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11 June 2012 @ 06:30 am
Dust Devils: Talking Dust Bowl Blues (Chapter 15)  
April 15, 1935—Boise City, Oklahoma



Dust Devils

Chapter 15

Talking Dust Bowl Blues

**O**


April 15, 1935—Boise City, Oklahoma

Emma draped her shawl over Florabel and scooped her off the bed where she'd been sleeping next to Dean. She sat with her in the rocking chair, needing the feel of her daughter's weight on her, craving the beat of her small heart against her own. Dean must have perceived Florabel's sudden absence because he mumbled angrily and tried to reach out until the restraints stopped him. He muttered his brother's name a couple of times before falling back into a fitful sleep.

It was just after 9:00am and Emma sighed, sitting for the first time since the storm had ended. The house was still a disaster, but she and Jeb had done everything they could without collapsing themselves. They'd sewn Dean's shoulder, made a poultice, washed him, and rinsed his eyes one last time. Then they'd slathered both Florabel and Dean with skunk oil and turpentine. Now, they could only wait and hope their lungs cleared without infection setting in.

Florabel twitched and whimpered, her eyes darting back and forth under her lids, lost in a nightmare of wind and dirt, no doubt. Emma held her tight and patted her.

"Mama…" Florabel murmured, settling down without ever having fully roused, passing from nightmare to dream with a sigh.

Emma tucked the girl's small, pink foot under the shawl and rocked her, humming.

The front door opened, and Emma heard Jeb's wearied gait as he made his way to the bedroom. He came in and set down the bucket of water he carried. Leaning against the doorway, he nodded to Emma as she met his eyes. He didn't say anything for a long moment. When he did speak his voice scraped like dry leaves on tree bark.

"The chickens is all dead." He paused. "Penny, too." He gave her the bad news, unable to soften the blow. "The door to the barn didn't git closed proper, but it wouldn't ‘a made a whit ‘a difference. Weren't no way Penny would ‘a lived. The dust would ‘a found a way in no matter what. The barn ain't weathered for that type of storm."

Emma didn't respond. She cast her eyes on her daughter and continued to rock, acknowledging the catastrophe with a simple nod. Jeb came into the room and sat in the other chair with a tired groan.

"I'm sorry, Em."

She looked from Florabel to Dean and then back to Jeb. "We's all alive." More rocking. "Animals can be replaced."

"How?"

Emma tossed away his concern with a wisp of a shrug. "We'll think of somethin'."

Jeb watched a single tear fall over the lip of her eyelid and spill down her cheek.

"You need sleep."

She said nothing, wiping her face surreptitiously. With Penny and the chickens gone, they had nothing but old, molding sacks of wheat and cornmeal to live on. Her chin quivered until she bit her cheek to steady it.

"So do you." She deflected his concern, regarding him with red-rimmed eyes.

He nodded. Standing, he rubbed his sore lower back. "Boy's heavy." He smiled ruefully. "Need me some liniment."

"I'll rub you down in a bit," Emma offered, but Jeb waved her off.

"Ain't no need for that, Em. Others need you more." He gave his back another squeeze before moving toward the window. Removing the dry sheet that hung there, he placed it in the bucket of water. "Everything's either stripped bare by the wind or buried up to its eyeballs in dust." He pointed outside and shook his head. "Ain't no one could believe that cloud was real when we saw it a-comin' yesterday. They called off the search right then and there an' sent us to the church to ride out the storm."

Emma stopped rocking. "Search? What search?"

"Oh, Em," Jeb shifted from the window, "I forgot to tell you with everything that happened." He checked to make sure Florabel was still asleep. "Little Lizzy Crawford," he lowered his voice, "she done disappeared after the dance on Saturday. Her mama sent her up to the house for bed, but she was gone when Pauline went to tuck her in."

"My God!" Emma's eyes hinged wide. "She was there when we left. Why would anyone take her?" Her chin began to shake as she readjusted Florabel in her arms. She kissed her daughter and stroked her hair, all the more precious now.

"Dunno as anyone did for sure. She might ‘a wandered off, she might ‘a not. Ain't no way to know for sure until they find her. Weren't no locks broken nor anything upset inside the house. Nobody saw nothin'. She just disappeared."

"Dear God, poor Pauline." Emma's chest heaved. "She must be heartbroke."

"She is." Jeb pulled the sheet from the bucket and wrung it out. "I was gonna go back today and help, but they ain't no point. If'n she was lost outside…" He didn't finish. He didn't need to. "'Sides," he went on, "I'm needed here. An' you need to take a nap, Em. You cain't go on like this. You's done in."

"I'm all right."

"You's a liar," he said, hanging the sheet. "You git some rest. I'm gonna git this here sheet hung and then go stew us a couple of them chickens. Least we can do is git a few good meals from ‘em. Gonna make us some cornbread. We all need to eat so's we can git through this travail. You go on an' git a wink, doll." He turned to press the point, but there was no need. Emma was fast asleep.



