Book Excerpt: Country Justice

The following is a brief excerpt from another novel I have in the works.  Country Justice, a post-apocalyptic story that takes place the spring after a nuclear terrorist attack lead to a limited nuclear war the prior autumn.  Most of the U.S. has been without power for months because of an electromagnetic pulse.  We join the story the day after Jam and his wife Lisa have killed the men that shot her father.

Country Justice is the second book in a series.  The first book, as yet untitled, includes all the details about the war started and how people react to it. This one takes place months later with all new characters.

Country Justice by Mitchell Cane
Country Justice by Mitchell Cane

We were just sitting down to breakfast when the driveway alarm beeped.  A moment later we heard the crunch of gravel under the tires.  We were both wearing our pistols but I moved towards the door where my M4 and my FN shotgun were within easy reach.  I relaxed when the sheriff’s car appeared on our driveway.  I took it as a good sign that he came alone.

Before long the sheriff was seated at our kitchen table, joining us for a cup of coffee.  “It’s been a few days since I’ve had a cup of coffee,” he said, as he savored his mug.  “We’re out at the station.  And they stopped serving it at Shirley’s on account of no resupply.  I expect they’ll run out of sweet tea before too long.”

I nodded.  “We’re running low ourselves.   I know it’s not good for me, but I sure will miss my morning coffee.”  We had several bags of coffee in the pantry, but I that wasn’t news I wanted to share with anyone.  Dan had used his Costco membership to get stocked up, which had been a good thing because after the power went out, the trucks stopped rolling, and the store shelves emptied in a hurry. 

“So Sheriff,” chimed in Lisa, “Have you made any arrests regarding my father’s murder?”

“No ma’am, I have not,” he paused to take a sip of coffee.  “But that’s not to say there haven’t been some interesting developments.”

“That sounds promising,” I said, trying to elicit some more details.

“Well, even though we did not make an arrest, I think it is safe to say that justice has been served.”

“How so?” asked Lisa, as she pulled the remaining breakfast biscuits from the oven where she had been re-heating them.  The wood-burner stayed hot for hours.  She brought a plate of biscuits over to the table with a plastic bear half-full of honey.  “I’m sorry I don’t have any butter,” she told him.  “The goat’s milk just doesn’t churn up very well.”

“Oh, that’s quite all right, young lady,” he told her as he squeezed honey onto each half of his split biscuit.  “Your dad’s honey is known across the county. He used to give gifts of it every year.  I’ve run out myself, so I appreciate this treat.”  He matched his words to actions, sucking a dollop off his fingers before it could drip onto his uniform.  “I hope you two are tending his hives.  It would be a great barter item.”

Lisa assured him we were.

“So,” he paused after consuming the first half of the biscuit, “Where was I?  Oh yes, justice being served.  Well,” he rubbed his hands together, almost like he was savoring the opportunity to deliver good news, “It appears that three highway men set out to rob someone else, but their target turned the tables and got the better of them.  Two of them died right there on the state road, not 20 feet from where your dad was done in.  The other fellow made it home, but he’s injured pretty good. I’d say the odds are about 100 percent that these are the same fellows that shot your dad, and I think it is safe to say they won’t be robbing anybody again.”

“That’s great news, Sheriff!” I exclaimed. 

“Are you going to arrest the other fellow?” asked Lisa, “The injured one?”

“I don’t think that will be necessary,” the Sheriff told her.  “He took a pistol bullet in the shoulder, and last I heard, it was still in there.  Oh, and his face is full of splinters.  Looks like he was hiding behind a tree when someone shot through it.  If an infected shoulder doesn’t kill him, he’ll probably lose his eye.” He nodded in a self-satisfied way as he picked up the remaining piece of biscuit.  “That’s what we used to call ‘Country Justice.’”

“Do you have any idea who shot them up?” I asked.

“No sir, I do not, and I don’t rightly care to find out,” he declared.  “As far as I am concerned, they acted in self-defense, even though that surviving boy says a brown pickup truck with four or five guys in it drove up and opened fire on them for no apparent reason.  I don’t think anybody but his momma believes that.  I can tell you that the road looked like a war zone.  Must have been at least 60 or 70 brass cases along the highway, all .308 and 9mm.”

“Sounds like they were loaded for bear.”

“Indeed it does.” He nodded and pulled back from the table, grabbing his hat. “Well, I best be moving on.  We only have three deputies on duty today, so I am helping out by running a few patrols. No one’s seen a state trooper in weeks.  I guess they are all out there escorting trucks on the Interstate.”

“Thanks for coming out and sharing the good news, Sheriff.  I’ll walk you to your car.”

“Yes, thank you so much, Sheriff,” echoed Lisa as she pushed a paper bag into his hands.  “And please take these eggs back to your wife; I’m sure she can make good use of them.” 

He peaked into the paper bag and seemed surprised to see a dozen eggs in there.  “Goodness gracious,” he exclaimed.  “I can’t take all these.  Why, that’s more than Doc Harrison charges for an office visit these days.”

“We’ve got 14 layers, and now that it has finally warmed up, they are going full tilt,” Lisa told him.  “You’d be doing me a favor if you took these off my hands.”

“A man can only eat so many omelets, and never liked egg salad sandwiches,” I solemnly told him.

He just grinned, nodding in thanks, as he rolled up the bag, tucked it under his arm and headed out the door. I noticed the sheriff eyeballing the guns there.  “Looks like you’re ready for trouble.”

I nodded.  “You can’t be too careful, especially these days.”

“I can’t argue with that,” he chuckled.  “Say, was that an AR-10?” he asked, wanting know if I shot a .308.

“No sir, an M4, just like I carried in the Marines.”  The M4 shot the smaller 5.56 round.

“I was an Army man myself. Back in the ‘80s I was an MP. That lead to becoming a cop in Raleigh.”  He made a face.  “It was exciting when I was younger, but after I started a family, I couldn’t wait to get back to the country.”

“Dan always spoke highly of you, sir, and I know the good folks hereabouts appreciate your service.”

“Well, they do keep electing me,” he said with a good-natured grin.  “I’ll miss Dan.  He was a good fellow.” He tipped his head back and looked up at me.  “Now you take good care of his daughter, because I might not be the only person around here who remembers that you have a brown pickup truck.”

I looked him in the eye, shook his hand, and promised to be careful.  Right then, I was glad the truck was around back.  I had locked away the guns I took off the dead bodies, but the caltrops we picked up off the road were still in the truck bed.  If I kept on killing people, I’d have to be more careful about hiding the evidence.  The next cop might not be so understanding.

Lisa came out and we stood arm in arm as he drove back down the driveway.  “I’m pretty sure he think we killed them,” she told me.

I laughed.  “Oh, he damn well suspects we were involved, at the very least, but I think he’s right glad we did it.  One less thing he needs to worry about.”

She shook her head.  “Country justice.”

“Yep, country justice.”