Three pages of Chapter 14 in MEN WITH BEARDS.

Sorry for the way it looks. It didn’t copy well from my word pad.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Berle went out around midnight to pick up some essentials: milk, bread, cigarettes and beer. It was cool out, so he had let Pegasus run around the backyard while he was gone. He didn’t do that too often because there was a drainage ditch behind his house that rats liked to play in. Pegasus liked to engage in a seek-and-destroy mission against them. She was caught up on all her vaccinations, but Berle didn’t want her to lose an eye in a brawl with some psychotic ditch-rat.

His truck came rumbling around the corner and into the driveway around twelve-thirty. From outside, it looked as though his kitchen light was on. He thought he had turned it off.  As he got out of the truck he decided it was probably on when he left because he’d forgotten to turn it off.

Lifting the items from his truck bed, he noticed a strange car parked on the road across the street. It was a blue Mercury LeSable, looked to be ’93 or ’94. The old lady that lived there rarely had visitors and when she did, none of them drove that. It was usually a person in a white Ford F-150.

Hope she didn’t die, he thought as he started up the yard.

The woman was in her 80s, so it wouldn’t exactly be a shock. Berle remembered her being ancient all his life. It was amazing to him that she had been getting around fairly well.

There was also a dark Chevy Aveo parked at the stop sign on the corner. He had noticed that when he was driving in. The driveway next door was pretty big and only one car ever sat in it. The Aveo would’ve had plenty of room. He eyed the car for a second but lost interest as soon as he was by his house.

He sat the groceries on the porch and started unlocking the door. He pushed it open and went inside. He crossed the front room to the kitchen and slid the milk and beer inside the fridge. He popped one can out, opened it and took a deep swill. He felt some of it run down his massive beard and onto his neck. He kept drinking, not caring.

He emptied the can and crushed it, then tossed it into the trashcan wedged between the sink and the stove. It hit the wall with a dull clank and fell in. He turned to the round, brown wooden table and threw the carton of Camels on it. He started to open the box when he heard a squeak behind him.

His floors were weak in a lot of spots and just the slightest movement made the house sound like it was about to crumble. Due to that, he was able to hear several feet coming across the living room and down the hall.

He quickly grabbed one of the kitchen chairs, turned and swung it. It connected with some scruffy white guy’s face, breaking off a leg and dropping the guy with a quick puff of blood. Berle saw two black guys coming up behind the guy and he threw the chair at them. Another leg struck the guy on the right directly in the forehead just above his left eye. He fell back into the hall. The other guy stopped the chair with his arms and took a few steps back. When he recovered, Berle’s fist was breaking out some of his teeth.

The guy hit the wall hard behind him, bashing the back of his head against it, causing a dent in the drywall. The guy that had taken the chair leg in the head came back at Berle, a deep laceration spilling blood down his face. He tried to tackle the big man by the legs but Berle smashed an elbow into his spine. He thought something broke when he did that. The man went down twitching.

Then, it felt like a pile of men fell on top of him, weighing him down while throwing strikes upon him. The shots rattled his head and blurred his vision. Eventually, his knees buckled and he fell to the ground. A few more shots were thrown before a man with some sort of foreign accent spoke.

“Okay lads, that’s quite enough.”

The beating stopped and Berle now heard a lone set of feet squeaking across the floor.

“Lift him up,” said the voice.

He felt hands reach under his arms and pull him from the floor. When his vision regained focus, he was staring into the hateful eyes of Seamus O’Brien. He didn’t know who Seamus was, but for more than just the lynching, he could tell he meant business by the chill of his glare.

“I got a bone to pick with you, lad,” Seamus said.

Berle shook out the webs and stated, “I don’t know you.”

“Aye, but I believe I know you…Berle Taggart. A friend of mine delivered me your wallet,” he pulled it out of his pocket and threw it on the floor. Berle looked at it in surprise.

“Who gave you that?”

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