"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com

"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com
Still available on Amazon for Nook and Kindle, hard copy booklett to re-print November 2013

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Revised Chapter Three "The Chiasmus Cipher"

Chapter Three
07:50 PM, June 10,
300 N. 42 E. Young’s Farm
Alton, Utah


    Tory drove down the main street and out of town to the first farm house. It was painted yellow with a wraparound porch and a red front door. She pulled passed the house to a converted garage which was so small you could hardly call it an apartment. Tory had planned to review her data when she got home but had left her pack at the office. Regret was forgotten when she got to the front steps. “Right now, all I want is a long hot shower.” 
     She opened the door, and reached over to the light. Switch. Tory looked around at the once neat room. Her books were pulled off the shelves, and papers had exploded across the room. The file cabinet in the corner holding her research and other documents was gaping open.
     Camping equipment was dumped out of the duffel bag into a jumbled heap in the middle of the room. Someone had gone through her stuff and left a huge mess. 
     With shock and growing anger she thought, “What’s going on; am I the joke of a day. This really stinks.” She got scared, “Oh no, what if the robber is still here?” 
    Grabbing her keys, she ran back to her truck to get her pistol and flashlight, but instead grabbed the old softball bat in the bed of her truck. She came cautiously back into the confusion of the room holding the bat above her shoulder, ready to swing away. The only place anyone could hide was behind the counter, or in the bathroom. She moved forward slowly, listening carefully for any indication someone was hiding. Seeing no one in the kitchen area, she silently went across to the bathroom. Throwing the door open she shined the beam into all the corners and found nothing except some towels on the floor that needed to see some detergent soon.
     “I’m beginning to feel stupid.”  
     Tory went to the phone and stood there wondering who to call. She had only moved in a week ago and didn’t want to call the sheriff and be the new comer who complained. It was hard enough to fit in as an out-of-towner. Usually, unless you were born into a small town, you were looked at with suspicion.
     She thought, “Maybe it’s the same guy from the mountain snooping around to check out the latest move-in. Geese, this is a pile to clean up. I don’t have time for this.” 
     After the extraordinary departure the shooter he certainly could have beaten her back to town and still have time to ransack her room. She needed somehow to find out if any locals were into base-jumping.
     “So, What should I do?” she thought grimly.
     Quickly looking through her scattered papers she concluded her research was accounted for.
     “Maybe it was a prank, an initiation test, or something dumb like that.” She began to think of all the stupid stuff she had done as a kid. “But after what happened up on the mountain, there must be something else behind it.” Continuing to look through the jumble, she thought of the only person she knew of who lived nearby and resolutely picked up the phone.
     Bobby Hawk was a friend from the track team and after graduation he came to Southern Utah to work at a community clinic while waiting for his medical school entrance results to come back. She wondered if his cell number would still work, and decided to give it a try. As the phone rang, she looked at her watch and realized it was getting late. 
     Bobby answered on the first ring with his usual, “Yup,” and brightened with recognition when he heard her voice, “Is that you Tory?"
     After a few greetings, Tory got to the point.
     “Is that clinic you work at anywhere near Alton? She asked.
     She gave him the condensed version of her day and then asked, “What would you do?  I’m not scared or anything. Should I call the Sheriff over a prank and stir things up?”
     “The town where you’re renting is only a few miles down the road from where I am in Glendale. Give me the directions. I can be there in ten minutes to check things out.”
     “You don’t have to do that. I only wanted to get some advice.”
     Bobby interrupted, “Well, guess what. I’m already in the car and heading your way, so give me the street and how to get there.”
     “Okay, thanks, um, the house is on the main road, Highway 87. The house is yellow with a barn and pasture full of cows.  It says 300 on the mailbox where you turn in. The garage is behind the house. You’ll see my truck parked by a door on the side.”
     “Ah, your old Junker, I won’t miss that. See you in a few.”
     The duffel bag was almost re-packed with her camping gear by the time Bobby got to the door. He gave a few staccato knocks and then walked right in. 
