Young Terrill (Mac) McLaren pulled his old truck to the side of the new interstate highway and looked over the dry dusty valley. There was a small town nestling beside a small stream in its center. He saw the exit ahead that he would take to wend his way down into the town. He was returning to his childhood home after an absence of nearly five years. He had mixed emotions about his return. When he had left he had no intention of ever returning except for a visit now and then with his parents. He had last been home almost four years ago. Since that time the old road had been replaced by this new interstate.
Prineville became even more forlorn when the traffic from the old highway began passing it by on the new road. Life and prosperity passed Prineville by at 70 miles per hour how on the interstate instead of slowly as it had in his youth when the road ran through the middle of town. In the distance Mac could barely see the band of trees at the edge of town. A small stream ran along the edge of town where the trees were. It separated the town from his parent's, now his property. He could see the roof of his house and some of the outbuildings from his vantage point.
The small Ozark Mountain town of Prineville was dying. Even during his last visit he had seen several boarded up businesses and empty houses. He expected it to be worse now. Prineville had been a small, sleepy little town for years. Even from its settling in 1836 Prineville had not been a large settlement. Its population had never exceeded 500. With the advent of the automobile and manufacturing plants in the larger nearby towns its population began declining.
Prineville was one more example of the automobile, large factories and mega malls killing smaller settlements. With the advent of the automobile the population became mobile. Naturally factories and businesses built in larger areas where the workers were and where road networks made transportation easier and cheaper. People in smaller towns went to the jobs and stores where they could purchase items they needed or wanted the cheapest. This happened to be in the larger towns. At first people drove from Prineville to the larger towns for work, then they began going for their shopping and entertainment. Goods and services were more plentiful and cheaper in the larger stores possible in the larger towns. Finally it was just easier to move away so families could live the good life in the larger towns. After all that was where they worked, shopped and played. Why live miles away from everything they did and needed?
The people who had been born, lived their life and planned to die in Prineville were of an earlier generation. Now the only people who lived there were those who truly loved the little town and it's (to some) boring slower pace of life. Of course some who still lived in the town had a business that forced them to remain. Many of those who still lived in town took off for the big city for entertainment, dining out or when they retired. There was a glint of light at the end of the tunnel however because the rapid growth in Northwest Arkansas was pushing people north into Missouri. As Wal-Mart and its associated business grew the population of Bentonville and surrounding area became larger. People were moving north looking for more space or cheaper land on which to build. Prineville was beginning to see a small amount of growth because of the exodus from Arkansas.
The lights and comforts, the excitement of the nearer 'big cities' drew many of Prineville's residents, its children, like moths to a flame. It was especially sad to see the young leave the fold, to leave home and never or rarely return. Many of the young people who grew up in or near these small southwest Missouri towns left the moment they graduated from high school. Some left for jobs, some for further education then better jobs. Many returned for the rare vacation, some even returned to visit family for the major holidays but many chose to leave forever hoping their family would come to them in their new homes so they did not ever have to return to dull old Prineville and the surrounding area.
Of course with the exodus of the young and the inevitable death of the older residents many homes were left vacant never to see the smiles, never to hear the happy screams and laughter of playing children again. It was sad to drive through town or the nearby countryside and see old buildings drooping in decay because their once proud owners had either died or moved off. Many absentee owners allowed once fertile highly productive ground to return to nature. Many times once green pastures were allowed to grow up in brush and second growth timber. Many places were actually sold for back taxes because the older owners could no longer pay and their selfish children only gave lip service to loving and caring for their parents or older relatives.
With sadness, perhaps even a touch of defeat in his heart Mac started his old truck once more and began driving down the hill toward his past and, perhaps a tolerable future. Mac tapped the accelerator and the old truck surged forward as if the small trailer he was pulling was not even there. He kept his speed down as his old F350 Super Crew 4X4 Dually came slowly into town. All his worldly goods were with him. He glanced in the mirror and thought it didn't look like much for a man nearly 26 years old.
For such an old vehicle the truck was still in nearly pristine shape. It had been the last vehicle its young owner's father had purchased and did not see much use before he retired. Mac had lovingly repaired its few problems when he was given the truck. He still enjoyed listening to its old but still powerful Diesel engine chuckle at idle or roar its defiance as he drove down the road. The commercial welding unit in the bed did little to lug down the engine. Even now when he was pulling his trailer he could not discern a lessening of acceleration from the powerful old truck.
