Hunted or Hunter

by

Tags: Drama, Violence, .

Desc: Action/Adventure Story: Four men attempt to do something evil. They picked the wrong man as a victim.

Another tale from deep in my demented mind. As usual there are no descriptive sex scenes but there are some violent situations.

Comments, critiques, and/or emails are both welcome and appreciated.

Thanks for reading my work and I hope you enjoy it.

The cool autumn wind fled from the storm building on the west side of the valley. It was late in the day and as the clouds gathered, Augustus Travis Baylor turned up the collar on his flannel shirt. Gus, as he was called, said into the wind, "Glad I wore this shirt. Those clouds are gonna drop the temperature even more; might be snow before morning."

The heavy flannel shirt was almost a jacket in a muted green and brown plaid. It wasn't a camo shirt but did a good job of letting Gus blend into the surrounding forest and it was water resistant. He was coming back from an unsuccessful bow hunting trip. Gus liked to hunt and fish and most anything that got him outdoors, especially outdoors in the woods and near the streams of his own property.

He enjoyed the tracking skills needed for a successful hunt or fishing trip. Gus used the meat and fish he harvested from the wild but felt using a rifle was a cop out. "Anyone can stand off two or three hundred yards with a high powered, scoped rifle and bring down an animal; and then call themselves hunters," he often argued to the gun hunting set. "Try stalking to within 30 or 40 yards with a bow and bringing down the deer, elk or whatever you're after. It gives the animal an even chance and proves how skillful you are."

Gus was on his own property, which was in Missouri situated in an area known as "the Heart of the Ozarks." It was a 960 acre section and a half of land that had been in his family for more than 80 years. The land had mostly wood covered hills, three or four small streams, one large lake and several grassy meadows.

He moved easily through the trees and brush for a man that was 6'2; Gus was as quiet and stealthy as a mountain lion on the hunt. His tracking skills and movement through the woods had been learned at his father's and grandfather's knee. Gus' lean trim build, dark eyes and hair, and his natural light tan complexion made even darker by outdoor exposure told of his Native American heritage. Maybe liking to use a bow was part of that heritage.

Gus smiled as he walked back to the old farm house. He was thinking of the stories told about how this farm had come into family hands. This place feels like a friend as well as my home, Gus thought. More so than that apartment I have in St. Louis.

Gus' great, great grandparents had migrated north and slightly east from the West Texas plains during the Great Depression in 1935. Things had been tough in Texas, maybe more so than the rest of the country. Not only were there no jobs, there was a serious drought that made farming almost impossible. The family settled in the hills of the Ozarks where not many would notice or care than Gus' great, great grandmother and his grandmother were both full blooded Osage Indian from the reservation in Oklahoma. The Baylor's quickly set up a homestead and went about making a life.

Great, great grandpa Austin Baylor did whatever he could to feed the family. Austin knew that he had to have cash money to approach the bank that actually owned the land they were squatting on. He thought, considering the times that if he could offer a good down payment, the bank would sell him the land on credit. Austin was damn certain once he had legal title he could make a go of the farm.

There were more than a few wild cattle roaming the hills that had once belonged to others who had packed up and left or just let the animals go because they couldn't afford to pay for winter feeding. Austin gathered a small herd of these gone back to the wild cattle; not for marketing, they were food on the hoof for his family.

He took to running a trap line for pelts and fur. Austin would begin trapping in late fall when the critters had grown in their winter coats and he would stop just before the spring thaw before they lost those heavy pelts. Money was tight but the general mercantile would give credit in the store for coyote, beaver, muskrat, and martin skins; sometimes he even got cash money.

Another cash crop for the Baylors was the moon shine Austin made. He had a homemade still back in a holler and the 'shine' he turned out was of good quality and highly prized. Prohibition had been repealed two years earlier, but the hill people couldn't or wouldn't pay the higher price for the "store bought" liquor. There was a tax on the liquor made by the law abiding distilleries.

