Thank you so much, Betty is making another bed sheis going to regret making. Hope Evie gets well.
Ev checked on Evie, called the kids up from the basement, looked in on Inky and headed back into town. He needed Will's advice. This was getting into territory far beyond traffic stops, and dog fights.
Doc Phillips wasn't happy to see Ev; but allowed a quick visit. The sheriff had improved greatly; the foggy grogginess that he had exhibited in the morning was gone. Will had refused further pain meds, but he was uncomfortable. Actually he thought Ev's visit was a welcome interruption in a long boring evening.
The two men had an earnest conversation, with Ev relating to Will everything he had learned. Doc Phillips looked in a couple of times, but backed off calling a halt to the visit. The hospital was an excellent place to hear gossip, and the shooting spree had caused plenty.
Ev spent the night in the roadhouse, securing the sin palace against the curiosity of the local underage boys. There had been rumors that the young guns were interested in free booze and a place to party. They waited until 11pm before rattling the doors.
The temporary sheriff put the run on them, amid much grumbling and protests. Ev laughed when the last of them turned around and headed back to town. It hadn't been that long ago that he had been a young man itching for excitement. It was easy to remember the confines of a small town when your blood was running hot.
Ev looked over the layout of the roadhouse, taking special note of Betty's room where she was supposedly shot. The scene had been investigated by the State Police, there was fingerprint dust everywhere, but Ev just watched the room. Waiting for the contents to tell him what might have been missed by the experts. Eventually his eyes fell on the bed. Two pillows were not unusual; but when both had imprints from occupants, that was another story. There was blood where Sarah had shot Betty; she had been the closest to the wall. That would plenty of room for a second person to have been closest to the door. Ev filed that information away for later.
Claude's office had been searched by the professionals. Again, Ev studied the wood paneled living room sized area, and made note of the gun safes. There were three of them. According to the extensive paperwork, they were full of carefully catagoried and tagged, pawned collateral. The keys on Claude's desk opened all three big black containers. Ev studied more intently. Then the realization came to him. These safes were full, there was no room for the rifle that Sarah used. So where had that long arm been stored. That meant a private stash. Ah ha! Ev felt pretty smart. He then looked behind the doors, pictures, felt the floor and finally found what he was looking for. In Claude's private bathroom behind the sink plumbing in the small, cramped cabinet covered by packages of toilet paper and towels was a hidden door.
One of the keys opened the metal lock. It was really something to see the amount of cash stuffed in there. Ev spread a towel and loaded the cash on it. That was an impressive picture. He placed the rolled up cash towel in a gym bag, and put it on the bar.
As interesting as the money bonanza was; it didn't solve the mystery of where did the gun come from. The cash safe too small to contain anything more than a pistol. That meant there had to be another secret hiding compartment. Ev was fired up, hunting down the mystery was all consuming as he prowled the roadhouse top to bottom.
Last edited by PacNorWest; 12-11-2011 at 08:27 PM. Reason: a sharp reader caught a boo boo
Inga looked with distress at the four children. They looked back with equal distress at her. It was an uncomfortable sizing up between them, with neither side wining. Clora washed her hands and worked at setting the table. The boy's took water to Inky, even though they weren't supposed to be near the dog. Brett and Benny were anxious to see how their friend was doing.
Inky was alert, watching them walk in. He had polished his wounds clean and was resting, spending the time needed for his recovery. The boys chatted with him, but were cautious enough not to pet him.
Betty wanted something to eat; so Inga dished up a bowl of beans and potatoes for her, taking it in to the couch. Keeping the snippy woman as far away as possible seemed like a good plan to Inga. Aunt or not, the woman was distasteful. Betty reciprocated the feelings.
Inga checked on her mother. Evie was awake, flushed in the face and thirsty. Inga brought water and fluffed pillows and softly closed the door.
Her main problem was still in the kitchen. The meal was cooked, and dishing it up was easy. Dishes were OK, but not Inga's favorite. The girls helped and Inga felt more confident. "What's for breakfast," Benny said with a small smile and a wink at Brett. "Yeah, what ya gonna fix for breakfast," Brett played along, hoping to fluster Inga a little.
"What does mom fix," Inga cast around for ideas, opening the cupboards and not finding much of anything.
"Oatmeal or rice," Clora rescued her aunt; throwing a dark frown at her brothers. "She starts it at night, and then it's ready to eat when we get up."
"Sounds reasonable," Inga replied. "What about milk for the cereal," she opened the refrigerator. There was none. "Any in the freezer?" she questioned, walking over to lift the lid. There were seven packages of deer burger and that's all.
"Grandma makes dried milk each night," Clora recited the familiar routine. "She likes to make fresh food for us."
Inga thought that sounded like her mother, work herself to death over kids that didn't care what they ate, as long as there were mounds of it. For breakfast, Inga herself was accustomed to French coffee and perhaps a bagel, and oatmeal sounded like a food for peasants.
Automatically she rejected the idea of eating anything as fattening as oatmeal. Riders had to keep themselves lean. She had to stay disciplined and exercise strenuously or she would lose her tone. Then, the flood of reality dampened her cherished dream.
