Monday Dec. 8 , 1941 Chapter 10 When The White Raven Flies

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1941-12-07-Pearl-Harbor-420x530

" It's a damn shame that we are all too old to go down to San Diego,  join up and kick them some bitchin' Jap's asses ", said Old Bill's candid sharing of his feelings on yesterday's attack on Pearl Harbor, while he swatted flies sitting at his regular table with his trusty old raggedy fly swatter. It's the morning after that terrible day in USA history. " I'm with you there , Bill. I'll bet we get a visit from the Navy or the Marine Shore Patrol lookin' for some spies over ta Fong's , added Willie. " What makes you think that will happen?  Old man Fong is Chinese and they didn't bomb Pearl Harbor ", offered Dotty. " Yeah, but  theys bound to be some of those slant-eyed Jap bitches in that bunch of whores he's got ", Old Bill continued. " I'd like to point out that you assholes better hope no tanks or artillery pieces start rollin' down Main Street and then the place will be crawlin' with soldiers,. "  Then Willie added, "  Shit yeah the people,  who come to town for Fong's and to stay at the hotel, stop in here for a fan belt or for a blown out tire, buy a saw blade, some potato chips or a hamburger for the road or maybe a few bottles of beer, not just to get their show laces pressed and stay the night with a warm bed and a shower..... if you know what I mean.  Without them, we don't get our bills paid, you old farts." " Just like everything else that happens, Compass Point is still not very important or worth bothering about ", continued Dotty. "  We're fifteen miles to the border with an International country, Mexico.  Camp Lockett and all of their negro soldiers ain't gonna be much defense.  Hell, they are still out there riding horses like goddamn Custer at the Little Big Horn.  The commanding officer won't let them boys come into town and I am not sure that is not a bad idea, but now you are gonna see those negro boys all over the place.  " You gonna let them come in here to eat, Willie?, " Dotty inquired. " Hell yes! Even if I have to build on a patio out back and tack up a damn tarp over the top of it. They get paid in George Washingtons like everyone else, don't they? "

" All we got between us and them is desert open country, heavy brush, some goddamn rattlesnakes, scorpions and one ol' single lane dirt road full of ruts and boulders, sand that will be up to your axles 'fore you know it, " replied Willie. " Shit. There ain't even any water,'cept when we get a godamn flash flood, and that dries up by noon in the summer time.  That's a shitty rough fifteen miles for any vehicle, I'll tell ya.  The Forest Service rigs have some tough goin' through there too, " he pointed out. "  The Border Patrol has got about ten men for the whole stretch from TJ to El Paso.   Just you wait and see what starts rollin' over that border in the middle of the night.  You got yer smugglers, Nazi spies, gun runners and all manner of folks will be wantin' to make this here war payoff!  Once they get to the forest- the big oaks and pines, ain't no soldiers gonna find them.  They'll come at night anyway, "  Continued Dotty, " You sure we got a war going on? " " The US Marines are gonna kick some Jap butt. Take a bunch of Leathernecks about two months to get the job done, " Old Bill said convincingly. " You really believe that,  you old shit? I don't think so. Not at all. We are in for the long haul, you mark my words, replied Dotty."  " So Dotty, you been talkin' to the Secretary of War or the FBI on their private lines in D.C., or some shit, this morning, have ya? "  " Oh shut up, it's a free country, Willie."  " Just you all wait and see. If this goes like you two say, this country will be buryin' lots of flag draped coffins and our good boys, just like WWI........ and this ain't gonna be a year and a half square dance like when me and the boys were gettin' gassed in France in the trenches.  Don't forget, we also got that " fuckin' seig heil asshole ' over there in Germany to deal with too.  On top of that, we're gonna have that bastard Tojo and his bunch of screaming, fanatical, rice and fish head eatin' assholes to deal with too, "  Willie added convincingly.