Mac looked around curiously when he pulled up and stopped in front of The Mustang. The Mustang had been the old hang out for residents of the small town as long as he could remember. He sat and watched as the dust he stirred up from the unpaved parking lot blew past his truck and slowly dissipated. Ever since he had entered the area his head had been swiveling back and forth as he saw once again the hometown he had thought he would never return to live in. He felt nostalgia, sorrow and perhaps a little fear. He was scared what he had decided to do was beyond his ability to accomplish. If he failed he would lose it all. This was perhaps his last chance to find what he was searching for, what his heart yearned for. Unlike many young people he had not dreamed of higher education and a high powered job making a huge salary. He did not desire fame or notoriety or even fortune. Instead his dreams were simpler. He wanted a wonderful woman who supported him in every way. She had to be honest and sincere, uncomplicated and loving. He wanted a modest job working with machines and engines where he could make enough money to support his loving family.
Mac had been a very good student graduating in the top ten percent of his high school class. He could have attended almost any college he wished with his grades. He was offered a scholarship to University of Missouri, Rolla. He turned it down. His sister had gone to college and taken a degree in nursing. He had opted for a two year college degree with a major in Automotive and Diesel Engine Technology. He also took several welding courses so he could be certified as a welder. Mac had worked for an implement dealer until it had been sold. He had been the junior employee and was in the first group of people laid off when its operation had been consolidated with that of the purchasing business.
Mac was returning to his roots. Some would say he was trying to find himself. Others would say he was running from the modern world. For whatever reason he returned he hoped it would be forever. He had enough of the hustle and bustle of the city. He was tired of all the games men and especially women played to get one up on one another. Though he had departed this small town the moment he could he found living in the city was no better, just busier, noisier and more impersonal. In many aspects it was a worse existence than he had expected. He found women more high maintenance, more prone to tease and promise the moon then when they found out he could not provide expensive meals, shows and experiences they would dump him and scorn him. He had never known his neighbors in the city and when he tried to speak to them normally they grunted and walked on or worse, just ignored him.
Now Mac believed he had made many incorrect decisions earlier in his life. When their parents became too frail to live alone he and his sister had been too busy to care for them. They had placed them in a nursing home. Neither parent lasted long after that. Both had worked themselves so hard in their life making ends meet on their small farm that their bodies were worn out. Now Mac missed them terribly and resented the fact his sister did not seem to feel the same way. She seemed relieved they no longer had to even give lip service to caring for their parents.
Almost three years after his Mother's death and seventeen months after his father's death Terrill McLaren lost his job. With no income and no prospects of work he did the only thing he could do. He went to his sister and her husband Neil to see if he could live with them 'until he got his feet under him'. That lasted for less than six weeks. The two siblings had never been close and now they were almost like strangers. The only thing that held them together at all was the blood tie and perhaps the interest in their parent's estate. Mac didn't like Neil and the dislike was returned in spades. Neil was an arrogant young man who felt he was better than his 'uneducated' blue collar worker brother in law. After all, he had a business degree from the local college and was used car manager at a large dealership. He had been a jock in high school and had the typical jock attitude. He was infuriated because Mac didn't bow and scrape before his magnificence.
One evening after supper it all came to a head. They had spent the whole day in the attorney's office attempting to settle their parent's estate. Mac had suspected for weeks, hell, he had suspected almost every since Neil married Susan that they were interested in getting all they could from his parents as soon as they could. Until his parents went into the nursing home every time Susan went to visit she hauled something else of theirs off. Almost all the furniture and many of the kitchen utensils disappeared shortly after his parents left home for good. Supposedly Susan took things they wanted her to have as part of her inheritance, things that supposedly meant something to the family. Terry as his family called him, also was given some things but not as many as Susan. Terry kept his 'gifts'. Susan never took anything she didn't think she could sell. She routinely had a rummage sale shortly after hauling more items home from the farm. Money, money, money was Neil's and Susan's mantra. After they obtained the money they spent it. When the cash was gone they borrowed and spent more. They took cruises, long weekends in resorts, vacations in Hawaii or other popular places and always they made sure everyone knew about their latest extravagance.
