Jessamyn — 15 (about time?)

Because the previous Jessamyn bits and pieces are so far back… here are the two previous posts to help out…

“A drone! Good heavens. I wonder who is flying it. You aren’t supposed to be out of visible range when you are flying a drone.  Good thing I’m off duty or I’d have to take notice.” 

“I didn’t know there were rules. I’ve seen some hair raising pictures if the operator was supposed to be close by.” 

“Oh, yes.” She debated saying more but chose not to, continuing to watch the drone steadily. The drone had been hovering in the sky but then, as if it took notice of us — taking notice of it — it suddenly rose a little higher and started moving in an odd curve, first towards us and then away. It continued moving south till it was low and out of site. We left the tractor and went to see the pasture damage.

The grooves in the mud looked no different to me than they had earlier. Lisa looked at them with a frown and walked up and down. The light was still dimming, pale gold changing to pale blue, but there was enough. She finally knelt down halfway along one of the ruts and said, “This is odd.” 

I came to look but could only shrug my shoulders.

She pointed. “Look, this is the original tire marking in the rain, squishing deeply. The edges have dried out all built up and I assume that’s where the sheep are getting caught. But here,” she pointed, “the edges are broken down.” I could see that. “And they were broken after this groove dried out. So this happened much later. In fact I would say today. I thought you and Mr. Vester weren’t up here with a vehicle.”

“No.” I could see exactly what she meant about the dirt. I sat back on my heels remembering the sheep straying in the morning. I explained what we had seen in the morning on the way back from the hospital. Lisa had nothing to say directly but she pulled her phone out of her breast pocket and took several pictures. She went over to the fence and looked in the ditch beyond as well.

We returned to the tractor and Lisa hopped up and drove it back and forth on the ruts, knocking them reasonably flat.  Then she collected me and we started back down. At first Lisa kept looking back as if her mind was still puzzling out what had happened. Eventually she turned back to me and continued our previous conversation as though there had been no break. “Anyway, Phyllis Finley/Archer was hired as a housekeeper some years after Mrs. Vester died, partly on the basis of her relationship to Henrietta Archer, Mr. Vester’s sister. Then something went wrong and she left. But I heard through the grapevine that she wanted to have the farm willed to herself. So I think you should just be aware of one of the problems you might have to face.”

“That this Phyllis Finley wanted the farm? Maybe still does?” 

“Yes.” The bald word seemed to upset Lisa but she couldn’t figure out how to soften it immediately. Phyllis sounded — ancient — to me. I couldn’t quite imagine anyone being obsessed with acquiring a farm, but somewhere in the recesses of my mind I suspected that my youth or upbringing was responsible for this inability. Here in this farm country surely land was vital. I thought about the people in this community knowing about me and knowing something that I hadn’t known. “Actually, I didn’t really understand that Duncan would leave me the farm until a few years ago. I didn’t think of it when I was little and of course I didn’t really want to think of him dying.” There was a pause. “What was the other occasion?”

Lisa had been surveying the sky briefly. “The other occasion? Oh.” She turned back and there was a odd, highly self-conscious look on her face. “The other wasn’t important.”

I was surprised. She seemed like a friendly, helpful grownup  and I couldn’t imagine what would cause that look of teenage mischief. But in view of all that had happened I was really interested in anything about the farm. She seemed aware that she had said something she needed to explain. 

“Oh, well. It really isn’t important but Mr. and Mrs. Vester hit it off with a guy named Simon Ennis. He was a hired hand after you were here and has helped out for the longest and the most. He’s a solid nice guy and they would have definitely given him the farm under other circumstances. Then he got into some geology thing and went off to be a professor.”

“I met Simon yesterday actually. He picked me up at the airport for Killian who’s doing some TV show? I assume other circumstances means if I weren’t around.” 

At the mention of the show Lisa lit up. “I didn’t know Killian was still in competition. That’s so cool. Do you know when it’s being taped?”

“I think tomorrow is the last night but I don’t know where.”

She glanced at her watch and her face changed a little. “Jeremy will be really interested. I’ve been here quite a while, talking, enjoying myself you know. I’d better go.” She looked at me. “Are you … Do you know what’s going to happen? … That’s really nosy of me.”

“I guess you mean, will I stay?” 

She nodded. “Of course, that’s crazy talk. I’m sure you had a job somewhere and have to go back, but you seem so right here. And I just met you! Is it hard to come back after so many years away?” 

I wrinkled my face. “Um, yes and no. I miss my aunt, Annalise. And I feel very responsible for Duncan and through him for the sheep that I don’t really know anything about. That’s difficult as well.”

“How long can you stay? Did it upset your employer to have you leave so suddenly?” 

We were slowly walking to her cruiser.

I laughed a little thinking of James Wilson. “I suppose it did upset one of them a bit. I’m not quite sure.” 

“Are you going to lose your job because you came?”

I nodded my head, yes. “But it doesn’t matter.”

She got in the cruiser and rolled the window. “Goodbye, Jessamyn. I’m glad I met you. Take care of Mr. Vester and tell him I said hi.” Her worried look returned for a moment. “I wish we would be looking for that truck. Call the sheriff if anything happens!”

“Of course. Come visit again.” 

She rolled back down the driveway and I turned to look at the fields again.

The sheep and lambs were quiet, and birds or possibly bats, swooped through the darkening air. Deep blue twilight had settled in. Suddenly I was exhausted. Thirty-six hours earlier I had been in  Texarkana saying goodbye to Alina. It was too much. I went in the house and up to bed. As soon as my head touched the pillow I fell asleep.

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