William Haynes First North American Rights Only
Max was handsome in his youth but slight of build and short, even
for the standards of the day. Sara towered over him in their wedding
pictures and now that she had put on close to an extra seventy-five
pounds, Max did not win many arguments. Being a victim of wife abuse
was something a man did not admit to anyone, not in the small town
of Freehold anyway. Working the farm alone allowed Max to explain
away the bruises and breaks and the black eyes he hid behind
In late summer of 46′ Max met Stacy at the General Store
where she had begun working following the death of her husband, Bill
in a farming accident. Stacy had been attracted to Max since they
went to high school together but back in those days, Max had eyes
for only Sara.
Max began using any excuse he could think of to drive the
old Ford truck into Freehold and see her. Their relationship began
afterwards and the fights back at the farmhouse became wars. Picture
a tin can versus a tank to determine the winner. On Tuesday, August
19, the war escalated.
“I’m going into town for some supplies,” Max said, as he
turned in the small kitchen for the door. Sara threw the dish she
was cleaning into the sink, shattering it into a million pieces. Max
moved for the door but Sara lumbered forward and grabbed him by the
“You think I don’t know you’ve been cheating on me, Max
Clifford,” Sara screamed as she spun him around. “When I find out
who the hussy is, I’ll kill the both of you!” She had turned red in
the face and the glare from her green eyes told Max she was not
fooling about the murder. Max stared back before inching back until
the wall pressed up against his spine. She stepped back with a
puzzled look on her face. Max had always tried to run before but in
the one floor house there was no place to hide. Sara began her
charge that would knock him off his feet and place her on top of
him. He thought of Stacy waiting for him back in town and swung a
crisp left hand that landed flush on Sara’s jaw. She fell over
backwards, a mountain toppling. Sara landed in the short hallway in
front of the bedroom. She stared up at the small man who now towered
“I want my grandmother’s ring back,” he said as he walked
towards the door, “and I want a divorce.” Max had pulled the screen
door half of the way open as Sara rolled over onto her knees.
“Don’t think that one lucky punch is going to change
anything Max,” She yelled. “The only way you’ll ever get this ring
back is when you pry it off my dead body!”
Sara had shaken off the lucky hit and made it almost to the
door when Max ran out. He jumped into the Ford and gunned the motor.
The old girl sprayed the porch with mud from the rains the night
before. Max looked into the rear-view mirror as Sara flung the door
open and stepped out. She leaned on the railing, a great brown bear
that was watching the honey driving away.
Max had plenty of time to think, it was a thirty-minute trip
into town. He knew she was correct, it was a lucky shot, the punch
that dropped her. He was the underdog that took the title away from
the champ. It was more than likely he would be slaughtered in the
rematch later that night. Max knew what he had to do and hoped that
his plan worked. He was pale and shaken when he parked the truck and
entered the General Store. It was close to six P.M. And the place
was deserted. Stacy ran into his arms, her blond hair flying back,
her eyes tear stained with worry.
“Another fight?” Stacy asked, as she fought back her tears.
Max ran his fingers through her hair as he held her closely to him.
Her frail body trembled in his grip as he found her lips and kissed
her with love and passion. Max pulled away from their embrace.
“The worse one yet, I told her that I wanted a divorce and
then I, I hit her,” he said. “I didn’t mean to, it just
happened.” “There is no way I can go back there tonight, Sara will
“Stay here, I’ll close up and we’ll go to my place, you’ll
be safe there,” Stacy said, as she reached for the keys to lock up
As Stacy was picking up the keys from behind the counter
with its many glass containers, Sara was dialing the phone. It rang
seven times before Franklyn Moss was pulled away from the dinner
table to answer. His wife, Becky handed him the receiver and at the
same time gave him a look that said; “Make it quick.”
“Franklyn, still fancy yourself a private dick?” Sara hissed
into the phone through clenched teeth. “I need you to do a small job
“You want to know who Max is cheating on you with,” He
answered, as Becky began drumming her fingers on the kitchen
table. “Look, I’ll make this quick, dinner is getting cold and I’m
not in the mood to get into an argument with my wife.” “Max has been
seeing Bill Patterson’s widow.”
Franklyn kept up with all of the gossip in the small town.
