The hut was filled with fear and rage. She would pay for her dirty sins. His mind thrummed with emotion that raced through his veins. It devoured the hurt, sadness, and betrayal that threatened to overwhelm him. Instead, he embraced the anger and swore on all that was sacred and holy that she would pay along with any others that felt they could dismiss love and loyalty so easily. He made a swirl of his fingers over her still beating heart and then the Warrior walked away.
The Crone watched her son with worried eyes. Why had she turned a blind eye to what was so obvious for others to see. Now she only had herself to blame. With deft hands she cut deep slashes into her thighs and then began the ritual of her hair. The cuts burned and cleansed her soul and the wild eyes now matched the hair. Naked, she walked to the lake. The elders tried to soothe her but there was nothing that could be said. The boy was not the only one who had seen them for what they were. The memory burned deeply into her heart. In one fell swoop she had lost her whole family. She meant to take her own life in the lake that day but the arrow pierced her heart before she could dip a foot into the water.
August had decided that she didn’t really need to grocery shop. Instead of heading to town, she was going to putter around the yard. It was a gorgeous day so she put on a halter top and cut off jean shorts. They had seen better days for sure but perfect for working in the gardens. She left her hair down long but took a hair band because at some point it would get too hot or just in her way.
Meatloaf stood guard in the front always weary of strangers. She had no worries that someone might sneak up on her. Meatloaf barked at everyone. So engrossed with tending the flower beds she didn’t notice or hear the old car pull up into the driveway. She didn’t see the lithe figure unfold himself from the car and stretch like a cat. She missed the miracle entirely of Meatloaf’s small woof and subsequent licking of a complete stranger. But Boone had a way with animals, especially scared ones and wasn’t intimidated by the one eyed beast. He made of the dog with some caution until Meatloaf flopped onto the ground and offered his belly.
“Good dog,” he talked soothingly. “Where is your Mama?” As he stood up he could see someone kneeling in a bed of red and yellow flowers. He groaned out loud and Meatloaf cocked his head at him. “Man why couldn’t she have gained like 40 lbs? I don’t suppose she’s got facial hair either? Why does she still have to be so damn gorgeous?” Boone rubbed his head where a headache was starting to form.
Meatloaf gave him a lopsided grin as if to let him know what a lucky dog he knew he was. “Well this isn’t gonna be pretty but it has to be done. If she tells you to sick me, could you go for my throat and not my balls? Man to man you know?” Meatloaf gave a low woof and Boone patted his back. “Thanks buddy. I appreciate it.” Boone looked up and saw August stand up. Shit she was probably going to do bodily harm to him before she even let him speak. Oh well. He had put it off long enough so he headed towards her.
August looked up when she heard the soft bark from Meatloaf. He usually only did that when he greeted her. She was puzzled to see the strange man pat his back and keep all of his fingers. For a moment she thought it was Biff but gave a sigh of relief that this man was much taller and broader than the tiny deputy. Plus Meatloaf hated Biff. She studied the stranger for a moment. He looked vaguely familiar. He was tall with long hair, longer than the conventional. He filled the jeans and t-shirt out nicely. She never got visitors out here in the country so what the hell did he want. She had a knife clipped to her belt if he started any monkey business but she still couldn’t figure out how he got past Meatloaf. She was pretty sure she didn’t know him. When he spoke, though, she knew what bird had landed on her doorstep.
Sometimes the mind is a wonderful thing and sometimes it is just torturous. One can remember all sorts of things in less than a second. In a millisecond the picture of Hayley Jo Thompson sitting on Boone’s lap with no top on kissing him for all she was worth. She didn’t think it would still hurt so much, but it did. The memory was probably made worse by the fact that Hayley had been her arch enemy in high school. Perhaps she could have forgiven him had it been anyone other than her. Hayley Jo could have any boy she wanted and she always got what she wanted. August had thought Boone was smarter than that but she had been wrong. She closed her mind to the memory and clamped her jaw. He’d go just as quickly as he arrived she vowed.
Boone saw the set of her jaw and knew she recognized him. He could also tell she was not in the least bit excited to see him. He decided to put on the charm. “Hey Darlin. Did you miss me?” He coolly slid his hands into his front pockets. He didn’t see that she still carried the small hand shovel or he probably would have tried a different approach.