It seemed everyone throughout the town of Compass Point were either scared or getting ready for a fight. Patriotism was evident, even though the town flew low to the ground and operated pushing the boundaries of the law to survive. Joseph Martin is seeing this as the biggest opportunity to come along since he has been running the dark side of business in town.  He has been the little seen big boss of this berg and he now could really show his stuff and make one hell of a pile of money too, as if he wasn't already doing that.  The advent of the impending war would now allow him to advance his illegal operations in Compass Point on a grand scale.  It was more than obvious that any citizen who had a firearm would been seen walking around carrying the odd deer rifle or an ancient shotgun.  Many dug into their trunks, in the closet or under the bed and would now have an old six shooter strapped to their hips or a treasured .38 cal. S & W that was usually protection for a rattler looking for a slow moving field mouse in their garage or a hungry cougar that wandered down from the pines.  Even Big Melvin was seen early this morning sporting a Colt 1911 .45 cal. automatic , the shiny black butt sticking out from his coveralls, making sure those that walked by the garage saw that he was armed and ready for any action that might present itself.  In the streets and at work everyone was talking about the fact that since much of the Pacific fleet and carriers were either sunk or badly damaged at Pearl Harbor, it was obvious that the Jap carriers were now under full steam headed for San Diego, their best next target.  Who was going to protect the port?  Where were people going to go if that happened?  East to the mountains and to Compass Point, would be that answer.  Soon the town would be teeming with people and the activity would keep the everything humming like they had known in the past.  Talk of Jap Zeros from those carriers strafing the town was even heard in conversations at Willie's Place.

Those with deer rifles and scopes were posted as  early warning lookouts high up the ridge on the highway and at the road turnoff to town.  Some residents on Main Street, that had two stories, put an armed family member up high in a window or on the roof as a lookout.  This kept Mo at the hotel and Cal busy making sandwiches and sack lunches for those people.  Sander and the other older boys on their bikes were busy keeping these lookouts supplied with fresh water, thermoses full of hot coffee and sack lunches.  Unai was working double shifts baking fresh bread to meet the demand.  Mo had borrowed the massive '36  Dodge one ton truck from the US Forest Service fire fighting station to buy supplies in San Diego for the hotel, Willie' Place, Fong's and anyone else who might need them.  Willie was keeping his Emerson console radio, that received broadcasts from far away places around the globe, turned on constantly.  He had installed an extension to his antennae to make sure reception was available at all times. Old Bill showed at Willie's stuffed into an old moth-eaten Navy jumper and sat in the ready at his same table , his .38 caliber Remington revolver, that must be over 50 years old, ready for action. He kept nervously oiling it and polishing it.  He was attempting to load it but Willie wouldn't let him take any cartridges from the box on the table.  He finally took away the box, sure that Old bill's bad eyesight would result in an errant bullet hitting a window, some furniture or perhaps even striking a customer.  So he and Doomsday Phil would just sit and keep count of the flies they had swatted like little boys playing a game. making sure they kept countwith a contest running, each fly representing a dead Jap they had slain.  Regarding Bill and the Navy jumper, nobody is sure he was ever in the Navy, at any time.  It seemed Old Bill's life is continuing to be a a mystery, but no one is going to question his patriotism.  In Phil's situation, all were tired of listening to his going on and on about how he had been so right all along about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He was getting annoying telling everyone about his predictions, predictions that were not accurate or he had not even made.  Willie was about to tell him to get the hell out, go home or just shut up.

The activities at Fong's were more busy than ever.  Most of the girls got only about 3 hours of sleep from Sunday, when the news of the Pearl harbor attack was announced on the radio. Fong had directed that more girls come down on the bus from his place in San Francisco.  Seems like many of their regulars were sure that the place would be closed down. After all they are Oriental, aren't they?  No one stopped to consider that any action taken by the government would be aimed at those only of Japanese ancestry, not Chinese.  Soon those that had made an early morning trip to Fong's stopped in to Willie's for breakfast before leaving town. The conversations, speculation , rampant false gossip turned the place into a din of noisy voices.  Willie was just sitting there counting up the Hamiltons in his head. Old bill is still offering his opinion while still handling his revolver.  Dotty sent a runner to the reservation for extra waitress help. Cal was furiously manning the griddle and stove with his usual skill and speed.  Cracking eggs, pouring pancakes, browning hash browns and stacking up the crisp bacon while sweat is pouring off his brow and dripping off the end of his nose.  He stops every few minutes to take a big swig from his coffee cup.  A cup that was half  Canadian Club and half coffee and that Dotty keeps filled to the brim.

