All That Was Said (at The Red Moon) by J Dan Francis
Story of the Month contest entry
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.|
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.
When the door opened the whole place fell silent as everyone startled, looked over at the crudely bearded well-dressed man standing in the doorway. He was almost unrecognizable; an odor of Bay-Rum greeted them. The woman tending bar wiping its worn varnished top, stopped and eyed him up and down. She too had a dumbfounded look on her face. She scrunched her nose while waving her hand through the air chasing away the overpowering fragrance and called out to him. "Will Donahe, you come in here all done up like you was goin' to church for the first time; brand new tweed coat, white cotton shirt, wool britches, and shiny new boots. My oh my, what'd that set you back, eighty bucks, a hundred? And what is that smell? It might be a pleasant aroma if you hadn't bathed in it".
The fancy clothes were different from his usual duds of flannel, faded denim, and buckskin; all of which he was accustomed to wearing. Except for that night, his head had always been covered with a Buffalo hat that sported an array of handmade flies pinned to its brim. He won the hat playing poker some years back, and he had rarely ever taken it off since. He took a rookie wanna-be from the big city to school that day. The gentleman got low on cash and began throwing everything just short of his undergarments into the pot. Will beat him mercilessly; won the prized Buffalo hat, two fishing rods, and the man's tackle box, plus his day's catch of four rainbow trout. Will kept the hat, sold the rods and tackle, and of course gorged himself on the trout. Out of kindness though, he gave the man back his belt and boots. The belt was too large anyway, and the boots, he declared, well, just plain hurt his feet.
But, for some odd reason, Will left the hat back at his cabin a few miles down the road just below Pharaoh Mountain, which is where he called home. That old Buffalo Hat, simply put, did not compliment his new attire; best left behind, and for a good reason, it was. His freshly washed salt-and-pepper hair hung neatly coiffed into a ponytail. He even took a proper bath and slapped on a copious amount of Bay-Rum for the occasion, which explains how everyone could smell him coming in from halfway across the room.
"One-seventy-five and change," the dapper hermit said spinning on the heels of his new boots while holding the tweed coat open for all to see. He pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and slapped it on the bar while looking the place over; he was sporting a proud, happy look on his face. One would think he won the lottery the way he was strutting about, all full of himself. That part of Will it was not true to his character. He seemed almost giddy for some reason. This was not the quiet, strong, deliberate Will Donahe everyone was used to seeing come through the door of the Red Moon Grille. He pointed his thick, calloused finger at the tap from which his favorite brew flowed. "Let that twenty ride until I'm good and sozzled. I'll have a pint of that Winter Wheat Lager to start," he said. "Gonna take more than that double saw-buck to get you liquored up," she said over her shoulder as she primed the tap. A line of sudsy liquid squirted into the trough below.
She was plump and curvy, desirable in every way. She had a most beautiful angelic face, alluring green eyes, and near perfect teeth. Her hair belied her fifty-nine years; dirty blond with one thin streak of white off-center pulled tight and braided in the back. Her breasts were large and shapely, and she was not shy about displaying what many men around these parts and from afar have called perfection. Her voluptuous curves and sculptured smile were the cause of every man who came into the Red Moon Grille to stop and stare. Yes indeed, a fine woman to look at. She reached up as the men standing at the bar went wide-eyed; for every man in Paradox Lake has at one time or another fallen in love with Maggie Durant. But, only one man held her heart. He lived in the woods just below Pharaoh Mountain in that little cabin.
Maggie took a glass from above and held it under the tap while pulling a pint from it. She quickly placed the beer on the bar in front of Will Donahe, suds erupted over the rim and down the glass soaking the cardboard coaster. Maggie grabbed the twenty, turned around enticing the boys even more so. She then punched the no-sale key on the old brass cash register till it rang and the drawer flew open. She dropped the money in and pulled out the change slamming the drawer shut; the coins inside crashing and its bell ringing again. She turned to Will dropping the silver and bills on the bar and said, "You never tip you cheap bastard." A couple of fellas' sitting nearby started to laugh. Will gave them the eye, and nervously they quieted down to muted sniggering. "You never do. And another thing, you never call me," Maggie complained loudly.
