Sunday 29 September 2013

Dead or Alive

The pounding continued it would not stop, someone kept shinning a bright light into my eyes.
Someone kept squeezing my hand, it was so annoying and it hurt like hell. Pinching and prodding, then a sharp pain ran through my whole being.

Had I died and gone to hell? I felt so cold, it could not be hell. Voices were murmuring from far away. Sounds were garbled and I could not understand who or what they said. I was trying hard to concentrate on listening to make out if I recognized any of the voices. Some whimpering constantly near.  I tried to open my eyes, nothing happened no matter how hard I tried. I could hear a pumping and a bell-like ringing, then silence, which seemed to go on forever.
Someone was talking again and probing my body. I could hear a male voice droning to another person, I could not make out what he was saying, just a humming in my ears. The bright light again, then a another sharp pain. Where was I ?

A machine never stopped thumping. My head was aching and I wanted to yell to keep the noise down, but when I tried to speak nothing came out, I think it was my mouth, but could not be sure. The sensations were muted too. Then an object pulled from my mouth, now finding it harder to breathe. The thumping stopped. Had I been on life support? Had they shut it off?

All had become very quiet, no machine sound, as I tried to focus on a white shape hovering over me, it was washing my body so very gentle and singing softly. Was this my angel preparing me for heaven?

Then gently lifted onto a gurney, slowly floating down a stark white hallway. Pushed through a large metal door and placed on a cold table, covered only by a sheet. It was so cold and dark, silence again. No one was here. I lay shivering for what seemed like forever.

My legs would not work. I tried to pull myself to a sitting position, looking side to side, I could see steel drawers on either side of where I lay. Only one light shone over a sink. I was in a morgue and thought dead. I had to get up and out of here before someone put me inside a drawer.

Was this just my soul or was I alive?

As I lay alone I started to try to remember what had happened before I came here.  I had been out walking on a sunny afternoon after leaving a friend for lunch. I had been on my way home, stopping to pick up a few groceries for a dinner that I had planned to cook for an old friend who had arrived in town for a few days.

Someone was bound to come into this dank gloomy place soon. I could hear banging in the distance and kept trying to call for help, nobody came.

I had to stay awake!

In my mind, I prepared the dinner I was going to make, feeling very hungry, so I must be alive, or I would not feel hunger. Would I? Please let me be alive.

I remember a crash, being, thrown through the air, a man looking down at me with his cell phone calling for help. A red car stopped inches from my head, my groceries spewed over the road. Sirens blaring, men hooking me up to wires, someone saying hurry or we are going to lose her. A face hovered over me, a soft peaceful voice talking and holding my hand. Honking, sirens continued, we were on a bumpy road as my body swayed side-to-side, hands trying to keep me still. Then not anything.

I must have gone in and out of consciousness. I was so cold.

I could hear footsteps and voices laughing as the door opened, two people dressed in all white came into the room. They were looking down at me and then one opened the steel drawer while the other pushed the gurney towards it. 
Trying to move to stop them, they were talking about a party they were going to attend that evening.

Please pay attention to me I am not dead! Can you not see me breathing? My eyes flutter? As they slid me into the drawer I tried to get them to notice but they were still talking and laughing about some stupid man. 

Yelling as loud as I could, they shut the drawer with a bang?


Friday 20 September 2013

Unknown Relative(continued)

Spring was in the air, the earth had thawed and the snow was all gone for another year.

I had big plans for a garden and had hired a man part-time to do general work around the farm. He had ploughed an area for my garden, he was a retired man from town and knew everything about farming and was willing to help and teach me whatever he could.

Mike had been a bit stand offish since Tom had arrived on the farm, but I did not want the Murphys to think they had to help me as they had a big farm to look after, and I knew they felt compelled to come over and help. George and Patsy took the school bus daily and she always stopped by on her way home for a chat. She had grown the last year into a beautiful young girl inside and out. George had a girlfriend at school and Patsy would tell me all the gossip on her trips here. Patsy always came shopping on Saturdays  to help pick out new fabric for another of my projects.