**O**

February 13, 2007—Boise City, Oklahoma

Florabel closed the door behind her. "Sorry about cussin' atcha." She led Ellen through the house and into a quaint country kitchen. "Those bastards who sell them genetic monstrosities they call seeds are so evil, when the wind blows their seeds into innocent folks' fields, they sue the farmers for what the wind brung. Been fighting them for a couple ‘a years. Ain't got no tolerance for ‘em."

"That's all right." Ellen smiled, glancing around. "So, you're a farmer? I was told you were the doctor around these parts for a long time."

"That's right. Came home right out'a medical school and did my residency here. Was a doctor and a farmer for near on forty years until I retired in '93. Still volunteer a couple days a month at the day clinic. And I still farm somewhat. Been Certified Organic for the past ten years, thank you very much. Raise grass-fed beef, too. Course I got a couple'a young folks who do most of the actual work these days." Florabel pointed to the kettle. "You ain't too busy y'cain't have a cup of tea with an old woman. Now, sit yourself down an' you can ask me what y'want in a moment."

Ellen grinned and nodded. She continued to look around as Florabel busied herself with making tea. The kitchen had all the trappings of a long life, old photographs perched among the pleasant clutter on the antique hutch. Ellen smiled at one with a much younger version of the doctor, probably taken in the ‘50's judging by the hairstyles and clothing. Florabel was feeding a baby in a highchair, both mother and child turned to the camera with matching yucky faces.

"Becoming a doctor way back then as a woman must have been very challenging." Ellen brushed her fingers over a large glass jar filled with vintage marbles. "How'd you manage that?"

Florabel set the kettle on the stove. "It was. But I had good folks around me who encouraged me. Someone once said if'n I went and did what I wanted with my life, I'd be fifty years ahead of all them other girls. And see? They was right."

Ellen continued to scan the old photos. Most were of the same child she'd seen in the first picture in various stages of growth through the years. "Your daughter?" Ellen nodded to the snapshot.

Florabel came over. "That's my baby girl." She dusted the frame. "She's a doctor in Oklahoma City. Cain't be no prouder."

Ellen noticed dual certificates for both mother and daughter physicians from Doctors Without Borders. "And your husband?" Ellen asked, lifting an eyebrow.

"Don't got none. Never did." Florabel snorted at Ellen's surprised face. "I ain't a lesbian. I just weren't too lucky in love." She chuckled, though her eyes went soft and sad before she stowed it away.

"Wow. Being a single mother back then? That had to have been rough."

The old woman shrugged. "Dunno. Not no more or less than other folks, I reckon. Everyone's got their own stories. I ain't no different. Only thing that makes this one special is the fact that it's mine. Don't mean much beyond that." She poured the hot water into two large mugs. "'Sides, I was just fifty years ahead of all them other girls. And we made out all right just the two of us. Though," she handed Ellen the mug with a Mona Lisa smile, eyebrows dancing "I weren't a nun. I did have company from time to time."

Ellen laughed. "You go, girl." She took a sip of the hot tea. "And the name Mad Dog?"

Florabel rolled her eyes. "That nickname was a ‘gift' from the men of this town when I first started doctorin' folks."

"Mad Dog? Really?" Ellen blew on her tea. "Did you go around biting their shins or something?"

Florabel laughed. "No. They just didn't want t'call me a ‘bitch' to my face. I was a young M.D. They thought they was bein' clever with the initials, like I was too dumb to figure it out."

"You're kidding me."

"Oh don't worry, honey," Florabel tipped her mug to Ellen's, clinking them together. "I made damn good an' sure I earned the nickname fair an' square. An' for the worst of them chauvinists, I would always snicker through their hernia exams." She wiggled her pinky. "That usually shut them up."

"Florabel, honey," Ellen quirked her eyebrow in awe, "you are a woman after my own heart."



**O**

April 16, 1935—Boise City, Oklahoma

Florabel twisted the ties of her nightgown and fretted, bored and anxious. Her mama'd put her to bed a hundred years ago, or so it seemed, and she wouldn't let her get up or get dressed. At first it had felt good to sleep, and Florabel didn't remember much about yesterday at all. It was already after suppertime when she woke. Her mama had called her a lazy sleepyhead, but Florabel could tell she wasn't really mad at her. In fact, her mama had been extra gentle, kissing every scratch and cut she'd gotten during the storm before painting the wounds with iodine. That'd hurt a lot, but her mama held her hand the whole time.

She'd had nothing to do but watch dust motes drift across a shaft of sunlight that snuck in between the window and the sheet covering it, but that was only interesting for so long. She rolled over and put the stethoscope Pally had given her into her ears. Old Jeb had found it in the barn where Pally left it, forgotten when the storm hit. Dust had ruined the candy, but her marbles and medical kit were still as good as new after a dusting. She listened to Pally's heart while he slept. He was hot and twitchy. It scared her to see him so sick.

He'd already had a fever by the time she woke yesterday. Her mama had told her he'd breathed in so much dirt that he'd gotten Dust Pneumonia. Florabel'd cried hard because that's what her papa and Henry had died of, and she was terrified Pally would die, too. But her mama hugged her and told her to be strong and brave, and she was really trying to be.