Maggie was itching for a fight and kept needling Will. "But you can afford that nice tweed jacket, and you'll walk me home as you always have since we was wee ones. But now you do it for your pleasure, when you have a mind to; long as it doesn't cost you anything. Those same two fellas started to snort holding back their laughter. "Maybe I should start charging you for whoren' services." Everyone standing within ear-shot let loose laughing out-loud as Will Donahe looked around all red-faced as he was trying to work up the nerve to make an announcement. But, he could not. He was overcome with a sudden bout of guilt. He grudgingly pulled out his wallet, licked his fingers and searched curiously through the thick wad of greenbacks in various denominations that overstuffed the handmade leather billfold. He furtively turned away from the nosey onlookers who were curiously peering over his shoulder and pulled out a crisp one-hundred-dollar note. He threw it down in front of Maggie. "There, are you happy now?" he said.
Maggie picked up the bill and snapped it while examining it carefully. She rubbed it hard between her two fingers, then sniffed it, not once, but three times. Satisfied, she folded it twice and placed the bill between her very ample breasts.
"Ain't no payphone up in those mountains girl. When they put one in, I'll give you a call."
"Get a cell phone, you old coot," a young logger yelled from the crowd that had gathered around, Will.
"Hell, I will,' Donahe yelled back over his shoulder.
He then took the pint and chugged it half down. Beer ran down his beard onto his brand-new tweed coat. He placed the glass back on the bar as everyone watched, some were laughing and shaking their heads. One of the old-timers yelled out, "You can dress him up, but you can't take him off the mountain." Most everyone standing there agreed, nodding and Chuckling. Suds covered Will's mustache, of which he promptly ran his tongue over slurping the excess. He chugged the rest of the pint and licked the suds again, then wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his new tweed coat. The man just plain had no couth. Men of his particular breed were known for their lack of proper manners. He banged the pint glass on the bar looking yearningly at Maggie.
"Dear sweet love of my life, I'll have another, If you would be so kind?"
Maggie took the empty glass and filled it again, whereas Will Donahe immediately downed it quickly and wholly, making more of a mess upon his beard and jacket. He slammed the glass triumphantly on the bar. "Another," he demanded, followed with a loud gaseous belch. Ben Hardie, a guide and Jack of all trades like Will, spoke up.
"You've been up in those mountains too long, Will. Didn't you keep stores of hard cider for the duration?"
"I bet he drank it all the first week," a young trapper-guide named Jimmy Pearson replied.
Even though his green-horn opinions were not much appreciated, everyone nevertheless laughed it off. But not Will Donahe. He spun around and looked Jimmy right in the eye. "You implying I have a drinking problem or are you just another ignorant smart-ass pup lookin' to heat things up around here?" Will may be getting up there in age. He was sixty-two, but he was still tough as they came, and no one, not even the older guides or loggers who've stood up to him in the past ever had a victorious tale to tell. The young man began to quake right down to his boots. But to his credit he stood his ground, fool that he was, thinking he had to make his bones sooner than later. Will eased up and turned back to his beer and looked down into his pint glass.
"You're a young lad, big and strong. I'll give ya that," he said. "I'll bloody your nose you ever speak to me like that again. I still know a few tricks I learnt the hard way when I was your age."
Old Jack Davis, another trapper-guide chimed in with his own bit of advice for the young man. "Don't mess with him, Jimmy. Cause we ain't gonna pull him off ya."
Jimmy Pearson full of arrogance, stepped in even closer to Will and tapped hard on his shoulder. Will sighed and turned to him. Jimmy puffed out his chest and stood erect trying to intimidate his elder; he was ready to prove his mettle. Will looked him up and down and laughed in his face. He would make light work of the boy for sure. "I ain't scared of you," Jimmy said, with a reasonable amount of uncertainty.
