The road was dark and bumpy and the little truck was very loud to Beth Ann. She squirmed in her seat. It was so hot and her little body ached from being so tired. She
and her mother had been in this little truck for hours. She was very sleepy but the scene they left behind kept playing over and over in her little head. Beth Ann was soon to
turn seven and had seen way too much in her short little life. “Are we there yet?” She asked her mother, half pleading with a little whimper in her voice.
“Almost baby girl! Almost!” Glenda Martin answered. Her strawberry blonde hair whipped wildly in the truck as she flew down the bumpy dirt road. Sweat dripped from her face. Even the breeze from the speed of the truck didn't cool them off. The truck had no air conditioning. Glenda looked over at her daughter. Beth Ann was curled up on the seat as if she were in a bed. She had a rolled up shirt under her head for a pillow and her strawberry curls bounced up and down and rolled all over her makeshift pillow. “When we get to grandma's I'll fix you a big ole lemon-aide with lots of ice and there's a big ole soft bed for you to crawl up in and go to sleep. Okay? Just hold on a little longer baby girl.”
Beth Ann wiped the tears out of her eyes. She didn't want her mother to see her crying. But, she was so tired! She had gone from being terrified to being utterly exhausted. And every time she closed her eyes all she could see was him. That face. His big shoulders dragging her mother by her feet with one hand and with the other he was opening doors. Well beating them open with his fist actually. Her mother was kicking and screaming the whole time.When he finally got her to the front door he drug her out on the porch and slammed the door in her face. “Get of here girl! Don't nobody want you or your snot nosed brat here anymore.” Then he noticed Beth Ann standing in the corner crying.
“Damn! Am I gonna have to drag you out too?” His face was all scrunched up and red and he looked bigger than she had ever seen anybody look. Beth Ann was shaking and she could hear her mother calling out to her on the porch. But, all she could think about was what was he gonna do to her if he got a hold of her. She started stepping backwards and finally she turned around and ran to the back door. When she got to the door she opened it and slammed it behind her and then ran around the house to where her mother was
still standing on the porch, banging on the front door and yelling.
“Howard open this door and give me my baby! Don't you touch my baby!” Then Glenda saw Beth Ann out of the corner of her eye and she leaped across the steps and grabbed her in her arms. “Are you okay? Did he touch you?” She asked with a wild look in her eyes that she had never seen before.
Beth Ann shook her head no and said “He didn't.” Her mother sat her back down and took her by the hand. She tiptoed and crept over to the old red truck parked on the little dirt drive, dragging Beth Ann after her all the way. When they got to the truck, she turned to her and put one finger over her mouth to signal BethAnn to be quiet. She opened the door and pushed her into the passenger side of the truck and then she got in and started feeling around on the dash and the seat. Finally she pulled up a key out of the ashtray and gave BethAnn a half little grin. She put the key in the ignition turned it
and cranked it and slammed the door at the same time. Then she jammed it into reverse and gunned it backwards down the dirt drive. In the distance they could hear Howard yelling and screaming, but her mother just kept going. When she got to the end of the driveway she shifted the gear to go forward and floored it.
“They were out of there”. Thought BethAnn. “Thank God!”
They didn't talk anymore after that for about an hour. Then BethAnn got worried. “Where are we going?” She asked her mother.
“Grandma's. How does that sound. You never met your grandma. I bet she will like you!” Glenda said. In her thoughts though, she only hoped her mother would feel that way about BethAnn, because she sure didn't feel that way about her. Ever since she ran away from home, things had been strained between her and her mother. The last time she saw her, she was kicking Glenda out of her house.
“I thought Grandma was a mean old lady?” Beth Ann asked. “That's what you said when you called her that time to borrow money. You said she was
just a mean old lady anyway.”