There was no more Hunter Jumper eventing. Her accident had left her unable to sit even in the saddle. One leg was crooked due to the poor medical attention, and Inga was unable to press the proper amount of leg pressure for the jumping cues. All the emotions she was feeling played across her face in rapid succession. Then it was gone; and she was plain, generic Inga again.
"It's your call,: she told the kids. "I don't care what you eat, as long as I can get it started soon."
Brett thought she sure knew how to take the fun out of things. It wasn't any fun setting up a trap, if the person didn't care if they fell in it. Rats!
Patty crawled into bed so tired it hurt to make the effort to shut her eyes. Today had been a busy day in the cafe, with the teenager on her feet all day long. She finally got a minute to eat about 2pm.; and Leta told her that was a natural lull in the food trade. Patty gobbled a bowl of chili and a handful of crackers and stood behind the counter, too tired then to walk all the way around to sit on a stool.
One thing about Leta's menu; it was chili one day, stew the next, then chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, spaghetti and meatballs and the weekend was macaroni and cheese and Sunday was chicken or roast. If you ever forgot what day it was, one look at the menu would let you know.
Patty thought the dishes would never end, as the townspeople still gathered to discuss the shootout, and Leta's was a favorite spot.
The diner was cold due to the plastic window and door covering. It was a massive undertaking to replace the glass in such a cruel economy. Leta gained her glass money a quarter at a time. She had let the insurance go a long time ago, there simply wasn't the money spread available to afford it.
In order to keep her business safe, Leta slept in the cafe with her 'shootin iron' by her side. Ev had not been able to dissuade her from doing that, as she was adamant about keeping her investment safe. She sent Patty to use her bedroom, and the teenager didn't argue. The bedroom was as old and wrinkled and dusty smelling as Leta, and Patty thought it was a wonderful place to sleep.
"Grandma usually helps us read after supper," Sandra was standing next to Inga, a little to close for the older woman's comfort.
"She is teaching us," Sandra clarified. "We ain't been to school, but really want to go and she's giving us the bottom's"
Inga stopped putting the dishes away. "Bottom's" she said in a puzzled tone.
"She means basics," Clora tussled her sisters hair. Sandra ducked and on the way down, poked Clora in the arm.
"Why didn't you kids go to school?" Inga asked, curiously wanting to know so many answers to questions that weren't talked about.
"Our mom didn't send us," Benny said a touch defensively. "Said she would teach us at home, but she never got around to it."
"Well, what about your dad, didn't he think you should be in school?" Inga persisted in her questioning.
"He wasn't ever around." Clora said simply. "When he came here with Brett, Patty and her", the older girl jerked her thumb in Betty's direction, 'that's the first time we got to see him in a long, long time."
"Do you mean to tell me you kid's are Pete's children," the icy, enunciated words floated in from the living room. Surprise and furious anger vibrating in Betty's voice.
The kitchen got real quiet as children looked back and forth at each other. Nobody wanted to be the one to say anything.
"Brett Peter Hanson, get your butt in here. I want to talk to you, NOW!" Betty screamed in rage. "Did you know about this?, GET IN HERE!"
Inga motioned with her hand for the kids to stay put. She walked calmly into the living room. Betty was blowing heat and steam with hot, flashing eyes. Struggling to get up from the couch, the woman snapped her head around to glare at Inga.
"Where's Brett," Betty practically spit in her rage.
"In the kitchen," Inga returned slowly. "I'm here for him. Now what may I help you with."
"Don't you be snotty with me," Betty growled. "I'm way ahead of you in that department, you haven't had enough practice."
"Oh, I believe I can hold my own," Inga said with relish. "Your not European royalty, such as I am used to dealing with; so I repeat, how may I help you?" the put down smoothly delivered and yet the hit stung with it's intended barb.
"Who knew Pete was the father to these brats?" Betty demanded.
"To begin with Pete and their mother. Mom, Dad I doubt it from the sounds of his mental state, and I just found out." Inga gave Betty the honesty she deserved.
"Who is this woman, where is she?: Betty garbled in anger.
"Any of you kids have an answer to that," Inga called into the kitchen.
"She left us here and we don't know where she is," Benny's small quivering voice returned.
"Well there you have it," Inga said with false jocularity. "The bigger question would be, why did Pete need a second, secret family? He wasn't happy with you? she pressed the barb a bit deeper. "Perhaps he felt you weren't much of a wife, humm?"
Way to go Inga!
Ooooh, that was a good one!
If we aren't showing a little love, His love, then what are we doing calling ourselves Christians?
Psalm 73: 25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
ha ha love it!
1Pe 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore of sound mind, and be sober unto prayer
Mat 7:21 Not everyone who says to Me, Lord! Lord! shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven.
If she can get herself together, Inga and Inky would be pretty much all you'd need to deal with, well, anything. Heh.
Betty has just met her match. I love it.
"Listen you little Peter Pan chick that never grew up;" Betty shouted at Inga. "I wouldn't be telling me what I should do with my husband. I don't recall you having any husband experience and your what 30-32 years old. What a joke you are." she sniped as coldly as possible.
Inga gave her sister in law a little Cheshire cat smile, chosen with care to infuriate Betty as much as possible. "Don't count on it," she said mysteriously.
