Cold-Hearted Beauty

Cold breath escaped like puffs of smoke from the men on the rustic porch. The mountains in the background made for a spectacular view. Smoke billowed from the old brick chimney. Scot could not feel his legs nor toes, but that had nothing to do with the frigid temperature. The smell of trees and animals nearby were invigorating and scary for Scot. He had loved visiting this cabin with Lynda and Ian when he was younger and more able bodied, but now looking around at the vastness of the place just left him with uneasiness. It was the perfect place though to ask some hard questions.

“How you holding up Ian?”

“As can be expected,” Ian replied. He leaned against the cabin stomping one foot as if he was trying to wake it up. “What about you, Uncle Scot? Why did you bring me here?” He looked like a commercial for the rugged outdoors man in dark wash blue jeans, a chambray button down shirt, and brown mountain climbing boots. His hatless head displayed unruly silver blond hair fluttering in the breeze. Scot had to admit that his nephew was a handsome man. He had the look of his wife Lynda when she was in her prime. They both had the same blue gray eyes, but where Lynda’s was always laughing, Ian’s were flat and could bring out goose pimples on your skin, if you stared too long into them. This was supposed to be a guys vacation, but Scot did not enjoy hanging out with Ian.

“Uncle Scot, why did you bring me here?”

“I think it’s time that we had a talk.”

“If you’re going to tell me about the birds and the bees, I already got that covered,” snickered Ian. The humor got as far as the corner of his lips before vanishing so quickly that Scot wondered if he had imagined it.

“I think we need to talk about what happened between you and Traci.”

“Old man don’t get involved. That’s between Traci and me.” Ian pushed off the house and walked into the unblemished snow. It crunched sharply beneath his boots as he took off towards the snow covered trail that led further into the woods.

“I think you should leave that girl alone.”

Ian spun around and stared angrily through the heavy snow flakes at Scot sitting in his wheelchair. A stripped heavy blanket was draped over Scot’s legs. The disdainful look he shot at Scot’s legs before stretching his lips into a smile gave Scot a horrible feeling. What was he planning? Never trust a man who don’t know how to smile and enjoy life.

“What girl?” Ian replied with a humorless laugh.

Scot hated when Ian laughed, because there was always terrible consequences when he faked it. Scot sighed as he watched Ian disappear into the woods. Wasn’t he cold? Where was he going without his outerwear? Arthritis cramped Scot’s fingers as he tried to wheel himself back into the cabin. Massaging and blowing on them Scot tried several times to wheel himself off the porch. The snow was falling heavier and the wind began to pick up speed. Scot shivered from the cold, but another emotion was racing through his blood and cutting off his air supply. His face stung as if from a swarm of gnats. “Ian!” Scot called out but the howling wind wrestled with him and snatched his voice away. “Ian?” Looking into the trees Scot waited for Ian’s return. Was Ian punishing him because he butted into what he considered his business? That boy was always holding grudges. From the age of two when Lynda had brought him to live with them after his parents died in a car crash. Ian would lay in front of the front door, refusing to eat or move, as if afraid that he would miss his parents return. After a week he pretended that he did not miss them.

He refused to talk about them or look at their photos. It was as if they never existed. For a while he called Lynda “mama” until one day Lynda refused him a toy, and then she became Aunty. How long will he punish me? Scot tried to turn the wheels of his chair, but it was as if they were locked. Exhausted, Scot’s head lolled forward on his neck. Another shiver passed though his chest.

Eyes still closed, he didn’t know how much time had passed, but suddenly he was falling backwards in slow motion. Opening his eyes, Scot stared into Ian’s flat eyes before moving towards his lips, which were pulled in a semblance of a smile. There was a jerk on the chair and then the ground was so close that Scot barely had the forethought of stopping his momentum with his right elbow. He heard the crack like the rapport from a gun, then felt the pain shooting up his arm, before feeling nothing, and blacking out.



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