Tag Archives: Harvesters

Knock Knock: Episode 33: Bull in a China Shop

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, brah.”  

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, brah! 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.  

WHAM!  

“See?” Buddy said to Nathan. “I’ve been learning about these animals and that goat says you’re a dickhead.”  

“Maah!”  

WHAM! 

“I told him, Gary,” Buddy replied. Buddy calmed himself. “Nathan,” he said, “you messed with the wrong bro, brah. 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.”  

“Maaaah!”  

“Not now, Gary.”  

WHAM! 

Buddy’s phone started to jingle. He had no choice but answer.  

“Yeah?” he asked. “Kinda in the middle of something here, brah.”  

“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.  

“Maaaah!”  

WHAM! 

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, brah? 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, brah. 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.  

“Yeah? So?”  

“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 fucking long I got thirsty, brah. I was still a little 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, brah,” 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.  

“So, Chad is it?” Tawny asked. “You know I had a close friend called Arthur. He knew a Chad. Or was it Brad?”  

Chad became alarmed. Arthur was a crossdressing performer who used to stop by the Knock Knock from time to time. The nature of Chad’s relationship with him I’ll leave open for interpretation, dear readers, but it did cause Chad to tighten the grip on Tawny’s arm and push her into the storage with a lot of intent.  

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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When an artist meets the shy, unassuming farm girl Julia Harvester, he sees her true form and it is inspiring.

Knock Knock: Episode 26: Hot Date

It hadn’t escaped my notice that the Harvester Brand was spreading fast around the city. It was a swift spread that had happened over such a short space of time. While Julia Harvester hosted both Beckingridge and Owen proposals for investment she, essentially, was the only thing keeping the duelling titans at bay, the only thing keeping Buddy Owen on a low profile and the only thing keeping the city holding a tentative breath.  

“You got to watch her, man,” David Finn, the artist, told me. “You never know what she’s going to do next.”  

David would know. After he fell in love with her as his muse, he had become so engrossed by her that he failed to see two of his closest friends lose their child. The beautiful art work he produced with her image only brought him to Harbour House.  

Regardless of the warnings, I wondered if Julia knew anything about Sarah or Tawny. Perhaps she had heard her guest on the farm brag about the shooting as his brothers had. The very least I could do was make her aware of the kind of person Buddy was, if she wasn’t already. 

She was reputedly a beautiful woman, kind, shy seeming. 

“That’s how she gets you,” David had said. “Bam! Before you know it, she’s got you by the nuts and your saying sorry to her for the cramp in her hand.”  

David’s warnings were taken on board although they were coming from a time when his addiction was at its worst. Even he had to admit the memories were a little faded.  

The moment I saw her, however, I realised why she had caused such a stir. Beautiful she was, but with a natural allure. She even had sweat on her brow as she carried a box into the City Main Harvesters store. She was smiling and laughing with the girls who had come out to help her. I followed her inside.  

She laid the box on the counter. When she turned we were face to face.  

“Julia Harvester?” I put to her. “Sam Crusow. I’m writing a piece…”  

She stopped me with a smile and a gentle caress of my arm.  

“Yes, I know you. You used to write for the Daily. You’re a terrific writer. I was ever so sorry to hear what happened to your wife. Theresa, wasn’t it?”  

I hadn’t expected her to know so much about me. “Yes. Thanks.”  

“And still chasing the story? That’s either very courageous of you or proof that you reporters never give up.”  

Her smile smoothed. My own expression mimicked.  

“I want to finish what I started,” I said to her.  

“That nasty Knock Knock girl is gone now. I’m not sure what help I can be to you.”  

My story began the moment my eyes set sight on the Knock Knock Club sign for the first time but when the door of the club opened it was to the wider city. There was a much bigger story there.  

“I have some questions about your guest, Buddy Owen?” She looked to the phone I had slipped into my hand. “If you don’t mind my asking,” I added.  

She shrugged. “I’m really busy so it’ll have to be quick.”  

“Has Buddy ever mentioned to you about a little girl named Sarah?”  

Julia shook her head. “No.”  

“Has he said anything about the disappearance of Tawny McInney? The Baroness?”  

“No,” said Julia again. “Dreadful business though. I met her a few times in Harbour House. She was friendly with my dad who was a resident too. She was sweet, laughed a lot, really perked everyone up. Why would Buddy know anything about her?”  

“You know the history of the Baroness and Buddy’s uncle?”  

“I do,” Julia agreed. “But that was such a long time ago and Buddy isn’t his uncle. Buddy has been really sweet and helpful to me. That’s all I know. He’s overindulged and coarse but he’s just a big pet, really.”  

“There is reason to believe he is responsible for gunning down a little girl. You’ve heard the rumours that that is why Tawny was taken?”  

Julia stroked my arm again. This time her grip was a little firmer.  

“I would tread carefully, Mr Crusow. If there is a gunman going around you never know when you might step into his firing line.”  

I wasn’t given time to absorb her threats when she opened the box she had placed on the counter and drew out a meat packet. 

“With your wife gone you’ll be having trouble taking care of yourself properly.” 

“I have friends around,” I said.  

“That’s nice.”  

She passed me the meat packet. “Have this on the Harvesters. There’s more than enough to share with friends.” 

The meat was thick prime, tender beef. Succulent.  

“Thank you,” I said sincerely.  

“You’re welcome,” was her reply.  

Julia Harvester was truly a nice girl. 

*** 

With the bitterness setting in, Harvester Farm was being prepared for the winter chill. The coldness was always felt more harshly in the north and the animals and crops needed to be readied.  

Dr Nathan Watt was waiting in the kitchen. He had spent a very restless night in the guest bedroom and it was now early morning. That didn’t matter. Julia would be joining him soon enough. He heard her soft steps. He hoped she had slept well.  

A bowl of oatmeal and a slice of toast – lightly buttered – had been laid out for her. It was her preferred breakfast when a day on the fields beckoned. When she arrived in the kitchen she wasn’t surprised to see him awake but her focus was on a text message on her phone. She gave a giggle as she read. The glow of the screen highlighted her cheek bones, the softness of her eyes shone better then than in any of the images that artist, David Finn, had ever painted of her as far as Nathan was concerned.  

Still absorbed in her conversation, still failing to acknowledge him, Nathan cleared his throat. Julia giggled again as she started to compose a response.  

“I prepared breakfast for you,” Nathan informed her.  

Julia sat down at the table and picked up the cereal spoon. She laid the phone face down.  

“You’re so sweet,” she said, finally offering him a glance. “Shouldn’t you be at the hospital?”  

He hadn’t told her that Coldford General had ordered him on leave. Chief consultant Dr Ferrald had said he lacked enthusiasm.  

“It takes everything you got,” Dr Ferrald had said. “If your mind isn’t on the patients you are going to make mistakes. Take some time and gather yourself. For now though, take a leave of absence.”  

It didn’t matter to Nathan. When he and Julia were together, he could open a private practice. When she became pregnant the farm hands would handle the farm work. She wouldn’t be wanting to go back out onto the fields with the children to take care of and house to keep. Her mother and brother would of course still stay at the house. He supposed Nan Harvester would make a good grandmother for the children. Both of them, a boy and a girl. Hopefully the boy would come first. It would be nice to have a protective brother for his little girl. He would like to see the children to be close siblings. He was an only child. He only had his cousin Kelsey and they hated each other. He always wished it was different. 

He wanted to approach the subject of their being together again but he had to be delicate. She hesitated as she lifted her spoon. She caught his gaze. She smiled. Words were forming on her lips but before she uttered them her phone beeped its little jingle she favoured. She dropped the spoon he had set for her and lifted her phone. Nathan never thought he would ever find her voice irritating, so sweet it was to the ear, but as she laughed at the response to her text it grated on his nerves.  

“Who on earth is contacting you at his hour? It’s only just struck five.”  

Julia pursed her lips. She started to compose another text. “A friend. They’re in business so they have an early start too. Early bird catches the worm and all that.”  

“Oh?” Nathan wondered. “What’s their name?”  

Julia looked up with a slight smile. “It’s not a her, sweetie. It’s a him.”  

It was Nathan’s turn to frown. “I got up early. I made you breakfast. I am here for you presently and you barely speak to me? Instead, you spend your time messaging another man. That’s shameful behaviour Julia.”  

Julia spoke softly. “But I didn’t ask you to do any of those things.”  

Nathan started to become irritable. “I want to look after you, Jules. Why won’t you let me?” 

