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Authors: K.S. Martin

Wild Kat

BOOK: Wild Kat
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Wild
Kat

By

K.
S. Martin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Wild
Kat © 2013 K. S. Martin
All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1
.
5

CHAPTER 2
.
18

CHAPTER 3
.
26

CHAPTER 4
.
45

CHAPTER 5
.
50

CHAPTER 6
.
60

CHAPTER 7
.
70

CHAPTER 8
.
105

CHAPTER 9
.
113

CHAPTER 10
.
119

CHAPTER 11
.
133

CHAPTER 12
.
136

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

The
small town was still with silence in the early pre-dawn hour.  The store fronts
and saloon all dark, their keepers and customers alike all tucked in their
beds.  A chilly breeze fluttered through the new green leaves of the giant old
oak tree outside the enormous white A-frame house.  A shingle hung from a low
branch, squeaking its protest against the breeze.  The wood board was burned to
read “Braxton’s home for orphans.”    Missus Braxton, its owner, was orphaned
herself and was raised by a horribly mean aunt.  When her husband passed away,
she opened her home and her heart to lost children everywhere. The house too,
was silent in the early morning hours, the children sleeping, all but one.  A
slight lone figure sat on the edge of a small made bed.  A worn tapestry
satchel on the floor beside her was packed and stood at the ready.  The law
said she could leave at the dawn of her sixteenth birthday.  Her small fists
clenched the scratchy blue warm woolen blanket.  She would not miss its drab
color or the itchiness on her skin.  Her heart pounded in anticipation of the
sunrise.  The sunrise she had looked forward to for five years.  Her eyes fixed
on the small window above the four-year-old Lydia’s blonde tousled head.  She
would miss the children around her. They were her family for so long.  Her
scuffed brown issued boots tapped the wooden floor softly.  The sky grew
lighter with each pat the leather made on the floor she’d waxed only a few days
ago.  Her left hand reached for the satchel handle. Freedom and home were her
only thoughts.  She needed so badly to go home.  The house would surely be in
disrepair sitting empty for so long but she would have it back to itself in no
time.  Perhaps she would be herself in no time as well.    The sun’s fiery roof
peeked through the trees at her and whispered ‘go home.’  She moved silently
past the beds full of dreaming children. Her heart filled with anticipation. 
Today was just any other day to them but to her it meant freedom.  No one could
ever again tell her what to do or where not to go.

The
soft leather of her boots swished across a board known to creak, it remained
silent with her weight.  She unlatched the front door and passed through its
frame for the last time.  The big door closed as quietly as she opened it and
took a deep cleansing breath of cool frosted morning air.  Her smile widened at
the dawn behind the small cloud of white breath.  Tiny tears pricked her
emerald eyes, home.  Her feet barely left prints on the miles of dirt road and
then she vanished into the thick brush of the forest that surrounded her home
town.  She did not feel like conversation, should anyone be about this early. 
She had not spoken much in the last five years at all.  Not much more than “Yes
Ma’am,” or “Pass the peas please.” 

The
branches and thicket grabbed and snagged her issued blue dress and long braid
when she hurried. Some stung her cheeks.  She did not notice. Her feet flew
over fallen logs and mud puddles like a gazelle, she moved silently through the
fallen leaves of autumn past. She hopped from stone to stone in the shallow
part of the creek.  Her father had placed the big gray rocks there for her when
she was still a child and afraid of water.  Now, they were merely a
convenience.   Her heart wrenched at the memory of her father rolling them from
the cornfield.  His now dead hands were so full of love then.  She stopped, her
nose catching the fragrance of the orchard.  It would be full of buds by now,
the fruit and the work that went with it would come much later.  There would be
so much to do. Her mind scattered with the hundreds of chores, what first? The
floors?  The dishes?  The curtains, everything would be covered in five years
of dust.  It did not matter, she would fix it and with more joy than anything
she had ever done before.  Her green eyes took in the pure pleasure of it,
home. Her gut twisted with anxiety and overwhelming love.   The barn stood tall
and wide, it was undamaged.  The log smoke house stood cold and quiet but in
one piece.  The weathered white cellar door was hidden beneath the weeds behind
the smokehouse but she knew it would be there.  Finally, the house her father
and mother built.  The long porch swing moved slowly in the slight breeze.  She
took another deep breath and smiled.    Movement caught the corner of her eye. A
black dog came around the side of the house and trotted to the barn.  She would
take care of him if he were not friendly.  Her father’s shotgun would be
hanging over the mantle, it would need cleaning but it would take care of a
dog.  A man followed shortly.  The shotgun could not take care of him!  She would
not spill a man’s blood. She would never be locked somewhere again and spilling
a man’s blood would certainly result in a cage. He was a mountain of a man,
compared to her.  His hair was golden, the color of wheat and streaked white
from sunshine.  He wore bibbed overalls without a shirt.  His well-muscled arms
and shoulders were brown as berries this early in the season.  He spent no time
indoors to be that tanned.  She was curious as to who he was and why he was on
her property.  Chickens flapped about now; he was throwing seed out to them. 
She now noticed a hog in the pen rooting around in the mud.  The man was not
simply passing through. He had established his home here and was running the
farm.  He was running
her
farm. Fear and anger ignited and raced through
her veins, hollowness filled her belly. Green eyes lightened to yellow with rage.
 He was trespassing on her land.  She must soon find a way to make him leave.