The fear in his eyes told Will a different story. But still, Jimmy had crossed the line, and his pride would not let him retreat. "Well, you sure look scared," Will said with a grin as he turned back to the bar and leaned on it looking at Jimmy's reflection in the mirror. "You don't have to fear me, son. You just might better know your place around these parts, and we'll get along fine." Jimmy stood there looking all defeated, his shoulders went limp as he contemplated Will's next move. He then realized everyone was watching him and he puffed his chest out again. The whole place was quiet except for the sound of Maggie slowly pulling a Louisville-Slugger out from under the bar. She wasn't opposed to using it if needed. Jimmy looked over at her holding the bat like a union-buster ready to pounce on the defiant. He became wary of the moment and suddenly turned on his heels and walked off red-faced and humiliated pushing through the crowd. Jimmy knew he was no match for Will Donahe or his woman. A couple of the men clucked like chickens teasing him as he brushed past them.
Maggie put the bat back in its place under the bar and stood with her arms folded staring at Will until he turned away from her piercing eyes. She was not impressed. He was hunched over his pint looking side to side when he noticed a young logger laughing. He could not have been much older than the young Jimmy Pearson.
"What are you laughing at? Will demanded, straightening up and moving toward the young man who towered over him. But that didn't bother the old woodsman any. Will Donahe feared no man, and Will's menacing offensive quickly made a woman of the brute, who in sudden fear retreated to a table in the back where he finished his beer alone to the music of everyone's laughter and mockery. He soon left through the side door just as Jimmy had.
Will went back to the bar. He was trying to find the right moment and words. He painfully wanted to ask Maggie something. But his timing was all off. The Red Moon Grille was no place to do what he has long wanted to do for so many years. It was a good thing she didn't swing on him. But she did give the self-proclaimed man of solitude a piece of her mind.
Facing Will, Maggie let loose on him."You've been here forty-five minutes, and you managed to drool beer all over your new coat, pick a fight with two of my best customers; whom incidentally have left and will almost certainly not show their faces in here for a month of Sunday's. Plus, piss me off. Way to go, Will Donahe."
Will stared at Maggie contritely and pleadingly; he had not felt this way since they were teenagers and he was trying to muster the courage to ask her on a date, when even back then he had blown it. "Just come outside with me a moment," he begged. "I have something I want to say."
"Whatever you got to say you can say right here."
Will looked all around nervous like; He swallowed hard. Romantic moments were something he could never grasp. Best left to the pages of drugstore novels and cheesy romantic movies. "It should not be this difficult," he whispered to himself. The Red Moon was quickly filling up with regulars, and it was getting noisy. Someone dropped three quarter's in the jukebox and Waylon Jennings singing "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line" began to fill the air. He got pushed to the bar by the sudden swelling of thirsty patrons, and Maggie got busy filling drink orders. Will was suddenly feeling all alone in a room full of people. He felt out of place all dressed-up in his new tweed jacket.
Not two hours passed, and Will had already downed five pints of beer and was working on his second shot of Red Dog Whiskey. Maggie walked up and placed a bowl of venison stew and a plate of bread in front of him. "Eat something," she said. "I don't want to have to take you home in the back of my pick-up like the last time you drank on an empty stomach. I had to hose out the back of my new truck." Relieved for the moment that her anger was quelled, he happily obliged and broke off a piece of bread and dipped it in the stew and shoved it in his mouth. He grabbed the spoon like the ill-mannered man of the mountain he was, and began to gorge himself, one spoonful after another till the bowl was emptied of its contents; only a bit of gravy was left. He sopped it up with the last of the bread. Maggie came by again and handed him a dish-rag and picked up the bowl, then leaned into him. "Wipe your face, you're a mess," She whispered.