The door swung open and there stood Grace.  Still only twelve but even more of a woman. Tall, beautiful and commanding every space she occupied. She calmly offered her hellos to the regulars, strode acroos to her regular corner table. She had had a nap, a fresh shower, put on new face and had donned her purple dress with the gold trim.  Determined to have a quiet breakfast..... a real breakfast with no Bourbon, just coffee, even though it seemed it might be difficult with all the yapping going on. Men just stared and women glanced casually or glared at this young woman. She had about an hour before another sixteen hour stretch at Fong's that was ahead of her.  Silently she was glad for all the turmoil, she would be making plenty of money today.  She had already blocked out the grief and sadness of yesterday's actions.  It would do her no good with the customers if she were in a bad mood.  However, she was sure that people she knew may have been hurt or killed, she just wanted to find out about her grandmother and all of her cousins, uncles and aunts.  Some of them worked at civilian jobs right at Pearl harbor.

" Coffee and a shot of your favorite Bourbon, Grace  ?," asked Dotty. " Only the coffee, Dotty. I have a long shift ahead of me again, " she replied. " Bring me some scrambled eggs, and two pieces of toast please. Do you have any fruit? " " Only canned peaches. Oh, wait a minute. We got some frozen wild huckleberries from last July.  I'll put some half and half on them, " she offered. " That will be nice, " she answers while lighting her second cigarette.  She is glad to be at her regular table since Willie had gotten the two guys that were there to move to another table.  She gave him a big smile and blew him a kiss. Dotty had often shared in private that Willie is one of Grace's regular customers, which would surprise no one in Compass Point.  Grace is finishing her breakfast, Dotty fills her coffee cup and she lights another cigarette.  Wishing she had some Bourbon, but knows the hours ahead will be pretty grueling. There is plenty of time later for drinks when all of this hullabaloo starts to die down.

The noise of the front door opening wildly, rattles the room.  Sander has left his bike in a jumble on the street and is sprinting in to get more sack lunches and water for the lookouts. Cal motions him to the side of the kitchen where he gathers up his cargo in both hands and Dotty is following with the bottles water.  He spies Grace, stops momentarily at her table, and smiles broadly, and says " Hi Grace. Gotta get going down the road.  I am very busy with an important job. "  He turns and is out the door before she can comment. After he has left, she says to herself, " He's a pretty good kid. Maybe he is finally growing up."  After that night in the forest, that neither could recall ever happening at first, she has often thought about this young boy. What kind of man will he make someday?  The thought brings a strange and soft smile to her face. " Dotty, left the money for breakfast on the table, plus enough for a carton of Chesterfield's for me and my Mom. Gotta get back to Fong's. See you in the morning."  " Take care of yourself, Grace, Dotty says as she hands her the cigarettes. " She nods as she opens the door into the bright sunlight, turns and heads up the street for the five minute walk back to work, looking both ways  hoping she will get a glance of Sander doing his job.  She puts on her sunglasses, tosses her jet black hair off her face and knows that people are looking out their windows at her.  Those long legs clad in stiletto heels, her purple skirt flowing to and fro, knowing she is only twelve years old, but is every bit the grown woman.  Even if only for appearances and her womanly manner.

 

" This is going to be a big deal here in Compass Point, Grace, " offered Dotty cheerfully as she brought her another double shot of Four Roses.  The biggest shindig this little burg has known since before the depression got a hold of us and we lost practically all of our population because the highway construction bypassed us.  " It had been several months since that day after the Pearl harbor attack.  The war was going ahead full bore in the Pacific, in Southeast Asia, in North Africa and all across Europe.  Business had picked up for everyone in town.  The Army Air Force had built on to the Forest service facility on the highest peak near Compass Point and had installed the latest gear to monitor activities from the air and to observe daily travels of vehicles on the highway.  The folks in Compass Point were used to periodic jeep Shore Patrols of Navy and Marines rolling through town, and the 11 TH Calvary was patrolling with their horses all across the border from Chula Vista, south of San Diego, stretching all the way to El Centro.  Being that Camp Lockett was in Campo, the 11 TH and their constant presence was giving fits to Martin's illegal activities, and he had to had to resort to only nighttime trips back and forth across the border. Fong's was especially benefiting having these young men around.  The old man had expanded to accommodate the new business and now had double the girls working for him.  It seemed that every bus that arrived would bring in another girl or two every week when it stopped at Willie's.  Of course, Fong's was off limits for the military, but that didn't stop them from there going anyway. Fang's was not raided very often, just an occasionally roust when thing were slow. Money took care of  too many hassles from the Shore Patrol.  Try to keep young men and pretty girls apart during a war and you will fail.  Mo had remodeled the six rooms that had sat empty for the last ten years, providing work for some of the local men with families and mouths to feed.  The kitchen was humming twenty four hours a day and Unai had trained two more Mexicans that he knew from across the border to help him with the bakery. Big Melvin had had to come and repair the oven twice in the last three months. Even Howdy Epps' Western Town, in it's out of the way location starting doing very well.  The two elephants were again a big draw and Howdy and his wife would dress up in their Western gear and outfits. Howdy did his roping routines that all the kids really loved. Willie had one of the Indian kids run the hot dog and popcorn concession at the Howdy's, which became quite lucrative.  Grace and Sander had both had birthdays since December, she was now thirteen and he was twelve.  He had grown another three inches and Grace' figure was still fill out, making her even more popular than ever with the customers at Fong's.  Now Grace was the girl most in demand at Fong's.  This was a good thing.  She  was benefiting from her new shapely form in many ways as she is rewarded with the best shifts, plus it paid off with more return customers and the cash, of course.  The negative was increased nasty gossip and added animosity from many of the older women.  This didn't seem to bother Grace at all.  She was now a seasoned trooper at Fong's and there are people watching out for her, besides Maddy, her mother. Fong's wife who mostly ran the show at the brothel along with Maddy. She wasn't about to let anything bad happen to Grace as long as she was around. There had been rumors going around for many months about what had happened in that run down hotel room on Broadway in San Diego before Maddy and Grace rolled into town, this despite the fact that neither of them had ever uttered a single word about what happened that day.