“Darling? I’m not your Darling! You get the hell off of my property Boone Merryweather or so help me…Christ I’ll shoot you.” She was pissed. Fire burned through her veins hotter than she could ever remember. The nerve of him sauntering into her life and making her remember how stupid she had been. If he said one more word she would throttle him. Years of pent up emotions caused her to ignite. She hadn’t had a chance all those years ago to tell him what a slimeball he was.
“Come on Legs. Don’t be mad. It wasn’t my idea to come back here.” Boone put his hands up in a surrender position and almost got conked in the head with the small shovel. Damn, either she was aiming for his head and missed or she missed on purpose. Either way she hadn’t truly missed as she had nicked the side of his head. It wasn’t until after she had thrown it that the last sentence sunk in. Her chest burned with emotion. How dare he use that nickname? She fought to gain control over her run away feelings. Her hands itched to cause him bodily harm. She clamped them tightly at her side.
“Shit August you hit me. God damn I’ll probably get tetanus or lockjaw now. The shovel, it was dirty wasn’t it? Shit, shit, triple shit!” Boone put pressure on his head trying to stop the wound from bleeding but it bled profusely. “It probably had cow shit on it.” “Don’t be such a city boy. I’m sure you’ll pull through. I’d love to see you with lockjaw! And what do you mean it wasn’t your idea to come here? If it wasn’t your idea, who the hell was it?” It had felt kind of good making him bleed, he had left far deeper scars on her soul than that small cut on his face.
“Your Grandpa, August. He sent me,” with that Boone looked down to see the blood flowing from his fingers to his shirt. “Shit this was a goddamn new shirt.”
August stopped for a minute. She must have heard him wrong. Who was he trying to scam! It would not be her again
“Nice try smart guy. My Grandpa has been dead for three years now!”
His face softened with emotion better left unsaid, “yeah I know August. He sent me something before he died. He told me when I needed to bring it to you and what to do with it...well kind of. That’s all I know.” August looked at him like he had grown three heads. Then she noticed the necklace he wore and felt weak in her knees.
She touched it before she realized what she was doing. She knew that pattern better than the back of her hand. She had traced it since she was 17 years old. “Where did you get this?” She asked in a whisper.
“Gramps, who else? He made it before I left. Said it was important I wear it at all times. I loved him too August. Now can we go inside and get this bleeding stopped before I die. You don’t want to go to jail for the rest of your life for murder do you?”
Without a word she turned towards the house thinking he could stay or follow. She didn’t really give a shit if he dropped dead in the yard. But as the wind whistled through the trees her ancestors said they knew differently.
A shadow whispered past the old willow and stood for a moment watching his children walk into the house. He hadn’t realized the amount of hostility his young one would have but no plan is ever perfect. He was impressed with both her aim and ferocity. His wife poked his side and he smiled down at her with pride. She shook her head as if to say he was being ridiculous but he couldn’t help having a certain amount of pride for the granddaughter he had raised.
They were strong and he knew the love they had would bring them back to where they had started. He hoped he was right. Everything counted on that. The shadow turned towards the willow tree in the back yard and disappeared into the bark but not before he gave the huge dog a pat on the head and got a wag for his efforts.
The warrior saw the relatives go into the tree and the big dog head to the house. With that he felt the feeling of justice enter his tired spirit. It had finally begun. It had been so many moons ago that he had begun this journey and now he felt the edge of emotion just beyond his reach. When he had ripped her heart out, he had left his own there on the earthen floor. Maybe once this was all done he could once again feel. He stood and as he did the trees rustled with a breeze. He put his majestic face to the sky imagining what the wind had once felt like on his handsome face. He let a war cry from the depths of his belly and he felt the burning need to avenge. He shook the deadly machete at the sky and then he was gone.
Funny the Crone thought as she watched her son disappear before her eyes that it was the arrow that had saved her. Good thing too as the boy had needed her more than she could have imagined. Those first few weeks of not knowing where he was and what he had done were only bearable by the drug induced sleep and then the fever. By the time she had been able to come too and sit up, he was back from his soul journey. Many of the tribe had shunned them, fearing they were tainted and the murdered souls would come back to haunt them. So they had left when she had been strong enough to walk. With a shiver she shook off the memory. She longed to hit something, whack it a good one for the sake of hitting something in frustration. Perhaps he was more like her then he thought. She gave a wry grin and with a lift of the leaves, she swept into the air.