"However that is off the subject. It's not me that didn't know my man had a double life; you have any more questions?" Inga poked the lioness again. "My brother has been a real jerk towards our parents, you and your kids, and this woman and her kids. It seems he has the personal morals of a snake and no compunction about selling out his country. Am I missing any other redeeming qualities?"
Betty considered carefully what to say. Too much and she would tip her hand, to little and it would raise suspicion. "I'm gonna divorce that rotten SOB, like yesterday. How can I get to town?" she acted like a disgraced, beaten down woman.
"Walk," was Inga's suggestion. "Oh yeah, right you can't walk, can you. Well, that's too bad. I guess your stuck here, unless you can talk Ev into taking you back to town. But, let me tell you something, once that door hits you in the a--, it doesn't swing in again. Your out, with my blessing. Mom may be too nice to tell you what she thinks, I'm not however nice or kind. Any questions?"
Wisely, Betty held her tongue. She needed to get into town as soon as possible. It was too damm hard to think straight in this noisy dump. She would stay at the roadhouse. She needed to open it for business, there was work that needed to be tended too. There was also a little matter of revenge on that tiny ice princess. Betty thought she might not always have the biggest last word, but it would be the last, last word.
Ev liked a good puzzle. Trying to out think the recently deceased Claude; was challenging and kept his interest going all night. Finally, he hit on a system. He used a piece of paper and outlined a key, found the lock it fit, noted it on the paper and removed it from the ring. After a nights hard work, he had three keys without a lock. Ahhh, more fun for the next night.
Claude had several hidden compartments and a secret passageway. It was early morning when Ev sat down for a quick cat nap, and think about what he had found and what was still hidden. Actually, he might run a few of these puzzles by Cheryl, she had a excellent mind and she used it well. Ev yawned, thinking about Cheryl and how she did many things well, left him with a smile on his face.
Evie turned over in bed, every muscle aching. Her teeth hurt, her hair hurt, even her eyelashes hurt. It had been interesting listening to Betty and Inga trade insults. She was proud of her little girl for holding her own. She sure was sleepy.
Ahhhhhh, and the Roadhouse mystery deepens as the Hansen household finds strength in numbers. Please keep this going. I love it!
Will sat up, the early morning light faintly coloring the window blinds allowed hin to orientate himself as to his location. The hospital. OK, now how about himself; was he fit to move today. Testing and flexing his muscles and arms, he put his feet on the floor to gauge his balance and mobility.
Relieved, he dressed in his dirty uniform and gathered up his enforcement tools. There was work to be done. There was no way he could leave the town unprotected, Ev was good, but Will had to be on the job. According to the doctor, Kevin was a long way from returning to active duty, so there was no choice but to go to work.
Phillips and nurse Betty objected strenuously to Will checking himself out of hospital care, but he thanked them for his care and left.
On the way to the office, he happened to think about Cassy. She hadn't come to see him in the hospital, had she. Fatalistically, he shrugged and opened the door to the sheriff's office. There was work to do.
Someone had been in the office and done a lot of filing. The stacks and piles he had let accumulate, were gone. The office had been swept, and HORROR of all HORRORS, his desk had been cleaned and polished. Will wasn't certain he could sit behind such a clean surface, but the most current files were right where he left them, marked with his copious horde of pencils. He suspiciously checked his stack of yellow legal pads and they hadn't been disturbed. Heaving a huge sigh of relief, Will sat down and immersed himself in the county's business of law enforcement.
Ev finished his cat nap, unfolded his lanky frame, stretched, and decided he was hungry. He checked the town as he strolled down to the diner. Life appeared quiet and closed up against the cold of the morning. Slush and frozen ice marked the sidewalks, and few merchants had thrown down salt to keep the concrete safe.
Leta's cafe was semi warm, no windows as of yet, and Ev ordered a short stack and bacon. Patty smiled at him and filled his water glass and poured coffee.
"Your up early," he remarked to the teen.
"Got to help with the breakfast crowd before I go to school," Patty said pleasantly, as she moved around the people packed cafe with coffee.
Blow me over with a feather, Ev thought to himself. I never thought I'd see the day that gal would be good for anything. Leta watched him as he watched Patty. When Ev turned back around, she smiled knowingly at him and they communicated silently about their hope for the teen.
Ev finished his meal, paid and grabbed a toothpick on the way out. He got as far as the door when Patty came rushing up with the gym bag he had left on the floor beside his chair. "Thanks," he warmly offered. "Sure would hate to leave my dirty clothes."
"Eww," Patty responded in typical fashion, as she held the bag towards him at arm's length.
"Say," Ev paused, "I think I'll take a coffee and a couple of rolls with me." as he walked back to the counter. Patty whipped efficiently around and had the mini meal ready in a jiffy. Smiling, she waved good by as he left the diner.
That's a swift 360, he mused as he walked the half block over and down to the office. The lights were on and Will was immersed in his paperwork. Ev had done good ground work on the reports, and Ev just rounded out a few details. He appreciated the coffee and rolls, and stared at the gym bag when Ev hoisted it on his desk.
