The moment Nathan learned about Nan Harvester’s arrest he made his way straight to Harvester Farm. Julia had a strained relationship with her mother. She had always been closer to her father but she would need someone with her. She would need someone to help her through. Harvester Farm was quiet and none of the farm hands were out on the fields, not even Glenn or Curtis. He was glad of that. The milking sheds the frat boys had made home were quiet too. He had seen Buddy in the news with his father back on Owen Estate. Hopefully he was out of Julia’s life for good.
If Glenn and Curtis were out on deliveries it was likely Julia had stayed behind to overlook things. There was always one of them left in charge.
He drove straight to the farmhouse. He hadn’t been back since that business with Susie. He was keen to check the fallout from it. Buddy may have been grinning for the papers but hopefully Glenn had put the fear of God into him. He would never dare step on the farm again. Susie could have died.
He rang the bell. It was a deep chime that echoed around the house. Through the frosted glass he could see a someone approach. It wasn’t Julia though. It was a man. The door opened. A wide grin greeted. The man was wearing Kappa So attire. The man was George.
“Hello Nathan,” he said. “Come to visit Jules? She’s not in at the moment.”
“Come in. She’ll be home soon.”
George stepped aside. Speechless, Nathan entered the hallway. George closed the door behind him. That was when he heard laughter in the dining room
“Buddy!” George called. “Nathan’s home.”
“Well, I’ll be a son a bitch!”
Nathan tried to run. He struggled with the door but George had wrapped his arm around his neck. Nathan threw his arm back and caught George’s face. He tried to struggle but the bros overpowered him.
Bound to the fence Nathan screamed. George’s nose wrinkled as the screech irritated his ears. Buddy shook his own head.
“I ain’t even started yet, bro.”
Nathan pleaded. “Julia would not approve. She would have none of this. Just let me go. I won’t come back.”
Chad handed Buddy a cannister of gasoline used for the farm equipment. He splashed it on Nathan.
“You coked up my little mascot, didn’t ya?” Buddy asked.
“Yes,” Nathan admitted. “It was me.”
Buddy growled, “You could have killed her. You’re a sicko.” He splashed more gasoline on him. “You almost got me my ass kicked and you had powda’ here all along?” Buddy started to become quite upset. “You’re a real piece of work, dude! I’ve seen some real sick shit in my time but you are something else. You see this guy?” Here he indicated George. “This guy wants to eat your face off but he still ain’t as sick as you.”
“I’m sorry,” Nathan begged. “Please don’t do this.”
“Maaaaah!” Gary the goat cried from his pen.
“This is none of your God damned business Gary,” Buddy warned the goat.
“See?” Buddy said to Nathan. “I’ve been learning about these animals and that goat says you’re a dickhead.”
“I told him, Gary,” Buddy replied. Buddy calmed himself. “Nathan,” he said, “you messed with the wrong bro. I got a ton of shit in my tank right now. For pissing me off you’re gonna sizzle right here on this fence.”
Nathan cried. A wet stain spread across his crotch.
“God damnit!” Buddy exclaimed. “He’s gone and pissed himself. Is piss flammable because I really wanted his balls to burn.”
“No, it’s not,” George explained like quite the expert. “I pissed on my aunt’s cat once and she wouldn’t go on fire.”
Cooper folded his arms and raised his eyebrows. Chad seemed to be picturing it. Buddy’s lips pursed at the image of a cat running away as felines do, soaked in urine. Buddy must have found this amusing because he started to laugh. The image of George chasing after it still trying to piss on it made him laugh even harder.
“You see, Nathan? You see the kind of maniacs you’re dealing with here? I know he’s a bit touched but my bro here told you to stay away. You should have listened.”
“Not now, Gary.”
Buddy’s phone started to jingle. He had no choice but answer.
“Yeah?” he asked. “Kinda in the middle of something here.”
“It’s the crime scene, mucker,” came the voice on the other end. “Agents are investigating it.”
