Thursday, October 11, 2012

Now Playing: The Silent Child
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Episode Four of The Silent Child

Episode Three concluded with:

            The detective eyed Enoch and Kate. “Ah, when I’m through at the General Store would you two mind--”
         “We’d love to look after Pixie!” Kate interrupted.
          Dehner paused, obviously rethinking his request. Enoch understood why. He reached under the counter of the store and brought out a Henry. “A store owner can’t be too careful. Before marrying Kate, I worked as a barkeep. Handled plenty of rough customers. Anybody that tries to harm the girl will have a fight on their hands.”

Episode Four

“Mr. Harper, I’m here to clean the stables for ya.” A pudgy man of medium height entered the store. He was wearing a battered Stetson, a shirt with two buttons missing, and shiny brown pants. Much of his face was covered with black and gray stubble.
            “Go right ahead, Laszlo. I don’t think I’ll have any work for you in the store today.”
            Laszlo smiled at Pixie, revealing several broken teeth. “Pretty little girl.” He looked back at Enoch, who nodded his head.
            “I’ll get to work now.” Laszlo clomped out of the store.
            Several moments of silence followed Laszlo’s departure, then Enoch shook his head and explained in a low voice. “No one seems to know why Laszlo is the way he is. But he’s a good worker. Laszlo is a swamper for the town’s largest saloon. He also cleans our stable out back and does a few chores around the store. We can’t pay him but we let him sleep in the stable.”
            “He also comes to church with us on Sunday,” Kate added. “And he has supper with us a few times a week.”
             The detective was glad that Laszlo lived in a town like Candler. In larger cities, people like Laszlo were often ignored. Dehner nodded his head and took Pixie by the hand. “We’ll be right back.”
            The Bushrod Brothers’ General Store was located across the street from Harper’s Mercantile but seemed to be located in a different world. The place looked dilapidated.  Even from a distance, Dehner could tell that the inside of the store had a look of disrepair and negligence.
            As he stepped inside, he noted that the store had one customer, a dapper looking older man in a brown suit and matching derby. On second glance, Dehner wasn’t sure the gentleman was a customer.  His face indicated that, whatever his status, he was not happy. As the well dressed gent turned to walk out, a stocky man with thick red hair grabbed a stick of licorice and ran after him.
            “Here Mr. Candler, have some licorice on the house! Remember when you was just a boy and somethin’ sweet to eat would make everythin’ better?”
            Judging by the scowl on his face, Mr. Candler did not appreciate the reminiscing. “When I became a man I put away childish things,” he proclaimed.
            The man holding the licorice stick beamed in an approving manner. “Good thinkin’, Mr. Candler. This town needs more men like you. Men who are well versed in the Good Book! I’ll tell that to the preacher…ah…next time I see him.”
            Mr. Candler stomped out of the Bushrod Brothers’ General Store. The red headed gent with the licorice stick shook his head, “The way that man acts, you’d think his family owns the town.”
            “They do,” came a shout from behind the counter. “This is Candler, Arizona, remember?”
            “Oh yeah.” the redheaded man took a bite of the licorice stick as he smiled at Dehner.
            There were quick introductions all around. Rance learned that the man with the licorice was Rupert Bushrod, and the man behind the counter was his brother Clarence. The men were twins, and could easily have passed for each other except for Clarence’s thinning hair and receding hairline.
            “Sorry you had to arrive when we were so busy, Rance.” Rupert leaned against the counter as he took a final bite of the candy. “Mr. Candler is the town banker. He’s a might irritated with Clarence and me…or is that Clarence and I…because we ain’t made our payments of late.”
            “It’s ‘Clarence and me’, Dehner instructed, then asked, “You mean you haven’t been able to make your mortgage payments?”
Clarence shrugged his shoulders. “Right now there are so many payments we are behind on, you can pretty much take your pick. We got lots of payments, not many customers. Most folks prefer to shop at Harper’s Mercantile. Can’t figure out why.”
Rupert held up an index finger, “Maybe it’s cause the Harpers are more helpful, their store is cleaner and their prices lower.”
Clarence nodded his head in a thoughtful manner, “Guess that could have somethin’ to do with it.”

Tomorrow: Episode Five of The Silent Child