Chapter 33: Harvest Time

Copyright© 2009 by Jujubees

The Farmer's Co-op gathered the fresh fruits and vegetables they grew over the summer and set up a Farmer's Market on Simon Beal's property, which was near town. The men spent every night building makeshift stands out of scrap lumber to hold the produce. Cade took Harley with him to help build the stands and set up the farmer's market. He noticed that Harley had an aptitude for building, and his heart swelled with pride.

Everyone spent five or six Saturdays selling the produce each had grown. Cade was late harvesting his crops, but with the help of his small family, he managed and it gave him a sense of pride to realize he had not only planted the seeds, but had grown something edible from them.

Angie managed to make sure that she and Lonnie had a large garden. They had some very nice produce, despite their neglect. Lonnie had sprayed a couple of times for bugs, but other than that, all they did was water the crops when they remembered. Callie wondered if Angie was wonder woman sometimes, with everything she did.

Callie felt like a farmer's wife, as they put the produce in baskets in the back of the truck so they could take it to the Farmer's Market to sell. When they unpacked the produce, Jessica strutted around with her chest puffed out and an important look on her face. "We're selling carrots and squash," Jessica informed the other kids. "What are you selling?"

"We're selling corn and tomatoes," A boy Jessica's age named Nathan retorted.

"Well our carrots are better than your stupid corn and tomatoes," Jessica snapped.

"They are not," Nathan became angry.

"They are too," Jessica said.

Cade listened to them bicker and wondered if Jessica had finally met her match. Soon the two of them were pushing one another and Nathan's dad quickly intervened, "Nathan," he boomed, "You do not to treat a girl that way, now go sit in the back of the truck."

Cade watched as Nathan kicked the dirt and sauntered off with his head bowed. Jessica had a smirk on her face, and Cade didn't like it. "Jessica," Cade said sternly.

Jessica stiffened as Cade took her by the hand and led her away. "Don't taunt the other kids like that, do you hear me?"

"What does taunt mean?" Jessica asked.

"It means telling them our vegetables are better than theirs. Even if you think that's true, you can't say it. Behave yourself, or I'll warm that little bottom of yours, do you hear me? Now go sit over there by your sister Ashley and stay out of trouble." He pointed in Ashley's direction and Jessica frowned and did as Cade instructed.

Ashley was sitting on a stump talking to Lisa, and they stopped giggling when Jessica joined them. "What are you talking about?" Jessica asked.

"None of your business," Ashley quipped.

Jessica stuck out her lower lip and pouted. She didn't want to sit by Ashley, but the penalty for disobeying was not enticing, so she folded her arms and plopped down, frowning at her dad. Ashley and Lisa giggled and began whispering so Jessica couldn't hear them talk about the boys at school.

Harley enjoyed playing with the other boys his age, and creating a little mischief. He ran around wildly and Cade grinned as he watched him, remembering how he and his friends had once terrorized the streets of the neighborhood where he had grown up. Part of him envied Harley for being so young and carefree.

Cade noticed Jessica's pout, and wondered where she would end up in life if she continued to have such a strong will. Whenever Seth had been upset with Cade for his behavior, he had received a whipping, but Cade didn't have the heart to do that to Jessica. For one thing, he didn't think she fully understood what the problem was, and for another, he didn't have the heart. However, he didn't know what else to do with her. He shook his head and turned back to what he was doing. Being a father wasn't easy.

The Co-op distributed flyers throughout the town, and people showed up in droves to buy the fresh produce. Whatever produce was left over at the end of the day, one of the Co-op members toted 30 miles north to a homeless shelter and food bank and donated it.

Ideally, Callie felt she should have known how to take advantage of the harvest by bottling some of the vegetables for the winter, but that was way beyond her skills. She watched Angie do some bottling and she was mystified. Angie would fill the bottles with tomatoes, green beans, and all sorts of fruit and vegetables, and then she steamed the bottles to seal them. Callie helped Angie with the process a few times, but she wasn't about to try doing something like that on her own. Cade teased her about not being a real farmer's wife because she didn't bottle their vegetables, but Callie ignored him. She knew he didn't expect her to bottle their vegetables, but someday she wanted to learn how.

