Sarah lay in her small lumpy bed crying so hard the whole bed shook. Her dowdy looking mother was caressing her head as she, too cried silently. "Sarah, Honey, I'm so sorry but we just have to be really good to Daddy Stan. We need him to help us live. You know I didn't go to college and since your Daddy died I can't make enough waiting tables to take care of us. You know you have to do whatever Daddy Stan tells you to do when he tells you to do it. You know you can't just tell him in a minute. Now let me see where he hit you and maybe I can make it better. Here, take these pain pills now honey."
Sarah's Mother Julianne looked at the slowly darkening spots on her 16-year-old daughters face and chest. She seethed in anger. She thought it's bad enough he hits me but to hit my little girl ... Damn that man. If I could just get a little ahead I would take Sarah and leave. Oh why did Harry have to drive so carelessly coming home from his last job? She knew it was partly her fault. She had been so insistent he arrive in time to take her to that damn party. She still remembered her anger the night he died. She had dressed in her best dress and was stomping around the house screaming about how inconsiderate he was to just blow off the party for his damn job when the policeman knocked on the door.
"Mrs. Howell," he had asked. When she had said she was he continued, "Mrs. Howell I'm afraid your husband Harry has had an automobile accident. Ma'am, I'm afraid he is dead."
She screamed out her hurt and collapsed on the couch crying. Of course friends and family gathered around and somehow she managed to get through the funeral but then the real terror hit. She had been so insistent about them always having the best. They lived in a large 4-bedroom house in the best development. They drove new luxury vehicles and went to the best restaurants. She had no idea how expensive those things really were. After all, Harry was supposed to provide them and he did at her insistence.
She was already behind on the house payments when she finally received the insurance settlements. The settlement on the vehicle just barely paid it off, and then finally she received the life insurance settlement on Harry. Things were better for three years but by the end of the third year it became obvious, even to her, that she couldn't continue to live the life she had been. For some reason, none of the men she had dated had asked her to marry. It never entered her mind that it might be because she was so shallow. She always demanded the best on her dates and if they didn't provide it she let them know how dissatisfied she was with their efforts. Few of her relationships lasted more than a month or so. The last year she had not even had a date.
Or, sure, she finally bit the bullet and tried to find work but the jobs she would consider she was not hired for. They all told her she was not hired because she did not have the proper qualifications. That was a bunch of bunk in her opinion. She knew a lot of people that didn't have a college degree and they made good money.
Finally, the bank foreclosed and she lost her beautiful house. She and Sarah were forced to live in a squalid apartment in the hated low-income developments. Like many low-income people she and Sarah moved frequently. Finally Julianne lost her pride and took a job as a waitress in a small café. It was in a blue-collar neighborhood with a lot of factories, warehouses and squalid apartments. She rapidly learned that if she dressed like a slut the men would leave her some better tips. She did not receive the tips she could have earned had she been working in an upscale restaurant; you know, like the ones she had demanded Harry and her earlier dates take her to. She did do better than average for where she did work however.
She had been working there three weeks when Stan entered her life. He was a handsome devil and flirted with her unmercifully. There was something about him she did not like but he was interested so she led him on. He asked her out and she went. She put up with more from him than she would have from another man because she was desperate.
After they had been dating a month Stan brought her home one night and just followed her into her apartment. She turned to ask him what he was doing and he grabbed her and began kissing her while undoing her dress. She protested but then stopped when he told her to shut up and quit being such a damn tease. He was a little rough but she had already learned not to cross him when he was in that kind of a mood.
He led her to her bedroom and they fucked for the first time. They never made love, Stan didn't care if she got off or enjoyed the sex or not. It was all about him and he made sure she knew that. The next night when she arrived home Stan was there. He had his shirt off and was sitting on her couch drinking a beer while he watched football on ESPN. Sarah was sitting at the kitchen table trying to complete her homework.
"What are you doing here Stan," Julianne asked.
Stan had looked up at her and said, "What the hell do you think I'm doing here? I live here now. I'm hungry. How long until dinner?" Unfortunately for her and Sarah, Julianne didn't make a scene or kick Stan out. She accepted his presence and began making dinner for them. Now, almost three years later she was thoroughly cowed and Stan was ruler of the roost. She was sure he had another woman somewhere but at least he did help with the bills.
