What’s a blogging event without another visit from our Dale? More from this diverse and talented author, writing under the pen name of Pat Dale. Dale reveals a lot more about himself this time around. By the way, this is PG13, for sure!
Second Session with Pat Dale
The Evil Within will be released next week, January 27, 2012, and this book is a real departure for me. Most of my writing is pretty happy feel-good stuff. This is none of that. What it is, is a sad tale of a gallant soldier back from battle suffering from PTSD. Adam Watson retreats to his Ozark home, believing he’s seen the worst of mankind, only to find the same evil lurking in his town, his family, and in his own heart. Perhaps the best way to give a sense of what is in this novel is by way of three excerpts. Warning: adult only.
Blending into the dense foliage, he zeroed in on his target. Fat and furry, the big cottontail stopped foraging and looked his way. With his eagle vision locked on the prey, Adam’s finger tightened on the trigger.
Before he could squeeze off a round, raucous sounds and smells of battle echoed in his brain—cries from his buddies!
The harsh metallic thump of an RPG slamming into the Bradley. Explosions! Agonizing screams! The acrid odor of gunfire, melting rubber, cooked flesh; the nauseating stink of death…
Beads of sweat dribbled into his eyes. He blinked, clearing them, and realized the rabbit’s eyes had changed.
Green. Advancing rapidly.
He wanted to fire, but frozen in panic, he couldn’t.
“Adam! Don’t shoot! It’s me,” a man’s voice cut through the static in his brain. He wiped sweat from his face and blinked again. No longer the rabbit he thought he’d targeted, his uncle approached with his arms up.
How the hell did he get here?
“Uncle Ernie? What are you doing out here?”
“Edward said you’d gone hunting, so I thought I’d join the fun. Like we used to do when you were growing up. Remember?”
“Damn it, Ern, you’re lucky I didn’t shoot you.”
“Tell me about it. I really thought you were gonna let me have it for a minute, there. Where the hell were you just now?”
“I’d rather not talk about that, if it’s all the same to you.”
“Whatever. Only, you remember the first rule I taught you when you were ten? Don’t point a weapon at a man unless you’re ready to kill him. If you aim at him, shoot.”
“Yeah. Well, the damn Army gave me a whole new set of rules, and that wasn’t the most important part of ‘em. Sorry, Ernie.”
Inside, he sat down at a corner table. Kelly Samples, latest dropout from Lesterville High and Good Eat’s new waitress, brought him a glass of water and a menu. “You’re Adam Watson, aren’t you?”
“Yep. That’s me. I must be famous, or something.”
The pretty redhead beamed. “Sure are. You’re a war hero to hear your daddy tell about it.”
“That’s a dad for you. I’m no hero, but I was in the war.”
Her cornflower blue eyes widened. “Did you kill a bunch of those animals?”
“A bunch? Yeah, I guess you could say that. I got my share of the bastards, not that it’s anything I want to brag about. I was just doing my duty.”
She grimaced. “That’s what Mr. Williams, our history teacher, said guys like you would tell us. Just doing your duty. That’s how he explained the government would justify invading a country and killing their citizens.”
“That’s what your teacher said?” He jammed a fist into his palm. “Maybe I should pay this Williams a visit. Do you believe him?”
Kelly laughed. “You kidding? That damn jerk couldn’t get his eyes off my boobs long enough to know what color my eyes are.”
He beamed at her ample bosom. “I can see why he might be distracted. Nice rack you’re sporting there.”
“Yeah, but not for public display, know what I mean?”
“I think so. That lecherous teacher the only reason you dropped out of school?”
“Not the only one. I could give you a dozen, all good. He’s the best of the bunch.”
“Could be, except what are you going to do with the rest of your life, Kelly?”
“What’s wrong with being a waitress?”
“In Possum Run? You’ve got to be kidding. You’ll never earn enough tip money in this town to feed yourself, much less make living expenses. Still live at home?”
“Kind of. I’m looking for a place of my own.”
“Can’t help you there, but good luck.”
“Thanks. Well, you want our special today?”
“Burger with all the fixings, drink, and fries for three ninety-five, right?”
“Yep. Same as yesterday. And the day before that. And probably next year.”
“I hear you. Why don’t you bring me the special, Kelly? Well-done.” He laughed along with her when she retrieved the well-worn menu and scampered off toward the kitchen with his order.
Her slightly bulging midsection gave him another hint why she might have dropped out of school. He had to wonder whether her history teacher had given her another kind of lesson. It wouldn’t be the first time a teacher had knocked a student up down in these parts. But it was none of his business, so he’d best keep his nose out of it.
Just as she brought his food, four skuzzy-looking men came into the café. All wore jeans smeared with grease, half-hidden in black cycle leathers and matching black leather vests over their sweatshirts—ugly, dirty, greasy, smelling like garlic.