Buddy had been such a bad boy lately he found himself having to ask.
“Which crime scene?”
“The shooting. The little girl and her deadbeat dad. It ain’t CPD who are looking. It’s the agents. This is a whole new breed of shit to deal with but we’re doing what we can to keep it clean.”
Buddy groaned. “Dick down my throat!”
He rang off.
Impatient and eager to hear Nathan’s screams George threw the lighter that had belonged to his father and flicked it onto Nathan.
“I didn’t say so yet,” Buddy complained. “I had a whole speech prepared and everything.”
George lowered his head. “Sorry, Buddy.”
Woooosh! The flames erupted, causing the bros to leap back. Buddy had been so enthused he hadn’t been paying much attention to how much petrol he was throwing.
Gary the goat was distressed. Nathan’s screams as he burned shattered the generally calm ambience of Harvester Farm. There was another cry but it wasn’t from the goat. It was the roar of the bull. Gordon wasn’t liking that fuss the bros were causing on his fields. The flames tore along the fence of Gary’s enclosure.
“Shit!” Buddy exclaimed. “Get water before the whole place goes. Smells like barbeque.”
“Are we going to eat him?” asked George. Buddy frowned. He turned slowly to Brother Beckingridge. “You got some real problems, brah.”
Nathan’s screams softened. All pain and power dissolved from them when he gave himself to his end.
Crack. The fencing broke. The panels holding Nathan were charred and weakened.
They managed to douse the flames and pull Nathan’s body onto the field but the fencing was ruined.
“Maaaah!” Gary ran at Chad, catching him in the crotch.
“Catch that goat!” Buddy yelled.
George leapt at Gary almost catching him by his hind leg. Gary turned, bit him and escaped, running towards the east acre.
“God damnit! We gotta fix that fence. Chad? Coops? Find wood.”
Before the sniggers could start, he said, “Not now, brah. George? Catch that damn goat. We’ve got an hour before Julia gets back. We gotta clear this mess.”
“We’ll put him in the incinerator,” Chad offered.
“Are you trying to get funny? We already cooked him.”
“It’s how Julia gets rid of the bodies – dead cows and shit.”
Buddy gave a dreamy sigh. “That girl just makes me wanna…”
Before chasing after Gary, George asked, “Can I keep a bit of him for my collection?”
Buddy tousled his hair “Of course you can, dude. Go get the goat first.”
Gordon snorted over his fence.
‘I don’t like the way that bull keeps looking at me,’ he thought.
As his bros rushed to bring the farm back into order he looked down at the body of Nathan. There was still a little life left in him. His mouth opened and closed, chomping his last, like a fish out of water. Buddy could have shot him and ended it for him then but he was in no mood for mercy.
Buddy had returned to Owen Estate. That morning he had received a call.
“Just been down to the shooting site in the Shanties to get it cleared up.”
Buddy sat forward. His head was pounding and his mouth felt like it had been stuffed with cotton wool.
“It’s already been cleared. The agents must have been there. Are you sure you left a milk bottle?”
Buddy thought hard. “I did,” he said. “I had been watching for Kev for so long I got thirsty, bro. I was still wasted.”
CPD had always been looking for the shot from the left. The fake nest gave them everything they thought they needed. The trouble was now the agents were tailing Buddy. Big bro Billy couldn’t protect him from that.
Buddy leaned forward.
“This is a real shit show,” Buddy said to Cooper and Chad.
‘Take the little girl out first. Kev gonna learn a God damn lesson,’ Buddy could still hear his instructions.
Buddy had been so high. He could barely remember pulling the trigger.
Lydia arrived waving an envelope excitedly.
“It’s in,” she said.
Lydia and Kim had sampled the bottle that had been collected from the shooting site. Blonde hair from Buddy Owen had been extracted from him.
“This is it,” Kim said. “It’s sketchy at best pet, but it will at least let us bring him in for a closer look.”