Boone walked through the only home he had ever known, memories washed over him like rain. Damn he loved this place and it hadn’t changed one bit with the exception of Gram and Gramp being gone. The fact he was no longer welcome here grated his soul. He followed August into the bathroom and sat on the toilet. She handed him a cool compress and got out the first aid kit. Thankfully the bleeding had slowed and now she took great pleasure in applying antiseptic to the wound. He didn’t give her the satisfaction of even a jump. So she applied more.
“You always did live to torture me,” he stated flatly. He had a great view of her buxom body and figured the more he pissed her off the longer he could stare at her breasts.
August was not gorgeous in the classic sense of the word but she had formidable curves in all the right places. She had no idea that the lush cushion of her body evoked many a vision in Boone’s head. He was sure if she did, it wouldn’t impress her anyway. She must have been with a man by now and Boone felt his chest tighten. He fought the one word that always popped into his head when he thought of August MINE!
“I think you will live,” she declared. She wanted him to leave as quickly as he had showed up so that she could get his scent out of her head. When she had thought of him she had hoped he would be bald with a pot belly but apparently he had frequented the gym in the years since she had last seen him. The bathroom was starting to feel really small and cramped. August fought the claustrophobia for a minute then she headed back to the kitchen. She hoped he would get the hint and just leave but she didn’t have that kind of luck.
“Do you have some Peroxide, I’d like to get the blood out as much as I can,” he was standing in the doorway without a shirt on and August fought the lust that kicked at her stomach. He didn’t have washboard abs but he didn’t have middle age spread either. It was his hips really that did her in. They were lean and his jeans hung low under them. She didn’t allow her gaze to fall below as she said, “yeah the top shelf on the right.” He turned and she couldn’t help but see the huge tattoo on his back. She only got a quick glance but thought she saw a panther in the intertwining mural. The tattoo dropped low on his back and some of it was lost in his jeans. She never thought that big of a tattoo would be attractive but it was damn sexy. A rush of sadness washed over her and all she had to do was picture her childhood sweetheart kissing that slut and the feeling of lust edged away. It was okay to be attracted as long as she didn’t let him know. She didn’t plan to be humiliated twice. She was a girl who learned from her mistakes and looking like a fool had left a nasty taste in her mouth. She went to find Meatloaf and prayed Boone would come back out of the bathroom with his shirt back on!
As Boone got as much blood out of his shirt as possible he thought about the look August had given him. She was attracted to him. He wasn’t sure if that tidbit of information was good or bad. He had also seen the other or felt it rather when she had thought of the scene in the barn. After all these years he was surprised he could still feel her thoughts. A wave of guilt once again washed over him but he couldn’t change the past. Hell, he thought, he had been trying to do the right thing. She had had years to get over it. It had only been a kiss and as he thought that, words whispered on the wind through the open window that she didn’t know that. Boone shook his head. To August there wasn’t much difference between that kiss and if he had had sex with Hayley right there on the barn floor.
When Boone emerged from the bathroom he found girl and dog cuddled on the couch. Meatloaf made her look like a china doll but Boone knew she wasn’t as fragile as she looked. “Legs, where did you get that beast anyway?” Boone spoke the nickname without thought. He didn’t realize he had said it until he saw her flinch.
“Meatloaf was at the Humane Society, I rescued him. He hates people so I’d be careful,” she brought her chin up a notch in hopes Meatloaf would indeed frighten him a bit.
Boone approached the couch and rubbed Meatloaf’s nose. Meatloaf sighed with satisfaction and bellied up nearly crushing his mistress in the process. Boone gave a husky laugh and looked August straight in the eye.
“Yeah, he’s a real devil.”
August looked at Meatloaf and whispered, “Traitor!”
Just then there was a knock on the door that startled everyone. Meatloaf flew off the couch nearly knocking Boone on his ass. Meatloaf was in a frenzy. Boone had mistook his lackadaisical demeanor to mean he was timid but there was a ferocious beast hidden inside his beautiful heart. The knock came again and August made her way to the door. She opened it an inch with one hand and the other was on Meatloaf’s collar.
“Hey Biff. What are you doing out here today?” August struggled to control Meatloaf.
“Go lay down.”
He growled and grumbled the whole way with a weary look in his eye at the man standing in the door.
“I thought I’d come out and check on you. See if you wanted to go and get a bite to eat or something,” Biff lounged in the doorway as if he owned the place. Like the dog, Boone took immediate dislike. Biff reached out and played with the small braid August had in her otherwise free flowing long hair. “Come on Babe, let’s go have some fun,” it was then that he looked up and noticed Boone. He straightened up a bit and the predatory gleam in his eyes hardened.
