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25 June 2012 @ 06:30 am
Dust Devils: Dust Bowl Refugee (Chapter 19)  

February 13, 2007—Boise City, Oklahoma




Dust Devils

Chapter 19

Dust Bowl Refugee

**O**

February 13, 2007—Boise City, Oklahoma

Guns poised, Sam and Bobby swept the room as Ellen ran for the field-stretcher, though Florabel paid little heed to anything beyond the still form before her. Kneeling, she lifted Dean's lids with gentle fingers, shining her penlight to gauge his responses.

"He's badly concussed," she said over her shoulder, never taking her eyes off Dean. Gingerly turning his head, she inspected the impact wound. "Oh Pally…" She winced and rechecked his pulse. "Weak."

Ellen ran up with the stretcher.

"We need to get him out of here, now," Sam said. "We can do triage away from the building. We can't do this here."

Florabel glanced up. "What are you gonna do about Slaid?"

Bobby spoke as he and Ellen wedged the board underneath Dean, shifting him onto it. "Nothing right now. He's tied to this place. He can't follow us. We're gonna get Dean out of here, stabilize him and then deal with the spirits. We're gonna have to find their bones and burn them."

"We're good. Let's go." Ellen grabbed the grips on the stretcher.

"I got it, Ellen." Sam moved to take the grips.

"Like hell you do. Not with them ribs. You watch our asses." She waved him off. "Let's go Singer." With a nod to Bobby, they lifted Dean with little effort and moved toward the door.

Sam came last, gun sweeping from side to side as he backed out of the building. Before crossing the threshold, however, Florabel heard him gasp and swing his gun around, pointing it at something.

"That's not Slaid," he said.

Florabel peered behind her but saw nothing there. "What?"

Sam gripped her shoulders and ushered her from the building. Outside they moved double time. Sam jogged up to Bobby and the stretcher. "I saw one of them back there, but it wasn't Slaid."

"Who? What?"

"Just now, inside, I caught a glimpse of one of the spirits—watching us from the corner. When it realized it'd been made, it winked out. I'm not sure, but I think—" He didn't finished but Bobby appeared to understand.

"We'll take care of it, kid. First things first."

They spent only a few rushed moments at the site. Getting Dean away was the hunters' first priority, and they wouldn't let Florabel linger. They stopped long enough for her to start Dean on oxygen and get an IV inserted, then they were on the move again.

"You think he rebooted, Bobby?" Sam asked as Florabel tried to get another read on Dean's pulse while they walked. It was weak and he hadn't responded to any stimuli since he'd come through the portal. It worried her.

The older hunter sighed, shrugging. "Dunno for sure, but I expect so." He opened the tailgate. "We'll get him back. Won't take two months this time, either. He's got us to help him. It'll be all right."

Bobby hopped onto the bed of the pickup, and in one fluid motion, they lifted the stretcher and slid it in. Once situated, Sam and Ellen crawled into the cab and piled several warm blankets on Dean.

"You ride in the cab with me, Doc," Bobby said. "It'll just take a few minutes to get to your place. Come on." He led her by the hand. "They'll keep him safe until we get there."

Florabel gave him a stiff nod. Her concerned eyes went to Dean but then she nodded again. "Right." She came out of her thoughts and allowed Bobby to help her into the truck. Settling, the old woman turned and watched the activity in the back. Once Ellen gave Bobby a thumbs up, indicating they were good to go, he drove away at a good clip.

Florabel blinked, overwhelmed. It startled her how different, yet, the same Dean looked—as though someone had highlighted all his edges, making him appear crisper and more quintessentially Dean than she ever remembered. She tried to connect this version of the man to the one in her memory. As clear as he'd remained in her heart and mind, the genuine article was far more striking, far more profound. Memories stabbed her, steel-needle sharp. She turned around, facing front but not seeing the road ahead of her.

**O**

April 20, 1935—Boise City, Oklahoma

"Pally, NO!" Florabel screamed as the dust devil writhed, flinging out a hundred threads of light that hooked onto Dean even as he fought to scrabble away. After a fruitless struggle, though, he sagged in defeat, knowing he couldn't escape, accepting the inevitable.

"Sorry kiddo."

Florabel heard the words despite the roar of the wind.

Dean stiffened as more whips of light lashed him, and he cried his brother's name. The ground shook and hummed as the strands of light ran like liquid, spreading over Dean in a huge net.

"Love you, ‘Bel," he said, his eyes soft and sad.

He gasped, throwing his head back as his body succumbed, bursting into crystal light as the net dragged him into the core of the Cyclone. A few seconds later the structure of the storm faltered and broke apart, collapsing into a few coiled ropes of dust that rained down upon the two onlookers.

Jeb stood frozen, horror and shock rooting him to the ground. Clutching the girl with numb fingers, he stared at the spot where Dean and the dust devil had been. He came to life when Florabel squirmed and flailed against him.

"Stay still, doll." She continued to struggle until the stunned man released her. Running to the spot where Dean had been, she searched this way and that, as though she expected him to reappear. She picked up the gun that lay where Dean had dropped it.

"I'll take that." Jeb walked to her and retrieved the gun. He looked from Slaid where he lay motionless to Florabel sitting in the dust, sucking her fingers, the fire in her eyes extinguished. Jeb reached out to comfort her, but she flinched away. Overcome and stymied by what he'd witnessed himself, the old man let her be, and he aimlessly wandered around.

He worked his way to Slaid, catching sight of the bullet wound in the middle of his forehead. Inspecting the body, he saw a second bullet hole over his heart. The farmhand was beyond help.

"Jesus," he said, neither lamenting nor celebrating.

He paced around, too shocked to do anything, tottering back and forth between Florabel and Slaid's body, not knowing what to do about either. At last, Jeb stopped and took stock of the situation. He had two bodies to deal with and no acceptable explanation to give anyone who asked. And there would be questions. Lots of them. The old man examined the gun in his hand. His gun. The gun that had killed a man. He stuck it in his pocket with a nervous swallow. A gust of wind swept through the barnyard, twisting and twirling along the ground, interrupting his thoughts.

Checking on Florabel again, she remained a hunched statue. Wind and dust rolled over her as she sat there, unmoving, blank faced, sucking three fingers.

"You okay, doll?" He picked her up.

Pliant in his arms, she made no eye contact and offered no response to his question.

"Florabel…" He jostled her, trying to get a response, but she didn't stir. Jeb sighed and held her close. "It'll be all right, Doodlebug." He noticed the beginnings of an angry bruise mottling her face, the purple outline of Slaid's hand. He kissed and petted her.