Julia cocked her head. She pouted. “You poor doe. You know I’m not in need of help. I have all the help I need on the farm.” 

“Eat your breakfast Jules. I made your favourite.” 

Julia pushed her seat out from the table and stood. Nathan stood too.  

“I don’t think so,” she said. “I have a busy day ahead, Nate. Perhaps you should go home.”  

“I’m not going anywhere,” he barked. “Stop texting other men and start showing me some appreciation for everything I do for you.”  

“Oh Nate,” she sighed. “Go home. I’m going to be on the fields all day and you are not needed.”  

“Why don’t we have dinner together?” he tried.  

Julia held her phone by her side. “I already have dinner plans. My friend is taking me to Delphine.”  

Nathan growled. “Isn’t it enough I have to watch that freak show, Buddy Owen, lust after you but now you tell me you have dinner plans with someone else? Why didn’t you tell me?” 

Julia remained calm. She knew his attention would fall to her chest as soon as she took a sharp intake of breath.  

“Don’t be so rude.”  

The phone bleeped again but before she could check it Nathan lunged forward. He tried to tackle her and snatch it from her hand. Used to the charge of angry cattle, Julia was too quick and pulled away holding her phone behind her back. He was leaning over her. His size was larger than hers but she was smiling.  

“Give me the phone,” he demanded.  

Julia raised an eyebrow. “I will not.”  

Nathan made another attempt to grab at it but her reflexes were too quick.  

“Curtis?” she called.  

Farm hand Curtis had been nearby, readying himself for a day on the fields. Nathan hadn’t heard him arrive. Nathan stepped back immediately, seeing Curtis appear in the door way.  

“You ready?” he asked. He took note of the way Julia was leaning back from Nathan and how he was looming over her but he said nothing.  

“I am. I want to get started. We have a long day ahead and I’m sick of oatmeal.”  

The winter preparations on Harvester Farm was an arduous task. Curtis glared at Nathan but he and the farm girl left. Nathan grumbled to himself as he cleared the table. That was when he noticed she had left her phone behind. It was a chance for him to warn this friend of hers off.   

MAKE IT A LUNCH DATE INSTEAD. He text as Julia. 

SURE. DELPHINE. 12PM. I’LL SHIFT RESERVATIONS. XXCX 

*** 

Delphine restaurant was well lit, a large chandelier sparkled down on the luncheon crowd. All of the tables were filled but an empty one for two by the window. Its view was of the Fullerton bridge. Water, escape, building. All of these things told that Julia would have chosen that spot.  

Nathan could see her tell her admirer, “a lovely spot for lunch.” 

She had no right making arrangements for dinner with other men. It was disrespectful towards him. They were going to be together and he demanded she begin by cutting out all other admirers starting with her dinner date. It was difficult enough with the Kappa So frat brothers. He knew Julia was just toying with them to keep them in line but he didn’t like the way that Buddy Owen looked at her. He didn’t like how comfortable he was becoming in Julia’s company. More than that he didn’t like that she was laughing with her dinner date as though he – Nathan – was of no consequence. He gave up everything for her. He devoted himself to her and this was the thanks he was given? 

It was approaching noon. First he would tell this new beau of Julia’s to back off and leave her alone then he would rid the farm of those frat brothers. Julia would see sense. Maybe a grand gesture like that would catch her interest again and show how much she meant to him.  

The admirer had said in his last message to what he thought was Julia. 

I’LL BE OUT OF TOWN UNTIL 2MORROW. I’LL C U AT LUNCH. XxCx 

Was the C a misspelling? Was that his name? He had been tempted to dig deeper but he had to be careful. A lot of information Julia would already know even if they had just met. Julia had her way of ingratiating herself to people quickly. Before long they wanted to offer her everything they had.  

He checked back on some of their exchange. Nothing sexual, thank God. That’s not to say there weren’t deleted messages though. From what he could read they were merely discussing life on a farm. He did ask her if she had ever masturbated a bull but she quickly laughed that off, changed the subject and he sweetened again.  

What kind of company was this for her to keep? Perhaps he was reading too much into it but it seemed like Julia was delighted at the prospect of having a meal with this creep. Nathan would set him straight. 

The time slipped to two minutes past noon. The date hadn’t shown up yet. He was either running a little late or Julia would have been stood up. She did say he was in business. Maybe business had kept him. Maybe that would be the end of it. Perhaps he had messaged again after Julia came in from the fields and took her phone back. Maybe she had learned all about Nathan’s little deception. But that couldn’t be it. She didn’t say anything about it. But then she wouldn’t. She would let him come to the restaurant and let him look a fool. She and her new ‘friend’ in business would be tittering behind their hands at Nathan’s expense. All he could do was return to the farmhouse, demand she call her friend and tell him they were no longer to be in touch. Then he would take her upstairs and show her how much he cared.  

Nathan watched the empty table. The Maitre’d stopped.  

“Sir, we are currently serving our luncheon course. If you don’t have a reservation, I really must ask you to leave.” 

Snobbish and with the slight hint of a Luen accent. Probably put on. She was a severe looking woman with large sagging breasts that tugged on the buttons of her white shirt. Nathan didn’t know what name the business ‘friend’ would have put the table under.  

“I’m meeting someone,” he decided to hang on for an extra few minutes.  

The Maitre’d was not impressed but she left him alone to watch the table longingly. If Julia liked that table so much he could book it for them. With his ordered leave from the hospital he wouldn’t be able to afford it for very long so he would have to act fast.  

A few more minutes passed. It wouldn’t be long before the Maitre’d would be onto him again. He sighed. Bitterly defeated, he resolved to leave.  

Long, pianist fingers clasped his shoulder. A man’s voice hissed in his ear.  

“You must be Dr Watt. I believe you’re here to see me.” 

Nathan was spun round to face a young man of about nineteen in a finely tailored dark, grey suit. His darkening fair hair was neatly parted. His full lips were stretched in a Cheshire Cat grin. His brown eyes were saucer like but devoid of any warmth.  

“George Beckingridge. You’ve been texting me. Let’s eat.”  

*** 

“We might as well use the table if Julia isn’t coming,” said George.  

Nathan said nothing. He followed the Billionaire Boy to the table and took a seat across from him. He watched the heir to the Beckingridge Tower closely. Not only was he the richest young man in Coldford, but if rumours were true he was also a brother murdering, puppy torturing psychopath. He had spent ten years missing when his music teacher kidnapped him. The teacher – Vincent Baines – had been a Harbour House resident along with David Finn and the Baroness. They had been close friends. Mr Baines was now in The Boss regretting the day he accepted George as a pupil. His Aunt Elizabeth was still interim CEO of the Tower but it was only the matter of time before the boy who most claim murdered his mother at age eight, became the controlling force behind the biggest fortune in the shady city, with a shark tank filled with hungry board members at his beck and call.  

“You look surprised,” George gave a nasally laugh. “Didn’t you want to meet for lunch? I had to change the reservations and everything. You text me from Julia’s phone.”  

Nathan could ask how George came about that information but Julia was always far more aware than she would let on. It wouldn’t surprise him if she had deliberately left her phone behind so that he could arrange this for himself. She and her new friend were tittering behind their hands at his expense after all.  

A highly trained silver service waitress approached them. Without rudely interrupting them she waited for George to acknowledge her.  

“Can I get something for you gentlemen to drink?”  

Petite, mid-thirties, skilled at her job. George looked at Nathan though, rather than the waitress.  

“A bottle of Cristal, I think. We’re going to celebrate.”  

Nathan lowered his gaze. “I should go,” he decided.  

“No!” George barked.  

If the waitress was taken aback, she didn’t show it. Some of the other diners looked up though. George gave his nasally snigger again.  

“A bottle of Cristal and we’ll have two of whatever the chef’s specials are today.”  

“An excellent choice, Mr Beckingridge,” the waitress agreed, collecting their menus. “Chef is simply a wonder with veal. You won’t be disappointed.” 

The waitress departed leaving George and his luncheon companion alone. “I come here a lot now,” he stated. “The chef at home is on my aunt’s staff. She might try to poison me. I know the chef here though. I know him very well.” 

“What do you want George?” 

“That’s Mr Beckingridge to you,” George snarled. “I didn’t arrange this. You did. I’m glad you did though. Julia told me what the look on your face would be like and it does look stupid.” Here George giggled boyishly. “I’m acquainting myself with the finer things in life. Julia is quite fine, isn’t she?”  