 

"Do you dream a lot?  Do you remember your dreams? ," Sander inquired of Unai.  They were sitting on the hotel porch in Unai's favorite spot, Sander on the porch swing. He was taking a break before returning to the ovens .  The town was needing bread and he was the one who supplied it, especially since the demand had been so high in recent months . The two new bakers were making his job a bit less stressful. " Why do you ask? "  " Well I could never remember my dreams very well until that night when Grace and I were supposed to go into the forest, you remember that?. It was the night you canceled it.  Now I have dreams that seem so real and alive, and I remember them really well, " said Sander earnestly.  " So you are having vivid dreams since that night? "  "Yes, vivid ones. I remember everything, but they are always about the same things. Bright colorful lights. A beautiful woman dressed like an Indian and Grace is always in them too."  " And that is bothering you?  It seems that way, if I am hearing you right."  Much time has passed.  Compass Point is showing it's growth like a just born colt with her four legs going in every direction, all at once.  Martin was brazen with his activities in the last few months. Not waiting until dark to roll his trucks across the border hauling goods to Mexico and then back. he had a network of lookouts with stolen Army Walkie-Talkies alerting to the horse patrols of the 111 TH Calvary.   No one knew what the rigs were carrying, if they did they were not about to tell.  That would be a dangerous thing to consider. One might lose their life or disappear forever.  The desert was a lonely and vast place.  The volume of traffic was increasing at a steady rate.  The white raven was seen flying over,  monitoring these activities.  She was visibly erratic and upset about what was going on.  Mala Rosa was planning something, Unai had considered, even though she had not had anything to say recently on the subject. She continued to remain her stoic self while allowing her menagerie to observe, stalk, hide in the shadows and report all of the activities.  He was not about to ask her on his frequent nocturnal visits to the disguised cabin in the forest.  Mala Rosa had not had any contact with Grace or Sander for many months.  It seemed she was waiting as both grew into their lives and had the experiences she had said they would have and would develop.  If only the citizens of Compass Point knew that forces beyond any that they knew about or could conceive, beyond the town strong man Joseph Martin or even all of the military, had the capability to change what they knew as their environment, it would be majorly disruptive beyond belief.  After all, a mysterious Indian woman who is destined to inhabit this small part of the world for the rest of time is not a fact any of them would believe or understand.  She and her five women attendants, in their altered states, had already been there for close to 200 years after the curse by their tribe's shaman had saved them from sure death and oblivion at the hands of the Spanish soldiers.

The troops from the 189 TH Infantry Regiment, California National Guard , whose numbers made up the majority of the sentry posts throughout the mountains and the the town, would just look the other way. As in any situation of crises, human nature sometimes stands out over his conscience After all these were clerks, salesmen, truck drivers and every day men.  A few Andrew Jacksons in weekly envelope solved Martin's problems and roadblocks to his acts of treason.  A soldier who made less than an average taxi cab driver was an effective enticement.  When the envelopes came steadily, the resulting loyalty transcended any solemn pledge they had made to their country or the military.  The threat of retaliation to their families proved to be a strong deterrent, along with the extra money. of course, this kind of illegal activity was not anything that upset Compass Point.  The town had survived on the edge of lawlessness for many years after the new highway had diverted travelers who stopped in town for many years and spent money.  Furthermore, the war situation was creating a climate for the people of Compass Point to finally flourish, and no one could predict how it would all end.  There was a mysterious element located in the forest that had more power than anyone could ever imagine.  At some point,  Mala Rosa would exercise that influence where it would have the most impact. One need only to watch for when the white raven flies.