"Stay here behind the barn, darlin'. Let's keep you out'a the wind." He set her down but she padded right back to the spot where Dean had been taken from her and promptly resumed her silent vigil.

"I don't think he's a-comin' back, sweetheart." He sighed when she didn't move or give any indication she'd heard him.

The farmer hesitated, considering his options. After a moment he ran and got a shovel from the barn. Searching for a suitable spot out of the wind, he chose a site about ten feet behind the barn and began digging.

Burying Slaid turned into an all-day ordeal. Careworn and weak with hunger, Jeb had to rest often. Keeping the dirt pile from blowing away took constant vigilance and effort. In the end he wound up digging a smaller hole just to fill in the first.

Late in the afternoon, he leaned against the barn for a moment, wiping his gritty brow and keeping an eye on Florabel. She hadn't said a word from the shock—the loss of both her Mother and Dean having shattered her voice into a million unspeakable pieces. He went to the well and brought them both some water, which she drank greedily, but she wouldn't speak or face the old man. He hugged her again and tamped the last of the dirt onto the grave. Once finished, Jeb stood at Slaid's grave, unable to find anything fitting to say, so he said nothing. Shaking his head, he shouldered the shovel and turned to Florabel.

"We need to git a move on." He surveyed the sky then picked up the child. He collected his few belongings at the bunkhouse, packing them into a knapsack he tossed over his shoulder. Florabel's right eye had swollen shut, the entire side of her face the color of a dark plum. He guessed she had a concussion on top of everything else. Slaid had been merciless with his fists. Jeb's fingers quivered over his damaged jaw, hinging it a few times to see if it was broken. It probably was, but he could do nothing about it. He ran his hands through his hair and rose from his cot, offering his hand to Florabel.

"Come on, darlin'. Let's get you ready to go." He carried her toward the house and up the porch stairs.

It was only when they reached the door that Florabel came alive. She kicked and squirmed when Jeb went to carry her over the threshold. She thrashed, pushing against him, wanting nothing to do with going into that house.

"It's okay, Florabel. We's just gonna git a few things to take with you. We ain't stayin' here." She would have none of it, though. She grabbed onto the door-jam and began screaming at the top of her lungs, her one good eye wide with unthinking terror. Shocked, Jeb held her shaking body, raining kisses on her as he attempted to calm her.

"Okay, doll. Shhh, it's all right. You don't have to go in if'n you don't want to." He set her on the porch swing. "You wait here. Old Jeb will be right quick."

Leaving the child swinging her legs, once more docile and indifferent, he went inside, gathering things in a bag. He stopped at the kitchen table and picked up the photograph taken on her birthday, his breath hitching at the hopeful faces smiling back at him.

"Dear God." His eyes watered as he put it in the bag with a change of clothes for Florabel.

By the time he shut the front door, the sun sat low on the horizon, wind pushing plumes of dust to the south. They'd have to walk fast to beat the sunset. Glancing down, he noticed Florabel had fallen asleep. Running his hands through her hair, he called her name. Her good eye snapped open and she sat up, bewildered—expectant. A fraction of a second later the light in her eyes dulled as everything came back to her.

"Oh, Doodlebug." He rubbed her back. "Come on," he held out his hand, "let's go, darlin'."

Obedient, she took his hand, and together they walked along the path, through the silent barnyard and onto the road without glancing back.

They walked without words. The echoing, clomping scrape of the child's shoes on the pavement was broken only by the clickedy-click of dead thistles rattling against fence posts on the side of the road. Dust skittered across the pavement in front of them. Jeb's ears rang with that monotonous, silent roar.

They stopped at a crossroads not far from the city. The hazy sun had set, leaving an orange, dust-infused glow on the horizon. Jeb squatted and thumbed Florabel's chin, half of her face painted by the filtered sunset, the other half by Slaid's hand.

"I cain't go no further." He cleared his throat and pointed toward town. "They's gonna be lots of questions I cain't answer. My gun killed a man. They ain't just gonna let me go, an' I ain't made for that, doll. I lost my boy years ago, lost my beautiful Beth. Lost my farm." He swallowed. "I'm sixty-three years old. I don't got nothin' left but my freedom, an' I ain't losin' that, too. That's too much to ask a man who ain't done no wrong." He drew her close. "Now, I'm losin' my best two girls." He ran his hand through his hair and his voice cracked. He reached into his pocket and pulled out some folded bills. "This is yours, Florabel. It's all the money your mama had. I took three dollars. I hope you an' your mama don't mind none. They's over fifty dollars, there. You hold that tight an' hide it away." He opened her bag and tucked it into a sock, showing her where he'd hidden it.

He stroked the cruel and uncaring mark Slaid had given her. One of many. This, he supposed, was the easiest to heal. Still, he knew she must have a ghastly headache.

"This is the last goodbye you's gonna have to suffer for a while, Florabel. I promise. It'll be all howdy-do's and nice-t'meetcha's from here on in." He pointed to the town. "Them's good folk there. They'll take care of you. You take this road, here, until you come to Main Street. Go into the big building there and talk to Sheriff Burnett. You can catch a glimpse of it from here, see?" He pointed again. "He'll see to it someone fetches your mama so she gits a Christian burial." He hugged her tight and made sure she had a secure hold on her bag before standing.

He motioned toward the town again. "That a-way, sweetheart. Be a good girl," he said. "Make your Mama, Pally, an' me proud." She stood there with the handles of her bag in both her hands. Jeb turned around and began to head west, but Florabel tottered right after him. He stopped with a sad sigh.

"Y'cain't come with me, darlin'." He walked her back to the crossroads. "I'm gonna be hoppin' freights and stayin' in shanty towns. Ain't no life for a Doodlebug." His voice caught, and he choked on a suppressed sob. "Ain't no life for no one." He pointed her south, patting her behind. "I hope life treats you proper from here on in, Florabel."

She spun around, one last time, but he shook his head and pointed toward the town. Defeated, she walked away on stiff legs, lumbering under the cumbersome bag.

Jeb watched her until she grew small in the distance before turning and walking away himself. Dusk had fallen, and the light had all but gone.

**O**

February 13, 2007—Boise City, Oklahoma

The flurry of activity when they arrived at the farm both surprised and impressed Florabel. These people worked as a seamless team, each taking on tasks with minimal direction, often times supplying her with items she needed before she'd even called for them. She'd witnessed a lot of emergency rooms with less organization.

