Today is my seventh anniversary. As a writer. I’ve discussed how that happened before so I shan’t replay that here. But… a dozen books with another on the way, an audiobook, my poorly kept-up podcasts; not that bad for just seven years.
Even in the slow month of October, I banged out the short story, “Cadets.” And, from Sunday before-last at Mass, I saw another story. I think what this is, is that while putting together the stemma for “Obligations of Rank,” some of the gaps shouted out to me, for example, what did happen to St. Louis, hence “Cadets.” Then, how did Ryland Rigó meet her future husband, Allen Rupert? Which is what follows, below the fold.
My cover designer has completed her other project and now turns her attention to OR. I’m older to not even attempt to guess what I’ll be working on the remainder of this year. But, I hope to have fun. So, let’s meet Allen; if this turns into a novella, I’ll love to hear his first talk with Arpad Rigó, who was also a thug until forced into the military.
Roberta heard the rumble of her youngest’s motorcycle from a quarter-mile away, as it turned off the county road onto the long drive to their farm. She sighed. Her first son and then two daughters were upstanding citizens of the Republic of Texas. But her fourth…
A series of arrests, some by his father, her husband, the sheriff, but no convictions, for the same reason. Fights. Drunkenness. The accusation of rape disproved by DNA testing. Still, she thought as the rumbling came closer, then stopped, Allen has been nothing but a torment to me and the rest of the family since he was born.
The front screen door banged open as he stepped into his family home. As Roberta had just come in from the back, they silently stared at one another. She was Filipino by blood but took after her Chinese grandmother. Born and raised in Manhattan, thus only a legal Resident in the young Republic. Her eighteen-year-old boy looked more like his father, thankfully: dark, sandy hair over an open, frank face. A face marred by the broad scar across his right cheek; permanent evidence of a fireworks prank gone bad three years ago. His riding leathers were coated with the dust of central Texas from his ride up from Galveston to Brazos County.
“Welcome home, Allen,” she managed.
She was surprised when he ducked his head and ran up the stairs just to his right. Humility or embarrassment was not part of his makeup. Still, just for an instant, Roberta imagined pain in his eyes.
She set herself to prep the kitchen for dinner for herself, her husband, and their troublesome son.
Alan Rupert, Sheriff of Brazos County, Republic of Texas, rolled up next to the motorcycle in front of the house on their eighty acres in his late-model sedan. Unmarked, but everyone knew who he was and what he drove. In his third, and last, term as sheriff, he had first been appointed to the position from his role as a deputy when his predecessor died of a heart attack. Given Rupert’s background, the appointment was a surprise.
After ExComm, I just wanted to keep my head down, he thought, getting out of his car. And for years, that was fine. I had liked Roberta from the day I met her – and it was obvious she liked me, too! – so settling down here was a given. Why the locals thought someone like me, married to someone like her, would be good for law enforcement, well…
He sighed again looking at the motorcycle. Robbi didn’t like the thought of “Junior” for our fourth and last child, so we just spelled it differently. Still, was it his name that haunted him? Drove him to be such as asshole?
Alan shook his head and walked into his home. His lovely wife, only a little broader after these years and kids was immediately into his arms with a kiss for him.
“I missed you!” she said into his mouth.
“You’ve been saying that for nearly thirty years, Robbi,” he replied, holding her close. “Um. I see our albatross is back home from the navy. Problems?”
“N… no, no problems. But…”
“Yes?” he asked.
“He came in and went upstairs without a word,” Roberta explained, before forcing herself to face facts. “Is there another arrest warrant for him?”
“Not that I’ve heard of,” Alan said. He lowered his voice. “Dear God, what this time?”
They drew apart just as there were sounds from upstairs. Their son, still with a blank look on his face, came down with a large cardboard box supported by both of his arms. About to go out the front door, he stopped and set it down.
“Here,” he said, picking several magazines at random from it and holding them up. All naked girls. “Just so you know, I’m getting rid of this.”
Magazines down and box up, Allen shoved his way out the door. His parents watched as he set the box next to the trash dumpster before coming back in.
“When is dinner, Mother?” he asked politely.
“Tw… twenty minutes, Allen,” she said a little flustered. He’d not eaten with them in years. “Will you…?”
“I’ll join you. I’m dirty and should shower first. Excuse me, Father.” He was back up the stairs.
The silence was thunderous.
“Is he possessed?” Sheriff Rupert asked to anyone.