RESURRECTION: CHAPTER 1
RESURRECTION by Ikeman
Webster says this about the word, resurrection: the act of causing something that has ended or been forgotten or lost to exist again.
American Heritage says: the act of bringing back to practice, notice, use, or vibrancy.
Oxford says: the revitalization or revival of something.
Synonyms would be: rebirth, regeneration, renewal, revival, resurgence.
This is the story of one man and two women who find themselves bound to each other through the resurrection of one of them (almost biblically). Her resurrection is a rebirth, renewal, or resurgence for their own separate lives and issues. A process of discovering things about each other and themselves ensues; a process that will lead them not only into a new future of their own, but a new future together, at least initially. In the process of discovery and experience, they will realize things about themselves and each other they had never before considered.
The setting for the story is modern day in the Chiricahua National Monument in Cochise County of Arizona, which borders both New Mexico and Mexico. More specifically, a farm/ranch of about 750 acres located inside the Wilderness. The region is remote, day or night. The farm/ranch’s existence within the boundary of the Wilderness is a fluke of bureaucratic mismanagement, but critical to the needs of the characters.
The twilight of early evening found him in one of two spots he would predictably be at this time of day: sitting on the front porch gazing to the east at the mountain across the valley as it slowly turned shades of increasingly dark greys until it finally became a black mass against the star-filled sky; or, sitting on the back porch gazing up the slope of the mountain in back that turned to black much faster, with the stars appearing later. It was a rut … he knew he was in a rut, but it was his rut, and a rut of his own choosing and creation.
He set the empty beer bottle on the wood floor of the front porch as he gazed into nothingness, gazed into the blackness of what being off the grid looked like. He allowed himself a single bottle of beer or a single glass of bourbon each night. One. When he had first come out here, he had quickly discovered how the temptation to wallow in his thoughts … then to drink in a state of wallowing … could completely consume him, every waking, cognitive, self-aware, and productive part of him. He had somehow pulled himself away from that edge, that tempting edge from which he could look into the numbing enshrouding blackness of grief. Somehow, he had walked away from that edge. Somehow, he had regained a small part of the man that he had once been. Just enough, though. Luckily, it didn’t take much of a man … he didn’t have much left to invest. But, he had to, he needed to … it was, after all, the reason he was here. He chuckled out loud and to himself at the recollection. Yes, the reason. There always has to be a reason … he wasn’t here to waste away or to thrive. Neither. He was here to exist … in peace or some part of it … and, most of all, in solitude. He didn’t see that there was anything others could give him, despite the numerous attempts that others had offered. And, he certainly didn’t have anything to give to others. So, he was better off here …
One of the three dogs was curled up beside him. He inherited them from the previous owner. There were other a****ls, of course, but the dogs were the closest things to companionship that he allowed himself. But, he didn’t even have names for them. They were essentially wild dogs who had a fondness of the place and him. He put water and food out for them in the barn. They had an easy alliance. Much like his life at the moment, easy, free of cumbersome expectations and demands. Sort of live and let live. The way he was living, it was a perfect relationship. The dogs came and went; sometimes they were all out doing whatever they did; sometimes one or all of them were around him. They were good around the other a****ls, even the chickens. He took care of their basics and they didn’t demand too much attention. Perfect.
‘Here’ was off the grid of the civilized, Western world. At least, he was as far off the grid as he could manage. What brings someone to the point where the world holds no interest and concern, any longer? What brings someone who was once vital, dominant, and strong to such a condition that he is nearly crawling into a grave of his own creation? What brought Jake Collins to this point was the loss of the someone, the one person, as far as he believed, the only person he could care so much about.
At 38 years old, 6’2” tall and 220 pounds of mostly solid build, he was still the man that his friends and work associates puzzled over; how such a successful businessman could have the body of a professional football tight end. When he went into business, he just didn’t lose the body he had developed in sports and conflict.