"A little something courtesy of the roadhouse. Our dear departed Claude had quite a business going, he must have loan sharked every one in the county. Plus," Ev added thoughtfully, "there seems to be 'other businesses' than we were aware of. This dude had some serious money flowing through that bar."
"Lock the door," Will instructed, "Lets count this in private."
Hot Dog ! This may be a "redistribution of wealth" I can agree with !
Will might just confiscate the whole shootin match. That's what law enforcement does these days. Waiting to see! Thanks PNW.
"What do you think?" Ev tossed a packet of bills on the desk. The money sat in stacks of ten thousand, and both men had counted it twice. It was easy to lose your place, when playing with real money. "Did Claude have any relatives?"
"Not that we could find, or know about," Will replied absently, as he thumbed through the papers Ev had removed from the roadhouse. "Can you believe all of this, even Evie had dealings with this idiot. He's had his fingers in every business in town. This was a under the table culture I knew nothing about. That really p----- me off, right here, in my town." Will was angry at the world for the underworld dealings that happened under his nose.
"It's obvious none of us knew the real truth about Claude, nor the depth of his so called businesses; but let me tell you about a thought I had," Ev wanted to know what and where the three spare key's might fit and what might be hidden behind their lock.
"I need another night to investigate. In fact, help would be nice," he fished with intriguing bait. You have experience I don't have with the devious minds of criminals."
"You know all the right things to say," Will chuckled, as he neatly filled the gym bag with the money. "I want to put this in the safe, and ya know, I think we need to keep this under wraps for a while. That's a stinkin amount of money to have stuffed in nooks and crannies for it to be legal."
"That's what I was thinking," Ev said with a grin. "Hey, I need to run out to the house and let Cheryl know I'll be in town for another night. Want to come along for the ride?"
"Coming right back?" Will spun the dial as he shut the safe door.
"Yeah, that place and it's secrets are driving me crazy. How long can we keep whoever, out of there?" Ev was already itching to start looking.
"If somebody comes nosing around, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it." Will promised, as he went to the kitchenette with the breakfast garbage.
Betty had schemed, plotted and thought of what she might do to take over the road house. Her sleep had been nonexistent and she started her morning cranky. Those blasted kids were noisy, always talking, banging dishes and paid her no attention when she needed things.
That Inga, she had the nerve to tell those brats they didn't have to mind anything thing she told them, unless she said please. What a load of crap that was. Just another mark on the wall against that pint sized twerp.
Betty was ready when she heard Brett remark that Ev's pickup was headed towards his place. She collected as much of her belongings as she could reach, and waited anxiously on the couch for her ride.
Evie felt some better. Inga urged her to drink tea, and Evie thought it might be a good idea.
Cheryl was overjoyed to see Ev. His previous night's stay in town, without letting her know where he was had been a night full of worry and concern. She wagged her forefinger at Ev with pursed lips; but didn't say a word.
""Rut Ro," Will paraphrased Scooby Doo as he took one look at Cheryl's face. "Is this the dog house? How about I tell you he had to be in town until I got out of the hospital? Will that do as an excuse?"
"Maybe," Cheryl slid plates of cinnamon rolls and cups of coffee on the table. "Sit" she ordered. "So, what's going on in town."
Ev launched his tale of finding all of the hidden compartments at Claude's place. Cheryl took one look at Ev's animated, excited countenance and threw up her hands. "Go," she surrendered with laughter. "Just come back by Friday. We have a shopping trip....remember!"
"Ugh, Thanksgiving grocery, I suppose." he grumbled.
"We have neighbors that need a little extra," she reminded Ev and Will.
"Speaking of the neighbors, one of the boys is coming across the pasture. I wonder what's up over there, as if I hadn't seen you unload Betty the other day. Just out of curiosity, what in the world made you bring that woman there? She's about as welcome as a bad head cold."
"She wanted to come," was the only answer she got.
Brett knocked on the door, stepping in when Ev hollered. All three adults took note of Brett's changed appearance. The round faced, chubby couch potato of a child had morphed into a leaner, more alert young man in the making.
"Hey," he greeted as he sniffed loudly. Cheryl took that as a hint that he would like a roll, and put another plate on the table. Evie's household seldom, if never, had sweets. There simply wasn't the goods in the pantry to waste on empty calories.
Brett ate one, then two, they were that tasty. "Say Sheriff, Mr Ev; Betty wants a ride to the roadhouse today. She and Inga are fighting and Grandma has the flu. It's plumb nasty there." the child shook his head, anxious for the adults to remove his toxic mother before something else blew up.
"Betty's at it again; I thought maybe she had calmed down and dropped that attitude," Will said to no one in particular.
"Not that I can see," Brett said around a mouthful. "These are really good Mizz Cheryl; just real good."
Each of the adults noted that Brett had called his mother by her given name and seemed to distance himself from her behavior.
Little did they know the truth. Betty treated Brett with the same disdain she used on Pete's bastard children, as she called them.
There was no maternal concern and love. Betty was revealing her true colors.
It was Will that delivered the bad news. "I can come get Betty tomorrow afternoon. Until then, it's still a crime scene. Sorry bud, I know you were looking forward to moving her out."
Brett's face told it all. He looked crushed. "Would another cinnamon bun help?" Cheryl teased him by waving another roll under his nose.
