Lights in the Night

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Chapter 22: Big Jim

The morning after Barney’s arrival, Trevor hadn’t gained any new insights, concerning how he might save his growing business, and salvage Barney’s broke one. Not one-hundred percent sure of Cuff and Link’s loyalties, he sent them to El Paso for the day.

The company needed to trade in their lovely Chevy Spark, for something a little manlier. Wanting at least two vehicles, two full-sized SUVs.

Many items had become scarce in town. Grace’s and Junior’s found it difficult filling the need for everything the growing community wanted. He saw an opportunity to make a few extra dollars selling the harder to come by items. Cuff and Link had a list, on the top: Toilet paper. It would take them the better part of the day, round trip, there and back.

Doing some calculations, he found the property in Marysfield exceeded all his expectations concerning return on his investment. If the value kept growing at its current rate for another year, Trevor would become a rich man.

Problem was, he worried about the efficacy of the events so far, to cement Marysfield as a new Sedona or Taos. Two longer term boxes needed to be checked.

First, he needed to close on a huge ranch outside of town. It butted up against the ridge Crystal took him to visit. Second, he needed some spectacular event to solidify Marysfield’s reputation as the place to be, for all things paranormal.

He decided he needed to check on some paperwork moving through town hall. Heading out the front door, waving as he left, “I’ll be back.”

Thinking to himself. I am going to the Town Hall for business, it is not my fault Shannon works there. Even at ten in the morning the intersection hummed with a carnival atmosphere. Not only were stalls set up along the sidewalks, all the stores showed some new activity. Trevor smiled, proud of the good he’d done for this little town. He’d grown quite fond of Marysfield. ‘A sucker born every minute.’ How true it was.

Due to the amount of foot traffic in the center of town, Sheriff Rodriguez determined it best to close the town center to vehicles. What slight traffic that wanted to continue through Marysfield had to detour around town. Except for the southern road, the only way to reach the gas station.

Reaching the corner at Eddington’s he walked diagonally across the intersection. The red light still blinking, a now ignored warning. On one corner, stood a preacher and his flock, proclaiming, “The end is near! You had better be saved before Judgment Day!” the whole time wielding his bible as a weapon, assaulting every passerby within earshot.

At the Town Hall corner, several street performers laid claim. His favorite, the levitating Yoda. An easy trick to pull off, but still impressive.

Runner up, the gray alien statue woman, that would move from time to time. Scaring the crap out of the unsuspecting pedestrians. Always good for a laugh.

At the door, he found a woman and a baby, begging. Shocked. Thinking that would not do, he gave her a hundred-dollar bill, “Go get something to eat. Then come see me across the street, I’ll find some work for you,” Pointing where to meet him.

The woman mumbled, “Bless you,” he offered to help her and the baby up, then she shuffled down the street.

Strange, he thought, I had never noticed homeless people here before. Pushing his way into the crowded sheriff’s offices, on the way into the town clerk section.

A rational person might describe the scene inside chaotic. Sheriff Rodriguez spoke with a group of bikers sitting on benches. Easy to tell they were bikers, they all wore leather vests. Intriguing part, they were all women of color, and the vests were bright pink. Trevor would’ve loved to hear that story, but didn’t hang around. He passed into the relative peace of the Town Clerk offices, walked to the window, and saw an angel sitting behind the glass, reading a book.

“Good morning Shannon,” attempting not to lurk as he scrutinized her through the glass, in her cubical.

Startled, caught reading at work, she put the UFO book down. Hiding it under a newspaper, “What are you doing here?”

Taken aback at what might be the cause of this response, “Nice to see you too, however, I have come for business,” slipping into business mode.

“No, I am sorry. I spent most of the last few days trying to explain to Billy we are just friends,” smiling, now that she calmed down.

“I know he has not spoken two words to me since our date.”

“It wasn’t a date.”

“You kissed me good night.”

“That was the Doctor Pepper talking!”

They gazed at one another through the glass and laughed.

“I never thought I would have to explain my sex life to my son,” she quipped.

“I wish I had a sex life to explain to your son,” both turning crimson, they laughed.

They were interrupted by a voice from the door, “Isn’t this special.”

Trevor, not particularly tall at five foot ten, but he looked like a giant standing next to the man leaning against the door frame.

“Jim what can I do for you?” Shannon became official again.

“Aw, honey, don’t get your panties in a bunch. Won’t you introduce me to your new friend?” Trevor took that as my competition.

Without the boots, Jim measured a full three inches shorter than Shannon’s five foot nine. Jim, still optimistic of ascending her mountains one day and planting his flag, was dressed like a dime-store cowboy, complete with silver collar tips on his powder blue western suit. Trevor noted the huge hat he held in his tiny hands and thought, must be over compensating for something. Trevor took an instant dislike to the man. He decided the feeling was mutual.

Obliged to keep Jim at least professionally happy. She did as requested, “Jim MacAllan, please meet Trevor Swindell.”

“Ah, Big Jim, I presume.” Trevor thought, is everyone in this town irony challenged?

“And you must be the Brit buying up most of the town. Lucky, you started your purchases a few days before all this began. Almost like you knew something was going to happen,” Jim didn’t try too hard to veil the accusation.