They soon situated Dean on the bed she and Ellen had prepared earlier. While Bobby and Ellen set up the heart monitor, Florabel busied herself by starting him on a unit of blood, since his pressure was dangerously low. All these years later, she still remembered the pool of blood on the kitchen floor. Thinking back, she wondered how he'd been able to remain conscious in that root cellar. He'd need at least one unit, but she had several if needed.

"He ain't rousing." One glance at his eyes told her he had a significant concussion, but his non-response to stimuli troubled her. "We may need to git him to a hospital. He needs an MRI. This ain't something you should trust to homeopathy."

"He won't wake for a couple of days," Bobby said. "Getting too close to the elemental causes people to lose consciousness. Causes the amnesia, too. It happened to all those boys it attacked."

"Really?" Florabel considered the information. "Mama assumed he couldn't remember because of his fever. Course there weren't no way for us to know they was anything going on beyond that." She hooked up an antibiotic drip. "So he ain't gonna remember anything that happened? He ain't gonna remember me?"

"We'll get him back." Sam said. "He'll remember everything eventually. He remembered me, right?" He ran his hands through Dean's matted hair and checked his wound. "This is going to need stitches." Peeling back a small flap of skin, he shuddered. "Oh God, are those what I think they are?"

Florabel leaned in. "Oh, um, uh…yep. I think so. We'll clean ‘em out. I told you they was a lot of flies in the cellar."

"I'm on it." Ellen sorted through the supplies, grabbing a few items to clean and disinfect Dean's head wound.

"Jesus," Sam said, disgusted and overwhelmed with worry. "How are all his vitals, now?"

Florabel checked him, vocalizing her assessment as she went along. "His oxygen level is down." She listened to his lungs. "He has a lot of pleural effusion, fever of 101.2. We may need to drain the fluids from his lungs."

Sam fidgeted with worry. He could hear Dean's lungs rattling like a bong. It sounded painful. "How do we do that?"

"Don't fret. We can do it right here if'n we have to. We'll make sure he's stable, first. If'n he ain't any better after some antibiotics, we'll take care of it. He's doin' well for what he's been through. Help me here, Sam."

She and Sam unhooked the straps of his overalls, easing them down to his waist and cutting off the top of his union suit with scissors. Shifting Dean onto his side without upsetting Ellen's work on his head, Florabel pulled a sticky wad of bandages away from his shoulder blade.

"Oh my." She held it up. Sam grimaced at the green, greasy bandage.

"What the hell is that?" Ellen recoiled from it.

"That is proof old wives weren't no slouches. It's homemade penicillin." Florabel said proudly. "It's my mama's bread-and-milk poultice. Saved his life when he first come to us with that horrible gunshot infection. People assume Fleming discovered penicillin. Discovered—my ass. Women's been makin' poultices for hundreds a'years. They just didn't get no Nobel Prize for it." She examined Dean's shoulder wound. "Most of the stitches have torn. We'll have to redo those."

"I can do that." Sam leaned in for a better look.

Florabel examined the small stitches that still held. "My God. These are my mama's stitches." Her mind boggled. "There ain't no words for this. It's incredible."

Bobby came over and held Dean on his side while Sam cleaned the wound and stitched it under Florabel's keen eye.

"You're real good at that, Sam," she said.

"I've had lots of practice." Sam nodded toward Dean's other scars. "Most of those are my work, and if I lifted my shirt, you'd seen his on me."

Florabel shook her head, patting Sam. "I can tell you boys take real good care of one another. Pally's gonna be okay."

Sam eyed her between stitches. "I've been meaning to ask. Why do you call him Pally?"

The old woman chuckled. "It was my special nickname for him. I knew we was gonna be great friends from the git-go. He was my pal, y'see? And a'course he didn't even know his name when he first woke, so I gave him one."

As she sat, her eyes watered. "It's so strange. When I was a young'un, he was this tall, strong, larger-than-life man. He was so old and so wise." She caressed his head. "I look at him now an' I see a boy. A young, tired boy."

She turned to Sam. "Ain't that odd now—how your perception changes?" Withdrawing her hand, she set it in her lap. "I cain't imagine how scared he was, how disorienting everything must a'been for him. He never let on. He was the truest of souls. Kind hearted and patient in every way." She blushed and swallowed her emotions. "Half the time that poor boy wore me like a hat. I had such boundary issues. I was forever crawlin' all over him, usin' him as my own personal jungle gym. Hangin' on to him like a monkey. He let me, too. His lap was always open to me." She paused. "I loved him so." A tear escaped and she wiped it away. "For him that was yesterday. For me—" She stood. "He's doin' fine at the moment. I'll be right quick. Then, we can put a few stitches in his head now Ellen's cleaned it," she said with an unsteady voice as she hurried from the room.

"Should I go check on her?" Ellen asked in the silence that descended.

Bobby waved her off. "I'd give her some privacy."

"It must be tough." Sam blew out a cleansing breath. "Even if it was for a little while, he was her father, or her father-figure, at least." He went on sewing and then stopped. "She's kind of like a sister to me, in a way." Bobby raised an eyebrow. "We both had the same father." He felt a pang of empathy for the old woman. "I can't imagine what it would have been like to lose Dean when I was seven years old. I don't even want to think about it."

**O**

February 14, 2007—Boise City, Oklahoma

Florabel opened the door just after 5:00am. Dean's oxygen levels hadn't been encouraging the last time she checked an hour ago, so she'd gotten everything ready to perform a Thoracentesis.

Folded into a chair as he watched his brother, Sam startled when she came in.

"Scrubs?" He pointed to her attire and sprang to his feet. "What's wrong? What are you doing?"

She watched the monitor. "I ain't likin' these percentages. Only 85%, and he's on pure oxygen. That ain't encouragin'." She cocked her head toward the door. "Why don't you go wash up and we'll do the puncture now. It won't take long, and he'll do better once we're done."

"Okay." He made his way to the door and stopped. "How bad is this gonna be?"

"Don't fret, Sam. It ain't too invasive a procedure. We're just gonna give him a poke and drain the fluids. We can even have a good chat while we do it. I got lots of questions for you." She pointed to the door. "You go on, now. The quicker you wash, the sooner this'll be done."

"Of course." He left the room with one last worried glance at Dean.

Florabel waited for the door to close then padded to the bed. It was the first time she'd been alone with Dean since he'd returned. She took a seat on the edge of the bed, taking Dean's hand in hers.

"You ass." Florabel stroked his forehead with a sly grin. "You sneaky bastard. You never said a damn word to me about this…about any of it."