In high school, growing up in East Dallas, he played football with a passion, but not a tight end. He was a bruising defensive end. But, rather than pursue college opportunities that certainly were available to him with football, he enlisted. Where he grew up, there was more than enough patriotism and macho energy in his area to satisfy maybe the entire Dallas-Fort Worth Metro-plex. All of that energy stuffed into those maturing bodies and minds. Not to mention that they all felt invincible, a rare and intoxicating d**g.
He was in the Army for 6 years; 3 of them served in tours of both Iraq and Afghanistan. He survived, but he quickly discovered that invincibility was a myth of the young at home; there was no place for ego thinking like that on the battlefields. He saw too many men just like him fall, either in death or serious injury. So, when the Special Forces branches came recruiting him, he quickly and without guilt, declined. He loved his country, that wasn’t the problem. But, he had seen, experienced, the failed attempts of our military in the role of global police. He wanted out, he wanted to experience more of the life our country had to offer.
He used the GI Bill, went to college and graduated with his MBA from the University of Texas. He was recruited, took a job with a good marketing firm in Dallas, and succeeded. He met the love of his life, Katie, who was working at a firm at a neighboring office building. And, they got married. He ascended to become a Marketing Account Executive in the firm and Katie was doing well in her own career. They were each successful and they committed to each other and themselves that they would follow a mutual dream. They saved their money, not only living on one salary, but living easily within that one salary. Their home was modest and in a modest development. Their spending was modest and controlled. They enjoyed themselves, but their goal was the goal. Someday, they would quit and leave to start their own small business in a quiet, but interesting, little town somewhere. They envisioned a small college town with opportunities and oozing with the life of young people.
Another harsh and severe lesson of invincibility came to roost on top of their lives. Katie developed an unusual form of cancer. Hope is eternal, though. Maybe with treatment … doctors do wonders these days … They travelled to doctors and specialist. Katie was tested, prodded, poked, and blood work performed and performed. In 6 months, before the doctors had agreed on a treatment protocol that might work … in 6 months after the diagnosis, Katie died. Some people made the mistakes of saying it was for the better, she was in a better place, at least she wasn’t suffering. He grew angrier and more resentful with each comment and expression. He grew to resent shallow comments meant to console; he grew to hate the religious comments of blessing and peace.
Within another 6 months, he has lost all focus on his once thriving life. The very idea of continuing the good fight became abhorrent to him. He recognized in himself thoughts of giving up, maybe even fleeting moments of considering suicide. He knew that giving up, much less ending his life, were not within the man he truly was. But, his focus and drive was gone. What he needed was time … time to heal and find his passion for life, for belonging, for caring, and for working toward something. He needed to find the passion that had directed his life; to find that thing that would put fire in his soul, again. He gave himself a goal to work with. He was going to dedicate 3 years for introspection and self-rediscovery, terms he spent a lot of money in therapy to become familiar with. He had always prided himself in his coping abilities and his straightforward analysis followed by decisive action. None of that was working.
After a lot of research and searching, he found what he thought was the ideal spot. Perhaps a little extreme in satisfying his needs for quiet and isolation in order to focus on introspection, but extreme might just be what he needed. An old but well maintained farm/ranch that was located inside the Chiricahua National Monument in Cochise County of Arizona, which borders both New Mexico and Mexico. The property is 750 acres up a narrow dirt tract that winds into a valley between two mountains inside the wilderness. The owners were about a million years old (make that somewhere in the low 90’s, but even they weren’t real sure) and could not function on the land anymore. It wasn’t just isolated in a land area with no other neighbors, it had no services of any kind. No water, electricity, or phone.
It seemed odd even to Jake that this property was available for purchase given that it was completely inside a National Monument area. It wasn’t until the final paperwork was being completed that the government finally stepped in and to stop the transaction. The land broker Jake used for the purchase had been in the area for longer than anyone else could remember and was crotchety enough to stand up to the government agency. Of course, the government, when it established the wilderness area, put stipulations on the property that it could be inherited within a family but could not be sold. The government would give a ‘fair market value’ for the land. That was standard language in situations like this, established and documented years ago when the wilderness area was established. But, someone messed up. A bureaucratic mix-up at some point did not include the proper language in the documents registered for that parcel of land.
