In his line of work as a lawman, things were never as they seemed to be. Blood Land.

More chapters from Blood Land

A VG Serial: Blood Land

Chapter 15 – 2

“Baby,” Pruett said, holding his daughter tight in his grip. “I never meant to hurt you. I always believed the burden was mine. My ancestors. But I know now I let you and your mother down. I refused to lower myself, to even acknowledge that there was anything to talk about when it came to such accusations. But I owed it to you and Bethy to defend what was ours. I needed to defend our family; I needed to defend you, dear girl.”

Wendy continued to cry.

Pruett held her, his own eyes swelled and tired. So tired. “I didn’t defend our honor. And for that, I will never forgive myself. I never have,” he said.

Wendy pulled away. She stared him in the eyes.

You were the one who was right. I’m the one who needs forgiveness. And I’ll never get it, not from my mother, maybe not from you…”

“I think we forgave each other, don’t you?” Pruett said, and smiled wide for the first time since Bethy died. “We’ve got each other now. And your mother forgave you the moment you walked out the door. It was me kept the feud alive. My pride kept us apart.”

“The same God-awful pride I inherited from you,” Wendy said, and laughed softly.

The two of them held each other again, and the warmth that enveloped Pruett made him wonder if God really had forgiven him his sins.

* * *

Ty faced Pruett down through the bars of his cell. Pruett thought back to the night he’d tried to kill the prisoner. What if he had succeeded? It just proved to him that things were never, ever what they seemed.

“Bethy never said a thing. Not in forty plus years,” he said to Ty.

“Ma wouldn’t have any of us talkin’ about family dealins.”

“I always thought Bethy’s problems were with the old man—with Rory.”

“Rory couldn’t shit without permission from his old lady,” Ty said lowly.

It hurt Pruett—hurt him deeply—that Bethy had not entrusted him with this secret. “Bethy said she went out there that night because Rory asked her to. She told me he wanted to make amends, have a family night again.”

“If Rory asked her it was because Honey said so.”

“How did things get so twisted up, Ty?”

“I take it that Delgado lady didn’t show you the balance sheets.”

“She never got the chance.”

“Twenty million dollars enough to twist things up for you?”

“Jesus.”

“The gas company found a pocket underneath the main ranch bigger’n the whole patch they’re drillin’ out west.”

“You ready to talk about what happened that night?”

“I figure to tell you the whole thing.”

“Then start talking.”

“Before I forget, you gotta get ahold a that lockbox,” Ty said.

“What lockbox?”

* * *

Dirk McIntyre scanned the bar for his brother. He found him at a thick, scarred pine table far in the back, half-hidden by shadow.

“Thanks for comin’,” Dirk said as he sat down.

“Was comin’ here regardless. You know that,” Ty said.

“Just the same,” Dirk said throwing his head back at Pearly Jo Milton, who was waiting tables. “A Bud,” he told her.

“What the fuck you want, Dirk?”

Ty was antsy. Full of fight. It was just one of those nights and all he wanted was to tie on a big one and kick the shit out of someone.

“Been talkin’ to some folks,” Dirk said. “Specifically, a lady at the courthouse. She don’t want her name getting’ out. But she wanted me to see some information on our property situation.”

“What property situation?” Ty said. “And for your information, you incredible dipshit, everyone in three counties knows you’ve been diddlin’ Juanita Pike for over a year. You know, the Juanita Pike who happens to work at the courthouse.”

“Everyone knows that?”

“Good God, brother, I never even listen to gossip, so if I know it…”

“Shit,” said Dirk. “Anyway, you’re gonna want to see what she gave me.”

“Hand it over,” Ty said and threw back a shot of Wild Turkey. The whiskey burned in his gut. A few more and he’d go and knock someone off a barstool. Maybe two.

“You promise Juanita’s name never gets in this thing.”

“Let me see it,” Ty snarled, waving for another shot. “Make it a double and make it two of ‘em.”

Dirk handed his brother the document, a copy of their grandfather’s will.

“Lawyer mumbo jumbo,” Ty said. Pearly Jo set down two double Turkeys and Ty threw the first one back without even taking his eyes off his brother.

“Look at page seventeen,” Dirk said. “Some fair-weather provision or whatnot.”

“Fairness provision,” Ty mumbled. “Least I can fuckin’ read when I’m drunk.”

“I ain’t drunk. And yeah, that’s it. Says the minerals are for all of us, Ty. All of us, not just Pa and the others. Even me, and I ain’t got any land at all,” Dirk said.

“Even you…”

“Grandpa wanted us all to have a share, if money ever came the family’s way, I mean. What’re you thinkin’, Ty?”

“I’m thinkin’ no money came our way, now did it? I’m also thinkin’ family just don’t do family like this.” He swallowed the second double in one smooth motion, his eyes red like volcano fire. “Who else knows about this?”

“Juanita said Beulah Jorgensen. Because her name is on the document. And because nothin’ happens in this town without that bitch knowin’ somethin’ about it.”

“Beulah.”

“I think we should kill ‘em,” Dirk said. “Keep all the money for ourselves.”

“Can’t say I disagree,” said Ty. “But we gotta be smart about this.”

The two sat in silence, ordered more booze, and still said nothing for ten or fifteen minutes. Dirk was waiting on Ty. Ty was getting his drunk on.

He always thought better when he was drunk. Always fought better, too, but he knew he needed to go and get those papers—the original will and some BLM paperwork and maps—secured in his lockbox

Chapters of the serial are published Monday through Saturday.

You can learn more about R. S. Guthrie’s novels on his Amazon Author’s Page.

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