At first Nathan was speechless but then he managed a whimper.  

“I’m in love with her. She loves me too,” he said.  

George’s lip curled like he was a little boy who still believed girls were a sure way to catch cooties.  

The waitress returned with the bottle of Cristal and two finely chipped Champagne glasses. Nathan placed his hand over his before the waitress could offer him a sample.  

“I’m not staying,” he informed them as the waitress presented the bottle in a perfect silver service manner.  

“Yes, he is,” George insisted. “We’re on a date here and he’s not going to leave me to drink alone.”  

Nathan removed his hand from the glass. The waitress poured.  

George drank first. He sipped. He held the glass the way lessons in etiquette had taught him. He noticed Nathan looking up to stare at him.  

“Do you want Julia?” he finally asked.  

George settled the glass down. “You needn’t worry about me. My tastes lie…elsewhere.”  

“I shouldn’t have come here.” 

George pursed his lips. “Why? I liked the kisses in your text. I liked your sweet words.”  

Nathan couldn’t tell if the Billionaire Boy was being sarcastic. He fell to silence again. George started to laugh.  

“Drink the champagne, Nathan,” he instructed.  

Nathan took a sip of the expensive Cristal but he didn’t savour it.  

“Tastes like feet,” George grinned. “Doesn’t it?” 

“What do you want Mr Beckingridge?” Nathan asked.  

They had never met in person but he had seen him many times on the news. The kidnapping story, the death of his mother and brother, the rumours of psychopathy his aunt wasn’t shy in sharing. He had noted his cold stare through the television screen many times as though he had been addressing him directly. Now being sat across the table from him in person was unsettling.  

“Julia is my friend. She’s the best girl in the world. I like her. But she tells me you aren’t happy with the boys on the farm.” 

With Beckingridge Firm competing with Owen Inc. for a controlling share in the farm it occurred to Nathan that maybe the Billionaire Boy could be a way of ridding Julia of Buddy and his brothers for good. If Julia had befriended George maybe he could too.  

“I worry about those frat brothers around Julia. I’m worried that they will hurt her. Buddy Owen is…” 

Nathan curbed his words immediately when he noticed the soft expression on George’s face dissolve into a scowl. “Shut up!” he barked.  

Nathan’s lips pursed tightly. George saw how uncomfortable he had made the doctor and he relished it.   

“Buddy is a God,” he said. “He says things people are too scared to admit. He leads where most other tiny pissers are afraid to go. He’s a God and you should be thankful your mother opened her legs when she did so you could be there to see him on the farm.” 

If George had actually witnessed Buddy trying to work the farm, he may have felt a little differently. This was not for Nathan to argue though.  

“Did your dad have God balls Nathan?” The question was rhetorical. “Don’t worry. Mine didn’t either but Buddy is going to show me how to be a God. He’s my brother.” George opened the jacket of his suit to show a Kappa So badge on his shirt. “He’s my brother and we’re brothers for life.”  

*** 

George had insisted the doctor stay and have his lunch just like he had used Julia’s phone to arrange. He insisted the doctor be the one to drink the Cristal and finish it.  

“Finish the bottle. I bought it for you,” he said. 

He kept laughing as the doctor grimaced. He was drunk by one o’clock and feeling sick. Nathan tried to excuse himself but George was persistent. He tried to summon the Maitre’d to help but when she turned to the Billionaire Boy and asked, “Is this man bothering you, Mr Beckingridge?” Nathan knew it would be no use.  

George watched on with a grin as Nathan forced all three courses. He hated veal and despite the meat being succulent and well prepared it still caused his stomach to gargle. By the final bite he could barely speak.  

“Drink up,” George kept saying. “Eat up. Don’t play with your food. Don’t waste it.”  

“May I be excused?” Nathan asked. “Please let me go. I think I’m going to be sick.”  

George’s lip curled. He had chosen a large glass of Jolly Shopper soda pop for himself. It wasn’t usually what Delphine served their luncheon crowds but for their best customer they were happy to make an exception. George took the glass in both hands and brought it to his lips. He glugged, glugged, glugged so loudly some of the other patrons looked up at him.  

By the time he left Delphine Nathan’s head was spinning. He emptied the contents of his stomach at the foot of the street where he had parked his car. Luckily the town of Filton was quieter than City Main so he managed to get away without drawing too much attention to himself. He climbed into his car and drove the North route back towards Bournton. A CPD patrol approached but luckily they took the exit to Fullerton Bridge. They seemed in a hurry. They were in too much of a hurry to notice Nathan’s car swaying slightly.  

He did catch the attention of Curtis as the car screeched to a halt at the bottom of the east acre. Failing to park in any cohesive manner Nathan stumbled out of his car and vomited again.  

“Hey cunt!” Curtis yelled at him. “I hope you’re going to clean that up.” 

Nathan couldn’t give him any attention, he simply waved him off and started to stumble towards the farm house. The fresh air dancing around his face was helping clear his head. Julia was nowhere around. She would probably be out on deliveries or maybe she was going on to rendezvous with George so they could laugh about how much of a fool Nathan had made of himself.  

Buddy and his brothers were in the east acre tasked with preparing the ground for the winter. They stopped when they saw Nathan. Still drunk on a full guzzled bottle of champagne Nathan almost stumbled. Buddy emitted an uproarious laugh. His brothers followed suit. Chad cackled along with the chapter leader. Cooper watched with a smile on his face and his arms folded.  

“You’re wasted!” Buddy called to him. “You gotta get me some of your gear, bro!” 

He proceeded to hold his nostril and hop around the field. Chad was now in hysterics. Nathan was in no mood for their nonsense.  

“Can’t handle the Charlie?” 

Nathan rushed towards the farm house. Still Buddy and his friends taunted him.  

“Fucking coke head,” Nathan muttered bitterly when he got inside. He had a plan for ridding the farm of Buddy and his bros. Julia was clearly looking for the next best thing but Dr Nathan Watt could show her she already had the best she was ever going to have. It didn’t matter that Buddy Owen’s family had the chance to make something of the farm that Julia had worked so hard to protect. She would learn who was truly behind her, who truly wanted her and it wasn’t Buddy ‘goddamn’ Owen.  

Having just returned from school in the city, Susie was stood in the hallway. Her pink back pack was still over her shoulders. She was clutching a horse doll, playing with its hair nervously. As she watched Nathan she noted he was drunk. She didn’t like seeing people drunk. She saw her dad drunk once and it frightened her. He had been so frustrated with work and he had drunk too many beers. Grandma was yelling at him to get to bed. He calmed down when he saw Susie cry. He kissed her and said he was sorry he was just a big idiot. His breath smelled awful. He told her she would never see him in that state again and he kept true to his word.  

“You are better than your father,” Grandma reminded him.  

Susie knew no harm would come to her from her daddy no matter how drunk he got but with other drunk men she was not so sure.  

“Hi, Susie,” Nathan greeted. He was starting to stand a little straighter. The cloudiness over his mind was starting to dissipate as he collected his medical bag from a locked cupboard he kept it in.  

“Where are you going?” the little girl asked.  

How to explain it to a child. “I’m going away and I might not see you again.”  

“Oh?” The little girl was taken aback. Nathan had become such a feature at the farm house it hadn’t been what she had expected but she wasn’t too upset. She continued to play with the hair of her toy horse. Mimsy she called it because it looked a lot like the real-life Harvester horse named Mimsy.  

“Bye then,” Susie replied.  

She didn’t notice him reach into his medical bag.  

“We’re friends right?” he put to her.  

Susie managed a smile. He didn’t look as drowsy as he had before. He even looked a little sad.  

“Sure,” she shrugged. 

“And we both like Jules, right?” he asked.  

Susie nodded. She smiled again. Nathan wasn’t so bad. He was a bit of a blow hard – that’s what dad called him – but he was okay really. He wasn’t funny like Buddy and he was always trying to tell her off but that was just his way. Buddy didn’t tell her off. In fact, he found it hilarious when she said things she shouldn’t. He laughed so hard when she told Chad to ‘Fuck off’  

“She’s a feisty little critter cause she’s Kappa So!” he had cheered.  

Excitable, fun, with flowing blonde hair and an accent like a movie star. Susie couldn’t understand why Nathan thought Julia would ever choose him over Buddy. She guessed grown-ups looked for different things.  

“I’ll miss you,” he said sincerely.  

Maybe Nathan wasn’t so bad after all. Julia had always said he was a good friend and he was Susie’s friend too she supposed. He just liked Julia more than she liked him. Grown-ups were weird.  

