Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

Barnbirdsb

Meanwhile, Back on the Farm

(Episode 20)

Harriet was a pretty quick study.  A woman had to be when she was hefty and plain of appearance.  And she figured this Stan fellow was a real ‘misogynist’ the minute she saw him…  which didn’t bother her none, or much, anyway.  She figured all men were, and to tell you the truth, she wasn’t all that impressed with women folk herself.  She didn’t hold it against the men much for not finding her attractive.  Hell, it wasn’t their fault.  But it did gall her when the women would slight her for the same thing.  Now, that was just downright mean.  It was like someone crossing the street just to stand in your way.

“You don’t like women much, do you?”  Harriet said to the hired man, Stan, as she set the evening’s mashed spuds on the table.

“Now why would you say that?”  Stan took this quite seriously.  Harriet liked that.

Her husband, Bob, on the other hand, visibly stiffened.  He was such a puppy.

“You look to be about 30-35 maybe, passable looking, and you’re still single, or at least runnin’ around all by yourself, and not fittin’ in exactly anywheres. “

“Maybe I like them, but they don’t like me.”

Harriet noticed Bob’s smile as he said this.

“I’d believe that,” Harriet said.

Bob thought Harriet had been suspicious ever since they came back that morning with blood all over themselves and complaining about a triplet, breeched stillbirth over at the Munson’s spread.  (Stan had warned him not to make such an extravagant story of it.)  And Bob was pretty certain as the meals began deteriorating.  But he wasn’t certain, certain until Harriet pulled the gun on Stan.

Here they were chowing down!  Bob had been in a pretty good mood despite Harriet’s problem.  He felt like he had gotten all flushed out down below and was just about ready for more.  The prices for milk were good.  The cows were healthy.  And the pastures were all dry for the season.  And it had been a warm Sunday!  So all in all, it seemed a shame when Harriet pulled out that gun and aimed it at Stan, one of the best hands they’d ever had.

“I want you outta here,” she said.

“You want to talk privately with your husband?”  Stan inquired, calm as could be.  Bob just couldn’t help but admire this.

“No.  I don’t want to talk privately with that adulterer!”

“I ain’t no adulterer.”

“You had sex outside the bounds of marriage, didn’t ya?”  Harriet turned the gun on Bob.

“Woman, what are you talking about?”  Bob flushed.

“I’m talking about putting your wee little pecker into someone, somewhere where’s you shouldn’t.  An’ now about you bein’ a bald faced liar to boot.”   Harriet reached down and pulled out the Sunday edition of the New York Times which she slammed down on the supper table.

Bob looked dumbly at it as if he were staring at an old school textbook of the advanced sort.

“Turn it over.  It’s below the fold.”  Harriet nudged the newspaper forward with the barrel of the gun.

“Below the fold?”

“Look at the other side!”

“On the bottom of the page,” Stan advised.

“That’s right,” Harriet said.

Bob turned the damned heavy newspaper over, and a trickle of fear crawled up his back leg  like a bug.  There was a headline about Sheriff Leland and Serial Killers.  Bob turned his wide eyes on Stan without thinking.  Then he pulled his gaze back.  “I don’t see anything in here about adultery.  Mine, or anyone else’s,” Bob said.

“I believe they call it “rape”.”  Harriet lifted the tip of her gun to emphasis the point.

“How the hell would they know that the rapist is a married man, Harriet?”  Bob indicated.  “There’s no way.  That’s the answer.”

“They don’t say it’s a married man, you blinkin’ idiot!”

“Well then, I don’t see how you can come off callin’ it an adultery!”  Bob matched her volume.

I’m callin’ it an adultery, because I think that you and Stan here did it.”  Harriet moved the barrel of the gun so that it was pointed midway in between the both of them.

Bob said nothing, because he couldn’t think for a moment what he should say.  And then, when he finally decided he should say “No”, to deny it, Stan was already talking.

“You sure are a good cook, Harriet,” Stan said.  “You mind if I continue eating?”  He nodded at the gun.

“Just keep your hands where I can see them,” Harriet said.   “An’ don’t take more than two pork chops.”

Stan nodded and continued eating.  He did it with such a relish, he was actually making Bob hungry to watch.  Which was something, considering a cold wave of fear had just about frozen Bob to his chair, and shriveled his genitals and squirreled them like nuts high up in his scrotum.  He was either going to get shot, or going to admit something  he’d rather not.  Either choice was rather riveting.  And Bob couldn’t see how Stan was able to take it all so lightly.  “Maybe you could tell Harriet where we wuz, Stan,” Bob entreated.  “Seeing as how you’ve got a better head for explanations and such.”  Bob nodded.

