Let me check my give a shit meter. Nope, nothing. The fucker must be broken.
“This place looks pretty good. I thought you said it wasn’t livable,” I said as I scanned the outside of Downy’s house that he’d been fixing up for the past couple of weeks.
He grunted. “The outside was never the problem, it was the inside.”
It was a log cabin.
Actually, a huge log cabin.
Two stories tall, with a wraparound front porch and a red tin roof, it looked beautiful. In fact, it looked brand spanking new.
Large adult pine trees surrounded the house and nearby area, shielding the house from view from the road. There was a covered walkway that led from the two-car garage in the front to a large barn-type structure off to the side. Possibly a shop of some sort.
Red storm gutters sat at the ready on either side of each of the house’s front windows, and the door was half stained glass, half wood.
I walked up closer, climbing the porch steps to come to a stop at the front door, studying the beautiful piece.
“Wow,” I said once I got a closer look.
“My grandfather did it. Looks good, doesn’t it?” He questioned.
“It looks beautiful. I bet that was hard to keep from breaking,” I said, shaking my head.
The design was beautiful.
Reds, greens, blues, oranges, and yellows filled the hundreds of pieces of glass that made up the design of a hot air balloon in flight.
He grunted. “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never lived here before. Never even stayed overnight.”
I turned to him in surprise. “You haven’t stayed the night? But why?”
He sighed and pulled his keys out of his pocket.
“I didn’t even know about this place until I was in the army. I got a letter when I was eighteen from the manager of this property explaining what I had, and asking to visit with me about some oil royalties that I never even knew about.” He shook his head. “We lived poor growing up. Really poor. One bedroom apartment. Our lights were turned off every three months or so because of non-payment. Peanut butter and ramen noodle soup were our main food staples.”
He flipped on the light and illuminated the dark interior living room.
It was majorly outdated, and the floors were in the process of being refinished.
They were a pale, dusty brown, and pieces of it were missing in places.
The entire place was one big open floor plan.
The living room, dining room, and kitchen was one big open area, and beyond the kitchen a door led to what I assumed were bedrooms.
Stairs were immediately to my left, leading up to the second floor, and those, too, were being refinished.
I could see now that it was in a great state of repairs, but the integrity of the house was sound.
“I assume the reason we didn’t live here had a lot to do with Ronnie Prescott; but, when I was eighteen, I couldn’t see past the fact that we lived in near poverty. I was so busy whining about wearing the same clothes every day rather than the fact that my mother had a real reason for what she did. So, I was bitter and stayed away from her. Now we have absolutely no relationship to speak of,” he explained softly, closing the door as I started to pick my way through the house. “That’s partially why my mother and I have such a rocky relationship, and why I never got to know her husband. Although, it doesn’t really help that he tries to get me to sell this place back to the Prescott’s on a weekly basis.”
“Hmmm,” I wondered. “What’s the deal with that?”
He flipped the lights on in the kitchen and uncovered the countertops.
“Jackson, my stepfather, works with Ronnie. He’s a lawyer for the city and works closely with Ronnie Prescott, on a daily basis. I’m sure he has to hear it often, which in turn, he feels the need to share with me,” Downy rumbled.
I turned to find him studying the piers and beams above me, his eyes taking in the work they were doing up there, too.
“This place is looking good, Downy. I think I’ll be really sad when you move in here,” I admitted, trying to get off the subject of his father and the land, since it seemed to be a major upset to him.
He tipped his lip up at me, grinning slightly.
“I’ll have to make sure your wall’s fixed before I leave. Can’t have Miller and Foster having access to your place when I’m not there,” he teased.
I turned away, hiding the hurt on my face.
I didn’t want him to go.
If…no, when he went, would that change our relationship?
I was sure it would. How could it not?
“What are you doing to these counter tops?” I asked, running my finger along the counter…or would be counters.
“Concrete. It’s being stained Monday,” he explained, pulling out a square and showing it to me.
“Wow, that’s what it will look like? That doesn’t even look like concrete,” I exclaimed.