“You’ll look after Julia for me, won’t you?” he asked of her.  

Looking after Julia and Kappa So mascot. Susie’s pride swelled with her responsibilities on the farm.  

“Sure,” she agreed.  

Nathan’s expression became softer. She still didn’t like the drunken look in his eyes.  

“Can I get a hug goodbye?”  

*** 

Buddy was returning a bucket to the stables like a good boy. He was laying low. His father would be on Coldford soil soon enough and those loyalist sons a bitches would pay for what they did to him and to Pops. Them and their Fleet scum ass kissers. He didn’t let the frustration boil over though. The farm work itself was humiliating but he realised the harder he worked, the more he pretended to care about dumb shit like the horses, the warmer Julia became to him. That and it kept fucking cave man farm hand Glenn off his back. Chad seemed to be taking a step further and prancing around the farm like he was one of them. He even had a beer with Curtis. He would have to be reminded he was a brother and they were brothers for life.  

He dropped the bucket on the shed floor. One of the horses, named Pippen, snorted at him. 

“Shut the fuck up!” Buddy snorted back. Pippen shook his head. The truth was Buddy wasn’t actually annoyed which surprised him. Given the circumstances and the fact that it was now day 7 without powder, he really should have been losing it. Maybe the farm air was doing him good. He never really made the most of ranch life as a boy. He just wanted to shoot the horses in the ass with one of the air rifles. He patted Pippen’s nose as he remembered how fast a little foal had run after he aimed. CRACK. The dumb ass foal tried to leap the fence, got caught and tore the tendon in its front right leg. It had to be shot with a real gun.  

“Ah,” Buddy sighed, still stroking Pippen. “Memories.”  

He had caught Hell for that one. Luckily not from The Cappy. He had been away on business as usual. But Uncle Walt was the best rancher of all of them. He made Buddy run across the enclosure and shot him in the ass with an air rifle. Buddy leapt that fence. He leapt that fence real good and he cleared it. He didn’t get caught like the dumbass little horse.  

Buddy scooped up some feed for Pippen. The horse munched angrily from his hand. Buddy laughed to himself as he remembered Uncle Walt dragging the wayward preteen back to the ranch house to nurse the wound.  

“I had mind to aim straight up your ass, son,” Walt had groaned, “but since I wasn’t going to see you spitting bullets I figured, what’s the point?”  

The air rifle had done enough damage. Buddy was rubbing the fleshy part of his left ass cheek. Walt was a cousin to the The Cappy. He was a prominent figure in Buddy’s life. He was the father when The Cappy himself was rarely around. Buddy suspected Walt was even banging his Mama but there was no proof of that. Buddy liked Walt. Walt knew how to get shit done.  

He thought of Julia. Now those thoughts were stirring. Wait a minute … Wasn’t there naked paintings of her somewhere? An immediate check ensued.

The barn was empty so it seemed no use to waste the quiet time. he reached his hands into his pants. There was a noise of someone stumbling in so he quickly turned.

“Hey, little mascot!” he cheered. “How was school? Shit, right?” 

Susie mumbled something but it was incoherent. It was then he noticed her already large eyes were even larger. They had reddened like she had ingested a zombie virus. Her pupils were hugely dilated. Her little body was trembling. Buddy was no doctor but he knew a lot about cocaine abuse.  

“Susie?” He tried to speak calmly the way the Kappa So coke whores would when they were trying to bring him on a come down. The little girl tried to leap excitedly but she fell on the floor.  

He remembered Chad once throwing ice water over home when it looked as though he was overdosing.  

“Who the fuck gave you coke?” he asked.  

Susie couldn’t answer.  

He lifted the water bucket. He had to act fast. Glenn would have seen his daughter wander towards the shed. He always had an eye on her no matter what he was doing. He was telepathic or something when it came to the kid. Who would get the blame? The fucking powder fiend.  

“Not touched any in fucking days,” he was growling. “What the actual fuck brah!” He poured water over the little girl but it didn’t seem to do much good. “Damn it, Susie!” he pleaded. He lifted her into his arms and gave her a firm pat to her cheeks. “Snap out of it.”  

If Cooper or Chad had given his little mascot coke, he was going to raise all kinds of Hell. There was no way they should have Charlie without telling him. He had been sober for what felt like forever. What the fuck! 

The tremors of the little girl’s trembling body became worse with the addition of the cold water. He didn’t like it. He didn’t like it one bit. She was his little mascot. She was Kappa So and someone had tried to hurt her. No powder in days and the little girl turns up three sheets to the wind. Ain’t no one going to believe he had nothing to do with it. Everything would be ruined. The little girl was sick, The Cappy would be furious but not before Glenn beat his ass. Julia would hate him and all along some asshole had powder on the farm this whole time.  

“Get off her!” Glenn came charging towards him like one of the bulls he was used to wrangling.  

Buddy tried to stop him moving her. She was now struggling to breathe.  

“You’ve gotta get a doctor, bro. She’s taken coke. She’s taken coke!” Buddy tried to warn Glenn. Normally when the coke whores or even one of the brothers had snorted too much they would just be thrown out on their asses. If the exposure got to them before they sobered up that was their own damn fault. This was different. Buddy needed that little girl to live.  

Glenn snatched Buddy by the throat, crushing his trachea. He punched him with a blow ‘The Bournton Blizzard’ would have been proud of. Buddy was sent backwards. The force almost broke a board on Pippen’s paddock.  

“She needs a doc, bro,” Buddy protested.  

Glenn snarled. “I’ll deal with you later.” He picked Susie up into his arms. “You better hope to Christ and everything he stands for that she’s okay.”  

Buddy hadn’t picked himself up yet. The hit from Glenn had removed any strength he had had in his legs.  

“Get her to a doctor, brah.”  

Glenn carried Susie away in a rush. He hoped he could catch Nathan before he left.  

*** 

Deliveries in the city had been more time consuming than Julia had anticipated. Her brother, Jonathan, had taken the City Main ones. Julia had gone further to Cardyne and then on to Swantin.  

Darkness was beginning to set in by the time she had arrived back on Harvester Farm. The lights were on in the dining room of the farm house. Her dinner plans with George were cancelled due to Nathan and she was famished. The fields were quiet. Glenn’s own truck was gone. Some of the farm hands were having a beer as they relaxed after a long day’s hard work. They acknowledged her with a smile. She waved back.  

A light was on in the milking shed where Buddy and his brothers were still stationed. Chick Owen had told them to remain where they were until he arrived from the Great States. The Owen estate could be unsafe and their Chapter House was still devastated after the combined loyalist/fleet attack.  

There was no laughter there which was unusual. Normally Buddy’s voice could be heard above the others. He was certainly nothing if not strong spirited. The warning from Reginald Penn, the loss of his much respected and admired grandfather hadn’t broken him. Why would it when he knew his father would be arriving any minute and would clear the mess in one fell sweep? The Cappy was a powerful man and whilst he was around the son would laugh at the attempts of their enemies to frighten them. But something had given him sobering thoughts. 

There was an eery silence as Julia stepped inside the house. There was no laughter, no merriment from the dining room.  

“I’m home!” Julia called. “My dinner plans were cancelled. I do hope there is enough for one more setting.” 

Julia looked in the mirror that hung by the door. Some strands of hair had escaped her pony tail. She fixed them and tidied her clothes.  

“Mummy? Jon?” she called.  

From the dining hall emerged Nan Harvester.  

“It’s good you’re home, buttercup.” Nan greeted with a warm embrace and a kiss of her daughter’s cheek. “Of course we will have a place set for you. There’s plenty to go around. As a matter of fact, we have a guest. So why don’t you go and get washed up?” 

“Who’s the guest?” Julia asked, taking note of her mother’s excitement.  

Nan patted her arm. “Just hurry and get cleaned. We don’t want to hold dinner back too long.” 

Julia agreed to her mother’s request. When she reached the foot of the stair case her mother added, “Use the new wash. It’s apple scented.”  

Julia paused for thought. Nan smiled sweetly as though the words were of no consequence.  

Julia changed from her Harvester shirt. Without knowing the importance of the guest, she chose a plain white blouse. She used the apple wash on her hands and face, enjoying how the sweet scent covered the smell of the Harvester van she had been riding in all day.   

Returning back downstairs, a warmth was now radiating from the dining room. She could hear voices now. Jonathan was offering their guest an anecdote of his trip abroad. He was telling the story heartily just like their father used to. Jacob could always tell a good story.  

