Authors: TJ Reeder
Tags: #Genre Fiction, #War, #Action & Adventure, #Literature & Fiction
The Free Republic of Texas
Looking back on it I guess you could say it was a nice day in East Texas. not too hot yet but needing some rain. I expect it will come, always does. the breeze in the tall Pines and big Oaks that make up this part of Texas was welcome. as was the quiet gentle sound of it all.
Life here in the small community of Dog Trot ( named after a style of house built here since the days of the founding of the Republic of Texas) was real nice.
250 people living quietly, nobody rich, nobody starving. The elderly are cared for by everybody if they have no close by family and even if they do.
In other words it’s a real nice place to grow up and to live your life. Of course if you’re into big city lights you have to travel 25 miles or so. (Big city of 15000 folks)
The town while not set up with a mayor and city council nor any of that stuff still has the kind of folks that will work together.
Like getting the fire truck and the ambulance. Folks just chipped in what they could. The Jonas brothers used their small garage to do all the work on rebuilding both units. Damn near from the ground up.
Then some of the boys from the high school auto shop class got permission to do the body work and painting as a class project for grades and the shop teacher was right there making sure no short cuts were taken.
Them kids done a bang up job! Dog trot has the sweetest emergency services equipment for many a mile around and we’re proud of it too and of the folks coming together to get it done.
I guess you’re kinda getting the picture of a nice town filled with good folks who want to live and let live. But not the kind to be run over by anybody.
It was coffee time at the Early Bird café. Meaning just about all day if ya know what I mean.
The front screen door squeaked open and a man walked in out of the sun and stood blinking for a bit. A few of the locals sorta stared, some didn’t. What with him being a stranger to the town.
He sat down and ordered breakfast. Looked around a bit, nodded to the ones looking at him and never said a word cept for his order. He picked up the area paper and read it while eating his breakfast. Left money on the table. nodded again and walked out.
Well there wasn’t nothing too strange about that cept he was the first stranger to come into the café in distant memory what with us being so off the beaten track so to speak.
And now the locals did have something to talk about besides the usual, is it gonna rain, gonna blow, the fire that broke out 2 months ago outside of town and how the town fire truck and crew got out there and put it out. Saving 25 lives. Of course it was a barn and most of the lives was chickens and barn cats and a milk cow. But we was real proud of the fire truck and crew.
Well sir, next day at dead on 7:00 am the door squeaked open and there came the stranger again. He smiled and nodded, fetched the paper and ordered breakfast, same thing as the day before, and the next day and the next for 2 weeks running.
Now the café was getting a lot more business for breakfast cause half the town was coming in to watch to see if this feller came in again, they even left his table open, whole place full and an empty table sitting there, well he would just walk in and smile and nod and Miss Ellie who had stopped asking him what he wanted to eat would bring his breakfast out as soon as he sit down, she had him timed to a tee! Yes sir that ol boy was running like the trains were supposed to.
On the morning of the 15
day the door opened Miss Ellie headed for the empty table and the stranger saw the paper was already on the table, That Miss Ellie was really having fun with this ol boy, the whole room was smiling .
But then the feller stopped before sitting and looked around the room, met every eye in the place, then he smiled as usual but instead of nodding he said in a pleasant fairly deep voice, Good morning, my name is Jody Brown, I just moved into the old Harmond place out a ways. Then he sat down and ate, well we all sat there looking at each other wondering how this could be?
The Harmond place was about a half mile out of town, in a bend of the river, in fact if the river bent any more it would be on an island. It was a really nice place, great big old oaks, and tall pines like all of this area, it had a small but nice old house made from logs cut off the land when it was cleared, big logs too, I’d bet they was 2 ft thick, the place was about 100 acres and everybody for 150 miles around had tried to buy it at one time or the other, Myself included. The place had been empty since Granny Harmond had passed on 2 years before, an outfit from the city 25 miles away kept the brush and weeds cut back and the house closed up good, the Deputy who patrolled this part of the county would check on the locked gate most every night.
Now you can’t see the place from the county road that goes by because of the trees and it being clear at the back of the land on a small hill right above the river, above any possible flood which had never happened due to the lay of the land.
Well after this bomb shell was dropped you could hear a pin drop and it was several minutes before the talk started up again, Now me, being the newest resident at that time, having only been around for 10 years decided that it was time to stop all the wondering going on, so I stood up and walked over to Mr. brown and introduced myself, He stood up and took my offered hand and with a firm grip said he was happy to meet me and invited me to take a sit, I was being looked at by the rest of the folks like I might either be siding with the devil or maybe finding out things they could later on torture out of me.. That was a joke folks… maybe
Miss Ellie brought my coffee to me and winked at me; she’s a beauty and has been for most of her 75 years! Every man in the country at one time or the other had a thing for Miss Ellie, but she had only had eyes for a young feller who went of to some war somewhere and never came back so to speak, she puts flowers on his grave several times a year.
Mr. Brown, or Jody as he said to call him finished his breakfast while I sipped my coffee and waited, when he was done he sat back and looked at me and said, I guess you have some questions huh? Well I’ll tell ya; even the ceiling fan stopped making a sound.