"Yeah," he reluctantly allowed. "If you come early tomorrow."
Ev was thrilled. Will was guaranteeing them a night of treasure hunting. He could hardly wait.
They gave Brett a lift home and went in to give Betty the news. They had no warning her reaction would be so violent. Betty screeched, cried, cursed, screamed in anger, threw whatever she could get her hands on. Will arrested her for domestic violence and child endangerment and he and Ev hauled her into town, to jail.
"Oh my God," Inga stammered as the house got silent. "Brett, I'm so sorry you had to see your mother act like that."
Brett was standing off to the side of the door. Hunched over, he looked and felt miserable at the demonstration his mother had just produced. "I'm sorry guys," he whispered. "I can't control what she does or says. And, it sure ain't nice."
Evie made it to the kitchen by hanging on to the wall. "Betty is never welcome in this house again. You are such a fine young man that I will not have you going through this again." Hugging Brett with frail arms, she held on the young man's arm as her knee's wobbled.
"Sit down Grandma, your gonna fall," Benny pushed a chair under her folding up frame. "You don't need to break bones. Are you feeling better?" he asked.
This story is so full of hope... how one woman can make a positive difference in the lives of many.
"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance." - Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)
Evie braced herself on the table edge. She was dizzy and light headed with so much weakness in her limbs, she felt like sliding right out of the chair. "I would like a little tea, please. I'm powerful thirsty." Kids scrambled all over themselves to get water heating, and a mug set out with a tea bag.
Evie looked at the kitchen. Not too clean, but clean enough. It would do until she felt better. She noted that there was burger thawing, beans on to soak rice cooking for lunch. Very adequate, she thought. "Thank you kids and Inga for carrying on while I lay in bed. I'm sorry for being so lazy." she apologized with about the last of her energy. A couple of sips of scalding hot tea that burned her tongue, and Evie needed to go back to bed. Much longer and she wouldn't have the strength to get there.
Gratefully, she accepted Brett and Benny's shoulders to lean on. "Grandma, you don't weigh nothin, are you sure your OK?" Brett asked as he practically picked up his grandmother and put her in bed.
"I'm getting old," Evie explained. "This flu makes me feel much older. Now I want you kids to wash your hands real well, and anything I touched, use some vinegar to wipe it down."
They all said "yes Ma'am."
Inga came in and shooed the kids out of the room. "Mom, we need supplies. How do we get them, I don't have any money. Do you charge at the grocery?"
"Charge? Oh no, WE don't charge." Evie was very emphatic on that point. "My purse is in the second dresser drawer down. If you get it, I'll give you some money for groceries."
Inga picked up the old black leather purse that felt empty. Her mother lifted out a hundred dollar bill and gave it to Inga, "There's a list that I started in there. If you take the kids and the wagon, you can bring it all home." Weak, Evie let the purse fall on the bed, too tired to pick it up. Tired eyes slid shut.
Inga picked up the purse, and looked in it for the list. It was there, along with one more hundred dollar bill. Evidently that was all that was standing between them and starvation. Not very comforting, she thought as she put the purse back in the drawer and the money in her pocket.
She had a conference with the kids about the groceries. They were excited about the prospect of going to town, all of them but Sandra. She wanted to stay and take a nap. Convincingly she yawned, and the other kids were instantly bored and ready to leave her at home.
Inga had wanted to ask one of them to stay with Evie, but didn't want to disappoint, so she was relieved when Sandra volunteered to remain at home. The walk was planned, coats and shoes gathered and the wagon checked and they headed for town. The weather was chilly, with a light breeze. The sun was flirting with grey clouds and most of the snow had melted. The gaggle of sturdy pioneers sang their way down the drive, walking with energy and excitement.
What a wonderful new addition. Thank you for sharing your writing talents with us.
Betty shrieked herself hoarse and exhausted with tantrum. With her injuries, the only thing that worked was her mouth, and she exercised it well. Will and Ev carried her gently into the jail and gratefully locked her in a cell. Cursing and screaming accompanied them out the door, "Can you believe that," Ev was dumbfounded at the language and behavior.
Back in the office Will held his finger to his lips in the universal sign for quiet. He gathered up the three keys, and the men left the offensive woman and her doubly offensive manners behind. For good measure Will locked the outside door to the office.
The roadhouse was cool and dark, almost spooky in the silence. Will flipped the light switch and three lights came on. "That's funny," Ev remarked. "There were more lights last night, I'm sure of it." He peered into the semi darkness of the bar room. "Humph," he snorted. "I must be getting old and forgetful."
Will had the hairs on the back of his neck tingling a warning about the same time Ev noticed the bar and surrounding area had been disturbed. "Drop," Will hissed urgently and did just that. Will was a little slower and got the whiz of a bullet past his ear.
Will hit his head on the saucer bottom of a large potted plant, as he rolled against the polished bar rail. The brass pipe dug into his back as he homed in on the flash. He fired three shots and heard the grunt of impact. Somebody took a hit. Now, to discover if there were other 'somebodies' in the place.
Ev flattened himself as close to the floor as possible. This sucked big time. He'd never been shot at before and to his surprise he didn't like it. Ev had always thought he was pretty macho, but this was a part of law enforcement he didn't want to deal with.
