|Subject: Agony of Life : part five
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Date Posted: 09:12:15 06/25/08 Wed
In reply to:
's message, "Agony of Life : part one a new story" on 19:26:43 06/19/08 Thu
part five Oblivion
12 Nov 2007
With everything taken care of Harm left the family farm. It didn’t matter where he went as long as it wasn’t where he had been before. He traveled the back roads each day and ending up in a bar at night.
He would drink until he couldn’t see straight. Most nights the bartender would either find him a room to sleep it off or take him out to his truck where he would spend the rest of the night, picking his keys up at the bar the next day.
It was a different town every night. Some nights people left him alone in peace allowing him to drown his sorrows. Other nights young women looking for a man to spend the night with would tempt his resolve.
But Harm was a man who was grieving. He wasn’t interested in being with other women, let alone sleeping with them. He wanted to be left alone. They would pester him and he would resist.
Occasionally this would draw the attention of other men who would take advantage of the situation. They would pretend to be watching out for the honor of the scorn women, but in reality they were looking to bed them themselves.
They thought the women would appreciate the fact that they were defending their honor and go home with them afterward. Most of the men were big men or they thought they were.
But Harm wasn’t exactly small standing six feet four inches. Most of the men approached Harm and challenged him while he was usually sitting down on a barstool. But when Harm stood up, they usually took a step back acknowledging his superior height advantage.
But in most cases they weren’t too concerned because they thought Harm was two sheets to the wind. They thought Harm would have difficulties standing on his two feet never mind fighting them. They would get in Harm’s face challenging him to apologize to the little women.
They figured Harm would back down and apologize to the young women, but Harm with his military training wouldn’t back down to any of them. He recognized even in his drunken state that most of vocalizations was just that, posturing. Puny attempts to impress the young women.
It usually took a couple of punches and a kick or two before he had the cantankerous adversary lying on the floor half unconscious and not willing to get up. The lucky ones had the young women tending to their wounds.
Harm kept this process up for the next two years. Occasionally he would stop drinking for a short while to work. It was during this time his appetite would return. He would eat better for awhile as he regained some of the loss weight and strength that he had loss.
But it wouldn’t last for long. Before too long his mind would drift back to thinking about Mac and to how she died. He would begin drinking again. And the whole process would begin all over again.
12 May 2011
Bar Circle Cattle Ranch
outside Billings Montana
A few years later Harm found himself at a cattle ranch. He had been sober for almost three months and was ready for some hard physical work to get himself back in shape. The owner had asked him if he had ever worked on a ranch before.
He had given Harm the once over and thought he was rather thin to be a ranch hand. Harm had told him no, but he was good with his hands and had ridden horses when he was young. He wasn’t looking to get rich, he was only looking to work hard.
The owner, Drew Bledsoe, decided to give Harm an opportunity. He was after all short a few ranch hands. He showed Harm the bunkhouse and introduced him to the foreman, Bob Johnson.
Over the next six months Harm settled in. It was hard work. He was tired at the end of the day, but it felt good to be alive again. The food wasn’t the greatest, but it did helped him regained the twenty five pounds he had lost during his drinking phase.
Then one late date in Autumn Harm went into a large barn that looked like it might have at one time been a hanger. He had seen the barn before, but had never been inside. What he found there surprised him.
It was a small plane capable of carrying four people. We wondered why he hadn’t seen anyone flying it. It would be perfect to use during round up to help locate any strays. He imagined it could also be used to travel to Boise or Helena on business or to pick up supplies not readily available in town.
“What’s the story with the plane Drew?” asked Harm.
“It doesn’t fly anymore. The engine won’t turn over. It would cost too much to replace the engine.” replied Drew.
“You mind if I take a look at it?” asked Harm. Working on the plane would help him finally recover from his tormented life of the last few years. He would be able to go home and start over.
“You know something about planes?” asked Drew.
“I own a stearman. I also flew tomcats for the Navy in another life.” smiled Harm. It was the first time he thought about the past without throwing up.
“Go right ahead. There are tools in the hanger. I believe that there are spare parts and such there too.” replied Drew. Harm had been a remarkable hire. He never complained about anything. He always did as he was told. Navy man huh.
Harm examined the plane. It looked reasonably good in his estimation. He then lifted the engine out of the plane and put it on a workbench. He had two younger men who were interested in helping him.
Harm drained the oil, at least that was what it was supposed to be. It looked more like sludge. Harm ran six quarts of oil through the engine, filtering the contaminated oil several times afterward. He repeated the process seven or eight times before he was getting back as much as he was putting in.
He then ran some clean oil through the engine until he was satisfied the engine was clean. He replaced the sparked plugs, cleaned the carburetor. He hooked up a battery to the engine so that he could crank the engine over.
The two young men were impressed with the due diligence Harm put into repairing the engine. They were also surprised that Harm would take the time to explain things to them. It was almost as simple as taking care of a car engine.
When everything was done, Harm put the engine back into the plane. He went through a checklist before getting inside to start the engine. He gave the men a thumb’s up when the engine came to life purring like a kitten.
