THE RIGHT TIME
By: Kelly O’Kelly
The wind came across the blue mountains and down into the valley with a vengeance that she had never seen before. The old cabin had braved the weather since 1832. Lea’s daddy, had constructed it nearly 60 years ago for her mother. Looking out the frosted over window pane, she could see the faint figure of a man and a horse making his way toward the dilapidated old barn; both were covered with snow and ice. Taking the steel blue pistol from the bunk, she dropped it into the pocket of her winter jacket that she wore, even inside whenever the fire wasn’t roaring hot. Sometime when the wind blew it came through the cracks in the logs of the faithful old shack. Peeping out of the hole she had scraped on the glass, she wondered who might be bedding down his horse in her barn. It had been nearly two years since she had seen her lover who, she herd, had left with some new mattress-back from Kelly’s Saloon in town.
“The son-of-a-bitch,” she thought.
“He has probably come back home to roost.”
Lea held her overcautious station beside the window, her hand firmly planted on the pistol in her pocket. Her eyes flamed hot at the prospect of seeing Jake again. “Big Jake, Big Jake Salmon, that’s what they called him.” The weathered gray door from the barn creaked opened against the drifting snow. It sure wasn’t Jake. Lea watched as the tall, Grizzly coated figure struggle toward her door. “Is anybody home in there?” “Who is it, she yelled back.” “It’s Deputy French from the sheriff's office in town, I got some news for you if you’ll let me in.” Lea whisk across the floor and opened the door. He stepped inside. “I’m about froze,” he said with a toothy smile, “the snow has drifted so bad you can’t see the road out there.” “Here, let me throw some more wood on the fire.” Lea could see his silver star flash as he removed the heavy winter coat. “Let me take that for you,” she said, “I know you must be chilled to the bone.”
“Well, it weren’t no clambake riding a-way out here.”
Shaking the snow from the coat, she hung it on the game rack by the now blazing fireplace to dry. Turning back toward him, she coaxed a smile from her normally somber lips. “Coffee,” she asked? “I sure could use it.” Lea reached over to the round belly wood stove for the big pot and took a white coffee mug down from the shelf. “What brings you out in this weather Deputy?” she asked, tumbling the boiling hot Java into the mug. “Wheeeeeeuu,” he blew the smoke from the surface of the cup, “AHHH! Thank you.” Sitting back in the chair, he took off his hat. “If you are Lea Salmon, well, I guess I’ve got some bad news.” “I’m Lea O’Banyon, but me and Jake Salmon has been living here for some time.” “ What do you want to tell me?”
Deputy French took a small white bag of tobacco from his shirt pocket; shaking the makings into a waiting cigarette paper, he began to roll it round. “It seems as if Jake Salmon’s had a terrible calamity,” she put her hand to her mouth; “how is that she said?” French licked the cigarette paper and tightened it round the makings. Lighting it up; he blew out the match and watched as a gray trail of smoke billowed round the dying ember. “He’s dead.” Lea sat down in the other chair. “What happened?” she asked. Deputy French drank another swallow of the coffee; “found him drop hanged from the bridge that crosses Reedy Branch.” “Froze stiff as a poker!” He nodded toward the stove. “Got any idea’s?” “No, not a one,” she said in a regretful voice, “but he had some enemies.” “Jake hasn’t been here for over two years now; since he left with that woman in town.” The deputy nodded his head as if he knew the story.