Enduring on the Lake

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chapter 33


“Syd?” 

Max’s urgent whisper startled me out of a troubled sleep and I jumped up so fast I nearly knocked over the lamp that sat on my nightstand. 

Max quickly hushed me.  “Shhhhh.  Zane heard a noise outside.  He went out there but … but he hasn’t come back.  He told me not to bother you but it’s been a long time.” 

My eyes were sore and swollen from all the crying I’d been doing all afternoon.  I didn’t remember going to bed but there I was, fully clothed except for my shoes.  “How long is long?” I asked Max. 

“I don’t know for sure.  The power went out and I … I can’t find a clock that works.” 

“Power out,” I mumbled.  “Not good.”  I walked into the living room and asked, “Which door did he go out of?” 

“The one that faces the lake.” 

“Is that where he heard the noise?  Do you know what kind of noise it was?” 

“It sounded like something was at the barn.  Zane said it sounded like either the chicken coop or the wood shed.” 

I reversed course and went towards the other end of the house to look outside through the peep hole in the shutters.  I didn’t see anything but it was a dark and moonless night.  I didn’t hear anything either, not at first.  Then I heard the same sound as you would hear when you were stacking wood.  I turned to Max and asked, “Did Zane take a gun with him when he went out?” 

“Yeah.  His … you know … the small black one.” 

“Yeah, the LCP.  And you haven’t heard it going off?” 

“No!” 

“Easy Max, I was just askin’.  I’m going to go out the same door Zane did.  I want you to lock the door behind me.” 

“But …” 

“Max.  There’s a spare phone in my nightstand.  It’s just a track phone but it works.  You’ll have to turn it on to make the call.  OK?” 

He didn’t like it at all but I needed to move so didn’t bother trying to persuade him.  Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  The idea of being alone had finally sunk in as the day had progressed.  With it came the understanding that I had to stop depending so much on other people for things.  But Zane pushed me to agreeing that he didn’t fall into the “other people” category and that he and Max living in the cabin made us partners of sorts.  Well I needed to check on my partner and I wasn’t going to go empty handed. 

Out of the back of my closet I took my shotgun.  It was a junior sized shotgun and almost too small for me at this point but on the other hand it still wasn’t anything I ever wanted to be hit with.  I keep it loaded – hence the reason it was in the back of the closet – and I also keep an ammo pouch of shells on a nail hung right beside it.  I carried the shotgun and a pocketful of extra shelves to the “back” door and on the way down the long all grabbed machete from the coat closet.  Normally used to hack the tall grass that grew around the lakes edge when the lake was low.  I figured it could come in handy to hack at other things as well if necessary.  Not that it was my goal to start hacking away at things but a girl can’t be too careful. 

Quietly I went out the door and then heard Max throw the bolt.  It was very dark and I was glad my night vision hadn’t been destroyed by indoor lights.  Contrary to what a lot of people think, Daddy hasn’t completely destroyed my ability to take care of myself.  He withheld information from me but he never stopped me from learning skills a girl needs.  On the contrary, he insisted I take classes that taught me how to handle the unexpected from males.  It was all defensive measures but here I was having to use those to go on the offense with. 

I carefully made my way towards the noise and nearly wet myself when a hand went over my mouth and pulled me behind a tree.  To say that Zane wasn’t happy was a major understatement but he calmed down some when he saw I had the shotgun and machete although his opinion of the size of the shotgun was obvious from the curled lip expression he when he gave it a once over.  The machete just caused him to lift one eyebrow and shrug. 

He never said a word but I knew what he was thinking.  He wanted me to watch what was going on.  There was a brush pile that we had stacked off to the side towards the property line.  There was a pile of loose junk branches and twigs.  Next to it was a pile of larger limbs that had been cut into five and six foot lengths that Zane had planned to cut into smaller more useful lengths as he had an opening in his work schedule and all he wanted in pay for it was to split it so that he could take some home to his mother.  Then there was the trunks too big to do much more than pile up, some even having their root ball still attached. 