With a sigh, Julianne bent down and gave Sarah a kiss. "Oh, Honey, I'm so sorry I failed you. I" Both women jumped when Stan slammed Sarah's bedroom door open and it cracked against the wall. He stomped into the room and yelled, "Dammit Julie what the hell are you doing in here with that mouthy little slut. I'm hungry and you haven't even started supper. Now get your ass into the kitchen and get me something to eat." Stan grabbed Julianne's arm and roughly pulled her off the bed, pushing her out the door toward the kitchen.
Stan turned to look down at the still weeping Sarah and snarled, "You little slut. It's about time you learned who is boss around here. From now on I expect you to make supper so it'll be ready for me when I get home from work. I'm tired of you just coming home from school and sticking your nose in a damn book. If you were worth anything you could get a job and help out around here. Since you're not working you can just take care of things here. Now get off your damn bed and get into the kitchen to help your momma."
From that day on if Stan was the least bit upset with Sarah or Julianne he let them know it with blows of varying severity. Finally, he went too far and seriously injured Julianne. When she was discharged from the hospital she and the lady assigned to help her picked up Sarah at home. As far as they knew Stan was still in jail but they didn't care enough to find out. They gathered their meager belongings from the apartment and moved them into a shelter for battered women.
Julianne never fully recovered from her injuries and she died just before Sarah's 17th birthday. Sarah was placed with a foster family when her mother died. The only family that could be found to take her lived in the country on a small farm. She was assigned chores to do after school and forced to work very hard. She worked alongside the families sons and they expected her to do the same type and amount of work as the boys did.
At least she had a comfortable bed to sleep in and got enough to eat. Unfortunately for Sarah and the couple's children the husband believed in strict discipline. His idea of discipline was more like Stan's than it should have been. Almost any infraction of the rules resulted in blows being delivered to the culprit. Before she learned how to do the work Sarah received more than her share of attention. She was constantly bruised and hurting. She was learning that men were animals and were allowed to hurt women who displeased them.
The oldest son, Jared, was lazy so he, too, received much attention from his father. Many times he and Sarah would commiserate with each other over the beatings they would receive from his father. They would hug each other and try to make the pain less. On one of those times after Sarah had been spanked severely they went down to the barn to get away from her foster father. They held each other and Jared kissed away the pain.
Sarah began to feel something she had not felt before. Her little nipples hardened and she felt a tingling down there. She was strangely wet. When Jared placed his hand in her crotch and pressed against it she felt nicer tingles. He gently laid her back on the bales of hay and unfastened the buttons on her blouse. He lifted her bra over her little tits and began sucking and licking her nipples.
Sarah was moaning and writhing from the wondrous feelings he was eliciting. She raised her hips and helped him when he loosened and began removing her jeans. Jared removed her pants and threw them onto the floor. He knelt between her splayed legs and looked down at her. He licked his lips and quickly undid his jeans, pushing them down to his knees.
Jared's manhood jutted out from his crotch. Sarah stared at it with a little amount of fear. She knew what Jared was going to do and she wanted it. She was also afraid of having that thing stuck into her. Jared rose over her, placing his arms on each side of her, nudging his cock toward her little cunt. He jabbed once, twice and it skidded up over her mound.
Jared looked down at Sarah and said, "Dammit Sarah grab it and stick it in. We don't have all day. Daddy's going to wonder where we've ran off to."
Sarah licked her lips and tentatively held his cock and guided him to her wet pussy. Jared had no skills as a lover. He just thrust, then thrust again, forcing his cock through her hymen and slamming it deeply into her young body. Sarah screamed and contracted with pain from her deflowering. Jared stopped thrusting for a moment and grinned down at Sarah. "See how good I can make ya feel baby?" He didn't even wait for her to become accustomed to his invasion. Jared altered his stance slightly and began to rapidly thrust and withdraw, slamming into her as hard as he could until he felt the tingle that he was waiting for.
He thrust even faster as his orgasm rose within him. Sarah just lay there and took it. She was just beginning to enjoy his pounding when he gave out a loud "UNNNNNH", slammed deeply into her once again and held himself tightly to her straining crotch.
Sarah could feel his cock throbbing as he pumped his sperm into her unprotected, no longer virgin pussy. When Jared was finished he pulled from her, grabbed her panties and wiped his cock clean. He stood, refastened his jeans and looked down at Sarah. "Well, come on, we gotta finish the chores and get back to the house fast or Dad's going to be coming after us. Hurry up."
