“Charles when you were at Yale, did you celebrate Thanksgiving with a turkey or a beef feast?” Dr. Stanley Wills at 56, wearing Benjamin Franklin spectacles and with a slight protuberant belly, looked at the round of beef the cook would rotate over the fire every 2-to-5-minutes. The fireplace was centrally located in the large living room which was also the center room at the first floor of the three-bedroom house. Curtained windows were opened about four-inches in the living room, the kitchen, dining room and the combination study-library. The appetite-stimulating aroma of the roasting meat permeated the house and the immediate perimeter of the ranch-style Texas house.
“Turkey, of course, it’s a New England tradition and the damn birds were everywhere.” Dr. Charles Garrison looked up from reading the editorial page of Endura’s only newspaper–The Endura Clarion. Garrison was trim and muscular compared to his partner. His only real exercise was his “forced” weekly two-mile walk to their combination hospital and clinic. He also assisted the single laborer with carpentry around the house and grounds. Garrison learned construction from his father, who also was a doctor but had nurtured his son in partaking of what he perceived as necessary survival skills. In addition to being able to build a shelter, Garrison’s dad taught him how to shoot, hunt and defend himself. The elder Dr. Garrison would take Charlie on house calls when he reached fourteen and praise the boy when he would anticipate his father’s diagnosis and treatment. Charles Garrison wanted to be like his dad and he had achieved his goal. Unfortunately his father was no longer alive to see his son as a mirror image of himself. While Charles was at Yale, a highwayman gunned down his father, Dr. Reed Garrison, on his way back to town after delivering a baby at one of the homestead farms. The town marshal had not been able to find his father’s killer but the rumor was the killer was Victor Vlack’s hired gun.
“What’s so interesting you have your nose in the paper on this fine day of Thanksgiving?” Wills was a conservative physician, husband and friend. He had also been a friend and younger colleague of Garrison’s father.
“It’s Vlack, again. He keeps promoting his anti-city defense about Endura but what really bothers me is his self-justification about assimilating the farmer’s land. He actually states ‘agriculture and cattle-raising go hand-in-hand but the two should come under one roof’.”
“Yes–his roof.” Wills looked at his watch and cranked the round of roast. “Jessie is late for turning the beef.”
“Vlack wants the whole town of Endura to work for him. Listen to this, ‘the burden of taxes and the overhead of seed, fertilizer, crop storage and transportation to market do not have to be shared with the homestead families by the cattlemen.’” Garrison put down the paper. Wills raised his hand to interject a comment.
“You have to admit it’s a good sell. He doesn’t advertise about wanting to get rid of them. He wants to absorb them–pay them as hired hands.”
“At his pay rate. He says in the paper already over five homesteads have come into his fold.” Garrison put the paper down.
“And we know how and why. We’ve had to put together some of their shot up bodies and bury several of the other resisters. Was there anything about us or against the expansion of our clinic and hospital?”
“No, nothing in this issue. Oh, I got a letter from Jake Cotter yesterday.” Garrison went into the study and came back unfolding the pieces of paper.
Garrison read the highlights. “It seems Jake has a similar situation developing with a vineyard monopolizer. The group is headed by his brother and sister.”
“It’s something I could never understand. How does a family cut out a righteous member like Jacob Cotter?”
“They must be from the same mold as our Victor Vlack.” Garrison’s face changed from severe to hopeful. “Jacob still wants to join us and the good news is Yale is giving him credit for his years helping his father in the War. They knocked off a year of medical school.”
“Well, it’s good news but we could use him right now.” Wills rubbed his chin in contemplation. Some voices from the kitchen brought them back to Thanksgiving Day.
“You men come on in here and help us.” It was the voice of Miranda Wills and then joined by Garrison’s wife, Deirdre.
“Charles Garrison you get in here. Let Jessie tend to the roast beef. We need your help with the vegetables and clean-up.” Deirdre Garrison’s voice was musical. “Hurry up before our guests arrive.”
“We should be thankful Vlack hasn’t tried to attack us yet.” Garrison got up and patted his colleague on the shoulder.
“That’s right. We have our families and today the good Lord wants us to remember this–and Him of course.”
“Of course.” Garrison smiled and they both went into the large kitchen.
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