day or two’s walking distance from where he was going he says he’ll risk it.  That’s his business however.  It’s what he was trading that got Burt excited.” 

“What?” 

“A buttload of groceries and dry goods, none of it needing refrigeration.” 

“Huh?!  Doesn’t it belong to someone?” 

“Wellllll … yes and no.  Like Delly explained, Dabney’s employer basically laid him off mid-route and said he had declared bankruptcy.  Dabney drives his own truck – and the trailer is his too – and his contract states that in case of bankruptcy and a few other stipulations that if they happen then the contract is nul and void and Dabney is no longer responsible for taking care of whatever freight he has at the time.  He tried to meet up with his employer to turn over the freight but the guy basically cussed him out and said leave it on the side of the road for all he cared.  Well Dabney ain’t the smartest cookie in the jar but he ain’t dumb either.  He figured that Burt would be able to do something and they’d both benefit and … just to be on the safe side we are treating this as a silent transaction.” 

“I should say so,” I huffed. 

“What are you angry about?” 

“Burt pulling you into something that could be illegal and get people in all sorts of trouble.  How do we know that this Dabney guy isn’t still feuding with the family and is setting us up to get in trouble?” 

Sawyer looked at me and shook his head.  “You been hanging around Gramps and Uncle Forrester too much because that is exactly what those two would have said and which is why Delly kept this quiet.” 

“And you’re saying you know for a fact that this isn’t what is happening or that if Dabney gets in trouble he won’t tattle?” 

Sawyer snorted.  “Yep, you sound just like Gramps.”  He shook his head but grinned.  “Dabney is the last person to rat us out, Burt has too much on him.  Besides once he heard we weren’t going to tell Gramps or the rest of the family he started strutting like it was him that was getting something over on them.  I think he was actually worried that Gramps or Uncle Junior would turn him in.” 

“Would they have?” 

Slowly Sawyer said, “Maybe.  Hard to tell.  Feuds are funny.  The trade could have ended the feud or started it right back up harder.” 

“Which was why Delly …” 

“Yeah.  So just let it go and open the other kitchen door so I can start bringing this stuff in.  The camper and trailer aren’t insulated and there’s some stuff that won’t handle a freeze.” 

It wasn’t until I went out to the truck to see if I could help that I realized when Sawyer had said trailer he hadn’t meant our little one that he’d left with.  “You drove that monstrosity all the way from Mrs. Penny’s?!” 

“Hush Kay-Lee.  The night is too quiet and your voice is going to carry too far.  I don’t know if anyone is out coon hunting tonight or not.  Cutter had mentioned him and a couple of the others might as the cold would make the coons slow … or that was their logic anyway.” 

“I’m sure Beth was thrilled.” 

Sawyer made a silly face and then said, “Oh how did you ever guess?” 

We both laughed until he opened the back of the trailer and then all I could do was stand there and stare in disbelief.  “Sawyer?” 

“I know.  What I figure is that we put these paper goods into one of the third floor rooms and then cover them with other stuff.  The cans and jars of food are just going to have to go into the basement.  Only place we can be sure they won’t freeze.  And there’s not just food in here, there’s some odds and end repair type stuff, I’m honestly not sure what all but it is the kind of stuff you would find at the Bait n’ Tackle or a mini mart.” 

“Great, so basically it is going to be like Christmas at the group home.  You get a box and you have no idea what is in it, you just hope that when you open it that it is something that you can use.” 

Sawyer nodded and said, “Pretty much.”

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