It Comes Back At You


Chapter 8


Saturday morning Trixie was feeling the effects of her late night.  She hauled herself out of bed at eight-thirty, very late for a Belden.  Moms was in the kitchen, just finishing the batter for fresh blueberry muffins.  She shook her head when she saw her bedraggled daughter.

“I’ll have to ask Maddie if Brian looks this bad.  She was going to pick them up at nine for breakfast.”

Trixie grimaced, then her eyes twinkled.  “Jim must look worse.  He wasn’t home yet when Brian hung up.”  She took the batter from her mother and filled the muffin tins.

Helen raised an eyebrow.  “What time did he go out?”

“Oh, he left around ten-thirty,” Trixie said casually.  She moved to the oven to put the muffins in to bake.  She opened the door, then quickly slammed it shut.  Her face drained of color, and her eyes were panicked as she turned to her mother.  “Moms, did you know there is a copperhead in there?”

Helen’s blue eyes widened, and she ran a hand through her sandy curls.  Then she gave up all pretense of remaining calm and screamed, “PETER!!”

Peter came running.  His wife never panicked; such a scream could not be good.  “What’s wrong?” he panted.

“C-c-copperhead.  I-in the o-oven,” Trixie stammered.

Peter looked inside the oven carefully.  Then he went to the phone.  When a voice answered on the other end, he was neither calm nor polite.  Without preamble he said, “Tell Sergeant Molinson to get his ass out to Crabapple Farm NOW!”



Mart and Dan returned from Mr. Maypenny’s cabin a while later.  When they reached the edge of the farm and saw the police car in the driveway, they broke into a run.  They tore into the kitchen at full speed, breathing hard.

“What’s going on?” Mart demanded.

Helen Belden answered him shakily, “There was a copperhead in the oven.”

“And don’t try to convince me it crawled in there itself,” Peter ranted.

Molinson sighed.  “Not in the Belden household.”

Dan looked around for Trixie.  She was standing in a corner, staring vacantly.  He worried she was in shock.  He walked over to her and lifted her chin.  When she finally met his eyes, hers were filled with tears.  Fear and confusion raged in her face.

“Why?” she whispered.

“I wish I knew, darlin’, I wish I knew.”  He wrapped his arms around her.  She buried her face in his chest, and hugged him tightly.  He could feel her trembling.  He stroked her hair and whispered softly to her while she cried quietly.

Mart watched Dan comforting Trixie.  He felt a wave of anger overpowering him.  How dare this psycho keep torturing his sister like this!?

He turned to his parents.  “Where’s Bobby?”

His father struggled to speak calmly.  “He’s still at the Lynches’ house.”

Helen said, “I’d rather he stay there until this is taken care of.”

Mart nodded.  He turned to the sergeant.  “Will you be much longer?”

“No, I’m just about done.”  He looked over at Trixie, still crying on Dan’s shoulder.  His gaze softened briefly, then his face hardened in anger and determination.  He looked back at Mart.  “Don’t let her out of your sight.”

Trixie stepped back from Dan and reached for a tissue, but held onto his hand.  “I want to go get Bobby.  I need to talk to Di.”

Dan looked at Mart, who nodded.  Dan said, “We’ll drive you.  I left the wagon up by the stables.  Let me go get it and come back for you.  I’ll just be a few minutes.”  He held Trixie’s eyes for a minute.  “Everything will be okay, I promise.”

Trixie nodded.  She said softly, “Thanks, Dan.”

She moved to stand next to Mart while Dan went to get the car.  He put his arm around her shoulder.  Molinson and Mr. and Mrs. Belden moved into the living room.

“Trixie, I’m sorry,” Mart said, planting a kiss on her forehead.

She leaned her head on his shoulder.  “Me too.  I know you were just trying to take care of me.”

“Yeah, but I promised myself I wouldn’t turn into Brian and Jim.  Instead, I became worse.”

Trixie sighed.  “How about if we just stick together?”

Mart smiled.  “I like that plan.”



At the Lynch estate, Mart and Dan went into the rec room to play video games with Larry, Terry and Bobby.  They wanted to give the girls a chance to talk alone.  Di took Trixie up to her room, where Trixie told her about the snake.  Trixie also apologized for being so harsh with Di, and they had a good long talk.