Even though he was a clerk in old man Farmer’s hardware store, he
knew that his diploma from correspondence school would come in handy
one day. He had passed the course and now was a registered private
Before he even hung up Sara had ripped the phone from the
wall in the kitchen and thrown it into the living room. She began
yanking all of the drawers out in a desperate search to find the
keys to the old Buick that had not been used since they stopped
going to church. She found them in the top drawer of the vanity in
their bedroom. Night had descended dark as the devil’s anger when
she stepped outside.
The car turned over three times as Sara cursed, before
finally starting up. She backed it out of the driveway and headed
for Freehold. Sara was five minutes outside of town when she
remembered the gun. The Buick parked by the side of the road looked
like Cerberus guarding the gates of hell. Fumbling through the glove
compartment, she found it. The silver handled pistol that once
belonged to Max’s grandfather. Her rage was consummate now,
unfurling in a direction that could not be halted. Jealousy and
anger, the devil’s left and right hands. She had given what purity
remained to her soul on a silver platter to the fallen angel.
Lucifer watched from behind the gates and smiled. With a single
groan of protest, the car began the final leg of Sara’s journey. A
night wind wailed as the crickets fell silent.
Max and Stacy made love in the upstairs bedroom. The lights were low
and the silence comforting. He gazed at her with love and bending
down kissed her. His eyes closed as their lips met. Max could hear
the rhythm of her heart beating beneath him. Then he heard the crash
and his world shattering like the splintering wood of the front door
below. There was silence after the impact, a death-like silence that
flooded the room and chilled his heart.
“Do you own a gun?” He asked, his voice low, cutting through the
“Yes, but it’s downstairs in the living room,” She answered as tears
welled up in her eyes. “What are we going to do, there’s no way
out.” Max walked over to the window and opened it up. The shade
snapped racing to the roller as he looked out. Max thought his heart
was going to stop beating as the silence pressed in again.
“I’m going to lower you down to the ledge below,” He said, “From
there it’s a short jump to the garage roof.” “I’m counting on you to
reach the sheriff.” He lowered her to the window ledge and she
looked up at him. “Go, hurry up, we don’t have much time.”
“Wait, what about you, aren’t you coming?” She asked, but Max closed
the window and pulled on his pants. He searched the bedroom for
anything he could turn into a weapon. There was a large pair of
scissors in Stacy’s sewing basket that would have to do. Clutching
them tightly he opened the door and slid into the darkness. The
hallway outside the bedroom was narrow and the bathroom door was
open a few feet in front of him. Moonlight trickled in from the
window. No turning back, the war was about to end one way or the
other. Max said a silent prayer hoping God remembered who he was and
crossed the doorway. Nothing but the complete and utter silence. His
heart began to pound. Max leaned back against the wall and he felt
something press up against his spine. His weapon fell from his hand
clattering against the wood floor. He swallowed hard and reached
behind him. It was the doorknob to the closet. Opening it, he
removed a broom and a towel. Max tied the cloth to the end of the
broom and stepped down onto the landing of the stairs. He lowered it
until it hung by the rails of the banister. Two shots exploded in
rapid succession tearing silver dollar sized holes in the wall.
Plaster and wood chips rained down on the stairs.
In the confusion that followed, Max tossed a can of floor wax down
the stairs. Two more shots rang out, one shattering the window at
the base of the stairs. Max tied another towel to what remained of
the broom handle and waited. His breath shot out in short hot gasps
and his legs were unsteady. Sara closed on the stairs, a tank going
uphill. Leaning against the window frame for support, she climbed
the first step and raised the weapon. The last two bullets tore
through the fabric of the cloth and embedded themselves into the
wall. Max had held the scissors in his left hand even as the bullets
struck. His plan cleared in his mind. He would charge down the steps
and meet her face to face. Max never got the chance. When the gun
discharged, Sara slipped on the wax and fell backwards. Her neck
severed by the shattering glass as she hurtled through the window
frame. Her hand landed on the cement deck of the porch, her body
between the cool grass and asphalt driveway.
Nobody ever explained what exactly happened to Sara’s severed hand.
She was buried in a public cemetery without any service. Max and
Stacy announced their plans to wed after the burial.
Max had his late wife’s hand on the kitchen counter. He
picked up the hacksaw as he looked at the glistening diamond wedding
ring that once belonged to his grandmother. He had tried pulling it
off but the fingers were swollen and the ring would not budge. Max
brought the blade down determined to reclaim the heirloom. Suddenly
Sara’s middle finger curved up, pointing straight at him.
“You had to have the last word, didn’t you,” He said, as he set
about freeing the ring.
(C) Owned by William P Haynes!
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