“And here she is, the lady of the moment!” 

Jon’s story was had been interrupted by their guest. Sat at their father’s place at the table was Dr Winslow – eminent clinician, saviour of her father’s life initially and bullying force she had worked so hard to get rid of. 

“My darling Julia, you look so pale. I hope they aren’t working you too hard,” commented the doctor with an accommodating smile.

  

Julia smiled too as she took her seat. “Well, well Gregory,” she replied. “It’s been a while. How have you been?”  

“Terrific,” he replied. “Just terrific. Everything is getting back on track with Harbour House.” 

Julia gushed. “I’m so glad to hear that. It did give so many people hope of recovery.”  

Winslow’s head dropped slightly onto his left shoulder as he observed her more closely. “It’s just a pity one such person wasn’t my dear friend Jacob.”  

Julia’s eyes brightened. “We all have our losses.”  

“We might as well forget our losses and appreciate what we do have. Your mother was kind enough to invite me to join you for this lovely meal. I must say, Nan, it smells positively delectable.”  

Julia reached out and took her mother’s hand in hers. She gave it a gentle squeeze.  

“She’s such a treasure, isn’t she?” said the daughter. She looked across the table to Winslow. “Pass the potatoes please.”  



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Knock Knock: Episode 24: Nice girls finish last

Lydia and Franklin’s apartment was quiet. The agents were gone, preparing for another mission and without my old newspaper to report to, it gave me cause to think. As I looked over the footage of the City Main woman talking about the arrest of the triplets, my attention was drawn to a group of Kappa So brothers in the background. ‘Had Mayor Feltz pledged?’ I wondered. It appeared everyone in the city with authority was a brother. Without Hickes’ presence it seemed even CPD wasn’t willing to hold them to account, not just for the shooting of Sarah or the disappearance of Tawny, but for a whole mess of cover ups that had been going on for years. That was when the latest issue of Coldford Daily dropped through the letterbox.

OWEN FAMILY STANDS STRONG.

On the front page were three Kappa So brothers – Chad, Cooper and Buddy Owen. The photo had been taken on Harvester Farm. The three brothers were smiling nicely. The article discussed the death of Robert ‘Bobby’ Owen. Buddy expressed his grief coherently. He was pleased to have his fraternity brothers with him for support. He was also pleased to be building friendships on Harvester Farm. It was what Pops would have wanted. Kappa So were good young men from prime stock with elite family names. They were future leaders. That nasty old Penn had attacked them. Those vulgar Macks – who were always causing trouble, mind – had set out to assault them. That was what the article would have the reader believe. An Owen-owned newspaper was never going to print anything else. I looked at the article writer. It had been composed by Eric Waddle, the Daily editor himself. It seemed none of the other journalists would do. I had recognised his writing style. I had read lots of Eric’s work before. The words Buddy was quoted as saying, his explanations, it had been Eric that had put them there. They were written to be clear on the Penn and Mack villainy and sketchy on the details as to why they attacked the Chapter House in the first place. That was why I had to write the truth. I didn’t set out to make anyone in particular look good or bad. I wanted to make clear the real shades of Coldford so that people could decide for themselves. Even with Tawny’s face everywhere people were starting to forget. They were forgetting about the missing Baroness, forgetting about the little girl that was gunned down in the street. I would not let Sarah be forgotten.

***

I caught up with Buddy Owen outside of the City Main Harvester store. He had been making himself useful to the brand by taking on deliveries, no doubt having had express orders to ingratiate himself to the Harvesters. At least that was how it seemed. The truth was he had come in search of powder. Most of his contacts had gone into hiding. He didn’t have his two companions in tow. Buddy was storming back towards the Harvester van, shoulders hunched and grumbling to himself. I managed to catch up with him.

“Buddy? Bernard?”

He stopped and offered a scowl.

“Yeah? What?” he returned. He seemed to recognise me which was surprising. We had only been in each other’s company once before. He and his father were touring their newspapers and they had come to the Coldford Daily. At the time he seemed to have been more interested in my fellow writer, Madeline. I would have been lucky if he even remembered my name. He hadn’t been lusting after Madeline though. He kept looking to her as though she was going to say something to The Cappy he didn’t want her to. Buddy’s uncle, Jerry Owen, had pulled Madeline from the story of an assault on the hotel heir, Daniel Weir, when it led her to his nephew. Madeline said nothing though. After that incident she had been relegated to nonsense stories and bottom of the barrel news. She had fought hard to get back on the upper floors, she wasn’t prepared to start again.

“You’re a reporter, right?” Buddy challenged.

“Something like that,” was my reply. “Can I ask you some questions?”

“No bro. I already said everything I have to say.”

I ignored Buddy’s refusal. “How are you coping with the death of your grandfather?” I put to him.

Buddy frowned. “How’d you think? Get out of my way.”

I had already hit record on my phone.

“Does your Uncle Jerry know his accuser has gone missing? Does he know the girl he tried to rape was given the death penalty?”

Buddy grabbed my by the collar of my shirt. I held my phone tight. It was still recording.

***

Buddy had just returned from City Main when he received a call from The Cappy.

“I’m still on Harvester Farm,” explained the son.

“So I can tell,” the father said.

“I was stopped by a reporter,” Buddy said.

Chick nodded. “They’ve swarmed the estate. I’ve had to send a crew to bring your Chapter House into order and take your grandfather’s body and have it buried proper.”

“Those motherfuckers are gonna to pay,” Buddy groaned.

Chick Owen was staying on topic. “They seemed convinced we know where the one they call the Baroness is.”

“Didn’t find anything though, did they?” Buddy put to his father.

“That’s not the point. When the stink of her leaving the Harbour House facility so abruptly falls on our family it concerns me. Where is she?”

“How should I know? I never met the fat whore.”

“Is that so?” The Cappy was unconvinced. “That artist boy seems to feel differently. He’s been shouting his mouth off about her and he seems certain someone with our name took her.”

Buddy protested, “You’re listening to the opinion of some doped up scum from The Shanties over your own son?”

The Cappy paused. He was looking for the holes in his son’s protest of innocence. “I didn’t say he was from the Shanties.”

It was then Buddy who was given cause to pause. “You mean David Finn, right? He was in Harbour House too. Everyone here knows who he is. Didn’t finish rehab though. Probably still a fiend for the big H.”

Chick dismissed his son’s comments. “That may be but we have a bigger problem. I don’t know what concern finding that club bar clown is of Beckingridge Tower, but Elizabeth Beckingridge is making it her business. She is also making it her business to invest in that farm you now stand upon.”

Buddy was starting to become bored. “So?”

“So? Boy, do you have any idea how much that Harvester brand could be worth? The influence they could have in the city with the proper push behind them?”

Buddy just wanted to go home. The smell of manure was starting to give him a headache. The want for some powder up his nostrils was making him frustrated.

“You will stay on that farm and make yourself mighty useful. No more going into City Main until I arrive,” the father instructed. “Ingratiate yourself. Bring the Harvesters into the fold and perhaps you may find yourself worthy of my chair one day.”

‘You’ve gotta be kidding me,’ Buddy thought inwardly.

“Keep your brothers in line. Work hard.” It sounded as though The Cappy was signing off. “Oh, and Bernard, if I find out you are lying about the whereabouts of Ms McInney and your grandfather, my father, died as a result, you and I are going to go a long walk. If it weren’t for respect of my father and his wishes you would be on your way back to me right now. Lay low, charm the Harvester farm hands and make yourself useful to them in any way they need. Am I clear?”

“Yeah,” Buddy replied.

“Yes what?”

“Yes sir.”

Buddy closed the call. He looked across to the fields where he could see Julia tending to the meat herd. She looked up and caught him watching. She smiled and she waved. He waved back.

***

***

The milking sheds were where Buddy and his brothers decided they liked best. Buddy tried his hand at the farm work, more to impress Julia than to appease his father. It turned out that being the golden boy of a ranch and doing actual farm work were two completely different things. It was muddy, smelly and a complete pain in Buddy Owen’s ass.

“The milking herd needs dealt with,” Curtis warned him.

“I ain’t milking no damn cow,” Buddy protested.

Chad clasped his nipples. “It’s easy Bud. You just grab and pull. Coop? You try. Grab my nipples.”

Cooper, leaning against a fence with his arms folded, shook his head. “I ain’t tugging on your tits brah.”