In a way Mac was lucky he lost his job just as the estate was settling instead of earlier. At least he had some chance of getting a little money to help him over the period he would be out of work. What angered him was the fact his sister had wanted him to take the farm and she wanted to keep the money. There was about $211,000.00 in stocks, bonds and cash. The farm had been appraised at $160,000.00. Susan and Neil wanted Mac to take the farm as his share and they wanted to keep all the cash. They argued they had family and many large debts that needed to be paid off so they needed the cash. Susan and Neil complained often and loudly that they didn't have time to wait for their share of the value of the land if and when it sold. They further argued since they had the larger family and they had spent more time helping the parents they should not have to split the amount over the value of the land with Mac.
Mac had wanted to split everything 50/50 so each had cash now and would get a share of the land value when it sold. The Executor of the Estate had threatened that day to delay distribution until the farm sold if the two arguing siblings didn't agree on a different distribution. The Probate court would not make the distribution until such time as the Executor informed it things were ready to settle. The evening the siblings were informed of that decision was when Neil kicked Mac out of his house. Mac lived in his truck for three days but was finally told by the local police he could not do that in the city limits. There were no good places near the city to park and camp so Mac finally gave in and agreed to take the land and $25,000.00 as his share of the estate. It angered Neil and Susan to have to split the money in excess of the farm value but they finally did so in order to get their hands on the remainder.
Mac mentally shook himself and grimaced at the memories that had been surging through his head as he sat in the heat. He sighed and looked around once more at the run down drive in then got out of his truck and headed for the door. When he entered he stopped in surprise. The building had been divided in half and now half of the room was a bar. The other half still served food and soft drinks where minors were welcome. He had seen the signs for beer along the road at the parking lot entrance but had not thought they were advertising for The Mustang. When he was last home this had been a family place and only served food. He headed for the café side and found a chair where he could look out the window at his old home town.
Mac could just barely make out the roof of his parent's, now his, home through the trees and brush about a quarter mile farther down the road. He knew the line of trees and brush obscuring the old two story house was along a small stream running along the city limits of Prineville.
He was looking out the window and remembering other August days when he was younger and happier. It was a typical August—hot and dry, very dry. It had already been six weeks since there had been any significant rainfall and would probably be three or four more. Temperatures hovered around 100 degrees Fahrenheit or better during the cloudless days. The sun beat down unmercifully cooking the vegetation that had been so green and inviting in the spring. Evening temperatures never got below mid 70's and the humidity was horrible. Mac was still used to these conditions because he worked in a un air conditioned shop until he was laid off. When he welded it was usually outside too.
Mac dreaded what he would find when he worked up the courage to drive the last quarter mile and laid his eyes on his childhood home. It was after noon so he had talked himself into stopping for a burger before he saw what he had gotten himself into. He used to love the burgers at The Mustang. They were even better than homemade.
Emily had heard the bell ring when Mac entered the building. She was busy in the kitchen cleaning up after the lunch rush—ha. She had served a total of 13 people today. If it wasn't for the little bar she would be out of business. Even with beer sales and the snacks the drunks bought she barely made ends meet.
Emily tossed the wet rag she had been using to wash the counters back into the sink. Normally at this time of afternoon she would not see anyone until evening unless it was one of the chronically unemployed locals coming in for a six pack to take to the river. She walked into the bar first and was surprised it was empty. She then turned and entered the dining area. She glanced at the clock before looking for whoever entered. There was a young man sitting at a window booth staring out the window at the dry grass and dusty parking lot. He was tall, well built but looked run down. His clothes were clean but well worn. The soles of his boots were worn, the heels rounded and the uppers were scuffed and oil stained. His hair was just to the point of being shaggy, unkempt under his well worn straw cowboy hat. He looked slightly familiar but she couldn't say she knew him.
Emily walked to the ice machine, filled a glass with ice water and moved to the table to greet her late customer. She looked like her café—worn, tired, faded. Her movements were slow as if she was carrying a heavy weight. Her once beautiful blond hair was in a pony tail and dull looking as were her blue eyes. If you had looked at her closely you could see the vibrant young girl she used to be. Her breasts were firm and filled her top to perfection. She had a beautiful womanly butt and narrow waist. She stood about 5'8" and weighed in the neighborhood of 125 pounds.
Emily placed a menu and the water on the table in front of the young man. She said, "Know what ya want or do ya needa minnit?" She then stood with her pen poised over the little green order pad.
Mac glanced up at her then back at the menu. He pushed it aside without reading it and said, "Burger, Onion Rings and a Pepsi."
