Read The Dummy Line Online

Authors: Bobby Cole

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The Dummy Line

The Dummy Line
Jake Crosby [1]
Cole, Bobby
AmazonEncore (2011)
Tags:
USA

Avid hunter Jake Crosby is thrilled that his nine-year-old daughter Katy
shares his love of the outdoors. His wife, Morgan, on the other hand,
does not, which means Jake and Katy enjoy an abundance of hunting,
fishing, and camping trips together. So when they head off into the
Alabama woods for a spring turkey hunt, Jake expects nothing out of the
ordinary. But even his worst nightmares could not prepare him for what
befalls them that evening, when a band of drug dealers attempts to break
into their remote camp. Desperate to protect his daughter and himself,
Jake makes a gut-wrenching decision. His quick thinking enables him and
Katy to escape…but brings the gang of vengeful criminals hot on their
trail. Gambling on his knowledge of the land and hunting skills, he
leads their bloodthirsty pursuers on a perilous cat-and-mouse game deep
within the Noxubee River swamp. Jake knows they all won’t come out
alive—but he will do whatever is necessary to make sure Katy does. Taut
and engrossing, The Dummy Line explores what happens when an ordinary
man is pushed to extraordinary lengths to protect the one he loves most
and those for whom he feels responsible.

 
 

 
 

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

This book was originally published, in a slightly different form, by Context Publishing Company, LLC in 2008.

 

Text copyright ©2011 William Robert Cole, Jr.
All rights reserved.

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

 

Published by AmazonEncore
P.O. Box 400818
Las Vegas, NV 89140

 

ISBN: 978-1-61218-070-0

 
 

Life changes. It’s usually in the blink of an eye. One minute everything’s fine, if not stagnant; then, it’s not. But your character’s not defined by what happens to you but by how you respond to those emotionally significant events. Who will you become when your life turns on a dime?

 
CONTENTS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

“Hurry up, Katy,” Jake Crosby called out as he took a wet tennis ball from his aged Lab, Scout. “We won’t have enough time to build a fire and roast marshmallows if we don’t get going.”

What am I thinking?
he told himself.
You can’t hurry a nine-year-old.

Katy had really taken an interest in the outdoors. She loved to hunt and fish and found fun in the smallest things. She would giggle for hours playing with crappie minnows or crickets. Katy had killed her first deer at seven, making a perfect shot on a small buck. This qualified her as a full-fledged member of the hunting fraternity…or maybe sorority. Anyway, she loved to go with her dad, and Jake gladly modified his hunting habits to accommodate her. Introducing Katy to the sights and sounds of the woods was a pleasure—a blessing. Katy’s motivation was to “outdo” the boys in her class. She relished this competition. And Jake did his part to make sure she was successful. By eight, she had caught several limits of rainbow trout and a boatload of bass, killed four deer, and been on several successful duck hunts. Jake was raising a tomboy, and he loved it. On this trip, he was hoping to call up a gobbling turkey. If it would walk up struttin’ and drummin’ and put on a show, Katy would be hooked. This weekend she was going to experience what turkey hunting was all about.

Katy finally jerked open the front door and ran outside carrying her camo travel bag, two Beanie Babies, and an armful of books. She was a reader. Jake loved the way she looked—her ponytail threaded through the back of a baseball cap—a cute tomboy. Jake smiled.

“Let’s go, Dad. Are
you
ready yet?” she teased. “Can we play pool when we get there?”

“Sure. Have you got everything…boots, head net, gloves?”

“Yes sir,” Katy replied politely but rolled her eyes.

Jake’s wife Morgan walked out carrying Katy’s lime-green sleeping bag and a pink pillow.

“Please make sure she goes to the bathroom. Last time she didn’t,” she said with a little worry mixed with sarcasm.

“Well, I asked her. She just didn’t really like the facilities. It’s not exactly the Hilton. But I’ll make sure she goes. Don’t you want to come?” he asked, already knowing the answer.

“No, I’m gonna rent a movie, curl up on the couch, and relax.”

“We’ll be home by lunchtime…and I’m bettin’ we’ll have a turkey. Don’t worry about Katy. I’ll take care of her. Tate’s already there and will have the lights on and a fire built. She’ll have a blast.”