One of them reached out as Kelly passed and slapped her butt. She jumped out of his way and raced into the kitchen. The men roared with laughter.
The man who’d spanked her said, “Damn, that bitch is sure jumpy.”
The short fat one said, “Yeah. Maybe it’s your winning way with babes, Ramos.”
“I get what I want from them bitches,” he replied.
After his food was served, Adam tried to down it without getting pulled into the gross discussion of ‘babes and their assets.’ Kelly finally came back and approached the men, her eyes wide with fear. She stopped, just out of reach of the man who’d insulted her.
“You guys want a menu?”
“If you’re on it, babe,” jerk number one said with an evil leer.
“We only serve food in here. The bar’s next door, and they do burgers and beer, if that’s what you want.”
“If we wanted the damn bar, that’s where we’d be. Bring us the fucking menu.”
Adam watched Kelly retreat, wondering whether Jake Tully, the owner, would be able to protect her if these jerks got out of hand. Probably not, despite his size. When Jake came out and dropped menus in front of the men, they grunted but said nothing.
At six foot four, three hundred pounds and in pretty fair shape, Jake was not one who’d betaken lightly in a fight. Apparently, the creeps thought so, too. It was good they didn’t know Jake well enough to realize he hated fighting. He stood silently until the men had all given him their orders.
Adam ate slowly, timing it so the group had wolfed down their food and left before he finished. Only after they were gone and the roar of their bikes had diminished, did the girl come out to see if he needed anything else.
“Those guys scared you, didn’t they, Kelly?”
“Yeah. I don’t have a clue who they are, but I don’t trust them. We don’t get many strangers here and I sure didn’t like the looks of that bunch.”
“You can say that again. Probably a gang of bikers cruising down the road, looking for scenic wonders.”
“Well, I’m not a scenic wonder,” she asserted.
“Maybe not, but you really are damn pretty.”
She blushed. “Thanks. You want some pie and a coffee refill?”
“I’ll take the refill. No room for pie.”
After she poured the coffee, she said, “Sorry for what I said earlier.”
“What was that?”
“You know, repeating what that damn Williams said about soldiers.”
“Oh, no problem. I knew you didn’t agree with his assessment.”
“So, you out of the Army now?”
That raised her eyebrows. “You run away?”
“Nope. Nothing that simple. But in a way, I guess you could say I am running.”
“Really?” Her big bright eyes almost bugged out of her cute freckled face.
He groaned. “Not the way you think, Kelly. I was in a really bad battle. My buddies all got killed, and it kind of messed me up. I’m on a few weeks medical leave.”
“Then you have to go back to war?”
Adam got Jake to help him round up some of the men from around town. When they all came into the café, he said, “I want to talk to everybody about a way we can take care of ourselves. I know we all expect the law to do the right thing, but Reynolds County doesn’t have enough lawmen to handle what we’re up against now.”
Bob Barton, the hardware store owner asked, “Just what do you think we’re up against, Adam?”
“You saw what those animals did at the picnic. Before that, they’d been in here giving Kelly a hard time and hinting at more trouble for her. My sister Sarah here, was run off the road, robbed, and left for dead last Friday. They’ve had a bunch of break-ins and other stuff down in Ellington. How much more do you want?”
Bob shook his head. “Not that we ain’t sorry for your problems, Adam, but seems to me they’ve got it in for your family more’n the rest of us ‘round here. The fracas at the picnic, well, looks to me it was your wedding they tried to break up. I sympathize with you, but I think you Watsons oughta do whatever you have to do to take care of your own. Know what I mean?”
“Yeah. I know exactly what you mean, Bob.” He scanned the faces of the others. “You all feel that way?”
Embarrassed, they scraped their boots on the floor, looking away from Adam. Bill Appleton, Bob, and Fred Smith nodded one after another. The others stood mute. Only Jake stood with Adam when all was said and done. If he wanted security in this town, he’d have to provide it himself.
“Okay, but don’t come begging for help when they begin terrorizing your town. And I promise you, they will. Trust me on this; they want a lot more than just to make my family’s life miserable.”
After they filed out, Jake said, “Durn shame, Adam. I’d hoped they’d see it your way, but it don’t surprise me much. Folks anymore expect somebody else to hold their hand when they sneeze.”
“Or their dick when they piss. Can’t say I’m not disappointed, but I’m not surprised, either. That doggone damn preacher has sure stirred up the dust where civic responsibility is concerned.”
Jake nodded. “So, what’re you going to do now?”
“What I should have done all along. They say it’s a Watson problem, that’s fine. We’ll make it a Watson problem. Come on, Kelly, Sarah. Let’s get home. There’s work to be done.”
And the war is on! To find out what happens in Possum Run, read The Evil Within when it comes out next week.
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