Rebellion, Respect, and Redemption
In the early 1900’s, the Carter family moves west to Montana. As the small town builds, that’s not the only thing that is on the move. Jason Carter is faced with a temptation of going back to his old gang. When the gang commits a robbery one foggy night, Jason is killed. Soon after, his daughter Elara and his wife are faced with prejudice indictments and financial crisis. Meanwhile, Mrs. Carter tries hard to convince the village of Jason’s heart. However, they are forced to move out of their hometown and into a foreign territory until the gang arrives. Taken as a captive by the mastermind behind the conspiracy, Elara is forced to take action in the robberies. Against her will, Mrs. Carter eavesdrops to the gang’s meeting place, only to find everyone but Elara. Will the mother and daughter reunite again and convince the people of their purity?
Sirens echoed from outside the window. Elara’s eyes opened almost suddenly from a deep sleep. Sweat dripped from her forehead. Where was she? What had happened? She swiftly leapt from the bed and onto the cement floor. As most children would do, the first thought in Elara’s mind was to find her Mama and Daddy. Although her feet did make somewhat of a noise, it was drowned by the sounds of the commotion happening on Maple Lane. Automobiles, shouts, gunshots and the alike owned the 2 o’clock hour. Elara’s mama was also distracted by the noise and wrapped herself in a shawl while skeptically observing the drama. “Mama? What time is it? Why do all them people make such noise?” Her mother didn’t move an inch, but seemed to draw Elara to her side. More gunshots came from the outer world of chaos. “Where’s Daddy?” She began looking about the room. Elara became frightened. Without her father standing with his knee somewhat bent and holding his shotgun, she felt vulnerable. Where could he be during this awful night? Her mother didn’t answer. Screams came from the neighborhood. Elara watched as her mother’s eyes shot across the room as footsteps seemed to crawl the sidewalks. Shadows crept on almost every side of the wall, making her feel trapped. “Hush now.” Mrs. Carter whispered. The girl tried to catch a glimpse of what seemed to be an eternal silent blast of eruption. But just as she slowly inched upward on her tiptoes, Elara’s mother covered her eyes. “Don’t look, sweetheart. Them folks doing dirty things out there.” Another gun shot a bullet. “But why mama?” questioned Elara, shaking her head back and forth. Her mother was silent. “Where’s daddy?” she questioned again once she was free. “Daddy will be here soon” was all she said, taking Elara over to her rocking chair. “Did he go out drinkin’, after the preacher told him otherwise?” Elara ventured. Mrs. Carter sat in the family rocker. She hesitated, not knowing what to say. Then, she noticed Elara’s favorite fable book. “How ‘bout a bedtime story?” she directed, reaching for the old two-inch thick storybook. The cover held darkened illustrations of little animal pets, each doing something gladdening. Elara pushed back the book. “No mama. I’m too frightened.” She looked timidly into her mother’s eyes, trying to decide if she was cross at her. However, her mother placed the book back onto the floor and softly stroked Elara’s hair. “Don’t be, sugar. Everything is fine and well. Those men ain’t got any right scarin’ us women folk.” she soothed. “When Daddy’s not here, I get all shaky. Tell me mama, will he be here soon?” Mrs. Carter avoided eye contact and stopped her stroking. Where is that man? She wondered. A mix of anger, fear, and questions lurked in her mind. A thudding knock was heard on the next house over, sending both mother and child into a panic. “Dear Lord! Quick, Elara! Go back into your room and lock the door!” Elara did this without question. Mrs. Carter sprang over to the mantle, which atop held the family rifle. “Jesus!” was all she could say, standing in front of the door, awaiting a knock.
