BY: PATTY L. FLETCHER
COPYRIGHT DECEMBER 2019
ABOUT THE BOOK…
Blending Adventure, mystery, supernatural, Romance, and Suspense, author Patty L. Fletcher weaves a tale of fiction, all readers are sure to enjoy.
James Landing Tennessee was a peaceful small town just trying to keep up with its neighbors, which seemed to always be growing by leaps and bounds around it. Then one day Roy Dingus took over Friedman chemicals, a lady of unknown origin known only as
Miss Mazie bought the old house on the outskirts of town and as the heat of August blazed with no end in sight, what was once a city with no promise came to life.
Follow the adventures of three small-town boys, Joe, Ronnie, and Jake, and their newfound friend Billy Ray as they try to unravel the mystery that surrounds the newcomers and all the strange goings on before James Landing is no more.
This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to people, places, and things are simply that Similarities.
*Please Note, this has not yet been professionally edited.
CHAPTER FIVE: SOMETHING IN THE WOODS
It was just passed 11:00 when Billy Ray and Mazie pulled into the gravel turnaround behind the old ramshackle house at the edge of town. “Billy Ray, I do appreciate the ride home, but I wish you’d have let me walk. I really should’ve seen to finding Bubba before I started back. Not like him to go off too far on his own.” Mazie worried as she unfolded her long legs and stood looking out into the shadows cast by the trees waving in the hot summer breeze.
“Oh, I bet he’s already back home just waiting to come lumbering round the side of the house to show me his teeth.” Billy Ray chuckled as he lifted the ice cream freezer from the back of the wagon. “Shame there’s no more ice cream in this.” He lamented sitting it onto the back porch then coming back down to unload the rest of the picnic supplies.
“Son!” Mazie declared, “You cannot possibly have any more room!”
“Not tonight, but ice cream makes a wonderful breakfast. I love it with coffee.” Despite her worry for her old dog Mazie had to laugh. “What you need is some good home cooking.”
“Well, maybe one of these days you can cook me some of your famous pancakes. I hear you make a good stack. In the meantime, did you enjoy the ice cream supper?”
“Actually, yes. Other than that old fat walrus Duff Sims it was a lovely evening. You and Sissie were right, it’s time for the town to get to know me rather than letting them make it up as they go along.”
“Why do you call Old Man Sims a walrus?”
“Just look at him and those tusk-like tufts of whiskers of his sometime.” Mazie answered distractedly as she continued scanning the woods at the back of her property.
“Something wrong?” Billy Ray asked walking up beside her trying to see whatever it was she was looking at in the woods.
“Something’s in the woods.” She answered in a hushed voice.
“Of course, something’s in the woods.” He laughed. “Lots of…”
“Hush!” She hissed. “I’m serious. Something’s there, and it don’t belong.”
Billy Ray stopped talking and stood still. He heard and saw nothing but then again, she knew the area better than he. Come to think of it, now he was truly listening, he realized the night had fallen eerily still. The crickets and tree frogs which always seemed to be in concert together were no longer singing and the hoot owl which had been hooting its pleasure for the night had abruptly stopped.
Just then a low growl sounded beyond the edge of the trees. “Bubba?” Mazie called. “Bubba? That you boy? Come here. Come here to your momma.” She called as she Started forward toward the sound.
“Wait!” Billy Ray urged. “Just wait. That don’t sound much like old Bubba. I mean I ought to know. He growled at me at least six or seven times today.”
“He’s just…” Before Mazie could finish her sentence the volume of the growling rose to a thunderous roar and then was accompanied by a loud volley of barks. “It is Bubba!” She observed urgently, but as she started toward the noise two animal like shapes, one large and one small, rearing up onto their hind legs began to materialize along the edge of the trees which were now fairly bending from the wind which had started as a summer’s breeze and was now thanks to the energy caused by Miss Mazie’s upset raised to a howling windstorm.
“What in all hell?” Billy Ray demanded. “Is that a bear?”
“aint like no bear I ever saw.” Mazie shouted back over her shoulder breaking into a run. “Come on, that thing, whatever in hell it is has my dog.” Racing toward the trees she stopped only long enough to pick up a couple good sized rocks and then headed once again toward what had turned into what sounded like an all-out war. “Bubba! Come!” Mazie cried in desperation dried brush swirling all around her. “Come on son! You’re no match for…!”
Whang! Just as she started into the trees a shot rang out. Whang! Whang! Then as the echoes from the shots faded away a hideous howling could be heard and then it too faded away. the night grew still. For a moment there was no sound, then the brush at the edge of the woods quavered and Bubba shambled through whimpering and limping toward Mazie. “Oh! Bubba!” She cried, in evident relief. “Come here boy. Let me check you over. Come here, let me see you.”
“He alright?” Billy Ray asked as he came up beside her.
“I don’t know.” Her words died in her throat as she looked up at him from her place by the injured dog on the ground and saw the pistol in his hand. “Goddess son! You could’ve shot Bubba here.”