Of course, her mama was just as worried, maybe more. She tended him with sad, frightened eyes. She looked at Dean the way she'd looked at Florabel's papa when he was sick. So, Florabel knew things were bad.

It wasn't just the Dust Pneumonia. So much dust got in his eyes during the storm he couldn't see right. They were red and swollen, leaking sticky tears that dried into a crust, sealing his lids shut. Her mama had to keep wiping the edges ever so gently with a warm, wet cloth so they would stay unglued. Florabel knew they must be itchy and sore, because her Mama and Jeb tied Pally's hands to keep him from rubbing them. It was all he wanted to do, and that was the one thing that would hurt them the most.

Everyone tried to tell him so, but his fever made him so confused he didn't always know what you were saying to him. There was even one time he seemed to understand, and he'd begged her mama to let his hands loose, promising he wouldn't touch his eyes. But not a half hour later he'd completely forgotten everything he'd promised and tried to rub them, so her mama had him tied up good and tight, and after that she didn't let him go no matter how much he begged.

It wasn't at all like his last fever. Last time he'd been quiet for days, and when he did make sounds, he only moaned a lot. This time he coughed all the time and talked near non-stop. Sometimes he'd hear what you said to him and he'd talk to you like he knew who you were, would answer your questions. Then, without warning, he'd start shivering and talking complete nonsense. Often times, he'd get mad. Really mad. And he'd swear at you, thinking you were someone else. He would forget why he was tied and he'd think he was being held prisoner.

When her mama dusted the room she'd tied a rag around Pally's mouth to keep the dust away, but he swore at her. He thought she was someone named ‘Meg', and he said such awful things to her mama that she'd left the room crying. She'd worn herself out working so hard to make him well. Florabel'd never seen her mama so tired before. She was fit to drop, and being called a black-eyed bitch had upset her. Florabel supposed whatever a bitch was it must not be very nice.

Old Jeb kept reminding them Pally didn't know what he was sayin' and to not take his babblings to heart. He'd even grinned and called him ‘creative' after one exceptionally long outburst. But it didn't make the words sting less. A bite was a bite, no matter if the dog was aiming for your leg or someone else's, Florabel reckoned. Her mama tended him without saying much, but he was bad, bad off.

Florabel stretched. She wanted to get up, but with her mama so upset, she'd only get in trouble. So she lay there and listened to Pally talk to himself until the door opened.

Her mama slipped inside with some fresh skunk oil and turpentine and began rubbing it on Pally's chest. He grimaced and tugged at his ties, but he quieted when her mama whispered to him. He didn't call her any mean names this time, and Florabel knew her mama was relieved.

"Mama," Florabel sucked languidly on her nightgown tie, "what's a fuckwad douchenozzle?"

Her mama's eyes grew cavernous. "I don't know, but don't you be sayin' it, young lady. I don't want to hear that agin."

"Pally said it, not me." Florabel popped the tie from her mouth, defending herself. "I just wanted to know what it was."

"Don't need to know," she said. "We ain't gonna pay no mind to what he says. He's delirious. He don't know what he's sayin', so ain't none of us gonna repeat those words, you hear me?"

"Yes, Mama."

Jeb interrupted further discussion when he strode in holding a newspaper.

"Got this from the Haffner's when I went to borrow the truck." He waved the newspaper at Emma. "By the way, they said we could keep it for a few days, until we don't need it."

He sat in the rocking chair while Emma continued to apply paste to Dean's chest. Jeb waved the paper to try and deflect the smell away from him.

"Lord ‘a mercy!" He opened the newspaper, still choking. "You should see this, Em. They's callin' the entire Panhandle a disaster area. Black Sunday, they's callin' the storm. Some AP boys was stuck in it about six miles outside of Boise City and sent in this report. Listen to this: Three little words achingly familiar on a Western farmer's tongue, rule life in the dust bowl of the continent – if it rains. Huh," he scanned the paper, musing, "Dust bowl. Ain't that fittin'?"

Emma looked up, disinterested, barely comprehending what he said. She put her hand to Dean's forehead and closed her eyes against the worry.

"He's burnin' up and his chest is full." She reached into her apron and pressed a small wad of cash into Jeb's hand. "Give it to Doc Dawson. It's all I got, what Dean gave me and what I had left from the cattle slaughter. Fetch him, Jeb. Please."

The old man put his hand to Emma's cheek. "I ain't givin' him everything you got. He'll come for a fair price." He glanced at Dean twisting and turning as he yanked on the cords tying him down. "He ain't Red, Emma. I know you's scared. Be brave, doll. I'll go fetch Doc."

"Mama, can I go with Old Jeb? I ain't sick. Please?" Florabel hopped on her knees. She wanted nothing more than to get out of bed. Her bruises and scrapes were healing, and, thanks to Dean, she hadn't breathed in enough dust to get infected.