That was how Jake found himself the owner of 750 acres in a wilderness area with no services to the homestead. The old folks had made improvements over the years, but the place had been in their family since the early 1900’s, back when ‘services’ were what you had when you worked hard enough to provide them yourself. There was a good well that provided a surprisingly abundant source of water. It turned out there was a good aquifer under the valley. The hand pumps were changed out for generators and mechanical pumps. Generators would also provide electricity for some modern comforts in the house like a good refrigerator and lights, though Jake had decided that lights were not going to be something he would use often. He was hoping to be a daylight to sunset guy, much like the previous owners had been. If they could do it, he thought he certainly could.
The barn was rebuilt in the ‘80s. The house had been remodeled more recently and was still in reasonable shape. The style was old, but the structural elements were sound. The stove would be gas and have to be hauled in. It was going to be a chore, but he could do it. It would definitely keep him busy.
Along with the acreage, came the a****ls: 3 horses (male and 2 mares); 6 hogs (boar, 3 sows, 2 young); 30 cattle (2 bulls); various chicken; 3 dogs (all males). Some hogs and cattle are occasionally culled out for slaughter.
That was 2.5 years ago. It had kept him busy, almost frantically so sometimes, during the days. He seldom stopped until nightfall. Then, everything shifted direction and one of the porches took his time until he made some dinner, read under an old kerosene lamp and early to bed for the exact same thing to happen the next day. Of course, it was never the exact same thing and each day was dictated by something unplanned. As he lay in the dark on his bed, listening to the sounds in the darkness, he was sure tomorrow, like always, would bring something interesting for him. He smiled to himself. He couldn’t ever remember working so hard, being so tired, but feeling so at peace. This was the prescription he needed and it could become much longer than the 3 years he had set out for himself. As was now normal, sleep came easy and soundly.
* * * *
To the northwest from Jake’s home, in a completely opposite environment, Annie Tolley was settling in for an early evening with her husband in their little home in some community just north of Phoenix. Their life had become so strange and confusing, that this seemingly quiet night with her husband was like a gift.
At 23 years old, she had essentially run off with Tommy and gotten married about 3 years ago. She had always been an attractive girl and woman, but insecure and uncomfortable with her own ability to direct her life. She was 5’ 7”, athletically trim, but also having womanly curves. Brown hair; naturally wavy; past shoulder length. She had excelled in volleyball and soccer in high school, seeming to function well in structured group settings like sports, but awkward when left to her own devices. She met Tommy Tolley in high school. Tommy was an enigma to her. He was wimpy in appearance, skinny and not at all athletic. While she was attractive, good looking, and athletic, she had difficulties when it came to being with boys. Tommy was the opposite of her in almost all those aspects. He wasn’t particularly attractive or athletic, but seemed to have girls around him. She would find that girls aren’t the only ones who can be sluts. Tommy, as it turned out, was well endowed and he had no problem using that gift to getting the girls he could. It was rumored that there were also some mothers who tapped into Tommy’s availability. As far as she knew, though, those were still just rumors.
She had been friendly to Tommy, but was NOT one his girls. They were just friends, and she felt she might have been the only friend he had that didn’t want something from him. So, a couple years after high school, half way through her course work at the local community college, she was shocked but intrigue when he suggested that she go with him to Phoenix where he thought he could get the job he wanted. They left their small town in New Mexico and moved into an apartment, both getting jobs and sharing expenses. A couple years later, they got married and moved into a small house.
The sudden change in Tommy, asking her to be with, him was something she was reluctant to look at too hard. Some part of her considered that he may have gotten a mother pregnant. Another part of her considered that one of her classmates had gotten pregnant. She wanted to think that Tommy had just come to the decision that he wanted to be with someone who liked him for him. Those first years were nice. The sex was wonderful and she thought about the comments people used, ‘hung like a horse’. He was big and it felt really, really good.