“Thanks for the offer but I’ve got company, perhaps another time. I’m sorry you came all the way out here for nothing,” August made an attempt to close the door but Biff didn’t get the hint.
“Whose your friend August? Never seen you around here before Pal?” Biff attempted to step farther through the door.
As Boone put his hand on the guys chest and pushed he said, “I’m not your Pal and the lady said hit the road,” Boone shut and locked the door in Biff’s face.
“Thanks a lot Boone!” She whispered with anger. “Do you know who he is?” She asked.
“No Legs, why don’t you tell me who he is,” Boone’s blood had gone to boil.
“Don’t remember him do you? He is the son of the local sheriff; you might know him, Leo Masterson. That is Leo’s son, Biff. Making friends with the local heat already Boone? They are both on the force and can make life real miserable for a person if they feel like it. So I’d be real careful who you put your hands on or you’ll find yourself in jail. They both have Judge Crandall in their back pockets,” August put her head on the door as she heard his jacked up truck start and tear off out of the driveway.
“Gramp isn’t here to protect you Boone. He’s bad news!” She looked at him with worry.
“I’m not 16 anymore August. I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time. Why do you even talk to that chump! He acts like he owns you,” Boone said with disgust.
“Not me but this place.” She said before she thought about the words. “They hold the mortgage papers and as long as I put up with him, they extend me time to pay it,” the last word was barely a whisper. Boone was nearly vibrating from anger.
“So you play kissy face with the sheriff so you can keep this place. There’s a word for that August.”
She stepped back as if he had slapped her.
He’d hurt her, good! He walked out of the same door that he had slammed only moments before. He didn’t see the tears he had caused running down her face because he was already headed to town in his head. He felt a breeze brush past his shoulder and for a moment felt an odd feeling but shook it off.
The shadow lowered his hand to his side and sighed. Each man had a journey he reminded himself that even spirits should not interfere with. The old man faded lightly back into the trees and prayed that his adopted son was doing the right thing and would not let his anger get ahead of him. The spirit was met by another and they enfolded into a comforting embrace. The windwalkers took no notice of the light rain that began to fall but knew inside the home was a heart that if not broken was a bit cracked and they both felt responsible. Truly she had gone through enough already in her life but they banked on the fact that she was tough and had learned well what they had taught her. She was the magic in the legend and some circles could not be broken, no matter how much one loved another and wanted to keep them safe.
Boone was already tired of the back woods bullshit. He wasn’t even going to go and kick that little punk’s ass like he wanted too. Instead he went to the one bank in town, Banker’s Trust, and asked for the manager. And who stepped out? None other than the infamous Hayley Jo Severson although the name tag now read Mead. Good he didn’t need any trips down memory lane today.
“Well, well, well. Look who has stepped into my bank,” she said with a leer.
Of course she would still be a bitch. Boone refrained from running his hands through his hair in frustration. He knew a lot of “Hayley’s” of the world and how to handle them. He had just hoped this would have gone smoother. Part of him wished he had stayed away.
“Yes, I am looking for the manager of the bank. I would like to pay off a loan,” he pretended like he didn’t even know her and he knew it would irk the hell out of her.
“Boone. Don’t you remember me? It’s Hayley?” She inquired with a sparkle in her eye.
“Hayley…wait didn’t you used to date Bob Lambert?” Bob was a great guy Boone had known in high school but he also knew Hayley wouldn’t have touched him with a ten foot poll.
“God no! No it’s Hayley Severson. We dated for a few weeks one summer before you left,” and even to her own ears it sounded a bit pathetic. But he didn’t want to degrade her too much because maybe then she wouldn’t want to help him. So he said, “I think I remember you now,” and she smiled. At that moment he would have paid anything not to have known her at all.
“Yes well how can I help you Boone?” and as she spoke she motioned him into the back of the bank, which he hoped was not extremely private. She opened an office door into a huge room with windows that looked over the bank and he gave a small sigh of relief. At least she couldn’t molest him with all those people watching, he hoped.
“So what is it you need?” Hayley asked with a husky voice. He chose to ignore the innuendo. As she leaned forward her blouse opened revealing two small mounds of flesh held in with a bit of lace.
“I want to pay off a mortgage for a friend as a birthday present,” he was getting good just winging things lately.