     With one step Bobby was across the room, pulled Tory up off the floor and encircled her with his powerfully built arms. He looked around over the top of her head, and then ran a hand through his thick black hair to get the wavy mop from his eyes. He and gave a low whistle then   stepped back and looked into her questioning eyes.
     “Sorry, kiddo, you got a mess here, but better you than me. I’m so tied up these days; this mess would pretty much stay where sits until I moved out.” 
     Bobby’s 6’5” lean muscular body and broad shoulders filled the small living space and made Tory realize how tiny the room was, but heck she thought.
     “What do you want for $250 a month, plus utilities?” 
     At least she didn’t have to share the bathroom with three other girls like at school.
     She watched the easy way he moved about the cramped space and remembered the first time they met when they were both freshmen.
     During the orientation meeting for summer track she held back and watched to see how everyone interacted. The only person she knew was the field coach who came to the state championship when she was in shot-put finals and talked to her about a scholarship for ASU. There was a cold reception from the veteran team members so the new additions stuck together. She and Bobby grew to be friends, and ended up lab partners in chemistry. The last few semesters they even lived in the same apartment complex.
     She started to pick up the papers trying to get them into piles and watched him go around the room carefully looking over everything. He studied the window latch.
     “Whoever or whatever it was got in through the window. You must have left it open. Tory, you should be more careful.” 
     “Yeah, I know…so, what do you think, call the cops or let it go?”
     “Well, is anything missing, or vandalized?” 
     “From what I’ve been able to tell—no, nothing, only my stuff messed up.”
     “If it was me, I’d let it go, and figure if it happened again I‘d try to set a trap. Ya know, city girl, with that window open it could’ve been a raccoon. Did you leave any food out?
     Tory tried to remember, “I don’t think so.”
     “I‘ve had those cute looking raccoons be really bold, climb right up my leg to take food out of my hand. This is the kind of mess they leave. But then again with what you told me happened up on the mountain—I don’t know.”
     “I suppose it could have been a raccoon. I left before sunup, when those things prowl. I feel so dumb. But it doesn’t seem so cut and dry. I sure wish you were two doors down from me like you used to be.”
     “For one thing, I’m not leaving you alone tonight. If someone comes back at least they’ll know you’re not the lone woman who doesn’t know anyone in town."
     “Yeah perfect, around here, they’ll simply think I’m a wild woman with a guy in my room. But thanks. I don’t want to be alone tonight.”
     Bobby went back to his car, got his worn sleeping bag and a thirty-aught-six rifle from the back seat under the floor mat. Before he came in, he walked beyond the garage and parking area to look into the pasture. He saw a good sized barn and a chicken coop at the far end of the property. As he approached the cedar fence, a scruffy black and white spotted cow came up and put her head down for him to scratch.
     “Somebody’s pet,” he thought and reached out to scratch the soft fluff between the animal’s horns. She leaned into the fence to get closer. He tracked back and forth across the pasture with his wary deep green eyes penetrating the darkness and saw nothing unusual under the star lit night.
     He decided not to tell Tory he was worried and that he thought the events of the day were a bit bizarre. He didn’t want to keep her from getting her job completed. He knew how much it meant to her because he was there when she got her acceptance letter. She’d been dancing around and high-jumped over the couch into his arms—war whooping like a crazy girl.
     All of his buddies had been jealous of their relationship. Most of the guys he hung out with were rough country boys who drooled over her type; a city girl with curves and brains. She was an untouchable to him.
     Somehow, she reminded him of his sisters back on the reservation—fun loving and athletic. Because of that he treated her with the easy familiarity of a brother. She was in lots of his classes and his statistics study group. He never asked her out, not that the thought hadn’t occurred to him. He always got tongue tied around her and made the excuse that he didn’t want to wreck a good thing. Inside there was a much darker reason for not getting close to her. But his friends at school didn’t know about his background so they thought he was nuts not to ask her on a date. They all knew he had a crush on her.
     He turned and went back to the small garage looking around once again before he went inside and locked the door behind him.
     “Got any ice-cream?”
     Tory began to laugh, remembering the late night study group sessions and Bobby’s addiction.
     “I think so Kemo Sabe,” using her playful nick-name for him.
