on the Lane
sheriff sat high in his saddle, a little uncomfortable in the white sheet covering his
body and white hood covering his head. It was Midwest humid, light
starting to dim, but no matter, the Catlickes would be along shortly. Their papist ceremony at their church had
ended a bit ago and they would be driving down this lane to their home.
sheriff glanced around at the half-dozen other men on their horses and in their robes,
good Christen men like himself, he thought. Dedicated men, who recognized
the necessity of keeping the Catlikers in their place, to remind them who held the power
in this county and would continue to hold that power.
He looked across the corn field next
to the lane where they waited and to the fields beyond that to him were the symbol of a
way of life, a way of life he would protect against these people and their pope.
at the curve of the lane, lights flashed quickly on and off. “They're
comin',” said the sheriff, “Light em up.” Matches scratched, flared and
set torches alight.
Patrick McLynn ground the gears on the
old Ford as he drove up the slight rise on the lane heading home. “Got to get that
adjusted,” he said.
sure it's the car?” Agnes smiled.
“Are you implying fault
of the driver, wife?” and glanced
at his children in the back seat, “Don't you kids think your Dad is a fine driver?”
best!” said James, while his older sister, dressed in her white first communion dress
and veil, just smiled.
It had been a fine day. Little Maureen,
standing proudly with the rest of her communion class, then walking to the altar rail,
kneeling to receive her first communion from Father O'Toole. And the good father was mercifully
short with his sermon. A nice dinner in Parish
Hall and heading home.
We are doing
thought Patrick. Moving from Pennsylvania to Indiana four years ago had been the right
move. His business growing every month,
even having to hire another employee, adding to the four he had already. And the growing
respect of the community, on the Parish Board at St. Michael's and president-elect of the
county Irish Businessman's Council. Youngest
ever, he smiled.
are you grinning at?” asked Agnes.
“Oh, just thinking how
lucky we are, how well things....” and he stopped talking and slowly brought the
Ford to a stop, staring out the windshield. Agnes turned her head to look too and drew
in a sharp breath.
Men on horseback had emerged from the
field beside the road and were blocking the lane.
The light from the torches they held causing their white sheets and hoods to glow
“Come out here McLynn,” shouted one of men.
Patrick stared, then looked
back at James and Mary who were leaning on the back of the front seat looking wide-eyed
at the Klansman. Mary clutched her white
rosary beads so tightly her fingers were white.
out here, McLynn,” shouted another voice, “and stand before us.”
they ghosts?” whispered James.
Patrick took a deep breath.
“No, James, they are not ghosts. They are just men.”
He pulled the handle on his car door and started to open it. Agnes put her hand on his shoulder. “Patrick...”
came another shout.
“It'll be all right,” he
said. Then, “but slide over behind the wheel, just in case.”
got out of the car, taking his time shutting the door behind him. Agnes slid
behind the steering wheel, her eyes both frightened and angry.
walked slowly forward to stand just beside the front of the Ford., leaning on it a bit
to keep himself upright. He looked up at the men on their horses a few yards in front of
him, knowing that they undoubtedly had guns under those sheets. He took a breath and steeled himself,
“Well?” he said.
Silence. A shuffling of horses’
feet and a feeling of confusion.
shouted a voice, “It has been decided ….”
need to shout, I can hear you just fine,” said Patrick. “As can the children,”
motioning back to the Ford, thinking of Mary and her rosary beads and now feeling anger
rising at these men and their silly costumes.
Silence. Then the
man in the front spoke... in a normal voice. “McLynn,”
he said, “it has been decided that ...”
who?” shouted Patrick. “You, Sheriff? Or was it you Mr. Mayor?” pointing
at another of the klansmen.
“I know who you are,” said
Patrick, “well, most of you. I recognized
your voice Adams, and you with your fancy boots, Todd Barker.” There was a stiffening under the sheets, a slight turning of heads
to glance at the others.
know you there in the back. You want to say something to help me out?” Silence.
“Well, no matter.”
“What did you think
you were going to accomplish here? Scare us out of town?”
Patrick shook his head and stared at them. “Never!” he spat. “We have
built our lives here and we are going nowhere. That
okay with you Adams, okay if we come to your business and spend our money?” Silence.
“I am going to get back in my old
car, with my family, and we are going to drive down this lane to our home.” He paused
and, looking at the figures he knew to be the sheriff and the mayor, said, “And nothing
will be said about this.”
Then he turned slowly, walked
to the driver’s door, pulled it open and got in. He grabbed the steering wheel hard
to keep his hands from shaking.
breathed deeply, started the car and moved the shift lever to first, grinding
the gear. “Shit,” he whispered.
horsemen hadn't moved but then three of them pulled their horses aside, leaving the lane
clear. Patrick eased the Ford past them and went on down the lane.
Lukas is a
former attorney, former chocolate store owner for 20 years, and now works in a national
park in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Several of his short stories have been published by Yellow
Mama, OverMyDeadBody.com, Bewildering Stories, and