Will wiggled backwards and around the end of the bar. The aisle behind the bar was clear, and as he moved silently along he spotted the sawed off shotgun tucked on the shelf. He added that to his left hand. There was a scrambling noise and the back door slammed.
Will reached the bar light switch and threw it on. Colored flashing lights and the disco ball started shining. The bass whump and thump of a hip hop song started playing. Will peered at the switch panel, punched a couple of the knobs and the song stopped.
"Thank you," Ev stuck his little finger in his ear and wiggled it. "What nauseating crap that is."
Will didn't answer, he was on the hunt for the shooter. The back door was almost closed, and he inched it open as quietly as it would move. Nobody. Right, left, nobody. The gravel was bare of snow and tracks. A small splotch of blood was the only sign he found.
He listened intently and heard no running, no car starting, no harsh breathing. Cautiously he moved to a corner of the building, dropped to the ground and peered around. Nothing out of place. His SUV was the only vehicle in the lot. He checked under the Chev. and looked for feet and found none. He pulled back and reentered the bar. "Seems clear," he told Ev. "Let me make a sweep, I'll be right back. Say, you'd better have this," he passed the shotgun to Ev. "Stay alert, my friend".
Patty walked to the diner after school with Ashley and Bridget. It was great to have friends. Her mother had always caused such drama that most kids her age shied away after the first meeting. They sat at the counter sipping sodas, and making small talk. Giggling at the day's study hall flareup between the teacher and the local tough boy, they were laughing at the punk being removed by a firm grip on his ear.
The bell over the door tinkled and a noisy troop of children marched in. Inga, Brett, Benny and Clora were having a special treat. Inga ordered rootbeer floats for all. Brother looked at sister and he pulled her hair as he walked by. "Knock that off," Patty objected, "that hurt, you noob."
Brett winked at the two girls that had swiveled around to stare at him. He smiled broadly and walked past them without turning around. He had been watching Mr. Ev flirt with Cheryl and she always giggled at him, so he kinda took a chance these ladies might also. It worked, and he was most pleased. Benny and Clora walked rapidly past the girls without acknowledging them; they felt so ill at ease to be in public with children their own age.
Patty got up and went behind the counter to help Leta prepare the treats. "You look good," Brett told her.
"You too." she was interrupted by Ashley who leaned over the counter to whisper in her ear. "Ahh, Ashley and Brigdet this is my brother Brett. Thats Benny, Clora and my Aunt Inga. Guys this is Ashley and Bridget." Hi's were exchanged and the kids attacked the rootbeer and icecream as Inga looked around the dilapidated diner.
What a dump, she was thinking; not sure if it was safe to eat food from such a dirty cafe. Cafe's such as this in France were quaint and charming. This was just plain dirty.
Last edited by PacNorWest; 12-15-2011 at 07:20 AM. Reason: I missed including 'at'. Ev was not hit by the bullet
Who's the shooter?
Great additions! I'm trying to figure out who is causing problems now.
If we aren't showing a little love, His love, then what are we doing calling ourselves Christians?
Psalm 73: 25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Evie slept fitfully for a couple of hours; weakness in her muscles causing pain until she turned over to stress a different set. She was thirsty and moved to set up in bed. Woozy, Evie put her feet on the floor and experimentally tested her weight. It seemed like she could get up and walk, slow but steady.
Evie was surprised to find Sandra curled up on the couch.
"I was real tired. That woman scared me the way she was always yelling, it sounded a lot like Mom and I didn't sleep good." Sandra explained with a sniff.
Evie sat on the couch and nestled close with Sandy under the couch quilt. They spoke gently with each other, sharing bits of their lives and what they had planned.
"Can I call you Grandma, instead of Mizz Evie,"
"Please do" Evie turned to smile at her. "I would like that very much."
"Well Grandma, do you think it might be OK if I went to school next year. I really want to, and I'm trying real hard to learn what your teaching us." Sandra asked earnestly, showing her great desire to attend school. "Benny says we shouldn't count on it, 'cause somethi'n might happen between now and then." she frowned, but was accepting of that possibility.
"Honey," Evie scooted Sandra close and put her arm around the thin child,"the only reason you might not be able to go, would have to deal with your health. We're trying hard to keep you strong and healthy, so you have an improved heart, and better muscles. That's why we ask you not to run and over tire yourself. To just work till you get tired and then rest. Sweetie, I don't think I could send you to have the operations like Zander and Jane. So we have to be careful with you.
"I miss them," Sandra cried a little. "Zander would sit with me when I got tired. I guess he was tired too. Why did they have to die Grandma?"
Evie cried with Sandra, she had no answers, no explanations that made sense. "It will hurt for a long time honey, it's like Papa Hap. I miss him so much, sometimes at night I pretend he is still here. I reach out and put my arms around him and feel better. You can do that too, if you want too."
"The kids will tease me," Sandra protested.
"In the dark, at night, hold your pillow close, it will do." Evie counseled softly. Sandra nodded and snuggled close to Evie. They both fell asleep.
Inga and the kids came racing in the back door, hastily piling groceries inside as the weather worsened and it started to snow.