The only think Bob could figure was that Stan must know something he did not.  Which must be why he was taking all of this so cool.

“We wuz wherever you two ends up figuring we wuz, I’d guess.”  Stan smiled, chewing.

“What the hell.  Why are you saying that?!”  Bob exclaimed.

“Well.  Where ‘wuz’ we?”  Stan asked.

Bob was totally flummoxed.

“Yeah, then.  Where wuz you?”  Harriet aimed the gun at Bob.

“Well.  What?  I don’t know.  I mean, when?  When are you talkin’ about?  Wuz it then, or last night or two weeks ago.  What are you talkin’ about?”

“Ah’m talkin’ about when Ms. Muffin Lady here got clobbered.”  Harriet thumped the newspaper with the barrel of the gun.   “Where wuz you then?  That night?”

“Honey.  I can’t remember where I am every night of the year.”

“Ah’m not askin’ about every night of the year.  Ah’m just asking about them as when you’re not in bed at home asleep where you oughta be.”

“Well, them too.  Those are hard to keep track of.  I mean, there’s cows that need milkin’, dogs that start barking all hours of the night.  You know how crazy it can get around here!”

“I’d think you’d remember if you was off rapin’ some woman, and draggin’ her in the darkness from some car on the highway.”  Harriet nodded.

“It’s the kind of thing that would stick in my mind.”  Stan nodded, as he relished another bite.

“And I don’t know what you’re laughin’ about either.  As I’m just a split second away from shootin’ you too.”  Harriet eyeballed Stan.

“Why aren’t you helpin’ me deny all this?”  Bob whined.  “I thought we wuz partners.  I thought we wuz together on this.”

“So you’re admittin’ everything?”

“Ah’m not admittin’ anything, woman,” Bob declared hotly.  “An’ just cause you got a gun doesn’t make no difference either.”

“You might feel a bit different once I use it.”  Harriet’s finger clenched tightly on the trigger.

Stan raised his hands.

Both Harriet and Bob looked at him.

“Harriet.  You start out pointing the gun at me, but if this keeps on you’re going to end up shooting your only husband, Bob,” Stan pointed out.  He paused to push his plate away, take out a cigarette and light it.  He inhaled, then exhaled up towards the bare light bulb.  Bob just had to admire this no end, in spite of the dire situation.  And he did appreciate the help, a bit.

“Don’t you just admire that?”  Bob gestured to Harriet.  “Can’t you admire that?  I mean, look.  You’re got a gun pointed at the man.  An’ rather than getting’ all upset an’cryin’ and whimperin’, or yellin’,  like you’d half expect, he’s just cool as a cucumber and sets there ready to discuss things.”  Bob waved his finger between himself and Harriet.  “We could take a lesson there.”

“An’ you could take a bullet here.”  Harriet scowled, poking the gun at Bob’s pecker.

“Stan,” Bob said.  “I appreciate your cool and all that, but I think right now it’s best if we explain to Harriet just wut it is we got to say.”

Harriet moved the gun sights back on Stan.  “An I think it’s best he don’t provoke me.”

Stan shrugged.  He looked at Bob.

“All I’m saying dear,” Bob tried to continue as best he could in as soothing voice as he could, ““…instead of getting all upset about some Muffin Lady who gets herself killed an’ probably nothin’ more than she deserved, in some New York newspaper there…”  Bob pointed,  “…is that perhaps you don’t recognize a quality man.  I mean, here is a quality man.  He works hard.  He works smart.  And he’s cool as a cucumber under any kind of trouble, and here you want to go runnin’ him off with a gun?!”

“Ah may just shoot ‘im, and drag him off with a back hoe,”  Harriet spit.

“Well that’s yur problem.  You just don’t recognize quality.  You just don’t and never did!”  Bob was getting upset, gun or no.  “Now I know for a fact that there may have been other crime figures involved!  Now wasn’t she saying somethin’ about thinkin’ we were in with Benny Green, or somebody?!”

Stan sighed.

Harriet just shook her head.

Bob considered a moment.  “…oops.”

“You see what I got to contend with?”  Harriet asked Stan.

Stan looked over at Bob who had been holding his arms out in indignation, but was now just looking defeated and rubbing his chin.

“If any of them come sniffin’ around here, what am I supposed to say?”  Harriet dipped the gun at Stan demanding an answer.

Photo by Carl Nelson

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One Response to “Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene”

  1. Donn Trenton Says:

    It’s as I’ve always said–a jealous woman with a gun is more worrisome than a serial killer.

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