Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C4.5

When the deputies got the two women to the county jail. They fingerprinted them and took their mugshots. Sheriff Bobby arrived at the jail just behind them.

“How was your class reunion, Sheriff?” one of the jailers asked.

“I’m afraid it was cut short because of the two troublemakers who were just brought in. They decided they wanted to start a brawl! Go ahead and book them. I’ll deal with them myself when you get through processing the two bitches in,” Bobby replied.

Brielle and Raina each were allowed one phone call. Brielle called Grandma Bennett and Raina called her husband Paul.

An hour later, Grandma Bennett and Paul arrived at the jail. Grandma Bennett walked up to the sheriff’s secretary June, who sat at the desk beside the door to the sheriff’s office.

June looked up.

“Yes, ma’am. How may I help you?” She greeted in a suspicious tone.

“I’d like to see the sheriff,” Grandma Bennett answered.

“He’s rather busy now.”

“This can’t wait.”

“Have a seat and I’ll page him.”

June hit the call button and paged Sheriff Bobby.

“Sheriff. There’s a lady out here who needs to see you,” she informed him.

“I’ll be right out,” Bobby’s voice answered.

Grandma Bennett to the Rescue

Thirty seconds later, the door to the office opened and the sheriff came out of his office. His eyes widened when he saw Grandma Bennett sitting across from the secretary. Grandma Bennett rose from her seat.

“Well, Mrs. Bennett. Long time, no see,” he greeted the heavy-set, silver-haired, elderly lady.

“Not long enough,” Grandma Bennett responded in a cold tone.

“Then why are you here?” the sheriff asked, although knowing good and well why she was there.

“Let’s step into your office and I’ll tell you.”

“Sure. Right this way, ma’am,” the sheriff said as he made a hand gesture toward the door of his office.

Grandma Bennett entered the office. Sheriff Bobby entered behind her and shut the door behind him.

“Please, have a seat,” the sheriff said.

“I’d rather stand, thank you,” Grandma told him.

“I’m sure you’re here because Brielle and her friend Raina were brought here a while ago. Other than that, how may I help you?”

“You can start by laying off my granddaughter!”

“Now, ma’am. She was arrested because she assaulted two people at the reunion today.”

A Heated Discussion

“Yeah? And what did they do to her first to make her assault them. She called me and according to her, it was self-defense. Brielle has never been the type to start a fight, but she has damn well finished a few,” Grandma Bennett said, raising her voice, “And you and your buddies have taunted and tortured her all through school and damn if you aren’t trying to do it again! You just can’t leave her alone, can you?”

“Now what are you talking about?” the Sheriff asked in a tone of indignance.

“You know damn well what I’m talking about! That little fiasco at that reunion was just the excuse you needed to put her behind bars and separate her from her children and family- the very people who support her! And what really takes the cake is that, as they were driving away, you shot at her and her best friend like they were escaped convicts who were armed and dangerous! You fired your gun several times at them, as a matter of fact! Shame on you! What kind of sheriff shoots at two unarmed women?” Grandma Bennett fired off.

“Mrs. Bennett, allow me to repeat myself. She assaulted several classmates. And she used martial arts to do it. Now, by law, her bare hands are lethal weapons,” Sheriff Bobby repeated in a fake tone of concern.

“She assaulted them after they all tried to jump her, Bobby! You know damn well that was self-defense! What did you expect? That she’d just stand there and let them all beat the crap out of her?”

Without answering the older lady’s question, Sheriff Bobby asked one of his own.

“How long has Brielle been a blackbelt in martial arts, Mrs. Bennett?” he asked.

Grandma Bennett Says Her Piece

“A long time. What does that have to do with anything?” Grandma Bennett shot back.

The sheriff scoffed before answering.

Everything. Like I just said, her hands are lethal weapons. In fact, her whole body is a lethal weapon, and she should’ve registered it as such. In this state, Brielle isn’t registered because I already checked,” he went on.

“She hasn’t even been here long enough! For Peke’s sake, she hasn’t even gotten settled in yet!” Grandma Bennett shouted.

“Well, I’d suggest that she get to it,” Sheriff Bobby said in a warning tone.

