Excerpt from Skye Dancer
Sometimes the old man became so agitated, so frustrated, that he stomped out of the cabin cursing the skies, ranting and raging as he passed through the forest. The surrounding trees cringed before him. At times like this, all sane thoughts drained from his mind.
People began to disappear soon after the "Prospector" moved into the area. Not many, but enough to be noted by some as "unusual" at best. The first was the strange death of the so-called "Pig Woman" that kept the locals wondering for a long time. She ran a puny little country store, rarely visited by nearby residents. Some of her wares were so old, they said, that worms and maggots had found a home there. When one flipped off the cap of a soda pop taken from a machine full of stagnant water, rust rimmed its neck and the purchaser would simply toss it away. Her establishment was so out of the way, no inspectors ever came to "inspect" the place.
One customer came late in the afternoon one day, though, and found Mrs. Campbell- her rightful name-tending to her pigs behind her "establishment". The decrepit little trailer she resided in stood next to the pigs' pen. It was her very own little estate and she was very happy in it, thank you. She smiled as the customer rounded the corner.
"Can I help you with something, Mister..?" The question dangled in the air as she waited for him to supply the name. Reva Campbell stooped down and pulled her fat round rump under the boards that fenced in her beloved swine. Her equally fat red cheeks dimpled at Charlie Crane.
His hooded eyes took in her mud-caked knee high rubber boots and sagging housedress that was so worn he could not discern the pattern anymore, though once it had boasted pretty violets dancing over it. People in these parts often said, as they wrinkled up their noses, that they would hate for her to remove those boots. She wore them day and night and no one had ever seen her without them.
"I could use some supplies, Ma'am. If you would be so kind." He carefully avoided mentioning who he was though the question was bright in her crinkling eyes.
"Just you come with me." And she waddled to the back door of the small store.
Once inside the darkly lit room, Charlie gazed around at the cupboards spreading over the walls. On these were canned goods, coffee, crackers, cookies in dust-covered cellophane, and other non-perishables. Over in one corner stood a rusty pop machine gamely fighting to gurgle, but losing the battle. In the middle of the room stood the pot-bellied stove used for central heating as most others did out here in the deep country. A pile of wood stood next to it.
"Care for some home-made blueberry pie?"
She beamed at the visitor. "I just made it this morning." She hopefully indicated the dessert where it lay in wait on the dust-laden counter in front of her. Many years before- it was said- she lured some sad old man into her web by feeding him the best home-baked pies this side of the Cascades. Soon after they were married, he moved his spanking-new, spotless 28-foot trailer onto her property. Not long after, her spouse was relegated to a run-down drafty cabin in the nearby woods while she made herself cozy in his little mobile. Many years later, her husband died. They said it was pneumonia, but the locals speculated that it was from starvation. Or just pure loneliness.
"No. Thanks. I just ate."
Charlie busied himself gathering up armfuls of groceries and spreading them out in front of the stricken woman, who didn't know what to do next- how to entice this stranger. Flustered, she began totaling everything up on the ancient machine that rattled with each number, then tossing the items into a large gunny sack she kept for this purpose.
Finally, the man asked, "Any of your piglets for sale? I could use some fresh pork."
"I guess I could part with one for such a handsome gentleman as yourself." She flirted as they headed once again through the rear doorway. He watched her filthy boots as they squished through the mud ahead of him. He walloped her in the back of her head with the heavy gunny sack as she bent down to scoot underneath the wooden boards of the sty.
"Ugggghh...pffff," she uttered as her face splatted down into the reeking mud. Charlie immediately placed a large hand over the woman's head and shoved it deeper into the stink mire. He held it down for a long time.
When they found the "Pig Woman", there was not much left of her body. After a few days, her loving pigs had become ravenous. It was all the sheriff could do not to wrinkle his nose in distaste at the sight and smell. After a short investigation, it was deemed she probably had a heart attack, being so heavy and all, and the hungry animals did the rest.
Charlie ate well for a long time, even though everything was quite stale. Some of the candy bars came with a worm or two. He ate them too.