“But I didn’t. Check him.” Billy Ray demanded. “I don’t believe any of his injuries came from me. In fact, why don’t you take him and go into the house? I’m going to go see if I hit that damn thing that was trying to kill him back there.”
“Just you wait.” Mazie ordered her voice trembling with fear. “We’ve no idea what that was, and if you only wounded it, it could be very dangerous.”
“Had to be a bear.” Billy Ray insisted.
“Not a bear.” Mazie disagreed running her hands over the big dog checking for broken bones as he coward there at her feet. “No bears that big in these woods.”
“You’re awfully sure of yourself. I mean, no offense but you’ve only lived here since spring. What makes you an expert on these woods?”
“I’m telling you that was not a bear.” She insisted. “Don’t believe me look at those prints.”
He followed her pointing finger and started in surprise as his eyes took in the fresh prints all alongside the back wall of the house in the light from the back porch. “What in all hell?”
“Billy Ray. I think your suggestion of taking Bubba into the house is a good one, and furthermore I think another good one is for you to see us safely inside. Here, help me with the dog, and don’t argue with me.” She commanded, stepping away from the dog to allow Billy Ray to pick him up as she spoke.
Laying Bubba gently onto his bed in the corner of the kitchen Billy Ray straightened and turned to Mazie who was coming back into the room from having gone to retrieve her medicine bag of herbs and creams. “Miss Mazie? What in all hell is going on round here? I mean, when I first met the Blaire boys, they told me strange things had been happening round town since spring, but I thought they were just joshing me.”
“You mean since I came here, don’t you? That’s what Joe said isn’t it?”
Raising her hands in a shushing gesture she continued, “Don’t worry about how I know. Is that what he said?”
“Yes, but I’m sure he’s just repeating the gossip of the town. Those kids.”
“Billy Ray, I know those kids mean no harm. They’re good boys. That little one, Jake, he’s sweet as he can be. Makes you just want to hug him he’s so cute. But, that sort of gossips dangerous. It can if allowed whip the town folk into a nasty frenzy, especially now that we’ve actually seen that animal.”
“Well, we didn’t really get a particularly good look at it but those prints. What in all mighty hell are they from?” Billy Ray asked watching her clean and medicate the big dog’s nasty looking wounds.
“Looked like some kind of giant wolf prints to me.” She allowed, patting the big dog reassuringly and straightening up from her work.
“Wolf. Those were far too big to be a wolf’s prints.” Billy Ray countered.
“Well, whatever in hell they are, we’ve got to let folks know. Kids play in those woods and eventually someone’s going to get hurt or worse.”
“No one’s going to believe us.”
“They might not want to believe but you cannot argue with those prints or the claw and bite marks on Bubba’s body. Much as I hate to do it, you’d best call the sheriff.”
CHAPTER SIX: EXPLANATIONS AND INVESTIGATIONS
Billy Ray sank exhausted into his bed in the garage apartment he’d moved into early Saturday morning. His head spun. He had a tough time believing only a few hours before he’d been playing catch with Jake, eating ice cream and wishing he could work up the courage to ask Sissie Wheeler for a date.
Sheriff Dickson and Deputy Johnson had taken forever questioning he and Mazie and then twice as long going over the place at the edge of the woods where Bubba had been attacked and taking pictures of the prints.
At first, they’d not wanted to believe anything either of them said, then they’d gotten a good look at the claw and bite marks on Bubba’s body and the prints left by the unidentified animal out back of Mazie’s house and there had been no way even they could deny.
Now, try as he might he couldn’t make sense of it all. When they’d gone into the woods to look for tracks though they’d found a lot of broken low hanging tree limbs, and mashed down weeds, there had been no trail. It was as if the thing began and ended right there at the edge of the woods.
After trying unsuccessfully for an hour to go to sleep, Billy Ray struggled up out of the tangle of covers. Threw on a pair of jeans, ran a comb through his disheveled hair and climbed down the ladder to the first floor of the garage, and pushed through the side door out into the false dawn.
Walking alongside the house where he, the sheriff and Deputy Johnson had walked earlier he felt a chill run through him as he breathed in the musky wild smell the thing had left behind along with its prints. “definitely not your average wolf.” He muttered to himself as he circled round the house and yard.
“Can’t sleep?” Mazie’s voice asked from the shadow of the porch as he made his final lap.
“Leapin’ creepin’ Jesus! woman! You scared the daylights out of me!”
“Sorry. I figured you heard the door when I came out.” She said as she walked down the steps and handed him a steaming mug of coffee.
“Oh! That smells amazing. Thanks.” He took a sip and then another more appreciative sip as he relished the strong rich flavor of freshly ground dark roast coffee mixed with heavy sweet cream.
“How’d you know what I took in it?” He asked, giving her a quizzical look.
“Sissie told me.” She laughed. “No magik there.”
“Billy Ray, me and you got to have us a little talk. Come on up onto the porch and let’s sit a spell. There are a few things you ought to know about old Miss Mazie if you’re going to live and work here.”
Once Mazie had satisfied herself that Bubba was comfortable, and Billy Ray had topped off their mugs from the coffee pot on the stove, the two of them settled comfortably into the rockers on the screened in porch Mazie once again moving Mister Meows before she sat down. For a moment they sipped their coffee in silence and then Mazie spoke.
