THE YOUNG WITNESSES
Tom and Patty were in the old barn making out again. Tom's kisses were getting harder and longer. His hands began to fondle Patty's breast when all of a sudden she pushed him away. Tom, the inexperienced teenager that he was, became flustered and complained to Patty that was not treating him like someone she loved. Patty, who was a year younger than her boyfriend Tom, gave a little giggle and was just about to speak when all of a sudden they both were startled by a woman's loud screams. Instinctively they rushed to the far side of the barn were the screams were coming from. The old barn's wooden frame walls allowed them to peep through its tiny holes where they were able to see very clearly what was happening outside.
It was Old Man Franklin's wife Rosa Lee. Old man Franklin was probably drunk, (as what had become the usual) and was beating up his wife Rosa Lee again. The teenagers witnessed Old Man Franklin strike his wife across the face several times before the poor woman managed to get free of him and began running in the direction of the barn while still screaming frantically as if her life depended on it.
The teenagers looked at each other wide eyed and frightened. The barn belonged to Old Man Franklin but it wasn't being used in the traditional way. He used it mostly for storing old junk furniture and things he didn't bother to throw away. The barn was adjacent to Tom family’s property, but the properties were separated by almost one quarter mile. The teenagers knew Old Man Franklin didn't go in the barn that much and felt safe to go there to be alone.
As Rosa Lee neared the barn screaming, old man Franklin was right behind her and gaining on her heels. The frightened teenagers ducked behind a battered old upright piano that was kept there among the other junk. Rosa Lee was barely able to open the door and make it inside before he caught up with her and grabbed her by the arm from behind. He slung her around and began beating her violently with his fist in a fit of rage while swearing and hurling terrible accusations at her. Rosa Lee was hysterical and begged repeatedly for him to stop.
All of a sudden Rosa Lee stopped pleading with him, and her body went limp. He kept his grip on her while peering at her for a few moments before he released his hold on her and let her body drop to the floor. He looked closely at her body to determine if she was still alive, but wasn’t able to be sure. He seemed to be pondering what to do next. He looked around the room for a moment, then focused on a nearby cinder block that was out of place. Clearly still enraged, he went and grabbed the cinder block and came back to where Rosa Lee was laying silently and still. He then lifted the block over her head and hit her with it as hard as he could. That did it. Rosa Lee appeared to be dead for sure.
Old Man Franklin looked down at Rosa Lee's motionless body for awhile. He seemed to be at a lost as to what to do next. Maybe even having regrets about what he had just done. The teenagers were still hiding behind the piano silently, but still wide eyed and terrified. They were able to peer out from behind their hiding place and see everything. They watched old man Franklin go to another area of the barn, fumbled through his junk and grabbed what seemed to be a large drop cloth with multiple colors of paint all over it. He took the drop cloth back to where Rosa Lee was laying, spread it out on the floor next to her and dragged her body on top of it.
As he was rolling Rosa Lee's body in the drop cloth, a small mouse ran down the back side of the piano where the teenagers were hiding. Seeing the mouse, they both shuffled their body position and Patty gave out a yell just loud enough to be heard. Hearing the noise, Old Man Franklin stopped abruptly, looked up in the direction of where the piano was, then slowly began to approach it. Although frightened almost to death, Both Tom and Patty stood up, revealing themselves to Old Man Franklin who recognized them immediately. He seemed confused as to what they were doing there and hesitated a few seconds while their eyes locked. Then with clear anger in his eyes, he launched forward towards them clumsily as if trying to strike. But the teenagers were a lot faster than he, who was a much older man with an over-exerted body and still feeling the effects of drinking too much alcohol. This gave the teenagers the ability to run right past him and out of the barn's door. They kept running in the direction away from the property and onto a deserted road. If Old Man Franklin was thinking clearly, he would have simply gone to his car and used it to run them down. However, almost in a state of panic, he ran behind them in an effort to continue with his assault, but to no avail. He was plainly too exhausted to keep up with them.
By the time the teenagers were near the road, Old Man Franklin stopped running. He stood there bent over from the waist down, and was gasping deep breaths as he watched the teenagers run out of sight. Shortly afterwards he seemed to compose himself and began to walk slowly back to his house. When he got to the barn, he paused a moment or two while he looked in the doorway. He was able to see the drop cloth with Rosa Lee's body just where he left it. He then continued with his slow miserable walk until he reached the house. Once inside, he went to the bed room and took a loaded gun from his closet shelf. With the gun in hand, he walked slowly to the kitchen and took a bottle of whiskey from the counter. He poured himself a librtal serving and drank it down immediately. He poured another and drank it as he walked back to the bed room. Once in the bedroom he placed the glass the whiskey was in on the night table, then sat on the bed starring quietly for a couple of minutes with the gun still in his hand. He looked at the gun and checked it to make sure it was loaded, then he put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
Written by Carolyn Sands
Feb 12, 2010