Wednesday, October 31, 2012

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Episode Eighteen of The Silent Child

Episode Seventeen concluded with:

            “You’re wonderful folks!” Rupert smiled broadly as he spoke. “The kind of people who are needed to help bring civilization to the west. Darn shame you’re all gonna be dead in a few minutes. But, wouldn’t you know it, that’s what often happens to the kind of people who are needed to help bring civilization to the west.”  He once again motioned with his gun. “Downstairs!” 

Episode Eighteen

Kate looked at her husband, who nodded at her to follow the instructions. She picked up Pixie and walked down the wooden steps into darkness.
“Enoch, if you will be so kind as to accompany the missus.” As Rupert spoke, Clarence lit the lantern on the bedside table. He was the last to go down the stairs to the basement, following his brother who kept his gun on Enoch. Clarence closed the trap door behind him.
Rupert looked around. The scant light from the lantern provided very limited visibility. “Just the kind of basement I’d expect the Harpers to have. Neat and clean. A bit dank, perhaps, but you really can’t help that.”
Even in the dim light, flames could be seen in Kate’s eyes. “You two are monsters!” The woman kept an arm draped around Pixie who was now at her side clinging to her right leg.
“Yes ma’am, I guess we are,” Rupert replied.
“Our ma and pa just didn’t raise us proper,” Clarence said. “Never sent us to Sunday school.”
“We never did learn the ten commandments,” Rupert added. 
Clarence nodded his head. “The preacher came by our store a year or so back, I think he might have mentioned a few of those commandments. They sounded like good advice.”
“Only Clarence and me have never been ones to take good advice.”
Enoch was stunned. The Bushrod brothers were carrying on in their usual humorous manner, bouncing jokes off of each other. But there was nothing funny about their intentions.
“Why are you men doing this?” Enoch’s voice reflected amazement as well as anger. “We never hurt you!”
“Well, in a way you kinda did,” a smile remained on Rupert’s face. “Harper’s Mercantile has plum taken away all of our customers. We ain’t far from goin’ out of business.”
“Yep, and Rupert and me is too old to start workin’ honest at this point in our lives.” Clarence continued to hold the lantern in his left hand and a six shooter in the right hand.
“I guess it all came clear that day Mrs. Thompson came into the store with her kid. It was obvious to us that she only stopped by cause you folks was sold out of candy. We’d never see her or her husband in the store again.”
“After she left, Rupert and me got to talkin’--”
“That’s Rupert and I!”
“Oh yeah. Rupert and I got to talkin’. We decided that the only way we could survive was to eliminate the competition.”
Rupert cut in. “We coulda done that by hard work and total dedication to our customers!”
“But like we said earlier, Rupert and I have never been good at that. So, we decided to burn Harper’s Mercantile down. Of course, we’d have to kill the Harpers in the process.”
“Otherwise you folks woulda rebuilt. Been an inspiration to the town.”
“But I don’t understand.” Kate caressed Pixie’s head as she spoke. “Why did you kill the Thompsons and try to kill Pixie?”
“Carelessness, pure carelessness,” Clarence answered.
“You see, my brother and I,” Rupert smiled condescendingly at Clarence, “were discussing our plans to murder you folks after Mrs. Thompson left the store.”
“We had just put the finishing touches on a dandy scheme, when we turned around and there was this kid. Her mother had given her a penny to come back and buy another piece of candy.”
“Clarence and I had been makin’ our plans from behind the counter. Never occurred to us that a customer might come in.” 
Enoch’s voice was now steely. “So, that afternoon you rode out to the Thompson’s place and murdered them. You couldn’t take a chance that Pixie wouldn’t tell her mother and father what she had overheard.” 

Tomorrow: Episode Nineteen of The Silent Child