Freeman's Front Porch Musings

Home of an aspiring writer seeking to improve his craft.

The novella of The Recluse continues…unedited.

Wilma, newly widowed at 26, began the tedious process of finding a job that would allow her to work during the day and be off at night. She also searched for a babysitter for Annabelle. Her husband had insisted on her staying at home to raise their daughter. “Ain’t no stranger gonna raise our little girl,” he fumed when Wilma had suggested she go to work to help with the bills. “I’ll make ends meet.”

For months, Jace worked two, sometimes three jobs, and it still wasn’t enough to inch them into middle class. Jace grew more and more frustrated with each passing month, and yet he still insisted on Wilma staying home. “I have an idea and it’ll put us on top for once,” he argued. “You’re a fine momma, and Belle needs you here.”

A small smile crossed Wilma’s mouth when she remembered how happy Jace had been when things had turned in their favor. “Steaks for everybody,” he’d yelled. “Come on, babycakes! Let’s live a little.” Her smile disappeared when she remembered Jace was no longer around to help her, and she had never asked where the money had come from.

Now, she worked as a cashier at Dolla Bills, a general store on the outskirts of town, which catered to a rougher sort of clientele, of which Wilma and Annabelle now belonged to.

Jocko Jabez, watched Wilma from his perch on the street corner, his eyes taking in the new widow and he grinned. The studs in his cheekbones, chin, and tongue gave Jocko a sinister appearance, the tattoos that adorned every inch of his torso completed the image. Rail thin, Jocko made up for his lack of musculature with a deep well of rage and cruelty. His thick mane of black hair coupled with black pupils hinted at a vicious nature.

He licked his lips and chuckled, then lifted his chin at a fellow peddler and said, “I be right back. Gonna scope out this honey.”

Then, he walked across the street intent on making Wilma his own.

The general store had no customers in it when Jocko Jabez walked into the store, and he strolled to where Wilma straightened up around her register, his eyes firmly affixed on her rear end.

“Hey there, girl,” he cooed. “What’s a fine piece of tail like you doing in this rundown joint?”

Wilma blushed and responded, “Trying to make ends meet…”

“You look like the type of woman that needs a strong man in your life,” Jocko stated. “Don’t break my heart and tell me you have a husband or somethin’.”

“Not anymore,” Wilma answered softly. Her face flushed red and tears wet her eyes, and Jocko took her hand and replied, “Oh baby, that’s too bad. I didn’t mean nothin’ by it.” Wilma wiped her eyes and tried to smile. “It’s okay,” she choked out. “It’s stressed me out a bit, I’m afraid.”

Jocko grinned and then interjected, “Stress ain’t no good baby; it’s bad for your heart. You need something to take the edge off.”

“I can’t do that,” Wilma lisped. “I have a child, and she needs me to be attentive.”

“I got just the thing,” Jocko assured her. “This will melt the stress, and your baby will be fine. No charge, use it when you need it.” Jocko placed a baggie with a couple of grams of marijuana into her hands.

Wilma shoved the bag into her purse and nodded to Jocko. “Thank you,” she began, “I appreciate you being kind to me.”

“Anytime you need anything,” Jocko smirked, “I’m just across the street. I’ll be back to check on you.”

Wilma observed Jocko as he left the store, and she smiled. At first the man seemed like trouble, but spending a few minutes with him convinced her that appearances were deceiving. He spoke softly to her when she had teared up, and he had given her something to melt her stress.

As far as Wilma was concerned, Jocko was an angel from Heaven.

Ten years is a long time to seek vengeance, it’s an even longer time to deal with PTSD and all the horror that comes with it. Davy Ford tossed back and forth in his bed, his body soaked with sweat, as he dreamt of his time at war. “No, no, no,” he muttered. “Don’t do that…” A racket outside his cabin startled him, and he bolted upright in the bed.

Davy came to standing on his bed, his breaths ragged and shallow, his hands clenched into fists. “You’re not there anymore,” Davy kept repeating to himself. “The war’s over. You’re home.” He took several deep breaths and collapsed onto the mattress. Davy didn’t move for several minutes, his focus solely on gaining control of his emotions, and then he sat on the side of his bed.

Those kids triggered something in my brain. I haven’t suffered nightmares for a long time.

He padded to the living room, taking care to keep a low silhouette and avoiding corners he couldn’t see around and other dangers. Davy pulled the curtain back and checked his perimeter. So far, so good.

Until recently no one had ever crossed his boundaries, but now Davy feared that the invasion of the two kids would compel hordes of neighbors to cross his property line at leisure, and that would not stand.

After showering and eating a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, and wheat toast with sugar-free Blackberry preserves, Davy pulled out a well-worn backpack from his hallway closet. Inside the pack, stuffed behind maps of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other exotic locations, was a satellite phone and a Springfield Hellcat with seven full magazines. The sidearm was shoved into a Kydex holster, two mag carriers held four of the magazines, the other two were carried in the cargo pockets of his Carhartt rugged flex pants. 

Davy took out the satellite phone and dialed the number from memory. The phone rang for several moments, and then a groggy voice answered with a brusque ‘yeah?’

“It’s Davy. Have you found anything about Jace’s killer?”

“Have you received anything from me? Seriously, I know you’re eager Davy, but come on man, you know how these things work.”

“It’s been nine years,” Davy snapped, “Jace is worm food, and his killer’s running around free.”

“Alright, man. You win. I will send you everything I have-which isn’t much-but you’ll have it in a couple of hours.”

“Thank you,” Davy replied. “I appreciate it.”

“Don’t mention it,” the faceless voice said. “Don’t call back here again, Davy. We’re done, and you’re on the run. I won’t be part to what you’re doing anymore.”

Davy hung up, and tossed the satellite phone back in the pack. That’s it. I have no life lines to spare. No one will save me. It’s me against the world from this point forward, but Jace was my friend. He would’ve done the same thing for me.

I hope.

Published by

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: