The Soil Beneath My Feet

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         I've always loved the smell of grass on the open plain, just before the fall of a heavy rain.  The beautiful autumn breeze and the dry air that whistles between my teeth bring forth a fresh air of relief.  This moment I feel now will likely be the last free moment I see for awhile, but any fate that I have from here on forward will be better than dealing with them.  I grew up in a Southern home and lived a harder lifestyle, so adjusting to new situations was not always my "cup of tea" as my wife would always refer to preference, but I continued to tolerate it anyways. I worked in town as a rancher, and would maintain the local livestock.  I took pride in my job, and everyone in town could count on me to round up any loose animals or to take care of pest animals like wild hogs or coyotes that would try to take a munch out of the local farm residents.  I was the only man in my town who openly carried around a revolver, and even the sheriff knew of my skill with it.  

          I would often practice my shooting at the local shooting range that the sheriff and his deputies would practice their lead-slinging, and boy was I good!  I had a better aim and reload speed than the sheriff himself, and could handle myself in any type of shootout.  I don't just know how to walk like I'm a sharp shooter, I am a sharp shooter.   Practicing with my firearm gave me time to relax from a hard day at work and allowed me to release a bit of stress that I get during the day.  By the time I returned back home to my wife and children, I was one happy father.  My kids would always run up to me telling me about their latest adventures at school.  My ten-year-old son, Ezekiel would tell me about what happened during his day at class, while his younger, 8-year old brother, Elijah would tell of the adventures he had with his friends.  My wife, Rachel always made sure to have some good food waiting for us at the table not too long after I make it home.  

          My wife doesn't keep any secrets from me, and we do our best to maintain as much honesty between ourselves and our children.  Our life was modest and we enjoyed it.  However, Rachel's parents believed otherwise.  They always told me to leave behind my work out in the fields with the livestock and to go to the "big city" to earn a "real job".  The pay here is good, and there was never a need, nor a desire for our family to want to move to the big city, so we stayed there in my hometown.  This displeased Rachel's ungrateful parents and they decided to make a surprise visit.  I had just gotten done catching some wild cows and bringing them back to the ranch, but I was left with no time to make it to the shooting range.  I went home frustrated, having sliced my arm open trying to wrangle one of the cows.  I drove home and went to park my truck, only to find Rachel's father's car parked directly in the spot where my truck was to go. I parked behind him and made my way inside.  

          I marched my way up to the front door, angry at my father-in-law for parking under the shed where my truck was supposed to go.  But before I even made it inside, I heard the arguments.  Rachel was arguing with her father, his shouting was audible from the screen door.  Albert had never been one to live a peaceful life, always wanted to be a "successful lawyer".  Janie tried her best to contain his useless temper tantrum, but he continued to insult Rachel even more.  "I knew that we should have never let you date that Clent guy!  He never wanted to go and get a real job like that boy Claus.  Claus was such a nice boy, and he's now a successful businessman.  Why did you just have to choose a man like Clent!"

         Rachel was infuriated with her father, and so was I.  "Clent actually shows me compassion, Albert, unlike you ever did!"  Both Ezekiel and Elijah had run up to their rooms screaming that they wanted their grandpa to stop yelling at their mother.  I barged in through the door.

         "Oh!  Well, look who's here to join us?!  If it isn't the buck-toothed farmboy!"

         I got directly in the face of Albert and shouted at him.  "You have no right to yell at my wife, or my children!  You have no right to be here!"  

         As I said this, Albert didn't wince for a minute, but rather smirked at me.  I quickly saw the look of concern on Rachel's face.  "Clent.  This entire county is bankrupt, and all of the ranchland is being sold to a meat factory that packages ground beef to the entire country!"  I looked at Rachel with disdain and disbelief.  

         "Rachel, honey.  Is this true?"

         It was then Albert let out a snickering laughter, "Looks like your gonna have to turn in your rope and boots and get a real job now, cowboy!"

          "Clent, honey.  It's true!  Albert bought out our property from under us.  We all are bankrupt...and"

            Albert interrupted his daughter, cutting off anything she had to say to put the final nail in his own coffin.  "And as soon as you get a real job, I'll give you your house back.  But I don't think you have the brains for a real job anyhow.  So with your property gone, and no way to provide for your family, I've taken it upon myself to file for custody of your boys."  

            Those last few words hit me like an eighteen-wheeler going full speed at me.  It nearly knocked me over.  My entire world shook.  Rachel tried to call out to me, Janie tried to stop Albert from antagonizing me further, and Albert reached for my children, intending to take them with him.  I completely lost it.  "Don't you dare touch my son you son of a bitch!  Or as God is my witness, I'll kill you!"

           Albert threw a deadening glare at me from up the stairs where his hand was still outreached to grab Ezekiel.  "If God could save you now, then why is he taking everything away from you?"  Everything around me went dark.  My emotions overtook me.  My demons ran hot in my veins, and my entire world-view changed.  I realized that there was no escaping this hell hole, and that I needed to release all of them from their fates.  I shot Albert first, causing the bullet to rocked straight through his egotistical mind.  The next person who died was Janie, a bullet whizzed straight through her heart.  Rachel begged for me to stop, and I ended her misery then.  I placed her head on the table and sent a bullet rocketing between her ears.  And before my children could cry anymore, I ended their lives as well.  After my demons had done their destruction.  I broke down on my knees, ready to end my own misery and cocked the barrel of the revolver, ready to send the final bullet rocketing through my own mind, but something stopped me.  A voice spoke in my head and told me to stop right then and there.  This was my new change to live a simple, modest life, and it would require me to leave my past behind me.  

        I then went out quickly after that shooting incident and buried my family.  I made a special grave for each one of them in the soil of the ranch that I labored in every day.  I laid out the soil over every individual body and prayed over each one, still hoping that they find a simple life after that one night in hell.  I now leave this note as the closing note to my old life.  I will be leaving this night and breaking into a new morning with a new name.  My new name till the day I die will be Free, as that is what I truly am now.  This note will likely not be read by anyone, even during the final days, so this is the closing message I leave to you.  You who unearthed this letter in search of me.  I am long gone by now, but know this.  Do not follow me, or try to make me change my path.  This new path is one that I have chosen, and will not break from.  If you dare to break my path from freedom, I will show you no mercy.  I will hunt you down till I find you, and will end your life.  I will keep the last bullet in my revolver ready to fire until my final days, as a closing note to the past that lays in the soil beneath my feet.  

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