She stroked his cheek and remained silent for a moment until she noticed her withered fingers against his smooth, youthful skin. The old woman recoiled, studying her hand, age-spotted and knotted with arthritis. Florabel placed it on her cheek, feeling the dips and swells as she explored wrinkles that had not existed the last time they were together. She sighed and closed her eyes. Settling her hand back on his, Florabel opened her eyes and studied his face.

"I missed you, Pally. I cain't tell you how much. That day, Pally—" Florabel stopped and pursed her lips, struggling. "Seein' you like that. I cain't…I cain't tell you. You know, I ain't never loved no one like I loved you. That's a fact. I ain't ashamed to say it. You was everything to me." The old woman sighed. "I hope you don't think unkindly of me, but part of me wishes you never got your memories back. I wish Slaid had fallen off the face of the planet and you and Mama and me had been a family. I ain't trying to take away who you are nor undo what really unfolded, but—" She shrugged. "Part of me still wishes you remained my papa. Sometimes. Like I said, I ain't tryin' to take away what really happened." She gave him an enigmatic smile.

"Back then, a'course, I dreamed of it for a long time, you know? In them first months at the orphanage in especial, I would lie in bed and imagine my life so different. Spendin' time with you in my thoughts, playin' marbles with you in my imagination, milkin' Penny, feedin' Molly with you and Mama by my side—even Old Jeb—it got me through those first months. When I imagined where you might ‘a gotten to, I never once imagined this." Her eyes flitted around the room. "How could I? I had no idea you was gonna practically fall into my arms all over agin. Cheeky Pally." Her smile wavered and she took a steadying breath. "And here you are just like that first day. I hope my doctorin' is a little better, now." The old woman stroked his fingers—exactly the way she remembered them. "Funny what folks recall, ain't it?" Florabel touched the nail-beds.

"You ain't got nothin' to fret about, Pally. You're gonna be all right. I'll see to it." She snorted and gave him a wink. "Expert care. I promise." She released his hand when the door opened. Rising from the bed, she flipped on the overhead light and removed the shade from the bedside lamp.

"I'm ready." Sam closed the door behind him. "What do you need me to do?"

"First thing, we wanna git him out'a these filthy clothes."

Sam sniffed. "Right." He slid down the overalls bunched at Dean's waist and chuckled as he pulled them off.

"What?" Florabel asked.

"He's wearing overalls." Sam twitched and swallowed his grin. "I mean, I saw the picture, but this is so much more…awesome." He noticed the long underwear and quirked an eye. "What the hell is he wearing underneath?"

"What? Ain't you never seen a union suit before? They was still a chill in the air in the mornings that spring. And Pally was cold all the time from not eatin' enough." That wiped the smile right off of Sam's face.

"We'll fatten him up, Sam" she said. "I raise some of the best beef in the state. I have waiting lists of people who want to buy it."

Sam went to toss the overalls into a chair and stopped. "What's this?" He pulled out a thick, brown bottle from the pocket of the bib and cocked his head, reading the crude label. "Tincture of Opium?" He held up the bottle for Florabel to see.

"I don't believe it." Florabel took the bottle, marveling at it. "I put that there. Wow. I ain't seen this stuff in years and years."

"What is it?"

Florabel wiggled an eyebrow. "Laudanum." She opened the bottle and sniffed it. "It's been called Liquid Heroin by some." Sam's eyes grew large. Florabel nodded in agreement as she studied the bottle. "It's several times more powerful than Morphine. Hell, it weren't even used that much in the ‘30's, but Doc Dawson made it hisself. Grew the poppies in a hothouse behind his office—pot too. Ain't sure where he come by the wine during Prohibition, but by the time Pally come to us that was over with." She squinted to see how much remained. "Doc Dawson prescribed this for my papa. An' Slaid nearly killed Pally with it right after the storm."

She shook the bottle, listening to it swish before setting it on the bedside table. "I remember the first time Mama gave Laudanum to Pally." She shuddered. "He didn't like the taste none, but it settled him down but quick. It's one hell of a powerful painkiller."

"It's like he walked right out of a history book." Sam kept his eyes on his brother.

"He purty much did." Florabel gave Dean a small pat. "Let's git him tooken care of, here."

Sam tugged the union suit off of him, leaving him in his boxers. "Now what?"

"We's gonna have to sit him up and swing his legs off the side of the bed. Normally you have the patient lean on a table, but we'll just have you hold him. You think you can do that with them ribs?"

Sam nodded. "I can do it."

"You sure?" She saw him wince as he bent over his brother.

"I'm fine," he said. "I can do it."

Florabel admired his determination. She'd knew she'd never be able to talk him out of it now. "Okay."

They got Dean up and in a loose hug, laying his head against Sam's shoulder, making sure to put no pressure on his head-wound.

"There we go," Florabel said. "You sure you're comfortable enough in this position?"

"I'm fine. I'm worried about him. He's so goddamned light. He must have lost thirty pounds at least."

The old woman patted his back and walked around to the other side of the bed. Readying a long needle encased in a tube with a large plunger at the end, she made a small incision behind Dean's rib and inserted the tubing, extracting the needle once she was in. The plunger filled with a rose-tinged liquid. "There we go." She nodded, satisfied. "Once we git this out'a him he'll feel a lot better when he wakes." Taking a liter bottle she hooked it to the tubing and let it fill. "We'll let that run until it's full up. It'll take a few minutes."

"A whole liter?" Sam asked, incredulous.

Florabel raised her eyebrow. "At least, maybe more."

"Jesus." Sam adjusted Dean in his arms as he settled in for the wait.

Florabel sat on the bed, watching the fluid run into the bottle. "So, this is what Pally did before he came to me and Mama? You all hunt monsters?" she asked. "Real monsters?"

"Yes," Sam said. "We were investigating a vengeful spirit when this all happened."

"Slaid?"

"Yes."

"So, you mean Pally came to this town and wound up hunting a spirit that he created seventy-two years ago?"

"Yeah." Sam grinned. "For us that's your average Tuesday."

Florabel blinked, her mind blown. "Pally didn't remember nothin', except bits and pieces. What he saw scared him. Disturbed him. Is it that awful?"

Sam's shoulders sagged. "It can get pretty bad sometimes."

Florabel turned the bottle in her hands. "I thought Slaid was a monster—a real monster—like a shade or ghoul. Ain't it interesting that he wasn't, and, yet, Pally didn't like Slaid from the git-go? I guess even though he couldn't remember things, he still had a feeling about him."

