Lie in WaitBy: Eric Rickstad
VICTOR JENKINS STARED into the fire outside Jed King’s sugar shack, praying for strength.
Lester Graves, a local, and Daryn Banks, from New Hampshire, stood across from him, both men praying silently as well. Good people. Godly people, Jenkins thought.
Each man wore a plaid shirt and blue jeans and steel-toed work boots. Victor had bought his boots earlier that day at Payless. Though he’d rubbed the boots with dirt to dull the virgin leather’s sheen, they remained too tight and gave him blisters. The other two men’s boots were well trod with beaten leather toes through which a hard steel shone.
“Them toes’ll put a hurt on you,” Jed King barked as he powered over to the men from out of the darkness. He clapped a big hand on Victor’s shoulder, squeezed too hard, until it ached.
King polished off his can of beer, belched, crumpled the can, and lobbed it into the fire heaped with dead soldiers. He grabbed a fresh beer from a cooler, cracked it, blew foam from the top, and swigged it. Licked his handlebar mustache.
“Follow me,” he ordered.
The three men followed, Victor trailing behind.
King stalked around the back of the shack to an old woodshed. A motion-sensor light flicked on to illuminate the side of the shed with the brightness of daytime. Victor started at the sudden, accusatory light. King took the term “king of my castle” to heart and protected his homestead with the latest technology. The motion-sensor lights were just one example. He also had game-trail cameras hidden along his drive and at the boundaries of his tightly posted property. The cameras took video and still pics of anyone who trespassed. Victor knew this because Victor had put the cameras out at King’s behest.
At times, Victor thought King’s thoroughness bordered on paranoia; but he understood it. In this day and age a man could never be too careful when performing God’s work. Tonight was such a night. Jenkins was impressed with King and his commitment to an unpopular but noble cause. Jenkins prayed silently for the strength he knew was required.
King fished a mess of keys from his Dickies and unlocked the padlock on the woodshed door.
Inside the shed, propped against the back wall, lay a pile of signs stapled to tomato stakes. King grabbed a sign, picked up a hammer, and took them outside, where he pounded the stake deep into the ground, as if driving it into the heart of a vampire.
He straightened the sign and stepped back to read it:
TAKE BACK VERMONT
“Nice,” Graves said.
King crossed his arms over his chest as though studying a work of art. His animal biceps stretched his T-shirt, and his 18:22 tattoo bulged on his forearm.
“Load ’em up,” he commanded.
Victor loaded his signs and a hammer into the backseat of his wife’s rusted Cavalier, the trunk too full of sports equipment to fit the signs. Done, he loaded King’s signs and hammer into the back of King’s brand new Chevy Extended Cab. King did all right for himself; Victor had to admire it. King would never know what it was like when mothers wagged fingers and threatened you whenever you told them their boys weren’t good enough to make the football or baseball team. King didn’t know the words career or salary. He worked for himself. Took orders from nobody, save God, whom he feared and obeyed. He had a crude way about him, surely, which led to his being a widely misunderstood man by secularists and those whose interpretation of the Bible was lax.
“King’d never kowtow to those mothers,” Victor often said to Fran when faced with a mother’s inevitable vitriol each sport season.
“And Jed King’s twice divorced,” Fran’d say. “How is that a man of God? And not even his kids can stand him, I hear. You’re more a man than he’ll ever be.”
Dear, sweet Fran. Vic’s true ballast. Long ago she, and the Lord, had saved him. She’d never know just how much. Bless her.
“Vic,” King barked from inside the shed. “Quit daydreaming and get in here.”
Victor hurried inside.
King stood at a card table, on which a large map of the town of Canaan was laid out before him.
“The end of the abominations of this state starts tonight. We can no longer permit this to stand,” King announced. He glanced at Vic. “The only thing my ex-wives and I agree on. This erosion of morality. My first ex and I try to teach our boy what’s right and he’s bullied. Not just by students. By teachers, the principal, forcing their agenda.”