Saturday, November 14, 2009
Donald Baker's Cabin
Peaks County, Colorado
After taking a few steps, LeRoy glances into the living room, which is illuminated by the flickering light of the TV, to get a better view of Donald. Instead, LeRoy sees the faint light of a dying fire creeping up the wall behind an empty leather chair. Donald, is not in the room.
"Where'd 'n hell he go?" LeRoy thinks.
LeRoy sees movement on the floor by the chair, as Rocky paws his way to the back wall of the living room. The door is ajar.
"Must be fetchin' wood out back." LeRoy assures himself.
"Gettin' pretty cold anyhow." LeRoy begins to shiver.
LeRoy's mind ponders over the best way to go about confronting his brother. Donald has always been a little jumpy, especially at night, so LeRoy figures it is best to quietly approach the house and knock on the door--only after making certain that Donald is alone. LeRoy has an air of confidence about him after successfully approaching the house without alerting anyone, but he needs to be careful. Had LeRoy found evidence of someone else lurking nearby, he would have backtracked and never returned. On the other hand, should Donald have been entertaining a known guest, LeRoy would simply have waited it out--no matter the cold. Feeling fairly certain that Donald is, not only alone, but in the back yard collecting another pile of wood, LeRoy hastens his steps for the final distance to the front porch.
"I swear, if ya move one more inch, I'm gonna scatter ya head all across this porch." Says the voice behind LeRoy, as the barrel digs its way into the skin of his neck.
"Truth is, nobody probably gonna hear the gun go off, no how, we're all alone up here." LeRoy can't help but to notice a slight hint of pleasure the speaker has in saying this.
"Look..." LeRoy begins to say, before being interrupted.
"No sir, you don't talk. I'm the one gonna be doin' talkin'!"
"Donald... It's me, LeRoy."
"LeRoy?" Donald's voice becomes strained with confusion.
"LeRoy, what are you..."
"Donald, shutup. And if ya don't mind, stop pointin' that thing at my head!" LeRoy demands in a stern, but low volumed, tone. Donald lowers the shotgun, and LeRoy turns to face his brother.
"LeRoy, what are ya doin' here? What's goin' on? Aren't you supposed to be..."
"We need to be gettin' inside, Donald. I'll explain everything then. We just need to be gettin' inside before somebody sees us." LeRoy says in haste.
"But.. LeRoy, we're..."
"I know, just trust me. I'll tell ya as much as I can once we get inside, but no more talking out here." LeRoy begs.
Donald nods and motions for LeRoy to follow him around to the back of the house. The front door is locked. Silently, they ease their way through the maze of darkness to the back door. Once inside, the blinds are drawn and the doors bolted. The two men stair at one another, not sure who should speak first. Snow begins to fall on the ranch, as a blanket of uncertainty covers the mood inside of Donald Baker's home.
"Donald, I think you need take a seat." LeRoy hints.
"I reckon I do," Donald replies, "because last time I checked, ya shoulda been sittin' in a cell at the Supermax in Florence."
"You aren't up for release for another 5 years... how'd 'n the hell ya make it a hundred and seventy miles from there, to here?" Donald glares at his younger brother.
"Bro, I know it's been a long while, " LeRoy's eyes begin to water, "but I really need your help."
"You gotta understand, though..." LeRoy pauses and looks past Donald searching for an explanation that will make sense.
"You gotta... This thing is deep, Don. This thing is real deep and real scary."
"LeRoy..." Donald also pauses, trying desperately to choose his next words cafefully.
"...I'm here for ya, LeRoy. I know we haven't talked since ya messed up and went to prison a few years back, but I'm here for my brother. You just gotta be honest with me and not keep no secrets."
LeRoy nods in an uneasy manner, but agreeing none the less.
"Now tell me, how'd ya get out of supermax years before ya even be up for parole?" Donald's voice sounds shaky, perhaps worried of the answer.
"It's a long story, bro..."
"I've got time, LeRoy. What are ya doin' out of the ADX?" Donald, pours two tumblers full of scotch as he searches for answers.
"Don, maybe if you'd at least written, you'd know I wasn't in with the tough boys." LeRoy's voice conveys in anger.
"I was in the minimum security tract. The Unabomber wasn't my cell neighbor. I was locked up around guys busted for fraud just like me."
"Gettin' out wasn't the hardest thing I've ever done. I'll save you some time and just reassure you that I didn't kill anyone to get out, I just tricked 'em."
"LeRoy," Donald shakes his head in disbelief, "you always was a con man."
"Donald..." LeRoy's face looks to be more serious.
"had I not walked out of there, I'd probably be a dead man today."
"What are ya talkin' 'bout?"
"Just like I said, bro. I caught wind of something while I was in there." LeRoy's face begins to lose color.
"The guy that told me about it had been transferred from a prison down in Mississippi, Parchman--some place like a farm. Three days ago he was found hanged in his cell. He wasn't the suicide type... if ya dig what I'm gettin' at."
LeRoy becomes solemn and looks at his brother with worry.
"Don, I knew if I didn't get out of there I would be next."
"Well, I don't know 'bout all that LeRoy, but..."
"Don," LeRoy interrupts, "don't you find it a little odd that the news ain't talking about a prison escape?"
"Why would the cops not be lookin' for ya? Maybe the news ain't heard about it yet?" Donald asks in a hopefull manner.
"Don, they don't need to be looking for me. They got someone out hunting me. They want to find me and shut me up for good, before I have time to tell others. He almost saw me last night, until I slipped in the woods near the pass."
"What kind of guy they got after ya?" asks Donald.
"And what exactly do ya know, anyhow?"
"I need to keep the knowin' to myself, for now, bro. He's some paramilitary guy. Cold. Calculative. Military skills but not the looks. It's just strange. Saw him at a truck stop below the pass. It was definately him. Seemed to just be looking around, not talking to anyone, though. Hunting."
"cal-u-tat... a para what?" Donald stutters.
"LeRoy, I know you are the smart one, the college kid and all, but what are you telling me?"
"Bro, this guy is a pro. He takes care of other people's problems."
LeRoy takes a finishing swig of his three fingers of scotch.
"I'm someone's problem."
Sensing the stress, Donald hands LeRoy what is left of his scotch. LeRoy is quick to deposit the drink in the company of his own. The stress is still there, just blurry and numb, for now.
Down the road, the hustle and bustle of swanky living continues in Juniper Grove, as locals celebrate the first snow storm of the season. The slow lifestyle of the small town of Rockpoint continues, as usual, unbeknownst to the happenings up the hill at Donald Baker's ranch. Outside, the snow continues to fall over the scape of uncertainty that has surrounded the once quiet way of life in Peaks County, Colorado. Within a few minutes, blizzard conditions ensue and cover up any trace of footsteps around the Baker property. Planted in curiosity, the black boots of Peaks County Sheriff, John Maxwell, become white--and the remaining trace of his presence at the top of Donald Baker's driveway soon covered in snow.
As the storm intensifies, Donald and LeRoy fall in and out of sleep--the fire soon dies, leaving the room lit only by a flickering TV. The fading footsteps of Sheriff Maxwell lead to an SUV parked at the front gate of the Baker ranch. Quietly, the sheriff puts his Tahoe into neutral, allowing the vehicle to roll several yards away from the gate before starting the engine and blindly driving back towards the town of Rockpoint. Morning will surely hold more questions, as a body awaits discovery outside of Juniper Grove.