“When are you going to finish that flower bed in the backyard?” Morgan asked, not caring if they killed a turkey. She hoped they didn’t because she knew Jake would claim it was Katy’s first and would want to get it stuffed for display in the den. To Morgan, Jake’s improvised “trophy room” already resembled a frozen zoo with all of his dead critters. The deer heads seemed to stare at her; the turkeys were hideously ugly; the ducks she could tolerate, but his full-mount bobcat made her sad.
Why shoot a cat?
she always wondered.

Morgan hated hunting season. She hated deer season. She hated duck season. And then, just when things seemed to settle back down, spring turkey season rolled around—which she hated even more. She didn’t really hate the “sport”; it just took up so much time—Jake’s time, time that he should spend earning more money or making home improvements. Turkey hunting was especially exhausting for Jake because of the early hours. Turkey hunters operate like a clandestine cult, waking at obscene hours, painting their faces, and driving all over the country in the dark. The result: very little yard work got accomplished in the spring when it was most needed. While the neighbors were busy trimming bushes and mulching, Jake was either gone or asleep on the couch recovering from an early-morning hunt. The reality was that their yard looked better than most. Jake somehow always found time to get it done. But Morgan couldn’t recognize it. Every time she saw Jake lying on the couch, it was a huge source of resentment.

If he’s going to do something worthless, at least he could play golf like every other stockbroker in the world. Maybe he could make some deals on the course or at the nineteenth hole
, she thought wistfully.

Even after two years of dating and eleven years of marriage, Morgan had not totally given up on trying to change him—she had just gotten better at tolerating him. She grudgingly acknowledged that Jake was a somewhat decent provider, and even she had to admit that he was a great father—she’d give him that, even if she did find him boring.

Driven more by a desire to silence Morgan’s nagging than any personal desire for riches, Jake had invested heavily in a few “surefire” stocks that surprised everyone, then became de-listed within weeks of his taking a position. His biggest concern now was dealing with the reality of being owned by the banks. House payments, car payments, truck payments, private school, horse-riding lessons; it never ended. There always seemed to be more month than money.

Morgan had married Jake because she had thought he was going places, big places—away from West Point, Mississippi, a small town with a total population less than ten thousand in a rural county. Jake and Katy liked West Point, but Morgan longed for a big city with all the trappings.

Now she hung on because of Katy. And she rarely missed an opportunity to needle Jake about his failures, like taking a bath on Krispy Kreme stock. Jake had insisted that all his clients buy the Krispy Kreme initial public offering. He had grown up eating the hot, glazed doughnuts and knew the world would love them, too. Jake had made his clients and his firm a lot of money on paper. A few of Jake’s clients smartly took their profits while too many others followed Jake’s lead and stared helplessly as the Atkins low-carb craze blistered the doughnut business. Jake continued to hold and hope that the downward spiral would stop. It didn’t. He just loved those doughnuts and refused to sell. Jake and Morgan’s portfolio took an enormous hit. He desperately needed something that would get red-hot fast. His firm was listed as book-running managers on two tech companies for June, and he couldn’t wait. He was also eyeing a way to capitalize on the Dutch IPO of a company that converted used motor oil into low-grade diesel fuel.
One big score and she’ll get off my ass
, he thought.

Jake saw Morgan was still waiting for an answer about the flower bed. “Soon. I promise. I’ll get to the flower bed.” He planned on doing it. It just wasn’t a priority…to him.

“Load up, Katy. Let’s go.”

“Bye, Mom. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

“Bye!”

“Bye!”

“Bye!”

“Jeez, girls, we’ll be back tomorrow.”

“Bye, Mom.”

“Bye, sweetheart.”

“Come on, Katy. Let’s go. I feel like we’re going off to college.”

“Well, Jake…what if something happened? This…this might be our last good-bye.”

Jake really didn’t know what to say to that…what could he say? He just cranked up and waved good-bye.

“We’ll be home tomorrow. Love ya,” he said routinely.

“You, too.”

“Bye, Mom.”

“Bye.”

Rolling down the driveway, Katy waved until she couldn’t see her mother anymore. Turning forward, she said, “Mom doesn’t know what she’s missin’.”

“Well, I’ve invited her plenty of times. Grandpa didn’t hunt, so she didn’t grow up around it and doesn’t understand that it’s way more than killing. Fasten your seat belt, girlfriend.”

