|The Barn looked like this, only larger and with a lean-to on the side. (source)|
I was creeping through the back yard with a crescent moon high overhead when I heard the door to the barn slam hard. I dropped to the ground and hid in the high grass watching the spot where I knew the door was and waited. Straining my ears against the stillness of the night I could hear him clearing his throat as he moved about the old barn, and then I saw the light come on.
I made my way to the field just north of the door and laid down in the tall grass so I could watch the old man opening dresser drawers and flip over cushions. He's dump out all the contents of a drawer onto the steps leading up to the second floor and then scatter them about as he muttered. "Where the fuck did he hide it all? She gave it to him and I know it's here. Damned fool's kids took everything in the house and none of those bastards had it. Where is it A Lee?"
Laying on my belly in the high grass and watching the old man through the cracks in the barn I found myself listening to the night breath about me. After he turned away from the doorway I pulled out my little map and marked down his path. He'd been making his way steadily along the right side of the barn, moving furniture and grumbling to himself. The center and far left had avoided his groping fingers so far but it was only a matter of time before he started working through that side of the barn.
It's fun watching a murderer work his way through your barn when he doesn't know that you're there. He uses words that never made their way into our house and spits, a lot. Tobacco dribbled down his chin as he shoved his fingers into every nook and cranny. "God damned Feds. Probably watching me . . ."
He was turning against the federal government early tonight. Usually he'd spend an hour searching through the barn, sipping moonshine out of a mason jar, before he'd start ranting about the Feds setting him up. It had only taken him twenty minutes this time and it had me worried. Had he seen me?
I crawled back another fifteen feet to put a bit more distance between me and that doorway when he began to throw stuff about the barn and roared, "You think you're smarter than me? I'll find all you mother fuckers and a bullet in your god damned heads! Then I'm coming for your families!"
He kicked the door open and I kept my eyes on him as paced along the side of the barn. He was a small man but the years in prison had made him hard beyond belief. The whiskey had made him wild; that made him dangerous. Then the wind blew over me and he stopped to look at my spot. Jesus! He's seen me. Oh God I'm dead!
"That you? Huh? You think you can hide from me?" He pulled out a pistol and pointed it right at my hiding spot. "You ain't fooling no one mother fucker!"
He pulled the hammer back on the old revolver and started to aim at me when the helicopter came over the tree line. He swung the pistol up at the chopper and screamed, "God damned Feds! You'll never take me!" as he fired two shots at the helicopter and fled into the forest. He was deep over the waterfall of his delusions as he raced though the woods shouting about the hounds on his trail.
I watched his light race towards the pond and his property line for a good two minutes before I turned back up the hill and ran towards the safety of our house. By the time I had made it in the front door I was trembling. My legs were like jello as I laid my back against the door and flipped the deadbolt in place. Fuck. Did he actually see me or was it like every other time? If he'd seen me he would have called my name. He always called my name when he saw me. Did he see me?
Morning found me in the bed still wondering if the Murderer had actually seen me when I was called to breakfast. We were all around the table when a knock came on the porch door and I got up to answer it. It was him. I caught my breath as he smiled at me, "Charlie!" he boomed out, "how you doing, son."
Fine, sir, I said as I closed the door behind me. No point in letting everyone see me get shot right here in front of them.
"I've got some squash and cucumbers for your mother."
Thank you, sir.
"Did you see those god damned Feds come by last night?"
"Sons of bitches poisoned my crops!"
Those mother fuckers!
We talked for a little while and finally I told him that I had to get back inside. I played a bit of Nintendo after breakfast and began plotting out the map in my head as I shot pixelated ducks out of the air. He'd been searching the right side of the barn for a month without finding anything. Why did he keep going over there? What could A Lee have hid that would warrant him sneaking up there night after night?
Finally I looked over at my brother and said, "Let's go play outside."
We took off and went wild like the little heathens we were, pretending to shoot each other and picking up sticks to sword fight. Our neighbors came over and we played football till the girls came over and then we chased them about the yard playing tag and hoping that one of them would let us kiss them - they never did. All the while my mind was working on that barn and old A Lee.
The old man had never thrown anything away and his children had been convinced that he kept the fifteen old mattresses on the car port because he'd hid his vast fortune away in them. Of course none of them realized that A Lee didn't have a dime to his name. Hell, he didn't even own the house he'd lived in for the last ten years; our family just didn't have the heart to kick an eighty year old man out on his ass.
We were playing hide and seek when I made my move and snuck off to the barn. I scanned the area where the Murderer had been searching and figured that nothing would ever come out of there. The place was filled to the brim with old furniture and empty whiskey bottles piled nearly five feet high. No, nothing is ever going to come from over here, I thought.
I tried to imagine being as crazy as A Lee and where would I hide something valuable. Then I remembered the upstairs loft. There was a wasp nest that had been there for longer than I had been alive and it covered nearly seven feet of the corner. I crept up the stairs listening to them creek with each footstep until my eyes came level with the loft floor.
Most of the hay had been cleared out a few years before but there were three big piles left up there. Two were in the south side of the barn, but there was one right under the wasp nest. I sat there looking at it, and then that massive nest with those red paper wasps flying in and out of it, and then back at the hay pile. That's where I'd hide something I didn't want anyone else to find.
I made my way back down and started hunting for the pitchfork that we'd used last winter to stab the snowman. I found it in the front lean-to and slipped back upstairs. I took a deep breath as I watched those wasps flying about and slowly made my way over to the hay pile. So far so good, I whispered as I slid the pitchfork under the hay. Three deep breaths and I hadn't moved. I could hear the wasps flying lower, checking me out and I knew my time was running out. I turned to the left and slid the pitchfork under the pile and pushed it all out the open bay doors, nearly following it when I forgot to let go of the pitchfork! The noise had the wasps stirred up and I was running down the stairs and fleeing up the hill as the little bastards swarmed out the bay doors and blurred the side of the barn for the next two hours. Play outside was officially canceled as we watched them from the safety of our back porch.
"Wonder what got them all riled up?" my brother asked.
I was up there and showed them your picture.
As the evening sun started to set the wasps had finally calmed down enough to where we were allowed to get back outside. I made my way to where I'd thrown all that hay out and started looking through it for anything of value while my brother stabbed the side of the barn with the pitchfork.
"Do you think the Murderer knows he's crazy, or do you think he believes we're the crazy ones?"
Don't know, but I really hope that he's able to tell he's going crazy.
Because otherwise it's just too sad.
There it was! Glinting in the sun just inside the tall grass was a large mason jar filled with silver coins. Must have been a hundred or so in there and as I picked it up I couldn't believe how heavy it was. I turned towards my brother with the jar in my hands.
You see this?
"Whoa, where'd you find that?"
Up in the loft. The Murderer's been creeping in the barn every night trying to find it.
"Seriously? Charlie, we don't need to be messing with that if he's looking for it."
Fuck him. It's not his and I'm not keeping it.
"What are you going to do with it then?"
We're going to bury it in that field over there so he can't have it.
My brother's face lit up as he put the pitchfork up and grabbed a shovel. "You know, I think we'll go to Hell for this."
Nah, he's a dick. We're just giving him what he deserves.