Without even a backward glance Jared walked out of the barn and returned to doing the chores. Sarah lay there with tears streaming down her face. Finally she rose, found her clothes and got dressed. Jared had been so rough with her she had trouble walking without pain.
From that day on whenever Jared wanted sex, he expected Sarah to deliver. She got a reputation around school because he bragged to his friends about tapping her little cunt. At least he did protect her from most of the other boys because she was his private pussy. He told her as long as she put out for him and his friends he would keep the others away from her. The only good thing was she was over 18 by then so could go to the county health department and get birth control pills.
When they graduated from high school both Jared and Sarah left home for good.
Sarah had taken to heart her mother's admonition she get all the education she could. Since her father had left a small trust fund to pay for her college she was able to go to the local junior college. She and Jared moved away from the farm and into a small efficiency apartment together near the college they were going to attend.
Even with her little trust fund and the help his parents gave Jared they were having trouble living. Jared insisted Sarah get a job to help with expenses. She finally found a job waiting tables in a local student hang out. Sarah hid some of her tips from Jared but he insisted she turn over all her paycheck to him for living in "his" home. It didn't matter to him that Sarah's trust fund paid the rent; he still considered it his home. Sarah knew she couldn't make it alone so she did that. This arrangement went on until the summer between their second and third year of college.
Jared kept spending more and more and they were getting deeper into debt. Sarah's trust fund would be depleted before her next semester of college was completed even if she had been able to go to a nearby four-year institution. Sarah had enrolled in some summer courses and when they were completed she would be tapped out and looking for more permanent employment. Jared had complained to her about the lack of money and the debt numerous times. One time he made her cry when he said, "Your damn worthless father sure didn't give a shit about you did he. What made him think you could get by with that little amount he left you?"
Finally, after yet another argument about money Jared told Sarah, "You lazy little bitch. I don't know why I put up with you. You weren't worth much on the farm and you're not worth much here. You need to make more money if you're going to keep on living with me." He pushed her away from him violently. She fell off the couch onto the floor. He didn't say anything else, just glared at her and walked into their bedroom.
Things were tense around the little apartment the rest of the week. On Friday Jared didn't come back home after class like he usually did. Finally about ten in the evening Jared and two of his friends came into the apartment. Sarah could smell the beer on their breath and shuddered with fear. Jared was not the most passive man when he had been drinking. He wasn't as cruel as Stan had been but he did get really rough with her. She was scared she was in for an uncomfortable night.
Jared sat on one end of their couch, one of his friends on the other. Jared looked up at Sarah and ordered, "Go get us a beer."
His stare at Sarah was more demanding, more frightening than any he had yet levied on her. Trembling she rose from the chair she had been studying in and rushed into the kitchen. There were only five beers left from the case she had bought Jared Tuesday. She was terrified they would want more than that but she had no money to buy more. She had this week's paycheck but she hadn't cashed it yet and she knew she had to give it all to Jared for his other expenses.
She brought the beer into the seating area and handed one to each boy. Jared looked at his beer and then turned to Sarah. "Dammit Sarah," he said. You didn't even open the damn thing. What's the matter with you?" He handed the beer back to her and she took it in trembling hands. She bit her lip as she twisted the cap off and handed the bottle back to Jared. She turned to take the cap to the trash and saw the two other boys holding their bottles out to be opened also.
When Sarah returned to the seating area after she threw the tops out Jared called out to her. "C'mere Honey." He held his arm out and when she got near to him he grabbed her and pulled her down onto his lap. Sarah almost fell onto him and sat stiffly wondering what he was up to now.
She didn't have much time to wonder. He reached up and began unbuttoning her top. Sarah grabbed his hands and tried to stop him. He grabbed her hands and held them behind her as he once again began unbuttoning her blouse.
When he had her top completely off and her tits exposed he turned to his friends. "Well, what do you think? You want to try some of this?" By now Sarah was crying and trying to break free. Jared was getting angry and was beginning to hurt her as he held her tightly."
The boy across the room looked at her small breasts and skinny frame. He licked his lips and said, "Yeah, I guess I could use some of that but $30.00 sure seems high for her. You sure you won't take $20.00?"
Jared looked at his friend and sighed, "OK, we need the money so I guess she'll do it for $25.00 but it's only one time for that."
Both boys reached into their pockets and pulled out cash that they handed to Jared. He pushed Sarah from his lap and said, "Get your ass into the bedroom and get ready for the guys."
