Archive for November, 2021

Gray Lace, Part 29

I have never jumped onto a moving train, or off one, for that matter. I hope I never have to do so. I did jump out of the backdoor of a stationery school bus, while teaching a safety evacuation drill, subsequentially tearing my ACL, but I digress … In this episode our heroes run from a rough lumber company, its employees, and an angry killer chicken. Their escape route is a moving freight train. Their difficulties are imagined. Thank goodness for fiction.

The sounds of a train’s approach on the nearby tracks signaled an opportunity of escape. The train slowed but didn’t come to a complete stop, men throwing out bags of food and mail.

“Follow my lead, but don’t stop running forward,” ordered Ross. “Trevor, hold onto Catherine and don’t let go!”

“As if,” he whispered between heaving breaths. He had her hand and tried to throw an encouraging smile her way, but she focused on the slowly moving train. There were two open-door cars and the rest were log carrying open flat beds.

Ross threw Joann through the open door of the second car and hustled a forward-flip himself onto the floor, turned and held a hand out to Trevor.

The gun got handed in first then Trevor lifted Catherine into his arms, and threw her. She landed on top of Joann, turned and fearfully screamed, “Come on, Trevor, hurry!”

As the back end of the car passed, Trevor reached for a guardrail and jumped. His hands were sweaty and he slipped an inch, but he still hung on. His arms strained against the forward motion and pain shot through his shoulders. He wanted to let go until he saw Catherine’s hair flying around her beautiful face as she held out her hand. He forced his left leg onto the same rail and heaved his body against the rattling and shaking metal.

He held on.

The train gathered speed and Trevor flattened his full body length against the rail and metal siding. He gritted his teeth, pressed his lips tight, and as the train rounded the curve, he used the momentum to swing toward her and their open door. Landing on the hard floor with a painful thud, he thankfully enjoyed her concern.

“God, Trevor, are you alright?” She patted him everywhere. He decided to play possum. “No broken bones, thank God.” Catherine gently turned him onto his back and he kept his eyes closed, but could not for the life of him, stop a foolish grin from spreading across his face. After a few more enjoyable pats, she must have noticed his mouth, because he absorbed the lovely realization of her kissing him. Her first kiss pillowed his lips too briefly then a few on his nose and forehead.

“Sit up, silly man” she whispered, “we have an audience.”

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Gray Lace, Part 28

A bit more background concerning one of my favorite characters: Killer chicken.

He and his harem of five were introduced to me during a visit to a small farm. Once he took note of my husband, he attacked. He lowered his crown and jabbed at Rudy’s ankles and sent his wings to overdrive, sending my beloved running.

Our host yelled, “Get behind Eleanor!”

Really? Made no sense to me either.

Killer stopped at my feet and looked up at my face. He turned and his crown nodded as if he was indeed counting his ladies. Seemingly satisfied that all was well, he marched away, his ladies following. We were told this happens daily to the milkman. Yes, they had one of those, too.

Now, back to Catherine, Trevor, Joann, and Ross, battling a 1908 survival journey to Charleston, have come upon a lumber camp within the forests surrounding the swamps.

The late afternoon machinery noise and male voices slowed to a low growl, as the four travelers entered the center of the camp and stopped in front of the cooking tent. Trevor nearly gagged at the body odor wafting from the large man in the greasy apron in front of him. His meanness came from his body language as well as his eyes. His welcome left Trevor no doubt as to his political philosophies.

The cook waved his finger in Joann’s face, “What the hell is this darky bitch doing with my livestock?”

Trevor readied the long barrel of his gun securely on his hip. While he was sure of the cook’s vocabulary and intent, he also knew his gravely voice threatened all of them.

Ross took the hen from his now frozen wife and tried to hand it to the man. “Sorry, sir, we had no idea this was your property.”

The cook refused his offer.

Ross gently pushed Joann behind Trevor. “Just tell us when the train south will be here and we’ll leave you to your supper.”

The cook’s smile not only smelled, but he was missing a few of his teeth, and dark spots showed on the remainders. “Hey!” he announced to the dozen men within earshot, “These foreigners want to travel on our next luxury train south.”

Trevor backed up a few feet forcing the ladies to do the same. “Get ready to run,” he whispered. The mean laughter warned him and he wouldn’t allow them to be surrounded. He saw Ross reach behind and pull a knife from his back pocket and he glanced around for a possible way out.

His majesty, Killer Chicken, surprisingly appeared from behind the cook’s tent and he wanted his lady back.

Ross threw the hen into the cook’s face. “What the hell!” The man screamed in surprise and pain, turning around in circles as his friends began wailing in laughter. Killer brutally pecked at the man’s leg and flapped his wings to distraction. The hen continued to fly into the cook’s face as he tried to pull a knife from his belt.

Egad! and Enough! (more later)

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Gray Lace, Part Twenty-seven

This is one of my favorite characters, Killer Chicken. Yes, I really did experience this situation. Those of you who are city-dwellers may not believe this, but it’s true. Trevor wished it was not, until the next scene.

Morning brought gray fog and hunger. The fog gradually burned off and their hunger increased by the time they reached a clearing where man had convoluted the environment. A straight train track pointed the foursome in their intended southern direction. Sounds of civilization alerted them to prepare.