     She went over to the fridge clunking away in the corner and located some ice cream toward the back of the freezer. She found two bowls, located clean spoons and put some chocolate syrup on the mounds of vanilla. “Sorry no Strawberry, I know it’s your favorite.”
     Bobby was sitting on the lumpy gold couch, thumbing through the papers on the floor and without looking, reached up a waiting hand for the bowl.
     “Bobby, is this your dinner?  You always had a way with junk food that made me forget a proper diet.” She savored a small bit of ice cream from her bowl and mumbled, “Well, so much about me and my problems.”
     She pulled off her hiking boots and curled up in the tattered recliner chair.
     “Tell me about your job.”
     He looked up as he responded,“It’s okay. I’m working with kids at the clinic, but I can’t wait to get my test results back and see if I have a shot at med. school."
     “Do you know where you want to send your applications yet?”
     “I have some ideas, but the scores will let me know if I should waste my time and money sending the results off to a high power school. I’ve been thinking about UCLA because the doctor I’m working with says the curriculum is awesome. And I’d like to stay in the west where I can keep up with my running without the cold or snow. But I don’t have to make any decisions until I’m closer to graduation.”
     “You shouldn’t have any problems wherever you apply. You are at the top of our class and” she hesitated, “you have the native thing going for you.”
     “You know I’ve never wanted to take advantage of my heritage.”
     “Yeah, I know. I remember you wouldn’t admit that you were a Native American for the first year at school. You tried to convince everyone you were a tall Hispanic with your marine haircut, kaki pants and loafers. But no one was fooled for long...”
     He nodded, “I wanted to leave the reservation at home.”
    Tory mused, “Later I wondered why you joined the track team instead of the rodeo competitions like most of your native friends.”
     “To be honest I was tired the lazy native stereotype and breaking my butt at rodeos. I wanted to get something useful out of my education. Didn’t want to knock my brains out, or have an injury that would stop me from getting decent grades. I’ve already broken my arm twice working cattle on the reservation. I figured my head would be next.
     Anyway, little lady, my head is intact and I’m here for the night. Plus I think we should hike to the spot where you think you were ambushed and check it out. I haven’t had anything to do on the weekends except go on a run, or watch TV with the Doc. And give me a call if anything else weird happens. But I bet this is the end of your adventure,” he said yawning.
     “You don’t know how much better I feel having you here.”
     “It’s Bobby to the rescue!”
     “And that hike up the mountain would be great. Come back here Saturday around six and we’ll go up to the cliffs. I’ll even pack a lunch.”
     “I’ll take you up on that lunch offer and make you a trade?  I’ve been wondering who I could ask for help? I need a brainer; someone good at riddles.” He gave her a sly look.
     “Brainer, huh, thanks, I think?” She popped out the foot of the recliner took her pillow and a quilt from the floor along and leaned back. “If you’re going to be my body guard you take the couch. At least I fit in this lounge chair.” She tipped back even further.
     “Um, guess I did hog the couch, sorry.” He stretched out and reached down for his sleeping bag. “But you did have the reputation of being the puzzle brainer in our statistics group. And I have a mystery to unravel, something important to my Pop. So if I come and help you out on the mountain, will you help me with this puzzle I’m supposed to solve?”
     “Yeah, sure, I’ll help if I can.”
     He yawned again, dangled his long legs over the couch arm and put his head back. His head hit the softball bat lying under the pillow and he sat back up.
     “You’ve gotta be kidding me!  Is this your weapon of choice?”
     “I’m pretty good with that thing, believe it or not. You’re not the only one with hidden skills. I was a pretty good hitter on my high school softball team. Set the record stealing bases, but changed to the track team when some friends asked me to help out on the relay team.”
     Bobby put the bat on the floor and leaned back once again, putting his hands behind his head. “Softball’s loss is track team’s gain. I’ll remember to stay out of the way when you’re holding that thing.” His eyes closed. “I better get a few hours rest. Its baby exam day tomorrow and we have a full schedule so ̶ ̶ your ̶ body ̶ ̶ guard ̶ ̶ um- ̶ will ̶ ̶.”  His voice trailed off.
     Looking over at his sleeping body Tory wanted to laugh at the way her protector hung off both ends of the couch. She wrapped the quilt over her shoulders and gave into the fatigue she’d been fighting off. It was barely seconds before she joined him in sleep. When Tory awoke early the next day Bobby was gone.

coming soon chapter 4


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