"NOOO. Jared I'm not a whore. I can't do this," Sarah said.
Jared stood and stared down into her eyes, then pushed her once more toward the bedroom. He was none too gentle about his directing either. "Listen you lazy little bitch. I told you two weeks ago you needed to bring me more money. You haven't done it so I found a way you could make more and still not have to work for it. Now get your ass into bed and earn your money. If you were a little better maybe we could even make enough to get a better place to live."
Sarah was crying as she slowly walked into her bedroom. She didn't love Jared and knew he didn't love her but she still could not believe he would make her do something like this. She was standing beside her dresser crying when Bill came into the bedroom. He looked at her and stood staring at her bare breasts. "Hurry up. Louise and I have a date in a few minutes and I don't want to be late," he said.
Sarah looked up at him. She had all of this she could take. Without thinking she grabbed her purse and ran out of the room away from him. She stooped and grabbed her shirt from the floor as she went through the living room. She heard Jared yelling and cursing as she ran down the stairs of the old apartment building.
Sarah jumped into the old truck they had been using and drove off. Jared hit the side of it as she went past him and onto the street. She didn't know where she would go but she knew she had to get out of there. She was thankful now she hadn't had time to endorse and give Jared her paycheck. She had a little over $200.00 in her purse counting the un-cashed check.
Sarah drove to a city park and spent the night in the cab of the truck. She knew she had to get away now so the next morning she went to the college and withdrew, getting a small refund of her summer's tuition, then went to her work and quit. They paid her for the few days she had already worked and she added that money to her small stash. She filled the truck with fuel and began driving. She had no idea where she would go but she was getting away.
Sarah drove all day eating little and spending way more than she was comfortable with on fuel. The old truck was almost inoperable. Jared had said something was wrong with the transmission. It would not go over 50 miles an hour and shifted gears very slowly and roughly. Once more Sarah spent the night in the cab of the truck, this time beside the road.
Late the next morning as she drove, Sarah began to recognize the country. She was near a small town Jared, she and some of their friends had gone to last summer for a float trip. She thought she remembered where they had camped and decided to stop there and see if she could find work.
After driving around another hour or so she found the trail into a farmer's field and down to the gravel bar she remembered. By now the truck would only go about 30 miles an hour tops and she was almost out of fuel. She knew this would be her last stop in the truck at least. Sarah drove the truck across the gravel bar and as deeply into the brush and woods as she could. Finally she stopped on a small high place completely covered by trees and brush. She felt safe here.
Over the course of the next few days she wandered up and down the stream. She found an old plastic tarp where a pile of hay had been. She brought it back and made a tent over her truck. She began clearing a spot for her fire and brought rocks up to make a fire pit. She found forked sticks to hold a spit over the fire. Thankfully Jared had left his ax and fishing gear in the truck so she could catch a fish to eat from time to time and cut wood to cook with.
After she had been there two days Sarah walked the four miles back to the small town. She spent the day trying to find a job. No one would hire her however. She went into the small grocery store and bought a small bag of food. On the way out she saw the dumpster behind the store and looked into it. There were some partly rotten heads of lettuce and some other produce in it. She took the best of it and a torn open loaf of bread.
By the time she got back to her camp she was so tired she only ate some lettuce and some of the bread then went to sleep in the truck cab. She usually made the trip to the store every third day. Many times she wouldn't even go into the store to buy anything because she was almost out of money. Many times the dumpster would not yield even enough to have one meal. At least she did find some food there and it was free so she kept going back.
As the summer progressed Sarah found more items along the river to improve her small camp. She found a cage that had probably been used for raising rabbits or fowl. She sank it in the stream over a spring to keep her food cool inside. This protected it somewhat from foraging animals. She even kept live fish in it if she caught more than she wanted to eat at once.
When campers or swimmers were around Sarah hid. She was so afraid of people, men especially she would almost get sick if someone came close. It was all she could force herself to do to ask for work when she went into town. That was a useless endeavor anyway. She had asked the same businesses so often now that most of the men would just look at her and shake their head no when they saw her come into the room.
She did have a little more luck on some of the farms and at some of the houses she went to for work. Over the summer she obtained and completed several short jobs of a few hours to a day or two in length. One time in late summer however she once again came across a man who treated her badly. She had never stopped at this farm before and in fact, she had never been this far from her camp before. This place was about 4 miles on the opposite side of town from her camp. When she walked into the farmyard she got worried for some reason.