I had never been as happy and contented this past winter, learning to do so many new accomplishments. I had taught myself to sew, making new curtains for all my windows.  Finally bought a new mattress, even crafting a comforter for my bed with matching pillows. 
I guess it was a way of saying I was here for sometime. I did not miss the city and would lay awake at night looking out at the beautiful stars and loving the quiet peaceful nights, even listening to the wolves and coyotes howling in the distance. A large horned owl had made the old tree near my bedroom window his home and I wished him good hunting by moonlight.

As planting season arrived Tom brought me all the seeds that I had listed for planting and he showed me how much space between the rows. By the end of the day, we sat having a glass of wine proud of ourselves. Now all I had to do is buy a freezer and canning supplies and I would fill my larder for the next winter.

With my livestock roaming, mixed in with the Murphys I did not have to tend to them. I paid them a monthly fee and they supplied me with meat whenever I needed some. The arrangement suited us all and took much pressure off me. 
I had a cheque for them and decided to walk over. Betty was in the kitchen cooking when I arrived and poured me a coffee. Her kitchen always had tremendous smells throughout. We chatted about what was going on and that is when she told me Frank Junior was being released in a few months. Apparently Frank Senior had gotten the judge to cut his time in jail because of good behavior. More like a bribe Betty thought.

Did I have to load my gun again?

Mike arrived that night after dark and knocked lightly calling out it was him. I had just had a bath after working in the garden most of the day. He had a bottle of wine and asked if I felt like a glass? It was like old times as we sat on my reconditioned porch, which I had done myself. He told me he had missed these nights and I agreed. Betty had told him what I had said on my visit about not wanting to be a burden to their family and why I had hired Tom. That seemed to pacify Mike and he was back being himself. 
He could not get over the change in the house and liked the new look, stood looking at the picture of my relatives. Commented on how happy they looked. 
Unexpectedly he asked if I would go to a movie and dinner in town on Saturday night. I joked asking him if he was asking me on a date, his face blushed, nodding. I accepted with a flutter in my stomach. Mike was a handsome man and I was sure many women had him in their scope.

Saturday finally came and I changed clothes a dozen times wanting to look good. He arrived freshly shaven with a tan pair of slacks and a light brown shirt, looking so handsome. Those brown eyes that the whole family had, looked me over and a smile broke out and we both had a laugh. The night flew past far too quickly, after a lovely dinner, we decided to walk instead of going to the movie. The night was bright but cool, the stars out in full as we walked. I shivered and Mike put his arm around my shoulders. A few people walked past and we stopped to talk, they seemed surprised that we were in town together. Patsy had told me that many of the men in town talked that I was one woman to stay away from as I had shot two men and threatened Frank Senior. I was one woman to be reckoned with.

I asked Mike in for a nightcap and before I had a chance to pour, he had me in his arms kissing me saying he had wanted to do that since the first day he saw me. He enjoyed my new mattress and we had a few hours of bliss. He said he would not stay the night as he did not want to tarnish my reputation. I did not sleep soundly this night as Mike kept creeping into my dreams. 
I awoke to knocking, Patsy had arrived with scones and she wanted to know all about our date. Sunday dinner was at noon and I was invited to join them.

When I headed over to the Murphy's home, I knew that a delicious meal would be waiting. I took Uncles sturdy walking stick as the trail had become overgrown and needed trimming, I would put that on my to do list for next week. I had a weird feeling that I was being watched and quickened my step swinging my stick side to side. 
Betty had made a lovely lasagne and berry pies for dessert. Mike wore a grin every time I looked in his direction. When I got up to leave Mike said he would walk back with me, as he wanted to check something in the barn. I laughed thinking he did not know how to lie very well. The family said their goodbyes as we headed off .

We were laughing and joking when two men came at us from behind, Mike was on the ground before he could respond to the attack. I was knocked face down, a boot on my back, one of the men kept hitting Mike with a piece of wood until I heard a crack. It was the wood not his head I hoped.  My stick lay beside me and I grabbed for it bringing it around and slamming as hard as I could into the face of the other one. 
Blood gushed out and he was blinded a moment as  it ran into his eyes. The other man stopped hitting at Mike and came running at me. Ducking I waited until he was closer and let him have it in his kneecap. He stumbled hitting the ground. I whacked him again as he tried to get up, then went over to the one who was bleeding all over hitting him harder with each blow until he was on the ground as well. 
I grabbed Mike’s phone and told his family to get an ambulance, and where we were and to bring rope. Mike was gaining consciousness as they arrived. Mike had lost a lot of blood and they rushed him to the hospital. His brother Jake climbed in with him.