Glenda tried to avoid a conversation with her daughter about her mother. “Now don't you worry. Who wouldn't like a pretty little girl like you?” Glenda bit her lip and said a silent little prayer that things would go easy when she got to her mothers house. She was gonna pull over and call her, but she didn't have any money for the pay phone. And she'd never even owned a cell phone. Never had the money for one. When she glanced over at BethAnn she saw that she had fallen asleep and was relieved that she didn't have to talk to her anymore about her mother. The road was getting more narrow and dark
and Glenda new that her turn would be coming up soon. Her mother's old house sat on a two acre lot backed up to a dairy farm, and it was way out in the
country. And sometimes if the wind was just right, you could smell the chicken manure as if it were right out on the front yard. Tonight she was already smelling it through the open windows of the old beat up truck. When she went around the curve she saw the old gray mail box poking out of the tree. It was the darndest thing ever. Mr. Shupert the old dairy farmer had a way of making what he called engineering designs with lots of things around there. He had an old windmill that he had rigged up next to his house that his wife used for a clothes line. Every so often you would see that wind mill turning with
the likes of Mr. Shupert's underwear and Mrs. Shupert's delicates as well. Then there was the mail box. There was this big oak tree at the end of the Mr. Shupert's drive and somehow he embedded that mail box half way into the tree trunk. He did that because teenagers would drive through in the middle of the night and knock his mail box over and he got tired of going out there and fixing it every day. But, the mailbox in the tree trunk was truly a neat thing to see. It gave the illusion that the tree had a mouth. Especially after Mr. Shupert put two eyes above it. People around town would say that they thought they saw that tree talking when they drove by it at night. As Glenda turned down the dirt drive on the other side of the mail box the little truck really hopped over the rutty road and BethAnn woke up. “Where are we?” she asked as she sat up wide eyed with shock over the sudden awakening.
“We are here! At the end of this drive is Grandma's!” Glenda was a little bit excited herself. Even though she didn't know how her mother would react she was just as anxious to see the old house and her old bedroom. It had been a long time.
When Glenda pulled up to the old two story farm house she was immediately calmed. There was always something so calming about this house. The front
porch was just as welcoming as it always was. Even in the dark. There was an old chime, shaped like a couple of big leaves and made out of copper that
had been there for years and they were just as vocal as they had always been. Clanging in the breeze. When they parked the truck Glenda noticed that the
breeze had turned a little cool and as she got out of the truck and stretched she just stood there for a minute and enjoyed the cool air on her face and her
arms. She noticed the little yellow tank top she had on was wet with sweat and her blue jeans felt like they were stuck to her body. All the lights were off
at the house except for the little light that hung on the front porch. It was always on. She reached in the truck and nudged BethAnn. “We're here baby!
Wake up!” She had dozed back off for a minute. BethAnn stretched her legs out straight. Her red stretch shorts clung to her legs and her little sleeveless
button up summer shirt was all crinkled up. Her little ringlets flipped forward on her head as she stepped out of the truck. Like her mother she stretched
and seemed to enjoy the cool breeze.
“Mama, Grandma must be asleep. You think she will be mad if we wake her up?” BethAnn didn't really trust her mother's judgement. She had proved
to have poor judgement so many times in the past. Even BethAnn could have made some better decisions, she thought. But she was her mother and
BethAnn loved her and whatever anger she had about the life they had, she kept it to herself. She knew if she said anything it might mean that she couldn't
live with her mother any more and that would devastate her.
“Naw baby! Come on! We are home!” Glenda was almost shouting. And this had BethAnn worried. It seemed like every time her mother got excited
about something it was usually followed by some big blowout with someone. And then they would have to high tail it out of where ever they were. But
still, she followed her mother up the porch and to the front door. It shocked BethAnn when Glenda just opened the door and didn't knock. But, she latched
on to Glenda's shirt and followed closely behind. The screen door slammed behind them, but Glenda was careful with the inside door. She closed it
quietly behind them. BethAnn looked around. The house was not very big but it was very nicely decorated. There was a stair case almost directly in frontof the door and it had glossy wooden steps. The banister was white and pearly looking. BethAnn didn't expect things to look so fancy by the way the
house looked on the outside. But Margeret Martin always loved the fancier things in life and she had always decorated her house like that. To the left of
the stair case was a bench with a red velvety cushion for a seat and it was trimmed in that same glossy wood that the stairs were made out of. On the other
side of the bench was a little round table with a white lace doily and brass lamp with a white embroidered lamp shade that had little cottony balls dangling
off the sides.