Aunt Mo had bought Sander a brand new blue Schwinn Cycle-Truck for his birthday to replace his old rusty one with the bent front wheel and handle bars that would slip around, no matter haw much electrical tape he wrapped around the joint.  Instead of giving Sander a weekly allowance, he now had a business with his new conveyance.  "Sander's Fast Delivery" was painted in letters on the frame panel in bright red paint with white accents. The new bike's color was bright blue and the wheels and chrome parts were painted flat black so as to not shine at night during air raid warnings.  The heavy duty front wheel cargo rack could handle quite a bit of weight. Mo made sure that he got jobs from the hotel guests, and the hotel, for miscellaneous items that would be requested.  Even Willie and the girls at Fong's had Sander getting items for them.  Grace did not say how she felt, but she was very proud of Sander.  He continued to be resourceful and that made him even more special in her eyes as the days passed.  His standard fee was $.25 per trip, the second one was $.15.  Sander soon outgrew his treasure box to hold all of his money.  He asked Mo to keep his earnings in the office safe, held safely in a leather pouch Big Melvin had given him and he then marked with a flying raven from his wood burning kit.  Sometimes he would have to pile on a load that would be so heavy that he would have to stop and rest before finishing his delivery to that destination, but he was glad the bike had an extra heavy duty,  front wheel stand that would keep the loaded Cycle-Truck from falling over.

" Hey Cal, isn't that Big Melvin and Pastor Responsibility Ryan marching down the middle of the street?, " asked Willie as he looked out the window. He was pouring his first cup of coffee of the day that Cal had just brewed.  It was a Tuesday morning, and the bar clock on the wall showed 5:15 AM.  Willie had been pulling the chairs off the tables for breakfast service.  Customers would be coming in in just a few minutes.  Willie moved closer to the front window to get a better view in the dim mountain, morning light.  It was just about sunrise in Compass Point.  " What did ya say, Willie? ", hollered Cal through the kitchen pass through as he was adjusting the knob for the right griddle for the right temperature. " I said that Melvin has got Pastor Ryan by the arm and he is escorting him off toward the dump. No.... wait a minute, Cal.  You gotta see this.  Melvin got a big ol' damn shotgun stuck in the Pastor's back.  Willie and Cal continued to talk about the scene in the street in the early morning dim light, while the skies were still dark and the sun had yet to peek from behind the mountains to the east.  Melvin had had a strange Indian visitor that afternoon at the garage while he was doing a brake job for Willie's big Buick.  A visitor with some terrible news about Pastor Responsibility Ryan. News that would require some immediate drastic action that Big Melvin had never believed he would ever have to take again in his life.  He didn't know the Indian, had not ever seen him before today, but strangely he believed every thing this person told him.  At that time he immediately started to conger up his plan for the Pastor. It still bothered him why he would believe a perfect stranger, but he did.  After the Indian told his story and left, Melvin walked out in front of the garage to see what direction the man went, and he saw that there was no one in the street, just The Wheelbarrow Man on his way to set up his camp at the dump for the night.  He thought that very strange.  It all of a sudden made him think of Ol' Bear Paw back in Kentucky. Thoughts of that old Indian had not crossed his mind for many,many years.