“Wow that’s some gift. Whose mortgage are we referring too?”
“August Seven Moons.”
There was an awkward silence as her name left his lips.
Then she smiled and said, “I’m sorry Boone but everyone’s finances at this bank are confidential and I can’t divulge that kind of information to you without a signed consent form from Miss Seven Moons.”
He should have known she would have to make this as hard as she could. Sure he could go wring that signature out of August but Hayley wanted to play hard ball so that is what he would do.
“Hayley, do you know the Bank Commissioner for the state?” He smiled an easy smile with his secret knowledge.
“Well yes, of course. It is Ed McNally. He’s been to our bank several times over the course of him being commissioner. Why?” She looked at him quizzically unsure of where this was going. She tapped one well manicured finger on the desk.
“Well Ed is a good friend of mine. In fact we usually play golf once a month when I am in town and he owes me a favor. I could call Ed and he can make your life very miserable if you do not give me what I want. And I want what she owes because I am going to pay it off today.” Hayley had never met this Boone. She decided to stick her ground. She would be damned if that little bitch got her mortgage paid free and clear. There were a lot of people who wanted that land and by damn they would have it.
“I’m sorry. It is not going to happen. I would appreciate it if you left. You have no business here,” she gave him a smirk. Wanting to screw August over was more priority than picking up where she and Boone had left off all those years ago. It still irked her that when August had left the barn that day Boone had tossed her to the ground and sauntered off like she was a piece of dirt. And now he was back trying to save August. So pa$thetic.
Instead of leaving Boone flipped out his cell. He prayed to Christ he’d get some reception in here or he’d look like a fool. He dialed the familiar number and thanked God when the deep voice picked up on the other end.
“Hey Ed. No I’m not in town for golf. I’ve a favor to ask….yeah I’ve a situation at one of your banks….see I wanted to pay off a mortgage for a friend but you got a pit-bull of a manager in your Farmington office. Do you think you could take care of that for me…thanks Ed. I’ll call you when I am back in town and pat Helen on the backside for me,” with a big grin Boone turned back to Hayley.
“You’re bluffing. That could have been some kid you paid twenty bucks to,” she wasn’t budging.
“No biggy. But you can expect a call here in about two minutes and I’m sticking around for it,” he sat back in the brown leather chair and got comfy.
Over the phone intercom a perky voice informed Hayley that the bank commissioner was on line three for her.
“Nice prank,” was all she said before she pushed three and with a smirk began her litany into the “supposed” banking commissioner. She knew Boone, he didn’t know the commissioner any more than he knew the president.
“Listen you little puke. You can just forget about the little scam you are trying to….”
“Beg your pardon?” came the voice on the other end of the phone. “Mrs. Severson, I hope you did not just call me a little puke because I do not think that is your best career move, especially since you were up for a promotion this month,” from his tone this was sounding fairly unlikely now.
During this conversation her face had gone from purple, to red, and now it was white. No, Boone thought, I am not good at making friends.
“I am sorry commissioner I have a gentleman here who was using your name for a scam and this is just a misunderstanding,” she stammered the last three words.
Boone shook his head. She still didn’t get it. She wasn’t looking so in control at the moment.
“If that gentleman is Boone Merryweather then he is not scamming you. If you value your job Mrs. Severson, I highly suggest you give the man what he wants. Anything he wants because if he calls me again in regards to this matter you just might be back up front waiting on customers, especially if you interrupt my family time again. Do I make myself clear?” “Yes crystal clear sir,” she cleared her throat praying that the tears would not come until she was alone.
If looks could kill Boone would have been in trouble. With a deep breath she got up and went to her file cabinet. Biff was not going to be impressed with this situation but what could she do. She couldn’t lose her job or Kevin would have a fit. Plus she had become accustomed to the lifestyle they currently had although she doubted she would be getting any more stipends from Biff and his family. Damn it. She ground her teeth and pulled the papers out. Hopefully once he saw the sum it would be a moot point.
Boone didn’t say a word as she placed the papers in front of him. She thought he was still a worthless piece of shit even though she wanted his body. It left a bad taste in his mouth.
“You want to pay it off? Then you need to come up with $76,421.03 in cash or check,” she still had some cheek left in her.
“That will be check thank you,” and he proceeded to make it out. “When does August get the title?” He asked.
“Well that can take up to 20-30 days and I have no control over that,” she said with a determined look in her eye. She crossed her arms over her chest and wondered what it was about August that made men want to save her. Bitch, she thought with venom.
