2009 21 Jan

Chapter Four – Saying It Out Loud

Author: Shawn Categories: Violet's Vengence

Being Friday, the teachers didn’t demand too much so Violet mostly daydreamed through her first set of classes. She hated her first class – Algebra. Putting letters with numbers just made her head hurt and it didn’t make a bit of sense. Typing class was boring, but busy. Civics was all right. At least the teacher made it interesting most days.

She had study hall before lunch. Violet had been going to the library, studying all about animals and being a forest ranger. She thought it would be fun to be a forest ranger. To take care of nature, animals, and make sure people didn’t mess it up. She decided she would try to work for a park until she got enough money to go to college.

That’s what she daydreamed about, mostly. Being far away, working in one of the big national parks. She had read every book Nevada Barr had ever written and had imagined herself in every scenario. In the Sierra’s of Yosemite National Park, the hot high desert of the Guadalupe Mountains, on the sinking island in Dry Tortugas.

Today though, she just doodled in her notebook and kept thinking about her Pa. Would he really make her go with him to hunt? She knew she couldn’t stop him if he made her. When would it be? He hadn’t said anything about going hunting this weekend. If she could find out when, maybe she could sneak off to J.B.’s.

No, that wouldn’t work. The first place her Pa would look would be J. B.’s. The bell rudely brought Violet back to reality. Sighing, she shoved her notebook into her pack and went to the lunch room.

She and Jim-Bob always sat at a table in the back corner of the cafeteria. She tossed her pack on one of the chairs and got in line with all the other teenage cattle members.

“Hey, look Wade, it’s rabbit girl.”

Violet turned around and saw Wade Hopper and his cronies laughing at her. Her eyes narrowed as she made a “tsk”.

“Hey, York, why don’t ya just go eat the grass outside?” Wade baited.

“Bet you could find some bark out there, too, freak.” Tossed one of the drones named Kyle.

Violet just calmly looked Wade in the eye. “If I should eat the grass, you and your beastie boys should go eat with the roaches in the trash.”

She turned back around and grabbed a tray while they ‘ooo’d’ and laughed some more. Today was pizza day. She grabbed some slices of cheese pizza and headed to her table.

“Hey, J.”

“Hey, Vi. Whatcha doin tonight?”

“Gotta check the nursery. Get through another supper.”

Jim-Bob nodded and took another bite of cheese pizza. “I wish English was over already.”

Violet smiled. English was her favorite class. It was also the last class of the day. “Ms. Childers is pretty cool, J. She ain’t gonna embarrass you on purpose.”

“I shoulda written ‘bout somethin’ else, but I couldn’t think of nothin’.”

“It’ll all be over ‘fore you know it, J.”

“Yeah, and my life, too.”

“Drama queen.”

“Pine cone eater.” He smiled and ran his fingers through his thick black hair.

Violet chuckled. “As if.”

They ate their pizza in a comfortable silence. Jim-Bob noticed Violet shaking her head at the table.

“What’s buggin?”

Violet looked into Jim-Bob’s dark green eyes, her eyebrows drawn together. “If I don’t say it out loud, maybe it won’t happen.”

“Say what?”

Violet just shook her head again.

“Now I know for sure somethin big’s buggin. What is it?”

Violet stared at her hands. A stuttered breath spilled out of her mouth.

“Violet?” Jim-Bob dropped his pizza and took her hands.

“Last night I thought I was gonna get another beatin’ at supper. Mama stopped him. But …” her voice wavered and she took a deep breath. “I think he’s gonna make me go huntin with him, J.”

“Shit.”

“Why would he do that? He thinks I ain’t normal. I think he’s sick to enjoy murderin defenseless animals.” Violet looked at Jim-Bob with tears filling her amber eyes. His started to water at the sight of hers. Violet never cried unless she lost one of her animals.

“Maybe he was just mad, Vi. Your Ma would stop him, right?”

“She ain’t for it, but you know how he can get!”

“Maybe you could come over. Is he thinking this weekend?”