"We'll be in the truck." Jeb shrugged at Emma before she could say no. "We ain't gonna be gone long, Em. Do her good to git out just a bit. The wind ain't so bad today, and they already cleared the road of drifts all the way into town."

Emma waffled a few seconds then sighed. "All right." She caught Florabel as she leapt from the bed. "Please hurry. He needs medicine. I cain't help him this time. Ain't no poultice can fix this."

"Come on then, Miss Doodlebug. Let's git you dressed and fetch Doc Dawson." Jeb picked up Florabel. "We won't be gone long, Em. Don't worry. Y'ain't gonna lose him, darlin'. He ain't gonna leave his girls, no how. He's stayin' right here with us."



**O**

Overheated and slick with anticipation, Slaid watched the truck drive away from the farmhouse. He'd been watching and waiting for this opportunity. The Hala had come when he called, had released its catastrophic energy on the land and filled Slaid with power. It sparked and tingled through him. The young Crawford girl had been a worthy offering. Now, he had only to go claim his property, trammel it, and enjoy playing with it whenever he wanted. They would belong to him body and soul with a simple command. He was sure of it.

Walking around the barn he found the backdoor blocked by a massive drift. Wind swished over the mound and roof, dragging ribbons of sand into the air then collapsing into a light rain of grit that ticked against the side of the house. Defeated by the drift, he made his way to the front door and crept in. Padding through the kitchen, he saw Emma come from the bedroom where the Ördög Fighter slept. He looked past her and saw Dean lying on the bed, bound at the wrists. Slaid's dick jolted and eyes shot up in wonder.

Emma put her finger to her lips, demanding quiet. "He's sick." She shut the bedroom door. "He got caught in the storm and his eyes is scratched and he's feverish with Dust Pneumonia. Jeb went to fetch the doctor to come see him." She stopped short, eying Slaid up and down, as if realizing for the first time who she was addressing. "What is you doin' here?" Her words came out angry and harsh.

Slaid was done playing nice, though. He no longer needed to; the Hala had given him all the power he'd ever need, certainly power enough to break one harpy.

"I came for you." He smiled slow and satisfied. "And the little whore."

Emma's mouth hinged wide and her eyes blazed. "Excuse me?" Her words blistered with dry fury. "How dare you say such a thing! What are you talking about?"

Slaid gripped her arm. "I dare because you and the little one are mine, now."

"Are you a lunatic?" Emma's anger turned pyroclastic, and she pulled her arm back. He reached for her again, but she slapped him across the face. "Git out'a this house! I don't know what you think you's doin' here, but you ain't welcome here no more."

She stood her ground saying things no woman had a right to say to a man. How could this be? She went on as though the Hala didn't exist.

"I want you to collect your things from the bunkhouse and you git." She pointed to the door and pushed him toward it.

Too shocked to put the bitch in her place, Slaid wavered a moment, his confidence broken. "No!" He gasped, confused by her ability to withstand the Hala's power. "No! This is not supposed to happen. You both belong to me."

The woman's mouth went wide at that. "Not supposed to happen? Belong to you?" Emma pushed him out and slammed the screen door, watching him through the mesh with cold eyes. "How could you ever think any such thing? I ain't your woman and Florabel ain't your girl. And we ain't never gonna be." She took a few breaths and calmed. "I'm sorry if'n you ever thought otherwise or I done something to make you think they was somethin' between us." She waffled a moment. "You…you git on now, Slaid. I cain't have you comin' around here no more."

Slaid backed down the porch steps, confounded. No way would the Hala deny him after everything he'd done. He'd provided a worthy offering. He'd even left it unsullied despite his own cravings at the time. Why would the Hala deny him the only two people that mattered? Slaid ran into the barn and lifted the trapdoor, descending into the root cellar.

"You promised me." He cleared the altar with a swipe of his arm, snarling. "Why?" Tears streamed into his stubble. "I done everything. Everything." Collapsing to the floor in a fetal heap, he cried and sniveled. "Mama…you said Hala granted power to rule…to own. You said it."

Slaid thought of the night he'd first summoned the demon, the night the Ördög Fighter arrived. Something had twisted things; the Hala had given the Devil Fighter the power, not him. The women had flocked to the Devil Fighter, had doted on him at every turn. He had mocked him, disrespected him, then stolen his women. Slaid hated him for it.

The farmhand thought a moment and smiled. The Ördög Fighter lay tied up, probably delirious. Helpless. Slaid rubbed his growing hard-on. He knew how to win the Hala's favor and power. Standing, he picked up the bowls and bits of burned herbs and placed them on the altar.

"I'm sorry." Slaid kissed the bloody runes. "I understand, now. Slaid will prove to you that he's worthy." Surely the Hala would transfer the power to him once he'd vanquished the usurper.



**O**

February 13, 2007—Boise City, Oklahoma

"So, you wanted to ask me about the old farmstead?" Florabel ventured, sipping her tea.

"Uh, yes." Ellen set down her cup. "I've been there recently and they've been having some set-backs with the construction of the new mall, have you heard?"

