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Barbara Bradshaw Rogers
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Young Ellie Talbot faces the hardship of wartime, and losing the love of her life, Jay Carlton, to serve overseas. On the homefront, she lives in her own private war of fear, and in terror of the great legendary red diamondback rattler, making his way down to the poverty-ridden sharecropper’s farm.
Terrified of her cruel, abusive father, she suspects him to be the ‘Storm Stalker’, who comes in the darkness of the Texas storms, attacking the helpless young girls who work in the cotton fields. Is the stalker and Ellie’s cruel father one and the same?
She risks her life for the answer, then is called a ‘Snake Sorceress’, accused of what is called the grotesque ‘murder by rattler.’ Ellie admits she danced with the old diamondback and yes, she knows his secrets. She uses those ancient survival skills, learned from her surreal encounter with the legendary Western diamondback rattler. She teaches you those mysterious survival skills in SNAKE DANCE.
Eighteen-year-old Elaine Faye Talbot stared up at Snake Bluff. Tears filled her green eyes, changing them to a shade of dark jaded fear. She swayed her aching body made lean from hard work. She smoothed the wind twirl of the skirt of her faded, cotton dress with hands etched with thin scratches from the pronged cotton bolls.
“Dear God, help me. He’s up there. The old, red rattler’s coming down this morning to haunt my world. I know it!”
Tears slipped out, as she huddled into the denim coat discarded by her younger brother. She looked toward the most haunting dread of her world—the rotting, old barn and whispered into the morning breeze, “In there is hell on this earth where the Storm Stalker destroyed my life. When will he be back? Who is he? How much more, dear God, can I take?”
Shame bathed her in the same rays of morning light that revealed the sins of the night on her bruised, sun-bronzed face. The sharp breeze tousled her long, copper-colored hair. She was glad that the garish welts on her body were hidden beneath the faded, cotton dress and thin, denim coat.
She sank down onto her knees, hopelessly staring out toward the red bluffs to the God-forsaken place that man avoided like hell itself. She turned and looked back at the shack protruding pathetically behind her, with the glint of the morning sun on the rusty, tin roof. She stared, thinking it looked as if a giant had spat tobacco juice and let it run down in brown blobs and streaks.
Forlorn feelings overpowered her as she listened to the windmill with its rust-ridden blades creaking and groaning. She moved her shoulders with painful motions, as she turned to stare again toward the bluff across the Brazos River that lapped onto this farm.
She sought to escape, if only for a mere moment, from this bleak world of despair, and thought of spring’s bluebonnets and the cactus with its red and yellow blooms that made her native West Texas a picture of beauty.
The brief moment in the brighter sunlight diminished as she saw the picture change, exposing the reality of a dark negative of another evil realm that developed into a life of brutal, hard work and despair. In hopelessness, she gazed over the cracked, dry earth and run-down outbuildings to the pitiful shack she called home. Salty tears stung the welt on her cheekbone. Hopelessness overwhelmed her as she looked out over the run-down, isolated place, five miles on the dirt road to the rural community of Chaparral, Texas.
Ellie stretched her aching muscles, thought of the long night of abuse, then the sleeplessness, the nightmares. She had awakened before dawn as always and just as bone weary with her dreams shattered, innocence betrayed, and young spirit spent. She, her younger brother, sister, and her mother had desperately sought to make an escape from their drunken father’s abuse and wrath. She had tried so hard to protect their weary, beaten-down and broken-hearted mother. Her heavy thoughts weighed down her young heart.
After these chores, we go to our real job—another long day of picking cotton in searing, hot fields.
A sob escaped as she whispered miserably, “Last night we didn’t make it. I caused it all last night, fought Pa, and sassed him. It was my fault. God where are you? Where have you been?” She could not stop the tears.
She counted in her mind exactly how many days since the attack by the Storm Stalker—thirty-four agonizing days and miserable nightmare nights. She marked each one on her calendar, praying she would not have yet more shame and sorrow ahead. She recalled in pained memory how hard she had run to get away from her father and hide in the barn during that horrible night of the last blue northerner. In agony, she thought of her friends, her age, Pearl Cook and Lucinda’ Salvias’ that she knew were also victims of the Storm Stalker.
Salty tears stung her bruises as she berated herself, despising the fact that she had kept her attack secret.
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 356
Paper Weight (lb): 15.0
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