Secrets and Lies
K. J. Dahlen
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Book Heat Level: 1
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Jack Bracken sat in the dark, waiting. He had been expecting trouble all day, and he was scared to death. The more time passed the more frightened he felt. The shotgun in his sweaty hand slipped and fell to the floor. The thud it made when it hit the floor startled Anne Marie Bracken as she waited with her husband. She sat on the floor in front of the couch and peered toward the stairway as if checking whether the sound had awakened any of the children.
Anne Marie peeked at Jack. Crawling to where he sat on the floor opposite the front door of their home, she whispered, "Maybe they’re not coming. Maybe they didn’t see you and Adam."
Jack’s stomach had been tied up in knots since this morning and his mind filled with dread at what was about to happen. "No…they saw us and I told you earlier, they know it was us."
"How do you know?" She whispered.
"I just know." He closed his eyes for a brief moment and leaned his head on the barrel of the shotgun. With a soul filled with dread he turned toward Anne Marie, "I’m sorry I went hunting with Adam today. If we hadn’t trespassed onto the logging road, we wouldn’t have seen what we did."
Anne Marie stared hard at Jack. "You still haven’t told me what you saw," she reminded him. She had seen his pale face when they returned this morning and asked about it, but Jack stared at his children and covered his eyes with his hands. She’d tried to get him to talk about what happened all day, but he wouldn’t tell her.
A couple of times during the day the phone rang and when Jack answered it the first time, his face paled and he slammed it down. He asked her not to answer the phone the rest of the day. A few minutes later it rang again and Jack let it ring.
As soon as they had topped the hill this morning and Jack gazed down the other side he knew a moment of sheer panic. When he looked down and saw the two men with automatic rifles, he understood he was in big trouble.
He and Adam hadn’t seen the ‘NO TRESPASSING’ signs but Jack had forgotten the unspoken rule about the hills behind the Hawken Mill.
They had been searching for wild turkey signs this morning. He and Adam had been out squirrel hunting when they ran into Milo Wilks. He had told them about seeing wild turkey tracks on the hill east of town. It was too early in the season to be hunting turkeys, as it was late September, but Adam had begged his father to see if they could find the trails and Jack hadn’t been able to resist the enthusiasm in his young son’s eyes.
They had been told the tracks began about half way up the eastern slope of the hill and when they came across them, Adam had been elated. They continued up the hill and while Adam was busy searching for the elusive wild birds, Jack had happened to gaze down the hill to the clearing below.
When he saw one of the men below lift his scoped rifle to his shoulder, he knew in a moment the man behind the gun recognized him.
He hustled his son off the hill, but the damage had already been done. He had been expecting a visit from them all day. He hadn’t told anyone, not even Anne Marie what he’d seen, hoping if he were the only witness, they wouldn’t hurt his family. After the children had gone to bed, Anne Marie had asked him again who or what he was waiting for. As much as he wanted to keep the information to himself, he told her what might be coming.
The grandfather clock read four-fifteen. The sun would be up soon. If they were coming, he wished they’d get here and get this over with. He crawled to the window and checked outside. The full moon lit up the front yard, and he could see the driveway from where he sat. The shadows of the outbuildings didn’t reveal anything, and he hadn’t heard any vehicles on the road for awhile now. He rejoined Anne Marie when he saw the silver truck slowing moving along the highway. The truck pulled into the driveway and cut its lights.
"Here they come," he told her.
"Who?" Anne Marie wanted to know. Jack’s panic seemed to transfer to her with those three little words. "Who do you think is out there?"
"I don’t know who they are but someone is coming, and I don’t think it’s a social call." Jack watched the front door. Adrenalin pumped through his veins, and he tightened his grip on the shotgun. He pulled back the breach and checked the shells. He was as ready as he could be.