"Spidey sense." Sam smiled.

"Spidey sense?"

"It's what Dean calls it. He usually knows who can and can't be trusted. It's a gift he has…or a skill he's cultivated over the years. He's always had to carry too much responsibility. It made him super-aware of his surroundings. He had to be. He was always protecting me, looking out for me."

"So he's the one that took care of you after your mama died?"

Sam squinted, confused. "How did you know about our mother? I thought Dean couldn't remember anything."

"Oh," Florabel hesitated, "Ellen and I had a little talk. I hope you won't be mad at her for gossipin'."

"It's fine." He sat silent a moment and then went on. "But, yeah, he raised me after our mother was killed."

Florabel switched containers, letting a second liter fill. "So, you been doing this for your whole life?"

"Pretty much. A demon killed our mom, and our dad spent the rest of his life trying to hunt it down." He shifted, his lips tightening into a thin line. "He died some months ago. Same demon got him." He said nothing for a while, then, "Dean's looked out for me my whole life. I have a lot to repay."

"You an' me both." Florabel touched Sam's arm. "So let's give him some payback now, hmm?"

They sat quiet for a few moments while the rest of the fluid drained. They got almost two full liters off his lungs.

"There." The old woman unhooked the tubing from the drainage container. "That's gonna make him feel heaps better. Though," she warned, "he may always be prone to lung problems from here on in. You'll have to keep that in mind. He'll likely remain susceptible to chest colds and other pulmonary ailments. A lot of Dust Bowl survivors have chronic lung problems. Luckily for him, he spent no more'n a few months there."

"I'll watch him." Sam promised her.

"I know you will." Florabel eyed him as he adjusted Dean in his arms. "Hold him good and high for a moment while I get this out." She waited until Sam had Dean in a better position before removing the tubing with one fluid motion. "There." She daubed at the small puncture wound and put a band-aid on it. "That weren't too bad, now, was it? Let's git him settled. That'll make him a lot more comfortable until them antibiotics kick in." She checked his eyes and put some drops in them.

"What's that for?" Sam asked as he snaked an arm around his ribs, supporting them after holding Dean so long. He winced as he sat.

"You all right, Sam?"

"Yeah." He nudged toward Dean. "What did you put in his eyes?"

"Just keeping them flushed and moist. He has some small abrasions on his corneas from the dust storm." She motioned to his eyes. "Dust got in ‘em. It was pretty bad. He could'a gone blind from it, but Mama and Old Jeb spent that whole night tending to his eyes, washin' ‘em out real good." She read Sam's pinched face. "Don't fret, honey. He has his sight. His eyes is healin' nicely. Things'll be a tad blurry for a week or so, but he'll be fine. The concussion will likely have more immediate effect on his eyesight an' balance. But he should bounce back from that, too, as long as it's just a concussion we're dealing with. We're more'n a little gimped here without proper tools."

"He's had concussions before, we both have. So, I know what to do." Sam sighed as he looked at his brother. "I just hope he wakes up soon."

**O**

February 16, 2007—Boise City, Oklahoma

Dean didn't wake that day or the next. Although his fever had abated and the antibiotics seemed to be doing their job, Florabel worried about his concussion. The three hunters agreed that if he didn't regain consciousness by the following day, they would get him to a hospital.

In the meantime, Bobby and Ellen resumed the hunt. Florabel could only provide them with a vague idea of where Jeb had buried Slaid. They'd been pouring over construction blueprints and old land surveys to try and get their bearings and pin down the most likely areas. They didn't want to dig too many empty holes. Even without the wind demon, the site was still a hazard. By overlapping the blueprints with the old surveys, they were able to determine that Slaid's grave lay just outside the new building, about ten to twenty feet away from where the back wall had collapsed.

While that went on, Sam and Florabel tended Dean. Florabel filled Sam in on Dean's time with her and her mama, as much of it as she could remember. Sam had listened, taking it all in, saying nothing—except when she told him about the barn dance.

"Square dancing? Are you serious?" Sam laughed, a full-on, straight from his belly—guffaw, the first laugh Florabel heard come out of him since he knocked on her door. "Oh, man. What I wouldn't have given to see that!"

"Well, he was terrible at it," Florabel chided with a grin. "He could'a been great. He had the agility and the rhythm. He was just stubborn and unwilling to learn. Willfully ignorant." She laughed, settling in the rocking chair by the bed. "But he knew how important it was to me, so he done it. Not well, certainly not happily, but he done it."

Sam sobered and remained quiet while he studied his brother, so thin and small in the bed. "He used to do the same for me. When we were kids, anything I'd take an interest in, he'd be right there to support me, helping me run lines for a school play or going through flash-cards of mathematical proofs and formulas he had no particular interest in beyond my interest."

Florabel nodded. "I can tell that about him. I may not have had years with him, but it didn't take long to know the kind of person he was."

"Right," Sam sat, lost in thought a moment and then looked up. "It takes a day to know Dean." His voice fell to a whisper. "And a lifetime to understand him." He rubbed his temples. "He humbles me. And he infuriates me."

Florabel sat and rocked. "Sounds about right."

Sam scooted his chair closer to the bed and took his brother's hand in his. "C'mon, Dean. Man, open your eyes." Sitting up, he took off the amulet hanging around his neck and weighed it in his hand. "Here, Dean." He removed the oxygen mask long enough to put the amulet around his brother's neck. "I've kept it safe for you." Sam smoothed Dean's hair away from his brow. "You're past due for a haircut. You'll be pissed when you wake." Sam bent close. "Wake up soon, okay?" He kissed Dean's brow and grinned. "Don't give me that look, Dean," he said to his brother's unchanged, lax face. "This was a weird hunt, even for us. Chick-flick moments every hour, on the hour, until you open your goddamn eyes."

Sam sat a while longer. Getting no response he closed his eyes in defeat and sighed. He opened them a moment later and gasped.

"About damn time, Dean." A smile lit Sam's face.

His brother's eyes were open.

**O**

February 17-18, 2007—Boise City, Oklahoma

The pattern went on as before. Dean remained catatonic for the rest of the day, while Sam kept up a one-sided conversation the entire time, attempting to stimulate his brother. Bobby and Ellen had begun some excavation but had not yet found any bones. After another day, Dean began to come around somewhat and appeared to be listening, though he remained silent. Sam continued the running dialogue for his brother, helping him to remember how to form words, prompting his memory with stories from their childhood and recent hunts. Much of what Florabel heard stunned the old woman who sat listening, saying nothing.

