Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Chapter Eighty




“Uncle Ned!,” I yelled in concern upon spotting the elderly man walking towards the house.  “Sawyer!!  Come quick, Uncle Ned is hurt!!!” 

I heard Sawyer barrel up the basement stairs where he had been taking jars down for me and he reached me right as I was helping the old man into the kitchen and over to a chair. 

Shocked at his appearance Sawyer asked, “Damn Uncle Ned.  What happen?  Did you meet up with a bear or something?” 

“Naw Son,” he groaned as he eased down in the chair.  “If that had been all I’d a been fine.  I don’t bother them, they don’t bother me.  Same thing cain’t be said about people with jungle fever.” 

I had run over to the sink and then almost cussed when I remembered that no power meant no running water.  I hurried into the old kitchen to get some water from the reservoir on the wood stove, wishing not for the first time that the stove was in the big kitchen instead of in what now amounted to a back room.  I came back in to hear Sawyer ask, “You sure you didn’t recognize any of ‘em?” 

“Son if I had I would tell you and let you and your cousins go rip ‘em a new one.  Fact is I’m not even sure they are from around here.  I know you kids dress outlandish but these ones just didn’t seem to fit anything I’ve seen lately.  I didn’t even recognize the names on their shirts.  And they were idiots too.  They were some pissed off to find out the meat I was packing was deer and squirrel and not beef.  They kept calling it cow meat.  What the hell kinda numbnuts would talk like that?” 

He jumped a little when he saw me and said, “Should watch my mouth I suppose.” 

“Uncle Ned you’ve had a shock.  Besides you don’t see me falling apart.  It’s not like I haven’t heard worse.  As for your attackers, even the town kids around here wouldn’t flip a switch like that.  They sound more like an out of town junkies hanging out around a local crack house or a meth operation.  Did any of them have sores on their face and look kinda … well … strung out?” 

“Honey, what would a sweet thing like you know about people like that?” 

I sighed.  “In foster care you see it all.  Some of the kids are already addicts of some flavor, and not just older kids either.  Mostly though if you are going to see it, then it will be the bio-relatives of the kids you are in care with.  And then there are the stories you hear.  It really doesn’t matter how I know this stuff anymore now that I’m out of the situation, I just do.  All I want is to not make the same mistake that people like that make.” 

Uncle Ned looked at Sawyer and Sawyer hunched his shoulders uncomfortably.  It made me feel … not ashamed exactly but like I was letting people down because I was not all nice and shiny and innocent I guess.  Sawyer must have noticed because he said, “Don’t Kay-Lee.  I can see the wheels turning.” 

“You don’t know what I’m thinking.” 

“I know you get upset when you start thinking you are somehow not good enough and bringing up that stuff from when you were in foster care seems to do it every time.  So … just don’t.  You can’t help what you had to live with and know.” 

Uncle Ned harrumphed and said, “Reckon I ain’t handling this here right.  I’m just … I’m just tired Sugar.  I don’t mean nothing bad by it.” 

I shook my head.  “And you shouldn’t be worrying about my stupid feelings after the night you’ve obviously had.  Can I fix you something to eat?  Are you hungry?  Want to go lay down?” 

His stomach growled and I smiled and said, “You’re definitely a Hartford.” 

He smiled slowly and said, “Reckon I am.  But maybe if you can make whatever it is a little on the soft side.  M’mouth is sore and has my dentures all out of whack.” 

While I fixed him grits and scrambled eggs with a little bit of cheese mixed in and reheated the leftover biscuits that we hadn’t eaten at breakfast Sawyer got his story out of him.  He’d been on his way home when he’d pulled over to check on what he thought was a disabled van.  All he’d seen was a girl about my age and she looked scared.  He was no sooner out of his truck than from either side of the road some guys had rushed him, roughed him up, complained about the meat though they took it anyway, and then they’d kept beating on him while they syphoned the fuel from his truck to their van. 

“Idiots won’t get far.  My truck is a diesel and that van takes unleaded.  There were something wrong with them kids I’m telling you.” 

Trying to hold his temper Sawyer ground out, “I don’t understand why they didn’t just take the truck.  Why the hell did they have to beat on you?  Doesn’t sound like you gave them trouble to cause it.” 

“I’m done trying to figure the strange starts of crazy people but as for the truck … too cold son.  Too many of ‘em to fit into the cab and they would have been pulled over for sure having that many in the bed.  They did wreck my tires and shot the damn radiator.  Cracked the windshield all to hell too.  That was just meanness.  But the idiots didn’t do nothing else so after they left I grabbed my gun and carry all that had been behind the seat and started walking.  Shorter to come back than it was to finish going forward … wasn’t exactly up to going uphill.  Might have some bruised ribs.” 