Slowly, it all changed. Tommy changed. She thought he was showing signs of the person he had been before, using to get into the right crowd. Only this time, it seemed that it wasn’t his body he was willing to use with others, but hers. She hardly payed much attention at first. He had some new friends and his new friends were very touchy. They went to bars and dancing and it seemed that she was dancing with everyone but her husband. She challenged him on it, but he blew it off, saying that everyone is just having fun – relax, enjoy.
She did what she was told. She relaxed. She tried to enjoy, but she found that it was hard to enjoy. It was obvious to her that they were using Tommy to get to her. Why couldn’t he see that. Then a terrible thought came to her … maybe he does see that, maybe he knows that, but he wants to be a part of this group badly enough to give her to them.
She did what she was told and soon she found herself having sex with a room full of men. Usually it was the same ones, Tommy’s ‘friends’. But, sometimes it became a room with men she hadn’t seen before. It was never a full on gangbang with a dozen guys. It was usually 2 or 3 besides Tommy. And, it was getting worse. She had never been excited by this, this sharing of her with the others. She was always dry, she never became excited and that seemed to become an increasing point of irritation among the men. It seemed to her that their egos were hurt. These studs couldn’t get her to ‘juice up’. They had to use lubricants initially until someone came inside her. It didn’t make a difference if it was vaginal or anal, she was just as dry.
Tommy became increasingly angry. It had never been like this when it was just the two of them and ‘she was making him look bad to his friends’. Only days before, one of the guys had brought a dog and tried mating her with it. She had become so upset that it took someone to hold her down while the others fucked her, even if the dog never did.
This night, though, was a reversal of all that. She was with Tommy and he was very attentive to her. She even stopped him so she could go to the bedroom and change into his favorite negligee. They sat on the couch in their small house, but it felt like a wondrous place to her, again. He broke from their necking, he again touching her intimately, but tenderly. He went to refresh their drinks, tequila. When he returned, she kissed him, then took a sip. It tasted different somehow, but he was touching her again, his hands on her breast in the gaping folds of her negligee. He pinched her nipple just like he used to and she closed her eyes, taking in the feeling and remembering all the good times the way they had been. He brought her glass to her lips, again. It still had that different taste, but she put it away. Tommy was paying loving attention to her, again. But, she was feeling different … strange … like she might be losing herself … A strange feeling was her last conscious awareness.
* * * *
Jake’s alarm clock was the first indication of light. It was a mystery to him. It took a while for it to happen, but it was real. It wasn’t sun light hitting him through the window. The mountain on the east side of the valley kept direct sunlight off the house well past sunrise. Maybe it was birds, or … he didn’t know. But, he woke every morning with the sun rising somewhere on the other side of that mountain. This day was no different … at least in the beginning.
He had planned on a ride to the western edge of his property to inspect the fencing. It might be in his mind, but some cattle seemed to be missing. He found a couple sections of the barbed wire down. Many of the posts were decades old and needed replacement, it was just not the top priority … until now.
He returned to the house and stocked up on water for himself and the dogs, who never wanted to be left behind, and he rode through the hole in the fence and over the shoulder of the mountain. He spotted the half dozen cattle down the slope and made his way down toward them. Along the way, his focus was on the a****ls, but the dogs stopped. As he passed, he noticed wheel tracks in the dirt. He puzzled over that, knowing that ATV’s weren’t allowed in this section of the preserve and lost track of the dogs until they barked insistently. He half stood in the stirrups to look behind him in the direction of the barking and was about to yell at them when he saw that they were very intent on something sticking out of the dirt. He turned and returned the 20 feet to where the dogs were. One had begun pawing at a mound of dirt while another was nipping at something. He called the dog who looked up at him. With the dogs moved, he saw what it was … a foot.
When the dog nipped at it, again, it jerked …
* * * CHAPTER 2 will follow * * * Thanks for reading. This will be a long story with many chapters and spread over three stories building on each other. I hope you enjoy it. I wrote this originally in 2016.