Lydia passed the letter to Kim. She watched her expression as she read.
“This isn’t it,” she growled. “It says it’s not a match. I was so sure of it. My instincts were crying out!”
“Maybe the hair wasn’t Buddy’s,” Lydia suggested.
The hair sample they got had come from my coat, attached from the time I confronted him in main.
DNA could have put him at the scene of the crime at least. As Kim said though, it was sketchy at best. A good lawyer like Ronnie defending his nephew would have found it easy to convince the judge to throw it out. It was a start though. No match it said.
“We can’t bring him in with nothing to show for it. Doyle won’t go for that.”
Lydia suggested, “Then I’m going to speak to him.”
“Then tread carefully,” Kim warned.
Word had it that he was on Harvester Farm. If she was going to be able to corner him it would have to be done whilst he was there.
The alarms were screaming. Tawny grimaced with the noise as Cooper rushed around trying to switch them off. There were only seconds before CPD were alerted.
“Hurry, Coops!” Buddy was calling. “The last thing we need is Billy down here.”
415 – 29 – 4 – 11 – 12
Cooper desperately punched the buttons. He managed to deactivate.
“I want to speak to your Pa,” said Tawny as though she were telling off a neighbourhood child for running in the yard. She glared as though they were in a lot of trouble.
Buddy was in a lot of trouble. A man hunt was now on for the Baroness, funded by Elizabeth Beckingridge.
“You don’t know who I am lady,” said Buddy petulantly.
Tawny pursed her lips. “Owen,” she said. “Obviously.”
Buddy groaned. The Owens did tend to have a strong familial resemblance but that wasn’t what had caught Tawny’s attention.
“It’s on yer back, honey. Your jackets…” She pointed to Coops. “Cooper. I’m assuming Marshall Cooper’s son.” She pointed to Chad. “Perry. Do your family own the zoo? That’s a nice zoo.”
“Shut up, bitch,” Buddy warned. He was still trying to figure out what the Hell he was going to do.
“Let me talk to yer dad.”
“No way in Hell. Just shut your mouth. I’m a dangerous guy,” he said.
Chad was nodding in fervent agreement. He pointed to Buddy.
“You don’t wanna be messing with my bro, brah!” he warned.
“Thanks, Chad,” said Buddy.
“Got your back, brah.”
Tawny shook her head. It seemed the plan of the frat boys had been so quick to action they hadn’t fully thought out their process. They had just gone along with it. This is no surprise when we’re dealing with three individuals who had spent a lifetime avoiding consequences.
“Hide her away. I need time to think. I need powder,” Buddy decided.
Coops looked a little fidgety. He was anxious. He very much needed some powder too.
“Drugs aren’t the answer,” said Tawny.
Buddy frowned. “Will you shut up or I’m gonna gag ya.” He glared at Tawny and then started to laugh. To Cooper he said. “We should totally put an apple in her mouth!”
Tawny pouted. Cooper’s phone began to ring.
“It’s my dad,” he said.
“Chad, put her away somewhere. I can’t think straight. Coops, try and find out where Marsh keeps the rest of his stash.”
Chad gripped Tawny’s arm and led her to the secure storage cupboard.
“You are in a lot of trouble!” Tawny called.
The door was closed. Tawny took a deep breath. She dropped to a seat on the floor.
Lydia stopped in Bournton to have coffee with her sister, Cynthia, en route to Harvester Farm. Agent Lydia Lowe had wanted to wait until close to sun down when the farm hands had left and she would stand a better chance of finding Buddy. Cynthia had been telling her all about their father’s new hobby of watercolours. She showed her sister his first attempts as photos on her phone. Some time with Cynthia had been a breath of fresh air. It gave her a moment to compose herself before venturing on her task to corner Buddy.
Refreshed, she felt ready as she passed the sign to Harvester Farm. She slowed her bike as much as she could so as not to disturb the animals too much. There was one farm hand lingering on the field. He had parked a Harvester van by the paddock of the stud herd.