The
dog caught her scent on the morning air. His nose twitched and was headed her
way now. He was not large, only fawn size but her hunting knife was under the
porch and too far away. She hopped across the creek and disappeared back into
the forest.  Outsmarting a dog would not be difficult.  If he got nasty she
would snap his neck like a chicken’s.  She retraced her steps to town.  It was
still early and she would have to wait for the sheriff and an explanation. 
Sitting on a bench outside his dark office waiting, she watched Mister Lawson
open the bank doors. Her eyes changed again.  He was a snobbish nasty little
man with a chip on his shoulder.  His baldpate shone in the morning sunlight
until he was inside.  He wore his usual black suit and oversized moustache, she
wondered why his usual black derby was not covering his shiny head.  She knew
he still had beady black crow’s eyes without seeing them.  He would stare into
your soul with those eyes, and if you could return his gaze you would see
directly into the hell that lay behind them.  There was nothing but pure evil
there.  It felt that way when you sat across the massive desk in his office
from him.  She was afraid of him when she was a child, petrified in fact.  Her
father however was not, only annoyed.  He could put Lawson in his place without
effort, and did so often.  She decided she would set up accounts first and
perhaps Sheriff Brown would waddle to work in the mean time.  Crossing the dirt
road, her satchel at her side, her issued boots left a hint of tiny footprints
in the dirt.  She slammed the door once inside to let him know she was there.

“I
have been expecting you,” he said without looking up from his ledger.  “Sit
down and happy birthday Kathleen.”  He was still adding the figures in a column,
“Your total sum.”  He swung the ledger around for her to see.  She sat down on
a high-backed leather chair the color of ox blood. She could feel it’s coolness
through her cotton dress, smell it’s leather and lemon oil scent. Her eyes
squinted at the numbers at the bottom of the column.  “Would you like a
cashier’s check or will you be staying in town?”  Her left brow lifted
quizzically.  He knew exactly why she was here.

“Staying,
as soon as I evict the man on my property.”  He barely tried to mask his wicked
smile.

“He
bought your farm two years past when you failed to pay the tax.”  His moustache
twitched slightly.         

“Tax? 
I did not know. Why did you not take it from the account?”  She held back
tears.

“You
did not give me permission.” Her heart pounded with his words.

“I
see here,” she pointed, “you took money for the funeral.  So you can take money
for what you like?”  Kat grew angrier by the second but her voice remained even
with control that few people possessed still in their later years of life.

“I
paid all of your father’s debts, including his final debt.  Neither you nor
Julie responded to my request for permission to make payment of the tax so I
had to assume that you did not wish to keep the house when you did not reply.” 
He could barely contain his pleasure caused by her pain.

“I
see.”  Her voice was still calm and as cold as ice.  She stared through the
black eyes and into the hate filled soul.  “Have a good day Mister Lawson.” 
She picked up her satchel and left the bank as quietly as she arrived.  Mister
Lawson laughed out loud thinking he had finally bested a Whitley.  The sheriff
was unlocking his office when she ducked between the bank and general store to
return to her farm.

She
remained at the tree line until she was sure he was gone.  She should have
asked for his name.  Going to the barn, she hid in the hayloft until she was
sure it was safe.  Watching from a window to be sure that he was still not
about the barnyard anywhere, she considered what to do next.  Everything had a
price, as did every man. Unable to resist any longer she climbed down and went
to the front door that he had not locked.  Her heart fell at the sight of the
dust that covered her mother’s once spotless house.  The once bright green rag
rug was now a muted gray pea soup green.  The clocks face was no longer visible
and it was not wound and sat silent in the corner.  The beige and rose settee
where she sat each night with her books was cloaked with dust covered linens. 
The table in the center of the room was the only thing that had been wiped
down.  Her heart broke at the dull wooden floor her mother had taken so much
pride in buffing to a high gloss.  The photograph of her family that once hung
on the wall over the settee was now gone but not replaced.  She moved into the
kitchen where she found a washtub full of dishes and a cold filthy stove.  The
cupboards and pantry that once were full now stood empty.  Her mother’s prize
china had once sparkled in the cabinet when the room filled with morning
sunlight.  Now it was covered in an inch of dirt and the pattern no longer
visible.  A tear fell down her left cheek as her heart was ripped from her
chest with each new horrifying detail.   How could he take the farm that she
loved so dearly and not care for it?   Walking slowly up the stairs at the rear
of the kitchen she found that they too were covered in filth with a path of
footprints up the center.  Paw prints smudged in the dust on either side.  Her
mother would turn over in her grave if she knew a dog had been in her house and
upstairs no less!  Kathleen went into her parent’s room.  Her mother’s perfumes
were gone except the circular imprints they had made in the dust.  The drawers
were full of the big man’s clothes, but her mother’s furniture remained, it too
covered in gray dust.  The once red and white rag rug was now a putrid dull
color, and it sickened Kathleen.  She crossed the hall to her own room.  The
door was shut; she opened it to find it the same.  The beds and her belongings
were where she left them five years before.  Her parent’s belongings in crates
piled up between the beds.  She wiped the dust from their photograph, the only
one ever taken.  Her tears fell onto the dirty glass that covered her parents
and sister.  Julie was angry when she left to marry Douglas.  Her parents
chased Julie into the dark night and wrecked their buckboard wagon.  It rolled
down a rocky hillside into the ravine killing them both.  Even if she could not
stay, she could not leave the house in this shape.  She must clean it before
she left or she knew she would never have any peace within herself.

BOOK: Wild Kat
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