“I dunno when. I thought of holing up at your place, but he’d know where to find me.”

Shrilling through the cafeteria, the bell sounded the end of lunch. “We’ll figure somethin out Vi, OK? Don’t stress it too much. See you in English.”

“Yeah, trying not to J. You don’t stress English, maybe I can think of somethin for ya.” Violet smiled.

The two friends picked up their lunch trays, deposited the half-eaten pizza into the garbage can and headed into the busy hallway.

2009 21 Jan

Chapter Three – Catching The Bus

Author: Shawn Categories: Violet's Vengence

“Violet, you gonna be late again! Bus is going to be here any minute!”

“I know, Ma. I’m hurrin’.” Violet dashed into her room. Shedding her sweats, she threw on a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, white socks, army boots, and a gray hooded sweatshirt.

Gil stuck his tongue out at her as she ducked into the bathroom. She rolled her eyes and slammed the door in his freckled face.

“I ain’t tellin’ Fred to wait for you, freak!” His voice squeaked high and low.

“I don’t care, man-boy. I can walk faster anyways.” She said as she splashed water across her face. She gave her teeth and long hair a quick brush. Putting a tail in her hair, she stepped out of the bathroom, trotted into the front room and grabbed her backpack by the door. Gil was already walking down the driveway.

“Violet!” Her Ma came waddling out of the kitchen. “Here’s some jelly-toast. How are you ever going to get meat on your bones? Make sure you eat good at…”

“Yeah, I know, Ma. I gotta go.” She grabbed the toast and ran out the door.

The bus rolled around the curve when Violet caught up to her brother. He wiggled his butt at her.

“Don’t think I won’t kick that, dork”

His shaggy auburn tufts bounced as he jumped forward and laughed. “Freak-girl!” He bound up the stairs of the waiting bus.

Violet stepped up the stairs. “Mornin, Fred.”

“Good Morning, Violet. How’s those ailing creatures of yours?”

“Almost ready to go.” Violet smiled at her bus driver. He always asked about her little friends. Fred was an animal lover like herself, but he still ate meat.

Jim-Bob waved to Violet from the middle of the bus. He was her best buddy and had been since his Pa was killed in a car crash six years ago.

“Hey, Vi.”

“Hey, J.B. Did ya get your English paper done?” She sat next to him and started eating her toast.

“Barely. What’d you write about?”

“’Bout a fox that could talk. You?”

“Aw, you’ll think it’s sissy.”

“You know I would never think that about you, J., even if you are.” She poked his arm and smiled.

He elbowed her and looked out the window. “It’s about a boy that writes a poem to this girl.”

“Aw, how sweet, J. Is the girl’s name Julie?”

“Shh! Geez, Vi. What if someone hears you?” His blue eyes peeked through his dark brown bangs as he punched her leg.

Violet giggled while she rubbed her leg. “Your secret’s safe with me, lover-boy. Let’s just hope Mrs. Childers doesn’t make us read aloud in class.”

“Aw, crap. I didn’t think about that. Stupid class. Why did we have to write about fantasy anyways? Crap.”

Violet giggled again and patted his knee. “It’ll be OK, J. You doan write that good. You know she’ll end up readin’ mine and the beastie boys’ll tease me for a week. I’ll hafta’ drill Wade Hopper’s nose into his brain again. Ya think he and his drones’d ease up after last year.”

“Yeah, but he don’t got no sense. Take more than one beatin for that. ‘Sides, one more demerit and you’ll get suspended and you know it.”

“Yeah.” She sighed. “Least it’s Friday.”

They both looked out the window and watched the trees zip by.

2008 09 Jul

Chapter Two – The Hidden Hospital

Author: Shawn Categories: Violet's Vengence

The crisp morning air smacked Violet’s cheeks and nose with frosty lips. Creeping out of the house, she picked up the bucket of leftovers she left on hidden underneath the porch. Indigo spirals splashed across the sky as the moon faded to give the sun its share of the day dotting the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains.