“Let’s get something straight right here and now, Sheriff. You’d best back off of Brielle. Because, given what I know about you and several others in this town, it would be in your best interest if you left her alone, and that goes for the rest of your little imps!”

“Imps? Boy, that’s pretty bold there, Mrs. Bennett.”

“Oh, you haven’t seen bold yet, buster! I’m only getting started! Now, there’s a lot of people who went to prison over that ordeal with Shannon Crooke a few years ago. What do people call that now? ‘The Thomasville Conspiracy?’ Oh, yeah, a lot of people went to prison, including your brother, but many more dodged that bullet and I know who they are and what they did. So, if you expect me to keep my mouth shut, you’ll leave Brielle and her children alone and you’ll tell your buddies to do the same!

Grandma Bennett Puts Bobby in His Place

“That’s blackmail, Mrs. Bennett!”

“I dare you to indict me, Bobby!” Grandma Bennett said in a low, raspy voice, “Arrest an old woman who’s active in church and the caterer in this town? And has been for over forty years- an old woman who happens to have a lot of connections here? Ooh, that would sit real pretty with most of your constituents, now, wouldn’t it?”

Sheriff Bobby leaned back in his chair, folded his arms, and blow out a huge puff of air. Grandma Bennett continued.

“Now I’m going to post bail for her and you had best remember what I said,” She warned before storming out of the office.

After she was gone, Sheriff Bobby leaned back, in deep thought. He sat there, stroking his stubbled chin, with his head tilted and eyes averted to his right…

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C4.4

Inside the vehicle, Raina stared at Brielle in amazement.

“What the hell?” she gasped.

Suddenly, the two women heard loud pops, like firecrackers. Then, something shattered the back glass of the Escalade.

“Shit!” Brielle cried, as she reached over and grabbed Raina by the back of the neck and pushed her head down toward her lap, “Get down and stay down!” The two women then heard another cluster of loud pops. Next, it sounded like the truck was being pelted with rocks.

“Damn! What’s wrong with those people!” Raina cried, as she rose up just enough to peer around the side of her seat and see Bobby running after them and getting smaller and smaller through the broken back windshield.

“Don’t get back up yet! Just stay down!”

Brielle continued to fight for control of the vehicle as she hunkered down in her seat to avoid being hit by flying bullets, but just enough to continue her ability to see the road in front of her.

When the two women turned onto the main road, Brielle floored the gas and the vehicle sped down the two-lane highway.

A Hail of Bullets

“God! I haven’t even been here a month…and this shit!” Brielle breathed.

“Well, I have a bad feeling it’s about to get worse,” Raina said.

“What? What are you saying?” Brielle asked suspiciously.

“Bobby’s now the sheriff, Brielle.”

What!”

“He’s the sheriff of Glover County!”

“Oh, that’s just great!”

“And Rita is his wife!”

“Awww, even better!” Brielle said in a sarcastic cheer.

Suddenly, the two women heard the distant sound of sirens from behind. Brielle looked in her rear-view mirror to see a cop car with it’s blue lights flashing, getting bigger and bigger in the window. Raina looked around the back of her seat.

“Speak of the devil!”

“Damn it!” Brielle shouted.

“What are you going to do?”

“Well, if I run, I look guilty of something. If I stop, I’m still guilty because I stood up to the wrong people,” Brielle said.

Raina shook her head and clicked her tongue before speaking.

“Tsk. Only in Thomasville,” she cracked.

The Crime of Self-Defense

Suddenly, another cruiser pulled in front of them and the blue lights came on. Brielle and Raina screamed as Brielle slammed on her breaks and squealed to an abrupt stop, just inches away from the county police vehicle. A deputy grabbed his rifle and jumped out of the vehicle. He aimed the weapon at the two women in the Escalade in front of him.

“Lemme see your hands! Now! Get ‘em up! UP!”

Brielle and Raina put their hands up. The pursuing officer pulled in behind the Escalade and got out, aiming his gun.

“Get out of the car! Now!” he screamed.

Brielle and Raina opened their doors with one hand and kept the other hand high in the air.

“Slowly!” the first deputy ordered.

The two women slowly got out of the truck. By this time, two more cruisers pulled out and the uniformed occupants got out. One deputy grabbed each woman and drag her to the hood of the truck.

