Saturday, June 25, 2011
Posted by Jonathan Martin
All of a sudden, Rocky was on his feet, barking toward the east and the still rising sun. Peter was on his feet in an instant and ran back into the house, followed by everyone else. He ran down the hallway, pressing his face to the door, eye peering out the peephole. “I don’t see anything,” he said over the still bellowing dog.
“Shhhhh,” Amy said, trying to quiet Rocky. “Listen!” Music could be heard approaching the house.
“What is it?” Jud asked, moving towards a nearby curtained window.
“I think it’s a car,” Peter said as he moved to the window and, pulling the curtains aside gently, looked out.
“Well?” Brian asked.
“Well what?” Responded Zach.
“Do we go outside?”
“I was just wondering the same thing,” Peter replied.
“Move,” Aubrey pushed Peter aside and threw the door open, shouting “Stop!” as loud as she could, but it was too late, the car’s tail lights disappearing over the hills to the west.
“Did that just happen,” Julie asked, unsure of what to believe.
“I think so,” Brian said as Aubrey walked back in. “Did you get a look at what kind of car it was?” he asked her.
“Not really, but I don’t think I heard an engine, so it was probably one of those hybrids or whatever.” She responded.
“Why’d you run out there like that, you coulda gotten yourself killed,” Jud chastised his wife.
“What kind of car was it?” Chris asked, grabbing her by the arm and turning her towards him.
“I… I don’t know, it looked like, like a sedan or something,” she stammered back before breaking down into tears. “Jud, why did this happend, what does this mean?”
Before Jud could answer, Chris did. “It means we can drive again!” He ran out the front door before anyone could stop him.
“Stop,” Peter yelled, chasing him.
“Peter!” Jud shouted.
Peter glanced back over his shoulder and watched as Jud came out the door behind him. “The fools going to start a car!” he shouted back at the old man.
Jud laughed and called out, “Let him try, I drained all of the gas out of everything about a month ago, let the sun dry it all up.”
Peter slowed to a walk, watching Chris get into the powder blue Chevy Caprice, it’s top down and the brown leather interior cracked and faded by the west Texas sun.
Despite having heard Jud’s announcement, the young man found keys sitting in the ignition, right where he had expected them to be. He turned them and heard the car cough, but it failed to turn over. “Damn old fool,” he muttered to himself as Peter walked up to the passenger side door, opened it and sat down next to him.
“First off, that ‘damn old fool’ may have just saved your life, and second off, you’re an idiot. What the hell were you thinking?” Peter had made it a point to stay positive and not focus on any of the mistakes any of them had made over the weeks that they had all been together. In that one sentence though, he felt all of the vile and negativity that he had fought so hard to suppress well up. “You could have gotten yourself killed, or better yet, killed one of us. I for one am glad that that ‘damn old fool’” he spat the last three words, “had enough foresight to defend himself that way. What do you think would have happened in Wichita Falls if all of the cars had been drained of gas?”
Defiantly, Chris opened his mouth to say something, but Peter cut him off. “Don’t!” He got up out of the car and slammed the door shut, marching off towards the house, ignoring the looks of everyone until he caught Sarah’s eyes on him, she was fighting back tears. “What?” he shouted at her, “you were all thinking it, at least I tried to stop him!” He stormed back through the house, leaving doors open in his wake, until he was on the back porch again, sitting in a wooden rocking chair, drinking his coffee.
Silently, the rest of the group,including Chris, filed back onto the patio. After she had finished her coffee, Aubrey got up and began to clear the dishes. As she picked up the saucer that Chris’ mug rested on, her hand tipped and she watched as the cup tumbled towards the floor, the few remaining drops of coffee proceeding its decent.
Chris’ hand shot out and caught the cup before it had a chance to tumble very far. A far away look upon his face, he sat the mug back on the saucer, and told her, in a rather flat tone, “You need to be more careful, they don’t make mugs like that anymore.” He smiled and turned to look her squarely in the eyes, and noticed the tears that had started to form in the corners of her eyes. “Shit! I didn’t mean it like that. I’m sorry!” He stood up and stomped off into the house, grabbing his guitar from where it was perched against the wall.
Peter stood up to go after him, but Amy grabbed his arm. “Leave him be fore now.”
Peter nodded and turned to Jud, “what all do you have on the agenda for today?”
His story forgotten, Jud detailed the work that needed to be done around the farm,
from every day chores like feeding the horses and collecting eggs to a fence that needed some work done. “We’re also going to need more fire wood for the winter now, with you all here.”
“Ok, point me to an axe, and tell me where I can find some trees to cut down.” Peter volunteered.
“I’ll help with that,” Brian said, standing up, his Pooh blanket tucked into his belt.
“Mom, can I get the eggs?” Kyle exclaimed, excited.
Julie looked at Aubrey, who was smiling again. “Sure sweetie, tell you what, if you want, I’ll go with you this first time.” Aubrey said.
Chris never did reappear from within the house while the rest of the group busied themselves with chores. Zach helped his step-father replace broken crossbeams on a section of the fence and then walked the rest of the perimeter, not finding anything else amiss. Amy helped Aubrey feed the horses after the egg collection was done, while Julie and Sarah began to look over their clothing, mending worn patches with scrap fabric that Aubrey had in a large wooden trunk.
Supper came and went without incident, although Chris did not put in an appearance until almost the end of the meal, and then went straight back to whatever corner of the house he was hiding in and began playing his guitar again.
Following the sound of the music, Peter found him and sat down in a small wooden chair in the corner of the room.
“Look,” Peter began, “I’m sorry, I was out of line, I just don’t want you, or any of us for that matter, to get hurt.”
“Whatever,” Chris sighed back, not stopping the song he was in the middle of.
“Ok, we’re all getting some sleep, you should too, or at least play quieter so we can.” Sullenly, Peter said, and left the room, closing the door behind him.
Amy was waiting in the hallway, “So?”
“I’m not sure, I apologized, but I don’t think he cared.”
“Do you want me to go talk to him?” She asked.
“No, we will talk again in the morning.” Peter stifled a yawn. “G’night.”
It was pitch black when Peter was woken up by someone calling his name.
“Peter, wake up, grab a gun!” it was Jud, he had a lit lantern in one hand, and a shotgun in the other.
“Huh, what’s up Jud?” Peter wiped his eyes, trying to get them to focus further.
“Something’s spooked the horses.”