Tuesday, March 21, 2006


The Child's Voice
By H.A. Handy
Copyright (c) 2006 by H.A. Handy

Billy hefted the grocery bags out of his trunk and slogged through the remnants of snow the sky had dumped on the mountains of eastern Kentucky night-before-last. Ritchie came bounding from the back bedroom all teeth and hackles. Luckily he saw who it was pretty quickly, but Billy let himself relax, just in case. As Ritchie’s attitude changed, the dog came forward, head down and tail wagging madly in apology.

“If I didn’t know better,” Billy said, “I’d say you were a worthless mutt if there ever was one.” Billy smiled and once the groceries were on the table, he gave Ritchie much attention. Ritchie seemed to almost melt in adoration, which warmed Billy’s heart greatly, if not his body. There was an entire case of beer waiting for him in the car, which caused him to sigh and straighten. Ritchie followed him to the car quickly.

Billy’s mouth began salivating at the sight of MILLER stamped all over the case. His throat constricted with dryness and thirst. Yeah, he had a problem. He had had a problem for the past twenty-five or thirty years and would probably die with a problem. So far, his problem hadn’t stopped him from doing good things with his life.

He was actually quite successful in his own way. He had enough connections to keep supplied with enough pot for himself and to sell. He worked at carpentry through the summer and kept enough secrets he was a little more secure than he normally would have been, and an added benefit of keeping secrets was he was never without female company if he wanted it.

Yes, he was a success in little Podunk, Kentucky. And, if people were smart, they would realize that.

Billy set the case of beer down on the porch and sat down beside it. The rolling hills of Kentucky spread out before him. The Pollards had owned the mountain for generations. Their records said they had had the mountain since before the Civil War. The county records backed them up. Now he owned it. His Ma, Katherine Pollard, had left it to Jimmy, Billy’s baby brother, in her will, but Jimmy had needed money and a safe place to hide for a while, so the mountain had been fair trade. It was as it should be – Jimmy was eleven years Billy’s junior and quite a surprise for Billy, previously the baby of the family and the mountain, Pollard’s Mountain, had always gone to the baby of the family. As far as Billy was concerned, it had finally reverted to the proper owner.

Billy opened the case and pulled out a nice cold beer. In the winter you could have a nice cold beer whenever you wanted one without even trying! All you had to do was leave it outside and it would chill faster than inside the fridge.

Ritchie bounced off down the long, snaky driveway. His voice was raised in loud warning. Billy meandered back to the car where he removed the .45 semi-automatic pistol from under the driver’s seat. He closed the trunk as he passed it.

Billy had just enough time to slip the gun under his jacket and down into the holster he had at the small of his back when a muddy jeep came to a loud, roaring stop just in front of Billy’s old red Camaro. Billy raised his beer in greeting to the driver who slowly stepped out of the jeep. There was a smile on the driver’s lips, but not in his eyes.

.......to be continued

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