Opal swirled the lemonade in her mason jar. She was plunked down in a heavy duty rocking chair on the front porch, looking across the barbed wire fence toward a mesquite thicket her husband had never cleared.
“You remember that scripture about gates in heaven, Henry?” Are the gates to keep something in, or something out?”
Henry kept paring his raggedy fingernails with a jackknife, thinking he knew where this was going. Opal was forever going the long way around. He snapped the knife closed, putting it in a pocket of his tattered thirty year old high school choir letter jacket.
“That’s something to think about. Why don’t you ask Brother Lew next Sunday? Most preacher’s have opinions on things like that.”
“Well, I will. But that consarned electric eye you put at the lane entrance is driving me crazy. I’m spooked! I can’t take them two notes sounding off early every morning. No one ever comes up the lane; no one I know about leaves. Admit you made a bad investment and take that …”
“Opal, just give me time. I set the beam high enough that small varmints pass under it. But, something’s triggering it. I’m sure ‘nuff going to catch ‘em. Besides, it only had a thirty day money back guar…”
“Do something, Henry. Somebody’s spying on us.”
“Can’t imagine why, Opal. But, I did find a Butterfinger wrapper blowing across the pasture yesterday.”
Opal’s head lurched around. Beneath tightly squinted, puffy lids, her eyes searched Henry’s face.
Henry was studiously inspecting his nails. He mentally scratched a mark on their one-up tally sheet. Opal’s weight was a problem. She should have known he would find her stash. The last thing a diabetic needed was candy. He’d married her for better or worse, not better or nurse.
“See…see,” she stammered, “someone’s out there. I told you – they’re spying on …”
“Don’t think so, Opal. But I’m fixing to find out.” Henry stood and stretched. Removing his jacket, he slipped the overall straps off his shoulders. “Let’s go to bed. I’ll hide near the gate before sunup. If that bell dongs, sound the horn.”
Opal glanced to make sure the cow horn bugle was hanging on a nail driven into a porch post. When Henry was out in the field and she needed him, she gave two blasts to let him know to come pronto, or three toots if company had arrived. “Okay, Henry. But, that noisy gadget goes in the trash if you don’t shut it up.”
The next morning the chime began to clamor. Before Opal could grab the bugle she heard a rifle shot. Collapsing on the porch, holding her hand over her pounding heart, she began to wail. “Oh, Henry … Henry… they shot you. Please no, God! Not my Henry.” Struggling, blubbering incoherently, she grasped the porch post, hauling herself up and removed the horn.
“Puff…puff.” No sound came out. “Puff…puff.” She stumbled back and fell into the rocker, sobbing.
She was still there, rocking and moaning when Henry found her.
“Opal, what are you doing? I’m starved. Let’s have breakfast.”
“Oh, Henry – Henry, I thought you were…” She lurched out of the chair and charged into him, clasping him in a bear hug that tumbled them off the porch.
“Get off, Opal. I can’t breath” Henry gasped. “What’s got into you?”
As she rolled off him she said, “I don’t care about the bell. I’m just glad they didn’t get you. I heard a shot and…”
“That sucker won’t be dinging any more, Opal. I told you I’d figger it out.”
“You did? Oh, Henry, I love you. Tell me…”
“Tonight, Opal, I’m cooking. I’ll show you.”
Mystified, but ecstatic that Henry wasn’t among the dearly departed, Opal willingly waited on the explanation. She even agreed to Henry’s demand to stay out of the kitchen. The table was set, rather skimpily she thought, seeing only a selection of raw vegetables from the garden and filled tea glasses. But, a pleasing aroma was escaping the closed kitchen door.
Henry pulled out Opal’s chair and seated her. Without further ado he went to the kitchen and returned with two thick sandwiches on her favorite serving platter. They were meaty and garnished superbly.
“Some turkeys flying off a roost to search for bugs in the field sailed through the beam.” Henry winked, bowed deeply and sat down. “Problem solved, my love.”
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