Emily turned and was halfway back to the kitchen when Mac said, "Hey!" When Emily turned back Mac continued, "I see ya serve beer now. Could I get a Busch instead of the Pepsi?"
"OK." Emily turned and walked on. As she walked she kept thinking she should know who the man was. He looked so familiar it was eerie. Emily quickly mashed together a hamburger patty and put an order of onion rings into the fryer. She was proud of the fact she still made her own hamburger patties, fries and onion rings. They were better than factory produced ready to cook items and everyone knew it.
After the meal was cooking Emily hurried into the bar area and grabbed a beer. She almost trotted to Mac's table and placed it on the table in front of him a little too robustly. The jar of it landing on the table caused it to fizz up and some foam to escape from the bottle top. Mac stared as Emily rushed off without a word heading for the kitchen and the cooking food. He shook his head once and wondered what was wrong with her. He hoped she didn't treat all her customers like that. He decided she was probably just another bitch who thought poorly of men in general and resented having to work for a living.
When she brought Mac's late lunch to him Emily decided to visit for a moment. Like in many small towns a stranger was news and she had to satisfy her curiosity. "I haven't seen ya around here before. You just passin' through or what?"
Mac looked up at Emily while he was chewing his first bite of probably the best hamburger he had eaten since he had left home. "NO. I live here or at least I do from now on." Mac pointed out the window at the roof of his house and continued, "I grew up in that house right over there. I left years ago for a better life. All I got is a bunch of crap. Lost my girlfriend, my parents died, lost my job and now I'm back to start over."
"Terry? Is it really you? Are you Terry McLaren?"
Mac smiled and nodded his head as he took another bite of his burger. He pushed a bite of onion ring into his mouth with the bite of burger he had just taken. Emily smiled and said, "Oh my God. You've changed. I would have never recognized you in a million years. I was sure sorry to hear about your folks. Now you've moved back home huh? You've got your work cut out for you. I'm afraid the old house is really run down. Bunch of the local kids have been tearing things up around here too. Probably have some broken windows and stuff too."
"Yeah, I figured as much. And I go by Mac now. Terry was a different person. What's your name? You must be from around here if you recognize me."
Emily looked at Mac and said, "Oh, come on Terry, uh I mean Mac. You don't recognize me? We went to school together. I was two years behind you but we rode the same bus. I'm Emily Thomas."
When she told him who she was the years melted away and he felt a fool. He remembered Emily now. She had been a cute, precocious pest. Her family had operated The Mustang ever since it had been built. She grew up in the little Burger Joint. He remembered her working bussing tables and giving the customers grief as she did it. Mac got a little smile on his face as he tripped down memory lane.
"I guess I just didn't think Em. Should have known it was you. Heck, you were always here when I came in. How're your folks?"
Emily got a sad look on her face and said, "They're both gone now too Mac. They died the year after you left. Cancer got Mom and Dad died the winter after. He got Pneumonia and didn't go to the doctor until it was too late. He said with Moms bills we couldn't afford for him to be spending money at a doctor when he didn't need to be there for a little chest cold. I had just graduated high school and had been helping him here full time. When he died too I just took over here. We didn't have the money for me to go to college anyway so I just kept on running this old place. I put the bar in when I became 21 trying to keep things going. I make enough to get by but that's all I do.
"Well, I better get back and finish cleaning the kitchen. Will you holler if ya need anything else? I have to get things set up for later when the drunks start coming in. Running the place alone keeps me hopping but I don't make enough to hire help. Catch ya later." Emily smiled and placed Mac's bill on the table before she walked off.
Mac finished his meal and thought about having another beer. He shook his head and drained his water before he left. He had too much to do to sit here drinking beer and he for sure didn't need to spend the money on it. He had little enough of that as it was. He looked at the bill and smiled. It came to $7.50 before tax. In town the same meal would have been $11.00 or more. He stood and walked to the cash register. He wrapped a $10.00 bill around the sales slip and pushed it in the crack of the register drawer before he left. He yelled, "See ya Emily" as he left.
Emily rushed from the kitchen drying her hands on a towel. She looked at the table and didn't see money. She felt her stomach lurch. Surely Mac hadn't turned into an asshole that would just dine and dash had he? She trotted over to the cash register and finally saw the money and bill stuffed into the crack between the drawer and the frame of the machine. Emily felt a little shaft of remorse for thinking the worst of Mac. She should have known he wouldn't do that to her but hell, people change don't they? She occasionally had some of the younger crowd do the 'dine and dash'. It had gotten so bad she usually made them pay before they received their order. Many resented it and she suspected it cost her some business but that was better than losing the money she paid for whatever she served the deadbeats.
