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Kenneth E. Baker
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Jennifer meets Derrick a year after her husbands death. A mob boss sends a hit man to kill Jennifer’s sister. Jennifer and Derrick fight for their lives in the Hill Country outside of San Antonio. Will their budding love see them through?
Derrick drove down the road fuming at himself. He had made a perfect ass out of himself. He should have made some excuse to leave when he saw Jennifer’s sister there. Derrick knew he had a problem dealing with women. His isolation, because of the way he lived, left him shy and reserved. Most of the time he spent by himself, working on the ranch. The only pleasures he allowed himself was the one or two beers he drank at Gus’s store every evening. He also enjoyed talking with Gus.
Of all the times for his big body to turn clumsy, tonight was the worst. His face still burned because of the way he had tripped over his own feet and fell off the porch. The more he thought about it, the funnier the situation became. By the time he pulled up to his house, he was laughing. Jennifer’s kid sister had sure gotten him good. He wondered if he would be able to face Jennifer again.
Getting out of the truck, he heard the cows in the pasture raising a ruckus. Going into the living room, he lifted the thirty-thirty down from above the mantle. Lately, a pack of wild dogs had been chasing the neighboring ranchers’ cows. The pack might have wandered onto his spread. In the last week, Derrick had placed a dozen late calves in the meadow. They would be easy prey for the dogs.
Putting his slicker on, he walked across the yard to the meadow gate. In the upper end of the meadow, the cows bawled and milled around restlessly. Angling off to the side, he moved from one tree to the other each time the moon went behind a cloud. As he neared the cattle, he heard dogs growling on the other side of them.
Circling to the left, he dropped into a dry creek, and as he walked along the creek bed, he carefully kept his head below the top of the bank. When Derrick thought he was on the opposite side of the cows, he checked the creek bank for snakes and leaned against it. He took off his hat, and poked his head above the bank.
Out in the meadow, a dozen or more dogs tried to get at a calf. The calf’s mother kept charging the dogs and scattering them. The cow’s legs and sides were bleeding from many gashes caused by the dogs claws and teeth.
Slowly, he raised the rifle above the bank and took a stance with the gun held firmly in both hands. Drawing in a deep breath, he lined up the nearest dog. Gently, he squeezed the trigger. The rifle kicked solidly into his shoulder, the report sharp and crisp in the night air.
The dog flipped completely over, then lay still on the ground. Quickly he fired at the retreating dogs. He heard a loud yelp and thought he might have wounded one. At the sound of the gun shot, the cows ran down the meadow until they bunched up against the fence.
Climbing out of the creek, Derrick walked over to where the dog lay. He nudged it with the barrel of the rifle to make sure it was dead. Derrick felt bad about having to kill the animal. His anger rose at the cruel hearted people who could abandon dogs to fend for themselves.
Sighing, he lifted the dog, which weighed practically nothing. The ribs of the animal were visible under its scruffy fur. He carried the dog out of the meadow. Derrick took the dead animal up into the brush where the other dogs had disappeared, laid the body under a tree and left it.
Some would think him cruel for leaving the dog’s body there instead of burying it. To his way of thinking, the other starved dogs would at least get a meal out of the unfortunate dog.
He went back to where the cows were bunched together and walked among them talking softly to them. In less than a half-hour, they settled down and started to graze on the grass.
He stopped at the barn and threw a few bales of hay out for the cows. Just inside the door of his house Derrick kicked off his boots. Going to the refrigerator, he got a can of beer from it. Taking the beer into the living room, Derrick sat down on the couch. As he sipped the beer, he thought back to how he had made an ass of himself.
Mr. Baker worked for the Telephone Company for thirty years. He retired in 1999 and took up writing full time. He lives in a very isolated area along the West Virginia, Kentucky border with his wife, two dogs and three cats. He tries to write as he sees the world, so a lot of what goes into his novels are his perceptions of how the world should be.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 204
Paper Weight (lb): 8.7
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