Elara’s determination took control, as the lock to the old hickory-wood door wouldn’t budge. Without hesitation, she began pulling on it in every direction. “Elara, darlin’! Lock your door now!” Her mother called. The front door began to rattle. A fierce knock pounded on the door. “Open up! It’s the police!” Against her will, Mrs. Carter unlocked the front door and showed only the corner of her eye to the men in black. “No time for sweet talk, ma’am. There’s been a gang of men, just a few blocks from here that’d been drinkin’. One of em got on a mule with the money they stole from the tavern and we’ve heard rumors they’ve all are hiding out here on Maple Lane. If you please ma’am, we need to have a look…” Given no choice, the men began traipsing around the country cabin. The shorter constable pointed his gun to the family portrait hanging above the mantle. “Ralf! Look at this…its Jase Carter! Ain’t he one of ‘em in the gang? Mrs. Carter covered her face with her trembling hands. The taller constable walked steadily towards her. “You ain’t is to knowin’ where your man is tonight, eh?” He cautioned. Mrs. Carter remained silent, reminding herself that she had Elara to worry about. Finally, she spoke up, seeing that they didn’t seem much in a hurry and held their guns. “I-I don’t know exactly. He-he was gone b-before I could notice. Really! I ugh, was asleep when he left. But I’m sure he didn’t go all out just to steal somethin’. I know he has a habit to drinkin’ and all…ugh…but he’s never really stolen before! Honest! He’s a churchgoer...and he reads the Good Book on Easter.” She said this while walking sideways towards Elara’s bedroom door. Elara could hear their boot sounds and bit her lip to the point of a bloody taste. When she heard the heavier boots approaching, she nestled under the low-rise railed bed. Cobwebs covered her head; reminding her of a haunted house in a book her father would read…only when her mama wasn’t around. Leave my Daddy alone! Elara said in a whisper. Both of the men noticed the door she so happened to be standing in front of. “What’s in the room, Mrs. Carter?” The tall one said suspiciously. “Please don’t go in here! It’s only my daughter’s room! Ain’t nobody in there! Why, it’s past her bedtime!” Mrs. Carter pleaded. One of the policemen motioned his head towards it, and the other followed. Rattle. Rattle. Rattle. COLAPSE! The door fell inward towards the bed. Elara held her breath. She prayed a silent prayer. The men flung open the closet door examining every nook and cranny. Mrs. Carter stood at the door, curious herself where Elara hid. “I don’t see your girl anywhere ma’am…” The taller one said saucily. The other policeman then added, “Do you think she’d a ran off with her daddy?!” He laughingly retorted. Just as the policemen ventured towards the bed, a loud bombing noise erupted from a block away. “Get down!” they all said at once, ducking from the flying pieces of furniture blowing through the window curtain. The bed had swerved to an angle, exposing Elara’s bare feet. “Mama!” She sobbed, slithering like a snake coming out of a hole. Once her whole body had come from under the bed, she ran up to Mrs. Carter and fell into her arms. Both men now knew no one else was there. They both arose and tipped their caps. “Sorry for the trouble, ma’am.” The tall policeman apologized. However, as the shorter one exited, he noted, “Let’s pray your husband is found and locked up in jail as soon as possible…” Slam. The front door added.
Mrs. Carter closed the shutters to every window in sight and knelt down onto the floor beside the bed. Sniffles came from beneath it, and little drops fell onto the floor. “Oh sugar, get up from under that cob-web! Those bad men are gone now.” She whispered, cradling Elara with affection. “Why were they lookin’ for Daddy, Mama? He done nothing wrong!” Mrs. Carter strained herself from bursting out at tears. “Don’t you ever think that your daddy did wrong. He’s not as close as some of us are to the Good Lord, but he’s a mighty fine man who deserves respect, no matter what he done.” She placed Elara back under her patchwork quilt and kissed her on the cheek. Then, Mrs. Carter began piling up the ripped materials around the house. She threw them out the window and then closed the shutters. Wearing herself out with each pile of rubbish, she stopped in her tracks to push traces of hair away from her eyes. Suddenly, the front door opened quickly and slammed back almost immediately. “Jason?!” Mrs. Carter said fearfully. She turned to see her husband holding a sack, along with a bandana that had been fastened around his mouth. “No.” She whispered. “Jason, tell me you ain’t with them men! Tell me!” He stepped towards her, dropping the sack of money, along with his disguise. “Oh Abigail. You know how much I try; yet still go back to my old ways. Forgive me.” He reached for her arms, but she withdrew them and hesitated. “You know them men been looking for you. Bet you there’s a reward out, too.” She said sternly. “I know. Just as long as you and Ellie are safe.” “Daddy!” A voice cried from a room. Elara ran from her bedroom into her father’s arms. A dozen policemen rushed into the house and noticed Jason immediately from the cry. “Put your hands up!” They ordered. “Now!” But Jason remained still- holding his daughter in is arms. “No.” He said. A shot rang out. “Elara!” Abigail cried, as Jason fell to the ground.