“Put your hands on the hood of the vehicle.” Brielle and Raina did as they were told. The deputies patted the two women down, cuffed them, then placed them in the back of one of the vehicles.

“That was self-defense, and you know it!” Brielle growled.

“Maybe. But who’s gonna prove it? You?” one of the deputies said in a smug tone.

“You never know. I’d tread carefully if I were you,” Raina shot back before the deputy slammed the car door in her face…

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C3.10

approved not rejected concept with checkbox

The following Tuesday, Brielle arrived at the Human Resources office at the Boot Factory, officially known by the company name, “Dusty Trail Western Boots Manufacturing.” She walked into the lobby, dressed for success, in a ruby red business suit and matching closed toe heels. Her face was neatly made up and her long, blonde, highlighted hair hung about three inches past her waste.

Dusty Trail Boots were high-end, cowboy boots that were made from real leather. They were the most expensive boots, with many pairs having been bought by the hottest country and western stars in Nashville, and they ranged from four hundred, fifty dollars to over two-thousand dollars per pair.

The HR manager looked over Brielle’s application and noticed her work history but didn’t seem to mind that she’d once been an exotic dancer in California.

“Well, I don’t see why we can’t give you a shot. No, you haven’t had any experience working in a factory, but you can learn,” said with a smile. He stood up and shook Brielle’s hand.

A New Job

“I’d like you to report for work next Monday at 3pm. I’ll start you on second shift. You’ll be working in quality Control as an inspector. You’ll inspect each pair of boots, looking for any flaws. Each pair of boots will come with a ticket. If you find no flaws with a pair, you’ll stamp the ticket for approval and send it on to shipping to be packed and shipped out. The flawed boots, you’ll stamp the ticket for rework and send them to the rework department. Your trainer will give you more details when you start,” the manager said.

“I’d like that, and I’ll be here,” Brielle answered, “Thank you, Mr. Samuel.”

“Call me Sam,” he told her in a kind voice.

“Okay, Sam.”

After Brielle left the boot factory, she stopped at Grandma Bennett’s house. The octogenarian woman was sitting on the front porch reading a newspaper and sipping a hot cup of coffee when Brielle pulled into the driveway. She got out of her SUV and called out as she got closer to the porch.

“Well, good morning, Glory! How did your interview go?” Grandma Bennett called out as Brielle stepped onto the porch and took a seat across the table from her.

“It went perfectly! I got the job. I start next Monday afternoon at three,” Brielle answered with a smile.

The Beginnings of a New Life

“I’m proud of you, sweetheart. I knew they’d hire you. Jesse and Paul work there also- second shift, so you’ll see a lot of them. They both work in maintenance. What department will you work in?” Grandma Bennett asked.

“Sam says I’ll be on one of the assembly lines,” Brielle answered, “I’m kind of glad I have two brothers who already work there.”

“That does make things easier. I wish you all the best, darling. I know you’re going to do well. The assembly line isn’t that hard from what I’ve been told. You just stand there and watch the boots come down the line, being assembled, and when the red light comes on, you stop the machine and call maintenance, that’s basically all. The machine does most of the work putting the boots together, stitching the leather, gluing the heel and soul to the bottom. They basically put each boot together before sending them to the polishing department.”

“Sounds easy enough. Listen, I gotta go, Grandma. Jane’s at home babysitting her sisters and I need to get there soon so I can change into some comfortable clothes and fix lunch. I’ll see you later,” Brielle said as she got up, then leaned down and kissed her grandmother.

“I love you, Sugar! You be careful and make those girls a good lunch. Y’hear?”

“I sure will, Grandma. I love you too,” Brielle replied with a smile as she bent down once more to give her grandmother a hug.

A Supportive Family

Grandma Bennett embraced her granddaughter and kissed her once more before she watched Brielle trot down the steps and flounce cheerfully toward her vehicle.

“Brielle, wait,” Grandma Bennett called.

Brielle stopped and turned around.

“What is it, Grandma?” she asked concerned.

“Do you have any plans this weekend? I was thinking about having a big family barbecue on Sunday, after church.”

“Sounds good, Grandma. Saturday, I’m going to pick up Raina and she and I are going to the twentieth high school class reunion out on the boat dock. Then Sunday, the kids and I can come to the barbecue.”