Toward sunset Dean cleared his throat. "Time?" Sam wasn't sure if it was a question or not.

"Hey! Hey Dean." Sam spoke through a huge smile, breathy with emotion.

"It's after 6:00pm. We're still in Boise City, still on that hunt for the vengeful spirit, remember?" He saw Dean's breath catch and he closed his eyes. "Breathe deep, man. It's okay. I know those visions are disorienting and strange. Just ride it out. You're doing well. You're okay." Dean opened his eyes again.

"You with me?" Dean gave Sam a vague, confused nod. "That's good, man." Sam gripped his hand. "You got bit by a wind demon, got too close to it, and it messed with your head a bit. That's why it's so hard to remember anything. Just that roaring wind, right?" Dean squinted, surprised. He nodded again. Sam stroked Dean's hand, holding it in his firm grip.

"I know, man. It happened to me, too. It sucks. But we got lots of people helping us. Bobby's here. And Ellen, too…and another friend." Sam searched his brother's face. "This ringing any bells?"

And so it went on for several hours, Sam anchoring Dean as he led him through their life together, each memory causing Dean to flinch and gasp as detached visions rocked him.

"You're getting it, man. You're doing great," Sam told him.

Dean followed Sam's lips as he spoke. He appeared to be searching for something, a word or a concept. "Wh—who?"

"Me? I'm Sam. I'm your brother." Dean flinched, retreating behind his lids with a groan. Florabel moved closer to make sure he wasn't in any physical distress.

Sam continued his monologue. "Easy, Dean. Don't fight it, man. Let it come back on its own." Dean's eyelashes fluttered open. "And, man, I can't wait. It's been hard without you around, you know?" Sam's breath hitched, and his face fell. It took him a while before he spoke again.

"You're the one thing I count on," he said. "I've been kinda lost since you've been gone. We all have. Bobby and Ellen—they're our friends, Dean—they've been worried sick. You remember Bobby, don't you? Hell he's been around as long as I can remember, he's like a dad to us. Hey, do you recall that one summer we were staying with Bobby, back when…I don't know… back I when was about eight years old? We made that fort out of old car gizzards—that's what you called them—just a bunch of old seats and trunk panels. We worked on that thing for days. You were so damned proud of that secret compartment you built into it, big enough just for me to get in. You made it in case we ever needed a hiding spot. You wanted me to have a safe place to be."

Dean twitched and closed his eyes.

Sam held onto his hand and squeezed. "Yeah, you see it, don't you? You're doing great, Dean. You're getting there. You want to slow your breathing, though. Really Dean." He put his hand on Dean's chest. "You need to take some deep breaths. Just go with it." He waited a moment, allowing Dean to ride out each wave. "There you go. That's better, man. You wanna take a break? We can just relax for a while."

Shaking his head no, Dean flinched from the sudden pain.

"Yeah, that hurts," Sam said. "You got hit in the head, but you're going to be okay."

Sam sighed. "It's been a long few days. Well, a lot longer for you than for me," he said wryly. "We didn't know where you were, Dean. I've never—" he faltered, "—I've never been so scared." Sam took a few quick breaths. "But we found you. You've got some injuries, but you're gonna be fine."

Dean blinked, his eyes drooping toward sleep.

Sam rubbed his brother's chest. "You've got to get better. You're going to want to be moving on to the next hunt, just like you always do. You're going to be insufferable, and I wouldn't have it any other way." He laughed, his eyes glistening with tears.

"You've got to snap out of it, though. What will Baby think if she assumes you don't care? You remember her, don't you? She sure misses you, man." Sam pulled out his cell and flipped through some photos. "See?" He showed him a photo Sam snapped of Dean goofing off with the Impala, sprawled against it in a spacious, enthusiastic hug. Dean looked at the photo and grabbed the phone, squinting to try and bring it into focus.

"Wha' th' fuck?" His eyes bounced from the photo, to Sam and back. His face morphed from confused to surprised to all-out overwhelmed. He slumped against the pillow, panting. Sam grabbed his shoulders. "Ffffffuccckkk!" Dean screamed.

"I gotcha, man. Hang on. Hang on, Dean!" Sam tried to calm him. Dean whimpered and wheezed as the memories flowed into him, some of them so strong and violent his body rippled and writhed with the trauma. "I know. I know it hurts, Dean."

Tears ran down Dean's cheeks as he continued to let loose a non-stop, colorful chain of invectives. "Jesus fucking shit! Oh, shit Sammy! Oh fuck! Oh shit fuck Jesus Sammy fuck!"

"You're safe, Dean. I'm right here," Sam said. "I'm not going anywhere."

After several moments Dean's breathing returned to normal. He gasped and opened his eyes, focusing and refocusing as he grabbed a fistful of Sam's shirt. Emotions relay-raced across his face.

"Sammy?" He squinted at his brother.

Sam smiled through his tears. "Welcome back, big brother."

Continue to Chapter 20

Back to Master Post

 
 
 
jpgr: SPN Dean & Sam stargazingjpgr on June 25th, 2012 02:14 am (UTC)
I nearly hyperventilated when I saw the post I had completely forgotten!

I was nearly in tears at Jeb's goodbye and how she wanted to follow...

Of course it's the Impala that brings his memories back

Only two more left???? Say it ain't so!!

Edited at 2012-06-25 02:15 am (UTC)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 25th, 2012 02:47 am (UTC)
Aw, the scene with young!Florabel and Jeb is my favorite of the chapter. But I was particularly sentimental about it because I was saying goodbye to characters that I had come to truly love. /sniffle!

Oh yeah...if seeing Sam didn't bring things back, you know baby would tip the scales, finally!

Yes...oh lordy! Only two more chappies left. /mops brow. It's been a crazy fun experience!
tifachingtifaching on June 25th, 2012 02:31 am (UTC)
As soon as I saw the picture at the top, I knew Jeb was going to leave her. I'm mad at him, but not too mad. He would have ended up in jail and the life he went off to was punishment of its own.

Love Florabel and Sam talking about Dean. Reminiscing. Two kids that looked up to and depended on him.

Ungh. Maggots. One of my biggest squicks. I can deal with a lot, but not with them squirming around in living tissue. Yuck.