They talked to one another like an old married couple; might as well have been. Will had known Maggie since the day she was born; he was three then. From the time she was five, every day he would walk with her to the same one-room schoolhouse until Will went off to high school in the town of Schroon, which was in a whole other direction. By the time Maggie got to high school, Will had dropped out. He hated school. I think what Will really hated was walking alone without Maggie. Somewhere along the way, he had lost himself. He was seventeen wandering through life and those mountains aimlessly. On his eighteenth birthday, he was drafted into the Army, and a few months after had shipped off to Vietnam.
Will was twenty-two, a man, and barely recognizable when he returned home from the war. He was quiet mostly, never having much to say whenever anyone engaged him in conversation; often seeming like he was off in a distant place. He was far more different from the boy he had been before he went off to fight. His years spent in Vietnam were not the best years of his life. He saw things a boy ought not to see. He had to do things most men back home in these mountains would not even do to an animal. Other men had come back with tales that were not for the faint of heart. Some, of course, were embellished half-truths and outright lies to impress friends and get respect. But few men are heroes; Will knew that all too well. He just thought it best not to think on it or speak of it. Will had done his duty, served honorably, and came home with a chest full of medals and no visible scars.
The wounds he carried were stuck in his memory. The medals ended up in a box on a closet shelf never to be looked upon again. So, Will learned the solitude life of a guide and hunter and laid down stakes for that cabin that now stands in the shadow of Pharaoh Mountain. It is there where he has been ever since. Except for a girl in Saigon Will has never mentioned, Maggie has been the only one he had ever truly loved. They never married though, and no one knows why. Some say the war changed Will, and not for the better. Others say the life Will lived was no life for a woman to attach herself to.
Maggie breezed past Will paying no mind to his sullen demeanor. She drew three beers from the tap. He waited anxiously for her to come by again. When finally, she did walk past gingerly carrying the three full pints, Will, leaned over the bar, reached out and gently touched Maggie's arm to get her attention. She was startled by the sudden intrusion. The beers she was carrying sloshed onto the floor and on her shoes. She could feel the cold wetness soaking to her stocking covered feet. Maggie stopped and took a deep breath to regain her balance and keep her anger from exploding out. She stared down at the pints she was holding, wishing them not to spill anymore. Will tried to speak, but Maggie turned her head slowly and gave him the five-second death stare which must have felt like an hour because Will pulled back all nervous like and went back to nursing his beer.
Will was beginning to feel a bit sad and was oblivious to the noise all around. He ignored the chatter that was coming his way from those weekend wanna-be hunters up from the big city looking for a guide to take them into the woods. They always drank too much and made fools of themselves.
There was this one overly inebriated fella up from Albany who approached Will, talking much too loudly. He was already getting on Will's nerves before he finished his first sentence. "I hear that you are the best guide up in these parts as he tapped Will intrusively on the shoulder; quite forcefully I might add; more so than Jimmy Pearson had done moments ago. The poor bastard had no Idea that he was putting his very life in harm's way. The old man was in no good mood by then. Aggravated, Will turned and put his hand over the gentleman's face gripping him like a baseball, covering all but one of his eyes and pushed him back so hard he flipped over a table. "Get off me!" Will growled. Beer and glasses flew in all directions. Old Jack Davis and Charley McCoy, who were two of Will's closest friends stepped in between them and helped the man up and ushered him away before Will could do any real damage to him. They offered their services to the gentleman. Poaching this fella away was probably a favor to Will; not that he would care. Will was a much sought-after guide who never lacked in customers anyway.
The man broke away from Jack and Charley and yelled back at Will, "You'll be sorry for that mister. You wait and see." Will waived him off dismissively and said, "Stand in line if you want a piece of me. There's two fellas ahead of ya."
Will looked tired. Age was not his ally, nor did it work to his advantage any longer. He turned back to the bar and rested against it, grabbed his beer, and chugged the rest down. Charley walked over and leaned in next to him. "You ok?" he asked in a whisper.