“Wait, you’re going to do what on Saturday? Did you say, class reunion?” Grandma said in a tone of high concern.

“Sure. Raina and I are going together,” Brielle answered.

“Oooh, Brielle! Do you really want to see those people again, after the horrible way they treated you? Lord, Brielle! They did you so dirty!” Grandma Bennett reminded her.

“They did, Grandma. And I’d really rather not go, but Raina wants to go and she talked me into going with her. You remember Raina, don’t you, Grandma? She was my only friend in school.”

“I remember her. And she was such a good girl. But Brielle, what if that bunch starts messing with you and Raina again?” Grandma said in a worried voice.

Everything Seems to be Coming Together

“We’ll get up and leave. I’m a grown woman now and I don’t have to stay there and take crap from people anymore. I stopped taking crap from Bill so don’t think I won’t tell my classmates to take a long walk off a short pie,” Brielle assured her.

“Well, alright, but you just be careful and watch yourself!”

“You bet I will, Grandma.”

Still, Brielle had that niggling feeling in her gut and a question nagged at her mind. How would the people from way back when react once they found out that she was back in town? And how would they behave toward her?

Townies, Cronies and Hayseeds II C3.6

At just before seven the next morning, Brielle awoke to the stirring of baby Kennedy, who gurgled next to her, and to the mouth-watering smells of breakfast cooking and coffee brewing in the kitchen downstairs. Bandit was curled up on the bed by her feet, wide awake. He sniffed the air, then licked his chops before starting to pant.

Brielle crawled out of bed, took the baby in her arms, then tiptoed down the hall, peering into the room where Jane and Olivia were. The two girls were still sound asleep.

She carried the baby downstairs, with Bandit following close behind, and went into the kitchen to see Grandma Bennett in front of the stove cooking pancakes and sausage. Grandma Bennett, dressed in her granny gown, robe and house shoes, looked up and smiled.

“Well, good morning, sunshine.” She greeted, “How’d you sleep last night?”

First morning home

“Like a baby. Kennedy didn’t even wake up once. She was out like a light too.” Brielle answered.

“Long trips will sure take it out of you.” Grandma Bennett said.

“Tell me about it.” Brielle agreed.

Brielle grabbed her cellphone from her pocket and checked it. She gasped when she saw how many times Bill had tried to call. She noticed that his last attempt was at four a.m.

“Good grief!” Brielle sighed.

“What’s the matter?” Grandma Bennett asked.

“Bill was blowing up my phone. ‘Tried to call fifteen times last night and this morning. It’s a good thing I turned off my ringer. We never would’ve gotten to sleep.”

A desperate caller.

Grandma Bennett’s eyebrows shot up.

“Fifteen times! What in the world is wrong with that man! Lord, I declare! There’s something wrong with him!” She cried.

“Yep. There is.” Brielle said, shaking her head, “I just don’t want to talk to him right now. I know he’s not just calling for the girls. He’s calling to find out where we are.”

“Doggone right, he is!”

It was Sunday and besides attending church services with Grandma Bennett, Brielle rested, still recovering from the long time home.

The following day, after feeding the baby, the dog, and herself, Brielle rose from the table after breakfast.

“I’ve got to go set up an account at the bank and then get information on that 4-bedroom house down the road. It seems like it would be a good place for me and the kids.”

“Just make sure you don’t do a fool’s rush in. Have the place inspected before you buy it.” Grandma advised.

“Will do, Grandma.” Brielle said as she took the baby upstairs.

Starting Over

After getting dressed in a nice pair of jeans, light summer blouse with shoulder holes in it and sneakers, Brielle straightened her hair and put on her makeup. When she came downstairs, the girls had awoken and were eating in the kitchen.

“’Morning, sweeties.” Brielle greeted as she kissed each of the girls. She turned to Grandma Bennett.

“Grandma, I’ve got to run. Girls, you behave for Grandma. Okay?”

She kissed her grandmother and gave one more kiss to the girls, then left.

Hearing the motor of Brielle’s Escalade crank, Jane looked at Grandma Bennett.

“Where’s Mom headed?” She asked.

“She’s got to run to the bank and then check out a house she saw advertised in the real-estate section of the newspaper last night. I think she’s going to be gone a while. She’s got to get you all established in a new town and that takes a while.” Grandma Bennett answered.