“Go sit down on that bench and I'll be back in a minute. Don't touch anything. I don't want you to make any noise right now. I'm gonna see if I can find
Grandma.” Glenda disappeared around the corner. BethAnn continued to look around. There was a big grandfather clock that stood next to the front door
that BethAnn had not noticed when she walked in. But now as she sat on the bench she heard it making a clicking and buzzing noise. It also was made of
that same glossy wood and it was quite beautiful BethAnn thought. She looked at the wall where her mother disappeared around the corner and saw a huge
picture of a Chinese lady in fancy Chinese clothes. She had one of those beautiful fans in front of her face and her huge brown eyes were staring at
BethAnn. She had to look away. The way she was staring at her, it was a little scary looking. Then her mother appeared around the corner again and waved to her to follow her. Bethann
got up and followed her. When she turned around the corner she saw that she was in a dining room. It had a huge round dining table, again made out of
that same glossy wood. And there was a buffet against the wall on the other side of the table. The whole dining suit was of course, made out of that glossy
wood. In the far corner was a china cabinet with beautiful white shiny plates and saucers and cups. All three pieces of furniture were covered in lace
doilies. In the center of the table was a big fruit bowl with beautiful pieces of fruit hanging out of it. It made Bethann hungry. She kept walking and as
they passed through a swinging door, she realized they were now in the kitchen. There were roosters everywhere. All over the walls, even the centerpiece
on the kitchen table was a carved wooden rooster. Her mother pulled out one of the metal framed chairs that was under the
table and motioned BethAnn to sit. She noticed the cloth that covered the seat was covered in roosters and red apples. In the corner was a door with the top
half of the door made out of smoky glass.There was a double porcelain sink surrounded by beautifully crafted kitchen cabinets make out of the same shiny
wood as everything else in grandma's house. To the left of the sink was a four burner stove with an oven above it.There was a refrigerator next to the
stove and Glenda brought out a bowl of something and a jug of milk. Then she put a napkin in front of her with a piece of cold fried chicken on it. Then
she poured her and her daughter a glass of milk and she sat down at the table in front of Bethann.
“Who's there?” It was Grandma, Bethann realized.
“It's me mama.” Glenda yelled out. “It's Glenda. I have Bethann with me.” Glenda hoped that her mother would not be angry.
The door on the other side of the kitchen opened. Bethann realized there was a staircase there too. A tall lady with red hair stepped down into the
kitchen. Her hair was a dark red and was balled up on top of her head. She had a lacy green housecoat on and little fuzzy green slippers that matched. She
looked a lot like her mother thought Bethann, but she was older and a little wider. Her eyes were soft blue like her mothers and she had that same upturned
nose and pouty looking mouth but her lips were a lot thinner than her mother's. “What in landsakes have we here? Glenda who is this precious little thing?
This can't be BethAnn! You told me she was beautiful but I never imagined she would be this beautiful.” Margaret had just fallen in love with her
Bethann liked this lady immediately. She didn't seem so mean she thought.
“Look at all that hair and those beautiful curls! How old are you honey?” Margaret was leaning over in front of her and reaching out to touch her hair.
She scrunched her curls and pinched her cheek lightly.
“Six. But, I will be seven next week.” Bethann answered her with a sweet tone in her voice. She wanted her to keep liking her.
“Glenda take this baby up to bed!” And turning back to Bethann she said, “In the morning, I'm gonna make you a big breakfast with some homemade
biscuits and molasses. Then I'm gonna take you over to Mr. Shupert's farm and show you all the animals. Would you like that?”
BethAnn nodded at her Grandma, then her mother took her by the hand and led her up the same stairs that her grandma came down. These stairs were
wooden too, but they weren't glossy like the other ones. As a matter of fact they were kind of old looking and they creaked a lot. There were walls on both
sides of them and a hand rail on the right hand side. When they got to the top of the stairs it led into a narrow balcony that if you looked over the railing on
the right hand side you could see down stairs. BethAnn saw the red bench she had sat on just a few minutes before and the grandfather clock and the front
door. She also saw the glossy stair case behind the bench and realized that if she kept walking along the balcony she would be able to go down those stairs.
