by DiVoran Lites
Chapter Fifty Three
That evening, at home, Lia insisted everyone eat together at the long table in the kitchen, except Lastus. Aldon took him to a storage room on the second floor and handcuffed him to the iron frame of a bed. After the meal, the sheriff and Aldon went out to the barn to finalize their plans. Oates wanted to go back to the mountain after Furtus, and Aldon was ready to go too, but his friend insisted that he stay and make sure Lastus didn’t pull any funny stuff.
“We’ll meet in Artesia, can you get the train tickets and let the office reimburse you later?” Oates asked.
“Sure, Lastus and I will see you at the jail house in the morning,” Aldon agreed.
“He won’t give you no trouble,” Oates told Aldon. “Without his brother, he’s just an overgrown kid. I expect he’ll get a tongue-lashing from his Ma, though. She won’t care what he done, but she’ll get mad that he got caught.” Oates, now well-fed was able to see the humor in the situation. He left with a laugh and a wave.
Under strict orders not to uncuff Lastus unless it was absolutely necessary, Aldon fed him his supper. Neither of them had a word to say. As Aldon was placing the empty tray outside the door, Lia appeared at the top of the stairs. When Aldon saw her, he looked around for an escape route, but it was too late, he was trapped.
“This Lastus,” Lia pulled a small sheaf of folded papers from the pocket of her dress. “I think he was the one that carried me home the first Sunday Ellie was here. I wait until everybody goes to church then I go to the pond to paint. I hear a noise and jump up. My ankle goes scrunch and I faint from pain. Next thing I am laid out in the coat porch with these papers in my hand. That man must have been the one who wrote them.” She unfolded the papers.”
“Let me hear it,” Aldon motioned impatiently for her to read and get it over so he could leave. He closed the door to the room so Lastus couldn’t eavesdrop.
“Dear Miss Lady, Ma says me and Furstus needs to find some women. Ma says she is getting old and we need somebody to render bear fat, scrape skins, and tend the fire.
Now, Ma don’t care if the women we bring home are ugly or pretty, she wants them to help with the work and give her some granchilren to spoil. But to my way of thinking I’d just as soon have somebody with looks and that is you.
You never seen me before, but I live above Spruce Crick Ranch in the mountains. Today I seen you painting by the waterfall and dipping your pretty little fingers in the water. You are one fine figger of a woman. You would do for me; Furstus has got to find his own. I’m staking my claim on you.
You might wonder how it is I am able to write so good. Well the answer is Ma taught me to read and write. She was smart, but pa wasn’t. Ma says I take after him and I’m proud to know it. We never did go to school much except for that one day when Ma left us standing outside the schoolhouse door and the teacher come out and fetched us in. We was already full-growed. At recess the other kids called us Stinky and Fatty so we wrung the skin on their arms and made it burn. We then got beat with a rubber hose by the principal and chucked out of school and had to walk all the way home, which is a real far piece.
We never got such a beating from Ma because she’s an itty-bitty thing, but she has other ways of torturing us, like no food, so I’d rather take a thrashing from a real man. I don’t know why we didn’t gang up and fight back. Furstus has been after me about that, but I just didn’t feel like hurting the man when it was his school and we didn’t belong there. Them folks was too good for the likes of us. You are too, Miss Lady, but I got such a hankering to hold you in my arms, that I’m overlooking that to get you in my camp as fast as I can.