This farm was slightly run down, the vehicle she could see was old and rusty. She heard cursing coming from the machine shed and walked in to see a man, bare to the waist straining to repair a broken hay mower. He was pale, sweating heavily and had a huge beer belly flopping over his belt. When he saw her he stood and looked at her. "Well what do you want Honey," he said.
Sarah didn't like the way his eyes roamed over her torso as he watched her. Finally she said, "I'm looking for work. I used to work on a farm and I was wondering"
The man smiled and walked up to her. He said, "Well Honey a little bitty thing like you couldn't do a days work on a farm like this one." He reached out and tried to touch her breast as he continued, "Now if you wanted to be real nice to me I might be willing to hire you to take care of my house and things though."
Sarah stepped back and he followed. He stepped closer to her and this time he managed to pinch her breast. She cried out and slapped his hand away, backing up more rapidly. He followed and said, "Hey Honey. What's the matter? I told ya I would hire you if you took care of my house and things. Aint that what ya wanted? I got a nice bed in there and everything."
Sarah shouted "NO. That's NOT what I wanted. I want a job not to be someone's whore." She turned and ran from the farmyard as the man watched her and laughed.
Things kept going badly for Sarah. She was raiding a small garden across the river from her camp but even with that and the food she could find in the dumpster and the fish she could catch she was always hungry. Sarah had tried to get a job at that farm but she could never find anyone at home. The dogs at least were friendly, not like those at many of the places she had stopped. Many times she would see a tractor working the fields but never could get the courage to go to the field and approach the operator. Finally in desperation she returned to the farm where the man had tried to get her to fuck him.
He was in his house when she got there this time. She knocked on the door and trembled when he opened it. He just looked at her for a moment then got a nasty looking smirk on his face. He said, "What you want this time girl?"
Sarah licked her lips and stammered, "I ... Unh, I was wondering about that job you said you had..."
The man laughed and said, "Well now, what makes you think I still have a job for you? Maybe I have someone to take care of me now?"
Sarah was defeated. She slumped and looked up at him. She pleaded with him, "Please. I know I could do a good job. I'll do anything ... Look, try me for a day or two. You don't even have to pay if you think I'm not worth it."
The man grinned and stepped back. He held the door open and said, "Well now girl. That's more like it. Come on in here and we'll see how good ya are."
When Sarah tried to walk past him he grabbed her and pulled her to him. He tried to kiss her. At first she refused then slumped in resignation. She let him kiss her then lead her to the bedroom. He didn't even let her clean up. He just tore off her shirt and pushed it from her shoulders. He began taking off his clothes. When his shirt was off he reached for his pants then stopped. He stared at Sarah standing there. She still had her pants on and he said, "Well aren't ya gonna get them pants off? I don't have all evening."
Sarah looked at him then slowly undid her pants and pushed them to the floor while he undressed. She was getting onto the bed when she felt him push her. She fell onto the bed and the man crawled onto the bed with her. He grabbed her and arranged her on her back. He pushed between her legs and rose over her. She felt his legs slip between hers and spread her.
Sarah almost gagged from the smell of his breath and body when he leaned down to kiss her. She felt his cock head nudge against her cunt lips. He thrust and lodged the tip of his cock into her cunt. She hadn't begun to lubricate yet and it hurt. She whimpered and he smiled down at her. "Feels good don't it Honey. You just wait. I'm going to fuck your ass off now."
The man pulled back slightly then thrust sharply into her again. Sarah whimpered once more, then again as he repeated the stroke. Finally he had forced his cock into her and began thrusting. Sarah just lay there and cried as he took his pleasure on her. Thankfully he didn't last long. She felt him slam deeply into her once more and hold himself as his cock contracted and released pumping his seed into her poor abused cunt.
The repulsive man rose off the bed and walked out of the bedroom nude. As he was going down the hallway he yelled over his shoulder. "I haven't made supper yet. Why don't ya go into the kitchen and we'll see if ya can cook good enuf to keep ya around. Ya need some practice on fuckin but I recon we can improve that."
Sarah slowly dressed and then found her way into the kitchen. There wasn't much there to cook but she did the best she could. If she hadn't filled both plates first before she called the man to supper he would have eaten it all she thought. He completed his first plate then took everything she had left in the bowls and pans. He was watching her plate as if he wanted that before she had finished.
