Friday, October 25, 2019
The Shrewd King 14.5: Chicken Run
It was after a rainy day in mid-July when the Blastics discovered that two-thirds of their labor force had departed for parts unknown.
In retrospect, the families that had flown the coop had used the day not working in the fields to pack their meager belongings and to screw up their courage.
The first hint of trouble was when Vernon’s work detail did not line-up at 9:00 in the morning. A few older couples with no children showed up. The gray-eyed girl, her brother and mom were there. But that was it.
Vernon cursed as he marched toward the “cottages” where the help lived. He assumed they had gotten drunk on home-brew and were hung-over. It would not be the first time.
The first cottage he visited had no residents in it. The workers had so few belongings that it was not really possible to determine if they had decamped with their belongings or were shacked-up in another cottage.
After the third cottages, Vernon was running from building-to-building, throwing the door open and yelling inside. His cursing was no longer under his breath.
Denny’s mood was always foul when awakened early in the morning. It got appreciably worse when informed WHY he had been awakened.
Denny soundly cuffed Trey because Trey was responsible for “security”. The look Trey gave Vernon was poisonous.
Then Denny and Trey got on horses and went looking for their help.
As the trotted down the muddy road Trey observed “If they ran once, they will run again.”
“I know that” Denny said, his bourbon induced headache not improved by the hot morning and the jarring of the horse’s hooves.
“So what are we going to do when we find them?” Trey asked.
“I am working on that” Denny said.
The two riders worked their way east. Denny was 99% sure they had not moved west into Capiche. It was far too likely that Denny or one of his boys would encounter them if they had. If they hadn’t moved west, then they probably moved east.
After riding about a mile, Trey said “Do you smell that?”
Denny couldn’t smell a thing. “What do you smell?” he demanded.
“Wood smoke.” Trey said.
Hooking to the north and riding along the cusp of the river valley, the two riders could see the haze of wood smoke hanging in the still, dense air. By then even Denny could smell it.
“That is probably them.” Trey said. He did not really believe that. He figured all the workers were at least ten miles away. He knew that he would spend the entire day in the saddle if Denny didn’t get some satisfaction and that is not how he wanted to spend the day.
“So, what is your plan?” Trey repeated.
“You ride around to the south end of the woods and drive them to me. I will give them a double-ought education.” Denny said.
Denny was a "shotgun" man. The shotgun is a forgiving weapon if you have a horse to carry your ammo. A twelve gauge shotgun with a tight choke can reach out sixty yards and put at least one pellet of buckshot onto the target. Without medical care, one pellet was almost certain death, even if it took two weeks for the infection to finish the job.
Man, woman, child; it meant nothing to Denny Blastic. Pushed by a man with a gun riding a horse and with the sound of a gun going off somewhere ahead of them, most campers tried to avoid the man on the horse.
The wild dogs feasted with abandon.