They were hugging and crying when Trixie suddenly got mad.  She swiped angrily at her tears and said, “I am so sick of crying.  I feel like that’s all I’ve done since last night.  I hate crying!”

“I know you do, sweetie.  But why were you crying last night?”

Trixie looked blank for a moment.  What had made her cry last night?  Oh, yeah, the intense conversation with Jim about their friendship and dating others.  There was no way in hell she was telling Di about that.  Um, now what do I say?

“Well, I was filling Jim and Brian in on the situation…”

Di’s eyebrows shot up.  “Wow!  You actually went to the Overprotective Ones with this?  And they’re not here yet?”

Trixie laughed ruefully.  “They came really close to hopping in the car and coming home last night, let me tell you.  Talking them down was difficult.  And that was last night.  They don’t even know about the copperhead.”

Di sighed.  “I don’t want to be the one to tell them about that, to be sure.  I bet they end up coming home yet.”

Trixie got up and went to the window.  She stood, looking out at the trees which were everywhere in their little corner of the world.  Finally she said, “Last night I was so sure that I didn’t want them to come.  I wanted to be able to get through my first crisis without them, just to prove to all of us that I could survive them going away without getting myself or anyone else killed.”

Getting up to stand by the window, Di looked carefully at her friend’s face.  The normally spunky little blonde looked tired, drawn, and frightened.  Softly, she questioned, “And now?”

Once again, tears ran slowly down from the big blue eyes.  “I always feel safe with them.  Right now I'm very scared.”  Then she got angry again and stamped her foot.  “And I hate being scared!”

Thoughtfully, Di said, “Everyone gets scared.  The thing I’ve always admired about you, though, is that you don’t let fear paralyze you.  You think through the situation, no matter how frightening, and find a plan or a clue.  You keep moving, keep trying, and keep hoping.”

Trixie snorted derisively, “Yeah, keep hoping some big, strong, overprotective male will come rescue me from whatever I’ve foolishly and recklessly gone and done now.”  In a voice laden with self-loathing she continued, “And I’ll take the stupid lecture and be glad of it, because otherwise I’d be dead.”

Mart had poked his head into the room just in time to hear his sister’s last comment.  He scowled fiercely.  Diana caught his eye, and looked at him helplessly.  He shook his head as if to say, Leave it go for now. 

Clearly his throat loudly, Mart said, “Trix, Moms just called.  Tad came by to get you.  She filled him in, and he’s on his way over here.”

Trixie didn’t turn from the window, but she looked at her watch and sighed.  Leaning her forehead against the cool pane, she said, “I really don’t feel like studying.”

Mart shrugged.  “Why don’t we all go do something fun, then?”

Trixie merely nodded.

Shutting the door behind him, Mart headed back down to the rec room.  Dan took one look at his expression and pulled him aside into the adjoining family room.  Mrs. Lynch joined them.

“What did she say about Tad?” Dan asked.

“Just that she didn’t feel like studying,” Mart replied grimly.

“That’s all?” Dan was shocked.

“She just stared out the window.  She wouldn’t turn to look at me, and I got the distinct impression she’s still crying.”


Sherry Lynch shook her head.  “Look, she needs some cheering up.  Di is trying to help her by letting her pour her heart out, but I’m sure that’s only causing her to focus on the negative.  Take her to Wimpy’s for lunch.”

Mart nodded, “I did suggest we do something fun, and I don’t think she’s eaten yet today.”

“Wimpy’s is very public, so it’s less likely that something will happen there,” Sherry encouraged him.  “It will be filled with kids in the middle of the day on a Saturday, so Trixie will plaster a smile on her face to make a good show.  Keep her there until she relaxes, and the smile starts to be real.”

Dan agreed, “That’s not a bad plan.”  Then he grinned conspiratorially.  “Besides, if something does happen, Molinson will have a shorter trip.”

That got a chuckle out of Mart.  “Alright, let’s drag my sad-sack sibling out for an enjoyable repast at our favorite establishment.”

Sherry raised an eyebrow.  “My goodness, Mart, you almost sound like your old self.”  He blushed.  She smiled and said, “Let me go get the girls.  I’ll be right back.”



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