"Really? I didn't know, but I tend to let news sit these days. I been fighting to keep myself out'a court with that devil pesticide company." She stood at the window, glancing over her fields. "I hope the delay on the new mall ain't too long. I heard tell they was gonna build a TCBY there. Been lookin' forward to some frozen yogurt."

Ellen's eyes followed Florabel. "Yeah, some of the workers there have had some accidents. One of them, Matt Crawford, said it was a ghost that pushed him off the roof."

Florabel turned. "Matt? He all right?"

"He's fine. Broke a leg, but he's fine."

"He's a good boy—like a nephew to me." Florabel sat down again. "I delivered him. Weighed almost 9lbs. Big, healthy chunk of a baby. You say he seen a ghost?"

"That's what he says, yes. Said a ghost and a big black cyclone knocked him off the roof. He's okay, though."

Florabel blanched. "What did you say? A cyclone?"

Ellen nodded. "That ring a bell with you?"

"Oh my God." Florabel's hands went to her mouth as she spoke, stammering. "I—I didn't—I wouldn't ‘a sold the land had I known it was still—that he was still there." Florabel got up and roamed the kitchen like a caged leopard.

"Dr. Livingston? What do you know about it?"

Florabel paused, wringing her hands. "It's been more'n seventy years." She move again, pacing. "I ain't been there since—since everything happened. I wouldn't ‘a sold it if I'd known. I sold most of the other farmland decades ago, back when I was studying to be a doctor. Always kept the plot that the house and barn had been on, though. Sentimental value, I reckon. I wouldn't never live there again, not after…" She swallowed and rubbed her neck anxiously. "The airport folks made a good offer, so I finally let it go. I'd never a-sold that land if'n I thought it was dangerous."

"What happened there, Florabel?"

Florabel blinked, embarrassed and distracted. "You wouldn't believe me." She wrung her hands. "No one ever did."

Ellen gripped the old woman's shoulders. "Try me. I know it's hard to believe, but I might be able to help."

"Help? How could you possibly—?" A thought struck her, and she eyed the younger woman suspiciously. "You ain't with the Historical Society are you?"

Ellen sighed. "No. I'm sorry. I'm here to help, though, you have to believe me."

"Has anyone else been hurt? Ain't no one been killed has they?"

"A few other boys, but no worse than Matt. No one's died. Not yet. But one of my friends is missing. We're trying to find him, so we need to know everything that might have happened on that land, any tragedies or strange deaths."

Florabel eyes filled with tears. "Lots'a people died there. That land was homesteaded by my great grandfather. Whole families died on that land." She rubbed her forehead. "But some things happened when I was a child. Things I don't want to recall." She paused again. "Bad things."

"Anything you can tell me would be a great help. My friend's life is in danger. Did anyone die on that land who had call to be angry?"

"I seen that Cyclone." Florabel's eyes were far away. "I seen it once, so long ago, but I remember like it was yesterday." She pointed to an old photograph on the wall. "It happened in 1935, during the height of the Dust Bowl, not too long after Black Sunday."

She looked at the photo and caressed the image of three people standing in front of an old farmhouse, connecting with them in her own way. Ellen came alongside her and placed a gentle hand on the old woman's shoulder.

"Do you think you can tell me about—" She did a double take as she looked at the picture. She moved closer, squinting. "Do you mind?" She took the photo off the wall without waiting for an answer. Moving to the window, her eyes bugged.

"You look like you seen a ghost. What is it, honey?" Florabel asked.

Ellen turned the photograph around and read the childlike writing:

Mama, Pally, and me—Apr. 14, 1935

"This was taken in 1935?"

"On my eighth birthday, the day of the black blizzard. Black Sunday." Florabel nodded. "It started out as one of the happiest days of my life. Ended a whole different way, though."

Ellen continued studying the photo in shock, reading the back again. "Pally?"

"He was a friend." Florabel shot her a glance. "The best I ever had," she added, her tone soft and quiet.

"Pally?" Ellen repeated, still staring at the photo.

"Well, it wasn't his real name," Florabel said. "It's just what I called him. His name was Dean. Dean…" She hesitated for a moment, remembering. "Dean Hetfield." She grabbed the frame from Ellen when the younger woman lost her grip on it. "What?" Florabel asked. "What's wrong?"

"One moment." Ellen grabbed her cell phone with a shaky hand and pressed a button. "Sam, honey, you and Bobby stop what you're doing and get to Mad Dog's right away. I have a lead on Dean. Hurry." She disconnected and the two women gaped at one another, each absorbing different shocks.

"D—did you…" Florabel stuttered. "Did you say Sam?"



**O**

April 16, 1935—Boise City, Oklahoma

Stealing into the house, Slaid eased the door shut so the bitch wouldn't hear. He needed to finish before the little whore and old man returned with the doctor. Floorboards creaked above him. The woman was upstairs, tending to a quick chore, no doubt. Making use of the moment, Slaid slipped into the kitchen and down the hallway.