"It is freaking cold out there," Inga shivered as she stacked wood in the stove. "The wind has really come up, I didn't think we were ever gonna get home." the small woman held her hands over the stove to warm them.
"Sandra, guess what we brought home for you, a SODA, all for yourself;" Clora and Benny were flushed with excitement over the treasure they has procured for their sister. It was such a rare treat, it was a mark on the calendar note worthy. "We have hot dogs for supper," Clora singsonged as she danced around the table.
Oh gag, Evie thought. Hot dogs, I don't want any. But, I know the kids are thrilled to eat them. I sure hope there is rice. I need something nice and neutral tasting. I'm hungry tonight and feel like eating a little bit.
Will and Ev stood in the bar room, fidgeting over the adrenalin rush that was fading slowly. "Where do we start?" Will questioned.
"I need fresh ideas for hidey holes," Ev threw his hands wide to encompass the whole building. "Where have you found drugs hidden, money? evidence? You know, what people didn't want you to find ?"
"Well, hidden in plain sight is the best start," Will wandered around the room. He flipped a few things here and there, and finally sat down and studied the bar. Something was out of whack, it wasn't symmetrical, or even, or something.
After several minutes, Will got up and went to the bar. He kicked the ornate knob on the brass foot rest. Nothing happened. He kicked the other knob and it clattered to the floor. There was a stout string inside that Will pulled. "HO ho Ho," he chortled as he eased the packages all tied together out onto the floor.
"One guess," he teased Ev, " as too what's in these small paper sacks of white powder."
"Nothing that needs a key, however. I'm still psyched about what these keys fit. It's really bugging me." Ev sat down and mused, drumming his fingers on the table top. Leaning back, he crossed his legs; one booted foot banging the center post of the table as he relaxed.
Will's head snapped up. "I think you may have found another stash." Five of the small round bar tables had center posts full. "Good work Ev." Will praised his friend.
"There again, you know how to say all the right things," Ev responded with a cheeky smile.
They eventually found one of the three missing key safes, and it had a tidy wad of bills inside. "One down, two left to go." Will wanted to see Claude's office once more. As they were moving down the hall, the phone rang. A startling loud sound in the silent hall. Will strode over and answered the ring. He listened and then grinned a most evil smile. "Certainly," was all he said.
Oh, Oh, Oh, I don't think they expected Sheriff Will to be on the receiving end of that call. Great story. Thanks again. It seems hardly enough gratitude for your hard work, time and dedication for our entertainment but I do mean it sincerely.
Oh yeah, that's going to sting. Looks like Betty is getting ready to have company one cell over. Love this story.
Evie let Inga finish feeding the kids supper. She felt too tired to be of any help, after trying a small bowl of plain rice. The children were rambunctious and noisy, fueled by Sandra sharing her soda with everyone. Evie declined with a smile, her stomach revolting at the thought of a drink of root beer.
Inga had done a good job of buying the foodstuffs on the list. Two nice, fat, juicy chickens went into the freezer for their Thanksgiving dinner. Evie had run her hand over the wrapped birds as they were unloaded out of the grocery sacks. They were so beautiful. Her mind went ahead to Thanksgiving, it was going to be a wondrous feast. It wasn't hard to imagine the kitchen warm with cooking heat, and smelling like flavorful chicken.
She needed to start a list of chores to be done. The tablecloth to be washed and ironed, the house cleaned, floors scrubbed; they needed to get started soon. Evie yawned, she was so sleepy, she curled up and pulled the covers tight around her shoulders.
Inga smiled at Evie as she tucked her in. She had grown up being the daughter of this strong woman and it hadn't been easy to have such a different mother. Evie had been a mom that didn't believe in raising a 'sheep' daughter. In that regard, she had expected Inga to be more mature and capable with her life, from the time she had been old enough to set the table for supper. It had worked well with Inga. She was strong, like Evie
Inga was grateful to her folks for the opportunity to work hard, have good values and honor God, people and country. How her fool brother could have thrown out all the basic tennant's he had been raised with, she had no idea. Pete's bizarre behavior had caused Inga many a sleepless night, puzzling through all the dead end roads and false starts he left as clues. There had to be some tidbit she was overlooking that would lead to an explanation. There just had to be!
The children were finishing up the supper dishes when there was a scratching at the door, "Inky," the resounding chorus rang out. "It's Inky, can he come in out of the storm," eager kids begged Inga.
"I suppose," Inga allowed Inky could come in. "What about his wounds, is he still bleeding?"
"No Ma'am, Benny helped brush the snow off the huge Newfey. "He's getting better by the hour, see?" and he parted the dog's hair to expose the jagged scratch lines caused by the cat. "He's been doing a real fine job on himself. Grandma read us one time about how dogs heal themselves by licking with their spit."
Inky came in like a true gentleman and laid down by the stove. He cleaned his wounds and closed his eyes, savoring the warmth that seeped into his bones.
Betty had worn herself out with her tirade. She hurt, oh my, she hurt. Her leg ached like a double toothache and those two stupid men had jostled her around so roughly, it would be a miracle if she didn't lose her leg. That thought brought on a fresh round of tears. Betty made the most awful face possible. This was not according to her plan. Ever since that fool Pete had figured out who and what she was, nothing has gone right.
