“Geese Max, it’s the cops,” Mike said.
“It’s not the real cops. It’s the cop in Atwood’s pocket. I can’t go out with this,” I said putting the shotgun down. “But you stay close to it. Video it all and if he shoots me, kill his ass, If he roughs me up, just get it on film and hide it.”
“Got it,” Mike said.
I walked onto the porch and spoke to the middle aged balding man who stepped from the Ford Crown Victoria with police written on the side. “Hello officer what can I do for you?” I asked politely.
“Would you mind, if I come in? It’s kinda cold out here.” he tried to make it sound harmless.
“Not at all, if you have a warrant to search, then search. Otherwise it’s a nice enough day, let’s just talk here on the porch. I should warn you though Mike is standing just inside the doorway armed with a loaded video recorder. You are on video complete with sound. I thought I should let you know.”
“You don’t trust the police?” he said amusement in his voice.
“Generally I do, but not all policemen and not all the time.” I said it smiled sweetly. Then I asked. “So what brings you out so early on a Sunday morning. Service don’t start until next weekend, then they will be in the livestock auction building.”
“Actually I came to talk to you about last night. Did you know Thomas Atwood had to be taken to the emergency room after the beating you gave him?”
“Then I didn’t kill him?” I asked without any further comment.
“Where you trying to kill him?” he asked.
“Obviously not,” I replied.
“I talked to him about pressing charges, but he decided not to do that.” The cop said.
“Probably for the best, since Mike filmed the whole thing.”
“Oh really, and your version is what self defense?” the cop asked with a sneer.
“Actually, I was defending myself.” I said.
“And you needed the beer pitcher to do that?” the chief asked.
“Well it was either that or let him gut me like a fish. It is all on the tape, I would be happy to show it to the county prosecutor, if you like. The other plan is to just call it even, and move on. That is unless Thomas decides he wants to go another round, then I will take it to the county prosecutor. You might want to tell Thomas that he can’t intimidate the tape, or me.”
“I see, but Miss, I’m the police chief not a messenger.” he replied.
“From where I’m standing you look like a messenger boy, so take the boss this message. Tell him it’s kinda like Hank Williams said in that song. You can’t starve us out, and you can’t make us run, country folks was raised on shotguns.”
“So, you are making threats, I could run you in for that,” he said.
“Chief, I hope you have damn good insurance. I have this conversation on film and one damn fine lawyer on call. False arrest is a nice civil action, I could probably be the one retiring on your pension.” He turned about six shades of red, before he got into his car and left without another word.
“Shit he came out of that car like a lion, but he left in it like a lamb. You pulled his fucking teeth,” Mike said.
“Mike, you of all people should know that trouble just seems to find me wherever I go. He was no lion and not much trouble either. What we have to worry about is Thomas Atwood and his brother Blain. That little threat might freeze the Cop in place, but it won’t do much to stop them. They have to protect their rice bowl.”
“You sure do think fast girl,” Martin said with a smile. “Me I would have just killed him.”
“That’s probably why they sent you along, so that you could learn a new way to do things,” I suggested.
“Or to teach you one,” he said smiling.
“Mike is that camera ready?” I asked. “I want to know who is doing the cooking in that shack.”
“You should know shortly after you guys place it.” Mike said.
“Tonight after they are all asleep or gone for the night. I figure 3AM is optimum timing.” Martin said.
“You should know best, but for god’s sake be careful. I do not want to have to play Calvary.” I said.
“That’ll be the day, when you have to save my ass,” he said. I just smiled knowingly. Of course I didn’t know anything at all.
“So what do we do today?” Gwen asked.
“Well are you staying or going Gwen?” I asked.
“I’m staying, so what are we going to do?” She repeated.
“I’m going to take a shower and drink a gallon of coffee Then I’m going out to breakfast with one of you TV people. One of you has an expense account I’m sure. That is my total plan for the day, so far.”
“Frankly Maxine you look like hell,” Gwen said. I could tell that she enjoyed saying it way too much.
“Yeah I know, I didn’t get near enough sleep last night,” She started to say something then realized I was joking.
“You should have put ice on it, like I told you to do,” Martin said.
“Ah now you are an Irish Doctor. You aren’t known for your medical skills, are you?”
“No, but any idiot knows you put ice on an bruised cheek bone. You might ought to get it x-rayed.” Martin said.
“Right, so they can put it in a splint,” I actually laughed and so did he.
“So go take your shower, I’m Hungry,” Mike said to break the tension.
“Then it’s you and me first, then Martin and Gwen can go when we get back. We don’t ever leave the house empty again until this is all over.” I said to all of them.
“Right,” Martin said in agreement. The shower was going to be busy and the hot water was going to be in short supply, so I took a GI shower. Wet down, turn off the water, soap up, turn on the water,. Rinse quickly and get out of the shower to save hot water for the next person.
