Excerpt from White Rock, The Novel – Ketter Naples Scene, Tyler TX
She pulled up to a large oak tree at a crude intersection. A small rusted sign was nailed to the trunk. She rolled the window down and squinted as wet wind rushed into the cabin of the Land Rover. The battered sign said Naples Meat Processing and had a faint arrow pointing left.
“Oh, thank God.”
She turned onto the narrow mud road and about two hundred feet later she pulled into the pot-holed driveway of a small estate. At the top of a sloping hill was a weather-beaten house surrounded by some smaller structures. Gated pens filled with swine surrounded the main house. She drove slowly up the crude driveway between the pens and pulled up close to the main building. It started raining again in earnest.
Laura opened the car door and wretched. The smell outside was unbearable. She covered her face, slammed the door behind her, and ambled her way through the wet red clay driveway toward the front entrance trying not to throw up. Dozens of hogs in the surrounding pens sloshed and grunted in excitement, smelling her. Gingerly, she made her way up the muddy steps to a splintering wooden door and knocked. No answer. She knocked again. Someone had to be here. She didn’t want to have to come back to this place. Ever.
“Whut can I do ye for, missy?”
She jumped at the sound of the voice behind her, turned around quickly and nearly screamed out loud.
A massive man stood hunched over at the foot of the stairs holding a squirming piglet under one arm and a blood crusted hatchet in the opposite hand. He was older, probably in his mid to late 70’s. The little hair he had hung in white clumps around the perimeter of his pale head, the skin of his neck sagged over his filthy shirt collar. His hands were huge, sprouting rough, calloused claws that could barely be called fingers. Though he stood with a definite stoop, his shoulders were broad and hulking even at his age making him a menacing presence standing before her. It didn’t help that his overalls were stained black with dried blood.
The man’s accent was a thick Texas drawl that almost dripped out of his greasy partially-toothed mouth. Though completely terrified, Laura forced her voice into sounding businesslike. “Hi. My name is Laura Milton. I’m looking for Ketter Naples.”
“Whut wud a pretty lil thang like yew want wit Ketta?”
“I’m doing research for a story and would like to ask Mr. Naples a few questions, if I could…” She could feel his yellow eyes creeping over her lecherously.
“Not frum ‘round these parts, are ye, Ms. Milt’n?”
“I-I was born in Dallas.” She mustered what some would consider a proud smile. “My family moved to New York when I was young.”
“They calls ye peeple transplanted. I calls ye outsiders.”
He coughed up and spat out an enormous glob of phlegm on the wet ground.
“I’m Naples. ‘Little busy now…” He cocked his head towards the piglet undulating under his arm. The giant smiled a toothless grin and lumbered off into the rain.
Laura carefully scurried down the slick steps after him, almost sliding into the mud before righting herself. Naples plodded through the sludge to the far side of the house with Laura close behind trying not to fall. They came to a grassy spot next to a kennel full of barking, vicious-looking dogs. The Land Rover was sitting only yards away from them. At least if something went wrong, she had a destination. The rain started falling a little harder around them.
“Are you the Ketter Naples who worked for the Lester Davis family out at White Rock Lake?”
“That no bidness o’ yours, missy.”
“I’m trying to find some information about Davis’ adopted daughter, Rose. You’re him aren’t you?”
“She’s dead. Jus’ like the rest of em. I gots nutin to do wit dem animals…” He turned away from her.
“I’m not with the police, Mr. Naples. I’m just trying to find some informa–”
“That ol’ man sealed his fate long ’go. An’ th’ old wo-man wus crazy as th’ daze long. Sheet, that po’ girl ain’t nevah stood no chance…”
“What do you mean?”
Naples approached a large stained tree stump. He turned slowly around and looked Laura dead in the eye.
“Money makes peeple cra-zay, Ms. Milt’n. Wetter yew gots it or not. ‘S only a matta ’time ‘for it takes yew or sumone takes it frum yew…”
“Who was Noel Fowler? Mr. Naples?”
Naples swung the piglet over on its side on the stump and stepped on its neck. It squealed and writhed under his foul boot.
“He ain’t no-body. Same as you ‘n me.”
A clap of thunder erupted illuminating the entire hill for a nanosecond. The cold rain was seeping into Laura’s clothes and she had to brush her dripping hair from her face just to keep talking.
“Who was Rose’s father?” She shouted above the din of the bellowing swine and the falling rain.
“That wo-man wuz straight from Hell, lil gurl… Cursed!”
“She had Rose a year and a half before marrying Davis! Who was the child’s father?”
“That whore shoulda stayed ‘n Houston. Crazy fuckin rich peeple…”
“Who was the father, Mr. Naples?”
“I shoulda taken that bitch when I had da chance like ever’one else…” he muttered under his breath.
Naples raised the hatchet above his head. The piglet squealed.
“Mr. Naples, wasn’t Rose’s last name really Hunt?”
The hatchet came down in a loud chop and the piglet suddenly stopped wailing. Laura looked down and was horrified by the sight of the headless piglet running around spewing blood all over the wet ground. Naples looked up at her with an enraged, blood-splattered face.
“Looka, here, lil girl, thisa here’s private prop’ty! Don’t you nevah come ‘round here talkin’ that God-forsaken sheet in fronna me ‘gain, you unnerstan? Naw git your cute lil ass out o’ my site ‘for I sic the dogs on ye!”
She looked in his eyes and saw nothing but malice, not un-like the mad dogs that were howling to be unleashed on her on the other side of the chain-link fence. She turned and left immediately as the rain began to fall in sheets.