There were several doors on the left hand side of the balcony and they passed three of them. When they got to the fourth one Glenda opened it and turned
the light on. “This is the bathroom. “I'll leave the light on in case you need to get up during the night.” Glenda said. Then she opened the next door and
turned on the light. It was a small bedroom, but it was beautiful. There was just a single bed in this room but it was a canopy bed and it had pink and
yellow flowers all over the spread and the canopy. The wallpaper was a pale stripe with bold pink border and on the border every 6 inches or so was a
beautiful bouquet of pink and yellow flowers, just like the bedspread and the canopy. All the furniture was white in this room and there was a fuzzy light
pink rug right beside the bed that covered up the hard wood floor. On the wall above the dresser was an oval shaped mirror framed in floral décor. Again
there were lace doilies that covered all the furniture. On the wall above the chest was a picture of a little girl with strawberry blonde curls, just like hers.
She even looked like her, but she knew that it wasn't. Then she realized it was her mother. She looked like she was about the same age as BethAnn in the
picture. The bed was against a wall and there was a nightstand with a plain pink lamp and a white lamp shade and next to that there was a window. In
front of the window was a little bench with no arms or rails. Just a pink cushion. The dresser and the chest were on the opposite wall from the bed.
Glenda pulled back the covers on the bed and motioned with her head for BethAnn to get in. “I will be in the room right next door. Go to sleep. I love
you.” She leaned over and kissed her on the forehead and walked out of the room turning the light out behind her.
BethAnn opened her eyes and tried to focus. She wiped her eyes and thought that it was odd that she didn't remember falling asleep. She had been so
tired. There was a faint smell that was filtering through her door and it smelled good. As a matter of fact it was making her hungry. Then she remembered
grandma had told her she was gonna cook breakfast. Bethann got up and looked out the window. Her mother was getting into the little red truck. “She
must be going to the store or something.” Thought Bethann. She sure was getting hungry, so she decided to go downstairs. This time she went down the
stairs with the glossy looking wooden steps. When she got to the bottom of the steps she noticed there was a door to the left of the stair case. She hadn't
seen this before. She opened the door slowly to peak inside. She was curious. It was a small parlor with a sofa and chair and a fireplace. And there was a
huge bookcase on the far wall. Bethann wanted to look at some of the books, but she thought she would save that for later. Right now she was hungry. So
she went back through the door, and through the little room with the bench and around the corner into the dining room and into the kitchen. Grandma was
putting food on the table.
“Good morning sunshine! Have a seat!” Her grandma looked a little different this morning. She had her hair down and flipped up around the ends.
She had blue jeans and a red plaid shirt on. She poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down in front of BethAnn. “Eat up girl. We have lots of animals to
see today. Then later I'm gonna take you into town to get you some more clothes.” BethAnn couldn't wait. She was excited. So she ate with enthusiasm and
she ate fast. It was so good though that Bethann was almost sorry to be hurrying through it, but she really wanted to see the animals.
Margaret took her grandaughter over to the Shupert farm and gave her the grand tour. She got to milk a cow, feed the chickens and pigs and got to ride
a pony. She petted billy goats and got to watch a mom and 8 baby ducklings swimming along in the lake. Grandma had made them sandwiches and they'd
had a picnic for lunch that day. BethAnn had had such a good time that she hadn't even missed her mother. After the farm tour her grandmother took her back to the house and she got a bath. She had to put her same old clothes on, but she felt better still. Then they went into town and grandma took her to all
the little shops and bought her five little short outfits and two pretty dresses and three different pairs of shoes. Then she treated her to an ice cream cone at
the “Tasty Freeze”. It was almost supper time when they got back home. Now she began to wonder where her mother was. She noticed the little red truck
was still not there. So she asked.
“Where did mama go?” She asked her grandmother.
Margaret was angry that she was gonna have to do this to her granddaughter. But, her and Glenda had had a fight the night before right after Bethann
went to bed. Glenda wanted her mother to give her money again and Margaret knew from experience that Glenda didn't use her money wisely. As a matter
of fact she was quite sure that she was using it for something that she didn't want around her granddaughter. When Margaret wouldn't give in Glenda told
her that she would leave. But, Margaret didn't want her to take Bethann. She pleaded with her to let her stay. “She needs to be in a stable environment
Glenda!” She told her daughter. In the end Glenda agreed to leave and to leave Bethann with her mother until she was better off.