We had tied the two men up and told the ambulance driver we would phone the police to come get them. As we waited, I looked at his brothers, Matt and Greg, and said these two cannot get away this easily. Picking up my walking stick I started in on the one with the broken kneecap and broke his other leg and both arms, the other was crying and saying he was sorry and to please let him leave. That is when Matt took my stick and smashed his cheekbones, Greg twisted his arms until we heard them break, neither one would be working for the Willard for some time.

When we arrived at the hospital Betty and Bill were there, Patsy was crying and George had his arm around her. Mike was in intensive care and they did not know if there was any brain damage until they operated on him. It was a long night, we all just sat and waited for the surgeon to come and talk to us. The police came to question us about what had happened after they had brought in the two animals that had attacked us. They could not believe one woman could inflict so much damage to two grown men. Both men were in body casts. I meekly said when you see someone trying to kill the man you love survival mode just takes over I guess. The ambulance drivers had not mentioned to the police that Matt and Greg were there.

Doctor Jensen arrived and said we could just have a peek at Mike as he was heavily sedated and was better to sleep after the long surgery. After we had all had a look at Mike, I said I would sleep in the chair, as I was not leaving him here alone. Nothing except a smile from all as they left. I awoke to moaning and Mike lay looking at me through his black and blue eyes that he could hardly open. He mumbled out of the side of his mouth about me being some woman. I knew that he was going to be fine.

Summer arrived. My garden flourished, my canning was beginning to show the fruits of my labor with rows of delicious looking jars in the pantry. Mike walked without his cane and came everyday to sit in my garden or kitchen while I worked. I would send Patsy home daily with fresh vegetables. Mike took most of his meals with me, sitting on the porch with our glass of wine. He had asked me to marry him saying he needed me to watch out for him. I think it bothered him that he had not been the one to protect me, but as I said, I was sure there would be a time for that.

I was not far off with that remark, as one day we were sitting out in the garden when a car came down the driveway. Frank Junior, his hair had greyed and he had aged looking more like his father. Jail had not done anything for his personality. He wore a savage look on his face. His father had passed away a few weeks ago from a heart attack before Frank had been released from jail. I could see a man sitting in the driver’s seat, covered with tattoos as Frank got out of the car and started up the walkway. Mike got up from his chair and told him to stop right there as he was not welcome here and to turn around and leave if he knew what was good for him. 
Frank said he wanted to talk to me not him, I had gotten up from my chair, and gone inside and came back with my Luger pointing it right at him. I had made a trip in the winter, closed my storage locker and brought my Dad’s old wooden box with his collection of guns.

He said he had an offer that he knew that I would not refuse for my land, as his Daddy was no longer here to mollify me, he was the boss man now and he wanted my land for the water and grassland. He was not prepared to take no for an answer. One way or another he was getting this land. I aimed two inches from his feet and let off a shot, yelling if he wanted to dance he better start moving, letting off another half an inch from him. His friend got out and started coming towards us, Frank backed away telling him to get back into the car.

Mike was surprised to see me with a gun and I told him I had practiced at a shooting range for years and I felt safer with it than a rifle. Shaking his head he laughed and said that when we got married I could not bring it to bed with us. 
We married in September. Patsy was my bridesmaid and all Mikes brothers stood proud beside him at the alter. We had two weeks at a seaside resort and sunbathed nude at a deserted beach, getting to know each others bodies. We came home looking like well-roasted coffee beans.

Mike wanted to build me a bigger house, he joked there was no room for a big family in my little farm house. We picked a spot between my old house and his parents place on a small hill looking over the pastures. We agreed we wanted a log house with four bedrooms, two baths and a big kitchen for family dinners. He and his brothers would have it finished before the end of autumn.

More things started to happen and we knew it was at the instigation of Frank. Fences broken, livestock missing and Frank’s men following Patsy from school. She was leaving school one day and was stopped by a car as she headed to the bus, told to get in, one man getting out opening the door and she took off screaming and a teacher who happened to see what was happening came running and the two drove off. I started picking her up as the Murphys were putting the final changes on the house and keeping up with both farms, and the weather was starting to turn. I started to carry a small pistol from my collection in my handbag when I left the house. I vowed I would not live like this for much longer as Mike wanted to start a family. I had said not until we had dealt with Frank and his workers for good.