He kinda turned his chair and looking around the room a bit then said, My Mom was Granny Harmonds great niece and when she died she left the place to my mom, who lives in California and has no interest in the place so she signed it over to me when I retired from the service a few months ago, After almost 30 years in the Marines I decided I needed some quiet so I came here looked it over for a few days then left to get my life in order before coming back to live.
Well folks were starting to chatter amongst themselves and Jody took the moment to have some coffee, when it quieted down he said, I plan to stay here and make this my home, I want and need some peace and quiet in my life and this is as nice and quiet as I’ve seen in 20 years.
He then said he had some plans for the place and would be turning it into a working small self supporting place, which didn’t seem to matter to most anybody as they all were self supporting so to speak.
He then stood up and said he needed to get home and start his plan for the future such as it was going to be… now that right there sounded funny at least to me and a few others but he had nodded and said he was happy to meet us all, and walked out.
Well 2 weeks would go by before Jody came back into the Early Bird and headed towards his table, which already had the paper on it and Miss Ellie walked out of the kitchen with his breakfast, now this was sorta spooky to us regular folks, how is it she had placed his paper there and poured the coffee not 30 seconds before the door opened and had his breakfast ready?? This was, well it was out of the normal of our lives and was unsettling so to speak.
Jody said good morning to the room and settled down, when he was thru eating he looked over at me and sorta moved his head in invite so I took my coffee over and settled down, He quietly asked a lot of questions, about the area, the weather, the crops, the traffic thru the area, a lot of things that while not being strange were a bit out of the normal type questions a person asks.
I answered his questions as best I could and all in all we had a pleasant talk, as he prepared to leave he said he would see me in a few days. And sure nuff 3 days later he came in at 7:00 am said Howdy to the room and settled down to the waiting cup of coffee and smiled at Miss Ellie who was placing his plate before him, he looked over at me and inclined his head for me to join him which I did about 10 seconds before Miss Ellie sat my plate in front of me, and me not having ordered yet. Ever hear that Twilight zone tune? Ever have it just start playing in your head? Well sir mine was playing real loud!
Jody and I ate quietly and finished and was sipping the hot coffee, when he said sorta quietly, Sam ( OH… by the by that’s me, Sam Travis sorry I never said so yet) I’d like for you to come out to my place this late afternoon if you would so we can have a nice quiet talk, are you game? Well I was a bit taken aback but said sure I will, about 5 or so? That was fine and he took his leave.
Well the day was a long one for sure waiting for 5:00 pm to arrive but it did and I headed out there, when I got there the first thing I saw was a new gate, the kind you have to have a number coded into but there was a button so I pushed it and the gate slowly opened, looking around I saw the camera back a ways up on a pole. So I drove on in and after getting thru the shield of timber and brush I passed thru the hay fields and shortly arrived at the house which still looked like it had for almost 100 years, and still as sound, It was of course built on the dog trot styling, I had not been out here for several years but was still in love with the place, it just had / has that something that makes you want to just sit on the porch and rock with a smile on your mug.
Well Jody came out on the wrap around porch which was screened against the bugs and said welcome and come in, after we were settled on the porch in some real nice comfortable chairs the door opened and a small lady in her 20’s or maybe early 30’s came out with a tray of ice tea and glass’s.
I tried to not stare but it’s seldom you see a 5 ft tall Asian woman with tribal tattoos on her face and dressed in a long skirt and a simple top wrapped around her chest and no shoe’s. At least in East Texas! I started to stand up but Jody motioned me to remain sitting, he said something to her in a strange singsong language that made her laugh, he then said her name was, well to me it sounded like “Sing” which Jody said was close enough because it was hard to say if you weren’t raised speaking it.
She smiled a very nice smile at me and with not a whisper of noise was gone, even the screened door didn’t squeak.
I was bound and determined that I would not speak first so the silence drifted on for several minutes, when at last Jody kinda settled into his chair and looking me in the eye said, Sam you more then anybody around here know that some very bad times are coming to America, a lot from our enemies from the middle east and a lot from our country’s enemies in Washington DC.
I mean just like that, boom right on the table! It was the first but not the last time I was surprised by this man who flat had no bullshit in him, he didn’t say it if it wasn’t true, and he never hedged on saying it right out loud for the world to hear and either accept or not.
I sat there and just stared at him for a bunch of heart beats, and he just looked at me right in the eyes with those bright green cat eyes of his and he waited until I finely got my wits about me and not knowing what else to do just nodded yes.
And with that he began talking about things most folks never heard of in their lives, life after some very bad event, how would folks survive? How would they be able to keep from starving? Live without gas to keep warm, to run their farm equipment with, how would it be if there was no lights, no electricity? No freezers? In other words what if here in 2009 it just was suddenly 1809 or 99? How would today’s people survive? More importantly how many would make it?
He talked about the lost skills folks used to have, farming with a mule, a team pulling a wagon, who even knew how to harness such? Who could even make a set of harness? How many women today could sew? Without an electric machine? How many old treadle machines were there around? What if tomorrow you woke up and your car wouldn’t run, nobody’s car would run? The lights were out, and weren’t coming back on?
Well sir, we sat there and he talked and I listened, then he asked me to try to answer the questions, all I could do was shake my head and shrug, and ask why me?