Opening the bedroom door, a slow, fell smile creased his face. The Devil Fighter lay bound at the wrists, hitching and jerking, lost in some dark, troubling dream. Slaid closed the door and approached the bed. Kneeling, he rubbed himself, blood shooting straight to his dick at the sight of the delirious man—so beautiful, fever hot and moist with sweat. Soon the Devil Fighter would belong to Slaid forever. The farmhand stripped off the blankets, leaving Dean naked except for his light shorts. Placing a hand on his forehead, he drank in the sight, listening to his exquisite moans.

"Sam…?" Dean fussed in his sleep. "Sammy?" His lashes fluttered open, squinting against the light in the room. His eyes, red and wet, drooped, falling shut as he grimaced and coughed. "Nhuhnn, Sammy!" he called, his nightmares bleeding into reality.

Slaid breathed him in like a connoisseur, savoring the young man's confusion and weakened state. He raked a hand through his own greasy hair and licked his lips. Giving into temptation, he slithered his other hand into the sick man's shorts and fondled him. Dean's lids flew open, arms snapping as his bonds interrupted the savage punch he meant to throw.

"Wh'th'fuck?!" His sightless eyes searched the room in dizzying sweeps. The action appeared to sicken him. He closed his lids and swallowed. "Fuckin' get off!"

The Devil Fighter pivoted, kicking his feet as he wrenched against his tethers. Slaid bit into Dean's groin with brittle twig-like fingers, his jagged, dirty nails penetrating tender flesh as far as they were able. He clamped his other knobby hand over Dean's mouth, his muffled cries of agony making Slaid's swollen cock ache.

"Make more noise, Devil Fighter, and I'll pinch more than gristle." He bent close to Dean's ear and licked it. "Go on, keep struggling. I like it so much better that way."

Dean breathed erratically through his nose. Retching against Slaid's hand, he fell still, squinting and blinking as he strove to focus. Slaid released his hand over Dean's mouth.

"Soap and water. It does a body good, asswipe." The Devil Fighter gasped, coughing up a lungful of dirt. He worked to suck in some cleaner air before going on. "Slaid, Y'fucker. Y'summoned a demon, didn'cha? Y'did this. All of it. Y'brought me here, didn' you?"

Forgetting his errand, Slaid indulged himself in the thrill of domination. He pulled his hand from Dean's shorts and rubbed his hand around and around on top of the fabric, stroking, fondling, trying to get the Devil Fighter's flaccid dick to stir. "Mmm, no. I didn't bring you here. You came to steal Hala's power from me. I want it back."

"Get'cher fuckn hands off me. An' yer not just a fool, yer a raving nutjob." Devil Fighter squirmed, trying to get away from his roaming hand. "Elemental demons—you tool—they don' give you power ‘cept to direct ‘em where to go. Wha' were y'spectin' to gain?"

The farmhand continued to rub against Dean. Bending close, he licked a clammy trail up his chest, stopping when he reached his nipple. His tongue slithered like an eel, around and around. The sick man shuddered with disgust and rage.

"I want the little wh—whore." Slaid's breath hitched and he ticked twice, suppressing an orgasmic shudder. He breathed in and out until the threat of release passed. "She's mine. You took her from me. How many times have you dipped in? Does she scream as deliciously for you as she did for me? How many times has she opened her legs for you?"

Devil Fighter bucked, trying to squirm out from under him. His Adam's apple bobbed as Slaid's tongue worked its way up and over it, licking and gnawing. The Devil Fighter's lip curled in a sneer under Slaid's tongue.

"Wha' are y'wearin'?" he asked.

The question threw Slaid. He removed his hand from Dean's groin and sat up. "Wearing?"

"Yeah," he said, "was jus' wonderin' if you're wearin' your red shirt and overalls." Dean blinked his eyes in an attempt to clear his vision. "I see red, so I'm thinkin' yeah, m'I right?"

Slaid glanced at his red shirt, confused. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"Well, see," Devil Fighter smiled at him with one cheek, "I know ‘li'l somethin' you don'."

"What's that, Devil Fighter?" Slaid bent in close.

"I know what y'look like as a ghost." He snickered at Slaid. "An' m'happy to say, y'ain't gettin' much older, fucktard."

Slaid growled, his retort cut off when the floorboards in the hall creaked under the bitch's approaching footsteps. He'd wasted time playing with the man. It would have been nice to keep him, but his mission came first. He looked around and grabbed the bottle of Laudanum, opened it, and forced it between Dean's teeth, letting a good third of the bottle slide in before pinching Dean's mouth and nose shut with all of his strength.

Dean struggled wildly, biting his hand, but Slaid only grunted with pleasure. A coughing fit forced him to swallow the drug to avoid aspirating. Before Slaid could gloat, the bitch opened the door. She blinked in surprise seeing Slaid there, his hand clapped over the Devil Fighter's mouth.

"What are you…?" She noticed the bottle in Slaid's hand then the brown liquid running down the Devil Fighter's chin. "What have you done?"

"Eased the Devil Fighter's pain." He set the bottle on the nightstand and shrugged innocently.