Curtis had been too busy in his own mind mumbling to himself. He hadn’t heard Lydia approach.
“Whoah!” he gasped when he turned and saw her. There was still a little distance between them. “Stop there,” he ordered.
Lydia stopped. The last thing she needed was to upset the farm hands.
“I’m Agent Lowe,” Lydia explained. “I just want to ask a few questions.”
Curtis raised his eyebrows in an instant mistrust.
“We don’t like cops here,” he warned.
He banged his fists against the side of the van. Lydia watched him as he crossed to the rear which was parked towards her.
Lydia watched the sudden nervousness in him.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
Curtis started to become irate. He banged his fist on the rear of the van.
“We’re working hard here and cops think they can wander onto the farm and ask questions? Let me tell you exactly why that’s not going to happen.”
He crossed to the left side of the van. He clenched his fist again.
BANG. BANG. BANG!
He snatched a cord and pulled the van grate open.
“Go get her boy!” he yelled as he skipped further around the side of the van.
From the van emerged a huge black bull named Gordon. In a rage he charged, catching only Lydia in his sight. The agent ran as fast as she could.
Gordon caught the shine of Lydia’s bike in his eyes. The gleam frustrated him. With his great horns, the bike was thrown and its rear wheel torn away.
Curtis was now arguing with another farm hand. Lydia managed to swing back down from the ledge she had escaped to as Gordon charged towards the east acre where the dairy herd were kept.
“Sorry,” Glenn said when he approached them. “We get a lot of our hands from The Boss. We don’t usually get cops here. It makes the hands nervous. “
“I just wanted to ask about Buddy Owen,” Glenn said.
Curtis, who was still excitable, said, “Why didn’t you say that?”
“I never got the chance to,” she said.
Curtis shrugged. His nerves were eased.
“The way you came at me, I thought you were here to pick me up.”
Lydia frowned. “Should I be picking you up?”
Glenn slapped his arm. “You let Gordon out? Go and get him before he shags one of the dairies.”
Curtis took rope from the back of the van and dashed off to fetch the bull and lead him back to his own paddock. Glenn led Lydia a little further up. They both leaned against the fence, freshly erected.
“Sorry about your bike,” Glenn apologised.
“I just want to ask some questions about Buddy Owen,” she stated.
“He’s not here,” Glenn admitted. “You missed him. He’s gone back to his fancy estate. I’d watch yourself around him.”
Lydia smiled. “I’ll keep an eye out.”
“You’re a Bournton lass?” Glenn beamed when he caught a hint of her northern tones.
“I am,” she admitted.
Glenn seemed pleased by this. He looked up and watched Curtis trying to rope Gordon. Gordon shook the rope from his horns and charged at Curtis. The charge was without malice but it caused Curtis to leap the fence.
“Sorry about him too,” Glenn said. “He’s just a dumb animal.”
“No hard feelings,” Lydia replied. “I like cows.”
Glenn frowned. He had been referring to Curtis.
“Give me a hand, will you?” Curtis could be heard yelling to anyone who would helping.
Gordon was feeling mischievous and charging anyone who came near him. Curtis had been forced to leap the fence again.
“You let him out. You can put him back in,” Glenn returned.
“Fuck you, Gordon,” Curtis growled, raising his finger at the bull.
Glenn shook his head. “I’d better help him. I’ll give you a run back home. I’ll tell you what I know about Buddy.”
“Not a fan of him then?” Lydia asked.
“This farm has seen more than its share of unwanted ludgers,” he said.
With Glenn on scene Curtis leapt the fence and the two of them circled a disgruntled Gordon.
She felt a nibble on her thigh that caused her to step aside.
“Maaaah!” the pygmy goat named Gary pressed his head to her gently through the fence. She patted his head. Maybe before she left she could get a photo of him to send to Cynthia.
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