At her young age Emily had seen too much selfishness, too much dishonesty. She had formed the opinion men especially were assholes. They wanted what they wanted and they did everything they could do to get it as cheaply as possible. She had not found one who she felt she could trust unreservedly. Of course she didn't meet the cream of the crop running a country beer bar. She met the cowboys or wannabe's, the drunks and womanizers. She saw drunks hook up and knew some of them—men and women alike—were married to someone else. It disgusted her but she needed their business badly so she looked the other way.
Emily stood in the window as she was cleaning Mac's table. She watched his truck turn into the driveway of his place and stop halfway to the house. She knew he could drive no farther. There was a tree that had died and fallen into the driveway blocking it completely at that point.
She stood remembering her problems with men and feeling guilt for placing Mac in that category as she watched him sit for a moment then get out of his truck. She had dated one of his best friends the year after his class had graduated. Steve had been so nice to her, telling her how beautiful she was and how he loved her. They had talked marriage when she got out of school. The first weekend after she graduated high school he had taken her to the river for a party. She had turned 18 only a month before. That was the night she had her first two beers. That had been enough to make her tipsy, unable to cogitate well. Like all young people who think they were in love she and Steve had been kissing and fondling. She was getting so hot. She felt the wetness of her pussy. She could feel his erection in his pants and it gave her pride she could do that to him. He was thrusting it against her in a frenzy.
Emily had been so horny. She remembered her hips thrusting and rubbing her crotch on Steve's thigh as he kissed her and played with her breasts. She felt him shift and both his legs were between hers. She felt him rise slightly and his hand was rubbing her pussy. He fumbled and moved the crotch of her suit to the side. She felt his finger in her wet pussy.
Emily continued staring out the window but she wasn't seeing anything. Her mind was reliving her time of shame. She felt the tears running down her cheeks as she remembered Steve pushing his finger inside her. She could still almost feel the pain and tearing as he rammed his dry calloused finger through her maiden head.
She remembered Steve's grin as she felt his finger withdraw. He still held her swimsuit crotch to the side then she felt something larger, hard, yet soft probing at her crotch. She tried to close her legs but Steve held them apart. He thrust and slid up. He said "Shit" and she felt his hand pull his cock to the side and hold it. He thrust once more and she felt the head nudge into her pussy.
"No. Steve don't. Please," she had said.
"Awww come on honey. You know you want it. Hell, you're wet as the river. We've waited long enough."
Steve pulled back slightly and she thought he was pulling out. He reversed direction and slammed into her. In two thrusts he was balls deep. He bent and tried to kiss her. She turned her head and he became angry. He had snarled, "You stuck up little cunt. Ya want it and you know it. Now stop playing yer damn games."
Steve began withdrawing almost all the way out then slamming back into her. He was hitting her so hard she had a bruise the next morning. Some of the other kids heard her screaming and came to watch. One of Steve and Mac's friends yelled, "Hey ya all. Stevie's finally gettin' some of Em's pretty little pussy. Come on. Ya gotta see this!"
To her horror Emily felt her body betray her. She HAD been so horny but she didn't want this. She wanted Steve to get her off with his fingers as he had been doing for the last four months. She had first allowed him to touch her secret places on Valentine's Day when she had decided he might be the one. Had he continued fondling and diddling her as she normally allowed she would have jerked him off too like always.
Finally Steve yelled out, 'Oh SHIIIIIIT" and slammed into her once more. He strained and held himself tightly to her as she felt his cock throbbing. She felt the tears running down her cheeks as he pumped his seed into her no longer virgin pussy. She became terrified he had made her pregnant.
Steve immediately pulled from her and stood. She looked at his still hard cock as he stood over her. He bent down and rummaged through their pile of clothes until he found her panties. He used them to wipe himself off before he drew his cock back into his swim suit. Emily slowly closed her legs and felt her swimsuit slide to cover her pussy. She felt so wet and messy down there and it hurt. She thought sex was supposed to be fun but the orgasm she had wasn't worth the pain of her deflowering. She looked up and saw many of their friends standing looking down at her. Some of the girls were glaring at her and most of the boys were grinning. All the boys she could see had a hard on showing in their pants. Troy had knelt between her thighs and pulled himself out. He reached out and touched her crotch and said, "How about giving me a little too Em? I sure could use it and since you're giving it away..."
