ADVENTURE THE 19TH: MY SO-CALLED SMALL TOWN GIRL
DISCLAIMER for the first time reader:
For those unfamiliar with the posting structure of a blog: postings appear in the order they are made by their author, not necessarily in the order that would most benefit an ongoing series such as the one you are about to read. Since the purpose of this blog is to be an ongoing thriller, simply removing the previous chapter to alleviate confusion is not an option – since no one coming to the series after the first chapter had been removed would be able to follow the story line.
Therefore, if you scroll down or visit the archives in future months, you will be able to read this continuing drama in the manner and order it was intended to be read. For this reason and purpose each subsequent adventure in the ‘Eddie Mars’ serial will be marked by a number. If you follow these numbers marked at the top of each chapter in their numeric order - eg ‘Adventure the 1st’ - you will be able to follow this continuing saga.
For those savvy to the blog world – this disclaimer may seem redundant, and for that no apology is made. This disclaimer is meant to better acquaint new readers in how the entries in this blog will be posted and how best to follow the series from this point on. And now…
ADVENTURE THE 19th:
My So-Called Small Town Girl
The bullet came out easy. After using some veterinarian’s chloroform as my crude knock-out drops, I sent Mico to dreamland while I went to work. I used a clean horse’s blanket as my canvas, loosened and pulled her top over her head and slid her blood stained skirt and panties down around her knees. She lay there without a care – a dime size puncture oozing fresh blood just below the navel as I probed around her abdomen for pieces of that warped little lump of metal. Her flesh was so pliable between my finger tips. I found the shrapnel without much effort.
But I had no guarantees and even less hope in the prospect that she’d live through the night. If she did, there was a fifty-fifty she’d get an infection and die anyway. But when you’re staring death down the odds really don’t matter.
Twine made for some good stitching. Afterward I had reason to be proud of the fact that little more than a tiny incision existed to draw attention away from that once perfect little frame. Mico’d heal up nicely if she didn’t hemorrhage internally first.
Wrapping Mico nude in the clean checkered blanket for warmth, I took her clothes to the barn basin to scrub out the stains. I moved her as tenderly as I could behind a stack of hay, in case Farmer Clyde decided to visit his four-legged friends in the middle of the night – then settled along side for a rough few hours. One problem…I overslept.
. . .
It wasn’t the kindly old geezer standing over me, but some oafish mama’s boy with burly arms clutching a rusty pitchfork just a few inches from my neck.
“I mean it,” he said.
“Yes you do.”
“But you just told me not to move.”
He looks confused but I can tell there are just enough neurons firing to back up his bravado. So I lay like a side of beef on display in a butcher’s window while L’il Abner leans in for a good look.
“She dead?” he asked, pointing to Mico.
I gotta admit, in the early morning light filtering through the louvers she gives a good imitation of rigor mortis.
“Don’t know. Do you?” I said, attempting to roll over on my side.
“I said don’t move,” he says, a slight jab in my ribs with his fork.
But I have to; have to find out whether or not my chop job held up.
“Put that thing away,” I say gritting my teeth and pushing the rough tips with the thick padded elbow of my coat.
I reach over to check Mico for a pulse. It’s weak. I take a look at the wound. It still looks alright. I’m about to say as much when I feel the swift thump of the fork’s wooden handle hit me across my midsection. It knocks just enough wind from my gut to get me mad.
“Okay, Chuckles,” I tell him, “You asked for it.”
I grab the end of the fork with both hands. It gives me some leverage and in a few minutes I’ve managed to wrestle it away.
“How tough are you now, Muscles?”
Maybe not, but for just a minute he’s at least smarter. I’ve placed myself directly under a trap leading to the loft and he lets me have it with a couple tons of hay. I swing blindly amidst the storm of straw but get lost inside a suffocating cloud of dust. I feel Muscles get on top of me and start swinging. He’s strong alright – like a clumsy anvil looking for a good spot to drop. I feel his arm shoot through the grain, pressing my head and neck down deeper into the pile of straw. We fumble for the pitch fork. I manage to jab it hard into a nearby wooden support beam; just enough to jostle loose the gas lamp dangling from its rusty nail. It smashes, with a rush of flame breaking out from its shattered flask that sets this bed of husk afire.
There’s little to contemplate now. All that dried out stock goes up like kindling. The livestock sense the immediacy of panic before we do. One of the mares and her calf nearest the sudden blaze manage to kick loose from their harness and race to the open louver for escape into the morning air. The rest just begin to moo – loudly.
And all the while Muscles won’t quit. He’s got blinders on and fixed on me.
“Don’t be a fool,” I tell him, “You wanna go up like a Jimmy Dean on the grill?”
But mortality doesn’t seem to be a word that concerns him. Maybe it’s just not one he can spell.
He takes up a bull whip from the paddock, cracking the fine leather strap and cornering me between him and the flames. I’ve reached the point of no return. As Muscles winds up for another crack I make a mad dash through the slits in the open flame. I can feel both the raising heat and residual sting of the whip split me in the left shoulder, clean through and coloring it red in my own paint.
Looking back, I can see that the way is barred to Muscles for now. The fury of the blaze and its thickening curls of acrid smoke have taken over. But I’m on the side of the exit. I sling Mico over my shoulder and push through to what I mistakenly perceive as freedom on the other side. But my farmer buddy is waiting for us on the other side with a twelve gauge and fairly good aim.
“Not so fast, sunny,” he explains sternly, a chaw of tobacco gritted between his teeth. “Who’s yer friend?”
“She came C.O.D.” I tell him, “The things you can’t get from catalogue these days.”
Gramps is unimpressed by my wit.
“Look,” I plead, “We got in a wreck. I’ve got to get her to hospital. She’s bad off.”
“Put her down.”
I study his face. He doesn’t look like the kind that would shoot me running if I decided to chuck Mico into his lap. Then again, you just never know.
“Put her down.”
I’m about to follow through with his request when a numb jab grips me right between the shoulder blades. It’s Muscles alright. Who else? I fold like a not-so-crisp ten at the knees and struggle to keep Mico in my arms. But I lose her on my way down. The last thing I remember is a hank of her tossed curls coming off between my gripped fingers as we plummet together into the fresh fallen snow.
. . .
I wake up like a newborn, dull and confused but here…although where here is I’m not exactly sure. I’m lying down…I think, and staring at a flickering fluorescent light and some ceiling tiles that need to be changed. Nothing’s familiar. Why should it be? Life’s been one endlessly misshaped nightmare. Why should today be any different? But it is different and I immediately know why.
I try to speak but there’s no thought process behind those words. Or maybe I just think there’s words. Wait. No. They’re not mine.
I hear a couple a’ guys but don’t see any faces to match.
“He coming around?” one asks.
“Mmm,hmm?” somebody says.
“What’s his story?”
Whose story? Mine. Where am I? Talk to me.
“Who knows? They all look the same.”
‘Hey fellas,’ I think to myself, ‘I’m here. Right here.’
I try to turn my head. That’s when I suddenly realize something is definitely wrong. I can’t move…not just my head, but any part of my body.
“Boy, he’s in for the long haul,” I hear someone say.
“From the neck down. Better off dead.”
“He might hear you.”
“If he can he’d agree. We’ll have to get him hooked to a feeding tube whenever he wakes.”
“What about the girl he came in with?”
“She won’t be needing one. D.O.A. The morgue’s got her now.”
Don’t you believe it!
Eddie Mars will return in his next great adventure,
on Nov. 16, 2006.
@Nick Zegarac 2006 (all rights reserved).