"You's lyin'." She moved toward the end of the bed. "I want you out'a this house this instant." She spoke with confidence, but that delicious flinch she gave when he rose betrayed her bravado. "You go on."

"I'm not going anywhere." He smiled, watching her shiver. So beautiful. So fearful. "This is my house. You are my property, and the little whore is my toy." The Devil Fighter coughed and tried to break his bonds. "Once the Devil Fighter is gone, you will see. You love me like you love him, and you will be happy."

Emma moved, situating herself by the chest of drawers. "That ain't never gonna happen." Her eyes flitted to Dean as he called her name.

"Emma, run." Dean coughed some of the brown muck and gagged on it. "Get out," He struggled gracelessly to free his hands.

Emma ignored him. Moving quickly, she opened the chest of drawers and drew Jeb's gun, pointing it at the farmhand. "Git out or I'll shoot. I swear to God I will." Slaid saw her fear, but he also saw her desperation. He knew she meant what she said.

He tried to reason with her. "He's made you care for him. He's stolen you from me." The words came out a childish plea. "Once he's gone you will see. You will see Slaid and want him." He thumped his chest and growled, but the woman pointed to the door.

"Git out. If you ever come near me or my family, I'll kill you." Her hand steadied as she looked down the sights, drawing bead. Slaid saw his peril. He moved—his hands raised in the air.

The woman followed him to the front door. On the porch, he turned. "I don't need you. I only ever really wanted the little whore." He sniffed, bowing low. "I'll leave you to the Devil Fighter. But," he chuckled, "medicine works fast. You'll see." He slammed his fist against screen door, screaming at the bitch. "Medicine works very, very fast!"

***

Emma's hands trembled as she slammed and locked the door, fumbling twice before snapping the rusty lock into place on the third try. Running to the backdoor, she locked that as well, despite the large drift blocking the door.

"Dean!" She ran to the bedroom, setting the gun on the stand and falling to her knees by the bed. "Dean!" She shook him.

"Mmm a'righ'," he mumbled and coughed feebly. "Sam?" Emma picked up the bottle and measured how much he'd been forced to drink.

"Dear God," she said, horrified and shook him again. "Wake up, Dean." His lids slitted briefly but then closed. "Don't go to sleep! Dean! Stay with me!" she begged, but he didn't answer.



Continue to Chapter 16

Back to Master Post
 
 
 
jpgr: SPN Dean rock on anijpgr on June 11th, 2012 04:08 am (UTC)
Is this an added bonus for friending you? I was so happy and excited to see this tonight instead of tomorrow. And I knew Florabel would have the photo.

Darn, this means a longer wait until the next part....:(
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 11th, 2012 10:07 am (UTC)
Hehe...you know my secret now! LOL. Yeah, my husband always puts the story up the night before, because I post too early in the morning for him (he works later than I do). So there is always about 10 hours of "limbo" time after he posts and I link the stories. So chapter 16 will be available around 9pm Wednesday night.

Of course Florabel had the photo. If I had a picture of me and Dean together I'd frame it in gold! :P
tifachingtifaching on June 11th, 2012 01:25 pm (UTC)
I love Florabel and Ellen. And she saw the picture!!!!!!! And now Forabel's going to meet Sam! Yay! Yay!

So awful back in the past, though. Finding out about Lizzy. At least Florabel wasn't home when Slaid came back. Though his molesting Dean was bad enough. Good for Emma for getting rid of him. I suppose it was too much to expect of her to shoot him.

Another awesome chapter.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 11th, 2012 10:20 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, I love strong chicks! So Ellen/Florabel are a great duo, there! It was just a matter of time for the photo to surface, right?

Emma was far to lenient. Had she known about Florabel, she'd have emptied the gun into him, I'm sure.

Thanks for the comments! Next chapter is my personal favorite of the whole story, so I'm both excited and terrified to release it! Thursday!
deangirl1deangirl1 on June 11th, 2012 06:36 pm (UTC)
Holy crap! Fantastic as always! So wonderful to hear Florabel's story - but wished she'd found someone to share her life with...
I can't wait til your finished posting and then I'm going to sit down and read the whole thing over again...
I adored Ellen finding the photo, and Dean sneering at Slaid - but I wish that Emma had shot him....
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 11th, 2012 10:26 pm (UTC)
As for finding someone to share her life with, well she did, in a way. She had her daughter. And like she said...she wasn't a nun. There's no telling all the adventures she had or the handsome men she danced with over the years. No life is perfect, but I think Florabel lived a very interesting one. But I think Slaid left his mark on her, and maybe remaining unmarried is his fingerprint. Sad, no?

Yeah, as I said to Tifaching, had Emma known the whole story, we'd have had one dead farmhand on the floor of the bedroom at the end of the chapter. No doubt about it.

Thanks so much for the feedback! I appreciate it!
mdlawmdlaw on June 11th, 2012 07:59 pm (UTC)
OMG! Ellen's conversation with Florabel nearly killed me. I didn't think she would ever see the picture. Wednesday can't come too soon. m :)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 11th, 2012 10:30 pm (UTC)
Hahaha! You know, I KNEW everyone would be looking for it...waiting...and there was that tantalizing fake-out with the baby pictures. I'm so bad!

