The months, the days, and the years as they come along, are important to this story.
Grady had a long term friend, Ed, who passed away. He is taking care of the estate until a niece of Ed's, named Katherine, shows up to claim her inheritance. The two don't hit it off that well. Different personalities build resentment between them, but they do agree to exchange Christmas cards.
June, 17, 2002, Grady Potter, Tatum Road. Brattleboro, VT, 05301
I was driving home from town and could see a person trudging up the hill ahead of me. The person was woman. She was young and attractive. There were only two properties on the road; mine, and the Ed Tatum place. Ed's place was at the end of the road.
Further along past Ed's place was a thrown up road that had reverted to Ed many years ago. You could define it now, but in another few years it would disappear altogether. Ed told me about it, and where it went to. It was over – over the hill to a cluster of farms from when the area was settled a century and a-half-ago. Much like the road, evidence of the buildings would soon be long gone. He took me over there one time to see the cellar holes.
I went past the woman and stopped ahead of her, waiting for her to reach me. I leaned out and asked, "Would you like a ride?"
"I don't know you."
"No, I don't expect you do. I think I know who you are though. If I'm not mistaken, you would be Ed Tatum's niece, Katherine. He talked of you some. I've been expecting someone to come and take over his place."
"I could use a lift. How far is it from here? I thought sure there would be cars on the road. There is a road sign stating this is, Tatum Road."
"Nobody but me and Ed have lived on this road for years. Ed is dead, so there isn't much travel. I will be glad to have a neighbor again. I was getting lonely up here all by myself." I glanced at her and could see how attractive she was.
"Well, you may still be. I don't plan on being too friendly and I don't know if I'm staying. I would like, though, to avail myself of the ride you offered." I didn't say anything, just leaning across the seat to open the door when she went around to the passenger's side. She pulled the suitcase onto her lap as she sat down and proceeded to look straight ahead. She didn't ask my name and I didn't volunteer it. Why should I? I felt pushed away even when I was trying to be friendly and helpful.
I went right by my house and a quarter mile further, I wheeled into the Tatum yard. "We're here. I've been doing chores until somebody came to take over. You're here and that ends what I've agreed to. Your goats will need feeding in another hour. Feed and close them in for the night. Directions are posted near the feed box.
"The biggest goat with teats needs milking, and you had better gather the eggs. The hens run loose and lay eggs everywhere. Hunt for them around the yard. It's best to gather them or the snakes will get them. A snake trying to swallow an egg is a sight. I've heard one egg will be food a whole week for most snakes. Oh, the key to the side door is under the third rock." I drove off, leaving her staring after me. I knew I would see her later.
I was right. It was almost dark when she knocked on my door. I backed away from the stove and went to the door. "Yes?"
"You're a mean bastard, did you know that?"
"Yep, I sure am. Miss Kitty, come on in and have some supper. Actually I have hope for you. I thought you would be here an hour before this. Let me introduce myself. I'm Gary Potter. Most people just call me Potter."
"I'm pleased to know you even if you are an unpleasant individual. I'm Katherine Tatum. Ed Tatum was my father's uncle. I was here one time before I went to grade school. That's the only time I ever met him. Uncle Ed left his property to me. Why, I have no idea."
"I know why. You were his only living relative. He was always hoping you would come to see him."
"You evidently were his friend. Being that, I can see why you could resent me after meeting me and knowing I didn't visit when I should have."
"Some, I guess, but that wasn't the only reason. I mean I offered you a ride and you accepted and then said you didn't intend to be friendly. Also I'm still waiting for a thank you for giving you a lift. But then I have been an asshole too, so maybe we had better wait a little before we trade any more unpleasant barbs."
"I agree we had better get to know each other more than we do now. I realize, not becoming acquainted with my uncle was a missed opportunity. I take it you probably aren't going to call me Katherine. Call me Kitty, although I'm not that awful fond of it."