The night before Big Melvin's plan for marching Pastor Responsibility Ryan down the middle of Main Street in Compass Point, he had not slept the whole night.  He opened the fifth of Four Roses he was keeping behind the stack of parts catalogs for a special occasion and poured glass after glass, all night long.  By 4 AM he had pretty much finished the whole bottle, and not with much change in his demeanor.  He was so worried about what he must do that the whiskey had had very little effect on him.  After school the day before, Sander had delivered some fan belts and a new radiator thermostat for Joseph Martin's Lincoln.  He was slow to leave and was having a problem folding back the front kick stand on his delivery bike. " You need some help there Sander with yer bike? ", inquired Melvin. " No. Thanks, Melvin. I'll get it to work, I might need some grease or something.  It is new and sticks some time.  Hey Melvin, can I ask you a question? ", Sander said with a worried look on his face.  " Sure, no problem. What is it ya want ta know?.  " Sander stood and shuffled his feet in the dirt, while he fiddled with his handle bars and said,  " If a guy tells a secret about a grown up and the grown up asked him not to tell the secret, will he be in big trouble? "   Melvin knew there was a message behind Sander's words.  " So what is botherin' you, little man?  You break something important or do something your aunt will get mad at you about....or what?  What is it?  You know I am yer friend and I ain;t gonna do anything that will make yer be out of sorts. I promise," as he crossed his heart with his big gnarled hand.  " OK, Melvin. It is about the Pastor. He sometimes keeps the kids that don't do well in class afterwards, sometimes for two hours or more.  For extra study, he says.  He doesn't keep me.  Not me, I make the best grades of anyone in the class.  But not the Indian boys from the reservation, who do not speak English very well. "  Melvin is starting to read between the lines."  After all, staying after school happens to most kids, Sander. " "  He has been doing it for a long time, Melvin. Everyone in class is afraid to tell anyone about it. I am scared too, but I feel bad for those Indian kids because he is messing with them.  He is doing really, really bad things to those boys.  They don't complain one bit.  If they did, one of their dads would come down here from the reservation and slit the Pastor's throat, for sure, Indian justice style. "  " Been goin' on for a long time, ya say.  How long did ya say?  Fergit that, how long don't even matter, no way.  You don't talk to no people, Sander. Listen to me, right?  Big Melvin will take care of this like I was a fixin' a testy carburetor or a whinin'' water pump.  But know this, I ain't a mentionin' yer name er nothin'.  You got that little man?  Now you git on home, have yer supper and sleep tight tonight.  Fergit the whole thing.  When you wake up tomorrow, all this commotion will be just fine over ta the school.  Consider the problem solved by Big Melvin.  " Sander rode away on his bike and was having visions in his mind of what Melvin would do, and he is wondering if he has hurt Responsibility Ryan badly by speaking up.  He had had to do it, those Indian kids surely weren't going to say anything. Maybe Melvin will just beat up the Pastor real bad and make him leave town.  Who was going to teach at the school if that happened?  Those and many other questions were rattling around in his head as he got to the hotel.  He realized he was really hungry.  He parked his bike in his usual spot by the old hitching rail and thought, " I hope Aunt Mo has fresh mountain river trout tonight? "

During Big Melvin's long night of contemplation and drinking, he had the memories of long ago in Kentucky now come back clearly. The day he took his Daddy's Greener shotgun and delivered the death sentence on old man Jakes, the rail yard foreman. The double- ought blast cutting him in half for doing those same things, that he had just had heard recounted by the mysterious Indian and by Sander, being done to the Indian kids at the school.  After all, these were just kids in that school, not adults.  They can't fight back. Better he deal with the matter than to have a bloody scene in front of the class when a father takes deals out his retribution.   What was Ryan thinking?  This man was sick and needed dealing with, just like Melvin had dealt with Jakes many years ago.  He took the key from his dresser and pulled out the fancy mahogany case from under his bed.  The box had gotten beaten up, covered with dust, dinged and weathered from being moved about for many years.  He opened it up to look at the Greener. It was just as beautiful as it had always been. The delicate scroll engraving and the initials of the original owner before his father, LR P, and the rich patina of the finely polished stock.  He hadn't fired it since those days he was on the run and only after that day, when he was hungry and after some a quail or a cottontail, to save himself from starving.  It shot true and many a quail, pigeon, rabbit and squirrel had been bagged and cooked over his campfires while he kept out of the sight of people.  He had kept it well oiled and the hammers working true and tight.  He hoped he would never have to use it on a man again, but it seemed that the time had come for the Greener to do it's job once again.

