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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1999242-The-Picnic
Rated: E · Chapter · Western · #1999242
A chapter not finished.Inspired by an existing story, but 30 years later Fanfiction?
         On Thursday Sam drove his pickup truck to Diane’s house and parked out front. He knocked on the door, then walked in.

         “Anybody home?” He proceeded to the kitchen.

         “I’m ready. The picnic basket is packed. I just need to get some cider out of the icebox. How are you, today?”

         “Just dandy. Now that I’ve seen you anyway.” He smiled and gently touched her shoulder. He walked to the other side of the kitchen. “I’m a lucky man to have one of the best cooks in all of Medicine Bow prepare a picnic for me.”

         “I guess you are.”

         “What are we having?”

         “You’ll have to wait and see.”

         “I think it smells like fried chicken in here.”

         “Do you?” She set the jug of cider in a canvas bag, with a bottle of water. “That might just be some old grease you smell.”

         “You wouldn’t leave old grease in the house. I think we’re having chicken.”

         “Well, carry these out to the truck. I’ll carry a blanket to sit on.”

         “Your ride awaits, Madam.”

         They walked out the front door, not locking it behind them.

         He put the packages, including the blanket, in the back and quickly opened the door for her. She climbed in, and he closed the door.

         They drove quietly, with only occasional comments on the weather, or how they had anticipated a stress free afternoon in the country. He drove to a hillside on his own ranch over the grass and parked by a tree.

         “Stay there. I’ll get your door, Milady.”

         “Such a gentleman.”

         “I try to be,” he called back as he closed his door and walked around.

         He held open the door and took her hand. It was a bit of a drop to the ground, but there was the running board. She wore pants more than most women did. They were good for riding horses and walks in the country, and getting in and out of pickup trucks.

         “You smell nice today.” He held her hand a bit longer than necessary. She pretended not to notice.

         She grabbed the blanket while he got the rest.

         “Let’s see. This looks like a nice level spot. How about here?”

         Diane nodded her head and unfolded the blanket. He helped her spread out the corners and set the basket over on it. She sat down on it with the bag of drinks.

         He sat down himself on the other side and waited. Opening the basket she pulled out two glasses and told him, “You pour us some cider. So he did while she pulled out plates and napkins.

         “Hmm. Hmm. I’m getting hungry. What did you fix, Woman?”

         “Chicken. And fruit and biscuits.”

         “Homemade biscuits? You must think I’m special.”

         “I buttered them while they were warm. I tried not to pack anything too messy or that would spill in the truck.”

         “I’ve had your chicken, and your biscuits. I know I’ll be happy.”

         He took the plate she handed him with food and started eating. She sipped the cider which was still cold, and ate her chicken. They ate in silence. Once in a while, he would shake his head slowly and go, “Hmm, hmm.” After the second biscuit, he slowly said, “Diane, I think you make about the best biscuits I’ve ever had.”

         “Maybe that’s just because you were so hungry, they tasted extra good.”

         They finished their meal, and he disposed of the bones and crumbs, while she repacked everything, including the dirty dishes. He sat back down on the blanket by her feet.

         He said, “I believe now I need a nap to let that fine meal settle.” He lay back on the ground beside her, his head by her outstretched feet.

         “Why don’t you sing for me? It might soothe me to sleep.”

         “What would you like to hear?”

         “Didn’t that guitar man traveling through hear last year teach you some songs? Sing one of those.”

         “Yes, he taught me and Randy some songs he wrote. He thought he was going to actually lead a band here, but there just aren’t enough residents to make it a lucrative business. There was one song I liked a lot.”

         “Sing it for me.”

         “You won’t like it. It’s a love song.”

“I might like it. Try me.”

         “You aren’t the sentimental type. But if you’re that tired, you might be asleep before I finish a verse.”

         She leaned back on her hands and looked off into the distance. She knew all too well his fear of commitment and love and entanglements. She sang in a low, soft voice, imperfect but pleasant. The tune was nice, and the words honest and romantic. Her voice cracked once or twice on a particularly sentimental phrase.

         She paused after the first verse. He opened his eyes and said, “That was nice. I liked it. Is there another verse?”

         “Yes, but you really won’t like it. It’s mushier than the first verse.”

         “You know I can handle romance. Many a woman has had her eyes on me. I can handle romantic songs.”

         “Oh, yes. I know. The women are pounding down your door. You have to beat them away with a stick.”