“She went to visit a friend.” Margaret said.
“When will she be back?” BethAnn was scared. She didn't know why, but she was scared. She just thought it was strange that her mother would go
visit a friend and not tell her.
“I don't know honey. It may be a while. Her friend is sick” Margaret was reaching for words. “But, you and I are gonna get to know each other real
well and we are gonna have so much fun around here!” She tried to sound excited. And a part of her was excited to get to know her grand daughter better.
But, she was worried about her daughter and how it was gonna effect BethAnn.
BethAnn thought about what her grandmother was saying. At first she felt a little panic way down deep in her heart, but her grandma was standing in
front of her smiling with those warm blue eyes and she seemed to be so excited to be spending time with her that it made Bethann feel better. “Okay. Will
she call?” That was something Bethann could look forward to she thought.
“I'm not sure honey. Her friend is pretty sick. But, if she does you will be the first to know so you can talk to her.” Margaret smiled at the child. “Now
go wash up and I'm gonna fix us some supper.” Do you like pork chops?”
“Hmm! I love pork chops. I used to have them at the “Whiskey River”. Mama always got me corn on the cob and mash potatoes with them.”
“Well then, corn on the cob and mashed potatoes it is. Now go on up and wash up then you can come down here and tell me more about this “Whiskey
River” place while I cook our dinner. And maybe you can even help.” Margaret was not surprised to hear that the child had been eating dinner at some
“Whiskey” place, but it made her mad anyway and she planned on getting as much detail as she could from Bethann.
When Bethann came down from washing up Margaret was no where to be found. There was something boiling on the stove. So Bethann felt sure her
grandmother would be back soon. So she decided she would surprise her grandmother and set the table. There were napkins on the table in a holder and
Bethann took napkins out of it and sat one in front of her and the other across the table from her. Then she went to the silverware drawer and pulled out
two knives, two forks, and two spoons. As she laid them neatly on the napkins, something on the stove started hissing. When Bethann looked at the stove
she saw a large pot spewing foamy white bubbles all over the place. Bethann didn't know how to cook but she knew how to turn the stove off. So she
went over and found the knob that said left front burner. She turned it to the off position and hopped back, because the white foamy stuff was dripping
over the side of the stove now. “Grandma! Come quick!” Bethann yelled thinking that maybe her grandmother would hear her yell. But, she never
answered. Bethann began walking around the house and looking to see if she could find her. She was no where to be found. She started to worry and got
really scared. “Where is she?” She asked herself.. Then Bethann heard the front screen door slam. “Grandma, hurry up!” She yelled. She heard her foot
steps but something made her a little nervous. Those foot steps sounded too heavy to be grandma's. And she recognized them with fear. Suddenly she took
off and ran up the back stairs. When she got to the top of the stairs she stopped. Her heart was racing so fast. She knew that was Howard. She had heard
those foot steps so many times. She didn't know where to hide but she knew she had to. Then she thought, she would just creep back down the other stairs
and maybe she could slide out the front door. So she ran as quietly as she could to the top of the other stairs and squatted down so that if someone came up
the other stairs they would not see her. She could hear those creeky steps squeaking and the thud of his heavy boots as he walked up the stairs. Then she
heard him call out her name.
“BethAnn! Where are you? Come on out here. I'm not gonna hurt you. I just want to talk to you and your Mama. Bethann!”As he was talking he was
slowly walking on to the landing upstairs and when he got there he walked across to the other side and peaked over the railing to see if maybe the little girl
had gone downstairs. But, he didn't see anything so he figured she was hiding somewhere on the second floor. When he walked into the first room
Bethann tiptoed quickly to the bottom of the stairs and walked into the closed door on the left hand side at the bottom of the stairs. She was panting
heavily and her chest was hurting. She was so scared. She listened, but she didn't hear anything. It was very quiet. After what seemed like an hour,
Bethann slowly opened the door to the sitting room and crept out into the room where the red velvety bench was. She kept looking up the stairs to if she
could see or hear him. Then she tiptoed around the corner into the dining room. She was calming down a bit. She knew all she had to do is make it to the
back door and she would be safe and he would still be searching the whole upstairs. She pushed the swinging door to the kitchen open slowly and when
she didn't see anyone she ran to the back door. When she opened the door her heart dropped to her feet and her breath went nearly to her toes. There he
was. Standing right in front of her. Before she could even turn to run he grabbed her arm and said “There you are brat! Now, me and you are gonna have
a nice long chat.” He pushed her back in the back door. “Where is your mama?” He asked her.
