Buck's Tavern was a small bar located deep within the woods that surrounded Benton. To get to Buck's one needed to travel down an old dirt road that was rutted with deep holes that often held water. And the building that was Buck's was nothing more than an old wooden cabin. The roof was covered with moss. The glass in the window pane had long since turned to a dusty yellow. Spider webs decorated the corners.
Inside Buck's, one would find a dirty floor covered with dust, the tables like were covered in a fine layer of grease, so thick was the grease that the glass bottles of beer often slide down when placed down upon the surface. The air inside too was rancid, it was a smell that could be defined. It was a mixture of pipe tobacco, piss, shit, sweat, and vomit. The smell of an overflowing plastic trashcan, filled to the brim with crushed up beer cans added its own flare.
Tonight Buck's was standing room only. It was pay-day and the hunters and commercial fisherman along with the loggers and field hands had flocked in for there fill with warm beer and salty peanuts. The bare light bulbs flickered and overhead as they swung back and forth.
And it was a good night for drinking. The weather outside had turned, rain was falling down in sheets. Bolts of white, hot lighting crisscrossed the dark sky and sudden booms of thunder shook the dust from the beams that supported to the sagging roof. And inside, the bottom rungs of the social ladder drank, smoked and cursed and made fools of themselves.
But in one of the private rooms, a group of men, all belong to the local "Citizens Council" were holding there weekly meeting. Chairing the meeting was Jeremy Henderson, formally a teacher at Benton Academy, acting as Treasurer was David McPhail, the former Headmaster of Benton Academy, providing spiritual guidance was John Mark, former pastor of Benton Baptist Church now pastor of the "Word of Life and Faith Church of God" a small rural church where those who had spurred the mainline churches flocked too. And Commander of the Militia, an honoree title given to the man who commands the three dozen armed, buck tooth hillbillies that patrolled the area outside of Bucks was Howard Perry, father of Linda Perry.
Jeremy Henderson was the first to speak.
"Gentleman, we must do something. Our little town is going to shit." He said as he stood up. "First, it was that girl, that he-she at the dunking booth. Then it was that confused boy at the Benton Homecoming Game. Now, its this talk of a maid café opening up in our downtown area. Gentleman, we must act." He said pointing down at the table with his fingers.
"I'm afraid, the damage has been done. That hack at the Episcopal Church, committed a very grave sin when he baptized that thing. A good thirty people, most of whom have been a long time follows of that occult had the good sense to wake up and come to the true saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. With that so-called 'Church' welcoming people like that and that other church, sheltering priest that abuse and molest children. I fear the hour of judgment is upon us. We who know the saving grace and the one true way, must stand firm and fight back the legions of hell invading our town." The Rev. John Mark said as he raised his voice to a shout. A loud boom of lighting followed his little speech.
All nodded their approval.
"That girl, the first one. She done caused me a lot of harm." Howard Perry said as he took a deep breath. "My sister in law, Linda last summer found her boy wearing her Sunday dress and was taking him to me, to get him to straighten out. I was going to do the right thing, smack the hell out of him and make him learn the bible. Then take him hunting and fishing. But he caused her to wreck and she died in that wreck. I tell you something she was burned to a crisp."
All nodded their heads. Jeremy reached over and patted the Howard on his shoulder.
"My little girl, Linda just fell apart when she heard her aunt had been killed. Cried all through the funeral, cried all that night. Make matters worst, her slick talking lawyer brother stepped in and helped that little she-devil of a daughter of hers to get her house and home. Then he pulled some legal mumbo jumbo on me, saying I could not see my nephew at the hospital. Next thing I know that boy has done called himself Madeline and is prancing around town. Thanked God my Linda attend school with you fellows. Then that little devil, Lily got her queer brother to dress up as a girl. Linda stood up to her and made a few remarks. And boom, next thing you know she off the school's cheerleading team."
"We understand your troubles brother Perry." The Rev. John Mark said as he nodded his head. "You of all of us have suffered the most. But the Lord has been testing you, he has tested you and has found you worthy to lead his band of warriors. I promise you, brother before everything is done. You will have your daughter back and you will feel the blood of the traitor in the palm of your hands. This the Lord God Promises."
"Ahem to that. That boy has some problem. So, what you planning their boss. I suggest we wait till they together, then we bag them. Take them to the woods. Let them see what being a girly girl is all about." Howard Perry said as he punched the table, causing the pitcher of beer sitting in the table to rock.
"No, too messy. I don't suggest we touch the Potter boy just yet. The Potters are a bunch of tricky folks, always been strange you know. Goes back to Ol' man Potter. Bunch of strange, folks, always getting their names in the paper. They some kind of kin to the Bells and the Brewers." Despite being an educated man, Jeremy Henderson found himself slipping into his old accent.
"Always cut the head of the rattler off first." David McPhail said as he leaned in. "We go after the Potters boy, then the Brewer boy will know something in the wind. Might just take flight and escape our nets. The Potters, like it or not are of old Benton blood. The Brewers, not so much, remember they came and settled this area after the war between the states. There even stranger than the Potters, took in that queer daughter of Linda's when she kicked her out. Not only that they left her the farm and the there house. Strange folks, I tell you."
"I can agree with you there. We need to do something about them. This use to be a God-fearing town, then them slant eyes opened up that factory here. And they started building all kind of stuff down in Yazoo City, and in yonder Madison, Canton and Ridgeland. And we were in slap dap in the middle of all this, started to get all kind of people moving in. Now I'm all for growing our town. But good God, the people that are moving in are the worst kind of people. People we can do without." Jeremy Henderson said, the others agreed and nodded there head to show there own support.
"Next year. I say we do something. I don't know what, but we need to do something. Something Gentleman that will send a clear message to all the folks that this town, that the good, God-fearing, White Protestant Southern Baptist people of this town will not stand by and allow people, outsiders, to come in and ruin the image of this town." The Rev. John Mark said as he slammed his open palm down upon the flat surface of the table. The collected people nodded their heads raised there dusty glasses of beer in a toast.
Now the walls of Buck's where paper thin. In the room beside the room, the meeting was being held in. A man could be seen sitting at dust, greased coated table. He wore a tan colored trench coat. He was sipping a cup of coffee and keeping one eye glued at the door that leads to the room and other glued to the old tape recorder that was sitting on the table. Noise traveled well through the thin walls of the bar. A look of great concerned crossed his face as he reached over and paused the recorder. This was vital information, information worth its weight in gold and silver. Signing himself with the cross, he slipped the recorder into the pocket of her overcoat and tossed a crumpled dollar bill down the table. He then stood up and reached into the pocket of his trousers.
Through the rough, woolen fabric of his trousers, he could feel the cold metal of his sidearm. Breathing a prayer, he exited the room and picked his way through the crowd, smoked filled the common room. Once he was outside he muttered a prayer of thanksgiving as he reached his car and started to drive back to town, as he drove he reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. He dialed a number and raised the phone to his ear. After three rings somebody on the other line picked up.
"Hello." A tired voice said. "You have reached the Benton Police Department."
"I have something for you chief. I'll bring it to the station." The man said.
"… I'll put on a fresh pot o' coffee for you."
"Bless you, my son."
"Any time Father."
To be continued another time~