"Yeah, I guess I'm Just get'n too old for this shit." Will brushed his hands over his coat and trousers straightening himself up, then ran his fingers through his hair. He seemed more concerned that his new clothes may have been ruined. But it was all good.
The city fella did not have the sense to leave well enough alone. He had to go and push it a little bit farther. "You Son-of-a-Bitch!" the man cursed at Will. He obviously had no idea whom he was messing with. Maggie, all flustered, again pulled the Louisville Slugger from under the bar and came rushing around. For a second it was fifty-fifty which of the two men she might try for a home run on. She went straight over to the belligerent man and put the business end of the bat right under his chin forcing his head up. Everyone could hear his neck crack. A couple of hunters close by winced feeling for what the city-fella was about to get coming to him. He stood there frozen, not sure of Maggie's intent. She had the strength and temperament of a mad mamma bear. She would suffer no more fools this night. "You're gonna be hurting real bad if you run your mouth one more time, Mister," she said through clenched teeth. "You hear me?" The man's eyes were bugging out of his head. He didn't dare move, figuring right then that Maggie was serious. Plus, the fact that she had close to forty pounds on him did not give the fella much confidence in his own abilities. Moving only his eyeballs from left to right seeing all the locals staring fixedly ready to back Maggie up diminished his odds quite considerably. He swallowed hard, his brow was sweating, but he did manage to offer a nervous and fearful nod in the affirmative. Maggie then lowered the bat. Jack and Charlie walked him to another table and sat down with him.
Looking at Will, she proclaimed, "Just plain bad luck you are tonight. You're skating on thin ice, Will Donahe." Will looked down. He was feeling ashamed. After some contemplation Will grabbed the coaster and placed it on top the empty glass. He figured he had enough to drink; maybe more than he should have. The night was still young, but he knew he needed to get out of the Red Moon. "I guess I caused enough trouble around here tonight. I think I'm just gonna head home," he said. Will turned and walked toward the door as Maggie stood there unsure of what to do. She started to feel sorry for yelling at Will. The place was busy, and loud, and angry. The city fella was still spouting off his muffled rancorous invectives to Jack and Charlie. Will paid him no mind as the door shut behind him.
Maggie stood there confused. She wiped her hands on her apron and yelled across the room. "Charlie! Watch the bar. I'm going outside for a minute". Charlie had enough of that city fella anyway and eagerly got up and went behind the bar and grabbed a towel and threw it over his shoulder. He pulled a pint for himself; for free of course. Maggie ran for the door. She caught up to Will at the edge of the parking lot and grabbed his hand pulling him back. He turned and looked at her in the light of the Quarter Moon above. She was beautiful. Just as beautiful as when Will first realized it way back when they were young. Will pulled Maggie close and kissed her full and long on the lips. He held her close to his cheek and stroked her hair smelling a faint scent of lilac and jasmine perfume. Will loved Maggie more than anything and did not want to spend one more minute of his lonely life without her as his wife.
Will began to clear his throat, not once but three times. Something had got his tongue all twisted up just when he most needed to say something.
"What is it, Will'" Maggie asked.
"Well, it's just," he coughed and cleared his throat again. He hadn't felt this nervous and scared since he was eighteen when he had told Maggie he was shipping off to Vietnam. Will changed course in his approach and pulled his billfold out of his back pocket along with his bank book. He opened the bank book to show Maggie that he was prepared to take care of her and had means. He also opened the billfold to reveal the thick wad of cash he was carrying.
"It's all the money I ever saved from all the years I have worked these mountains and fished these waters, only to give rich men bragging rights for all the kills, and high peak climbs, and their ungodly taking of all God's creatures just to stuff and put on display in their trophy rooms. I guess that's the part of me I don't like. People like that city fella don't get it. But we do. Now, my eyes are failin', and my bones ache, tellin' me when it's gonna rain. All I have left in this life is that cabin below Pharoah Mountain, some money in the bank, and the woman I loved since we was small. I want to spend it all on you till the end of my days; which I often fear may be sooner than later. I sometimes see heaven in my dreams, and I think now it may be on the horizon."
