Good morning and welcome to this week’s Midweek Tease, the weekly log hop made possible by Angelica Dawson and a gifted group of writers, all will different styles and genres to entice and entertain you. This is an open blog hop, so, if you would like to be part of it, mention it in your comments.
Today, I will introduce the third main character in Hello Again, my paranormal, romance, suspense, based on a Native American myth. Shirley is a feisty old lady who sees far more than most of us can. Enjoy!
Bill stood in front of Shirley’s sod house, trying to talk some sense into the feisty old woman, wondering if perhaps her memory was failing. He was here because of her, dammit, and he needed her to remember that. The storm was getting closer by the minute.
“Listen to me, Shirley,” Bill said, hoping to convince her to put down the shotgun she kept poking in his face. “Emile said you asked for us. He sent me out here to talk to you about that biker gang. You aren’t in any trouble, I swear, but you can’t go around threatening an RCMP officer with a weapon like this.”
“The hell I can’t,” she said, with just enough bravado to make him agree with her. “But, I’m not threatening you, Sergeant.” Her voice was wheezy in the heavy, humid air, but she lowered her shotgun. “I welcome all my visitors this way. An old woman living alone can’t be too careful. Just because you’re driving a fancy police car,” she continued, emphasizing the po, “doesn’t mean you’re who you say you are. No need to talk to me as if my brain’s addled. Now that I’ve seen you, I know exactly why you’re here. Besides, this damn thing isn’t loaded. I emptied both barrels into the air to scare those thieving hoodlums away, but I can’t find the box of shells to reload it. I haven’t used the thing in years. Glad it worked and didn’t blow my fool head off, but those bikers took the bison calf and ripped up my garden something awful.”
Bill looked around the small farm. Shirley’s home, a modernized, one story, sod house, built using large, thick rectangles of prairie grass, covered with wheat-colored stucco for durability, blended seamlessly into the landscape. The tin roof was flat, and someone had painted the metal to prevent corrosion and eliminate glare. The front of the house boasted two windows set deeply into the thick walls. He’d seen a few of these soddies when he’d been stationed near Lloydminster. They were well-insulated and inexpensive, and from the wires running to it, he knew she had electricity. The small building, with the crescent moon cut into its door, on the far left near the back of the house, in front of what appeared to be a small hill, and the water pump on the other side of the house near the garden, suggested she didn’t have running water. The only other building, a ramshackle barn that had seen better days, looked ready to fall in on itself. A large rain barrel on the right side of the house near the garden would collect water from the roof and was most likely used to irrigate the plants, but the garden itself was in bad shape.
The remaining stalks of corn were broken, the squash plants trampled. Green tomatoes mixed with ripening ones on the ground and half the root vegetables had been torn out. This food had probably been intended to supplement her winter diet, and now, most of it was ruined.
Anger burned in his stomach. This place was isolated. Where were the members of her family? Shirley Smoke had been an elder’s wife, was considered a medicine woman, so why wasn’t she being treated with more respect? It was dangerous for her to be alone out here, even if there weren’t any biker gangs terrorizing the area.
Tamping down his ire, he smiled. “You could’ve been seriously hurt,” he continued. Unloaded or not, he still didn’t like having a weapon pointed in his face.
“I was protecting my land and my property,” she said grudgingly. “That bison calf was a symbol of my people and our heritage. Allowed to mature, he’d have sired more of his kind, but to them he was nothing but meat on a spit. I hope they choked on him. Those vegetables were supposed to feed me through the winter. Now what am I going to do?”
“I know you get money from Aboriginal Affairs, Shirley, so don’t play that card with me…”
“There isn’t much left from that check after I pay my bills each month,” she grumbled. “Utilities cost the earth, and with the price of food, there isn’t enough for extras. My widow’s pension barely covers the wages I give the men who harvest my fields for me.”
“What about your children and grandchildren? Can’t they help out?”
“Our daughter, Winona, disappeared thirty five years ago. We had a fight … I thought she’d come back—call at least—but after she left, we never heard from her again.”
Bill swallowed awkwardly. Winona Smoke, Shirley’s runaway daughter, could’ve been his mother. No one knew who’d left the hours-old infant in a basket, wrapped in a woven blanket proclaiming his native ancestry, on the floor of the ER at the Calgary General Hospital, but his hair color and eye color along with his skin tone told its own story. There were few red-haired, green-eyed First Nation people, and despite the blanket, woven in a traditional Sioux design and several years old, none of the local tribes had claimed the child, so he was without status. You needed to know the lineage to claim the title First Nations, and he didn’t. The odds were his mother had been one of the many homeless people who’d found herself in dire straits and had decided giving him away would guarantee him a better life. He didn’t blame her, not really. Sometimes life gave you lemons, and you couldn’t even make lemonade out of them.
He’d been raised as a crown ward, given his name by the doctor who’d found him, and placed in a foster home, but never adopted. He’d stayed with them until he’d aged out of the system. Now, they were both gone, and he was as alone as he’d been as an unwanted infant, as alone as Shirley was. He’d talk to Emile. Surely the council could do something for her, something that would keep her pride intact.
“You should’ve called 9 1 1 and someone would’ve come out here right away,” he said, forcing the uncomfortable thoughts out of his mind and getting back to the topic at hand. “Cattle rustling is a crime as is the destruction of property. We’d have arrested them on the spot.”
Fat raindrops fell on his cap. He’d been so involved with Shirley that he’d forgotten the storm. The heavy, black clouds were almost upon them.
“No time to talk about what I should’ve done now,” she said. “We’ll be safe in the house.”
Lightening split the sky, and Bill followed her inside.
Hello Again, and many of my other books are available to read for free through the Kindle Unlimited Program.
Now, please take a moment to check out the rest of this week’s teasers.