Thanks so much for the comment, hon!
robin1961robin1961 on June 11th, 2012 08:21 pm (UTC)
I have been reading this from the begining and just amazed at the world you have created here !!! thought it was time I commented LOL very few fics have me talking out loud to the computer but damn this is one !!! it was genius having them meet the older Florabel just blew me away !!!

Thank you for sharing your talents ..... AWESOME ♥
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 11th, 2012 10:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you SO much! I had a lot of fun writing this over the winter and spring. There were several times when *I* talked to the computer, too! And a couple times that I came damn near close to popping it or tossing it out the window! :P /snort. But I was so excited to share it with folks, so I'm jazzed that you are enjoying!

Aw, Old!Florabel is such a cutie. I'm glad she gets to meet Sam...finally...after all these years. For her the boy has to be legendary, yeah?

You are more than welcome for the story!
Rince1windrince1wind on June 12th, 2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
This was a good chapter!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 12th, 2012 11:09 pm (UTC)
Whee! I'm so, so glad you liked it! :)
(Anonymous) on June 14th, 2012 06:38 am (UTC)
It's your anon reviewer, chiming in a bit late this time! Wow, what a chapter! I get the feeling I say that after every chapter, though! Loved the way you kept us all in suspense with the "will-she-or-won't-she" see *the* picture business between Florabel and
Ellen. The moment Ellen finally did see it was just delicious, although this has kinda made me miss seeing Ellen on Show. She was such a good character! And having Florabel reciprocate Ellen's shock at hearing Sam's name? Genius!

I couldn't help but LOL a bit at Florabel wondering about some of Dean's "saltier" language while he was delirious. Her mother's response to it was good, too. Glad Florabel didn't hear Jeb telling Emma about Lizzy, although I know she will have to find out sooner or later. Did she wind up naming her daughter in honor of her friend, by chance? That would be a nice tribute.

OMG, the scene with Slaid and Dean was absolutely cringe-inducing! That guy is one sick puppy! The things he did to Dean and the things he said about Florabel were just....ugh! So glad Emma remembered the gun in the drawer and tossed Slaid out. I loved seeing her strength through her fear in those scenes. Of course it would have been easier if she'd just shot Slaid then, but of course that could't happen, because we've still got a few more chapters to go!

Great work on this one, and thank you again for sharing your talent with everyone! Now let the Hurt!Dean continue! (One question.....there will be plent of Comfort!Sam coming up eventually, right? I prefer my Hurt!Dean to be followed by a fairly generous amount of Sam Comfort!)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 14th, 2012 08:57 am (UTC)
Howdy there, hon! OMG, I really did have fun with the picture. I knew people would be just dying for it. Had to mess around with yas a little. Ha!

Oh yeah, I totally miss Ellen, too. One of the best female characters ever on that show. I miss her so, so much.

You know Florabel's daughter's name will be revealed eventually. We'll just have to see!

I think Emma certainly would have pulled the trigger without any qualms had she known what he'd done to Florabel!

Oh yes, don't worry. There will be a metric poop-ton of Comfort!Sam. I'm like you. I don't mind lots of hurt as long as it is followed by lots of comfort. Sam will definitely be a key player in that part of the story!

Thanks SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much for your kind comments! They really make me smile!
(Anonymous) on June 14th, 2012 09:14 pm (UTC)
Well I'm glad my comments can make you smile, because your story *definitely* makes ME smile! I'm excited for the promised Comfort!Sam to come at a later date. I love me some Hurt!Dean, but it's just not the same unless Sam is there afterwards to take care of his brother. Oh, and I thought of a better name for Florabel's daughter (not that you're actually in need of my assistance!). Deanna, of course. Maybe Deanna Liz or something similar to honor both of Florabel's childhood friends. I kinda like Polly, too, for its similarity to "Pally." Well, off to read chapter 16 now! Hooray!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 14th, 2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
Well, Dean will definitely be in need of some comfort by the time this is through! Thank goodness he has a great brother!

Aw, all those names would be great. But now that you've read chapter 16, can you take a ANOTHER guess at the name of Florabel's daughter?
(Anonymous) on June 15th, 2012 04:29 pm (UTC)
Emma. Her daughter's name is Emma, isn't it? After Florabel's mother, who somehow made a miraculous recovery and *didn't* die on April 19, or who was miraculously saved when Sam managed to go back in time through the portal after his brother, arriving just before Slaid got his hands on Emma, ensuring she *didn't* die on April 19......right?.....right?
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 15th, 2012 10:11 pm (UTC)
Well...um...you're partially right. /blubbers with you.
Jo: Ellenapieceofcake on July 4th, 2012 09:34 pm (UTC)
Slaid is one sick *bleep* *shudders*

She should have shot him, but then she didn't know what he'd done to her daughter...he wouldn't be alive now if she did!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on July 5th, 2012 09:37 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, totally. No way would he still be breathing if she'd known!