The Doctor's Choice(4)

By: J. D. Faver

“Well, she’ll find out soon enough,” Alma Jo said.

“That big Kincaid ranching outfit was trying to buy Moonshadows from Silky. She’d get so mad when that fellow kept coming over. She said she’d just like to have shot him where he stood.”

“She didn’t want to sell?” Cami shifted uncomfortably in her chair.

“No she did not!” Cora Lee said emphatically.

“Didn’t they offer her enough for it?”

Delta Ruth rolled her eyes to the ceiling as though considering. “I believe their offer was very generous.” She turned to Cami with a shrug. “But Silky wouldn’t sell at any price. She loved every fence post, cow and tumbleweed on her place.”

Alma Jo wiped a tear from the corner of her eye and took another sip of her sherry. “Silky was raised in this house. Your great-grandfather built it for his bride. He brought her west from Saint Louis. She was a city gal too.”

“I—I see.” Cami reconsidered pouring a glass of sherry for herself.

“Silky told me the Kincaid Corporation was playing dirty tricks on her,” Delta Ruth said.

“What do you mean dirty tricks?” A tingle of apprehension stirred at the nape of Cami’s neck. She sometimes felt this tingle when she walked to her car after a late shift at the hospital. She called it her premonition tingle. Heeding her fears she always asked the guard to walk her to her vehicle.

“Oh, I believe there was some mischief with the stock tanks and then there was the time some fence posts were pulled out.” Alma Jo stared intently at the decanter but turned her gaze to Cami as she smiled brightly. “Don’t worry. I’m sure Breckenridge will explain it all. He won’t let the land-grabbers intimidate you.” She tossed down the sherry.

“He is a truly nice boy,” Cora Lee agreed. “His ranch adjoins Silky’s property. He took over when his father became too ill to manage it all.”

The ladies chatter blended together in a cacophony of voices, reverberating off the high ceiling and echoing back down on Cami; drowning her with babble.

Delta Ruth set her glass on the table with a clink. “Breck’s father was afraid he might have big ideas when he graduated from law school but, sure enough, he came right back here and set up his little office in town. Mostly, he just takes care of his ranch and everyone’s legal needs here in Langston.”

“Nice boy,” Alma Jo echoed. “And single,” she added brightly. “He’s never been married. You’re single, aren’t you?”

“Yes.” She felt momentarily confused. “Why do you ask?”

“Because, my dear. You’re not getting any younger and you don’t want to wait while all the good ones get snapped up. Not like Silky.” Cora Lee raised her eyebrows and made clucking noises with her tongue.

“By the way,” Delta Ruth asked, “How old are you?”

“I’ll be twenty-eight in April.” Cami rose from the hard chair. “Is my age a factor?”

“Well, dear,” Delta Ruth said. “I do believe Breck is in his early thirties. You know, you could do worse. He’s very handsome and well-to-do.”

“And such a nice boy,” Cora Lee said again.


By the time the three ladies departed, they were a little tipsy. Over Cami’s protests, Cora Lee insisted that she was perfectly capable of driving them the few miles back to town.

A few minutes later, the doorbell rang to signal the next visitor. Before the afternoon was over, the dining room table was laden with gifts of food and the polished oak floor in the entryway was tracked with mud and slush.

Cami mopped the entrance with a damp mop and dried it with an old towel from Aunt Silky’s rag bag. She felt detached, as though in a dream state. Doing normal tasks helped her to reconnect when her emotions were on overload. The disconnect feature was her protection when things got too hectic in the emergency room, or when she lost a patient. Some sort of auto-pilot took over and walked her through the tough spots.

She poured the dregs from the coffee pot down the drain, reflecting on the strange conversation with Delta Ruth, Alma Jo and Cora Lee earlier. She was curious about the Kincaid operation and Silky’s aversion to it.

“Three weird sisters,” she said, recalling the three witches from Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Shadow perked up his ears, cocking his head to one side.

“What’s the drill around here, boy? Did Aunt Silky take you for a walk or just let you out?” As if in response to her question, he walked to the back door and whined softly. “Okay, but please come back. My clothes aren’t warm enough for me to go out looking for you.” She opened the door a crack, shivering as the icy wind swirled around the kitchen. The silky black muzzle poked into the opening and pushed it wide enough for a swift exit.