Hanna and Grant agreed to buy Mama's food and cook Mama’s meals, supply the firewood (which Grant was already doing) and give Mama unlimited access to her grandchildren.
That was the big draw. The grandchildren. As much as she disliked Grant, Mama doted on her two grandchildren.
Hanna had the food locked in a footlocker her the room she and Grant shared.
She made breakfast for Grant before he left for work. It was a half-hour walk to where he was cutting wood in the swamp and he didn’t want to lose a minute of sunlight.
An hour later she cooked another breakfast for herself, the children and her mother.
Lunch was also fine. She made soup and sandwiches for herself, Mama and the kids at 11:00AM.
Krystal, Hanna’s younger sister awoke at the crack of noon. Her current boyfriend, Jesse followed her out of the bedroom, scratching his enormous belly. Jesse was wearing boxer shorts and he was hanging out.
“Mama” Krystal wailed. “Why is the house so cold?”
Krystal was wearing flimsy harem pantaloons and a slut-shirt with no bra beneath it.
Hanna snapped back “Put on some clothes. There are children present.”
Jesse leered at Hanna’s daughter and spread his legs, making the rent in the front of the boxers gape open even more.
Hanna was beyond disgusted. Somehow, she had assumed the information that Krystal still lived with her Mama meant that she only spent the nights there.
“Mama, I am hungry” Krystal whined. “And so is Jesse.”
Mama looked over at Hanna and said “Cook them breakfast.”
“I will not!” Hanna said. “We have a deal. I will cook for you but I will not cook for Krystal or any of her ‘friends’.”
It went downhill from there.
Hanna still refused to cook for them. The children started crying. At one point, Hanna looked over and saw Jesse rubbing her daughter’s head. He very pointedly looked up at her, got her attention, and then smirked
Icy fingers of dread played up-and-down her spine. The smirk...it was just...evil.
Dominance. It was all about dominance.
Sadly, the behaviors that are most exercised become our defaults. Krystal had 22 years of being the baby of the family, of bending her mother to meeting her every desire, her every wish.
Krystal was not about to let an interloper weaken the talons she had sunk in her mother's psyche.
Hanna took the children for a walk. She didn't know what else to do. She had to get them out of the house.
Hanna put them in the sled and dragged them around the square mile where her mother lived. She was so steamed that she was ready to move back home and live in a single room, if that is all they could heat.
When Hanna got back to Mama’s house, the first thing she noticed is that the door to the bedroom she and Grant shared had been pushed in. A cursory inspection revealed that the footlocker had been pried open and emptied.
Rushing into the kitchen, she saw Jesse jamming the last of the cookies she had made into his mouth.
Hanna had made them the night before moving into Mama’s house. She intended to use them to reward her children for when they behaved particularly well.
Jesse claimed to have no knowledge of how her door had been smashed or who had broken into the footlocker. He said the cookies had been on the table when he woke up.
Krystal smirked. This was working out perfectly.
Grant dragged himself home a half-hour after dark. Grant found that working three days, and then one recovery day worked best for him. Today had been the third day and he was looking forward to tomorrow being a day off.
Hanna met him at the front gate. It took her very few words to relay the critical information.
Grant’s shoulders sagged. No rest for the weary.
Coming into the house, both Krystal and Jesse looked like cats who had eaten canaries. They had no doubt that Grant, Hanna and children would be gone by morning.
“Hey, Jesse, do you suppose you and me could have a little chat, man-to-man, out in the woodshed?” Grant asked.
A tiny frown crossed Jesse’s brow. He hadn’t expected any push-back. No matter. Jesse had sixty pounds on Grant and at least an inch-and-a-half of reach. The woodshed suited Jesse fine. He was sure he could rush Grant and pin him in a corner of the small shed. If need be, he could use a chunk of kindling to beat him into submission.
This was not Jesse’s first rodeo. He had a good thing going, here. He was not about to let that slip out of his hands.
Jesse didn’t bother to put on many clothes. He was loath to bend over and he did not expect to be outside long. He had not even tied the laces of his boots.
Jesse’s pacs squeaked on the new snow. He was impatient to get this over with. He had plans for tonight.
Grant had quite a bit to do with where Mama’s woodshed was placed. He had seen a woodshed where sparks had settled in the sawdust and set it on fire. Grant had too much sweat equity in filling that shed to see that happen.
The shed was west of the house and the main opening faced south, toward the road.
Jesse thought “All the better.” Dark spaces favor those who grapple and Grant looked like more of a boxer than a gouge-and-knee-and-stomp wrestler.
Jesse started to turn as they rounded the southeast corner of the woodshed. Maybe it was the slight change in the cadence of Grant’s footsteps.
The head of the light ax Grant used to split kindling hit Jesse just above his left elbow and continued through his ribcage, slicing through the major blood vessels that adorned the top of his heart and punctured the membrane that separated the two lobes of the lungs.
Jesse instinctively tried to shout, but vocal cords require pressure to make sound. The three-inch wide cut through more than half of Jesse’s chest resulted in the diaphragm’s spasm aerosoling blood in a large, fan-shaped pattern to the east of Jesse. But no pressure. No sound.
The force of the blow and the unballasting effect of losing the lower half of his left arm and the tension of most core muscles along the left side of his trunk resulted in Jesse staggering to the right.
The ax handle had wedged between a couple of Jesse’s ribs and Grant had to wrench it out. Stuck axes were not an unknown problem to Grant. He wrenched it out with a mighty heave.
Grant’s second strike with the ax hit the C2 vertebrae smack-dab in the center. The ax, razor sharp but light weight, did not pass completely through Jesse’s neck but stopped just shy of coming out the other side. Necks are surprisingly muscular.
Jesse toppled like a half-beef that had slipped off the slaughterhouse hook.