The Turners and the Tudors settled land grants given to them after the Revolutionary War, for services rendered. The grants were located in the hills west of Brattle Town, located on the Connecticut River. The Tudors had the much better land to clear, with several level sections. The Turners had the larger parcel, but it had ravines and ledges interspersed with smaller pieces of level land. The Turners were the more prolific, the family units having more offspring.
Over the centuries the parcels were divided again and yet again, as the male members grew up and needed homes of their own. In the 1990's, the land parcels owned by the original settlers, had been diminished. Timothy Tudor held one hundred acres and Buck Turner owned seventeen acres. These two friends were direct descendants of the original grantees.
The Tudor holdings still consisted of a set of buildings, about fifty acres of fields, with an equal amount in woodland. The Turner holding was just a cut-over timberlot adjacent to the back of the Tudor property. It had no access to a road or a deeded right-of-way and it was considered landlocked. Ma and Pa Turner lived in rented property in town after they sold the original farmhouse. In 1991 both passed away leaving the woodlot to seventeen-year-old Buck and his twin sister, Beauty.
Beauty was not only the girl's name, it also described her, for that was what she was--a beauty. Tim Tudor, same age, same class in school, sparked her and was successful. Madly in love, they were married when Tim and Beauty turned eighteen. They moved in with his parents on the family farm.
Buck and Tim were friends--sort of. They were always trying to one up each other and were able to do this on occasion. It started when Tim swapped a jackknife to Buck that was supposedly the finest knife ever made. Maybe it was at one time but at the time the swap was made it had a broken blade. A coon dog was traded to Tim, one he had always admired, but when delivered, had the colic and died three days later.
A shotgun to Buck--a beautiful firearm, but it had no firing pin and the company that made it was out of business. And then there was the '62 Chevy that Tim bought from Buck that ran perfectly, burned no oil and had no engine knocks. When Tim changed the oil, though, he found that Buck had loaded the crankcase with heavy gear oil to hide these defects. It was all in fun, and any resentment drifted away over a few beers and some laughter.
Joy reigned when Beauty informed Tim that they were going to have a baby in about eight months. Tim, the last of the Tudors, and Buck and Beauty, the last of the Turners, were ecstatic over the news that the joined bloodlines would be carried on. Tim and Buck celebrated the coming event by getting falling down drunk. Then came sadness and heartbreak into both boys' lives. Beauty, the love of Tim's life, died of pneumonia a month after the celebration. Tim had held his wife's hand through it all, finally realizing there was no hope and he was going to lose her.
Regaining consciousness for a few minutes, Beauty spoke. "Tim you have made me so happy every day we have been together. I am so sad to be leaving you, and I regret taking your son with me. Somehow, I know you will find happiness someday. I may even come to you in your dreams. Tell Buck goodbye for me." The fetus went with its mother into the grave. Buck was as devastated as Tim at the loss of his twin. Without family, he became a nomad, going from job to job around the country, just showing up to spend a few days with Tim.
Six months later Tim's dad died in a tractor accident on the farm and his mother followed her husband that same winter. Tim, the more settled of the two friends, took a job working in the office of a grocery store chain. His land was rented out to a farmer and the only use he made of the home place was to cut wood for the stove and have a place to sleep.
Lonely, Tim rarely went into the bedroom where he and Beauty had found such happiness together. The room was closed and avoided since her death almost two years ago. Tim moved a cot into the huge country kitchen and a comfortable overstuffed chair back into the corner where he could watch the TV perched on the sideboard. The bathroom was off the kitchen, so these two rooms were where Tim existed. The neighbors thought Tim was a bit eccentric and speculated on how long he could exist like this.
Buck showed up two years after Beauty's death and asked Tim to help him get an old travel trailer he had bought down across Tim's woodlot to his seventeen acres. Several trees had to be cut and it took a farmer's big tractor to haul it back to the secluded property. Tim was glad to oblige when his friend said he needed a place to call home and although it wasn't much, it was something. The trailer was set up near a spring in the only small clearing. A person could camp there for a short time and it suited the owner's lifestyle. When Buck walked into where his trailer was located, he didn't have to pass by Tim's house. Tim was seldom aware when he was around.
