Every morning they were there. All the jars with hot drinks in them. It was starting to get cold in the city. The season was changing from fall into winter. There was a man in an army jacket who came long before dawn and set up the jars. He took great care with them.
David was homeless and usually tried to sleep in a cubby hole he’d found in the park. Since the man had been setting up the hot drinks each morning, David sat in the shadows and watched him. David was a veteran of the Army. The Vietnam War. There was something familiar about the man.
The homeless people in the area always came with a cup right after dawn. David joined them. The coffee tasted wonderful and was hot. It warmed them, their bodies and their souls. The man kept coming with refills.
David looked up at him and their eyes met. They both started to smile. They had been in the same platoon in the war.
It was Sunday night in Harlan County, Kentucky. Jeremiah and his girlfriend, Jamie, were walking to services at Holiness Church of Harlan. They’d heard something new and exciting was going to happen tonight. Both young people had gotten dissatisfied with their church recently. It was becoming increasingly conservative.
Near the middle of the service, some of the men carried in a wooden box. Jeremiah and Jamie looked at each other, neither knowing what was going on. The pastor opened the box and pulled out a large rattlesnake. Jamie grabbed Jeremiah’s hand. Their’s had never been a snake-handling church although they had heard of such churches. Supposedly, if the snakes didn’t bite the handlers, they had the appropriate amount of faith.
One of the men in the congregation went up to handle the snake. It took about 20 seconds for the timber rattlesnake to bite him on the hand. As he was screaming and the snake was put back in the box, Jamie and Jeremiah ran out of the church, knowing their religious preference had just changed.
Tonight had been high school graduation for Jacob’s class. Mom, Dad, and Sara, his sister, had been there to watch him walk across the stage. He was pretty proud of himself. It had been a struggle at times to get to this stage.
Jacob had straightened up and graduated with straight A’s. He had slipped up tonight. After graduation, he had gone out for a while with friends and had a few drinks. He was walking home.
He was only two houses away from home. A car pulled up and a guy jumped out and tried to pull him in the car. He started fighting and yelling. He was just about to lose the fight and he felt someone pulling back and he heard Dad yelling in return. Dad had heard the commotion. The car sped off and he fell to the pavement. Dad picked him up and held him. He saved him again. He’d been watching out the window for him to come home.
“We have sightings of him in Red River Gorge, Captain,” Rain said. She was a patrol officer on the Lexington Police Force.
“Get a team together and get out there. Find out where in the Gorge,” the Captain responded. “You need the dogs.”
Red River Gorge is a huge wilderness area near Lexington, Kentucky. Leroy Michaels, a convicted murderer, had escaped from jail. They had reason to believe he was trying to hide by losing himself in the Gorge. His wife, who he had tried to kill, lived near by. The police had items of his clothing to give to the dogs.
The police team and the canine team all met at Slade, an entry point to the Gorge. They gave the clothing to the dogs and they got the scent. Everyone started out following the dogs who headed into one of the mosts rugged parts of the Gorge.
They heard a scream and saw a flash of orange. Leroy Michaels had fallen 60 feet from one of the many ledges in the Gorge.
Ruby didn’t understand why things kept disappearing. Her hairbrush. The book she was reading. She hadn’t found either of them. It was only she and Ralph in the house. He wouldn’t take those things. What need would Ralph, her husband have for them? He was as puzzled as she was.
Today, her Christmas cactus was missing. Ruby felt like she was losing her mind. Could it be dementia? She even looked around outdoors and there it was. Covered with frost. She snatched it up, taking it inside. She knew something was very wrong.
As she went inside, she heard Ralph on the phone and stopped when she heard the words “nursing home.” She realized he was talking to his brother about her. They were planning on putting her in a nursing home and Ralph had been setting her up.
She would show him.
“You boys can take any of those stumps back there behind the corn crib,” Jake said to his friends. “They will make good firewood this winter.”
Jake’s friends walked behind the corn crib and saw all the tree stumps. One turned and asked Jake where he got them. Jake said he cut trees on his property and sold them to a company that makes hardwood floors.
“Jake, you live in the Daniel Boone National Forest. How are you cutting trees, man?”
Jake told them that the trees were at the back of his property. He said no one would know. One of the men in the group stepped forward and told Jake he should not be cutting young trees in the woods to sell. That it was not environmentally conscious. The man went on to say that someone should turn Jake in to the authorities. He turned to walk off.
Boom!! The world went black. That was the last thing the man knew for several hours.
John decided to warm up while Carl and Scotty bought their train tickets. The train ran much later tonight, but they had to get their seats. They wanted to entertain the crowd and maybe make a little money while they waited. They had hours to play some of their music – classic British rock.
Carl’s fiancee was waiting on him at his Mum’s home in Scotland. The wedding was this weekend. John and Scotty were standing up with him. Carl was so excited he could hardly hold his guitar. A big party was planned after the wedding and John and Scotty were going to be the band.
Carl and Scotty came running out of the terminal.
“John,” they cried, “There are no tickets left for the train to Scotland. We’re on the waiting list.”
“Start playing,” John said. “We’ll make enough money to hire a car if we have to. Nothing will stop your wedding, Carl!”
Photo credit to Sunayana MoiPensieve
“Barney, be quiet, for God’s sake. Don’t alert the whole county that we’re out here,” Lester whispered.
“I’m trying, Lester, but the leaves and limbs on this forest floor make noise when you walk on them.”
“The moonshine still is right over here, Barney. Behind the old car. Just stand right there.”
Lester grabs the something that turns out to be a camouflage tarp and pulls it loose. A moonshine still was under it. Barney got the supplies for the mash to make the ‘shine out of the truck and they went to work. A combination of water, cracked corn, sugar, and yeast. Lester told Barney to go on home.
Lester was serving as the guard of the still that night. Before Barney left, he got Lester’s guns out of the truck. A pistol and an automatic rifle, an AR-15. That should take care of snoops and lawmen.
The street light glowed brightly at the end of the side street of the dying town. It was Christmas Eve but the homeless men who huddled around the barrel glowing with fire didn’t notice. They were focused on getting warm. It was a frigid winter’s night.
Most of the men didn’t have gloves and held their hands over the fire. Some would probably not survive the night. All would sleep close to the barrel or in nearby doorways. The small town didn’t have funds to help the homeless.
They were hungry but their hunger took second place to the cold. Out of the darkness, a shadow appeared. The shadow approached the men slowly. It was a young girl carrying large brown bags in both hands.
She sat the bags on the ground and walked away. The smell of hot food was unmistakable. The men slowly walked toward the bags and smiled at their Christmas miracle.
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Photo credit to @Maria@Doodles and Scribbles
Thanks, Priceless Joy!
June 18, 1899
Dear Miss Chandler:
Thank you for your letter concerning our patient, Mrs. Monica Chandler. I understand that you recently discovered that she is your mother and would like to know her condition and whether you can visit.
Mrs. Chandler came to us almost 20 years ago due to a diagnosis of post-partum depression. I believe this was after the birth of her second child, a female. She was committed to our institution by her husband, August Chandler.
For the last five years, Mrs. Chandler has been in a catatonic state, despite the efforts of our doctors. She has never had visitors to my knowledge. Although you can visit, I don’t think you or Mrs. Chandler would find such a visit very satisfactory.
Dr. Charles Wetherly
Medford Mental Facility
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*This post sponsored by Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers.
Thank you, Priceless Joy!