“Short showers for everyone,” I said as I entered the kitchen where they all sat. “We are going to be short of hot water. “Irish you go next, after that the kids. I’m sure they don’t know how to manage the water, but do try guys.”
It took about half hour longer before Mike was ready to leave. We looked pretty shabby in our suitcase wrinkled clothes. I also had oily hair, since I didn’t waste hot water washing my hair. That would happen after breakfast, while we waited for Gwen and Martin to return.
We had breakfast back at the highway interchange area. It was far enough away from Haymarket, so that we didn’t have to be constantly watching our backs. It was one of those pancake and waffle joints. I had scrambed eggs of course, just to be contrary.
It turned out that Mike had an expense account, so he picked up the check. Back at the house I stripped, then went back into the shower to wash my hair. I was interrupted by Mikes excited voice.
“Max you should come have a look,” he suggested.
I left the shower in a towel. The car was almost in the yard by the time I realized what was going on. I picked up the shotgun before I walked onto the porch. A man, woman and teenage boy got out of the older car. I must have been a sight standing on the porch wrapped in a towel holding a pump shotgun at the ready.
“Hello, can I help you?” I asked.
“That shotgun is probably a good idea. I hear you kicked Thomas Atwood’s sorry ass,” the man said.
“I don’t know about that, but we had a few words last night,” I replied.
“They tell me, he had to driven to the hospital by his brother Blain, nobody else would touch him.” The woman said it then paused a full minute. “You know they gonna be coming for you and your friends.”
“I trust the Lord, and this 12 gauge, to take care of me.” I said quietly.
“I’d say that you was in good company then,” the man said. “The wife made pies last night and we had an extra one. I hope you and your friends like Apple.” He said as he handed me the pie tin covered with a dishcloth.
“It smells delicious, the others might not get any,” I said with a smile.
“I would say that you are going to have a packed house at your service next week.” The woman said.
“Well it will be good to see friends in the house of worship. Son,” I said turning my attention to the teenage boy. “You seem to be interested in my towel. I’m afraid I will never make it as a Hollywood star, but you are welcome to stare. God probably isn’t pleased that I am vane, but we all h ave faults. I think it is a minor one.”
“So do I,” the boy said in agreement. “I can’t imagine how upset Thomas Atwood is this morning. To have his ass kicked by a preacher is bad, but a woman preacher is just the ultimate in humiliation.” We spoke a few more words, then they left.
Martin and Gwen returned shortly after they had gone. “Try to get cleaned up Mike we are going into town. I want to see and be seen today. I want you to film everything you can Mike. It is going to be the difference, if they make a run for us.”
“You know they are going to want to stop that,” Martin asked.
“Yes I know, I want you to be sure the camera people are safe. Try to do it without violence, at least not deadly force.” I commented.
The town was so small that it was hard to find anything to do, other than eat. We went back to the same restaurant. Our greeting was a lot more cautious. The people didn’t want to piss us off, since they had heard we were more than simple clergy. The seemed to have no love for the Atwoods either, so they were just trying to stay neutral. It was a hard, but clear cut decision. Stay with the known, or move over to the unknown. I didn’t blame anyone for hedging their bets as best they could.
I saw Mike get that concerned look. The one people get when they think trouble might be headed their way. I figured someone was approaching me from behind. After the last time, I wished that it was Martin instead of Mike at the table with me. Mike was no wimp but he was also not Martin.
“Hi remember me?” the young man asked.
“Of course, your parents brought us the pie.” I commented letting Mike know that it was okay.
“Tell your mom it was delicious,” Mike commented.
“I’ll tell her, she will be happy. She loves to make pies.”
“Do that, it really was excellent,” I agreed.
“Okay, I wanted to tell you that Blain Atwood says you two are criminals. He also said that he is going to take care of you. He said you weren’t really preachers. No preacher could have done that to his brother.” the kid said.
“Do you know the story of Samson and Delila?” I asked.
“Sure from Sunday School,” he replied.
“Sampson’s strength came from God, and so does mine. He directs my hand and he protects me, Blain would be foolish to attack God’s messenger. So don’t worry, I will be fine.”
“I’m sure you will be, I also wanted to tell you I think you are beautiful. I know you said you didn’t mind me staring and I wanted to thank you for that. I couldn’t help it.
“Thank you, what’s your name?”
“Melvin,” he replied simply.
“Melvin my name is Maxine. I hope you come to services on Sunday,”
“I would like to see you before that. I mean see you alone,” he said it shyly.
“Melvin, I’m more than twice your age hon. But I am truly flattered.”
“You aren’t upset that I asked,” he said.
“No, and I hope you aren’t upset that I had to said no.” After he left I said, “Nice kid.”
“Horny devil,” Mike suggested.
“Well we need to get back, so the second shift can get out to eat,” I suggested.