A Cold White Fear

A Cold White Fear by R.J. Harlick

Book: A Cold White Fear by R.J. Harlick Read Free Book Online
Authors: R.J. Harlick
himself more upright. I helped him to sit up as far as was comfortable. He finished the rest of the soup on his own.
    â€œThanks,” he said.
    â€œDo you want more? I can reheat it.”
    â€œLater. But I’ll have that piece of bread.”
    He munched on the bread while Jid and I watched him in silence. With flames licking at the fireplace’s metal screen, the room had warmed up to almost cozy levels. Behind us, flakes scraped a staccato beat against the window, reminding us that danger lurked as much outside as it did inside. The two men continued to argue in the kitchen. I figured it was probably the Scotch taking over.
    â€œYou got some nice decorations.” Larry jerked his head in the direction of the mantel, where I’d draped a garland of emerald tinsel and set up a streetscape with the last of Aunt Aggie’s china Christmas houses, some more chipped than others.
    â€œMy kòkomis used to decorate her house for Christmas. It was kind of nice. I liked going there. Mom never did much of anything.” He sighed than turned to the boy. “You from the rez?”
    â€œYeah.”
    â€œHow old are ya?”
    â€œTwelve.”
    â€œNot very big for your age, are ya? I figured you were younger.”
    That wasn’t something the boy wanted to hear. His small size was a source of embarrassment. Often bullied by the bigger boys, he’d learned to get back at them with his quick tongue. Eric had taught him a couple of effective moves he’d employed as a professional hockey player. The one time Jid had been forced to use them, they’d worked, leaving one bully lying with a broken wrist on the ground and the other running as fast as his legs could carry him away from their victim. He’d had no further run-ins.
    â€œWho’s your dad?”
    â€œI don’t have one.”
    â€œHow about your mom?”
    â€œShe’s dead.”
    At that point the shouting in the kitchen stopped, followed by the thump of footsteps echoing along the hall toward us.

TWENTY
    T he three of us stopped talking. It sounded like only one man was stumbling down the hall toward us. I tensed as I waited to see whose face would appear. I supposed if I had my choice, I would choose the tax evader over the murderer. He hadn’t killed anyone, at least not that I knew of.
    I heard the thump of a body against a wall before I saw Professor’s snakes etched in the glow of the lamp. His face twisted into a smile.
    â€œHow’s it going, P’tit Chief?” he rasped.
    He clung to the doorframe before lurching into the room. He made straight for the chair where Jid was sitting and fell into it, barely giving the boy enough time to escape. It would appear that consuming a bottle of rye and good quantity of Eric’s Scotch had finally caught up to the man. The big question was whether he was a benign drunk who would slide into a drunken stupor or an angry one who would become belligerent and violent.
    â€œHey, Red, I should kill you for taking off on me.” He pulled out Eric’s knife and ran his finger along the sharp edge.
    I froze. I had my answer.
    Jid scrambled out of the way, his eyes huge with fear.
    Not exactly the kind of behaviour I associated with a tax evader. I tried to act as nonchalant as I could and remained seated in the leather armchair by the fireplace as if having a knife pointed at me happened everyday.
    â€œProfessor, she’s good people,” Larry said. “She ain’t gonna do it again.” His eyes pleaded.
    â€œYou’re right, she won’t. I’m going to tie her up. Kid, get me some rope.”
    My heart sank. There went my chance to escape. It was now up to the boy.
    He turned frightened eyes toward me as if seeking direction. In the ensuing silence I heard the third escaped convict clamber up the stairs.
    â€œYou know where we keep the rope, eh?” I said.
    Nodding imperceptibly, he silently acknowledged that he

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