A plan started to form in my mind and finally the last straw happened.

George and Patsy were out mending fences. They had ridden their horses. George spotted two men in the distance riding towards them. He told Patsy to ride towards the trees and head back to get his brothers. By the time Greg, Jake and Patsy got there, George’s horse lay dead beside the fence, and they could not see their brother. Patsy found him lying beside a tree with his body covered in blood, hardly breathing. 
He died on the way to the hospital. The church was full and all I could see was George jumping out of the old car picking me up at the station. It seemed so long ago. Betty and Bill could hardly walk down the isle, their sons holding them up on each side. Mike and I walked with Patsy who was blaming herself, for leaving George alone. We had told her if she had stayed she would also be dead.

Thanksgiving was a week away when I told Mike what we had to do, his face went white. Those brown eyes looking sad and forlorn. He went quiet and just sat looking out the window. Getting up and pouring a large drink and downing it in one swallow, he finally spoke, we needed his brothers to help if we were going to do it and not be caught. I finally convinced him we could do this ourselves and not involve anyone else.

Betty was cooking thanksgiving dinner. That would be the best day to plan our revenge. Mike and I drove into town and I phoned Frank from the pay phone, telling him Mike and I were leaving and my farm was his if he wanted it, I would have all the papers ready for him to sign on Thanksgiving and to come to the farm at ten that morning.

We went over and over what we had to do when Frank arrived, we knew he would probably bring at least one maybe two of his men with him. Mike would cover them and I would be sitting outside with some papers beside me. The weather forecast for tomorrow was sun with cloudy periods. Neither of us slept much and both were up early. I made pies for the dinner to keep busy. Mike had my Luger in his jacket as he paced the yard. I had my small Beretta on the chair covered with a scarf.

Frank was on time and had a smirk on his face. His driver was laughing at something Frank had just said. Mike went over to the car and told Frank I was waiting to get this over with. He emerged and the driver went to get out too but Mike said to stay in the car, this had nothing to do with him. Frank nodded at him and he stayed where he was. Frank sauntered over to me like a peacock preening himself with satisfaction. He started to sit down when I pulled my gun and shot him right through the heart. Shock registered on his face. His driver had no time to react before Mike shot him, almost in a reflex action to hearing my shot. We stared at what we had done in a moment of silence until I picked up the shell casings. We struggled to lift them both into the trunk of Frank’s car.

Mike driving it, me following in our car, we left the farm. I knew Mike's mind was in turmoil at our actions but had reminded him of a lifetime of harassment from these criminals and the death of his cherished brother. My own feelings were simply determination to complete the horrible task. There was no time to reflect on anything but finishing the job. 
We drove into the hills about twenty miles south, pulling off the main road, to a spot in the craggy hills Mike knew would be private. Nobody around. All were enjoying this holiday and getting ready for turkey dinner.

We edged the cars into the brush as not to be seen if anyone happened to pass on the road. I got the gas container from our car as Mike pulled Frank's body out of the trunk first. He was having trouble finding the bullet, having to dig with his knife, finally pulled it out with his fingers, setting his jaw at his own grisly actions. He passed it to me. 
I gave him a resolute kiss on the cheek and started to sprinkle the gasoline inside the car and over Frank as Mike dug around for the second bullet and lifted the body into the front seat beside Frank. 
I emptied the rest of the gas inside the car as Mike threw our gloves into the car along with a book of matches.

We drove away looking back to see and hear the car explode with a dull thump. Both deep in thought and silence.

Heading home to shower after we buried the bullets and casings before going off for turkey dinner with the best family anyone could ask for. 
I thought, now we would all be safe and hoped Mike was thinking the same thing. During dinner our eyes met several times, until Mike finally smiled at me. I knew he was going to be okay.
A knock at the door just as Betty and Patsy were serving my pies. It was the police asking if they could come in and talk. I offered them some coffee and pie, saying I had just baked them this morning.