“Fine, have it sent to August’s home address and Hayley, no funny business because I won’t hesitate to call my good friend Ed back and make your life a living hell,” with that he closed his checkbook and sauntered out of her office.
When the door shut behind him he heard a massive crash and figured that her temper tantrum had begun. A smile eased across his face. Yes, that might have been most of his savings but it was worth it. Now he had to go back to Augusts’ house and try to figure out what to do next. She probably would kick his ass but it had to be done. He wasn’t going to let them treat her like that. They might treat him like scum but not her. Not if he could help it. As he turned on the radio AC/DC’s “thunder struck” came on. Yes, he felt very good.
August sat on the porch swing and rocked back and forth. She had long since cried herself out. The last eight hours had been too crazy. Why did he have to come back just when her life was starting to get back to normal? Now he knew she could barely pay her bills and he was pissed at her for trying to get extensions to pay for it by being nice and compliant. She would do just about anything to save this place. She wasn’t a whore though. She pulled her legs up to her chin and closed her eyes. A breeze passed by her cheek and she sighed with the caress. Meatloaf laid by her side and cocked his head at the breeze.
She laid her head on her knees and wished with all of her heart that life didn’t have to be so freaking hard all the time. Meatloaf laid his head on her foot and didn’t lift it until he heard the car pull in. He gave a low woof but stayed with his mistress. He sensed the tension easing back into her body but it didn’t seem right to him. All his instincts told him he could trust Boone. Why didn’t she? He didn’t get humans. Most of them were selfish and mean but his mistress was different. He could see into her heart and he knew she would not hurt him. He felt the same from Boone.
As Boone pulled into the yard he noticed the sun was starting to set and left the sky with pink and orange hues. It gave him a lot of satisfaction knowing she was now safe and didn’t have to rely on someone else’s kindness or good intentions, or perhaps not so good intentions. She wasn’t going to like it but he had 20-30 days to figure out what and how to tell her. Unless she went to the bank and made idle chit chat with Mrs. Snooty face, which he highly doubted, then she wouldn’t know until he told her. She and Hayley had been rivals long before he had showed up but he probably hadn’t helped the situation either. He sat in the car for a minute and saw Meatloaf’s head pop up. He wouldn’t admit it but he had an immediate affection towards the dog. He wondered how August would greet him and he thought he probably better be a whole lot smoother then his exit had been.
His hand gripped the wheel harder with indecision. He had to get out of the car sometime, no reason to put off the inevitable. He climbed out of the car and headed up the walkway. Meatloaf jumped down to say hello and with a pat on the head Boone stole his seat on the swing. Neither spoke for a while as night settled over the earth.
From the big willow the two shadows held hands and prayed that the young ones would make a truce. Both sighed with relief when Boone reached over and grabbed Augusts’ hand. She was far from forgiving the words he had spoken but right then she needed his strength and the feeling of family. The shadows fell back into the old tree and the night came alive with sounds.
As the moon made its way across the sky Boone spoke for the first time since their fight.
“August I’m so sorry for the way I behaved. I was a jerk,” they still held hands and she gave his fingers a squeeze.
“It is not okay but I appreciate you apologizing,” she said with a half grin.
“You always did hold a grudge Legs,” he stood up and pulled her with him. “Come on inside, this guest is hungry.”
“Gosh you mean your staying here, I figured you’d stay at a hotel,” they both knew the nearest hotel was thirty minutes away.
“Nope. And you better not try to molest me in the middle of the night either. I have mace!” He said with a smile.
“I’ll try to control myself,” she said with a wry grin.
“Yeah you do that,” he said not meaning a word of it. The lust he had felt in his youth for August didn’t even begin to touch what he felt for her now. She looked good busying around the kitchen preparing them some supper. For a minute he almost felt like a family again. She hadn’t asked him about what Gramp had left them but then he hadn’t broached the subject either. He decided to leave it be until morning unless she brought it up.
The animal was crying out. It was a soul cry that made the hair stand up on the back of his neck. Without a thought of his own safety he ran into the dark woods in the direction the sound came from. He had an overpowering urge to save the animal. For a moment the sound stopped and Boone was disoriented. The moon was out but not bright enough to see very clearly. Then the sound started again and was accompanied by some thrashing. Boone picked up the pace and felt small branches cutting into his face and whipping his naked legs. He didn’t notice the stinging, only focused on the tortured animal’s voice.
