Deep in the Catskill mountain woods, off of Baird Road in Hurleyville, New York, Sam Preston opened his eyes that wintry January morning and knew rising out of bed would be a challenge. With a catatonic stare, he logged into his online bank account from his laptop on his bed. His last unemployment check for $325.46 had cleared.
Sam hadn’t paid his mortgage in nine months, and since then, a daily, overwhelming anger washed over him. The several phone calls he made to Hartford National Bank went unanswered as he desperately tried to get his monthly mortgage payment lowered or deferred until he was able to get back on his feet.
Bang! The hammering startled him. Sam glanced over to “Nancy” — the high-powered, M P15; sporting rifle that had been his constant companion since his wife divorced him.
More hammering was followed by a hard, brooding knock on the door.
“Mr. Preston. Are you home?” James Feinman, a bald man, dressed in a wool suit and sneakers, violently kicked the door, and then mumbled to himself as he walked through the six inches of fresh snow back to his car.
Sam methodically moved through the living room and bent the cheap, plastic Venetian blinds with the end of the rifle. They crackled under the pressure of the gun as he looked out the window, his deep paranoid eyes absorbing the familiar landscape.
“My land. My baby,” he said to himself.
He squinted and felt a quick, sharp pain just below his eyebrows as the sun’s rays bounced off the fresh coat of snow–the glaring light bleeding through the dark living room. There was a fresh set of footprints leading off to the road about a quarter of a mile away. And then, like a distant coyote growl, he heard a grumbling car engine.
“Time for this banker to meet Nancy,” He said.
He grabbed the Jack Daniels bottle from the living room coffee table. There was barely an ounce left. He twisted off the cap and maniacally swiveled all of it like mouthwash, then swallowed it with the joyfulness of a child in a toy store.
He bolted out of the house, flinging the screen door so hard against the cedar shake that a few screws loosened from the bottom hinge of the door, and the wooden foreclosure sign see-sawed in the wind.
James sensed he was in trouble. Tires squeeling. His car stuck in the snow as the smell of burnt rubber irritated his nostrils. Sam approached the vehicle, rifle in hand. James ducked. In a flash, he was covered in shattered glass, and he wiped some blood away below his right eye.
Sam pressed the end of the rifle into James’s cheek, so that his muscle ached against his skull.
“Please!” He begged. “I’m just the messenger.”
“This is my land!” Sam shouted. “You and your banker friends can rot in hell!”
“I’m just doing my job”
“The Nazis on trial at Nuremberg used that excuse.”
“‘C’mon, Mr. Preston. You are sick.”
“Get in the house.”
James had no choice but to obey. He followed Sam’s commands, shuffling back over his own footprints in the snow and into the log cabin.
“Downstairs. Now.” He staunchly kept the gun aimed at James.
Sam’s face suddenly turned red, like the blotchy stains that appear on an alcoholic’s face after too many drinks. James held his hands up, as he walked backwards down the creaky stairs.
“If you let me go, I swear I won’t tell anybody about this. I’ll make it my civic duty to help you out. I’ll talk with my supervisor. We’ll get you on a reasonable payment plan.”
“Tried that. Nobody at Hartford cares. It’s too late.”
“Killing you with a gun is too easy.”
All the necessary tools were in the dank basement-a fine-tuned scalpel, plastic bowl, handcuffs, and duck tape. Sam settled down in his favorite rocking chair. Holding Nancy eased his sadness. He caressed her with a handkerchief.
“Boss. Your Boss. His Boss. Nancy will have her way with all of them.”
He slowly rose then shot James in the arm. The front door was still open and his scream echoed throughout the small log cabin and out across the vast woods. No one was around for miles. No one would hear him or witness the terrible crime.
Only a lone buck in Sam’s backyard perked up for a moment, and then went back to eating a few dogwood leaves.
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