"Okay, I do know we aren't going to shed any blood over our differences. Sit up to the table. I have meat, vegetables and mashed potatoes. I can even dig up some wine if you would like. How about some apple cider? I keep some in a cask in the cellar. I brought some up earlier."
"I haven't eaten since breakfast. The food smells wonderful, and I will try the cider."
Kitty was hungry. I had the cider in a pitcher and she was pouring herself another glass as she emptied the one by her plate. "Hey, this is pretty good stuff. Did you make it yourself?"
"I did, and it was Ed who showed me how. It's pressed from his apples too. You have an orchard of trees back of your house. The cider might have more kick to it than you realize, so be careful."
"I can handle this easily. I'll bet if we become friends, someday I'll be drinking you under the table."
"We'll have to become friends first."
"I'll agree to that. Say, what is this meat, it's really tasty? It has more bones than chicken."
"It's not chicken, it's rabbit. I raise both types of rabbits – meat type, and the kind for fur."
"Oh, my God, you mean I'm eating one of those cute little bunnies?"
"That's right. Don't be shocked because you will be raising meat to eat too, if you stay here and keep farming."
"What am I raising for meat?"
"What do you think all those goats you fed this afternoon are for?"
"Oh, I didn't milk that goat. I don't know how. Potter, tell me it isn't so?"
"It is so. Oh, I should have cautioned you about the big goat that was in the separate pen. You should be careful around him."
"Why?" Kitty was beginning to slur her speech.
"Because he's dangerous. He could knock you down and trample all over you. He's dangerous to everyone and not just to women either."
"You haven't answered why or how?"
"Have you heard the expression, 'something as a Billy goat"? Kitty looked bewildered. Maybe it was the cider she had been drinking. It took her a few minutes, and then her face flamed. I continued while smiling, "I'm just saying the animal has horns and he can hurt you, so be careful."
"You're awful. I'm not going to play with you anymore. Potter, I need to borrow a flashlight to get home with. There is no electricity and I guess there may be a pump for the water 'cause there isn't any coming from the faucets." Kitty tried to stand and was having a problem. I caught her when she began to tip over.
She mumbled something, I deciphered it as something about me having my way with her, but she didn't care. This was when she snuggled into the arms that were holding her.
I carried Kitty into the spare bedroom and laid her down on the bed. I took her shoes off and threw a comforter over her. I went out and drove up to Ed's place. She had fed the goats, but with only me knowing where the chickens nested I could see she hadn't picked up many eggs. I didn't look too hard for them in the dark after I stepped on one I hadn't seen.
I went into the house and down into the cellar. This was a rambling old farm house and the cellar had never been cemented. It was a bit dank although tight enough to keep water from coming in. There were old cupboards beyond the wood burning furnace filled with empty fruit jars. Also there were broken chairs and tools here and there stacked out of the walk way.
Spider webs and dust hung from the ceiling and had taken over the corners. You couldn't go through a door without it getting onto your face and in your hair.
The electric entrance was at the far end of the cellar and it would take a brave person with only a flash light to search for it if you didn't know where it was located. I pushed the switch on and heard the water pump start.
I opened the cellar windows and then went up stairs and opened all the windows that had screens on. I did the same with the second story. I looked around and guessed the place would be okay until Kitty got home in the morning.
I wondered what Kitty would be using for a vehicle. It was six miles to the center of town. It must be that Ed's lawyer had contacted Kitty and she would need to see him. I was looking forward to see how she was going to handle all these problems that were facing her.
I looked in on her sleeping. She was on her back snoring with her mouth wide open. I positioned her on her side to be more comfortable. The bathroom was across from the bedroom so I left that door open with the night-light on. I closed my door and went to sleep.
I was up at my usual 5 o'clock time to feed my rabbits. I checked to see if I had any new bunnies which I didn't. I would have to move a couple of the does today, but would do that later. It took me over an hour to complete my chores.
I went in and started coffee. I heard the toilet flush soon after it was done. I poured a cup of coffee and put it on the table. I started doing last night's dishes. I heard the chair behind me scrape, but didn't turn around immediately.
.... There is more of this story ...