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    Bitter Reckoning, Chapter 4

    It was dawn, yet the sun had not yet risen. Inside the RV, Bette changed into jeans and a long sleeve T-shirt. She moved quietly, stealthily, so as not to wake Tina who was sprawled at a weird angle on the narrow couch. As Bette pulled on a flannel shirt over her T-shirt and buttoned it, she gazed down on Tina’s sleeping face. She was an attractive woman, for sure, some might even say beautiful with her blonde hair and well-formed mouth, which at the moment was slack and open.

    Tina shifted and one of her feet shot out from under her blankets.

    Bette observed her socked foot, at the way the sock had been tugged loose with its toes pulled away. She gathered a blanket from her own bed and carefully re-tucked Tina’s exposed foot beneath the covers. As she knelt to do so, she glanced out the front windshield of the RV. Harlan was up and moving around inside his trailer.

    She looked down on Tina again. She was his friend, just like Alice had been, as Doyle was. But that was to be expected. Harlan had made a lot of contacts working with various production companies in Phoenix and Los Angeles. She knew some companies had hired him because they needed to fill their under-representative minority quotas in some cases, but for others she knew it was because he was actually a very competent cameraman. Still, Harlan had been out of work when she’d met him a year ago, had not worked for the previous three years. She didn’t understand why this fact troubled her, made her uneasy.

    She scooted over to her bed and sat down to pull on socks and her tennis shoes. As she did, she pondered the turmoil that surrounded Harlan and her sister, Harlan and her grandmother. But it had not always been so. This was a new development, something kept from her reach of understanding as her sister and grandmother often discussed Harlan in Navajo effectively barring her from their conversations.

    As she pulled on her second shoe, she thought about when she’d first met her family after forty years of being lost to them. When she’d finally made arrangements last year to meet Kit and Mary Dee, a whole host of other family members had driven to Flagstaff to meet her for the first time as well, and Harlan was among them. She’d been nervous to meet them, not sure how this unknown part of her family would receive her, so she’d suggested Flagstaff, a neutral location not far from the Navajo Nation and an easy flight over from LA for her. She’d met them at a motel off the main highway, had nervously knocked on the door to one of the rooms. When Kit had pulled open the door, she’d stood stunned in the doorway. There in the small motel room clustered twenty some people—aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins of all ages, and of course her grandmother.

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    1. BenMac says

      Some of you may be familiar with the BIA’s boarding schools that ripped kids from their families and basically set out to “kill the Indian, save the man” as they used to say. It’s a heartbreaking reality, shameful in many ways. On top of that, indigenous girls and women are often subject to some of the worse abuse imaginable. Unlike national registries that track crimes against women (white, black, Hispanic, etc.), there is no such method to track the abuse, rape, murder, and disappearance of Native women. There’s a really sad movie that is dedicated to bringing awareness to this tragic issue. It’s called Wind River with Jeremy Renner.

      Anyway, the scary is going to pick up now and at a quicker pace. Obviously, Alice and Tina aren’t the only ones being targeted. It looks like Doyle may be in the cross-hairs as well. Or, he’s just being an ass and mocking Bette as she suspects.

      You’ll have to wait until chapter 5 next week to find out!

      Bwaaa-ha-ha (<–evil laugh)

      Thanks for reading and commenting! Looks like from some of the comments, many of you are already figuring out what is going to happen!! Shhh…don't give it away just yet!

      • mm says

        this is a really great story. since I am able to read it in bits and pieces in between working too much, I just have to ask. is Harlan a skinwalker? the chapter where bette asks Harlan about tina’s background and at a point in his story of her, mention was made about his smile and his pointed canine teeth. are the spirits everyone fears actually there to protect the group from the one who walks at night and the other who walks during the day? i am still trying t figure out where tina plays in all of this. what is her connection to the spirits?

        WOW!!! so many questions from a wee one. great fun trying to see the bigger picture. shall we continue to follow the trail of crumbs being left for us?

        of what I do understand, Navajo culture, beliefs, and religion are steeped in their belief and fear of skinwalkers. the “yee naaldooshii” is Harlan one? your clues are there, ben mac. and it is always such great fun to travel through your eyes on new adventures. the creepiness of your stories just continues to add to the adventures.

    2. Zhenya says

      Thanks for the new interesting chapter!
      So, relations between B&T continue developing – they already flirting, it’s good.
      And Bette already start thinking about Alice death – maybe she can understand about all mystic things before they can damage Tina.
      P.S. And yes – i’ll not writing about elephant in the room)

    3. proteonomics says

      Hi BM

      Excellent chapter as always, so sad what happened to Bette’s mother; I feel infuriated, the poor child was raped the last time for someone it was supposed to protect her, and obviously, there is not a coincidence that those wicked men could get away with it because of the fire that killed the victims.

      I think the spirits are angry with the strangers because of that, and if those are vengeful spirits I hope it won’t be ‘an eye for an eye’ thing; but I’m wondering what is Harlan’s game, is he resentful with Tina? And again, Harlan was the last one who saw Alice alive.
      As Bette thought “Alice and Tina—what were the odds that Harlan would know two attractive white women in the industry, both editors and both lesbians?”

      I also hope that the price for visiting the sacred place wouldn’t be the madness or death of someone.

      I like very much the soft flirting: Tina: “Wow, you have long fingers” Bette: “Yeah, I’m kind of a big girl, I guess.” Tina: “Just in the right places” (OMG so funny)

      Thanks for this wonderful chapter; the week seems longer waiting for your longed-for update.


    4. SassyGran says

      Hi BM,

      Great to have your weekly posts back. Cheers up my Monday morning no end!

      Liked this Chapter setting the scene in your own inimitable way.

      Like the formation of the Tibette relationship too, please let them face the evil together and not at odds. I can but ask but am, of course, in your talented hands as always.

      Looking forward to Chapter 5

    5. Bibi28 says

      Great update!

      So far the scary part is to handle, but i believe that will change soon.

      Harlan, i find him odd, don’t trust him and it seems Bette is suspicious about him too.

      What a horrible and sad story about Bette & Kits mother and the other innocent girls who died.

      I love your stories!

    6. CestMoi says

      Nicely written as always! Scary, yes for sure. My best guess is Harlan is turning into some big bad monster during night and knows other that does the same (like the old man in chapter one) OR he’s a shaman of sorts. Regardless nice story and quick postings, hazaaa!

    7. Dainty says

      Good Lord, Harlan is one creepy dude!!! Was that him dressed in some kind of costume trying to get in the RV. DAMN!!! Scary stuff, You know I’m a little wuss about scary stuff. Hope you have a good weekend. Take care.

    8. Dainty says

      Did harlan put something in the tea that he made for Tina? Don’t trust him at all, he has already lied to Tina telling her that Bette needed her to work for her, when she knew nothing about him bringing her back to the reservation. He is a lying, dishonest, creepy guy or whatever the hell he is. Know this is just a story but, doggone, that guy gets my hackles up for several reasons. The girls really need to keep their guard up and stick together no matter what. Is this one based on a true story or just your very active imagination?

      • BenMac says

        The elements of the Navajo culture are real. That’s why I’m using a consultant. I want to be respectful of their beliefs and customs.

        The rest comes from my twisted mind. You should understand that by now! haha!

    9. Dainty says

      And he comes across as very dangerous as well and doesn’t seem to care for Bette either. Maybe he just doesn’t like lesbians, especially pretty ones. Most especially if they reject him.

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