Most of the so called "hillbilly's" didn't care for the government or their agents, the G-men. There had been more than a few confrontations between the Revenue Agents and the free willed "Moonshiners" in the valleys and hollers of the Missouri hills. The tax free, illegal white lightning gave the hill people a well appreciated alternative.

Finally after a year and a half Austin had put together a little over $400, which for the times was a large sum of money. He made the two day fifty mile wagon trip into Van Buren to buy the land and bring back some supplies to the farm. The small town with no more than 400 people in it was the county seat of Carter County. Austin went to talk to Theodore Barkley the owner of the land and of the bank.

"That section of land is worth more than the $2000 you offered Mr. Baylor," Barkley stated after he heard Austin's offer. "Why should I take less than the property is worth?"

"Yes sir, your right," Austin replied. "That farm is probably worth more ... but not right now. This depression, as the government calls it, ain't gonna be over anytime soon. And how much are you makin on the land right now? I'll give you $30 a month until the loan and interest is paid off. Seems to me it's a matter of a bird in the hand against one in the bush that you may never catch."

Austin could see Barkley arguing with himself. "Look at it this way Mr. Barkley, if I pay you a few months and then can't anymore, you can take the land back." Austin held up the $400 and added, "at least you got somethin out of the deal instead of the land sittin there makin you nothin."

Barkley revised his first impression that Austin Baylor was just an uneducated, ignorant hillbilly. The man may be right; I don't see this depression ending in the foreseeable future; in spite of the prattle the Federal Government is spouting. He stared at Austin for about a minute.

"I believe we have a deal Mr. Baylor," Barkley said holding out his hand for the money. "I'll just take your down payment to the vault."

"Reckon I'd like a piece of paper that tells about the deal we made," Austin replied. "I like a receipt for the $400 as well."

This man is no fool, Barkley thought. He took a piece of foolscap and hand wrote two copies of the terms and penalties of the mortgage. He signed both of the contracts, got Austin's signature and gave him a copy. "You've bought yourself a farm Mr. Baylor."

"Reckon so," Austin agreed. "See y'all next month with your payment." He left the bank, went to the general mercantile and got his supplies. He loaded the wagon and rode all day and most of the night back to his farm.

The section and a half of land had been passed down from father to son. Gus inherited the farm from his father, Travis, five year previous when he was 27. His parents were killed by a drunk driver and the property was willed to Gus.

Travis Baylor had used the place as a hobby farm. He had electric power brought onto the farm and had the well piped into the farm house. Travis and his wife did a little gardening but mostly used the old farm house and land as a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. The fields and some of the valleys were leased out to a local farmer. Gus changed that when he became the owner.

He gave the farmer notice that the lease would run the current season and one more and then would not be renewed. Gus did some major renovations on the old house, rebuilt the barn, and turned the property into a sort of hunting and fishing preserve.

Topping a small rise Gus looked down at his cabin at the tree line of a narrow valley. A light, windblown mist had started to fall and in the gathering dusk, the lights from the two windows on the rear of the cabin glowed warmly in the coming night. There was a column of smoke rising from the river rock chimney.

The smile on his face turned into a full grin. Ally must have the fireplace going, Gus thought. Bet she's got supper on the stove too. I sure hope so, cause I'm hungry after my little hike. Before starting down the slope, Gus looked over the two valleys separated by the hill he stood on. He had a deep sense of being home. He worked in St. Louis but his heart and his home was the old farm.

Gus started down the gentle slope to the valley and his grin broadened even more thinking of how he and Ally had met. He had gone to an outdoor sports expo on a Friday to check out some archery and fishing equipment. She had been the pretty girl hawking an outdoor sports type of resort.

"Alyssa Beaudrow," Gus read her name tag aloud and smiled at her. His interest was the girl and not so much the resort. He had his farm as his resort and he needed nothing more. What he did want was to get to know Alyssa better.

"Yes sir," she said shaking Gus's hand. "And you are?"

"Forgot my manners," Gus replied. "Excuse me; I'm Augustus Baylor, Gus to my friends."

.... There is more of this story ...

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Story tagged with:
Drama / Violence /