He got up from the table and Sarah watched in fascination and disgust as his small pecker flopped under his pendulous stomach. She felt nauseous when he walked toward her. He reached down and fondled her breast as he said, "Well Honey that was ok. Get the kitchen cleaned up and we'll go to bed."
Sarah washed the dishes then walked into the living room where the man was still sitting nude watching TV. She started to sit down in a chair when he looked up at her and said, "Hey, I thought I said we'd go to bed again when you got the work done. Whatcha sittin down there for?"
The man got up and walked toward the bedroom. Sarah reluctantly followed him. He was no gentler the second time than he had been the first but at least she still had enough of his cum inside her that it didn't hurt as much.
Sarah managed to put up with his insensitivity and roughness for three days but she finally had enough. One day when he was out in the fields she took a few things she needed and what food she could find in the house and left. She returned to her small camp on the river. By now the nights were getting colder and she was very thankful she had also taken two blankets from the farmhouse. She couldn't carry too much more but had taken a good skillet to cook on. She was tired of cooking in small food cans.
A few days later she decided to raid the garden across the river once again. There was a combine working in the field and she had to hide several times to keep from being seen. On the way back to her camp she had hidden in the corn they were cutting. They were almost done and she had very little space to hide in. She was squatting down when all at once she saw the combine coming right at her. She had to move and move fast or she would be run over.
Sarah jumped up and darted across in front of the combine. When she was directly in front of it she looked up and saw a well built young man driving it. She heard him yell angrily at her as he slammed on the brakes. The large machine lurched to a stop but she didn't. Sarah kept running toward the river and the safety of her camp on the other side.
Jerry was guiding the big green combine down the last rows of corn when he cursed and stood on the brakes. WHAT the fuck??? He thought. He stared at a slender woman, almost a girl, as she ran through the rows of corn in front of him and darted into the brush along the river bordering his cornfield. She seemed to be carrying something in her arms but he couldn't see what it was. He knew she probably didn't have corn in her arms though because the corn was way past use for anything except feed for livestock or grinding for cornmeal.
The young woman was coming from the direction of his garden though and he still had some garden worth harvesting. Finally he shook his head and continued on his way. If she had been stealing his remaining garden vegetables it really didn't matter much. He had all of them he really wanted and didn't have time to spare harvesting them anyway. If something didn't change he wouldn't have time for a garden next year at all.
Damn stupid broad he thought. What she had done was a good way to get killed. These combines were hard to stop and if she had got caught in the corn head she would have been seriously injured if not killed. He wondered where she had been going. There were no houses in the direction she went for nearly three miles. Come to think about it though he had been seeing smoke occasionally from downstream. Surely she wasn't camping on the riverbank was she?
Jerry finished the field and decided to stop at his garden to pick whatever was ready before he drove the rest of the way home. He had been combining nearly 10 hours that day and had been working a total of 13 hours. He sure missed his parents. They had both died in an automobile accident two years before and the farm was much too large for one person to do all the work. He hired help occasionally but most people who he could hire either had their own farm to work or were unskilled in the work he did so...
He had only been back from the Army a few months when the accident occurred. Of course all his friends had either moved on or married while he was gone so there was little social life available. He had all the bar girls and late drunken nights he was interested in while he was in the service so he mostly worked and stayed home now. Besides most nights when he stopped working he was so tired he couldn't go out anyway. Jerry knew he should try to take some time for himself but how could he with all the work he had to do? At least the land and most of the machinery were paid for. He had inherited his parent's whole estate as an only child. There were almost 1300 acres and almost all of that was cropland. Only about 300 acres were pasture so he had very few animals to care for thankfully.
Jerry was so tired he staggered when he walked toward the garden. When he got to the garden he saw many of the plants had been stripped. He saw small footprints in the dry soil around them. "That little bitch," he muttered. No wonder I have been having such a poor yield lately. He picked what he needed for the next few days and returned to his combine for the short drive back to the farmyard.
Jerry was so tired he could hardly walk when he entered his house. He staggered into the shower, cleaned himself off and went into the kitchen. He didn't even try to cook. He made a dry sandwich from lunchmeat, ate it and some chips washing it all down with a couple Newcastle's. His head was drooping from exhaustion before he finished his meal. He just left his plate on the table with the empty bottles and staggered off to bed. He was asleep almost before he got covered up.