“Lots of town folk got bunches of ideas about me, and who or what I am, and I’d like to set the record straight.”
“Mazie, I don’t…”
“Just hush son, listen and gain wisdom.” Mazie scolded sternly. “There’s a good reason the creator gave us two ears and one mouth. Try and put that into play every now and again and you’ll go far in this old world.”
Billy Ray sat back, closing his mouth with a snap, feeling a bit like a naughty schoolboy in front of the head mistress.
Continuing Mazie said, “As you may or may not know, I’m part Indian. Got a mishmash of tribes in my blood, but what kind don’t really matter, in fact, the fact that there’s more than one has turned out to be a good thing. At least that’s the way I see it. Now, you’ve been asking yourself how I knew certain things which took place around the time you and I met. Some’s simply because I hear the town gossip and can guess what those Blaire boys and others have told you since you came into town. Some however is because I’ve got a strong sixth sense. Sometimes, for good or ill, I know things. When I was a young girl, it scared me. When I got a bit older, I misused it. Now, I’m finally coming to grips with who and what I am, and I’m learning to use it as the good creator meant for me to do. I’m not some crazy witch, and I don’t have a bunch of supernatural powers. What I do have is the ability to know certain things along with some very tried and true knowledge of the power of the elements and the use of herbs, and folks round here, not being educated in such fear what they don’t understand and make up what they don’t know. I hope that sets your mind at ease.”
Billy Ray sat rocking quietly for a moment, then took a deep breath, let it out, took another and spoke. “I must admit I did wonder how you always seemed to know what was in my mind, I was a bit taken aback when I first came here, and you answered my questioning thought of whether I should turn tale and run or stand my ground with Bubba.”
Mazie chuckled. “That weren’t no intuition that was from the look on your face. Old Bubba can be right intimidating when he wants to be, but he’s a sweet thing that wouldn’t hurt a flea. As for the rest, like I say, a bit of knowing the town gossip and a bit of my good old third eye opening up and letting me see what I needed to know.”
“OK” Billy Ray said, “Now that’s settled what in all hell are we going to do about what happened last night? That hairbrained sheriff and his Deputy Do Little are in my mind little to no help.”
“Well, therein lies the rub. For the first time, I want my powers of intuition to show me something and they’ve shut up my third eye like Tutt’s Tomb. And one thing I’ve learned is if I try and push, either I see half-truths, or out and out jumbled up lies. If I’m not careful I’ll pick up on the town folk speculations and will make a mess of the whole thing. My immediate advice? Be careful and don’t go out and about in the woods unarmed.”
“Well, Sheriff Dickson did say he was gonna round up a few men and go looking more thoroughly in the woods today so maybe…?”
“If that old fool isn’t careful, he’s liable to piss the thing off and get someone killed.” Just then as if on cue a long, low mournful howl rose from somewhere deep in the woods, mister Meows hissed and puffed up his tail, Bubba Growled from his bed, and then the early morning fell still once again.
To Be Continued…
Updated – October 2021
Patty Fletcher is a single mother with a beautiful daughter, of whom she is enormously proud. She has a great son-in-law and six beautiful grandchildren. From April 2011 through September 2020, she owned and handled a black Labrador from The Seeing Eye® named King Campbell Lee Fletcher A.K.A. Bubba. Sadly, after a long battle with illness on September 24, 2020, King Campbell went to the Rainbow Bridge where all is peace and love. In July 2021, she returned to The Seeing Eye® and was paired with a Black Labrador Golden Retriever cross named Blue.
Patty was born one and a half months premature. Her blindness was caused by her being given too much oxygen in the incubator. She was partially sighted until 1991, at which time she lost her sight due to an infection after cataract surgery and high eye pressure. She used a cane for 31 years before making the change to a guide dog.
WHERE SHE LIVES AND WORKS…
Currently, Patty lives and works in Kingsport, Tenn.
She’s the creator and owner of Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing (Author, Blogger, Business Assist), The Writer’s Grapevine Online Magazine and the creator and host of the Talk to Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing Podcast.
Patty writes with the goal of bridging the great chasm which separates the disabled from the non-disabled.
Patty’s hobbies include reading, music, and attending book clubs via Zoom.
Some of her favorite types of tunes are classic rock, rhythm and blues, and classic country.
Patty enjoys fantasy, science fiction, and books about the supernatural. She loves books by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Norah Roberts, and many more. Some favorite books include Norah Roberts’ Hide Away, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series.
Patty describes herself as a spiritual Walker. She says she knows both Mother Goddess and Father God and embraces all they have to offer.
AUTHOR PAGES AND SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS…
Patty & Pals
Bob Cat & Friends
A most excellent interview
My Anthology Links
December Awethology Light https://www.books2read.com/u/3yPZvB
A Treasure Chest of Children’s Tales https://www.books2read.com/u/bzaAML
Legal Notes THE SEEING EYE® and SEEING EYE® are registered trademarks of The
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