Sadie stood up straight from the wash pail, stretching the bend in her back with one hand and wiping the sweat-filled hazelnut curls from her face with the other. Her mind was busy amid the morning chores. A few more pieces, she thought, and the wash would soon be finished. There wasn’t much of a breeze in this humid, late summer morning. Her thoughts meandered away again, with her brain rattling full of necessary preparations for the turning of the seasons. With both of her parents gone now, the burdens of this wild frontier rested on the shoulders of Sadie and her older brother Ollie.
Awakened from her thoughts, she heard a rustle in the thicket. Instantly tense, Sadie reached for the shotgun leaning against the woodpile. This Texas backcountry was very wild and untamed, hiding all manner of critters. It could be a cougar or a mountain lion which were known to frequent these parts, or even a rabid skunk or raccoon. Tightening her grip on her Poppa’s old shotgun, she pointed in the direction of the rustle, and coming into view out of the dense yaupon was a buck. He was so majestic with his heavy head of antlers and buckskin fur. He was bigger than any buck she’d ever seen, at least at this short distance. He was struggling to get free from his vining restraints, and from the sheer panic in his eyes, he looked as though she had interrupted him. Taking pause, still pointing the barrel of the gun in his direction Sadie was unsure of how to proceed. She stared at him; he’d clearly had been having a tussle in the muscadine grape vines for a while. What on earth pushed him in there, she thought?
With a burst of vigor, he broke free of the vines and thickets. In his successful attempt to get away from the oppressive foliage, he leapt towards the cabin, right straight across from the opposing clothes line. He kept his gaze fixed on his dazed audience, not seeing his impending obstacle course before him. Ducking the clothesline in his flight, he inadvertently caught Ollie’s shirt with his heavy rack. The crème-colored muslin shirt hung draped in the antlers, leaving the buck blinded and shaking his head back and forth. He maintained his course, disoriented, right into the side of the cabin, and as his bad luck continued to unfold, he managed to perfectly wedge his horn immoveable, “You would have thought those ornery antlers were brand new the way he tussled them about,” Sadie thought. He stopped moving for a brief second to focus on the wall before him, staring cross-eyed he could see the ripped fabric pieces dangling over his head, staring even further down the tip of his nose, his focus neared the log wall, as he stood awkwardly braced with erratic panting.
Sadie set the shotgun back down against the wood pile and took a step forward, but she quickly froze mid stride cautious and aware, not wanting to get caught by those wild antlers. The great buck was now frantically moving back and forth, wiggling to get free from the restraint of the cabin wall. Panic was setting in, she wanted to somehow help him but was not sure how, she looked around to see what she could use to aid him in his trial. “Ah, the hay fork.” She could use it to pry and create leverage to break his hold. She leapt into action quickly and left for a brief moment to fetch the wooden fork from round the side of the cabin. She slowly came around the corner of the cabin looking and listening with the pitchfork gripped firmly in her hands. Her eyes met those of a startled and now completely hysterical buck.
In a desperate final attempt to get free, the buck sat back on his rear end and pulled with all he had from the clutches of the wall. In the exertion of applying all of his strength, he catapulted backward into the wash water. His rear end was submerged in the sotol basket with his front foot still in the water pail. He was a sight to be seen, sitting straddle-legged like a dog, in complete disarray, with Ollie’s shirt and vines hanging in his face. He was now free, but with a broken antler and wounded pride. He managed to pull himself to his feet, and clangity, clang, clang, he stepped awkwardly forward, fumbling as his hoof made contact with the bucket and the vibrating handle. As the buck staggered around into everything in sight, the remaining clothes were now on the ground and the line was in shambles.
Resembling a staggering drunk the buck managed to step out of what was now an empty and misshapen bucket and a pile of soiled laundry. He paused and glanced back at her for a second before springing away into the tall grass that lead to the dense woods. He immediately disappeared into the wood that he came from, with Ollie’s ripped shirt and pieces of the grape vines trailing behind, still entangled in his antlers. As quickly as he had appeared, so he vanished away into the pinewood.
Sighing with a deep breath of relief- Sadie thought to herself, “Oh dear, what a mess and what will Ollie say?” She should have shot him, she thought; she had more than one opportunity. He would have provided more than enough meat for the two of them for weeks. The commotion had come and gone so quickly she was paralyzed, watching in unbelief as he floundered around. Worse than losing dinner, the laundry was ruined; Ollie only had two shirts and the buck made off with most of one.
That little window into my story was just the prologue from my book, “Long Journey Home.” That was just a smidgen of the shenanigans to come in the story. If you haven’t read it yet, I sure hope you check into it. It is available online exclusively at Amazon or at our local library in Centerville, TX.
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