Jerry woke with a start, the sun glaring into his eyes. His heart was beating and he could hear his pulse throbbing in his ears. He sat on the edge of his bed until he had calmed down. He had been dreaming that the combine had hit the young woman and dragged her into its works. She had been screaming and crying begging him to help her while he watched her life blood drip onto the dry dusty ground in the corn field.
Jerry looked at the clock and rose with a curse. It was already 730 and he hadn't even started working yet. He had overslept by two hours and didn't even feel like he had slept at all. Jerry staggered into the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. It perked while he poured a bowl of dry cereal. He knew that breakfast wouldn't last long but he didn't want to take the time to make a more substantial meal. After his hurried breakfast Jerry packed a lunch and walked out to the machine shed. He hooked up his tractor and disc to begin working down the fields he was putting in wheat this year.
About noon Jerry drove the machinery down beside the river where he had almost ran over the woman the last evening. He stopped in the shade and took his lunch box out of its storage place. He climbed off the tractor and walked down to the river beside the swimming hole. Even as busy as he was he made sure to keep the grass and weeds clipped there because he and many of the local people would swim during the right part of the year. It was right on his property line and a lane led through a neighbors field down to the gravel bar across the river and downstream about an eighth of a mile. Jerry kept a picnic table chained to a tree on his side.
Jerry gratefully sank down on the bench and spread his meal out on the table. As he ate he relaxed and let the peaceful surroundings calm his soul. He could hear the river gurgle around rocks and roots, cattle lowing in the background. Somewhere he could hear the drone of more farm machinery. As he ate his eyes scanned his surroundings. He was thinking about that woman again and he wondered where she was from and what she was doing here.
When he looked toward the gravel bar he saw a thin whiff of smoke coming from back in the brush several feet off the bar. A time or two he thought he saw movement in the brush. Finally he finished his meal and packed his refuse into his lunch pail. He rose and started for the tractor then, with an oath he turned. As he walked by the table he set his lunch box on it and headed for the river. At the edge of the stream he stripped to his underwear and walked into the river. It was cool this late in the year but still warm enough that, after he got used to it, he enjoyed the refreshing swim.
After he cooled off and refreshed himself a while Jerry crossed the stream and walked toward the gravel bar. He had decided to see if he had really seen smoke over there. Heck, it might even be someone he knew and they could visit a moment before he returned to the daily grind. Now he could smell smoke.
Jerry got to the gravel bar and began exploring. He walked toward where he had seen the smoke and found where a 4X4 had driven over the brush. He followed the trail back into the trees and brush. It was almost a non-existent trail. The grass had straightened up and the main tell tale was the skinned and broken brush. Finally, through the trees and brush he saw an old truck parked near a tree. There was a tent built around it and attached to it very well. It was obvious the truck hadn't moved in a while and it would take several minutes of work to make it move. The ground around it was nearly bare from someone walking and moving about. There were some pans sitting around and smoke rising from a fire ring. Jerry cursed once again because he was sure two of the plastic tarps in the tent were ones that had been stolen from his haystack that spring. He almost took them back then decided against it.
Jerry could find no one in the area. As he continued his walk around the camp he saw a small well-worn trail leading toward the swimming hole. He decided to follow it when he returned to work. When he got to the river he saw a wire cage setting in the water filled with bottles of water, milk and other perishables. It was primitive but effective refrigeration. The river wasn't cool enough to keep food safe long but it would help. He guessed it was about 45 to 50 degrees in the water there because there was a spring rising where the cage was.
He was reaching out to touch the cage when he saw a flash of blue and heard a rustling in the brush. He looked up but saw nothing else. Finally he stood and said, "Look, I won't hurt you if you come out. If you're the woman I saw yesterday I ought to spank your ass though. You could have been killed running in front of my combine like that. Why are you here so long? You've been here all summer haven't you? Look, I live just up the river. If you need help or something you can come up there." Jerry stood looking into the brush a while longer then with a sigh he left, returning to his work.
The next time he was in town he asked every one he came in contact with if they knew what the story was on the camper down by the river. Most of the people didn't know anyone was even there and those who did said they had seen the camp but no one around it. Only one person mentioned anything that was the least helpful to Jerry. The owner of the local grocery store said he had been seeing a young woman going through his garbage almost all summer. She would take the best of the things he discarded. He said she would occasionally come into the store and buy something small. Once she had asked him for a job.