They opened the hanger doors before Harm engaged the engines for the plane to move forward. He taxied the plan out into the yard. Drew and a bunch of the ranch hands came running out of the bunkhouse when they heard the roar of the engine.
“You got her running.” exclaimed Drew.
“Nothing a little TLC couldn’t handle. It helps if you change the oil once in a while.” replied Harm.
“Is she ready to fly?” asked Drew.
“I’d like to taxi her up and down the runway a few times to see if she holds together. Then we can see if she’ll fly again.” smiled Harm.
After fifteen minutes Drew joined Harm in the cockpit.
“You want to take the helm?” asked Harm. It was Drew’s plane after all.
“No, you’re the one who got her running again. You should have the honors to see if she flies.” smiled Drew.
“Okay, here we go. May there always be angles on our wings.” prayed Harm hoping that there wouldn’t be any problems.
It wasn’t long before they were off the ground and in the air flying. Harm could feel himself coming alive. It had been a long time since he had flown anything. He was feeling better than he had in a long time.
Drew could see the contentment on Harm’s face. He knew that Harm was where he belonged, high in the sky, flying. He had watched Harm come back to life in the months he had been here. Maybe whatever had been bothering him was a thing of the past.
“Your turn.” Harm offered Drew the stick.
“That’s alright, you seem to be enjoying yourself.” replied Drew.
“I am, but it’s your plane. You should fly it. Besides getting her running again is what is making me feel good right now. It was working on my father’s stearman after my crash years ago that made me whole again.” smiled Harm.
“You’re an amazing man Harm. Is there anything you can’t do?” asked Drew.
“Yeah, but I can’t tell you Drew. By the way I wrote up a maintenance schedule for you. I think Ivan can do the job for you. He’s been a mechanic before. He’ll do a good job.” replied Harm.
15 June 2013
Harm continued on at the ranch for a couple of more years. He liked being there. It was honest hard work. He didn’t have to spend much time thinking about things.
One day though he noticed that Drew appeared to be anxious about something. He knew something must be wrong. He had gotten to know him pretty well during his time here.
“What’s wrong Drew?”
“I got this letter from a lawyer. It says that I am not the rightful owner of this ranch. It says that the ranch belongs to a Mr. Gregory Henderson.”
“What’s the basis for his claim? Does he have some old forgotten deed?” asked Harm.
“It says he has a deed dating back to 1838.” replied Drew.
“When did you or your family acquire the ranch?” asked Harm. He was beginning to feel his investigative juices beginning to flow.
“It’s been in the family for three generations. My grandfather bought the ranch in 1889. We’ve own the ranch for one hundred and twenty four years.” replied Drew.
“Let me see what I can find out Drew. It’s unusual for someone to make a claim after so many years. My guess is they came across an old homestead deed somewhere.
The original deed holder probably gave up after a few years. The land was then deeded again to either your grandfather or the man he bought it from.” explained Harm.
“How do you know so much about land deeds?” asked Drew.
“I don’t really, but I have done some title research before. Most of the time it’s pretty clear who owned the land, when it was sold, and who actually owned it.” smiled Harm.
“Don’t tell me you were a lawyer?” asked Drew in amazement.
“It was my second career in the Navy after I couldn’t fly tomcats anymore.” smiled Harm.
“You continue to amaze me Harm. Is there no limit to your ability?” asked Drew.
“I don’t believe in limitations. I only believe in the truth.” replied Harm smiling.
Harm spent the next few weeks looking through the county land court records. He found some interesting information. It seems that a Mr. Henrick homestead the land for five years, before he was killed by Indians.
The land went back to the government at that point. Fourteen years later in 1857 a Mr. Swenson homestead the land for three years. It was reported that he went back east to fight in the Civil War where he was killed a year later.
The land once again went back to the government. It wasn’t until 1880 when another person decided to homestead the land. His name was Mr. Charles Henderson. At least he found a name that gave Gregory Henderson some claim to the land.
But according to land records he sold the land to a Henry Bledsoe in 1889 confirming what Drew had told him. Now he had to check with the county office to see who paid the taxes for the last hundred and fifty years.
“It’s all taken care of Drew. I checked with the land courts and the county court. It seems that when your family bought the land in 1889, they paid all back taxes dating to 1865. They have paid all the taxes every year since 1889.
“The ranch is yours. Mr. Henderson doesn’t have a claim. I’ve talked to his lawyer and the courts. They have dropped their claim.” smiled Harm.
“Thank you so much Harm. I don’t know how to thank you enough. It has been a very stressful time for the family.” sighed Drew in relief.
“Don’t worry about it. If anything I should be thanking you. It’s been a long time since I have felt this good about myself. Fixing the airplane brought me back to life. Working on this land case has given me back my zest for life. For the first time in a long time, I’m whole.” replied Harm.
“Does this mean that you will be leaving?” asked Drew.
“I believe so. It’s time for me to go home and get back to my life. I want to thank you for throwing me a lifeline. If you ever need my help just give me a call.” smiled Harm as he gave Drew a card with his name, address, and telephone number.
Harm returned to the family farm a few months later. He spent the next six months studying for the Pennsylvania Bar Exam. It had been eight years since he last practiced law. He wanted to open a small practice to help people in need.
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