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“Do you remember that time you shot the rattlesnake by Daddy’s foot?” Jenny asked.
Kate did remember. She was 16 years old and they were loading hay at the barn. Langston was right in the middle of one of his rants, walking back and forth from the barn to the pick-up, throwing bales of hay for Kate to stack. As she reached down to catch a bale, she realized her father was passing right by a coiled rattlesnake with every step.
Langston continued his tirade, his boot coming down right by the snake as he returned to the barn.
“Daddy,” she tried in a louder voice.
His answer was another hay bale flung angrily in her direction as once again her father turned on his heel and stalked back to the barn.
The sliding back window of the truck cab was open. Kate reached inside and angled a 30-30 rifle out of the rack, carefully passing it through the window. This time when her father came out of the barn, she said, “Goddammit Langston Lockwood, stop.”
He did, his left foot falling right by the rattler. The snake drew back to strike. Kate shouldered the rifle, aimed, and blew the snake’s head off.
Langston didn’t move. He looked down at the snake and up at this daughter. “Why in the hell didn’t you say something? You got blood all over my boot.”
“Why in the hell wouldn’t you shut up and let me say something,” Kate countered hotly. “And be glad it’s the snake’s blood and not yours.”
“Huh, talk louder next time, Sister,” he said, putting the bale in his hands on the tailgate. “You’re gonna clean that rifle when we get back to the house,” he added crossly. But then, on his way back to the barn he said over his shoulder, “Damn good shot.”
Kate shook her head as she re-lived that afternoon. “I was shaking so bad it’s a wonder I didn’t blow his foot off. What in the world made you think about that?”
“You had ways to connect with Daddy,” Jenny said. “You’re a hell of a shot. You’ve never been thrown off a horse. You could out bluff him at the poker table, and then you learned to out drink him. The old bastard wouldn’t bend enough to say it, but he respected you. I had nothing.”