Ross pointed, “There, Joann, a clear pool of water. You and Catherine take a few minutes to clean up while Trevor stands guard. I’ll scout out the racket from down the track.” The women seemed eager to follow his directions and Trevor waited beside the tracks as he watched Ross disappear.

“Be careful, ladies. I understand your southern waters are crowded with wildlife. Call out if I am needed.” He hoped he would be welcomed by Catherine to enjoy a refreshing dip. However, with her chaperone, he’d better not, so he sat on the wooden railroad tie and waited.

Appreciating the female sounds of pleasure, he barely registered a vision approaching from the north. As the six creatures closed in, stomach rumbles confirmed that dinner might be imminent. Five hens led by a large regal rooster strutted forward. They stepped between the ties and displayed a cockiness that informed Trevor they had no fear of a pot of boiling water. Their attitude was briefly humorous.

At the same moment, Ross returned and the ladies walked up behind Trevor. He had turned around to enjoy the sight of a refreshed Catherine as she sauntered toward him wearing a delicious smile. The spell was broken when the rooster went into attack mode.

“Good God, man, watch out for Killer Chicken!” Ross bellowed. The red crown had lowered and the beak aimed for Trevor’s face, forcing him to stand and run. The rooster went after him and didn’t let up until Trevor took refuge behind Catherine and Joann, who thought the entire episode was hilarious entertainment.

Ross jumped into the old strategy of divide and conquer. He grabbed a hen.

Killer Chicken turned from Trevor, raced after Ross, but soon gave up. The rooster stopped, turned and gathered the remains of his harem. As he retreated into the forest, he urged his females into a faster gate, far from humans.

“My dear God, Ross,” Trevor announced, “Now, we’re even. That young and mighty fellow wasn’t giving up. His Majesty, Killer Chicken, could challenge last night’s bear.”

“Not quite, Trevor,” Catherine hugged him, “Last night’s bear would not have stopped at my skirts.”

“Killer Chicken was rather fond of us, wasn’t he, Catherine?” Joann took the hen from Ross and smoothed her feathers while tucking her under her arm. “Now, this young lady could be a tasty treat later.”

“Or perhaps a bribe,” Ross pointed down the southern tract. “Just about a half-mile ahead there’s a rough lumber camp. Maybe they could use an addition to their dinner in exchange for a free ride on the next train south.”

Catherine’s eyes widened, but Trevor also noticed a tad of fear in his favorite swampy greens.

“Approach them cautiously,” Ross warned. “These men haven’t seen a female of any sort for some time.” He handed Trevor his weapon that had fallen during Killer Chicken’s retreat. “Keep this handy and loaded. I wouldn’t go in there, but we need to get on that train and I can’t see us heading that far south without a ride.”

“Why not wait for it here, then?” Trevor glanced back north listened for an engine.

“My guess is, your lordship, you’ve never jumped onto a moving train.” Ross smiled as he shook his head and headed down the southern track. “Come on, everyone. We can do this, but keep your eyes open and your weapons ready.”

Egad and Enough (until next time)

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Gray Lace, Part 26

Dear Readers,

I have lost a month, October. Life truly does get in the way of a writer’s world. Forgive me. Eleanor Tatum

Trevor’s usual doubts, needs, and questions fed the quick march south through the dimming light. What the hell was he doing? Bears? Natives? He needed to get back. He needed to get out. Go north. Go home. “My family! Dear God! The Boys!” He mumbled in frustration. He needed to go home even if his pockets were empty. His brothers would be turned out in just a few weeks. He needed to be there with them.

Stuck between that infamous rock and that hard place, that’s where he was. He pushed the underbrush with his weapon and shook his head. Laughing out loud at his precarious situation, Trevor swatted yet another branch. His future brother-in-law, a suspicious friend at best, might be trying to kill him, but why? Obviously to save his family’s money from jumping the pond. Here he was trying to help a pretty lady he knew nothing about and meanwhile he was getting eaten alive by small flying bugs, called ‘noseeums’.

He trekked forward toward the edge of the next clearing and stopped. He felt totally lost, unsure, confused, and although he would never admit to it; he hated the dark.

For the second time that evening, he felt Catherine’s hand on his arm. She tugged him forward. “Come on, you rather adorable lordship, this way.” It wasn’t his Birchmere Halls, but it was pine log lean-to shelter, at least on three sides. No four-poster beds, but he liked the arrangements.

“Guard the women. We’ll catch a rest here in the front.” Ross pointed to the back where Catherine and Joann settled on top of their coats and bags to protect themselves from the dirt floor and its possible small crawling guests. “Scrunch in, Lord Coffman, as close as you can get to them. I’ll take the first watch.”

“Sir, there’ll be no ‘lording’ around these fine accommodations.” The laughter helped each one to deal with smells of the previous guests, both human and not so much. “Please address me as Trevor, or in the morning you may call me Sir Smelly.” He pushed his hip as close to Catherine as he could and he wished he could see her face, but the moon forgot to stay. Her hand, however, wound around his upper arm and he hugged it close.

“Sleep well, Mrs. Garrett,” Ross whispered over them to Joann, who was now wedged into the angled roof and the ground. “I’ll catch a hug soon, my love. Maybe tomorrow we’ll find out the answers to your questions about our English hero, Sir Smelly.”

Egad! And Enough!

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