Buddy shoved Chad in frustration. “You got milk? Are you a fucking cow?”

Julia Harvester, carrying an empty bucket of feed, approached them.

“Something wrong boys?” she asked in a sweetened tone as though she hadn’t noticed the commotion that was starting to gather between them.

Chad had stopped dead. He was still clasping his nipples. Buddy punched his shoulder again so he would stand straight.

“I grew up on a ranch,” Buddy stuttered. “My family own a ranch.”

Julia smiled. “So you must be at home here then?”

Buddy nodded his head smoothly. “I got it all under control. Don’t you worry ma’am.”

A Great States cowboy was surely impressive. Julia Harvester of the Harvester brand didn’t seem to be so sure though.

“That’s good,” she said. “You’ll know then that the milking herd can get a little uncomfortable if they aren’t milked.”

“Yeah,” Buddy agreed. “I was just telling my bros that. They gotta be juiced.”

Chad frowned. “He doesn’t know how to milk a cow. None of us do…”

Buddy shot him a warning glare.

“Don’t worry,” Julia assured. “You’ll learn. I bet you can ride a horse better than anyone though…”

Buddy beamed at the massage of his ego. “Yeah I ride. I ride really good. I ride better than anyone.”

Julia gave a coy giggle. “I’ll bet you do. Maybe later you can ride with me. But right now what we need is milking.” She took his hand and stretched out his index finger. She clutched it softly but firmly. “It’s easy,” she smiled, catching him in eye contact. “You just hold the teat firm.” She began to run her hand along his finger’s length. “And tug gently. The milk will come out.” Buddy’s mouth was agape. The brothers were staring at it to. “Milk,” she stroked. “Milk. Milk. Milk.”

Buddy was lost in the sensation of her grip. She dropped his hand. “I would do it myself but I’m just so busy.”

“I’ll milk those cows for you ma’am,” Buddy straightened his shoulders and stuck out his chest. “No worries there. My ranch, I grew up on a ranch, so I know cows.” He hoped he was having some kind of cowboy appeal. “Just leave it to me.” He turned to his brothers. “Okay, bros, didn’t I say we were to milk the cows?”

Coops nodded. “Sure, brah…”

Chad added an enthusiastic, “got your back, brah!”

Buddy stuck his chest out again. He tightened his shoulders hoping she would notice his natural swimmer’s build. “We’ll do thing you need.”

Julia giggled. “If you could do some milking we would appreciate it.”

Buddy watched her leave. A few paces ahead she stopped, turned and flashed him a smile.

“To the milking sheds!” Buddy announced.

Julia passed Glenn who had been watching the entire affair from a distance. She rolled her eyes. Glenn gave a laugh.

“Keep an eye on them,” she ordered.

***

Debs, Harvester Farm’s largest dairy cow, shuffled and groaned distractedly as Buddy clutched onto two of her teats.

“Milk. Milk. Milk,” he chanted as he squeezed and started to fill a metal bucket. Cooper found himself at the excretion end of the animal. Standing, underwhelmed he watched Debs relieve herself onto the shed floor. The Kappa So bro wrinkled his nose.

“Chad?” Buddy called to the brother on the other side of the cow. “What the fuck, brah?”

Chad was pulling on the teat vigorously like a porn star tugging on a throbbing cock. He stopped, spat on it and continued with gusto. Coopers eyes widened as he leaned over to inspect what was going on.

“Chad!” Buddy barked again.

Chad finally stopped.

“Sorry Bud,” he said. “I was just doing what the girl showed us.”

Buddy and Cooper shared an astonished look. “She didn’t fucking spit on it.”

“Mooooo,” Debs became restless. She took a few steps forward, almost knocking the bucket over.

“See,” Chad objected. “She was enjoying it.”

Debs shook her head and cried out again.

Buddy grinned. “Suck it,” he teased.

Chad looked at the teat. “No way brah. I’m lactose intolerant.”

“Just suck it,” Buddy pressed.

His facial expression dissolved into a mischievous grin. Chad looked to Cooper who said nothing but raised an eyebrow.

Chad giggled. He shuffled forward to reach Debs again. He gripped the teat and stuck his tongue out. Before he could close his mouth around it Buddy grabbed another teat and squirted the milk in Chad’s face.

“Ewww,” Chad complained. “It’s warm!”

The other two began to laugh. Chad joined in. Buddy had been laughing so hard he fell against Debs who started to object.

“Mooo!” She complained.

Buddy slapped her hind.

“Shut up or I’ll make you a steak.”

Debs tried to turn, knocking into Cooper who ended up with the rest of her faeces on him. She bumped into Buddy again too. Her strength almost knocked him from his feet and into the deposit she had left on the shed floor.

“Fuck! We gotta calm this cow down!” yelled the Kappa So chapter leader.

He snatched up a branding iron. There was nothing to heat it, but swung with enough force it could severely injure even a well-built animal like Debs.

“Bud, brah, I wouldn’t do that,” said Cooper.

“I’m gonna knock it out. That’s what you do, right? Put these things out their misery.”

The humiliation from Reginald Penn, the chastising from The Cappy, the missing golden cock. All of it boiled in Buddy Owen. He swung the iron. Luckily she had turned again and instead of cracking her skull he hit her hind quarters. The animal screamed in pain.

“Bud!” warned Cooper. “I don’t think that’s how you calm them.”

Chad who, had cleaned his face with an old rag, offered his expertise. “Yeah, brah, that’s just gonna piss it off.”

Between the three oh so genius minds they possessed they each suggested ways of calming Debs so they could get their milking done. All of which the poor animal objected to quite vehemently.

BANG. BANG. BANG.

The bros stopped dead. In the doorway glaring brutally was Glenn. He was clutching his cattle prod tightly by his side. If you may imagine the scene he uncovered you will understand why the farm hand was annoyed.

The brothers filtered out of the barn. Glenn watched them with his lip curled, keeping the doorway as blocked as his frame would allow so they would be forced to squeeze past him with their heads lowered.

When they had cleared the area he approached the animal and gave her a soothing pat on the neck.

“Don’t listen to them, lass,” he said. “They’re just assholes.”

***

She tried to run but she bumped into a bucket of manure, almost knocking it over.
“Whatcha doing?” Chad asked as he snatched the little girl by the arm. Chad estimated she was about six or seven years old.
“Get off,” the little girl growled. She lifted her foot and kicked him on the shin.
Chad lost his grip on her as he tried to massage his leg.
She squealed and she ran. Her exit from the stables was prevented by Buddy.
“Where are you going?” he asked with a grin.
“Let me go shit head or I’ll call my daddy.”
Buddy frowned. “Who the fuck’s your daddy?”
“Him.” The little girl pointed outside. Glenn was directing some of the farm hands in the west acre, as they stared to round up the meat herd.
Buddy thought about The Cappy’s warning again. He thought about Glenn’s reaction to the bros meeting his daughter. Mostly he thought about Julia’s tits.
“Hello, little lady,” he grinned. “My name’s Buddy.”

***

“We’ve got enough shit up our asses without the kid making a fuss,” Buddy reasoned.

Cooper sniggered.

“Shut the fuck up!” Buddy pointed at him. “You know what I meant. We will find the golden cock, we will get back to the Chapter House and I’m gonna bone that farm girl.”

“Sure Bud,” Chad agreed.

Buddy turned back to the little girl who had sat herself on a bale of hay.

“You’re alright little lady. He won’t hurt you.”

The little girl pursed her lips and folded her arms. “I’ll kick his balls if he tries.”

Buddy laughed heartily. To his brothers he said, “I like her. She reminds me of my mama. What’s your name?”

“Susie,” the little girl answered.

“You know the farm lady?” he pressed.

Susie frowned. “You mean Julia? Yeah. She’s my friend. She gave me a room in the farmhouse all to myself.”

“Cool,” Buddy replied. “If you talk me up to her and tell her what a stand up guy I am I’ll make it worth your while.”

Susie grinned. Her full cheeks reddened. “You fancy her?” She put to the Kappa So leader.

Buddy’s grin extended further. “You don’t understand, kid. When adults like each other they really want to bone. I want to bone that farm girl.”

Susie giggled and hid her mouth behind her hand. Buddy laughed too. He enjoyed playing big brother. His real sister, Beth, was a pain in the ass but little Susie, with her Bournton spirit, charmed him.

“She has lots of boyfriends,” Susie explained. “But I like you. I want you to be her boyfriend.”

Buddy cheered. “Sure you do!”

