May 21, 2012
It turned out the man’s name was Hank Rivers and he was a rancher like his sister and her husband. He had inherited the family place decades ago, while her sister, Carrie, had moved in with her husband.
The powdered snow was already nearly a foot deep when they reached the dirt road that led to Carrie’s ranch. Jack jumped out to open the cattle gate and even a man of his strength had difficulty pushing open the gate through the accumulating snow. As he jogged back through the blinding white, he wondered, if we can barely get through this gate, what’s the ranch itself going to be like?
Hank might have been thinking the same thing for they drove the rest of the way in silence. When they finally came up to the remote ranch, Jack was impressed. A large two story house looked to be carved out of the very forest that surrounded it. Outside of the grove of trees, that lined a small stream, rolling hills and prairies spread out as far as he could see through the storm. A barn loomed so large that it dwarfed the house and outside of this, fences and other ranching equipment could be seen.
“Nice place.” Jack said.
“Her husband John is a decent man. Like me, he inherited this place. But where his father had a whole herd of men helping, John can only afford to hire three cowboys these days.” He sighed. “I’m not sure how or way it happened, but if those three boys have run off, like my sis says, this poor family might be in for a world of hurt. But again, I haven’t heard the whole story yet.”
A woman, that he guessed had to be Carrie, stood on the covered front porch with a baby in her arms. “I have a feeling we are about to.”
Once parked, Carrie led them inside with few words and besides a brief hug, even fewer signs of affection. Carrie kept her blonde hair shorter than Jack’s wild mane. Despite being a mother of three, she hadn’t lost her figure and if she didn’t look like she had been up for the last three days without a break, Jack would have guessed that she could still be quite an attractive woman.
After stomping off their boots, the pair followed her into the living room and were hit by a wave of heat generated by the giant wood stove that roared, behind a child safety gate, on the north side of the living room.
Carrie offered them each a seat at the dinner table and Hank handed him a beer, as she went into the kitchen. Besides the baby in her arms, two other children were in the living room and they dropped what they were doing to leap into their uncle’s arms. Of the husband there was no sign.
“These here are little Jenny and her younger brother Chris,” Hank said with a proud smile.
Carrie was more stern. “Your uncle and I have some adult talking to do, so you two brush your teeth and get ready for bed.” With a series of cute complaints, they agreed and headed off. Without setting down her youngest, the woman placed two plates full of fresh chicken in front of the men.
Leaving herself without a plate, she sat. “I won’t have much time, before I need to tend to them and I don’t want them to hear what I’ve gotta say.” Jack watched the siblings. Neither looked well and concerned burned in their eyes.
Both seemed surprised when Jack spoke up. “What happened to the workmen?”
“They left right before the storm hit. They just up and left after John hurt himself. The cowardly rats. Probably thought they wouldn’t be getting paid.”
“Did they take all their stuff and drive off?” Hank was looking at Jack strangely, perhaps wondering what he was getting at.
“I never did check their rooms, but their trucks are all gone.” She looked at Jack and then back at her brother. “But we have more important things to worry about then their sorry asses. This storm is just supposed to get worse and more of our cattle our still out in the middle of it.”
Hank sighed and looked down at his plate while rubbing his temples. When he finally looked up, he met Jack’s eyes and said, “I hope you know how to ride more than your bike.”
May 14, 2012
It had happened again. After all that had occurred and all he’d been forced to endure, his motorcycle had broken down. If anything, this time frustrated him more than when it had happened inOhio. During that stage of his life he’d been eight inches from penniless. Currently, he had more money in his wallet than he used to make in a month. Yet, all the money in the world did nothing more than weight you down, when you were twenty miles from the nearest town.
A late winter storm had hit the region hard. No one in their right mind would have thought about riding a motorcycle through such a holocaust of white, but no one had called him normal for quite some time now.
He had considered hiding his bike behind a tree and coming back for it later, but he still maintained the motivation to push it through the rising storm. This section ofWyomingwas more isolated than he would have imagined. He’d heardWyomingwas the least populated of the lower forty-eight states, but he couldn’t even see a light burning anywhere. If it wasn’t for the road, he could have been on another planet of maybe been transported back in time.
A set of headlights illuminated the swirling clouds of snow before him. A few vehicles had passed, mostly semis, but it was a rare ride that could fit a motorcycle and they had kept roaring by him. This time it was different.
The vehicle decelerated. Jack wasn’t sure if he should be pleased or annoyed when it pulled onto the safety line and slowed to a stop behind him. After hitting down the kick stand, he turned.