Their first stop was the Piggly Wiggly. Jake needed Honey Buns for their breakfast, Cokes for him, and Dr Peppers for Katy. Marshmallows, Cheetos, and a bag of ice rounded out the shopping list. Katy pushed an empty buggy around the store as Jake loaded up on junk food to eat—nothing healthy like Brussels sprouts and asparagus for these hunters.

The hour-and-a-half drive to Sumter County, Alabama, passed quickly. Sumter was a typical rural Alabama county, where legitimate commerce revolved around forestry, agriculture, and hunting. The biggest city, Livingston, with its three red lights, was home to a small, quaint college. Jake called to check on his mother and then dialed in the new classic country station. It reminded him of high school. Willie Nelson, Don Williams, Alabama, each classic song brought back a flood of good memories. When Conway Twitty came on singing “That’s My Job,” commonly called “The Daddy Song,” he made Katy stop reading her book to listen to the words. Jake loved that old song.

During the last few miles of the drive, as Katy read by Book-light, he thought about how lucky he was to be in this hunting club. Supposedly, the land had not been turkey-hunted in ten years. Supposedly. The eight members only deer-hunted. Jake’s friend Mick Johnson had talked the club president into letting them have the turkey hunting rights. Jake thought his share of the rights was a bargain at two grand a year.
Morgan would have a stroke if she knew
. But she didn’t and wouldn’t. He always had a few secret side projects that financed his hunting habit.

To say that the camp’s clubhouse was a work in progress was generous. It had started out as an old farmhouse but had so many rooms added on that he really couldn’t tell what was what. Neon beer signs hung on every wall. An old pool table sat in the center of the main room. The half dozen deer heads were cluttered with hats. Jake hated that; he thought the deer deserved more respect. But they weren’t his, so he kept his opinions to himself. It was a classic Southern camp, complete with a fully stocked bar, satellite dish, and every Playmate and
Sports Illustrated
swimsuit calendar since 1987.

Jake had hauled his old Airstream camper out there so he wouldn’t have to sleep on someone else’s bed in a roomful of snoring. The old silver camper was clean and warm—a sanctuary—a pragmatic getaway from a wobbly career, a shaky marriage, and the sounds and smells of other hunters. Some of his best nights’ sleep came huddled next to the electric space heater. The Love Sub, as he liked to call it, was parked right next to the camp house and used its electricity. The camper blended perfectly into the landscape of old tractors, pickup trucks, and utility trailers. Jake admired the camp’s John Deere 2040 tractor the way his professional colleagues lusted after a new Porsche.

Tate Newsom worked with Jake and was a member of the turkey club. Tate was going to leave work early in an effort to roost a bird for Saturday morning’s hunt. Jake hoped Tate had a fire going. Just the three of them would be hunting tomorrow. Tate didn’t hunt that often, but he was great around Katy; he had a gift for entertaining kids.

Through his many trips to the camp, Jake had learned the western Alabama cellular system and knew that his last chance to make a call was the ridge just past the big Waste Management landfill. With only two bars of service, he called home to report that they had made it, so Morgan wouldn’t worry about Katy.

“Hello.”

“We made it,” Jake said into the static.

“Hello?”


We made it
…we are almost there,” he yelled into the phone, holding it in front of his face, staring at the screen.

“OK…Y’all have fun,” he heard Morgan reply.

“We will.”

“What?”


I said, we will!
” Jake wanted to throw his phone out the window.

“OK,” Morgan replied, clueless as to how annoyed Jake was getting. The call went dead.

Jake hated cell phones. They were nice when they worked, but they couldn’t be counted on when in rural Mississippi or Alabama. He cringed every time his rang. It was usually somebody wanting something, or telling him about something that wasn’t going as planned, or it was Morgan doing both. Slinging the phone down, Jake let out a deep sigh and drove on.

It was almost eight thirty p.m. when he finally turned onto the last gravel road. Jake’s headlights shone brightly off the white reflective tape on the heavy metal gate. Slowing to a stop, Jake was surprised to find that the gate was locked.

Where in the world’s Tate?
he thought as he got out and fumbled with the protected lock.

Tate Newsom was newly wed to a girl twenty years younger and he frequently didn’t show up when expected.
Forty-five and twenty-five.
That thought always made Jake smile. Jake figured that Tate must have taken his bride to the country club for supper and would be here by ten at the latest. He pulled through and closed the gate, leaving it unlocked for Tate.

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