The middle pile of five and six foot wood was quickly disappearing into the back of a pull along wagon.  I was outraged until I saw Zane’s disdain for the thieves.  By hand motion he pointed out that the pull along that they were using was overloaded and the wheels half flat.  And even with four guys … well a man and three older boys really … to pull or push they still wouldn’t be moving the wagon very far before a disaster occurred. 

And a disaster it surely turned out to be.  If Zane and I hadn’t been watching them one of the boys would surely be dead.  The wagon tipped so suddenly and with so much weight that Zane and I could hear the snap of bone from our hiding space.  When ran forward and it took all of us to carefully uncover the boy – well he was younger than me but not by much if looks mean anything – and his skin had that grayish-blue tinge people get when they are low on oxygen.  The father panicked when he saw we were armed and he and the other older boy grabbed the injured one and started dragging him away with the younger of the three – sons of the man I presume – threatening us with a stout limb before his father whistled for him to run. 

Zane just shook his head.  “If that is the quality of the idiots around here we should be ok.  Do you recognize them?” 

“No but then again I didn’t hang out much with the kids around the lake.  Daddy didn’t approve, especially if there were boys in the mix.  Even when … well, it didn’t matter even if I already had a long term boyfriend.  I always wondered if it was the boys or me that Daddy didn’t trust.” 

Zane shook his head.  “Don’t start that again.  We don’t know what is or was in your dad’s head.  Until we do or if we do, there’s no need to automatically assume the worst.  Be glad you had a dad that was so hands on.  My old man, he wasn’t bad, but he was … well, a live-and-let-live sort and we had to raise ourselves for the most part.  Our grandfather was the disciplinarian.” 

“Your grandfather?  I haven’t even heard anyone mention him.” 

“He and Gran … well they … it was …”  He stopped and shook his head.  “Let’s just say they had modern separation before most people will admit that such a thing even existed.  They loved one another, of that there is no doubt, they just never learned to live together in peace.  Gramps built the house we live in and he lived over the store most of the time.  It was like that almost from the first for them.  Gramps was a townie.  Gran came from the backwoods.  They each had their own way of looking at things.  Josh takes after Gran’s side of the family.  Junior and Max are both a lot like Gramps.” 

“What about you and John?  And your sisters?” 

He shrugged.  “John is just John … and a pain in the ass even when he doesn’t mean to be.  Gran always said she had a brother that was like that but he died during the Korean War so she doesn’t know if he would have ever changed.  Gran can handle John though, she always has.  And John would die before anything even got close to happening to Mom.  He couldn’t live with us but he always sent money for Mom to have something when she wanted it.” 

“And you?” 

“Who knows?  I’ve always been a bit of a black sheep and gone my own way.” 

I could hear I wasn’t going to get much more than that and we were getting eat up by no see ums and asked, “How long has the power been out?  I don’t even know what time it is.  And I guess we need to let Max know things are ok.  That kid’s scream probably scared him.” 

I heard, “It did.”  I turned to look up and realized Max had opened the window in his bedroom.  

“You better not have taken off the screen.  There’s bugs galore out here.” 

“Naw.  I ain’t stupid.  I saw them people get in a car and drive off.  It was a little bitty thing and there ain’t no way they were going to be able to fit them logs in it.” 

Zane snorted.  “That’s stupid for you.  Now come down here and help me straighten this mess up.” 

We heard the window close and the shutter snap back in place.  Zane looked at me and said, “It’s not that late, about nine o’clock.  I didn’t want to start the generator when I didn’t hear anyone else starting one up.” 

I shivered, “Geez it’s getting cool.  Can you wait long enough for me to start some hot water for cocoa or tea or something?” 

“Just go get your coat and make sure Max wears his too.  We need to drag what we can into the barn and lock it up.  If one family has thought about ‘borrowing’ some wood you can bet someone else has as well.  They might have justified it, telling themselves this was just junk wood, but it isn’t and we need to start making sure we’ve got enough before we let anyone else take more.  And we need to do something about those cluckers.  Wood is bad enough but those chickens will be damn near impossible to replace if people start hauling them off.” 

“You built is so the chickens could go into that stall in the barn if it gets cold because of the propane heater in there.  I’ve got enough chicken wire so maybe we can just screen a bigger area and they can kinda stay in there during the day too.” 