He was trying to ask her to marry him and kept thinking it should not be this hard. It's not like they haven't seen one another in a dozen years. Will and Maggie have been together forever. He wondered too, why ruin a good thing and complicate life with a legal piece of paper? Maggie wasn't going anywhere. What is the sense in asking? But Maggie looked up into Will's eyes hoping for that something she has been waiting for and wanting since she was a young girl. She was getting misty. Will was too much the man he was to get caught all up in his emotions. His stuttering and stammering and choking said differently. Will finally gathered the courage and just blurted it out.
"Shall we do this?" he said.
Maggie suddenly blinked and the romantic moment seemed to vanish. She was caught off guard.
"Do what?" she asked confused.
"You know, get married."
"You're not going to get down on one knee? I mean, I've been waiting since like nineteen seventy-two for you to get down on one knee, and this is how you do it?"
"Okay, okay," Will said. He got down on one knee. "There, how's this?"
"What about the ring?" Maggie asked.
The moment went from poignant to comical to bad, and then to worse than bad. Will was mortified that he had never thought about getting an engagement ring. It slipped his mind. His tongue got all twisted up again, and he was kneeling there looking up at Maggie, his lips trembling for something to say.
"Oh, never-mind," Maggie blurted out gushing down on Will. "Of course, I'll marry you," She cried happily with tears running down her cheeks. Maggie bent down and kissed Will tenderly on the lips then took his hand and helped him up and pulled Will along back to the Red Moon Grille.
Everyone looked up as Will stood in the doorway with Maggie at his side. Will looked out at everyone staring back, then nervously said, "Well, it's finally official. I guess we're getting married."
Someone from the back yelled out, "It's about time!" Old Jack went right up and shook Will's hand and hugged Maggie. Charlie came from around the bar, but not before he topped off his pint, and did the same. Then everyone followed suit. There was a lot of whooping and hollering and clapping. Will bought a round for any and all who would celebrate with them this night. Even the city fella who wanted to take Will's head off softened up a bit. "What the hell," he said. "It's free beer and as good occasion as any." It seemed like nobody could stay mad at Will for long. Not the laughing logger or the city fella for sure. But Jimmy Pearson was another story. No one noticed he had slipped in through the back door and was standing near the dark end of the bar slowly making his way toward Will. Jimmy did not come back to offer well wishes to the future Mister and Missus Donahe. No, he was there to settle a score for an ill-conceived slight to his manhood; something he had overworked in his own demented mind building up to this moment. Something any ordinary man given the same set of circumstances would have brushed off and forgotten.
As Will and Maggie stood talking, and laughing, and celebrating, they had become caught up in the moment. Will reached out to shake another hand. A hand like the many he had just held when that hand suddenly gripped Will tightly, violently pulling him forward. Will found himself standing nose to nose with a scowling Jimmy Pearson. Anger, and evil, and broken pride were etched on Jimmy's ugly unshaven face as he threw his other hand back as far as he could, then shoving it forward fast and hard. Immediately Will felt a sharp excruciating pain in his belly. Old Jack Davis yelled out, "Jimmy, no"! Will then felt another sharp pain as Jimmy again thrust the knife deep into Will. As Jimmy pulled his bloodied hand away. Maggie stunned, and in anguish caught Will as he fell to his knees. She struggled to hold him as dead weight filled the void where life slowly left his body. Will dropped to his side gently with Maggie still holding him; the moment all too surreal to make any sense out of it. The men in the bar rushed Jimmy Pearson relieving him of a Bowie Knife and pouncing on him at the same time.
