It was the summers that kept him planted. The winters that he continually feared. Of that he was sure. Well that... and the memory of his late wife Kasey of course. And then there was the value of family. Generation after generation after generation, with just as many struggles and heartache following closely behind.
Gil Laurel held a steady beer in one hand while the other rested across his knee lazily drumming to the beat of a Tim McGraw song filling the eerie silence behind him.
It had been eight years, eight months, and five days since his wife, Kasey had been found murdered in their home. She had been tortured, mutilated, and beaten beyond any hope of repair...had she survived the brutal attack. But not necessarily in that order. There had been enough blood spatter painting the walls, among other structures to have called the grisly scene some sort of hideous Art Museum.
It was mid June. Kasey's favorite time of the year.
Sometimes he could still hear her laughing in the gentle breeze or if he tried really hard he could almost see her splashing in the shallow creek beds.
Feeling a penetrating stab, Gil took a long gulp of the icy brew --his fifth-- hoping to swallow the pain, although he knew it was useless. He had been trying to swallow it for over eight years now and it was still there, etched like a permanent tattoo. Some days were certainly easier than others he knew, and time did heal the urge to want to die, but the weight, no matter how light or heavy, was always there...a scar that simply would not fade.
He heard the roar of the engine well before it rounded the bend to his scarcely graveled driveway. Turning around to turn off the clatter of Tim Mcgraw, he immediately set his half empty beer bottle on the small, white plastic table beside him. He stood up from a matching white chair and turned around where he immediately saw the familiar silver-painted Mustang quickly approaching his newly covered porch.
At the sight of her, he thought he could hear his own heart hit the ground with a loud thud.
Celina Hensley walked around the front of the metallic machine and up the wooden steps where she graciously extended a friendly hand and an acre of cleavage.
"Good Afternoon Mr. Laurel." She flirted.
She was dressed in a traditional pair of Daisy Dukes and a sleeveless cotton shirt the color of coral. Her hair, the color of honey was shoulder length, cut in several different layers that magically framed her rounded face. Her make-up flawlessly enhanced her already, movie star good looks and her eyes were the color of maple syrup he noticed.
The same color of maple as Kasey.
"For some." Was all he would allow himself to say, quickly looking away. Instead of greeting her hand he simply ignored the gesture and rudely reached for his beer. He greedily swallowed its contents then landed it back in place with an alarming thrust startling her, nearly making her jump from her Nike's.
"I'm sorry Mr. Laurel," She tried to console. "I know this must be a difficult time for you." Determined to push back the nervousness in her own voice she hurriedly opened her attache case and extracted a rather substantial check, then immediately handed it over to him.
Without a word Gil snatched the check from her hands nearly ripping it in two.
"Good day ma'am." He then turned and walked away leaving her where she stood.
It was the slam of the back door that told her the conversation had ended. Shaking her head, Celina walked back down the wooden steps, got into her car then quickly drove away, a wide trail of dust following, desperately trying to keep up.
Gil stood at the kitchen window and watched silently while the silver Mustang disappeared around the bend. He waited a few minutes longer until he was sure she wasn't coming back then reached into his back pocket and withdrew the check she had given him only moments ago. A slight grin covered his face when he looked at the amount.
"Chase another one away?" Gil jumped at the intrusion. "Jesus Christ John, don't you ever knock?"
"Actually...I did but you were too busy staring at whatever the hell it is that's in your hands to hear me!" Ignoring the outburst, John opened the icebox, reached in and grabbed two frosted long necks of Budweiser. He twisted off one of the caps and handed the chilled bottle to Gil.
"So, who is she?" John interrogated.
"She is nobody. She was my real estate agent." Gil took a healthy swallow of the beer then set it on the Formica counter top.
"Sold the small farm today." He announced without emotion. He swiped his long neck from the counter and walked towards the sliding glass doors, unaware of the extreme shock that substituted Johns' face. "Come on." He continued. "Its too damn nice a day to be standin inside here."
"Right behind ya." John muttered then silently followed him outside where they both took a seat in matching white plastic chairs.
"That inconsiderate stupid Son of a Bitch!" She howled. Celina Hensley had nearly lost control of the powerful Mustang around that last bend but she was too pissed off to slow down. Metallica screamed through the interior of the car, as well as the sunroof above her, covering any lethal sounds the tires were sure to be making on the winding dirt roads. She stormed on, pounding her small fists on the steering wheel. Within a flash of lightning's time, she immediately slammed on the brakes sending the back end of the car into a wild fishtail. Within seconds, the tires screeched to an immediate stop leaving only a thundering drum solo in the background.
After a near mental breakdown and a few deep breaths, Celina put her car in drive and slowly inched forward.
Up ahead, she took a right at the fork and slowly made her way down the lengthy ravine through a jungle of overgrown vegetation, cautiously dodging numerous gaping holes of neglect, where she knew she would eventually land at the front door of the newly purchased farm.
The dirt road was nothing more than two single tire tracks worn down by what appeared to be several other vehicles. Between the two impressions, an overgrowth of weeds and small limbs, noisily scrapped the bottom of her car, making her cringe quite often.
Over and above was a tunnel of assortments of numerous trees and other greenery, ranging from ancient to sapling. The thick foliage of June allowed little sunlight to pass through, sometimes causing eerie shadows to dance around in the whispers of the wind. The near darkness of the drive made her glad it was actually early afternoon. Had it been dark outside she was pretty sure she would have been afraid to drive down there alone. Just thinking about it sent goosebumps up and down her arms.
Relief settled over her the instant she burst through the unsettling darkness and into the bursting sunlight.
After bringing the car to a stop, she quickly walked to the front door and removed the lock box that held an extra key. She decided she would mail the key to the new owner rather than have to drive down here again.
It hadn't been that long ago that she enjoyed walking along the grounds of the small farmlands. She had actually felt safe. Yet, now the abandonment alongside the look of forlorn sent chills up her spine and all she wanted to do was get the hell out of there.
She turned around after removing the metal lock box and nearly ran right into him.
"What the hell are you doing here?" She jumped.
The only answer she got was silence.
"I never thought I'd see you again." She added, suddenly flirtatious.
She reached up to put her arms around his neck and looked deep into his eyes then immediately stood crippled in stark fear.
Before she realized what was happening he reached up and with his right hand, cupped the back of her head along with a handful of honey colored hair. Violently he jerked her head back to a neck breaking angle, sending a tremor of fear through her blood. As though he was a dog with rabies, he brutally covered his mouth with hers, piercing his tongue deep inside nearly making her choke, taking more than he demanded.
What the fuck...!
Her heartrate accelerated to the speed of a determined thoroughbred racing for the finish line. Her blood boiled piping hot in her veins. Life threatening panic blanketed her to suffocation. Her heartbeat was loud in her ears, deafening her to the sounds around her.
Is this how it felt to know you were going to die? She wondered.
Before she could answer herself, he took his left hand out of his back pocket along with a razor sharp blade then without a second thought, sliced her neck from left to right. Excitement raced through his veins while he watched.
There was no need to play, he knew. The first slice was fatal, opening her up like a giant canyon producing a river of crimson. He didn't even get the chance to watch the life drain out of her eyes. For that he was a little disappointed.
Her death was instantaneous.
He didn't have a lot of time. The violence surrounding him needed to be cleaned up...and fast!
Callie Daniels will be home soon.
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