When the Night Falls
Robin Renee Ray
Ed Kenney stood in the door of the barn, glaring down at the blood coated face of the two that had dared gone against his warning. The brothers, Sam and John, hung upside down from the rafters, strands of hay falling every time they shifted in their restraints. Their arms tied firmly behind their backs and attached to their waist, kept them from having any chance of escape. The small dark puddles under their heads showed the depth of the brother’s abuse.
“Won’t be long until your people come askin’ for ya. I told ya all what would happen if you came across that creek and tried to take what wasn’t yours,” Ed kicked the straw covered floor. “Beth wouldn’t want us to take no young folk, but you two got put here cause there weren’t no real men can do what they made you do.”
John spit a mouth full of blood in Ed’s direction. “Damn you to hell.”
“Already been done, son. Already been done.”
Ed pulled a blade from his back pocket and walked around behind Sam. He lifted his hand up and sliced his right thumb off, leaving Sam thrashing in an open mouth, silent scream. After walking back around he bent over and looked at Sam, shaking his head as he put the bloody end of the thumb in his mouth and sucked the dripping red fluid. “Need a little something to prove my point.” He stood, arching his back and then walked over and bent down and looked at John. “Got to keep you boys fresh.”
“Paw, there’s four ridin’ up to the bridge,” a short, long stringy haired young man ran in and yelled. “They got guns too.”
“Fetch your brother and I reckon ya better have your uncle ready the lightning.”
The young man that couldn’t have been more than fourteen, smiled from ear to ear. “Yes, sir.” Then he took off running leaving a dust trail in the early morning light.
“You boys be good now and Aunt Edna will be out to clean ya up when night falls. After, y’all will be meetin’ Uncle Teddy,” Ed spoke as he closed the big double barn doors, dust falling as the hinges cried out. He then opened the smaller, house size door on the left side of the big door and stuck his head in. “Don’t worry too much about that fuzzy feeling in your head, y’all will pass out real soon. But Aunt Edna will rouse ya real good fer ya know it.”
John started working on the ropes that held his hands, finding them so tight that it was impossible to loosen them. The more he looked over at his little brother, the more his eyes filled with tears. He could see that Sam was falling into unconsciousness and he wanting nothing more than to help get them both out of the situation. The more he thought on what he had gotten them into by volunteering, the more he worked on the ropes that bound his hands. But the blood that filled his head had his vision swimming and soon he passed out.
Gus was the first to pull back the hammer on his shotgun when he saw Ed Kenney and three of his sons riding up on the other side of the creek. The other two followed his action, only they had pistols drawn and ready to fire should any bad transaction take place.
“You were warned and you sent them two on my land anyway. What ya got to say for yourselves?” Ed hollered out, shifting himself on his horse.
“Best be for giving ‘em back Kenney,” Gavin said, pointing his gun in Ed’s direction.
“Or what? Did y’all think I was bluffin’? This here is my land and nobody comes on it without Kenney permission, and damn sure not to harm what ain’t been messed with.”
“Them boys weren’t gettin’ nothin’ but the rotten wood on the ground and you damn well know it,” Gus yelled out.
“I know they was a taken it off my land and got what they had comin’.”
“You’ve had your say, Kenney, now let the boys go.”
“You get on back to that little thing you call a store, James. Hard to believe you’d follow these two out here to order me about anyway. Tell ya what, you make sure that no one else comes a trespassin’ and we won’t have no more problems.” Ed nodded to his son at his right and the young man rode halfway across the small wooden bridge and threw something wrapped in an old flour sack. “That’ll be the last warnin’.” Then Ed and his sons turned and rode away.
“Go on, James, see what it is,” Gavin said, nodding his head toward the small object at the end of the bridge.
James rode his horse over and got down. He took the few steps up to the bridge and leaned down to pick it up then hesitated, looking back at the others. He slowly picked it up and began unwrapping it as he walked back to his horse. “Oh my God!” he yelled as he threw the object and bent over and lost the contents of his stomach.
Gus and Gavin got off their horses and went around seeing what had caused James to become so upset. “They did it, they really did it.”
“Did what?” Gavin asked right as Gus stopped and was looking down where James had thrown the severed thumb. “They can’t be dead.”
“What the hell do you think that is, Gavin?” James wiped his mouth. “Someone has to stop that sick son of a bitch.”
“Our families will be dead by spring and we can get some law up here. They’ll freeze or starve. How the hell are we gonna stop him?”
“Kill him, just out right kill him,” Gus replied.
“They have seven guns to our five. Just how the hell are we supposed to do that?” Gavin walked back around and got on his horse.
“Let’s burn ‘em out. Just set the whole damn place on fire,” James suggested as he got on his horse.
“Then we start shooting as the coming running out,” Gus agreed.
“And how do we get close enough to burn ‘em out?”
“Set the woods on fire from the bridge to their place, Gavin. It can’t be that hard. Most of that wood on the ground is rot and the bush is dry. It’ll flame up all the way down the creek,” James nodded toward Gus who nodded toward, Gavin.
“Let’s get back and gather everyone at your store, James. Whatever we do we need to do it soon. The wood pile is low and we’re gonna have to start tearing down and burning one of the buildings, now that most of the furniture is gone.”
To be Continued…