Part 9: Big Blue River
JULY 10th, 1848
Having been informed that the ferry was out, Sarah Jane let out an ear-piercing wail of unbridled horror. She was unable to hold her breath because of her unique physiological issues, sure, but there was clearly something psychologically wrong with her as well.
Jesus Rodeo-Clownin' Christ, girl! Fine, we'll float it, just close your eyes and shut up!
Cyrus was on his last nerve and truthfully a little motivated to show up the smug ferry operator. He began tying up the bottom of the cart and unscrewing the wheel caps. Susan looked up from her quilt-making.
Honey, don't you think this is a bit extreme to prove a point? It would be a lot faster just to walk the oxen across the river...
She relented when she saw Sarah Jane gearing up for another screaming fit.
No, Susan, the girl wants a "ferry" so she's gonna get one.
Fifty minutes later, the wagon was ready to go and Cyrus set it asail with a hearty shove as he walked alongside, checking for leaks as it floated awkwardly, scraping the bottom of the river along the way.
It glided smoothly into the opposite bank. At least he knew he could do it if he really needed to. With a satisfied chuckle, Cyrus peered over at the ferry shack, but there was no movement and the windows were shut. Seriously, fuck that guy.
Forty minutes later, the wagon was back on wheels. Susan looked a little exasperated but said nothing. It was clear to Cyrus that something was bothering her besides just the delays, but no matter, the wagon was ready to go.
The rest of day passed by in an eerie silence. Why was everyone so spaced out, wondered Cyrus. Did I do something wrong? You know what, he thought, I don't give a crap. No more mister nice guy.
The next morning he called everyone together.
Listen up, people. We lost a lot of time floating across that river and we're going to double-time it from here on out. That means no more potty breaks every 30 miles, Waffles.
AWWWWWWwwww, but DAD, you know how much I love to pee!
On top of that, we're going to start rationing food. That means midnight fox-jerky is out, Sarah Jane, understand? The only one that eats double around here is Susan.
Oh my God, this is so unfair. I didn't want to come here! I had friends, you know, in Boston! And someone who really loved me! Do you even know what that's like?! I hate you, all of you!
She flung herself dramatically next to the baby, who was slowly starting to become Cyrus' favorite family member. Just to check up on the little tyke, he poked it softly in the stomach. Yup, still moving.
Doing his best to ignore Sarah Jane's seven hundredth hissy fit so far this trip, he climbed back into the driver's seat.
Everybody got that? Let's head out!
The sun was starting to come down and nobody had said a word for hours. Cyrus had been trying to make small talk with his wife to no avail. She just stared at her half-finished quilt, looking terribly forlorn.
That was some trick, huh, with the floating? Who knew thousands of pounds of supplies wouldn't weight down the wagon too much, huh?
Hmm? Yeah, that's true.
I really showed that ferry boat operator, huh? He said it was impossible, had a sign and everyth...
Cyrus, it's not your baby!
Cyrus dropped the reins, but the oxen kept rolling along.
Oh God, please forgive me! It's just that you were gone at work for so long and the house...
He erupted from the driver seat like an angry volcano. Both kids had bolted upright and were glancing nervously at the fuming father figure who was now rummaging around in the supplies at the back of wagon. Susan could hear the metallic tink of a rifle being loaded.
Cyrus, what are you..?
A dark sillhouette stalked off into the brush nearby. The family sat motionless, dumbfounded as shots starting ringing out.
Hours passed. Cyrus had completely lost it- he began opening fire at anything that moved, deer, birds, rabbits, squirrels, an unfortunate ant mound and an overly wind-blown tree limb. He also shot at things that were not moving, for good measure.
As the bloodlust faded, he gathered up his kills. He must have unloaded several boxes of ammo, but only two victims had been left in any sort of edible state. Frantic sawing ensued. A bison corpse was transformed into a quivering mess of guts and entrails and Cyrus shouldered a huge slab of meat as he began his short walk back to the wagon.
Good Lord, Cyrus, you're positively covered in blood!
Cyrus said nothing. Who cares; it wasn't his blood. He slapped the humongous chunk of bison beef on the crates in the back of the wagon, spraying the back-most supplies with a shower of fresh buffalo-juice. He crawled back in the driver seat, emotionless.
It was awkward.
Nobody slept easily that night. The wind howled through the trees and the insects chirped particularly loudly. Cyrus had found a clean spot on the ground far from the campsite that the rest of the family had set up and lied there, staring at the stars. He hated his entire family.
A dry morning and buzzards assaulted Cyrus' as the sun came up; the latter had mistaken him for a carcass and he felt the part. His mouth was deadly parched. As he sat up, he noticed the rest of his family hadn't been roused from their tents yet and he was determined to get a few shots of whiskey in before facing the day.
As he approached the wagon, something caught his eye. He stopped. A huge blood trail ran from the back of the wagon, as though something heavy and meaty had been dragged off.
My revenge meat!
Cyrus fell to his knees, emotionally crushed. Heads began poking out of tent flaps. He looked at them, and looked back at the his wagon. The thief had taken nothing but the revenge meat. What the hell is wrong with people these days?
Just get in the wagon, you sons of bitches.
As the journey continued, it wasn't long before murder-inducing screams marked the arrival at their next destination, and Cyrus was on a hair trigger.
Oh my God, did you see the sign? Did you? It said Big Blue River ohgodohgodohgod...
Even from where he was sitting Cyrus could tell the "river" couldn't be much more than a foot deep. He swore if Sarah Jane couldn't handle fording this puddle, Cyrus was gonna have to slap a bitch.