Somehow Emily had found the strength to kick out at him. She had hit him in the chest and knocked him back. "NO! I'm NOT giving it away. I didn't want to do it at all."
Steve was still standing over her. He said, "The hell you didn't. You were wet as I've ever seen a woman. Hell, ya came when we was doin' it. You wanted it and you know it. I got witnesses. Aint that right guys?"
Almost all the boys there had said Steve was right. About that time one of Emily's friends had come up and helped her to her feet. She stood glaring at the others standing around and said, "You bunch of assholes. He raped her and you know it. Now get out of the way. I'm taking her home."
Andy said, "No, he didn't rape her and YOU know it. Hell we all been watching him and her all day. She had been all over him. You know it and so does everyone else. Now just get yer asses on home and cry awhile. Shit."
The two girls got into the car and drove back toward town. They had stopped at the stream at the city limits. Emily went into the small swimming hole just down from the bridge and waded out neck deep. She pulled her bottoms down and cleaned herself as well as she could. She walked back out and she and Dottie sat in the little park holding each other. Emily cried while they discussed what had happened trying to decide what to do. Finally Emily decided not to report Steve. No one had seen him force himself on her and she admitted to Dottie that she had not fought him. She had only said no once then she had laid there while he took her. She knew if she filed rape charges against Steve she would suffer severe emotional trauma during the investigation and trial. No, it was better to just forget it and hope she was not pregnant.
Five days later Steve, Troy and Andy came into The Mustang. When they saw her they all smirked. She walked up to their table to take their order. Being arrogant young men they smirked more and Steve said, "Hey baby I need a furburger and an order of thighs and some hair pie for desert. Ya all can have some hot dog if ya wantta little somthin with me."
Emily turned and started to walk off. Her face was red and she was shaking. Steve reached out and grabbed her hand. He said, "Hey baby. It's Friday night. I'll pick ya up at the usual time."
"NO. We're done. I don't ever want to see you again. I thought you loved me."
The boys laughed and Steve said, "I do love you baby. I love your little pussy and those nice tits. Hell, I even need you. Come on. We'll go back to the river and swim again."
Emily jerked her hand away from Steve's grip and walked off. She heard the laughter in the background. To her horror at 7:30 that evening Steve showed up for their "date". He knocked on her door as usual. Her mother who was already showing the ravages of her cancer greeted him pleasantly and let him into the room.
Steve stood looking at Emily and said, "Why aren't you ready yet? Come on, ya gotta hurry. We got a lot to do tonight baby."
"I told you I wasn't going out with you anymore. Now get out. We're through."
Steve reached for her hand and began pulling her toward the door. Emily once again said, "NO. She pulled back and then kicked at Steve. Her kick had been aimed at his shin but he dodged it.
Mrs. Thomas looked at Emily strangely and said, "Emily what's wrong honey? Why don't you want to go with Steve tonight?"
"Nothing Momma. I just don't like him anymore and I don't want to see him ever again."
"Bullshit," said Steve. "We just had a little misunderstanding the other day Mrs. T. She'll get over it. Now come on baby. We got things to do."
"NO. Now get out," said Emily. She kicked at Steve again and this time her kick hit his thigh and slid upward hitting his cock and balls a glancing but strong blow.
"You little Bitch," he moaned as he bent forward and held his crotch. "Well FUCK YOU. There's other pussy in town and most of its better than yours by a long shot."
Steve staggered out the door and Mrs. Thomas turned to look at Emily. "Emily Honey. What did he mean by that? You and he haven't been doing something you shouldn't have you?"
Emily was crying and just stood there. All she could do was shake her head 'NO'. Mrs. Thomas walked to her and wrapped her in her arms. "There now Honey. He's gone now. Shhhh."
Slowly Emily stopped crying. She went to bed early that evening but she lay awake for a long time.
The next day Steve came into the café with Carmen Rodriguez. They sat in the same booth and he had his hands all over her. When Emily came to take their order he smirked at her. "Give us both a burger and coke. I gotta good woman here Em. She knows how to take care of a real man."
Carmen blushed and giggled.
