Cabin V: I Am Jacob, CHAPTER 1 preview

It’s hard to believe how many yearshave gone by since the fateful attack on the World Trade
Center. I was closely scrutinized by the law after that because I was last known to have been at the towers that very day, and thought to have been killed in the attack, but that’s over for now, and I’m on my way home to bring my family back together. Other than my women, I have no use for those who have formed an unforgiving opinion about me. They’veall judged me wrongly. The way I see it, no one sees thebig picture so they simply don’t understand me—maybe not
even my one-and-only unwavering ally, Aunt Aggie, truly does. The first thing I see, as I crest the hill, is the huge mansion I bought for Tuesday and my daughter, Winter Ann. That was back when I was blindly bent on having them under my wing. Now it’s all just like I remember it. And as far as I can tell, the house and property are abandoned as they should be. The hum of my V-8 engine is the only sound save for crickets, birds, and other animal calls. Other than that it’s quiet as hell. In case you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting it looks now, no one’s apt to nose around and find that I‘m back till I’m ready for them. For now, it’ll be better to allow
the grounds to stay just the way they are. Hell yes, that’s best, that’s for sure. Anyway, that’s what I need for my master plan: privacy. I’ll just lay low a day or two while I set the stage for the most ingenious conspiracy of all time. If you’re thinking that I’m getting in over my head, just keep reading.

By the way, I am Jacob. You know me, the notorious Jacob McCallister. My family calls me Pa or Jeb. Either way, it doesn’t matter. You may think I’m an uncaring beast because of times past, but I can honestly tell you that I’m not the fiend everyone thinks me to be. Just look how the women have loved me no matter what, and still do. Don’t tell me that I’m evil. I know perfectly well what evil is—I’ve lived with it. Evil is my mother and father. Up until I was seven years old my father spent his days andnights raising roosters for cockfighting games. Of course, he had to keep one step ahead of the law—cockfighting is illegal—but from those ill-gotten gains, he did keep a home for me and my mother, although scarcely. Because of all of that,it’s a blessing that my parents had no other children besides me. When my father didn’t have winnings for us to live on, as a youngster not yet muscled out, I was forced to hunt and forage for our food while he tended to the raising of a seemingly endless line of cockfighting roosters.

Also, as was my grandfather in his day, my father was the man running the pit Here’s the clincher, though: when I was seven my parents Gordon Maxwell. He’s dead now, got killed in his attempt to break a wild stallion. The horse was not inclined to be broken, the Appalachian Mountains, I can tell you, the racket you have to deal with in the city is blessedly absent here in my homeland, and now my final retreat. I can see right away that the grounds have suffered miserably from neglect, but my place, having stood for generations, has long been—and to this day—stands impressive on its broad front lawn, with the grove of trees standing in a semi-circle at the rear. Actually, it’s like a smaller version of the White House. Of course, right now, you have to ignore the untamed tangle of weeds and vines to see that image. It makes a pretty picture, the way the long-neglected foliage sways as the breeze touches it, if only because its evidence that there’s still some life there—wild as it may be. But the closer I get it becomes more and more apparent that I’ve damn well stayed away far too long. I should have known I couldn’t depend on Ike Harris to take care of the place. Hell, the man ran when things got tough, acting like the felon he really is. Not to worry—if I’m going to carry on with my plans, I need to keep cool.

Now, I’m here to tell you, this is the way it’s going down. This is the place that I’m going to finally make my fortune. Not like my futile attempts in the past, putting myself in the sights of the law with only penny-ante payoffs. Compared to what I stand to make now, those were insulting compensations for taking big chances back then. Now I have a bona fide plan that will bring me the big bucks that will set me up for life. Up to now, I haven’t really considered the state of the property, virtually abandoned these past few years, nor have I dealt with the possibility of Ike Harris skipping out on me, leaving my place to the wild. I obviously need to rethink a few details.

And giving the matter second thought, the way my personal goal—one I carried through with long after he and my mother were dead. Anyway, as a young boy I didn’t know he was blowing smoke and had no real intentions of paying for my education. Therefore, I didn’t understand why he was willing to sell me out for a nowhere job. I’d always known that my parents didn’t have the love for me that you’d see in the movies, particularly the variety that fool women liked to watch at the town movie theater. But the day I learned about the job in the mine was the day I finally got it . . . My mother and father had absolutely no parental love in their black hearts at all. Before my father could carry out his plans for me to take over Banner’s care, though, I took steps to protect myself. I locked my parents in our cellar house and left them there until they died. I had to. After a few hard years of working the mine, the pony and the boy who ended up with the job went blind from being kept in total darkness day and night, but I never did . . . Go blind, I mean. Aunt Aggie knows. But she won’t tell. . . She helped me get rid of the bodies—prone to declare that she was forever cleaning up after my messes, and in agreement that I move their bodies from the farmhouse where I was born and raised, and hide them in her cellar house where they have been decomposing for years now. When the law was nosing around looking for Tuesday Summers, the year I hooked up with her and brought her to the mountain to live with me, I became more than a little worried about those hidden bodies.

Anyway, I dodged the bullet because, to my knowledge, no one has ever found my black-hearted parents’ remains. Aggie and I have been of one heart and mind since. I’d bet a shrink would say that that one act set the pattern of my life. burden fell to the ground. Then the stallion kicked the old man in the chest, a mighty blow. They say that that one great kick from the stallion stopped Maxwell’s cold heart, and he died on the spot. When he was found, he lay with the reins still wrapped around his clasped fist. The stallion stood triumphantly next to him, occasionally pawing the ground, snorting, and tossing his head, waiting to be free of the dead man. The black-hearted man wanted me because he needed someone to care for Banner, the pony that was destined to live out his life hauling coal.

Maxwell needed someone to work along with Banner, keeping him fed and curried to make him as productive as possible. The way I understood it, I was to live in the mine along with the pony, work him, and take care of him between the running shifts. The one good thing about Banner’s plight was that his siblings were saved by the Michael boys, a family that had their roots in Rivesville. They bought the ponies from Maxwell’s widow, and there is to this day a pony named for Banner from the same blood line. When Gordon Maxwell came up with the job for me in the coal mine, my father accepted with no intention of consulting me; he considered the job as big money in his pocket. Before that, though, he was all for me getting an education.

In all likelihood, the education was my father’s idea of portraying himself as the big man among the townsmen. My father was well known as a dreamer, not a worker, but his talk of my schooling was no game in my mind. No. Education became a goal for me. Unknown to my father, he had instilled in me a desire to better myself, and had shown me a way to do it, education. I knew it was true by his own example, because he sure didn’t have one, and therefore he had nothing. Over the years, his bragging around town about his desire for me to have an education became my own dream . . .

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