"Stop"! Maggie cried out. "Stop," She said again breaking down sobbing into Will's neck kissing him and stroking his long grey mane. The men hearing Maggie's pleas pulled Jimmy to his feet and dragged him across the room away from Maggie and Will, and held him tightly. Charlie at once picked up the phone and called for an ambulance and the State Police. But he knew as everyone standing around the dying Will Donahe, saving him would be a futile effort. Maggie comforted the old trapper-guide kissing him and whispering in his ear. No one could ever recall what she said. Surely it was words of endearment. Old Jack rolled up some fresh bar-towels and handed them down to Maggie. She placed the towels gently over his wounds. Will jerked a little from the pain. Jack handed Maggie more towels, and she put them under Will's head where he lay; she tenderly kissed his cheek. Will then took his last breath, and all life left him. He uttered no last words, but Maggie knew he loved her. Even to the end.
Everyone retreated; rugged grown men were wiping tears from their own eyes. They left Maggie to be with her Will. After a long quiet moment, Maggie stood raggedly in her blood-stained dress, brushing her hair back, rubbing her eyes. She composed herself. Maggie gathered that inner strength she was known for, then reluctantly looked over at Jimmy Pearson and stared at him for the longest time ever it seemed. Jimmy's angry scowl had drained from his face as he realized what he had just done. He was reduced to a frightened little boy looking all around, except into the eyes of his accuser. He looked down at the lifeless body of Will Donahe and was overcome of his ruthless, selfish deed. But there would be no forgiveness offered to Jimmy Pearson.
Jimmy looked up and locked eyes with Maggie. He tried to talk, but all he did was stutter and stammer unintelligibly. "Shut-up"! one of the men holding him yelled. The other man cuffed him hard up the side of his head. Jimmy cowered then struggled to free himself. But the two men held him ever tighter. Some others waited nearby ready and eager to tear into Jimmy. Maggie only had to give the word.
Maggie slowly walked over to Jimmy never taking her eyes off him. All the hate she could ever gather had intensified within her being. She felt hot and out of breath, her mind was racing, her heart beating wildly. A quick death was too good for Jimmy Pearson, she thought. Maggie wanted him to suffer as Will suffered. She wanted Jimmy to know anguish and fear. Cowards always learned it the hard way, she knew. For Jimmy Pearson was no exception. Will did him no wrong.
Maggie got right up in Jimmy's face, and from gritted teeth, and a stern low voice said, "Let the bastard go. He can run. The State boys will chase him down like the dog he is. Let him feel what it's like to be hunted. He won't make it out of these mountains. He's not half the man Will was".
Maggie began to sob but caught herself and bit hard on her lip putting her hand over her eyes for a moment. She again mustered up all her strength. Looking up doggedly in Jimmy's eyes, she said, "take his keys, we'll sell his truck, so we can bury Will." The two men while still holding the struggling coward fished around in his pockets finding his keys and handing them off to another man. One of the men ripped Jimmy's wallet from his back pocket and tossed it over to Maggie. She opened it and pulled out. It was all of thirty-two dollars. Maggie laughed in anguish. "Loser," she said, and then threw the wallet hard at Jimmy. It bounced off his chest, landing at his feet. Maggie stepped forward right up close, then spit right in Jimmy's face. "Now git," she yelled.
The two men reluctantly released Jimmy Pearson. He nervously and cautiously bent down and picked up his wallet while eyeing Maggie. One of the men stood erect, hiking up his trousers. He then balled up his massive hands into fists. They looked like two fat hams. Without any hesitation, he punched Jimmy square on the back of his head. The murderous coward suddenly sprung forward tripping past Maggie, his arms wind-milling. Without looking back, Jimmy ran stumbling through the open door disappearing into the darkness.
The old Woodsman laid there, his blood pooling on the floor, eyes half open, lifeless, and still, as if time had stopped. In the silence of death, all one could hear was the wind outside blowing through the tall white pines carrying Will Donahe's soul to that peaceful place. For that was all that was said at the Red Moon Grille.
J Dan Francis
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