“I was just as surprised as you when this hit the news. I was just looking for a quiet little place to retire in the sun.” He fakes a cough, “Doctor told me I had to move out West for my consumption,” failing to hide a chuckle.

“You a real smart ass, aren’t you?” Jim pushed off the door frame, stepping the few feet to the window, “Shannon, Honey if I am not interrupting too much. A little birdy told me, someone bought the old the Davis place. Out by my spread.”

“Jim, you know I can’t tell you that until the deal is final. Should be done in a few days.”

“Would that be near the Glass Mountains partner?” Trevor chiding him with a fake Texas accent.

Big Jim slowly turned to face, Trevor. Shannon placed her fingers on her forehead covering her eyes. Waiting for hell to break loose.

“Yes, that would be near my place,” was Jim’s cool reply.

“Well shut ma mouth, we’re gonna be neighbors,” like a kid, poking a jellyfish with a stick at the beach.

“Bless your heart,” lasers of hate shooting from his eyes. Instantly turning sweet as he faced Shannon.

“Honey, you really need to let me fly you to Houston for a weekend. I will show you the time of your life. Gotta sweet little penthouse we can use as a base of operations,” reaching under the glass for her hand. Shannon recoiled a step back, out of his reach.

“I’ll think about it, but I could never leave Billy alone for a weekend,” fibbing to keep from laughing in his face.

“Well the invitation is always open. Say, I could bring you out to the ranch. I’ve always got some important people around to entertain us,” putting his hat on and moving to the door.

“Trevor, you are visiting our fine state on a tourist visa, right?”

“Well, it is a British passport. I don’t need a Visa. I used ESTA. I am good for two years,” not liking how this is going. He tried to lighten the mood a bit, “Do I need a Texas Visa?”

“No, not yet,” Jim smiled wide. “Careful though. This close to the border would be a shame if you got into trouble with ICE, or if someone reported you as a suspected terrorist. This day and age, you might get deported and never be able to return to this country. That beard might make you look like a fanatic. After all, them terrorists can’t grow a decent beard for some reason.”

He pushed open the door. Trevor glimpsed the two lunks standing guard outside the door. Both about the size of Cuff and Link.

Once the door closed, “Smarmy Git” came from Trevor, “Asshole” came from Shannon.

“Why do you put up with that asshat?” he quizzed her.

“He’s not kidding, he has many prominent friends. They come out to his hunting ranch to shoot tethered animals. The man is a snake, a cruel snake, but a major-league cruel snake. He is from an old family.” Putting hands on hips, imitating Jim. “He is Big Jim MacAllen the fifth.”

“He is still a tosser and a bully. I hate bullies. What is the worse he can do? Why would he want that run down old ranch anyway? It has been vacant for years.”

“I am guessing he has been using the property rent-free. No one to check, no one to complain. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? He musta caught wind from the bank about your offer and he came snooping around. He used it as an excuse to come and hit on me again.” Shivering, “God, he makes my skin crawl.”

“You look like a woman that can take care of herself,” glancing to where Big Jim left, “You shouldn’t have to deal with him.”

“Bastard ever touched me or Billy, I would cut him a good one. I think he’s too smart for that. He also has a small army, calls them security for when the politicians come to visit.”

“Politicians?”

“Sure thing. I was once told, people all the way up to a Vice-President, been out there. Really anyone that wants to kill a tied-up animal with their huge guns, will travel out to his place. He owns over two-thousand acres.”

“He isn’t a tosser, he’s a monster.”

“Trevor, you are going to be his neighbor. Your property and his will share a property line. You ever learn about range wars? He is an important man, with a small army and even more powerful friends. Don’t piss him off anymore.”

“I told you I don’t like bullies.”

“It is not just your life you might be messing with. Remember Billy and I live here too. You piss him off he might come after us. Just leave him be, please. Let this all blow over.”

“I promise I will not poke the hornets’ nest on one condition,” beginning to barter with her.

“Listen this is no joke... what’s the one condition?” curiosity piqued.

“Let me walk you home after work. Not a date, just two friends talking and walking.”

“I don’t think so. Billy was so upset the last time. I don’t want to deal with that again,” she tried to justify saying no.

“Shannon...” pausing a moment to word this the best way possible, “I like you. I like Billy. I would like to know you better. If you like me like I think you like me. Don’t you owe it to us, to at least give us a little chance?”

“What us? We’ve had dinner once,” holding up one finger, “so, I kissed you on the cheek. We are not engaged. Don’t try to tell me how to live my life,” Trevor hit a nerve.

Holding up his hands, surrendering to her. “Alright. I am sorry. I guess I felt something between us, you didn’t. If you like I will not bother you again.”

“I would like that...” turning her back to him, “...now I think you should leave. I got work to do.”

Trevor stepped swiftly to the door. The door closing, he overheard tissues being pulled from a box. Should I go back and tell her I am sorry? Standing, back to the door contemplating something Grace said the other night, Change is an act of violence. Smeg that. I’ve had enough violence for one day. He hummed a few bars of that damnable song.

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