Pastureland Episode-1 Casey
Casey Fletcher shuffled up to the isolated storage shed a half mile from the main farmhouse. There wasn’t much inside, bags of fertilizer, stacks of burlap and some antiquated farm machinery. In places, the boards were so loose you could see through from one side to the other.
There were fresh footprints around the building and the door was kicked in. “Goddammit…trespassers!” Casey hissed. The wood around the lock was splintered. Kids can’t leave well enough alone! He entered cautiously. Another chore for the list. The gloom was cut by shafts of sunlit dust. As his eyes adjusted, Casey made out a figure lying in the burlap. “Hey!” he yelled. There was no reaction. “Hey!” he repeated. “You can’t sleep in here!” He walked over to deliver a kick, but suddenly froze. There was a ragged wound in one leg and the jeans were blood-soaked.
“Holy Christ!” he exclaimed. “Are you okay?”
No answer, nor movement either.
It was a boy, probably late teens, arm lying across his face. Casey stared helplessly, unsure what to do. He’d been walking the property and didn’t have his pick-up or phone. He ran outside and looked around. There was a car pulled off the county road 200 yards away. Casey hustled over, following a trail of blood to a battered Honda. Inside, maps and food wrappers covered the front seat…blood smeared everywhere…like in a horror movie. Casey spied a cell phone among the debris and flipped it open. “Better call Wes,” he said to himself. The boss’s daughter answered.
“Hello?” she said, a little confused.
“Natalie, it’s me,” Casey said. “I’ve got a situation out here in the shed by the highway.”
“Casey?” she said. “The number threw me off…what’s up.”
“Your dad around?”
“No, he went into town to see John Becker about an accounting issue.”
“Can you drive out here? There’s a boy badly hurt and I’m not sure what to do.”
“A little boy?”
“Not so little, a teenager.”
“Don’t know, but he’s got injuries…found him lying in the shed. I’m not sure if he’s conscious.”
“I’ll be right there.”
Casey thought the world of Natalie. She’d grown up on the farm and was her father’s right hand.
Casey shoved the phone into his pocket and returned to the shed. In the distance, he could see Natalie driving away from the house in a cloud of dust.
Inside, he was surprised to find the boy sitting up, pale and bewildered.
“Hi,” he said faintly. “Where am I?”
“The Richards’ farm. How’d you get here?”
“I was driving cross country…got attacked by a hitchhiker.” The boy was staring down at his leg.
“Is that your only injury?” Casey inquired, unsure what else to say.
“Yeah…it’s deep,” the boy said, suddenly sucking in air, “and hurts like a bitch.”
“Looks like you’ve lost considerable blood,” Casey said. The boy’s right pant leg and sneaker were stained dark red.
“Can I lie here?”
“You need a doctor, son.”
“I guess…?” The boy seemed out of it…maybe in shock.
“I’d highly recommend it.” Casey could hear the squeak of springs as Natalie’s pickup bounced across the fields and pulled up outside. The door slammed and she burst in, carrying a first aid kit.
“I got stabbed,” the boy mumbled. Natalie opened the kit and took out a pair of scissors.
“I’m gonna have to cut your jeans,” she said. “They’re in bad shape.”
“No sweat,” the boy said.
“You thirsty?” she asked.
“Casey, can you get the water from the truck?” Natalie asked.
“Sure,” Casey replied…glad for an excuse to leave the shed and get some fresh air. What a development! he thought as he retrieved the water from the front seat. You never know what’s gonna happen one second to the next.
Inside, he handed the bottle to the boy who fumbled with it, then drank deeply. “Man, that tastes good! My mouth was like sandpaper from all the dust and shit.”
Natalie was cutting a big circle around the wound on the boy’s thigh, halfway between his knee and crotch. Casey stood behind watching. He loved her efficient, no-nonsense manner. The boy was watching too. He was good-looking, with curly jet-black hair.
“How’d it happen?” Natalie asked as she worked.