Humming softly, Violet carried her muscled five-foot-four self through the yard and up the hill toward the towering spindly pines on the rise of the mountain.

Reaching the makeshift pantry she built out of scrap wood at the edge of the trees, she gathered some scavenged roughage into a second bucket she kept underneath two shelves inside the pantry next to an old backpack. The lower shelf held fresh raw vegetables, greens, nuts, and bread.

The top shelf was filled with rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Bag Balm, different sizes of gauze, medical tape, towels, rags, and jars, scissors, tweezers, eye droppers, flea powder, Popsicle sticks, and a jar of pure aloe.

She built a hospital of wire and wood complete with straw beds and cardboard boxes under the grove of trees. It covered a space of about thirty feet with a few trees inside. A small creek trickled over worn mossy stones at the far end of the pen. Thick brush and rhododendrons weaved around and through the towering trees shielding it from the outside. A ring of triple layered barbed wire circled the outer edges of the area.

It was a perfect little hospital. One that Violet was proud of. It had taken her about three months to gather the supplies, research mending procedures and build. The hardest part had been figuring out how to arrange cohabitation for normally wild and free animals and keep them safe from the coyotes and mountain lions that roamed the hills.

There had been some fights along the way, but each incident helped Violet improve the area. Violet’s square jaw softened into a grin when she opened the crooked wooden gate.

“Good mornin, my fuzzy friends. Did y’all have a good sleep?”

Two troughs, low to the ground, sat on either side of the gate. Setting the bucket of vegetables to her right, Violet carefully stepped through the mass of small bodies and poured the leftovers into the large left trough. She was always amazed at how well they tolerated each other during feedings.

Dumping the greens onto the ground for girl and boy rabbit, she looked each of them over. It was hard for her to believe that until two years ago, she ate their cousins. She was fourteen when she had saved her first rabbit.

That’s when everything had changed. That’s when she started taking weekly walks looking for hurt animals. That’s when she was compelled to live a different kind of life. A life that didn’t feed on pain and death.

She smiled at her special friends. Almost all of them were healed now. She had freed baby pig from a small wooden box. He was put there by a distant neighbor who said the box would make its meat tender. Violet thought the man should be put in a box.

Pig had beaten the sides of the walls until his little hooves were splintered and bleeding, his snout and ears ripped and gooey. Violet had listened to him squeal and cry for weeks before she had crept in on a moonless night and rescued him. She made it look as if pig had busted the box by himself so the owner would think he just ran away.

Skunk, boy and girl rabbit were hit by cars. Usually, the animals died of shock before they died of injury. If an animal looked like it could be still living, Violet would check. If she found a pulse, she would carefully wrap them in a big towel that she carried in her old backpack.

Skunk had been awake, but clearly delirious. His tail was severed and was now a stump of what it used to be. Girl rabbit had a limp from her twisted back leg, but she had healed quickly. Boy rabbit’s ear would forever be mangled. His face would be scarred as well, but he was lucky to have a face at all.

Raccoon was nearly dead when Violet found her. Coon had been shot and probably fell from a tree because both her front legs had been fractured. It had been pure luck that Violet spotted Coon in some thick bushes. She had removed the buckshot from Coon’s back leg, stitched the hole, and set her front legs with sticks and cloth.

For five nights, Violet had crept out of the house and slept all night with her. She had fed nearly comatose Coon with countless cups of lightly sugared water with a baby dropper until Coon began to respond., Then, Violet hand fed her until her legs and hands healed enough to use again. Of all the animals she had nursed over the last two years, Coon had been her biggest challenge.

Violet watched them nibble and slurp. They would all be ready to release in the next couple of days. Coon’s freedom was iffy. Not only had Violet allowed herself to get attached, she wasn’t sure if coon had the speed or agility to survive on her own anymore.

Plus, Coon had taken to being held and kissed. Her soft little black fingers would rub Violet’s face when she was held. The first time Coon did that, Violet cried and Coon licked Violet’s tears. Yes, Coon was a dilemma.

