This is a continuation. To start at the beginning of the series click here.

By Nancy Carlton

Chapter Eight

“I leave the village for twenty-four hours and all heck breaks loose!” This was Maureen, standing on the top step at Lena’s back door, with a freshly picked bouquet of roses, hydrangeas, and assorted greenery tastefully arranged in a pretty pink vase she had rescued from the Village Thrift Shop. “Here. Add some more water to these,” she said, as she stepped across the threshold.

“Hello, Maureen. Welcome to Warm Springs Village, the place voted most likely to burst into spontaneous chaos the minute Maureen leaves town,” teased Lena. She could see that Maureen was seriously miffed at having missed the action.

Both ladies knew, though, that besides the frustration at Maureen not having been in on the movie-worthy confrontation scene in Lena’s yard, complete with two real, actual guns, there was the genuine concern that Maureen felt for her friend. “You could have been killed!” she managed to say, with a crack in her voice, as a single tear sneaked out of her right eye. She reached out with both arms and gave Lena a warm hug.

Hearing Mo say that, Lena was struck once again with the gravity of what had transpired, and how close she might have been to death. A quick shudder shook her shoulders. Then, she said, trying to sound casual, “Oh, nonsense! Let’s have a glass of iced tea.”

Sitting and sipping at her cozy kitchen table with her dear friend gave Lena a sense of peace and security. After a quick rehash of the “Shootout at Lena’s OK Corral,” they drifted on to a discussion of Maureen’s trip. Pretty soon, the world began to look right-side-up to the two ladies as they reclaimed the sense of normalcy that everyone needs.

Where Norman lay, finally stirring to wakefulness after a hard night’s sleep, normalcy had not been seen nor heard of, in a very long time. The second that his eyes opened, reality began pounding on the gate of his exhausted mind. His inner warrior leaned hard against the gate from the inside. Fear and Anger were embroiled in a battle just outside the barrier, and if those two had not been warring against each other, they might have teamed up to take Norman down.

Norman blinked several times, trying to clear his vision. Once he succeeded, the first things he saw were the empty prescription vials on his floor, and the tiny, black presents left for him by the mouse who had gnawed on his sleeping bag while he slept. “What a life,” he muttered.

He rubbed his eyes and struggled to his feet. His bladder was telling him to use “Nature’s bathroom” on the nearest tree, but he knew that he first had to scout out the area to make sure no one was lurking in his territory. He did a quick scan of the surrounding woods, and decided all was clear. No matter how scared, hungry, or tired he was, “Mr. Bladder” had to be taken care of first.

Next, he needed a drink of water, so he slipped back into his hideout to scavenge for a partial bottle of the precious liquid. Finding a bottle of “Ozarka” that still contained about four ounces, he uncapped it and swigged it down. “Ahhhhh,” he said, speaking only to himself.

His stomach felt hollow, and he knew he needed to eat, but food seemed nappealing while there was so much unresolved stress to deal with, and so much business unfinished. His gaze fell on the prescription bottles. As if an older, wiser version of himself was speaking into his ear, he seemed to hear the words, “Get your meds refilled. Today. Do it.”

Before he could take the next step in dealing with Old Lady Lena, or even begin to formulate a plan to retrieve his Dad’s rifle, he needed those meds.

For most people, getting a prescription refilled is a quick, simple task. Not so for Norman. A marauder “on the lam” can’t just walk into a pharmacy and ask for a refill, especially since the meds had already been refilled the maximum allowable number of times. Nope. This would be an “Op.”

He would certainly need to bathe in the nearest creek before he could venture into a pharmacy or doctor’s office, and he’d need to change into presentable clothing. He had managed to keep about four outfits of clothing stashed at various locations in the woods. There was the all white outfit he had stolen from the painters’ maintenance shack, two pairs of jeans with t-shirts, and then he had the faded sweat suit that was too warm for the southern climate, but he had cut the sleeves short, and he wore it, occasionally. One decent pair of running shoes and three pairs of frayed white socks rounded out his wardrobe. He took a jeans and t-shirt outfit down from where it hung in his current abode, slung over the low-hanging stub of a broken rafter, and headed towards DeSoto creek. He walked quietly and scoured the woods visually as he went. Twenty minutes later, he was cleaner and having appropriated an old “Indian trick” to dry off using sticks and leaves, he stood in a small thicket and donned his cleaner, more presentable clothes. He used his fingers to smooth his wet hair, and then to rub up and down on his front teeth for make-do dental hygiene.

All the while, he was planning and plotting. How could he get a new prescription for his much-needed medicines? By now, the police might have tipped off the public just who they were looking for, if they had been able to identify him by the fingerprints that he surely left on the rifle and other items. It might even have been in the Warm Springs Village Gazette. His doctor’s office would know, the pharmacist would know – nearly every blue-haired villager might have heard his name by now!

If only he hadn’t gotten into trouble with the law years ago and had his fingerprints taken, they’d have nothing to compare his prints against. Norman had set a snare for himself long ago, and was once again getting himself caught in it.

Again, he heard the voice speaking into his ear, “Norman, listen, Dude. You can’t go to the doctor. You can’t stroll into the pharmacy. You’ll be caught. No, sir, you are going to have to go big or go down. You can get through today without the pills, but tonight you are going to have to break into that drugstore and take what you need. It is the only way.”

Norman felt stronger, now. The soothing voice in his ear had given him guidance and confidence. “Yes!” he said, aloud, pumping his fist. Tonight I will branch out! I will become the village’s new “Night Pharmacist” who fills prescriptions only for myself!

As a strange calmness settled over him, Norman decided that he could eat now. He would fuel up, rest up, and spend the day laying out the detailed plans for this evening’s foray into the world of pharmaceuticals, on a large scale. No more small vials, containing a mere thirty-day supply of chemical candy. Tonight he would take the big bottles off the shelves, giving him all he needed, and some to use for other purposes. He might become a free-lance druggist, supplying various shady denizens of the village with happiness for a price. Heck, he might even learn which pretty little colored pills would get rid of nosy, meddling old women, when administered in their iced tea.

Again came the voice, “Norman, Old Boy, you are a genius! A winner! You are invincible!”

Back in Lena’s kitchen, Maureen had done a complete debriefing on her overnight excursion that had caused her to miss out on so much ruckus in the village. “I will not be leaving our little village again until things settle down again to where it feels like a ‘happy haven’ instead of ‘Dodge City.’”

Lena smiled and patted Mo on the hand. Just then, Audrey tapped on the door. She was carrying a nine-by-twelve-inch glass dish of lasagna, and Bette Kogut was right behind her with a plate of brownies. Both ladies were admitted, to the cacophony of friendly chatter and excited compliments over the sight and smells of the delicious treats they had brought. Lena grabbed plates and silverware, hurriedly setting a table for the four females to do what females love to do when in groups of two or more – eat, talk, and laugh. Lena had never felt more alive.

Neither had Norman.

But, how long could they both stay alive?


Chapter 1 – Click here

Chapter 2 – Click here

Chapter 3 – Click here

Chapter 4 – Click here

Chapter 5 – Click here

Chapter 6 – Click here

Chapter 7 – Click here