For the rest of the summer and most of the winter Emily had to fight off the advances of the boys. The word was out that she was easy. Late that summer the word even got back to her parents. After the café had closed for the evening one Saturday they sat her down and asked about the rumors. She had tearfully told them what had happened. Of course both her parents were furious. They were angry at her for not telling them and reporting Steve but they were angrier at Steve. Her father wanted to go use a ball bat on him. Finally her mother and Emily talked him out of that.
That Thanksgiving weekend the little town of Prineville had been awakened at three in the morning on Saturday. An ambulance roared into town and stopped beside the pool hall. Steve had been found badly beaten in the rest room of the pool hall after the owner closed and began cleaning. The next week Carmen Rodriguez's two brothers were arrested for the beating. Apparently Steve had taken Carmen as he had Emily and this time someone stood up for one of his dates. Steve was never seen in town again. The word was out that the local Hispanic population believed he would be better off elsewhere and he agreed. Carmen's brothers were ultimately not prosecuted because there were no witnesses to the beating.
Finally Emily gave herself a mental shake and resumed her work. As she worked she remembered all the other local men who had treated her and other women as a piece of meat. She thought of all the men who spent their evenings and part of their days in her little beer hall while their women were home with the children or working. She cringed sometimes at their callous, suggestive comments. None of them cared one whit for her feelings. They were all out for themselves only.
At nearly the same time as Emily was remembering her past troubles Mac was thinking of her. He wondered where the fun loving sparkling eyed young lady had gone. Surely her attitude and demeanor weren't all caused by her tough economic life? He shook his head and began walking down the driveway to his home. He could already see he had a lot of work ahead of him before the place was in anywhere near the shape it had been when he was young.
Mac went to the house first. It was an old style two story farmhouse. It had a wrap around covered porch. There was a kitchen, dining, living room, the farm office and a fairly large master suite on the ground floor. There were two bedrooms and a small den or play area with a bathroom upstairs. He and his sister had occupied the upstairs and used the sitting area to study while they were home.
There were several boards rotten and the rails were broken on much of the porch. Two windows were broken out and he could see where someone had been going in and out them. He walked through the house, downstairs first. The carpets were filthy and someone had kicked holes in some of the walls. It smelled like they had urinated in some of the corners but that could have been animals. There was evidence raccoons and opossums had been in the house a lot. There was a lot of mouse and rat sign too. For some reason the upstairs was almost untouched. It was obvious people had been there but the damage was light. Mostly it was just stains, beer cans and cigarette butts. Mac also saw several used condoms on the floor beside the beds. Of course the mattresses were filthy and would have to be thrown away. It was a wonder the house hadn't burned down. He could see both upstairs and down where the cigarettes had scorched the floors before going out after they were dropped.
Next Mac went to the large shop. To his surprise it was still locked and the windows, while broken, had not been used for entrance. His father had placed mesh over them in a welded frame and no one had been able to force entry. Mac opened all the doors and stood surveying the shop. Most of the tools were still there and so were the two tractors, hay baler and no till grain drill. There was even still air and acetylene in the cutting torch. It would take almost no effort to be able to work out of the shop. He decided on the spot to advertise his services immediately to see if he could begin to generate income. He would begin cleaning and repairing the downstairs at the house tomorrow. As soon as he got the power turned on he would set up his office and print out flyers to advertise his business. He would paint a large sign and place it at the end of the driveway too.
Mac went to his trailer and got out his chain saw. He cut the log across the driveway into two sections and used his truck to pull it out of the way. He then pulled his trailer down beside the house and unhooked it. It was still early so he began cleaning. He carried all the trash from the house to the old burn pile. He had no water to wash with so could only carry out trash and sweep. Just doing that made the place look better. By the time he got that done it was almost eight in the evening. He grabbed his soap and a towel and wandered down to the stream for a bath before he went to town for his supper.
Mac put on clean clothes and drove back to The Mustang. This time there were a half dozen cars in the lot and music was coming from the bar side of the building. When Mac walked into the building he saw a man and woman in the café with two small children. Everyone else was in the bar. He saw some of the bar patrons eating so he went in there also. A harried looking Emily rushed up to his table. "Hi Mac. Whatcha need?"
"Same as lunch I guess Em. Burger, rings and a Busch."
"Ya got it Stud," she said and rushed off. Like before she went into the kitchen first to start his meal then brought his beer and a glass of water. This time she placed it on the table correctly and smiled before rushing back to the kitchen. While he was drinking his first swallow of beer the man at the next table turned to him and said, "Haven't seen ya in here before. You passing through or what?"