They asked Mike and I where we were this morning as someone told them Frank was coming over to our farm to sign papers for the sale of it. Mike and I both laughed saying our farm was never for sale and someone was pulling a prank on Frank. Then they told us they had found Franks car and two bodies inside it burned. They could not confirm it was Frank yet.
All went quiet, Patsy was the first to speak saying she had been over having breakfast with Mike and I, she helped bake pies and I had done her hair before we left for here. Betty asked if they wanted more coffee. Saying no, they said they were sorry to bother us on this holiday dinner but they did suspect murder. No one said a word after the police left, until Mike commented that someone must have finally got to Willard, which caused us all to have grins on our faces.

A week later the Willard house and barn burned down. Luckily, all the horses had been in the paddock, which was unusual for this time of year. 

Our baby is due this summer. We are settled in our new home. Matt and Greg are engaged to two local girls and Jake has started to date a girl he went to school with. Patsy starts college this year and I have noticed she gets a ride home from a cute boy. Betty and Bill will surely miss George like we all do, but I have seen them smiling at each other from across the room. 
Reminds me of the picture of my uncle and aunt on our fireplace.

At the inquest, they ruled the deaths were through misadventure.

Thursday 12 September 2013

Unknown Relative

After riding this slow train for twenty hours and looking out at barren land for the last ten, it finally pulled into what they called a station. Consisting of one small shack that looked like it would collapse if a wind came up.

A relative that I did not know had left me a farm that had not been touched or worked for over ten years. My second uncle was in his nineties when he passed and I was his last living relative. A solicitor had tracked me down, sent me estate papers and the deed, and arranged for me to be met when I arrived.

I was the only person to get off the train and there sat a young boy in a beat up car, slumped down in the seat sleeping. As I struggled with my suitcases, he finally jumped out and came towards me introducing himself as George, my neighbor. He looked no older than twelve. I asked him if he had a drivers license, shaking his head he stared with big brown eyes and asked why I was asking. Grinding the gears, he took off smiling as he turned the corner nearly hitting a fence post.

He was a chatterbox and never stopped talking for the rest of the trip. We came over a hill and all I could see were green fields with cattle grazing, groves of trees, then a rustic house and a large barn standing in the middle of the most beautiful area I had ever seen.

I had come for a look at what was mine, to decide for myself what to do with it all.

Apparently the boy and his family had looked after the livestock for my uncle for the last few years after he had a heart attack, the wife cooking for him and looking after him as best as she could. They were a large family of eight and they all worked their land according to George.

He hit the brakes the dust swirled everywhere. My clothes were full of dust as he had left the windows open in the car since leaving the station. He jumped out and took my suitcases dropping them on the porch as he opened the door and I had my first glimpse of the inside.

I was surprised at the neatness, George’s mom must have given it a good cleaning. I could smell furniture polish and the floors were shining. As I looked around and saw rays of daylight shining through cracks in the roof, I wondered if I could survive living here. My uncle who had spent his whole life here with his wife seemed to have made it a home. She had made cushions, blankets and trinkets throughout to make it homey. A picture of the two of them lingered on the fireplace, both smiling at each other enjoying their life here.

A little bit of a girl came running through the door, she had big brown eyes as well, her face had not grown into them yet. She was out of breath as if she had run a marathon. Collapsing on a chair, she smiled up at me, and I couldn't help smiling back as she introduced herself as Patsy, George’s younger sister. She told George to get home as his chores were not finished and she would help me settle. Patsy was a talker just like her brother, chatting non-stop as she opened the old frig pulling out a pitcher of lemonade and pouring us each a glass. This family had caringly prepared for my visit.

Patsy started to give me a running commentary of what had gone on in this small community in the past. I was sure she was not old enough to have been around when many of the things had happened that she talked about. Probably she had heard it from her older siblings at the dinner table. She told me her Mom was expecting me for dinner tonight at 6 o’clock and their place was just through the trees at the back of the property.

I heard a car coming down the driveway and Patsy, her face suddenly frozen in fear,  jumped up and said she had to get home and ran out the back door. A large robust man opened the car door, shifting his weight onto a cane as he started to walk towards the porch. He had big jowls and a scar down the length of his face. One eye was half-closed and a black and purple bruise had begun to color his cheek, I wondered what the other person looked like. He told me he had come to buy this farm, as he needed more grazing land for his cattle. He handed me a cheque. His hands were like sand paper as he thrust the paper into my hand. I was a little taken aback at his presumptions. He struck me right away as an arrogant man who always got his own way. I now knew why Patsy had been frightened of him. Had he intimidated her family as he was now trying to do to me?