“She's not here. She went to take care of a sick friend. Where's my grandma?” She was crying now and scared.
“I don't know where your grandma is, but I want my truck back kid!” He yelled as he picked her up and sat her down on one of the chairs with all the
roosters and apples on it.
“Mama took the truck. Grandma said she went to see a sick friend and don't know when she'll be back.” Bethann was crying and shaking. She was so
scared. She had seen Howard get angry before and knew how mad he could get.
“Well, I am just gonna wait right here until she gets back.” Howard was angry. He had hope to just get his truck and leave. He hadn't planned on being
here very long. He glanced over at the mess on the floor where the pot had boiled over. “You been trying to cook? How long you been here by
yourself?”Surely the little brat hadn't been trying to cook for herself, he thought to himself.
“No! Grandma was cooking us dinner. She'll be back soon and she's gonna bring the police with her.! Bethann hoped that her grandma would be back
soon. She was confused and worried and scared. Howard didn't like her and she didn't know what he was gonna do to her.
Howard started looking around in the draws and finally found a drawer with dish towels. He threw a couple of them on the floor in front of the stove.
He dobbed at the wet mess and soaked most of it up into the towels, then he threw the towels in the sink. “Where's the mop kid?” He asked Bethann. He
might as well clean up the mess before somebody fell in it he thought.
“I don't know. I never seen grandma mop.” Bethann was beginning to calm down a little. She had stopped shaking at least. Now she was beginning to
think a little more clear and wondered how she could get away from Howard.
He finally found the mop and when he finished cleaning up the mess he looked at BethAnn and saw that she was terrified. He was angry that her mother
took his truck. As a matter of fact he was angry about a lot of things her mother had done. But, he wasn't really angry at her. He never liked having her
around much. She was a typical kid, always getting in the way, but she never really did anything to make him mad. Looking at her now and seeing her
shake and act like she was terrified kind of made him feel a little sorry that she was so scared of him. “What's the matter with you? You ain't scared of me
I wasn't here to hurt you. I ain't never hurt you. You got no reason to be scared of me.”
He said matter of fact and went to the refrigerator and pulled out a pitcher of tea. “Where's the glasses?” He looked at
are ya? I told you BethAnn and waited for her to point to which cabinet he was to find a glass in. But, she just stared at him. Ice cold stare. It made him uncomfortable and
now he was getting annoyed with her. “Look kid, all I want to know is where the damn glasses are!” He yelled. And as he yelled he pounded his fist on the
BethAnn cringed when she saw him slam his fist down and she thought for a minute she might urinate on herself. Her heart was racing again and she
was desperate to find a way to get out. “The damn glasses are in the damn cabinet above the damn counter that you just slammed your damn hand on!” She
couldn't believe her words, but she was scared and she was angry and she was tired of this man threatening her. Then she did something that amazed
herself. She ran toward Howard as fast as she could and she kicked him as hard as she possibly could, right in the shin. “Ow!” She cried as she fell
backwards and landed on her rear end. She was sure she must have broken her foot. Howard was really cussing now. “Kid! You are one brave little bugger,
I'll give you that!” He yelled after he finished his round of expletives. Then he hopped over to the table and sat on one of the rooster/apple chairs.
BethAnn was still on the floor groaning and moaning about her foot. After he sat down and his shin stopped throbbing he couldn't help but to feel a little
sorry for the little girl crying on the floor. He could see her foot was red and puffy even from where he was sitting. “Alright, alright! I'll get you an ice
pack.” He opened the freezer and in the door was a powder puff blue icepack. He figured there would be one there. “Most old people keep ice packs in the
freezer.” he thought. “Look here, I'm gonna put this ice pack on your foot and when I do you better not kick me runt!” Then he knelt down in front of her
and lightly placed the ice pack on her foot.