         “That’s right. I’ve stayed single since my wife’s passing without any problem. I can handle a mushy song. Just sing it.” He closed his eyes again.

         She took a deep breath, and looking away again, started the second verse. Her voice was a little stronger now. But at the first romantic phrase, she stole a glance at him, then looked away. She didn’t see that he stole a glance at her, then shut his eyes again. As the verse went on, a tear came to her eye. She almost choked with emotion before ending.

         Then he reached up his hand to her hand. She looked at her hand. With a quick scramble, he was on his knees, both hands holding her head.

indent}“I never planned this. I never wanted any of this. I don’t want to be in love. I don’t want to be married. I was engaged once, and she died before the wedding. Years later, I fell in love again despite myself. I married her and had two beautiful children. Then she died. I can’t do it again. She left me with two daughters and I was all alone and did a lousy job raising them. I told myself I would never be in love again. I couldn’t let anyone else into my life. You understand? It’s not your fault. I tried not to…”

         He loosened his grip on her head to bury his head in her shoulder. She was crying and trembling. She felt as though her heart would break. He wrapped his arms around her and rocked her. There were tears in his eyes, but she could not see them. They were frozen except for sobbing.

         “It’s okay. We’ll work it out. We’ll work it out. Somehow we’ll work it out,” he murmured to reassure them both. “We’ll find a way to work it out.” He kissed her neck and the side of her face. He pressed his forehead to hers, and both sighed deeply. With tears running down both their faces, he kissed her, their first kiss on the lips ever. He kissed her again, and the third time he kissed her lips more slowly. They held onto each other quietly, not knowing what to say or do next.

         Suddenly, an auto horn sounded and an engine could be heard

         “What is that?” He said with a start and rose to his feet.

         hey both looked down the hill. “It’s Frank Hill”, he said in disbelief. “What’s he doing here?”

         She was wiping her eyes, and muttered “That damn Frank Hill.”

         He turned, offering his hand.

         She shook her head, and took his hand. She rose to her feet, too.

         “Hey, folks. I’m sorry to disturb you.” He nodded to Diane.

         “What’s this all about?”

         “There’s been a robbery in town. The bank guard got shot. The Sheriff sent me to get you. He needs your help.”

         “Why does he need me? Why are you carrying messages? Where’s the deputy? What’s wrong with the state police?”

         “The sheriff had just arrested that new guy in town for fraud, when this happened. These are violent robbers. The deputy got stabbed when he went by the alley looking for them. One of them made it to a car and got away. He wants you and me to look around town outskirts for the one that’s on foot. Randy and Stewart are searching town, and are alerting all the business men and residents. Tom called Wendall to keep the kids inside and watch out at the ranch for strangers.

         “What about the deputy? Is he alive?”

indent}“He’s being rushed with the guard to the hospital in Cheyenne. The doctor here did what he could. But the deputy lost a lot of blood, and the bullet wound in the guard is deep.”

         “Well, okay. I’ve got to drive Diane home. I’ll meet you in town in front of the sheriff’s office.”

         Steve nodded and drove away.

         “I’m sorry, Darling. I’ve got to take you home.” They looked at each other without speaking. Slowly they turned to gather up their things and get back in the truck.

         On the drive back, they didn’t speak much. He reached out for her hand. What should have been a moment of joy, of celebration at finding each other after years of avoiding their feelings and pretending they didn’t care had turned cold and stressful. There were other worries now, no time to sort anything out or feel their love so long denied. Finally, he pulled in front of her house. They unloaded her things and walked inside.

         Once the things were set down, he slowly reached for her, and they embraced. They held each other in silence. “I’ll come by as soon as I get a chance. I don’t have any idea when that will be.”

         “Please be careful. He’s already hurt two people. I don’t want you to be hurt.”

         “I’ll be fine. I want you to lock the doors and stay inside until I get back. Do you hear me?”

         “You’re getting bossy already.”

         “Do you hear me? You have to stay inside with the doors locked and the windows closed. And draw the shades. Don’t open the door for anyone but me. Or Steve or Tom.”

         She nodded. They kissed again, more passionately than before. They sighed and held each other tightly. One more quick kiss, and he said, “I have to go.”

         She walked him to the door.

         “Remember, lock this door behind me.” He kissed her one more time and darted out. From the other side of the closed door, he yelled, “Are you locking it?”

         “Yes,” she yelled back. Then she heard him trying to open it.

         “Good,” he said and left.


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