a storm was brewing and it was past time to get the sheep in their pens. henry was slumped in his easy chair, dead drunk. with a sigh, sarah wiped her hands and headed for the farmhouse door.
the first thing she saw when she stepped outdoors and looked up into the darkening sky was a pair of devil girls floating down into the meadow.
ohyoukid and petronia looked down as they descended.
"sheep" said ohyoukid. "yuck."
"land right on one," petronia replied. "nothing softer than a sheep."
ohyoukid didn't answer. she swerved as best she could and landed in a clump of yellow grass.
petronia came down on the back of a sheep. "whoo-ee! ride em, cowboy!" she yelled. the poor sheep looked around but was too surrounded by her fellows to move much. all the sheep were milling about a little fearfully.
"here comes mrs brown," said ohyoukid. "i don't think she wants you on her sheep."
"get off my animal, you nasty creature! and get off my land, both of you!" sarah was running toward them, dodging through clusters of restless sheep, with her apron bunched up in her hand.
ohyoukid moved up to meet her. "nothing to get excited about, mrs brown - "
"it's simmons, mrs simmons -
'nothing to be concerned about, mrs simmons, we'll be on our way -"
petronia had crossed over on the backs of several sheep and dropped to the ground. " - as soon as we get a little something to eat," she finished.
"i've got these sheep to take care of, i've got no time to be feeding the likes of you."
"oh we can feed ourselves," petronia told her. "no problem there."
"we don't want much," ohyoukid added, "just enough to take the edge of our hunger pains."
"and we can help you with the sheep," said petronia.
"i don't need - " sarah glanced up at the increasingly dark sky, then back to the house - no help there - and then at the flat gazes of the two girls - "oh all right, if you think you can help."
"we have a way with animals," petronia told her.
"sometimes," ohyoukid added.
"well then" sarah smiled as best she could, "let's get on with it."
sarah closed the door behind her, just as the rain began to fall. the girls looked around. petronia pointed to henry in his chair. "what was his problem?" she asked.
"here's his problem" ohyoukid picked up the bottle beside his chair. she turned it over and nothing came out. "good to the last drop."
"i'll try to wake him up," sarah said.
"why?" asked petronia.
"henry! we have visitors! some young girls! young girls, henry!" sarah turned to the girls. "no use. if that won't wake him, nothing will."
they moved into the kitchen.
"let's eat, " said ohyoukid. "where's the knives and forks?"
"just sit down," sarah told them. "i'll get everything."
"we can help," ohyoukid told her. petronia rolled her eyes a little at this.
'no, you'd just be in the way." sarah moved into the larder. "make yourselves comfortable. this might take a little while, i wasn't expecting company." she gave a nervous laugh.
'take your time," ohyoukid told her. petronia made a face, but held her tongue. they could now hear the wind and rain picking up outside.
"would you like some kippers?" sarah asked them.
"kippers!" exclaimed petronia. "i thought we were in america!"
"well we are, but i'm from england - from south yorks."
"everybody is from somewhere," ohyoukid answered politely.
"if you don't care for kippers, maybe you'd like some mutton with your eggs?"
petronia put her hand on her stomach and made a face.
"that would be very nice," ohyoukid called to sarah.
the wind began to howl as sarah bustled about, putting eggs on the stove and plates and cups and silverware on the kitchen table. henry remained immobile in his chair.
the food was finally ready and sarah watched with her mouth open as the girls attacked it like a couple of lions. they quickly cleaned their plates and looked up, obviously wanting more.
sarah smiled weakly. "my, you must have had a long trip to get here." their gaze didn't waver and she filled their plates with more eggs and toast. "i'll get some of the kippers now, if you'd like."
they nodded yes with their mouths full.
"that was very good," ohyoukid announced when the plates were clean again. "just a little more coffee and a couple more pieces of toast, if you please, ma'am."
"certainly. would you like some pie? i have blueberry and apple."
"we can always find room for pie, " petronia told her and ohyoukid nodded.
"now we need to find a way out of here," ohyoukid told sarah after they finished the pie. "you got a truck or something we can borrow?"
sarah looked at her blankly.
"we'll drive it to the next town and catch a freight, " petronia told her. "you can come by and pick it up later. if you don't have another one, i'm sure some friendly neighbor will take you down."
"of course," ohyoukid added, as she drained the last sips out of her coffee cup, "you can just drive us yourself, if you don't mind the storm."
"but - how could you drive the truck if i gave it to you? neither of you could reach the pedals."
"one of us steers and shifts, the other sits on the pedals," petronia answered.
"don't worry, we've done it before," ohyoukid added.
"what's this? somebody talking about my truck?" henry shouted from the front room. suddenly he was in the doorway, holding on to it for dear life.
he gasped when he saw the girls. then his eye fell on the dirty dishes and pots and pans.
"what's going on here? it looks like they've eaten all the food in the house!"
"only about half if it," sarah told him. "they helped get the sheep in. we have to be hospitable."
"hospitable? to demons? where does it say in scripture we have hospitable to demons?" henry's face got redder. "sarah, fetch my belt."
"what do you need a belt for, henry?" ohyoukid asked him. "it looks like your pants are holding up pretty good there."
"yes," petronia told him, 'if you went out and did a little work instead of sucking on a bottle all day, you might have some need for it."
"so! so! you invite these imps of lucifer into my home not only to rob me but to mock me!" he glared at the girls. "just wait there. i have something that will settle your hash."
henry staggered down the hall and returned a few minutes later with a big black bible, which he thrust in the girls faces.
ohyoukid pointed at the bible, and henry felt it shifting in his hands. he looked down and it had turned into a pillar of salt, with small flames darting out of it. he quickly put it down on the kitchen table. small ghostly figures were pouring out of it and vanishing in the air.
"we're just having a little fun with you, henry," ohyoukid told him.
"you wouldn't to get us mad at you," petronia added.
henry stared at the little pillar of salt, until the flames and the little figures stopped emerging, and it was still.
petronia got up from the table and got the coffee pot. she poured the last thick dregs into her cup.
"you know, sarah," said ohyoukid, "i think you should come with us. leave this hardscrabble life behind and see the world."
'that's right," said petronia. "then we could forget about the freight. we could drive clear to salt lake city."
"or even frisco," said ohyukid.
"i - i don't quite know what to say - "
"go pack your bag," petronia told her.
"but i don't think -"
"just do it, sarah." ohyoukid's little eyes bored into sarah's big blue ones. "just do it."
"and you, henry," said petronia. "while she's packing, you can find that other bottle you've got hidden somewhere. we know you've got one."
'and we'll make some more coffee," said ohyoukid. '"we'll leave some for you."