The boy drained the last of the water and started to talk, fast, breathlessly…like all the Easterners Casey’d met. “I stopped for gas in Clover Butte and this guy was hanging around. Asked if he could ride along, said he was headed for Wyoming. I wasn’t too keen on the idea, but figured it’d be okay. He was pretty weird…skanky hair and these like studded cuffs. Everything was okay at first. We both liked Led Zeppelin and listened to CDs, but then he started saying weird shit and coming on to me, so I pulled over and told him to get out. He went ballistic and stabbed me.”
“Right here next to our property?” Natalie asked.
“Yeah. I looked around for help, but it hurt so bad, I didn’t go far. Just kicked open the shed door and lay down…sorry about the lock.”
“It’s okay,” Natalie said. “This is gonna hurt,” and splashed on peroxide.
“Holy shit!” the boy said, gritting his teeth.
“What’s your name, son?” Casey asked.
“Bobby…Bobby Haddon. I’m from Pennsylvania.”
“You’ll have to see a doctor,” Natalie said. “It’s a really deep wound.”
“Fuck!” Bobby said. “I’m supposed to meet my friend Brad in San Francisco day after tomorrow.”
“I dunno,” Natalie said. “Maybe Doc Winters can fix you up fast, but I wouldn’t bet on it.”
“God, I hope so,” Bobby said. “I’ve had lousy luck. My car’s broken down three times…now this.”
“Casey let’s get him up,” Natalie said. “Grab his other arm.”
“Sure.” They hoisted him. The boy felt lean and solid.
“Can you put any weight on your leg?” Natalie asked.
Bobby tried…but let out a yelp. “It hurts like a motherfucker!”
Casey winced. If the old man heard all the profanity, he’d hit the roof.
“Didn’t mean to hurt you,” Natalie said. “Case, you got him good?”
“We’ll ease him out to the truck real slow.” She turned to Bobby. “You ready?”
“I guess,” he replied uncertainly.
The boy smelled of sweat, dust and unwashed hair. Like a farm hand, Casey thought…he’ll clean up fine. They eased him into the cab. Natalie first, then the boy…Casey at the wheel.. “Ready to roll?”
The boy grunted…eyes shut tight…fists clenched.
“Must of cut muscle,” Casey said as the truck began bumping through the field.
“Yeah,” Natalie agreed. “Take it real slow ’til we reach the highway.”
“The bouncing’s a bitch,” Bobby remarked.
“Did you see where the other fella went?” Casey asked. He was worried the drifter might be wandering around the farm.
“He took off up the road,” Bobby said.
“The way your car’s facing?” Casey asked.
“Yup,” Bobby said, then suddenly tensed, tears rolling down his cheeks. “Oh shit!”
“You okay?” Casey asked, patting his arm.
“Not really,” Bobby gasped.
Casey glanced at him. Figured the boy and Natalie were about the same age. She was 20.
“I appreciate you driving me to the doctor,” Bobby said, “especially after I fucked up your door.” He studied Natalie…like he noticed her for the first time.
“We’d do the same for anybody,” she said. “We help each other out here.” Bobby kept staring.
No surprise. Boys liked Natalie, but it pissed Casey off she’d picked Todd Billings, the cocky deputy sheriff.
Natalie called ahead on her cell and told Doc Winters they were coming.
“Everything okay?” Casey asked.
“Uh huh, except Nurse Pam is off today. I’ll have to stand in.”
“You’re an expert. Your dad and I have sure been banged up enough.”
“Should I call the police and have Todd meet us? He’ll need to get all the details.”
“Let’s take one thing at a time,” Casey said. He was worried about the attack, but having Todd around was a pain in the ass. It was somehow nice in the truck, just the three of them. Bobby seemed pretty normal. Casey wished Natalie would hang out with him or somebody like him.
Next Time: How did the boy end up in Nebraska? What’s the real story, and how will the town react? Read episode 2.