Cade was pleased that Callie had finally learned to gossip with the other women instead of flirting with their husbands. She stayed away from the men, and fortunately, Peter Marchbanks wasn't there. Cade had never asked her the identity of the man that she cheated with, and she didn't bother to tell him.

The second week they were there, Drake Pennington drove up in his expensive Cadillac. He pretended to be interested in the produce, but there was an anxious feeling among the crowd, because obviously he was not there to shop for produce. Finally, he approached Cade's booth, and Jessica looked up at him. "My dad's got the best carrots and squash."

Drake grinned, "Is that so little lady."

"It is," Jessica insisted, and then she remembered Drake Pennington from the town meeting. "Hey you're that mean man at that meeting," she said, and hid behind her dad.

Lonnie was standing nearby and looked as if he were about to tell Drake Pennington off, but Angie lightly touched his arm to remind him that wouldn't be a good idea.

Drake took out a cigar and lit it. "Fine daughter you have there Harrison," he hissed. It continued to gall Drake that Cade could produce children, and he couldn't.

"What can I help you with?" Cade asked in a calm voice.

Drake spat in the dirt, "I'd like a word with you in private, if you can spare it."

Cade followed Drake to a nearby clearing. "What can I do for you?" Cade asked.

Drake puffed on his cigar, "Cut the crap Harrison."

"What?" Cade asked, and furrowed his brow.

"I want you to leave town," Drake said, and he was obviously not in the mood to mince words. "This is your last warning. If you and those brats you call kids, don't leave town and go back to the city, your family and everyone around you will suffer for it."

Cade stared at him. "Are you threatening me? What did I do to you?"

Drake glared at him and then turned and walked away. "Consider yourself warned," he called over his shoulder as he walked to his car.

Cade stared at him. The time for a showdown was drawing closer. Drake was just like every bully Cade had ever known. He knew how to hit a person where they lived. Hurting Cade's family and friends was the worst thing Pennington could do to Cade.

Callie walked over to Cade after Drake Pennington was gone, "what did that bastard want?'

"To threaten me," Cade said with disdain.

Callie began to panic inside. Lonnie and Angie joined them. "What did he say to you?" Lonnie asked.

Cade wondered if he should tell them and he stood looking at Lonnie, considering his words carefully, "He asked me to leave town," Cade said.

"That jerk," Angie sneered.

"I hope you're not considering it," Lonnie said.

"How can I not consider it?" Cade asked. "If I left here it would make the rest of your lives peaceful."

"Bullshit," Angie squawked. "Our lives were a mess before you arrived. If you left, it would go back to the way it was with no one daring to stand up to Drake Pennington. Then he could continue to pick us off one at a time."

Cade considered her words. He felt unnerved by Drake's visit and suddenly all he wanted to do was leave the market so he could think. Harley was running around had although it had amused Cade earlier, it suddenly annoyed him. "Stop chasing around," he hollered at Harley.

Harley skidded to a stop and stared at his dad.

"Why don't you go home," Angie suggested when she saw the fire in Cade's eyes. "Lonnie and I will sell the rest of your produce and bring you your share of the money."

Cade realized it was best if they left, so he stomped over to his truck and got inside. Callie and the kids followed and they went home. Jessica began to whine almost immediately when they left the market. "Why can't we stay?"

"Hush," Callie warned. Harley and Ashley realized it was better to be quiet and they both tried to fade into the background, because they had seldom seen Cade this angry.

Cade pulled the truck into the driveway and everyone quickly got out and went inside the house, except for Cade who went out to the garage instead. He needed time to cool down. He sat at the old workbench and looked around. He had figured out from old photographs and his own observations that the old garage had originally been a large barn. The beams were made of heavy wood. It was a strong structure, and it had stood there through generations, along with the house.

Cade wasn't certain what to do about Drake Pennington. As he looked back on his life, he felt he had struggled for as long as he could remember. First, he struggled for survival, growing up in a neighborhood that was dangerous. He was terrified of the neighborhood, and even more terrified of his stepfather. His mother had always used drugs or alcohol, and she had never been there for him or her other children. Cade got a reputation as a criminal at a young age, but he didn't care.

In prison, the humiliation and degradation was horrible. His friend Brett had helped him learn to survive, but it wasn't until Cade got the letter and the deed to the house and property from the attorney's office, that he realized there might be a chance for him to have a new life.

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