He lifted the little girl up and heaved her onto his shoulder. “Cause we are Kappa So little lady and you’re our new mascot. Any ya’ll wanna mess with my lil sis here you’re gonna have me to deal with.”

Susie giggled as Buddy paraded her around the barn.

“We are Kappa So!” He cried. “What are we?”

“Kappa So!” Susie replied in a cheer.

“Yeah we are.”

“Susie,” barked Glenn, who had taken note of his daughter’s disappearance from the farm house.

Buddy laid Susie down.

“I just came to pet the horses,” the little girl explained. “We were just playing, daddy.”

Glenn was unmoved. His focus was on Buddy although he spoke to the girl. “Get back to the house,” he ordered.

“But daddy, can’t I pet the horses?”

“Now,” Glenn barked. Susie said nothing further. She gave one last smile to Buddy before slipping off back to the farm house.

Glenn’s scowl was severe.

“Stay away from my daughter,” he warned the brothers. There would be no misunderstanding the serious of his statement.

Buddy raised his hands. “She came to us. She’s a cute kid. I was just playing around.”

Glenn took in all three of them. “Get on with your work.”

Buddy returned to work with a lighter air. Susie would be telling Julia how much she liked him. Buddy liked the little mascot. Like all mascots she was going to spur the team on to victory.

Susie came rushing into the Farm House where she found Julia at the kitchen table with Dr Nathan Watt. Nathan had been in charge of her father’s care before Winslow took over and confined the old Harvester to Harbour House. He and Julia remained close friends. She had expressed something of an interest in being a couple and sharing their life together. She had made it clear though that nothing could happen until she had secured stability on her farm. The stability was there now but the affections she promised were not. She was probably one of the most sought after women in the Shady City. Not only was she beautiful and alluring but she also brought a long established name with her. Julia Harvester had her fair share of suitors. Nathan could only continue to hope she meant to keep to her promises. He just had to hope a better option didn’t come along in the meantime.

“Jules! Jules!” Susie called excitedly. “I was talking to the man in the stables and he likes you.”

Julia laughed. “Now, now, buttercup, don’t go spreading stories.”

“He does,” insisted Susie. “Buddy said he’s my bro and he wants to bone you.”

Julia laughed again. Nathan was frowning though.

“Susie,” Julia chastised. “That’s not the way for a young lady to speak.”

“It’s true though,” Susie continued her protest. “I’m the new Kappa So mascot.”

“Keep away from those boys Susie,” Nathan warned. “Your father wouldn’t want you talking to them.”

Ignoring Nathan, Susie spoke to Julia. “I like Buddy. He’s funny. He should be your boyfriend Jules. Daddy said he’s a fucktard – whatever that means – but you like him, right?”

“Sure Susie,” Julia assured. “I like Buddy.”

Susie was content with this. She felt she had completed her duties well. Dr Nathan Watt wasn’t so sure though. He didn’t like that Julia was allowing Kappa So such leeway on the farm.

***

The rectory was silent. There were many candles lit, like sparkling little jewels but Nan Harvester – mother to Julia and head of Harvester Farm – lit another. A gust of wind caused it to dance as though it was taking a message to her dearly departed husband, Jacob.

She clasped the St Wigan pin on her chest and bowed her head in prayer. Her thoughts were soon interrupted by the door to the rectory clicking closed behind her. She looked up to find Dr Winslow. She smiled a pleasant smile.

“If my girl knew you were here, doctor, she would have some repercussions for you.”

Winslow raised his hands in submission.

“It wasn’t her I came to see,” he said. “It was your good self. How have you been my dear?”

“Just fine, doctor, just fine,” she replied.

“Being a widow suits you,” Winslow commented.

“Grief can always look becoming on a woman if worn a certain way. Right now my focus is on my children and my foundation.”

“I’d like to get involved with your foundation. The Owen’s owe me some support.”

“I knew the Reverend Owen very well. He was one of the charity’s biggest supporters. My little kiddies did so well from him.”

Winslow grinned. “You needn’t play any pretences with me, my dear. I know all about the girls the Reverend had shipped over using the foundation. I was the one to assess them.”

Nan clutched the Wigan pin on her chest again. She turned back to her candle.

“We’re the best of friends, doctor, but as I said my daughter would not be best pleased with you being here. A mother has to protect her little children.”

“Family is of the utmost importance,” agreed Winslow. “As you will know from your husband’s care, we are all like family.”

Nan closed her eyes as though in prayer. “What’s your point?”

“I have a generous donation to give to your foundation. It can be made available any time. I am trying to reopen Harbour House and I need your support in shooing off those pesky Law Makers. Your daughter could make trouble for me in doing this. She’s an ambitious girl and needs a mother’s loving guidance.”

Nan opened her eyes again but kept her focus on the altar.

“I heard that Micky managed to halt the investigation for the time being.”

“Things became – shall we say – difficult to manage. Julia busied herself trying to escape my grasp when all I ever wished to do was help her flourish.”

Nan blessed herself. “Yes, she told me all about what you wanted to do with her.” She tutted. “Looking for more of the same then, are you?”

“In exchange for a generous donation you can make sure your daughter plays nice whilst I clear the mess and have my facility reopened.”

Nan asked, “How generous?”

Winslow grinned. Keen that he was making headway. Winslow had some old scores to settle with Buddy Owen and it wouldn’t be Julia who would give him that opportunity, it would be Nan. With the Beckingridge Firm and Owen Inc. conducting a bidding war to become investors in the brand, he wanted a piece of that pie.

“As generous as it needs to be,” he said.

Nan took his hand in hers. Her long, bony digits clasped tightly. She closed her eyes, bowed her head and clutched her Wigan pin again.

“Pray with me doctor,” she said.

***

There were a few acres between the Harvester Farm and their nearest neighbours but as Nan drove the Harvester van towards the main farm route Mrs Pellman was passing the opposite way in her own pick-up truck and flagged her down. Nan pulled gently to a stop. Mrs Pellman did likewise and climbed out. The two women met at the side of a quiet, dusty road.

“How are you, Nan?” Mrs Pellman asked amicably.

Nan smiled sweetly. “Good. Good. As well as can be expected.”

Mrs Pellman gave a suitably sympathetic smile. “If there’s anything I can do to help please let me know.”

Nan reached out and took the other woman’s hand. Mrs Pellman took note of the tea length dress Nan wore. It wasn’t completely funeral black. There was a white feather pattern across it. The Wigan pin still sat proudly on her breast.

“When the ladies and I heard about poor Jacob dying in hospital we rushed right round to check on young Julia.”

“Yes. She told me about the beautiful basket the ladies gave her and how delicious Mrs Manny’s pot roast was.”

“We haven’t seen you around for a while,” Mrs Pellman commented. “Or your boy Jonathan.”

Nan needed to go. She had promised she would be around to check on the new arrivals.

“My foundation was keeping me busy abroad,” she said. “Jon was kind enough to come along and assist me.”

Mrs Pellman nodded consolingly. “I’ve been watching all the news about your charity. You are doing great work for those young girls.”

Nan beamed. “We’ve now reached more countries than ever, helping little girls get educated, setting them up, giving them a start in life. When Jacob and I did our little tour before Jon was born I saw all those little girls and the lives they were destined for. I just knew I had to do something.”

Mrs Pellman agreed. “You’re a kind soul. The ladies and I are having lunch next Friday at your Harvester Café in main. Do come along and join us. Bring Julia too. The ladies just love Julia.”

Nan began to put distance between herself and her neighbour. “That sounds lovely. I must dash. There’s still so much to be done.”

“Don’t let me keep you.” Mrs Pellman was apologetic. “Call me though if you need anything and I’ll pop right round.”

Nan opened the van door again. “Thank you. You are too kind.”

With a wave the two women parted. Nan drove the van along the long path that led onto Harvester farm and to the house. She parked the van in front of the entrance to the farmhouse.

In the main hall Jonathan was waiting for her with a phone in his hand.

“The new arrivals have just came in,” he stated.

Nan kissed his lips, long, lingering.

“Go check that those frat boys aren’t tearing up the fields again. I’ll look at the new arrivals from the study.”

“Yes mum,” he said.

The house was quiet. Everyone was busy. Nan locked the study door behind her. One couldn’t be too careful.

The home screen on the computer was a photo of her, Jacob and their two children, smiling widely, full of hopes, full of love. A happy family.

She clicked on the notification. She was more computer savvy than most people her age. She had taken some classes at Coldford Central library. William was a very patient and informative instructor.