“Wow! What kind of house?” Olivia asked.

“It’s a 4-bedroom house down the road from here. ‘Seems to be a good place for you all. If she gets the house, you’ll be within walking distance from here, so you’ll be close to family.”

“Cool!” Olivia shouted.

The next day, Brielle called and made an appointment with the real estate company that was selling the house. She also called an inspector to inspect the home for cracks in the foundation, bad wiring, and such.

A New Home

The following week, Brielle’s parents arrived at Grandma Bennett’s house after their honeymoon. Seeing that Brielle and the kids had returned home from California, the look of pleasant shock flashed across their faces.

Jane and Olivia excitedly came running out of the house when John and Marcelle Bennett pulled into the driveway in their metallic maroon Ford F150 quad-cab. They got to the truck before the grandparents had time to get out of the truck!

“Granny! Grampy!” Jane and Olivia shouted excitedly.

“Oh, my goodness! Jane! Olivia!” Brielle’s parents squealed from inside the truck.

As the grandparents saw them, they smiled as they got out of the truck. They each gave the excited girls long hugs and lots of kisses.

“Well, Jane! You’re growing into such a beautiful young lady!” Marcelle said as she hugged her, then took her by the shoulders and looked at her.

“I’m thirteen now.” Jane said in excitement.

“A teenager! It seems like only yesterday you were just a six-pound little rat I held in my arms at the hospital in California! We flew there just to be there when you were born!” Our first grandchild! We just had to be there!” John told Jane as he took his turn hugging her and kissed her on the cheek.

He then hugged and kissed Olivia.

Brielle came out of the house with Kennedy on her hip, followed by Grandma Bennett. She waited until the kids got their love from her parents before passing the baby to her mother for kisses and love.

Happy Reunion

“Oh, she’s getting so big! She was such a tiny thing when you and Bill came here back in March!” Brielle’s mother Marcelle gushed.

“I’m just sorry we didn’t stay longer. Bill only wanted to stay for three days. I barely had a chance to visit everyone.” Brielle said.

“It’s okay, honey. We understand. Bill’s always been a demanding old drip.” Marcelle replied.

“Well, Bill’s no longer an issue. I left him and I’m not going back. I’m home for good this time, Mom.”

Marcelle’s mouth dropped in shock, then a huge smile spread across her face. She put her arms around Brielle and hugged her tightly.

“Welcome home, baby! I’ve been waiting so long for this day to come because I know how badly he treated you and these children.” She said softly.

“I gotta set an example for my girls, Mama. I have to teach them that they don’t have to stay in a relationship that hurts them, and they don’t have to take abuse from a man, ever!” Brielle replied.

“I’m so proud of you, sweetie! I always knew that you would eventually get tired of his crap. I didn’t know when, but I knew that eventually, you’d get enough of it.” Marcelle told her, “I’d get damn mad at you sometimes, but I’ve always believed in you.”

Brielle’s Strength

“Thank you, Mom. I’m so glad to be home!” Brielle said with tears in her eyes.

“What are you doing tomorrow morning?” Marcelle asked.

“I have an appointment at the realtors’ in the morning.” Brielle answered, “I’m looking at buying a house for me and the kids.”

“Oohhh! I didn’t know.”

“It’s okay. I’m not rich, but I’m not broke by a long shot. I figure that I might as well go ahead and buy a home while I have the money to do so.”

Grandma Bennett came out onto the front porch.

“Well? Is anybody up for some pot roast, steamed potatoes, and carrots tonight?” She called out.

“Sounds great!” Jesse called back.

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C3

Chapter 3
The Escape Home

The next day at 8:15, Brielle and the girls watched as Ms. Geneva got into her Mercedes Benz and pulled out of the driveway to go to her weekly Bingo game. She always left early to go have breakfast before her bingo game.

“There, she goes, Mom. She never misses a game of Bingo, does she?” Jane remarked while slightly opening the blinds and peering out the window.

“Perfect!” Brielle said with a smile, “C’mon, girls. Get everything we’re taking to the living room in front of the door, so when the movers arrive, they’ll be able to load everything quickly and we can get out of here before Ms. Nosy Britches gets back. In the meantime, I’ll take the baby and run to the bank. Be sure and keep all the doors locked until I return.

