Makeup and Murder

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Chapter 22

It was hard to see what was going on outside through the dirty bedroom window upstairs, but Dixie could make out a large, black figure running towards the house. By the looks of the black figure, it was at least two times larger than Harlan was.

Dixie screamed “run,” but she doubted that Harlan could hear her through the closed window. She decided to run downstairs, despite Harlan telling her to stay put only moments before. If someone was going to attack her protector, she wasn’t just going to stand by and let them do it. She cleared the last three steps with a jump and ran towards the closed, sliding screen doors that led to the backyard of the cabin.

Right before she was about to slide the door open, she skidded to a stop. The black figure was staring right at her through the screen, and then it roared.

“Holy crap,” Dixie whispered, backing up slowly. It was like a nightmare – a large black bear was looking at her like she was dinner.

Dixie didn’t turn around when she heard someone come in the door behind her, but she hoped that it was Harlan. He had a gun at that moment, and she didn’t. She didn’t dare turn her back on the creature.

It was fight or flight, so she made a run for the kitchen, leaving the bear perplexed and the person behind her confused.

“Dixie,” Harlan said in a raspy whisper. “Get down and stay put.”

Dixie had no problems doing just that, but she wished there was somewhere to hide. At the last minute, she decided to scale the cupboards and lay across the top of them. It was very uncomfortable, but it was better than being sliced open by bear claws.

Her body jerked when she heard a very loud gunshot; every muscle tensed as she waited to hear Harlan’s voice. She needed someone to say that everything was okay, but it was very quiet.

“Harlan?” Dixie called out. “Are you okay?”

There was no answer, which made her tremble. “Please, please, please,” Dixie said. “Don’t let the bear get him.”

A few agonizing minutes later, she heard footsteps in the kitchen, and she lay still, waiting for the person to identify themselves. The footsteps walked away, then hesitated at the entryway to the kitchen.

“Dixie, are you in here?” Harlan asked.

“Harlan?” Dixie asked. “Please tell me the bear is gone.”

“it is gone, I promise,” Harlan said.

“Did you kill it?” Dixie asked.

“No, the gun shot scared it away,” Harlan replied.

“Thank God,” Dixie said. “Can you help me?”

“Where are you?” Harlan asked.

“I’m on top of the cupboards,” she said.

“Now that’s a first,” Harlan said with a laugh.

Dixie couldn’t help but laugh a little too. “I think I’m stuck.”

Harlan climbed up on the counter and found her squished between the ceiling and the top of the cupboards. He gently pulled her by the pant leg and her arm, easing her out.

“Ouch!” Dixie said as she scraped her stomach on the unfinished wood. “I think I just got a splinter in my chest.”

Once he had her legs dangling slightly over the cupboards, Dixie ducked her head and hung on the top of the cupboard, lowering her feet to the counter.

Harlan leaped down, and then he held onto Dixie’s waist and helped her down.

A wave of relief washed over Dixie, and she grabbed Harlan in a tight hug.

“Easy there. We’re alright now, okay?” Harlan said in a soft voice.

Tears of gratitude slipped down Dixie’s cheek and onto Harlan’s t-shirt. He felt them soak into his shirt and hugged her tightly.

When she finally released her grip, she let go and quickly stepped backward away from him.

Harlan was confused by her behavior, but he let her go. Just then, Angie’s voice pierced the air.

“What’s goin’ on down there? Is everyone alright?” she asked loudly.

“Yes, everything is okay now,” Dixie replied in an equally loud voice.

Dixie could hear her aunt slowly making her way down the stairs in the darkness. She found Dixie and Harlan standing in the dark in the living room.

“What happened? Who got shot?” Angie demanded.

“No one got shot, ma’am,” Harlan said. “It was a bear, that’s all. I fired off a shot to scare it, and it ran away.”

“I wonder why it came to the cabin?” Angie asked as she stood at the bottom of the stairs.

“The smell of bacon, most likely,” Harlan said. “Bears love bacon, and the grease can was on the end of the porch.”

“Seriously?” Angie asked. “I thought they liked berries and fish.”

“They’ll eat just about anything, especially right before they have to hibernate in the winter,” Harlan replied.

“What if it comes back?” Dixie asked.

“I doubt it will. It is probably too scared to come back here tonight,” Harlan replied. “Why don’t you ladies hit the hay now, okay? I’ll be up tonight keeping an eye out for you, so try and get some sleep.”

Reluctantly, Dixie took his advice and headed upstairs behind Angie.

“He likes you,” Angie said after they had locked the door behind them and sat down on their inflatable beds.

In the darkness, Dixie grinned, hoping that her aunt was right.

Downstairs, Harlan was sitting with a gun in his lap, as a chill crept over the living room. His heart rate was finally back down to normal, and he hoped that the bear would stay away.

For the rest of the evening, he was on high alert as he listened to the wind rustling the leaves and blowing branches. For Harlan, morning couldn’t come soon enough.

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