Pig would be a problem, too. He wouldn’t survive on his own because he didn’t know how and she couldn’t keep him or her Pa would surely have him on the dinner table. For that matter, Pa would eat every creature here.

Sighing, she picked up her buckets and stepped through the gate, leaving it slightly ajar so those that were ready could leave.

“OK, if any of you’s feel like leavin, you can. You ain’t prisoners. But, if you need a couple more days to feel brave, you’re welcome to stay. Everyone have a good, good day. Be back tonight.”

With buckets in hand, she skipped back to the pantry and put them under the shelf. A musky spring wind played with her sandy-blond ponytail as the sun touched the top of the mountains making the sky bleed with oranges, pinks, and blues.

2008 09 Jul

Chapter One – The Argument

Author: Shawn Categories: Violet's Vengence

“The girl needs to understand, cost Lula Mae!”

“She don’t. She ain’t no boy, unhealthy Grady! She don’t need ta learn no huntin ways. She can shoot a gun and that’s enough. This is just a phase or somethin. I’m sure she’ll grow out of it.”

“Lula Mae, I ain’t havin no young’un of mine actin like she do. She been actin like a damn fool for goin on two years now. She gonna see and learn how to behave like a normal girl. Now, that’s all there is. I ain’t sayin no more.”

She heard them yelling. She knew her Pa hated her collection of animals she’d saved from the forest. Saved from the roads. He didn’t know she went looking for them.

He’d be right mad if he knew that. But I don’t care what he thinks. I don’t care what any of ‘em think. An’ I sure ain’t huntin ‘em. He’ll have to kill me first.

She pulled the bed covers up to her squared chin and squeezed her eyes shut. They’d tried to force her to eat chitlins again tonight. But, she wouldn’t. She couldn’t. They didn’t understand that just smelling the grease made her want to puke. They didn’t want to understand.

The battle of “meat or not to meat” had been escalating every night. She didn’t even want to eat any more. She had pushed the chitlins toward the edge of the plate and ate her potatoes and green beans in silence while her Pa glared at her.

Mama had just kept wiping her hands on her paper napkin until it bunched up into little greasy strings that hung through her fingers. Between every bite she had gazed at her daughter as if she had been teleported to her table from some alien planet.

Her twelve-year-old brother, Gil, had hunched over his plate with his arm bobbing from plate to mouth like a rubber ball. His dark brown eyes flitted between his Pa and his sister underneath his long lashes.

“You gonna starve, Violet. It ain’t normal for a body to live on just greens. God gave us the animals to use.” Grady had barked.

“God gave us the animals to protect, Pa. And I ain’t eatin ‘em.” 

“An I ain’t eatin ‘em even if you try to beat me into it.” Her voice had been low. Almost a whisper.

Grady had rubbed his wide roughened hands on his paint-stained jeans until one formed a fist. Gil’s bouncing arm had frozen in mid-air, buttery mashed potatoes dripping from his fork.

“Grady York,” Lula Mae’s dark brown eyes narrowed inside her round face. “I won’t be havin no violence at this here table. The Lord God blessed this meal and I won’t allow it. Violet, take these dishes into the sink and get on to your room.”

Violet had stacked the dishes into her arms, plodded into the kitchen, and scraped the leftovers into a bucket on the back porch. Gil had scurried away and plunked himself in front of the television in the next room.

Grady and Lula Mae were silently sitting at the dinner table when Violet headed into her bedroom.

In the beginning, they had just ignored her. Then, they tried to cajole her. Bribe her. Reason with her. Made her go to bed without supper. Finally, her Pa decided countless “meetings” with the switch and open palmed smacks across her head would fix things. That’s what he called the beatings. Meetings. As if the mind was actually involved.

Violet persisted, despite the hungry nights. Despite the lumps above her temples and the moments of dizziness where she would fall to her knees and his huge hands would cease swinging. Despite the angry bleeding welts on her back. She wouldn’t give in. She recited her mantra until she fell asleep.

I won’t. I won’t eat the flesh of my animal friends. I won’t.