Just Maddy pt. 6

by Martha Hubbard

The next morning, the sky was the sullen grey that tells you a storm is on the way. Late March in those parts often brought one last blow out, and this looked like a real stinker on the way. In the kitchen, Maddy got the coffee ready first. There would be a lot of sore heads desperate for caffeine. She was making toast and had started frying eggs when her father slouched in, grunted and took the mug she’d prepared for him. 

“Weather’s looking evil-like,” he said. 

“Yah, I saw that. Don’t guess your guests are gonna go out shooting animals in this.”

“You guess right. Keep the coffee coming and don’t put any beer or whiskey out until after lunch.”

“Right,” she called to Da’s back as he lumbered into the dining room. 

‘Great!’ she thought. ‘This lot’ll start drinking as soon as Da turns the faucet. They’ll drink him dry, if he lets them. By evening, they’ll be legless and dangerous. Don’t forget the dangerous.’ 

Maddy put a chaffing dish of fried eggs and bacon, and a pile of buttered toast covered with a tea-towel, onto the sideboard. Then she dug the large party size coffee canister  from the store cupboard, cleaned and filled it with water, putting a large filter into the top section where she measured out the cheapest coffee they had – not her Da’s special roast, he only used when he was romancing a new victim. Then she went back to her cabin and started to pack.

“Once that lot pass out, you should be clear to go,” said Gran. 

“That could take a long time, given the way this bunch can hold their poison.” Outside, a sleazy southern wind, threw hailstones like confetti at her windows. 

“Thank you gods. At least none of them are likely to be out wandering around in this.”

“Wonder if we couldn’t speed that passing out process up a bit…”

“You’ve got a plan, right Gran?” Maddy giggled in spite of her rising panic. Was she really brave enough to run off in this weather? Bah! She wasn’t afraid of any storm. With Gran’s help and training, she’d become a creature of the forest, safe no matter where she was or what the weather. The trees and the animals all knew her and would protect her. Her only fear, and this was a biggy, was that Bill would somehow wake and catch her.

Maddy decided to count the money in her bank box, while Gran cogitated. She had dug up and brought the box inside just after the start of Mud-month. ‘Was there really $500 in there? Would it be enough? Enough for what,’ she wondered.

“Don’t you go wasting time thinking about things that’s going to happen tomorrow. We have to concentrate on getting you out of here safe and sound tonight,” Gran’s voice skewered her terror. “You can think yourself sick, if you’re not careful.” 

“I need something to do. Give me something to do,” she pleaded.

“Did you save and dry the valerian, like I told you last June?”

“Of course, Gran.”

“Let me see it. How much have you got?”

“Quite a lot. Like you told me.”

“And is it all dry and crumbly – like I told you?”

“Gran!” Maddy didn’t know whether to shout, cry or giggle. Valerian was a very effective, nice smelling herb. It’s main use was in relieving sleeplessness. “You think I should stick some of his into their evening coffee?”

“And anywhere else you can think of that wouldn’t be easily detected. What time does the bus to Bangor come through here.”

“Lemme see. First morning bus is at 06:20.” Maddy kept bus schedules in her head the way other people kept gossip and useless news reports.

“Do you think the snow will affect that? Maybe it’ll be cancelled.”

“Gran! This is Maine. Busses don’t get cancelled and schools don’t close over a little snow. Takes a real Northeaster to do that.”

“Just checkin’”

“Anyway it’s Sunday, so that driver will be Harold, Harold Perkins. Might be a little late ‘cause of the snow but he’s the best. Nothing stops Harold from getting his bus into Bangor. Personally I think he’s got a lady-friend down there.”    

With one thing and another, it was soon 6 o’clock. Maddy was just opening her door when she heard her Da shouting. “Maddy! God damnit” Where are you. This bunch of gorillas gonna be wanting their dinners – like half an hour ago.”

“On my way, Da.”

“Good and make it quick.”

‘Right, make it quick, slip on the ice, break an arm or a leg… whose gonna feed your gorillas then?’

The storm was taking a break; the winds had slowed and it was slightly warmer. Making her way very carefully across the little bridge, holding tight to the guard rail, she noticed the snow on the boards was melting slightly. ‘Later when the temps drop again, that’s gonna turn to ice. A pot of water on there as I’m leaving would help the process along nicely. Between the weakened struts and black ice, anyone trying to get across there in the dark is going to get a very nasty surprise.’ 

In the lodge, Maddy put out platters of cold cuts and cheese, fried up a giant bowl of frozen French fries which she sprinkled liberally with salt, pepper and valerian. She thought about making a salad, but this lot never ate ‘rabbit food.’ Finally she re-filled the coffee canister adding a handful of the sleep inducing herb. She was just about to start bringing the food into the dining room when Da came into the kitchen. 

“Let me do that. I don’t want those jerks seeing you and getting any ideas. You get back to your cabin and lock the door.”

“Thanks Da.”

“Come back late after they’ve all passed out to clean up.”

more Just Maddy? The story finishes it publication run next Sunday, May 19th

May 19th


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