A lone man with a cowboy hat was exiting his pick up. Heavy boots and jeans reached up to a thick winter jacket. Between the driving snow and the shadow of the hat, Jack had a hard time getting a good read on him.
The man spoke first. “Looks like you are in a serious heap of shit. A man could freeze out here on a night like this.”
“I don’t think I can let you stay out here like this.”
“I have a problem leaving my bike behind.”
The man gestured toward his pickup. “I’m a working man. I haul a lot of tools and crap. I got a couple of two by sixes. We can get your bike into the back, if you are game.”
“Were you headed?”
“To my younger sister’s actually. Her husband is a rancher, but he just got injured when his was flung from his horse. Strange thing that,” he man scratched at his graying mustache as he spoke. “He’s one of the best riders I know.”
“The thing is, she has two little ones and with her husband out and her workman all run off, I’m worried about her. She’s just the type of woman that would try to do everything herself to save her cattle and…I think you can figure out the rest.”
“Frankly, with this storm I could use the help. There will at least be a warm meal or two and a dry bed in it for you.”
“You got any beer?”
“Yep, got a case of MDG in the back.”
“It’ll do in a pinch. Let’s get’er loaded.”
Jack watched the man move through the blinding snow. His Detect Darkening didn’t read anything evil about him, but the spell had failed Jack before. This could be a trap, he mused. A blizzard like this would be a fine time for SKs to go hunting. Either way, I’ll be out of the storm and if he does turn out to be evil, better that he attack me than someone else.
Sometimes a Stalwart has to take a bullet for the team.
May 7, 2012
Collapsing ShackArizona: I caught up with the legendary Jack Primus inside of the Glenwoods Springs Brewery. He had just finished saving the world two or three times. Jack had been posting his adventures online, but after his girlfriend drove off with a bunch of darkness worshipping serial killers and his sidekick was cut into more pieces than Newt Gingrich has extra marital affairs, Jack had publicly declared that his blogging days were over and I tracked him down to see why. Okay, maybe I already told you why, so let’s just say I was interviewing him because I could actually find him. A little snake told me where he might be, red next to black, friend of Jack…
AB: “Hello there, Mr. Primus. My name is Alex Bone. I bought you a pitcher and was hoping we could talk.”
JP: “You look familiar, but the Alex Bone I knew couldn’t have afforded a pitcher.”
AB: “I sold a few things out of theDiscordTowersto help fund this trip. I sure hope Winslow doesn’t notice that the flat screen in his office has gone missing. But our readers are more interested in you. So which was worse, having your best buddy killed before your eyes or seeing your girlfriend willingly hop into a black van filled with supernatural serial killers?”
AB: “Wow, that really hurt. Can you cure other peop…no. Okay…I won’t. No, I promise. So what is next in store of Jack Primus?”
JP: “The second book in my adventures is coming out this summer so people will be able to follow my Chronicles as they lead me back toward my home town and my final confrontation with Vile Darken. This time neither us will be walking away.”
AB: Since you could become a snake you could still leave by crawling away…Ow, okay, okay I’m sorry. Man, look my beer spilled. Lucky thing I sold Zano’s collection of porn on Ebay. Waitress another round and bring us some cheese steaks and chicken wings too.”
JP: “That guy looks like he didn’t enjoy being called a waitress. So let me ask you a question, Alex. You’re a follower of Yig, have you squashed any villains lately?”
AB: “Well, I have a high crawdad count. But now, I mostly fight for freedom through the use of the written word.”
JP: “Is that why you’ve gained a few pounds. Hey…watch it! You had better not start something you can’t finish, Boneman.”
AB: “Many will be curious as to why you are discontinuing your personal interpretation of your Chronicles on your blog.”
JP: “Who said I was? I’ll do whatever the hell I want.”
AB: “But I thought I heard that-”
JP: “What were you talking to Klich and those damn Darcarre? Screw them. Screw any alliance with the darkness. We can finish this ourselves. So Bone, what do you say? Will you head up toIdahowith me and help me take on Darken?”
AB: “I would, but ahhh have a deadline to keep. It’s this important Discord story about helping homeless kids being…ah, hunted down by serial killers. If I don’t get this copy to Winslow, they…will all be eaten.”
JP: … … “Pass me the damn pitcher. Whatever happened to that little punker chick you were dating inTucson?”
AB: “Oh her, she turned out to be evil.”
JP: “Damn Xemmoni are everywhere these days.”
AB: “You sure got that right.”