Betty thought about Sarah. Now that was one woman that got what she deserved. Being shot was too good an ending to that hoity-toity, holier-than-thou snippet of ultra royal acting San Francisco nobody. Sarah had squalled like a baby when she had caught Betty and Claude having a final get together. Boy, she had really gone berserk. That dirty rat Claude had called Sarah's bluff and walked out; leaving Betty in a compromising position to receive the brunt of the deranged woman's wrath.
At least Inga is taking up the slack at home but she sees Pete differnt then how she is acting herself thats a good one same for Betty with Sarah, like the pot calling the kettle black. Thank you .
It was late. Will and Ev had gone over the roadhouse with a fine tooth comb; and then went over it going the opposite direction if case they might have missed a hidden seam, a trap door, a disguised safe. Nothing. They were getting desperate, as they needed to be out of there soon. Reality was, someone would be dropping by tomorrow to conduct a 'little business', and Will wanted time to set up a reception, complete with a reception party.
Weary, they drug themselves out the door and headed for the pickup. Will had taken 3 steps in the new fallen snow when he halted and held up his hand for Ev to stop. He pointed to tracks in the snow. The prints walked around his SUV, continued to each window and then moved to the back porch. Whoever it was, had paused and tried the door, stood there and then walked around the far edge of the building. Will was like a bloodhound. Nose to the ground he measured the tracks with his hand, stuck his index finger in the track to measure the depth, and them compared them to his own.
Rubbing his chin, Will pulled his hat down and his coat collar up. It was getting colder, the wind was picking up. Swirling eddies of sharp edged snow sifted into the tracks he was studying. His hat scraped against the scabbed over wounds on his forehead and temple. That was a fresh reminder that it was time to pack it in for the night. He followed the last set of tracks until they hit the road.
The residual heat of the road plus the cleansing pull of the cars swishing the snow obscured the rest of the tracks. A dead end for the night. Will slid into the warming SUV that Ev had started, thankful for the thawing heat.
"Our peeping Tom is a peeping Tomasina," Will reported tiredly. "Damm, I'm beat. You up to playing sheriff for tonight?"
Ev chuckled and said, "yeah, there you go sweet talking me again. Promises, promises." He pulled into Will's driveway and let the exhausted Sheriff out and watched as he entered his lair. The door shut and the living room light came on.
Ev opened the office door, hoping that Betty had dried up and blown away. Her first screech rent the night before he had the door closed. Smiling with genuine appreciation for the arts, he adjusted the earphones and started the app for his phone. Not many people still had phones, but Ev really like his music and he enjoyed it loud. He leaned back in the chair and put his feet on the desk and closed his eyes; a nice way to enjoy the tunes, he thought.
Patty finished the dishes for the night. There had been a light supper crowd, the weather spooking people into staying at home; so cleanup was kind of a freebie.
Leta was peeling a large panful of precooked potatoes, she had chicken cooking and extra beans soaking. The mixer was working on a huge bowl of dough for bread and rolls. Pies were cooling, and three cakes were almost finished in the oven.
Patty looked quizzically at the turmoil in the kitchen, when she had hoped to get to her school work early tonight. "Ahh Leta, is there something going on that I should know about." she asked the old wrinkled cook.
Leta shook her head no, "just possibility of the electric going off."
"Oh, I didn't think about that. How can you tell ahead of time that it's gonna happen?" Patty delved into Leta's theories with a hundred questions.
"Good grief child, go do your homework. I saw those books you packed in here this afternoon. You say that tallest boy is your brother? He sure set those two friends of yours on their ear. I saw him wink at them" she cackled in amusement. "Who's that little Miss Icicle that was with them. She sure turned up her nose at our diner. I saw her going over things with a wicked eye."
"That's my Aunt Inga," Patty explained. "She's helping Grandma and Mom. Mom has it rough with those gunshot holes. She's having trouble moving around and according to Brett, Grandma has the flu. Is it bad of me to be happy I'm not there? I don't get along good with my Mom. I don't understand her anymore, she's gone strange." Patty shook her head in bewilderment.
"Child, I may be a strange old woman myself," Leta said with compassion,"But you'r welcome to stay here as long as you like. Lord knows I'm deeply grateful for your help. I couldn't have handled this shooting mess by myself anymore, just too old.
"Leta, your good, like Grandma. I think you should be my other Grandma." she finished embarrassed to have shown so much emotion.
"Why child, I'd like that just fine. I'd be proud to be your other Granny." Leta was choked up with emotion, and she and Patty met in the middle of the kitchen for a hug. "Now you go get to that homework!"
The Hanson household calmed down for the night, children yawning and brushing teeth before bed. Inga shook out the sheets that had protected the couch from Betty's weeping bandages. Folding the sheets dirty side in , she tucked the bottom under the cushion and fixed the blanket as a cover. Turning out the lights, she sank into bed. Her own wounds stinging and smarting from the walk to and from town. The exercise at odds with her youth and vitality and battered body. The break in her pelvis ached beyond belief. Laying down only marginally eased the pain, but she lay still and controlled her breathing as she had been taught at the pain clinic. Eventually, she fell asleep.