“That might work until we see how things are going to be.”  After we started dragging the logs into the barn using the appliance dolly Daddy always kept on the premises Zane and I started talking about other things we needed to do.  “People are still trickling in and I’ve seen some fights – shouting matches for the most part – at some of the places around the lake.  Looks like some people didn’t expect others to already be there.” 

“There’s a few of the cabins that are actually time shares but those are closer to the Lodge.  I know, from listening to Mom, that a lot of the places over here are owned in trust by whole families and they take turns using it.” 

“Well I can tell you some don’t seem to want to share right now.  It settled down as dark settled in and the power went off but I don’t know for how long.”  He sighed.  “Look, I don’t want to step on your toes and you can tell me to get bent if you want, but …” 

“But?” 

“I feel like I’m working in the dark here.  I kinda know what you have to work with but on the other hand I don’t.  I saw all that stuff your mom and dad brought … oh … crap … I didn’t mean to …” 

I cleared my throat.  “Zane, just like you asked me not to act stupid around you do me a favor and don’t … don’t treat me too …”  I stopped and set my end of the wood down carefully and then looked at Zane.  I was careful the way I said it because I could see Max trying to listen in.  “Zane, I appreciate that you feel the need to protect me.  And to be honest I’m finding out I’m kinda ok with that.  We talked that part out at lunch.  We’re partners.  Just don’t … don’t feel like you gotta treat me like glass.  I’ve accepted … that … that if my feelings are right that my family is gone.  There’s Kevin but he’s in jail and he hated the cabin anyway.  It was one of the few things that him and Sam disagreed on.  So I’m alone.  I don’t like it.  I might cry about it every now and then.  But for the most part people aren’t going to be able to tell that I’m grieving because I don’t consider it any of their business and because … well because that’s just the way I am put together.  People thought I was in shock for a long time after Sam was killed.  Then people thought the same thing when Dan … when that crap all blew up in my face.  Not even Mom ever really got how I was acting.  Daddy did after I explained it to him … but I’m not sure how serious he took my original feelings for Dan.  I just understand that there comes a time when – no matter how you might feel in private, you have to put your big girl panties on and keep them on in public so that you can move on.  Maybe it isn’t always the healthiest way to deal with stuff but on the other hand right now we don’t have the time for me to dissolve into tears at the mere mention of my family.  And while Daddy may have left me in the lurch by overprotecting me, the one thing I do know about Daddy and Mom is that they wouldn’t want me to just lay down and die of grief.  So this is me, refusing to let my knickers get knotted, and I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t act like I was a bomb that’ll go off because you’re just saying what has to be said.  OK?” 

Zane looked at me and said, “On one condition.  Don’t hold it inside if you need to blow.  I watched Mom pretty much destroy herself trying to stay cheerful for the rest of us.  She had some kind of breakdown or something and it’s only because Max needed her that she’s come as far as she has.  Now with the nephews to keep her occupied Max doesn’t get so smothered all the time.” 

“I’m not going to hurt Max.” 

He shook his head.  “That’s not what I’m saying.  I just mean don’t pretend.  It isn’t any better for you than if you were wallowing in it all the time.” 

I rolled my eyes.  “You sure like to dish out the psychology you know that?” 

He gave a self-deprecating grin.  “You ain’t the first person that has said that.  But I finally smartened up and got help over losing my foot.  The lessons … they’re worth sharing.  Especially with someone I care about.” 

The look he gave me brought the heat to me cheeks and I used the excuse of bending down to pick up my end of the wood again to break eye contact.  This is a complication that I’m not ready to deal with.

4 comments:

  1. Kathy thanks for the chapter, great story
    Wayne

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  2. Thank you for the addition, loving this story!

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  3. Thanks Kathy.
    I'm surprised you got things going again so quickly after your "dunking" ;))

    But......I checked Dashboard and it shows the start of Chapter 34, but.... when I clicked on it the notice says "no such page on this blog"
    .... I think Google gobbled it.... great sadness.
    Hate to see you have to "mess" with redoing this. Hope it is not left overs from that hacker.

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  4. How did she make the trash in sound proof?

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