I told him I had just arrived and had not even had time to look around and he could keep his money until I was ready to decide what I was going to do. As I handed the cheque back to him his face turned to a sneer, eyes boring into me as he looked me over from head to toe. This man looked dangerous and a chill ran down my spine. He turned, heading down my stairs and looked back and he told me he would be back for the deed to the land. Adding he never took no for an answer.

Later that evening, I lay in the strange bed and went over my day, my mind would not shut off and my stomach was still full from the delicious dinner with my new neighbors. How long I was here for I was not sure. The whole family was so hospitable and friendly and they made me feel like one of them. I found out the name of the man who had visited me that afternoon and all about him. His father and grandfather had owned acres of the surrounding land and kept buying up property when someone died or left for the bigger cities. 
They all had the same name, Frank Paton Willard, and were known for getting what they wanted, one way or another. Betty and Bill Murphy, the parents of the six siblings, let them ramble on about Frank until Betty said that was enough gossip for me for one night. They all laughed as I told them I was not one to be intimidated. Patsy and George walked me home and Patsy held my hand the whole way. I had made some good friends today.

Did I need this drama in my life? I could live very comfortable in a warm climate by the sea with this money from the farm and the cash in the bank. Maybe I should take Frank Junior’s offer.

I lay looking out my bedroom window into the darkness, I had never seen so many bright stars in the sky as the moon came into view.  I heard barking in the distance and then awhile later a sound like something on the porch, a scraping then nothing. Some animal doing his rounds I thought.   
Finally fell into a deep sleep. 
I awoke with the sun shinning brightly onto my face, feeling so relaxed even on this old mattress full of lumps, I pushed myself up and went to make some coffee, opening the front door I could see a sack lying near the stairs.

Someone had been here and left me something.                                                             

A dead coyote inside the sack! With a scribbled note saying for me to enjoy, there would be more treats for me soon. I felt a wave of dread pass through me. I was sure Frank Paton Willard Jr. had started his intimidation; but he did not know who he was starting trouble with. 
I had finished burying the sack out back when I heard Patsy calling. She had a plate with still warm scones smothered with homemade jam. We sat with coffee, each savoring our breakfast. With those big brown eyes, she asked if I thought I would come and live here on the farm. I told her I would be here for a while until I made up my mind what to do. She gave me a wide smile, saying I would surely love it here.

I was going into town to buy groceries and asked if she would be allowed to come with me? She was up running towards home to ask before I finished my coffee. I had trouble getting my uncle’s old car started and Patsy showed me how to put a bit of gas in the carburetor and we were off. People on farms seem to know how to do things, even at an early age. There were no windows and she explained that someone had broken them shortly after my uncle had refused to sell his land to Frank Senior.

As we arrived in town, we started picking up everything I thought I needed. A few people stopped to say hello and Patsy introduced them along the way. Everyone welcomed me mentioning how fond of my uncle they all had been. Filling up the back seat and trunk with all the groceries and picking out a few special items, we were off.

As we pulled up to the house Patsy’s oldest brother Mike was waiting and helped us unload the car. He shooed Patsy home to help her mom. 
He looked very serious as he took a rifle out from under the porch and asked if I knew how to use one. If not he would show me. Laughing I told him I grew up duck hunting with my dad. And I had found my Uncle’s oak walking stick that looked like he had carved it himself. I assured Mike I could look after myself. He seemed to relax and explained about the Willard family and how dangerous they could be if they did not get their way.

Frank Jr. had been in a brawl at the local pub, and a couple of men had jumped him when he left alone and beat him up. Frank had tried to get a girl into his car and her father had come after him. That was why he was walking with a cane and had black eyes.

I told him what had been on my porch that morning, and asserted that I could look after myself again. He told me to be careful and gave me his cell number and to call anytime day or night. Warning me to keep the rifle loaded at night. 
After Mike left I walked the property, liking what I saw. The green hills, the copses of trees, the peacefulness and the fresh air. It had great potential and with the money that my uncle had left me I had the finances to bring this land back to what it once was, that is if I was going to settle here. I did not know a thing about farming, but I was sure I could learn with the help from the Murphys. 