After Karen arrived to watch the kids, Brielle grabbed her purse, phone, and keys, then left. She had never told Bill she had her own bank account. When Brielle had married Bill, she had remembered her mother’s advice. “Even if you’re married, it’s always best to have a secret bank account just in case the shit hits the fan, and you have to bail out.” She had never forgotten it.

A Sneaky Hustle Plan

Therefore, unbeknownst to Bill, Brielle had worked two nights per week at the strip club while he was on his business trips until recently. And Bill had been gone mostly on the weekends. Taking the girls to Karen’s allowed Brielle to work, making about five to seven-hundred dollars a night, one to two hundred to pay Karen, and the rest to stash away in her private bank account. And after having secretly worked for the last ten years, except for the months during her pregnancies, she had saved quiet a bit of money- close to five-hundred thousand dollars to be exact.

Because her husband paid all the bills, including her cell phone, Brielle was able to save and save big. And she was able to plan her escape years in advance. Also, she had money in an old bank account from when she was single and worked fulltime, which was a stash of about twenty-three thousand.

After closing both of her bank accounts and being handed her money in the form of cashier’s checks, Brielle went to the phone company and bought new smartphones and data plans for herself, Jane, and Olivia. She could not take a chance on Bill having someone track the phone. The old phone was already in Bill’s name, which meant he would get the bill, see all the numbers of her incoming and outgoing calls and any text messages. So, who was to say that he could not get her locations too?

Getting the Ducks in a Row

Brielle returned home just before ten o’clock and as the movers were arriving. The movers pulled into the driveway as Brielle was taking the baby out of her safety seat.

After the movers loaded up the huge box truck, Brielle paid them half and would pay the other half once the movers got her belongings safely to her grandmother’s house in Tennessee. Because the movers would have to take the items across the country, the moving was awfully expensive.

Her best friend Karen stretched out her arms and Brielle embraced her. The two besties hugged each other tightly.

“I’m going to miss you all so much,” Karen told her, “But I understand why you have to leave. You deserve to be happy, Brielle. And I want you and these girls to be happy even if it’s in Tennessee. Please be careful. And call me when you get there so that I know you all are safe.”

“I sure will, sweetie. I’m going to miss you too.”

Karen’s fifteen-year-old son, Ryker, hugged Jane. Her twelve-year-old son, James, hugged Olivia.

“I guess this is it,” Ryker told Jane.

“Yeah. I’m really going to miss you,” Jane said in a low voice.

The sadness of Leaving Friends Behind

“Yeah, me too. Have a great trip. And call me,” Ryker chirped.

“I will. You have my new number. Right?” Jane asked.

Ryker dug a folded piece of paper out of his pocket.

“Right here.” He assured.

“Program it into your phone. You’ll easily lose that paper if you don’t.” Jane warned.

Ryker unfolded the paper, took out his smartphone, and did as Jane suggested.

“Got it!” He chirped.

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C2.3

Once she was done with her packing, Brielle went across the hall to Jane’s room and knocked at the door.

“It’s open.” Jane called from inside.

Brielle entered. Jane was sitting at her computer. She spun around in her twirl chair and got a straight shot into Brielle’s bedroom.

“Mom, what’s going on. Why are the suitcases packed?”

“That’s what I’m fixing to talk to you about. I need you and Olivia to come into my room.” Brielle advised.

“Olivia!” Jane called out, “Mom wants to see you!”

Olivia came into Jane’s room holding the baby on her hip.

“What?”

“Let’s go to my room. We need to talk.” Brielle told her.

Olivia looked at Jane, then back at her mother.

After the girls followed their mother into the bedroom, they all sat on the side of the bed. Brielle looked at her girls and spoke.

“Girls, I know this is going to be a hard thing for you. But I’ve decided that we have to pack up and move back East. We cannot continue to live with your Dad and his temper. There’s just no point in living in fear any longer. We must have some peace. And I feel I’m setting a very bad example for you girls, by staying in this marriage. No woman should ever stay in a marriage with a man who is abusive. I know you’re going to miss your dad, but I can’t let him hurt us anymore. I hope you understand.” She explained.