BethAnn was moaning. Her foot was numb, but her leg was hurting. She was confused. Why was he putting an ice pack on her foot. Like he cared. It
didn't matter. It wasn't gonna make her trust him. Then she thought about watching him drag her mother out of the house by one foot. There were other
times too. Like the time she came home from playing with a neighbor and found him with one hand around her mama's neck and she was pressed up
against a wall and he was cussing at her and pounding the wall with the other fist. So he had to be up to no good.
“Where is my grandma?” She yelled. Suddenly she realized that he must have done something with her grandma. “What did you do to her?” She
started slapping at him. Howard backed away a little.
“Listen, I don't know where your grandma is and I already told you I am not gonna hurt you. I didn't come here to hurt anybody. I just want my truck.
Calm down!” He reached across her hurt foot and grabbed both of her arms at one time. Finally she quit struggling. But tears were streaming down her
face and she was sobbing. “Just settle down. How about I help you look for your grandma?”
“I don't trust you! I seen the things you did to my mother. And you did hurt her!” BethAnn didn't care anymore whether he hurt her or not. She had
already decided that she was gonna fight no matter what.
“The only thing you ever saw was either me defending myself or me holding back from really hurting your mama. You just don't know the whole story
kid. You don't know what kind of things she done to me.” Howard was starting to boil inside just thinking about it. “Ten thousand dollars in the bank that
I busted my but to save and earn, and that hmm woman, got her hands on my account and took every penny. And still I let her stay at my house with her
runt kid.” Howard nodded at her and said, “Yeah, that's right, you were that runt kid. Then she brought all kinds of druggies to my house when I wasn't
home and they took all kinds of stuff. I came home from work one day and there was one of them no good for nothing slobs, laying in my bed, eating my
food and smoking pot. You weren't home. When I told him to leave he laughed at me. That was an awful mess. By the time I got through with that guy do
you know your mama was mad at me. I couldn't believe it! Mad at me!” Howard looked at BethAnn and saw that she had her face in her hands and was
sobbing. He thought maybe he should stop talking about her mama. And so he did.
“Look kid, I really want to help you find your grandma. I shouldn't have said those things about your mama, I was just mad. I'm tired and I just wanted
to find my truck and I didn't expect to run into you and all this mess to be happening. Come on, what do you say. I'm gonna take a look around and see if I
can see where she went.” Howard got up and started walking towards the door. BethAnn whimpered. “I can't, my foot hurts.”
“Okay, well I tell you what, I will carry you.” Howard reached down and scooped the little girl up in his arms. “I have an idea. Do you like piggy back
rides?” BethAnn nodded her approval. “Okay then.” And with one swift move Howard swung the little girl around his body and onto his back. He headed out
the kitchen door and as the screen door slammed behind them, he just kind of stood there taking in the sights and not knowing where to start. To the left
was an old barn that was now used for a garage and a shed. The door was half open and he could see there was a white jeep wrangler parked inside. “Is
that your grandma's car?”
BethAnn nodded yes. “Do you think she's in there?” Bethann was a little afraid.
“I don't know but, you stay here and I will go look.” He sat her down on a big barrel that was on the back porch. And as he walked over to the barn,
BethAnn got the feeling for the first time that maybe he wasn't so bad after all. He seemed like he was trying to help her. He disappeared into the barn and
for a minute she was a little concerned that maybe he wouldn't come out of there. But, just as she was thinking that he stepped out. He wasn't walking fast
or anything and from the looks of it she didn't think he had found her grandma in there. When he approached the porch he turned toward the other side of
the porch and asked her “What's in there?” He was looking at a little metal shed.
“I think grandma keeps preserve stuff out there. She let me try some. It was pretty good, kind of like jelly. She had a bunch of grape and peach
flavored. She was gonna let me try some strawberry too, but I got full.”
Howard didn't say anything but he walked over and opened the little tin shed. It was dark in there but there was a string to pull that turned on a small 40
watt light bulb. As Howard glanced around, he saw jars and jars of preserves. He didn't bother going inside, it was too dark to see anyway. He would
need a flash light. Maybe tomorrow in the daylight he would look again in the shed if they had not found her yet. It was turning dusk and Howard knew
there wasn't gonna be much looking going on this evening without help and a lot more light.