Ghost Creek, Chapter 3

Kevin G.

Part 3 -- Deceptions


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{Penny Thompson returned to her family farm after her father died suddenly. Penny is haunted by memories of her mother who died of cancer when Penny was a teenager, and the tragic death of her brother, Eric, in a car accident. Penny expected to sell the farm to the town of Westfield, which made a deal with Penny’s father to keep the land undeveloped in exchange for a monthly payment. This allowed “Farmer Gary” to keep the farm active without needing to turn a profit on the agriculture. The mayor, Chester Almon, showed up on Penny’s first day back in town to let her know she could stay and work the farm under the open space deal, or she could collect the $450,000 purchase price on the sale of the farm. All her plans for a quick escape from the memories of Westfield were dashed when a lightning-strike fire on the property led to the discovery of a body, buried in the embankment of the creek out by the cow pasture. While the police investigated the identity of the corpse, believed to be a boy between the ages of eighteen and twenty, Sheriff’s Deputy Chuck Foreman, Penny’s high school sweetheart, helped Penny by driving her to appointments and helping her work on cleaning up the old farm tractor in the barn, which hadn’t run in years, but which Penny wanted to repair and drive around the farm one last time.

After her father’s funeral, a real estate agent named Madden showed up at the farm and presented documents to Penny purporting to be a deal her father made to sell the farm to a group of developers after his death – for one million dollars. The deal was supposed to be in Gary Thompson’s will, according to Madden. But when Penny and Chuck visited the family’s lawyer for the reading of Gary’s will, there is no mention of a deal with real estate developers. More importantly, the lawyer explained to Penny that, while the deal with Westfield prohibited her father from selling the land while he was alive, now that Penny owned the farm as Gary’s heir, she had no such restriction and could stay or sell to whomever she chose.}



ACH DAY THAT SUMMER seemed steamier than the last. The only thing hotter was Penny’s temper.

          “You don’t really want to do this,” Chuck said for the fourth time. “It’s not necessary and won’t accomplish anything. Besides, you said you didn’t want to work the farm, so if you’re going to sell, then just sell. Why make trouble?”

          They were in the barn, where they had spent most of their time for the past few days. Chuck was a fair mechanic, and with his help, they had overhauled the engine, re-inflated the big tires, and cleaned the old tractor to something resembling its former glory. At least it was glorious to Penny. To Chuck, it still looked like an old tractor that had been washed. At least the hose water had been cool. They didn’t mind being wet for a few minutes. But driving the old girl around the farm was still out of reach.

          Penny sat on a hay bale and removed the scrunchie from her golden hair, which spread over her shoulders. She noticed Chuck admiring her faded gray t-shirt with Mickey Mouse smiling from her chest. When she pulled her runaway pony tail back into place, with both hands behind her head, she felt the soft cotton pull across her unencumbered breasts. She remembered wearing the same shirt, in that same barn, when she and Chuck were seventeen. The memory made the shirt feel even tighter.

          “I’m pissed off at my father for not telling me, and I’m more pissed off at the lying bastard Mayor.”

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