Breaking it Gently to the Children

A tear ran down Jane’s cheek.

“I understand, Mom. I love Dad and yes, I’ll miss him. But I understand,” she said.

Olivia gave Jane the baby, then cupped her face in her hands. She sobbed as Brielle put her arms around both the girls as Jane held on to the baby.

“I promise you. Everything’s going to be alright. You will get to see Granny more. Maybe even spend the night with her on the weekends. You’ll get to eat her banana bread you loved so much when we traveled there last summer. We’ll get to see Uncle Paul and Aunt Melissa. And also Uncle Jesse and Aunt Amy. You’ll get to see Uncle Joey and Aunt Julie and maybe they’ll teach you how to ride the horses. And you’ll get to see all your cousins.”

After holding her babies for about an hour and letting them cry until they couldn’t cry anymore, Brielle stood up.

“I’m going to help you both pack your things. Go ahead and get out your suitcases, duffle bags, and overnight bags. I’ll call Granny and your uncles and tell them we’re coming. Your Dad won’t be home until Saturday. We still have four days to pack, call a U-haul and get out of here. But I’d like to leave here by tomorrow morning. So, we need to pack and work fast.” Brielle said gently.

A Nosy Neighbor

Little Kennedy soon grew sleepy. Brielle rocked her to sleep, then lay her in her crib for a nap. Once the baby was asleep, it was time to get moving. Brielle called her grandmother and brothers to tell them they were coming, then she called the movers to come get the girl’s beds and dressers, Brielle’s grandmother’s old recliner, the queen-sized bed out of the guest room and the furniture that went with it. She also had her old furniture from when she was single and living in her apartment.

The girls quickly emptied their closet and dresser drawers, folded their clothes and placed them in their suitcases and duffle bags.

They could not take a chance of packing the Escalade during the day for the nosey neighbor across the street, Geneva. Bill always had her watching the house. But she was older and went to bed with the chickens. So, Brielle decided that they would pack the car that night after they were sure Ms. Geneva had gone to bed.

It was a good thing that the older lady went to the retirement center to play bingo every Wednesday at 10am and she would be gone for two to three hours. And most of the other nosy neighbors worked during the day. That would be the perfect time for the movers to arrive and load up all their furniture.

An “Upstanding” Guy

Bill had that lady and a few others watching that house like hawks and it infuriated Brielle to no end. He always made the excuse it was to keep them safe. But Brielle knew better.

She could not count the times Bill had accused her of cheating on him while he was away and slapping her around over it. And to everyone outside the house, Bill was a real stand-up guy. Only Brielle and the girls knew what he really was.

Bill had a way of drawing people to him. He had charisma and he could lie like a dog and make you believe it. This man could charm a nun right out of her panties if he wanted to. He sure had Brielle when they were dating. Had her fooled right up until they got married. And once he got that ring on her finger, off came the mask.

And what made this so frustrating was that Bill’s superb reputation outside the home, as both a businessman and an awesome and lovable guy, was the main thing that prevented Brielle from speaking out about the abuse she and the girls suffered. Who would believe that such a great man would abuse anyone, much less his own family? Even worse, who would take the word of a stripper turned lowly housewife over that of an esteemed businessman?

A “Bad Influence”

Those things alone were enough to intimidate and silence Brielle. But the fact was that the pressure was building, and she had to pack her things, take her kids, and get the hell out of Dodge before she snapped and either hurt Bill severely, or killed him.

No way would Brielle spend the rest of her life in prison over some narcissistic creep who seemed to take pleasure in having power over people. For fourteen long years already, she had been a prisoner in her own home. Damn if she was going to exchange one prison for another. Screw replacing one jailer with a slew of others.

Brielle had only one friend in the neighborhood that she could trust and that was Karen Fritz. Karen was the only person who knew the real Bill. She was also the only person that Brielle could trust with her secrets and her children. Bill detested Karen, calling her a bad influence for his wife and girls. No surprise there. Bill felt threatened when Brielle and the girls talked to anyone.

Brielle called the moving company and told them to arrive at 10 the next day, then she and the girls spent the rest of the day packing their things. That night at just before midnight, she and the girls loaded all the suitcases, duffle bags, overnight bags into the Escalade and locked the doors. And because the windows of the escalade were tinted, Brielle did not worry about anyone walking by the next morning and noticing the contents of the SUV so easily.