Eight o'clock one morning in early September, Tim opened his door to Buck. His brother-in-law had some papers in his hand. "Tim, you said one time if I ever wanted to sell that property of mine, you'd buy it. I'm ready to sell and I'll give you a deal. I want four thousand for it."
"Way too much Buck, I'll give you two thousand. How come you want to sell?"
"I got a job in Texas, but I have to get there soon or I'll lose it. Come on, you know the land is worth more than that."
"Not to me it isn't. It's cut-over and won't have any timber on it for years."
"Well it has the trailer on it. You can rent it out for a hunting camp."
"Maybe I can go twenty-five hundred, but no more."
"Tim, I need three thousand anyway. I'll tell you what. I have a bred heifer down there and she's got a young one by her side. I'll throw both in and all the tools laying around, if you give me another five hundred."
"What's the cow's name?" Tim was suspicious, wondering from past dealings if there really was an animal.
"Bertha. She ain't too pretty, but she's a shapely thing."
"How long before she calves?"
"I bred her two months ago. You figure it out. I'll have to sell her anyway 'cause I can't feed her through the winter."
"What am I going to do with an animal like that? I got no use for her. You sell her."
"But I must head for Texas if I'm going to have that job. Look, you buy her. She's easily worth two or three hundred more than the five. You can keep the extra."
"Three thousand. Well I guess so. You got the papers there? We'll get them recorded this morning and I'll give you the money. Buck, you better not be screwing me, or I'll come to Texas after you."
Tim was late for work, but still not trusting his late wife's brother, he wanted to see Buck off to Texas on the bus. The final words that were said, "You better go down to the trailer and feed your heifer tonight."
Tim ate when he got home and taking a rope and halter, he headed down through the woods to his new property. Not seeing the cow in the clearing, he walked around the trailer. There were no droppings and no hay. Sitting down on the step to the trailer he was thinking how Buck had done him in again.
Suddenly the door behind him opened and he felt something cold on his neck. "Okay mister, you better tell me what you're doing poking around. My husband will be back in about five minutes and he better not find you here. Don't turn around or I'll blow your head off." There was a woman behind him, speaking.
Tim sat perfectly still as he contemplated this new development. Sorting everything out in his mind he said, "I bet your name is Bertha, isn't it?" There was no answer. "You probably have a little kid here with you too, don't you?" Still no answer. "I also have a feeling you got knocked up about two months ago. Buck said he was the father."
This brought a gasp. He got up and turned around. The woman was still pointing the gun at him. "That gun wouldn't hurt me much unless you hit me with it. It won't shoot because it doesn't have a firing pin in it." Tears were beginning to run down the woman's face. Clutching the woman's leg, he could see a little girl of about four staring at him. She looked nearly scared to death.
Tim looked the woman over. Well she wasn't a pig anyway. Her hands and face were clean and he could see that she had brushed her hair although it did need washing. The little girl had a clean face too. God, it must be a chore to keep this clean with the absence of facilities.
Tim backed up and sat down on a log that was pulled close to the trailer. "Come out and sit. I think Buck pulled a fast one on me--you too for that matter. Let's decide what is best for you because you can't stay here. Buck is gone. He is on his way to Texas, and miles and miles from here by now."
"What do you mean? He goes away sometimes, but he always comes back. I don't even know where I am. What will we do?" There was disbelief and worry and despair.
Tim thought, "Damn Buck, he did it to me again. I'll never learn. I should have known he wouldn't have a cow down here in the woods."
This woman he was looking at was shapely. Buck was right about that. Then Tim could see what he meant when he said she wasn't pretty. She had a scar that traveled from her left eyebrow, down her neck and disappeared into the sweatshirt she had on. The red scar tissue was ugly. The woman must have gone through hell with the pain. It also gave her face an evil cast if you looked at her from the side.
"I hate my life. I wish I was dead. The first chance I get I'm going to kill myself."
.... There is more of this story ...