You hurt Dean so marvelously, I love it.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 25th, 2012 03:00 am (UTC)
Awwwww! Poor JEB!!! I have all the sympathy in the world for him. He was doing the best he could. I don't think he'd get out of this situation unscathed if he tried to stay. They certainly wouldn't let him just raise Florabel back at the farm. They'd have probably removed her from his care and stuck him in jail. And the poor, poor dude! Florabel was clearly traumatized. But so was Old Jeb! He had no clue what he'd just witnessed. Poor Christian man...facing down a wind-demon. He was completely rattled and suffering PTSD all of his own. Yes, what Jeb is about to face is a horrible "punishment" (completely undeserved IMO)!, wandering aimlessly with three dollars in his pocket while being too old to ever find work. Will he even make it through the following winter? Will he die cold and alone, trying to find a place to belong? Probably! And he deserves none of it. /sob. Hehe. Poor, poor Jeb. Don't stay mad at him too long! It might just be that leaving Florabel was actually in her best interest. You never know!

I really did like Sam and Florabel bonding. They certainly had more in common than one would assume! I also liked how sensitive and intuitive Sam was to what Florabel was experiencing...and that he didn't marginalize her time with Dean.

Ack! I think Dean needs a T-shirt that says "I went to the Dust Bowl and all I got was this T-shirt and a head-full of maggots! /faint! Yeah...that was so gross. But for some reason, that line just wrote itself when I was writing that scene. It was completely and utterly unplanned. I'm a sicko! I hate maggots, too!

Thanks for the comments, dear-heart! I appreciate it so much!
deangirl1: the boysdeangirl1 on June 25th, 2012 04:33 am (UTC)
As always, SO much love for this chapter. I loved Florabel's awe at seeing her mother's stitches and marvelling at having Dean back - and his change from father-figure to boy...

Loved this "“It takes a day to know Dean.” He shifted and spoke quietly. “And a lifetime to understand him.” He looked at Florabel and then at Dean. “He humbles me. And he infuriates me.”"
I think it's a great perspective from Sam.

Loved all the history lessons - on laudenum and homemade penicillin...

I was SO disappointed in Jeb - I understand why he did it, but I really had envisioned him supporting her - though I suppose, he likely wouldn't have supported her non-traditional lifestyle - he was pretty traditional after all...
I really, really want Dean to remember and RECOGNIZE Florabel... I'm wondering if anyone is going to notice what Slaid did to Dean... if Dean will remember that part of his attack... so far noone's gone under the boxers...
Pretty sure I know who the other ghost is... hoping that Dean and Florabel may get some closure there...
Loved Sam's delight over the overalls and the square-dancing. I also loved his chagrin upon learning why Dean was wearing the union suit.
I'm getting ready for lots of demands for pie to fatten him back up. I also can't wait for Florabel to see him "all cleaned up".... bet she really falls for him then!
I'm so, so sad to see this coming to a close - I've so enjoyed the story, the writing, and the Dean-focus!!!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 25th, 2012 11:28 pm (UTC)
Haha! Your comment about pie totally made me laugh. How did you know? ;)

Poor Jeb! I think he was doing what he thought best for Florabel. I think the poor guy had it as tough as anyone. He was definitely another victim of Slaid's evil.

Ha! You know I don't know why it was that I felt the need to "play" with the Laudanum. That was the one overt anachronism in the story. It was rarely used by the 1930's...which is why I made the back-woods Doctor distributing his own "home brew" of it. LOL. But since I was going back in time, I thought...I have to have this shit in there! And the poultice was so interesting. I was floored that the experts today think they worked because it created a topical antibiotic of sorts. That's crazy...and so interesting. Score one for the old wives!

I really enjoyed writing those first scenes with Florabel wrapping her head around everything. I really wanted to showcase her change in perspective since we were dealing with such extremes with Florabel. We get to see her at 8 and at 79. You know she will see the world (and Dean) so differently! And, too, he was like a walking (ok...lying) time capsule for her. I could imagine that seeing her mother's "handiwork" on him would be profound for her. I know it would be for me if I were in her shoes!

Thanks so very much for the comments! I appreciate it!!!!!
fangirl29fangirl29 on June 25th, 2012 05:33 am (UTC)
Forgive any typos-darn I-Pad! Florabel's love of Dean is so poignant & palpable. He was the light & warmth that was missing from her childhood. And Slaid-soooo EVIL! The darkness & destruction of the time period is matched by his vulgar thoughts & actions. Dear Jeb, on the other hand was Emma's & Florabel's saving grace for a while. This time period is such a conundrum to me. I understand his fear of being blamed for crimes he did not commit. No CSIs in those days :(.

My heart broke at Florabel's loss of her mother & Pally. I had to pause in my reading or risk losing it. Yet, I am so proud of her for persevering amidst a life full of tragedy! your writing stirs up so many emotions- sadness, anger, resignation...relief, hope.

Thank you so much for one of the most amazing SPN fics EVER! I will be counting the days until the next chapter!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 25th, 2012 11:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Jeb had such a hard decision. He was penniless, homeless, and likely to be a prime suspect in a double murder. Not to mention that the poor guy witnessed Dean being eaten by a wind-demon. At the age of 63, when he should be reaping the rewards for all his hard work in life, now he has to wander aimlessly...probably for the very short time he has left on earth. I know folks think that Florabel's early life was tragic...but Jeb's end of life was even more tragic in my eyes. I've no doubt he would have kept and loved Florabel if he thought there was any way out of their present predicament. Hell...even the few barnyard animals they'd had were dead. Poor guy. He just breaks my heart. He deserved better! /snuffle!

Florabel is a true survivor, and even though she lost both her mama and Dean tragically, it is quite apparent that they both left their marks on her. They taught her well even though she had them both so briefly!

Thank you SO much for your kind words! I'm so glad you are enjoying the fic! /hugs
(Deleted comment)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 25th, 2012 11:41 pm (UTC)
You know, the scene with Florabel and Jeb in the aftermath is one of my favorites. It's also one of the saddest (for me). Breaks my heart every time I read it. At least we know that Florabel grew up and became an amazingly strong woman. I always feel rather bereft when I think of Jeb's fate. He was a good guy. I wish he could have had an easier life in his old age. But I'm pretty sure it only got worse after he parted from Florabel. /sob.