I baked two pies and headed over to their house, bringing Patsy and George the small gifts that I had bought in town. Patsy was thrilled with her necklace of a heart and George smiled as he opened his Swiss army knife. Betty asked me to join them for lemonade and pie. But I told her I had a few things to do back at the farm and set off through the trees, the sun was high in the sky and very warm as I made my way back. It was becoming a contented feeling.

I heard a rustle in the bushes ahead,  saw two figures coming from the direction of my farm. I did not recognize either as I drew closer. They both stopped, blocking the path. I looked them in the eyes and said did your mothers not teach you any manners? As I sidestepped them, I felt a hand on my hip.
I turned with my walking stick and aimed for his knee, hitting hard. All I heard was a groan as I continued on my way. I could hear one say that women needs a good lesson on how to behave around men.

Reaching my steps, there lay another sack, this one had blood oozing onto the porch. Going and getting a shovel, I took it out back getting angrier as I dug another hole. This was not going to keep happening. I would not be threatened to sell this land.  It was now my land.

Loading the rifle, I set it beside the front door. I made a pot of soup to simmer on the stove as I poured a glass of wine and stepped out on the porch. The same car that had come yesterday was driving up the road, with two men inside this time. An older man that looked like Frank Sr. got out and came towards me. 
He had a smile, Frank Jr. a scowl. He introduced himself and hoped that we could make a deal on the farm price. I told him it was not for sale, and to tell his son to stop dropping off dead animals on my property, or he might end up walking with two canes. They both looked surprised and Senior started to try to placate me saying they would never do anything like that.

I told them they were on private land and not welcome and to leave, both their faces were in shock, guess they were not used to women telling them off. Senior turned first to go and Junior muttered I would regret talking to his father that way and limped off.

Later that evening I heard an explosive bang, being disoriented for a bit, then realizing, where I was I jumped out of bed and ran to the window. I could see two figures running away from the barn. Flames were billowing out from under the doors, they were burning down my barn!  After calling the fire department, I grabbed my rifle taking off in the direction of the two. I caught up as they were jumping into a truck and fired, taking out the front tire and hitting one of the men in the leg. He went down screaming, as I kicked him where I had hit him. The other went to grab me as I lifted the rifle. He backed off when he realized my determination. This was now personal to me.

As I led them back with them cussing all the way, the fire department had put out the fire and Mike and his brothers were standing there talking to the police. I told them what happened, the two denying everything, but the smell of gasoline on their hands and boots nailed them. The police took them away in handcuffs and they were recognized as two of Willard’s employees. 
At that moment my mind was made up, I was staying.

For the next few weeks, all was calm. I hired the Murphy boys to rebuild the barn and was starting to get into a routine, going to auction and with the help from Mike had started bidding on some livestock. He was counseling me on what to look for and how to do it. I was becoming a farmer without even realizing how much I was enjoying the simple life. Mike was getting to be a regular visitor and we shared a glass of wine most nights and talked about life.

My bubble burst one night when I had gone to bed early. I heard someone jimmying my back door. I slowly slid out of bed shaking and trying not to make a sound. Someone was coming into my house.  As I pointed the rifle towards the noise, my bedroom door opened and there stood Frank Jr. with a rope dangling from his hand. Shock on his face as I cocked my weapon straight at him. 
He came rushing towards me flinging the rope in my face, it caught the barrel and the rifle fell to the ground as he hit me hard pushing me down on the bed. His face turned to rage as he hit me again. Pulled at my nightgown and it started to rip, this animal was going to rape me. I bunched my fist and hit him as hard as I possibly could in his bad eye, he yelped, slacking his hold on me. I twisted around and aimed a hard kick to his groin with the heel of my foot, rolled off the bed as he slumped over giving me time to grab my rifle. 
A loud bang exploded in my ears as Frank fell to the floor, blood flowing onto the rug. I must have hit an artery.

I dialed Mike then the ambulance. Mike arrived in a rush and I told him what happened before the police arrived. He said Frank would be spending time in jail this time.

As they loaded him into the ambulance, I whispered in his ear, “Next time you die, and tell your Daddy he will too, nobody harasses me and gets away with it.”

His eyes glowed with hatred as I turned and went back inside. 

This was going to be a long battle, but I was prepared now and had found some good friends.

I thought I had won this time, but was it only the first round?