“You might have a concussion!  You need to go to the emergency room but me and Tommy together ain’t strong enough to tie you down to get you there,” Sawyer said half in disgust. 

“You got that right boy.  And you ain’t gonna get no sweet young thing to talk me into it either.” 

I broke in and said, “I doubt he has a concussion.  His eyes are clear and he is talking sense … or at least as much sense as any Hartford man ever talks.  He can also walk in a straight line.  Bruise ribs though I can believe.”  I turned to him and said, “It’s gonna be cold but if I get you a robe and then you pick a room to get some quiet and rest, will you let me wash your things and at least let me put something on those cuts?” 

He hemmed and hawed but eventually that is exactly what happened.  He was asleep almost as soon as he’d laid down in the room on the other end from ours after we got a fire going in the grate in there to take out the worst of the chill.  Sawyer came back downstairs and asked, “You sure about the concussion?” 

“As sure as I can be.  He just needs to rest and warm up.  His lips were almost blue when I spotted him coming across the yard.  I can’t believe he was out in that cold last night.  If I’ve got the map in my head right wouldn’t it have been closer for him to go straight to Gramps’ or Uncle James’ place instead of here?  I mean I don’t mind him being here but I don’t know …” 

Sawyer nodded.  “It would have and I asked him the same thing.  Boiled down he just didn’t feel up to a brawl with Gramps and Aunt Pearl and wasn’t comfortable going any place else.  You really don’t mind?” 

“Of course not.  You don’t mind if he stays a while do you?” 

“No I don’t.  It’ll make putting away that stuff from last night a little difficult but to be honest I doubt if we’ll get him to stay more than a night.  I asked him if it was alright that I run over to Gramps’ and let him know what happened and all he said was just so long as I didn’t make out like he was puny and needed an ambulance.  But what I want to ask is if you really think it could be druggies that did it.” 

I shrugged.  “I’m not sure how I’m supposed to know for sure but can you think of anyone else that would act so stupid?” 

“Could have been people leaving Atlanta.  The news says it is really bad there and that the city has been declared a disaster and is under martial law.” 

“Seems kind of fast for that kind of exodus.” 

“Mebbe.  I guess it is what it is either way.  You gonna be ok for me to run and check on the rest of the family after I talk to Gramps about Uncle Ned?  It appears more than half of them didn’t think to keep a spare battery or some other way to charge their phones.” 

“Go ahead. I’m anxious to hear if Jeannie is ok with Benny Robert.  I don’t mind if you bring her back here.  She’ll probably sleep just like I expect Uncle Ned to.” 

“You sure?  Because Uncle Ben and Benedict will probably be in demand if there’s generator problems.” 

“Of course I don’t care.  I’ll move stuff around until I hear anything from you.  Just let me pour the last of that coffee into a thermos for you.  I’m not going to add any more fire to the stove in the old kitchen and instead set a fire in the front room if that’s ok.  I don’t need it yet but the wood will be there when I do.” 

“Fine but Kay-Lee?” 

“Yeah?” 

“Uh … do me a favor?  Stay out of the basement until I get home.  There’s a mess down there and no lights.  I’ve even tripped over stuff a few times.” 

He looked like he was trying so hard not to hurt my feelings I decided not to object to it.  “Ok.  I’ll just do something in the pantry and figure out a menu in case the power stays off for a while.”  Carefully I asked, “Do … do you have any idea how long it is going to be off?  I know they talked about brown outs and a rotating schedule but I didn’t hear anything about it being for sure.  I got almost everything done out of the deep freeze but not everything.  The frozen water bottles will keep it cold in there a while I’m just trying to set priorities … so if you could guess?” 

Sawyer looked pensive.  “Kay-Lee I just have no idea right now.  That’s one of the things I’m going to see if anyone else has heard.  With the power outage taking out the radio stations in the area … well I’d also like to know how wide this power outage is and what caused it.”

4 comments:

  1. Oh wow, you have been a writing maniac today and as usual Thank you.
    But you've gotta talk to Kay-Lea she can't just keep putting all of her in-laws in positions to discover and 'covet' her and Sawyer's hard earned preps . The world is getting scary out there.

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  2. Thanks for more of this fantastic story Kathy.
    Wayne

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  3. Okay sorry about that but..... if "family" was not betraying them how would anyone know who would be carrying meat and on what road and at what time of day/night?
    Mason?
    or what's his name, the one who set off the near riot over the propane?
    or, in Kathy's usual style , have we got a villain, known to all but yet unrevealed ?

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  4. Okay I promise to quit . . . after this, radios near and far not working... family wide the cell phones "needing new batteries"?... area wide (?) power outages ... EMP? HEMP? a .gov 'power down' power grab going into winter to control the masses?...

    Oh PLEASE Kathy I'm hurting here, my poor brain is just full of 'what if and maybe? ..."

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