He nodded. “Yeah, it looks pretty good. And, that way, the countertops will never break or go out of date.”
I nodded. “Yeah, that makes sense. Is there any other construction going on besides this main part of the house?”
He shook his head and took my hand, leading me to the back door and the porch beyond it.
“I’m having a well dug right there. Although, I’m fairly positive there’s one already on the property, I haven’t been able to find it. I’ve been looking for months,” he said.
I walked down the porch steps and out into the trees beyond, scanning the area. “How do you know there’s a well?”
He shrugged. “The neighbors. Well, the ones that’ll talk to me, that is.”
I nodded. “Let’s look.”
He grinned and started walking behind me, hands in his pockets. “It won’t look like a normal well. It’ll probably only be a hole in the ground with some sort of grate covering it up.”
“Like something I could fall in and never come back up again? Like Little Timmy, minus the Lassie, to save me?” I teased.
He gave me a droll look.
“You think I wouldn’t save you?” He asked, really making the mock hurt in his voice apparent.
I shrugged. “If you saw me fall down.”
“Huh,” he grunted, not really having much to say to that.
It was true. A harsh truth, but true nonetheless.
“How many acres do you have here?” I asked him a little while later.
Stepping over a large trunk in front of him, he stopped on the other side and offered me his hand.
I took it and stepped up onto the large fallen tree, then launched myself at him.
He caught me with a laugh, twirling me up and around until I was on his back.
I laughed breathlessly in reaction.
“A little over thirty,” he answered my earlier question.
We walked a little while longer, keeping me on his back.
He had his hands curled underneath my knees, and his forearms were braced underneath the lower part of my leg.
I had my head rested on his back when we heard dogs barking.
Dogs that weren’t ours, since we’d left them at our apartment.
“How close are your nearest neighbors?” I questioned.
He shrugged, making my body go up and down with the movement of his shoulder. “No clue, to be honest. Calloway lives about four miles down the road past the entrance to my driveway, and I’d guess we were closest to his property. Yet, I don’t think we’re really that close. We haven’t gotten off my property yet, I have a fence surrounding it, from what I was told.”
I ran my chin along his head and said, “You don’t like it out here, do you?”
He sighed. “Not really, no. It reminds me of what I don’t have. What I lost. The only reason I’m fixing it up now was because I was tired of having Miller and Foster at my place. They’re great guys, and they can stay for as long as they want, I just don’t see why I shouldn’t move out here when I have my own place.”
I leaned my head down until it was resting on his shoulder and letting my hand slip around his muscled throat, curling it to rest under his ear.
“Then sell it,” I countered.
“If I sell it, then Prescott will just buy out the next owner, and I don’t want him to have it. It’s petty, yes, but I feel like I owe it to my dad,” Downy sighed in exasperation.
“You don’t talk about him much.” I observed.
He shrugged. “He died when I was fourteen when his rig exploded. They never found his body because it burned so hot, but they knew he was there. Him and twelve other men died that night.”
I kissed his ear. “That’s awful.”
He nodded. “Yeah, it was. I loved my dad, and I looked up to him. It was a hard transition. All of a sudden, I no longer had my father at a crucial age when I needed him the most. Then my mom lost the house when she couldn’t pay the house note. It all just snowballed from there. It wasn’t a fun experience, and I hope I never have to live through anything like that again.”
“My mom and dad had a period like that when I was thirteen or so. The MC’s clubhouse burned down to the ground, and with it the paint and auto body shop that my dad owned next door, as well as our house,” I said quietly, looking out over the woods in front of us. “It was all connected on the same piece of property, and it was all gone in one fail swoop. It took a couple years to get back on our feet. It taught me a good lesson, though, and that was to always have a backup plan. Luckily, my parents had had one.”
“Well we’re all shits and giggles, now, aren’t we?” Downy laughed, swinging me down off his back.
I landed on the balls of my feet, and wrapped my hands around his large bicep.
“I want to have seven kids,” I said abruptly.