Melvin took the Greener out into to the early morning sunrise, streaming in at the front of the garage , cracked the fine firearm open and sighted down the barrel.  " Clean as a whistle .  This will do the job jest like afore, "  he mumbled quietly to himself.  Just then he heard the loud flapping of wings, looking up in the old oak at the front corner of the storage yard next to the garage was the White Raven.  She landed on a sturdy lower limb and cocked her head and glared at Melvin.  Since she was a common sight in Compass Point, Big Melvin paid her no mind.  He looked the shotgun over very thoroughly, inspecting ever screw, the stock, the triggers and the action by flipping it opening and closing it several times.  He turned and went back to his room, sat on his unmade bed and a feeling of remorse came over him.  Remorse he had not felt for many years, not since that day in Kentucky with Jakes affair.  He discounted it knowing that his decision had made and he would not waiver from that decision.  He thought it best to wait until after midnight, then he would roust Responsibility Ryan from his bed, tie his hands tightly, tape his filthy mouth shut and march him into the forest.  Melvin thought about the exact spot where the sentence would be carried out. The earth was fairly soft, digging would be fast, it was covered with forest litter and which made it easier to cover.  The sound of the Greener's barrels would not be heard and he thought for a moment, " I need make sure to take my shovel.  Maybe he will make him carry it to the spot. " That thought made him smile.  He wiped the shotgun down well with an old holey sock, placed it in the mahogany box, closed the lid and locked it.  He put the key on the night stand by the bed.  Melvin kicked off his work shoes, took another swig of his Four Roses, and lay down on the bed, still clad in his overalls.  Crankshaft jumped up on the bed in his usual place, curled up as he was to do, made his customary low rumble  and a sigh, then closed his eyes.  Melvin lay there for a moment and thought, " I wonder if his momma knew what kind of man she had birthed, naming him Responsibility?  A man that would be doing these terrible things to little children.  He didn't think she did.  Ol' Satan will soon have the right job for a new worker to show the ropes to. "

Feeling restless, he had a uneasy feeling, so he thought that he would get up and check on whether he had  remembered to lock up and close everything as was his nightly habit...... the doors to the garage, the big wooden gate to the yard, and make sure the big night light on the pole at the side of the office was on.  He had a difficult time slipping on his work shoes so soon after shedding them, his feet swollen from the day's work and worry.  Crankshaft raised his head and offered his quiet, knowing growl.  In a flash, he was off the bed and through the parts room where Melvin has made a nest for them both and was soon out of sight.  Melvin stood, stretched his long arms, not as interested in being in such a hurry as Crankshaft was.  He reached for his big five battery flashlight from the shelf over his bed and went to check the garage doors first.  He heard a low menacing growl that continued from his dog and glancing through the dusty window to the light pole, he saw it was not switched on, so he unlocked the back office door and headed through to the yard.  Flashing his light all around the yard, he strolled toward the pole to turn on the light, all the while looking  for the source of Crankshaft's need for his commotion.  He switched the big light on, the yard became suddenly bright as day, the bulb crackling after abruptly becoming hot.  Crankshaft was immediately quiet and sat down and still, in place, as Melvin was looking at the old Franklin with the bashed in left front fender and hood.  It had been sitting there for years, all the wheels had been sold and it was now propped up on the wooden spoke wheels from the Liberty WWI truck  that had worn out long ago and was then donated from the Forest Service when it ran into a ditch, too tired to move or be useful to work another forest fire. Melvin pulled it out of the ditch after two hours of effort with his reliable old Hudson wrecker.  All that was left of of the truck, after selling most of the parts and scrapping the rest, were those wooden spokes wheels.  Over time, thick grass had grown under the Franklin, almost reaching the running boards.  Crankshaft looked up at Melvin as he walked towards the Franklin and started to growl again, then uttered three sharp barks, this time he sounded as if he now had reinforcements and would be safer.  Perched up on the visor of the car was the White Raven.  Silent as she always was, looking straight at Big Melvin with those ominous steel-blue eyes. Her stare sent shivers up his spine, even though he had seen the bird in town hundreds of time.  " Let's get back to bed, Crankshaft. We got an important job to handle at midnight tomorrow.  " He quickly turned and headed back to his bed, thinking to himself,  " Why was that damn raven watching him at that time of night.  She was usually only seen in the daylight hours. It was if she knew what he was to do that next day, but he quickly discounted that idea. But still, he couldn't get the thought of how he had felt when she was staring at him with those eyes.  " No animal on earth has eyes like that, " he  added.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Ross! Howdy from Texas! Your ability to write
    is a remarkable talent. Thank you for sharing it
    With us.

    Be safe!

    • You are too kind Judy. I have so much fun doing this. Getting started so late in the game…..but I am finally doing it. It will be a while before I am comfortable calling myself a writer, but I do tell a good story. My next novel will be mostly set in Texas, from 1870 to 1955. Maybe early next year. Working title is ” Dancer’s Grove “.

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