Thanks so much for the comment!
mdlawmdlaw on June 25th, 2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
Dust Devil
I know I've been complainy about the cliff hangers, but this means it is almost over and that is terrible. This has been great. I wish it could go on a lot longer. m :)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 25th, 2012 11:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Dust Devil
Aww!! I guess all things must come to an end at some point! Better to go out while people are still engaged and enjoying rather than have them make swirly, move-it-along, wrap-it-up-already hand gestures! Heh! I was pretty sure I was pushin' the limit! :P

If it's any consolation...I don't think there are any other cliffies! See?! Aren't I nice! :)

Thanks heaps and gobbies for the comment! I sincerely appreciate it!
beckydaspazbeckydaspaz on June 25th, 2012 08:47 pm (UTC)
I could copy and paste this whole chapter. Every single word. Seriously. But in particular 'He showed Dean a photo that Sam snapped of Dean goofing off with the Impala, sprawled against it in a spacious, enthusiastic hug.'-Brilliant, lovely, moving and just so damn good.

Sam was not the only one who grinned through his tears.

This story is something else, and that something is epic.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 25th, 2012 11:47 pm (UTC)
Awww! Well my love for you is EPIC!!! Rawr! Joo are aweshum!

So glad you liked the chappie! HA! I kind of loved that photo of Dean. Wish I totally had a copy of it!

Your support and friendship mean the world to me! Thank you so much, baby girl! /hugs!
(Anonymous) on June 29th, 2012 10:12 pm (UTC)
I *loved* this chapter! Every moment was simply amazing!

You joked in a previous comment with me about doing our part to prevent a drought. Oh yeah, I definitely made my contribution in this chappie! The good-bye scene between Jeb and Florabel just about crushed me! Since Emma's death, I kinda imagined Jeb takin care of Florabel on the farm, but I guess that wouldn't have worked out, would it? Florabel was obviously too tramautized to stay on the farm, and it would have been difficult to say the least for Jeb to support them. Jeb heading off on his own to die a lonely old man is just too awful, though! Can't you at least throw in a little note at the end of the story--"P.S., Jeb found happiness again and saw Florabel again after she'd become a doctor and then he died happy and peaceful?". Please? :). Oh, I thought Jeb's wife's name was lovely!

I loved all the care-taking of Dean happening in this chapter. I'm a real sucker for both the "h" and the "c" portions of hurt/comfort! I liked Florabel and Sam bonding, as well as Sam saying Florabel was kind of his sister, because they had the same father. Dean may not have been the actual father for either of them, but he was an excellent father figure. I liked Florabel trying to adjust to the contrast between her memories of "Pally" from her childhood versus the actual "Dean" in front of her in the present. I loved Sam and Florabel taking care of Dean together. Loved Sam enjoying the humorous aspects of Dean's trip to the 30's. Someone is gonna get SO teased for square dancing! I also loved all of Sam's efforts to bring his brother back. Replacing the amulet (moment of silence for the gone-but-never-forgotten amulet), talking about memories from hunts and childhood. And what a great idea to show him a picture of his Baby. Good thinking Sammy! And, of course, great to see Dean make it back with his brother's name on his lips.

Super job as always, Kat! . I can't believe it's almost over!

Beth
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 30th, 2012 12:01 am (UTC)
Aw, I'm so glad you liked this one, Beth! I always appreciate having the comfort to offset the hurt. So many stories out there...and REALLY good stories, too, tend to often scrimp on the comfort...and I usually feel like I need antidepressants after reading. Heh. In a way, I do run the risk of being treacly, but I'll walk that fine line between reaching for the box of tissues or rolling your eyes for sheer corniness in order to hopefully have a nice moment of comfort. My betas are pretty good at pointing out the corn, though. Or sometimes I read something back and I find MY OWN eyes rolling. LOL. That's when I delete-delete-delete! /snort.

The scene between Jeb and Florabel is probably in my top 3 favorite scenes of the entire story. I was also crushed when I wrote it. It was the FINAL dust-bowl scene, and I really preferred writing that side of the story. It was so much fun...and saying good-bye to it all was devastating for me.

/sigh. Jeb. I think he would have tried to stay with Florabel if he thought he had anything to offer her. The animals were dead. Emma was dead (which really broke him because Emma was kind of like HIS "Pally". He adored her.), he was terrified of being incarcerated for Slaid's or Emma's murder. He was old. He hungry. I can't remember the last time Jeb ate at this point in the story. They were ALL profoundly hungry at this time...so he certainly wasn't thinking particularly clearly. Poor thins. And then witnessing the "supernatural" right there in the middle of the barnyard...it was just too much for this Christian man. I do believe he felt that Florabel would be better off without him...even in an orphanage, she would get 3 meals a day.

I would like to believe that he found some happiness, but I think about what he likely faced...a 63 year old man looking for labor jobs when there were hundreds of men in their 20's and 30's looking for the same work...a guy with 3 dollars to his name. Oh god. It just doesn't bode well for him. /sigh. But...y'never know....maybe he rode the boxcars to Vegas and scored big with his 3 dollars and then moved up to Oregon and started a cranberry farm. Heh. You just don't know. I'll leave it to the reader to write the end of his story. :) I fear that if I were to write it, we'd all be reaching for the Prozac!

The change in Florabel's perceptions of Dean between 8 and 79 years of age was important for me to develop a little. I have a ways to go before I'm Old!Florabel's age, but I kind of have moments when I experience the same type of "shifts' in how I view something. A couple of years ago, I rewatched a couple of seasons of a show that was my favorite back when I was in my 20's and I completely...and I mean COMPLETELY viewed the show with a much different eye! Heck, there were parts of it that I actually loathed when I ADORED it back when I first watched. Seriously. Now that's not nearly as dramatic as Florabel's situation, but it's the same thing. So I enjoyed playing with that.

I'm so glad you liked this chapter! I definitely thought that the characters (and the rest of us!) needed to take a breather here.

As ever, thank you SO much for your awesome comments! :)

Kat

Oh! Totally edited to add...Jeb's wife's name! Ha! That was a complete coinkidink! But that's totally cool, huh?! I had a really great friend when I was a little girl (she had the BIGGEST collection of Barbies...I totally drooled over!), and her name was Beth. Heh. This was my little homage to her. :)

Edited at 2012-06-30 12:03 am (UTC)
Rince1windrince1wind on July 3rd, 2012 01:33 pm (UTC)
This was an exceptionally nicely written chapter! Especially April 20, 1935—Boise City, Oklahoma, when Jeb takes leave.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on July 3rd, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! That scene was one of my favorites, too.
Jo: Bobby Dean hugapieceofcake on July 20th, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC)
That's so sad..Florabel lost Jeb too...

This keeps making me Cry! LOL! :-)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on July 21st, 2012 03:51 am (UTC)
/comforts you and hands you more tissues!

/hugs. Thanks so much for the comment. Just a few more tears...er...chapters and it'll be all done! ;)