He froze and looked down at me, clearly startled with my quick change of subject. “Oh, yeah? Do you know what that does to your ass?”
I snorted. “I was an only child, and I wanted a brother or a sister like crazy. I think that would’ve helped my dad, too, if he could’ve split the overprotectiveness between two, instead of one.”
“Your dad can only do what he knows, and he told me he’s been a cop since he’s gotten out of high school. If all you ever see is ugliness, then that’s all you’ll ever expect,” Downy replied quietly.
“Downy, do you have bad dreams?” I blurted out.
He looked down at me and nodded once. “Yeah. Not about anything in particular, though. Pretty much just about the life that I’ve lived.”
Well that was a vague answer if I’d ever heard one.
“If you ever want to talk…” I left the offer hanging in the air between us, but he didn’t say anything more about the subject, so I assumed it was closed.
He came to a stop on a rise, a large ravine-type thing was down below us with a shit load of old furniture and household items in it.
“This your old dumping grounds?” I asked, amusement tinting my voice.
“Nope. That looks fairly new, though. Not any leaves or anything on it. Motherfucker.” he growled. “Looks like I’ll have to make a trip around the property line. You game?”
I nodded. “Sure, why not. What’s a little frostbite, anyway?”
He winked at my teasing. “Keep your eye out for tracks. They couldn’t have gotten all this down here without a truck.”
I nodded and we started walking once again.
My hands were planted in the light jacket’s pockets, and my head was down, studying the ground around me.
“What’s this from?” I asked, pointing to where the ground was uprooted for as far as I could see.
“Wild hogs. They’re pretty rampant around here, that’s why, in the state of Texas, they’re allowed to be hunted all year long.”
We came up on a large rise with a small embankment on it, and I was surprised to find a large creek running like a small lazy river.
“Wow,” I said in surprise. “I didn’t realize you had a creek on your property.”
He shrugged. “Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I think there must be a beaver or something up stream that stops it from flowing all that well. The last time I was here it was nothing more than a trickle. The water goes all the way down to the Sabine River, which is about six miles that way,” he pointed with his fingers to the horizon. “As the crow flies.”
“You should go searching to see if there really is a beaver dam. Then blow the fucker to smithereens,” I hesitated. “The dam…not the beaver.”
He tossed me a grin. “If I don’t off the beaver, there’ll just be another dam in a few weeks’ time.”
I shrugged. “I suppose you could do whatever you wanted to do. But just make sure I don’t see you kill the damn beaver.”
He chuckled and continued to walk, grabbing my hand as we went.
He helped me over numerous downed logs, trees, and generally rough ground. However not one time did we see any breaks in the fence, nor any tracks.
“Whose property is that?” I asked, indicating the fence that looked different from the rest.
“Prescott’s land. He’s surrounded his entire property with that frou-frou shit. It had to have cost him a fuckin’ fortune.” He shook his head.
The whole thing was made of steel, and there was an intricate interwoven design at the top that spelled out the name ‘Prescott’ every three feet or so.
“The man obviously has too much money. How many acres does this span?” I asked in awe.
Seriously, this fence had to have cost a freakin’ fortune!
“He owns all the property from where the fence starts, all the way down my property line. His land butts up to the highway on the North side,” he explained.
As I envisioned this, I couldn’t hold back the awe. “Wow, that’s a lot of land.”
He nodded and we turned the final corner that led us along the fence that lined the highway.
“It is. I’m still unclear how this land got separated from the break up between my mother and Prescott. But, I guess, I should just be thankful that I have it,” Downy muttered darkly.
He sounded bitter, and I really didn’t blame him.
There had to be more to the story than what he was told, and I’m sure it was his pride that held him back from asking either his mom or Prescott himself.
Whatever the case, I didn’t bring it up again that day, and I’d be regretting not pressing the issue when I had the chance.
Especially since the night we got home from his place, he completely locked me out of not only his thoughts, but from his sight as well.
It’d be another three days before I heard from him again.