Favoring his right side, Tinker pours hot chocolate in their deer mugs from the pottery shop in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Edna is putting the brown bread with melted cheese, turkey, and leftover dressing on the table. The fireplace in the kitchen is blazing reflections on the multi-pane breakfast nook windows as large snowflakes fall and swirl outside.
"All I'm saying is you should tell your sister before she finds out on her own." Edna sips water with a loud slurp.
"I called my sister. No answer." Tinker says before chomping on a large fork full of brown bread.
"Has it hit yet?" Edna smiles, "I bet you twenty it doesn't. I have faith in your pruning skills."
"You're on. Got close twice. Those gusts of wind are getting stronger, and more frequent. I'm glad I pruned that branch today. You can take me for coffee with your twenty."
"I thought I heard yelling from the pantry window direction earlier."
"From the pavilion way? I thought I saw a flashing light up there. Passed it off as fireplace reflections in the window."
Edna goes into the pantry and opens the window. Tinker joins her.
"Listen. That. Hear it?" Edna whispers.
"I'll get the Truck. You get the guns."
Edna checks the kitchen to make sure everything is shut off, blows out the candle on the table, and puts the dogs in the back room before going to the gun safe. Slowly they drive down the path to the pavilion. Before reaching the clearing, they check around with their night vision glasses.
"The roof. That looks like Twila!" Edna whispers.
Tinker drives the truck up close to the pavilion. Twila carefully slides onto the hood, and dashes into the cab.
"Where are your dogs?" Edna asks as Tinker looks around.
"Home." Twila sobs.
They decide to bring her to the house. Edna calls John along the way so he can pick Twila up on his way back from town.
At the table, dry and warm from the fire, Twila stuffs down some turkey before she tells them what happened.
"You know the dogs go there and sleep, more and more lately. So I left them home to see what's out there. I dozed off leaning up against the pole by the steps. Woke to voices coming over the hill. I didn't have time to make it over the stonewall. So I went on the roof."
"Like they can't see you roof? Glad those genes missed me." Tinker sighs.
"Oh, and your turkey hunting was genius?" Twila shoots back, "Ya. Well, I hear a yell, running, truck doors slam, and tires screeching down the road after a three point turn. Just in case, I stayed on the roof. I fell asleep again." Twila holds back tears. Edna hands her a new napkin.
"Did they hurt you?" Tinker asks directly.
"They never made it to the pavilion. I could see them in the truck. Nobody was in the woods. No sound. Nothing. Then the birds began to make noise again. That's when I fell asleep."
"Why didn't you climb down?" Edna gently inquires.
"My coat was stuck on a shingle, wood right through the shell into my sweater. It hurt every time I moved. You know what they say, sometimes it can be worse if you pull it out. I didn't want to bleed to death. I pointed my flashlight at the house hoping you could see it."
"How did you get down when we got there?" Tinker asks in a quiet tone.
"As soon as I saw your truck, it didn't hurt anymore. It let go of me." Twila begins crying, "My chest is sore where it stuck me. I looked. Its not even red. I was out there over an hour. I wasn't even cold. I felt like I was in my own home. I don't know what happened. Maybe aliens kidnapped me. What day is it?"
"Please, don't start that again, Sis." Tinker smiles, "I promise you there was nothing there but a dark shadow person who probably is watching over you."
"Shadow person!" Twila squeaks.
Edna explains the situation that she and Tinker experience. Twila listens without asking questions.
"I know who that is. Its the guy I dated my senior year. We went to the prom. He joined the Army. I haven't heard from or about him in years. Last I did, he was married with four children and living in Oregon. I bet if we check, we'll find his obituary."
Tinker goes online. Sure enough, there's an obituary dated last year.
"What clued you its him?" Tinker asks.
"We use to fence in the gym for extra credit. We joked about how it hurt without even a red mark. He held me on that roof until you two arrived. He wants us to know its him."
"Okay." Edna begins, "Our dogs won't go there without us. Your dogs sleep there. You sleep there. What's the connection?"
"I use to call him Big Sleeper because he always fell asleep in the movies."
"Did he happen to impart what he wants?" Tinker asks.
Thank you to everyone that read my little story. You are appreciated.