As he ran out into a clearing he searched around for his bearings. Nothing looked familiar but he saw a dark form near a large rock. As he inched closer it looked like a monster and he couldn’t figure out what it was or what happened. It looked like a wolf but he couldn’t seem to get a very good look at it. He heard his name being called and he recognized it as August. He was torn between helping this creature and protecting August. He told the animal he would be back and when he turned towards Augusts’ voice, he woke up by hitting the floor.
“Wow! That was quite a dream,” she said looking down at him. He had been sleeping on the couch and apparently the blanket wasn’t big enough to handle his thrashing body. The blanket he had secured around himself before falling asleep wasn’t even in sight. He felt disoriented, tired, and also a bit foolish. He wasn’t sure why the dream had affected him so badly but he felt the raw need to help flow through his veins, like he should be doing it now.
“Ah yeah. Sorry to have woken you up. Was I loud?” He said sheepishly.
“No not really. Meatloaf woke me up. It was mostly a rustling noise you were making from the thrashing.”
“Meatloaf?” Boone asked confused.
“Yeah. My dog. Where is he anyway?” Normally he would have been startled and stuck to her like glue but not this time. She looked around and found him staring out the big picture window.
“Meatloaf?” She whispered softly. He turned to look at her and then moved closer to the window. His breath fogged a circle in the glass. Then he trotted to the door. He scratched at the door with his paw and whined.
“What is that all about?” August asked.
“Maybe he senses a skunk or another animal outside or maybe he needs to take a leak?” Boone put in weakly. The dream still clung to him like a second skin and it was hard to focus on reality.
“Maybe you scared the shit out of him and he wants to run away,” she said with a wry grin.” Come on baby lets go back to bed.”
“Okay but only if you will hold me real tight and make all the monsters go away,” Boone replied with a lusty grin.
“Not you!” She giggled. “The dog stupid!”
But Meatloaf wasn’t paying attention to either of them. He ran from the window to the door and back again with a series of pleading whines. He scratched at the door more insistently and August tried to drag him back to her room but he wasn’t having any of that. She was the one being dragged back to the door. At any other time the tug of war would have looked funny.
“Geesh Meatloaf. What the hell?! Let’s go back to bed!” August let go of his collar and threw her hands up with annoyance. “He is never like this,” she said to herself.
“Just let him out. I’m sure he’ll be fine and he seems to know what he wants. Plus look at him, he’s huge…no other animal in their right mind would go near him!”
She chewed her lip in indecision. She prided herself on giving him his space and freedom but the mother in her was scared to let him go on his own, in the dark.
Boone could read the conflicting emotions on her face and looked back at the distressed dog.
“Maybe he has diarrhea. I’d let him out or he could power poop all over the house!” He thought that would help her with her decision.
“Damn!” she whispered. She followed Meatloaf to the door, his 12th trip in about 60 seconds and opened the door to the night. “Come back safe,” she said to his retreating back side. She watched until he faded into the dark and then reluctantly closed the door. He hadn’t even looked back she thought with a pang of hurt inside. Everyone always abandoned her, would he as well? Weren’t dogs supposed to be loyal to the end? Her musings were interrupted by the sound of the shower. Then her thoughts were flooded with other images, not unpleasant but definitely not wanted…well mostly. She ran into her bedroom before she did anything stupid, like run into the bathroom and make a fool of herself. She crawled back into the cooled bed and wished for the comforting weight of Meatloaf. He could always chase the bad dreams away.
The Crone smiled and stroked her walking stick with an ancient hand. Soon. She felt a tug for the animal and the distress it felt but knew she was beyond helping right now. She looked around for the Warrior but did not feel his spirit near. How could she protect him if he kept hiding, she thought to herself. He thought because he was a man, strong, and had a machete that he didn’t need a mother’s protection but he was a fool. All men needed protection and it was a woman’s job to protect what they guarded most and that was their hearts. Woman’s hearts broke each and every day; it was the way of a woman. It was small cracks that would seal over and although scarred they could open their love time and time again regardless of the scars. But a man’s heart, that was a different story. If a man’s heart cracked it was an open wound that festered and boiled. She hoped this journey would help this son of hers. Otherwise, his soul was as tainted as theirs. She said a chant for the dogs that lifted a wind. Her hair flew out about her face and she lifted her hands high to the sky. Then she too faded back into the night.