Fugitive's Revenge by Buddy Simmons
At first light among the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, a fog covered the lower valleys.
The tops of the mountains rose proudly above the clouds.
Simple folks lived there in harmony with the Smoky Mountains. They survived by their wits, against
often unbearable odds, overcoming hardships and trials that would have devastated and left broken a
They possessed an uncanny ability to survive the harshness of mountain life, being far removed from
physicians or help from any quarter other than themselves. They had fierce personal pride and loyalty to
This special day was hog killing time, a time when all the members of a family or clan gathered to
slaughter the hogs for the approaching harsh winter. This was hard work but also a time of rejoicing, dancing and mountain music after the work was finished.
A number of people were gathered behind an ancient cabin built by Scottish ancestors who had immigrated to America in search of new horizons, a land free from the ravages of war. This was a warlike people, believing in an eye for an eye but preferring to live in peace with their fellow man.
Wash pots and barrels of water boiled over a roaring fire.
Some of the men gathered and chopped wood, while others tended the fires. Still others conversed as they awaited their tasks. They moved to keep warm in the crisp and chilly morning air.
As each hog was killed and gutted, it was lowered by means of a rope and pulley into vats of boiling water to loosen the coarse hair, which the women and children scraped off.
They carefully avoided cutting the skin, which was used for cracklins and meat skins, a popular delicacy among the mountain and country people.
The fat was rendered into lard. The feet, pickled in spices and vinegar, would be eaten as a snack or used to season other foods, such as beans, etc.
Nothing usable was ever discarded. Even the ashes of the fire were mixed with lye, and fat for soap, which was used for bathing, washing clothes, and shampooing.
* * *
Both the Doaks and the Buttress families had inhabited the Smoky Mountains.
Their ancestors had settled these mountains together and had lived in peace with each other.
Then a bloody feud erupted, ending the peaceful relations between the two families.
Because of intermarriages between the Doaks and the Buttress clans, families were split apart and separated.
To remain neutral was impossible, each side holding the belief that if you aren’t for us, you must be against us.
At times it was family against family.
Killing the enemy without losing one’s own life was the ultimate goal; killing from ambush during feuds seemed to be the accepted by this simple folk.
As the years passed, the Doaks and the Buttress families were reduced in number until only one young man remained alive on the Buttress side of the feud.
Tired of the killing and realizing that the ongoing fight was useless, the young man left the confines of the mountainous region in search of a peaceful area in which to settle.
He longed for a life free from death and destruction, a life in which he would no longer be required to kill or to be hunted like the animals of the area.
* * *
As the men and women went about their appointed chores of the day, a lone rider approached on horseback. They recognized him as an acquaintance from nearby Alabama.
His dark eyes and tightly drawn lips warned of the urgency of his news.
Old Man Charlie Doaks, the leader of the Doaks clan, stepped toward the rider and invited him to share his news.“What brings you this way, Homer? You act like your seat is on fire. What’s the rush?” Charlie Doaks asked.
“The Buttress boy has settled in Lawsontown, just a ways down the road from us, Mr. Doaks. He’s already staked a homestead and built a dugout. It looks like he’s there to stay,” exclaimed the rider.
“Well, come on in and bait up, son,” Charlie said. “Thanks for bringing the news. If we don’t get the boy while we can, he’ll come after us when we least expect him.”
His wife, Alma, spoke from the rear of the crowd, “We already know, Charlie. Forget the boy. He’s gone from these mountains. What possible harm can he do now? Leave him be. Maybe we’ll never see him again.”
Charlie’s voice boomed. “I’ll tell you what harm he can do, woman. He can come in here when we least expect it looking for revenge … unless we take care of him first. And that’s just what I aim to do.”
With the men huddled around him, the old man swiftly outlined the preparations for the attack.