The notification brought her to a series of photographs. They were of a girl. Aged twelve, black. She had full lips and a ripe young body. She was bound and gagged. Her eyes were rolling with the drugs they had given her. She was bruised badly. They had been violent in their extraction but never mind. Nan smiled. She lifted the phone. It was time to let the foundation supporters know the new arrivals were in place.


Enjoy this?

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Knock Knock! Harvester delivery!

Skin and bone will set the tone!

Time is running out, according to the Harvesters. The Boss Lady might have been stripped of everything but there’s still a little something she can give.

5.02 is the slaughter time on the farm but it’s opening night at the Knock Knock club. Just what will become of it all?

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5:02 Slaughter Time

GLENN patted his shoulder.

“You’re doing alright, lad,” he beamed.

Scott Cross was pleased too. When he arrived on HARVESTER FARM the dawn had not long broken. Glenn, a burly, middle aged farm hand had seemed intimidating at first. As he laid down the law for Scott and the other boys. His booming voice and formidable stature caused Scott and the other boys to pay attention.

The choice for them had been Jefferson Hall Youth Correctional or honest hard work in the northern farm lands. In Scott’s case he had been prosecuted for car theft. It wasn’t uncommon in the Shanties – the part of town Scott hailed from. It was a way of life for the poorest in the city. He had taken his first joy ride at fourteen. Prosecuted at seventeen, prison was the next logical step. When lawyer, RONALD OWEN took note of the amount of youths coming through his office from the Shanties under similar circumstances he decided to use his influence and family name to set up a ‘steps to work’ program. He felt the boys would stand a better chance of becoming better citizens under the influence of men like Glenn.

His feet hurt, his hands ached but he did feel pride in his work. He had moved most of the milking herd from the east acre to their main plot. He even came to know three of the main milking cows – Debbie, Shelia and Angie. His favourite of the animals though was the large stud bull named Gordon. Like Glenn, Gordon seemed aggressive at first but after asserting his authority over the teenager with a wave of his horns he settled down.

Glenn was leaning on the fence watching the stud herd graze. Beside him was another farm hand named CURTIS. They had a beer each.

“All set?” Glenn asked.

Scott smiled. A coach was arranged to take the boys back to the Shanties bus station.

“If shoveling cow shit doesn’t scare you straight I don’t know what will,” Curtis commented. He would know. He had been brought from Coldford Correctional A.K.A The Boss on a similar program.

Glenn shoved Curtis. “Don’t you listen to him. You keep your head down, work hard and you’ll do well.”

“Have a beer,” Curtis offered, reaching into the blue cool box at their feet.

“He’s too young,” Glenn protested but in jest.

Scott was a typical Shanties boy. He had had his first taste of alcohol at twelve. Curtis threw a bottle to him. He caught it in both hands. He unscrewed the cap and allowed the amber fluid to sooth his throat. It eased his aching body. He sighed with relief.

“Mmmmmmooooo,” grumbled Gordon. He had lifted his head from his grazing and was shaking it disapprovingly at them.

“Shut up, Gordon,” Glenn called back. “You heard me object.”

Scott chortled at the way the farm hands spoke to the animals as though they were people. The mild herd and stud herd all given suitable names.

Gordon snorted but he returned to his grazing.

The sun spilled over the Harvester Farm in a blanket of warmth not seen in the city – especially not in the Shanties. It was quiet. The crying of the cows in the distance was much better than the noise of traffic. Standing between Glenn and Curtis, with a beer in hand Scott felt like a real grown up, a real man. He watched the way that Glenn leaned on the fence and did similar. Over in the paddock facing them was a solitary goat. He was skipping around merrily until the entrance to the meat herd’s enclosure on the west acre was opened and farm hands started leading a few selected out.

The little goat became agitated. He butted against his fence as though he was trying to stop the other animals being led to the slaughter.

“What’s happening?” asked Scott.

Curtis looked at his watch.

4:58

“He gets a little upset when the slaughter time approaches. It’s like he knows.”

SLAUGHTER TIME?”

“We’re a dairy and meat farm, lad,” Glenn informed him. “We have our own slaughter sheds and butchers. Gary the goat there doesn’t like seeing his pals getting taken away.”

“Maaaaah!” Gary screamed.

WHAM!

He butted against fence, desperate to get the cows.

“Gary seems to know when there’s death in the air.”

5:00

Scott watched as the selected cows were led to the slaughter sheds. The abattoir machines would be fired up already.

5:02

The first of the herd was killed. 5:02 had always been the slaughter time on Harvester Farm – provider of the finest dairy and the finest meat in the Shady City.

Coming 2020

When the doctor bought over the Harvester Farm brand he was delighted at how well it could work along side his Harbour House project.

HARBOURHOUSE_timetoerelax

OUT NOW

Julia Harvester is a nice girl. She is kind, sweet and used to being posed in all the best positions. She is the perfect artist’s muse. Click HERE to read the full story.

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Time to Relax

When the time hits 5:02

You know what to do.

It’s harvesting time and you know what that means.

Juicy burgers, fresh milk and cheese.

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The Harvesters Team: Curtis, Julia and Glenn. Three happy Harbour House helpers.

I’ll have a second helping, yes, thank you, please.

From Harbour House to the hard working farm.

Family, friendly produce. No cause for alarm.

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The eminent Dr Winslow and Harvester farm hand Glenn.

You’ll see the Harvesters vans all around the Shady City.

Bringing new residents ready for the doctor’s pity.

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Chief clinician of Harbour House and Harvesters CEO Dr G Winslow.

When the doctor bought over the Harvester Farm brand he was delighted at how well it could work along side his Harbour House project.

Coming 2020

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Julia Harvester is a nice girl. She is kind, sweet and used to being posed in all the best positions. She is the perfect artist’s muse. Click HERE to read the full story.

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Character Profile: Curtis

Age: 42

Occupation: HARVESTER FARM hand/ HARBOUR HOUSE porter

Features in: MUSE ; HARBOUR HOUSE

Like all the farm hands for the Harvester brand Curtis knows that the key to success is hard work and team work. He is close friends with GLENN and of the HARVESTER family. Curtis was brought onto the farm as part of a Steps to Work programme brought City Hall. After three months in Coldford Correctional (better known as The Boss) for house breaking his choice was continue serving his time or contribute to society with manual labour. His choice changed his life.

Curtis’ job isn’t all fun on the farm. He also spends time as a porter in HARBOUR HOUSE rehabilitation clinic. He was a dry wit and a dark view of the world which serves him well with some of the duties he is required to carry out for either of his occupations. Most of his recent work tasks would see him back in The Boss.

Julia Harvester is a nice girl. She is kind, sweet and used to being posed in all the best positions. She is the perfect artist’s muse. Click HERE to read the full story.

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Coming 2020.

Curtis has seen a lot as working on Harvester farm. When the farm is taken over by the eminent Dr Winslow, his job opens up.

 

Call the Porter. We’re on the Move.

From the farm to clinic, it’s all the same.

Just get the work done, there is no shame.

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Dr Winslow checks on his investment in Harvester farm.

 

 

In the depths of Hell it feels but someone has to.

Otherwise what are the others going to do.

 

 

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Glenn is a hardworking man. Providing for his family is of prime importance.

 

 

It’s up to you, so keep your head held high.

Work at Harbour House will never run dry.

 

 

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The Harvesters Team: Curtis, Julia and Glenn. Three happy Harbour House helpers.

Julia Harvester is a nice girl. She is kind, sweet and used to being posed in all the best positions. She is the perfect artist’s muse. Click HERE to read the full story.

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Coming 2020.

Glenn has seen a lot as working on Harvester farm. When the farm is taken over by the eminent Dr Winslow, his job opens up.

Ready to Collect

Item 46. Ready for collection.

For today only we have a complete set of goods available. We are talking about saving lives here ladies and gentlemen let’s dig deep.

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Dr Winslow checks on his investment in Harvester farm.

We have it all and you can have it at a great price. But ask yourself, how would you pay to save a loved one’s life?

I am in the business of saving lives but it is a business. Payment has to be made so that I may go on and help countless others.

David Finn’s childhood trauma arose the day he met the eminent Dr Winslow.  Now he must address the horrors of his past if his art career is to flourish again.

Click HERE to read Muse.

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The Harbour House rehab facility is the brain child of the eminent Dr Winslow. When a notice from the High Court asks him to open it’s doors transparency may be a little problematic.