Brielle thought for a moment. How would Bill take it once he got back home and found that they were all gone? And more importantly, what would he do?

“Townies, Cronies, & Hayseeds II”

(A Collective Grudge)
Chapter 1
Back When

Sixteen-year-old Brielle Bennett sat in front of Thomasville High School reading the new and recently published Shannon Crooke McGregor novel when she was approached by seventeen-year-old Bobby Crabtree, his girlfriend Rita Winchester, and friends Ashton Childers, Kevin Kearns, Aaron Hughes, Jada Ames, Austin Eves, Philip Adams Jr, and Sarah Dickerson. They immediately noticed the book Brielle was reading. The title of the book, in big bold letters, across the top of the cover, read “Scars Never Healed.” Across the bottom was the name, Shannon Crooke McGregor.”

Brielle, a shy and bullied girl at Thomasville High School, needed to confirmation that she wasn’t alone, which was one of the many reasons she idolized Shannon Crooke McGregor, the famous author who had lived in Thomasville as a teenager and who had attended the same school. Shannon escaped the chains the held her in place, which were the same chains that were now holding Brielle in place, and if Shannon could go on to become famous, then perhaps, she could too.

A Forbidden Book

Brielle was startled out of her reverie when someone suddenly snatched her book out of her hands.

“Well, well, well! What do we have here?” Bobby jeered as he looked at the book, surrounded by his friends, who were laughing and jeering behind him, “Shannon Crooke McGregor!” He read aloud before glaring at Brielle.

Bobby angrily shook the book at Brielle.

“Really, Brielle? Shannon Crooke McGregor!”

Bobby then threw the book back at Brielle, hitting her in the face with it. He then took her by the collar of her blouse and jerked her up from the bench she was sitting on.

“You support the bitch who slandered this town and this school? You know? We’ve always hated your guts! That’s right! We hated your guts before! But now! We fucking loathe you! You’re enemy number one now! You’d better watch your back from now on!” He growled before shoving her back down on the concrete school patio.

Brielle reached to grab her book but, in a rage, Bobby kicked it out of her reach and the book went sliding across the patio and hit one of the garbage disposals. He then walked away with his friends laughing behind him. Rita looked back at Brielle.

“Stupid bitch!” She called back…

dreamstime_xl_37284171

Graduation

…Over a year later, during graduation, Brielle received her diploma and walked back to where she had sat amid jeers and boos. Only her family clapped and cheered for her.

“Don’t pay any attention to them, Brielle. We’re proud of you, sweetie.” Brielle’s mother called out to her from the audience.

Just after the commencement ceremony was over, Brielle hugged each of her family members in festive and celebratory happiness. Her mother and father were so proud of her, and Brielle was excited for the future.

“I can’t believe it’s over! It’s really over!” Brielle gushed with tears of joy in her eyes. She hugged each of her brothers.

An Evil Pact

Not far away, Bobby and his friends, also in their graduation caps and gowns, stood together, all glaring at Brielle, watching her smile and pose for pictures with her family and few friends. They turned and looked at one another.

“She only thinks it’s over! But it’s far from it!” Rita sneered. Each bully stood in unity and put their hands-on top of one another’s.

“We need to make a pact. She still has to live here.” Bobby said, “So, we start a little campaign.” He suggested.

“Ha! When we’re done with her, she’ll have no job prospects, no prospects for college, no marriage prospects- we’re going to isolate her and drive her to poverty! She’ll live in squalor when we’re through!” Rita growled.

“And if that don’t work, we kill her!” Bobby pledged, with his friends cheering in agreement.

A New Life

Unbeknownst to the bullies, however, Brielle had other plans. She hopped a Greyhound bus and left Thomasville the following week, heading to sunny California.

Brielle tried getting into acting. Apart from a few guest appearances and bit parts in a few movies, she couldn’t seem to get her big break. While she tried her hand at acting, she worked in a gentleman’s club as an exotic dancer and made good money. She soon gave up on acting and decided to make a career in dancing. Although four-hundred thousand dollars a year was nothing to sneeze at, it was still peanuts in southern California.

At twenty, Brielle met and married a businessman, then had three children…