Chapter Nineteen

They watched while the truck pulled into the driveway. It was a white pickup truck but on the side someone had painted the Confederate flag along with the words, YOU CAN HAVE MY GUN WHEN YOU PRY IT FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS.

"Oh look, dearest, I think we found a catchphrase for you," the Doctor said, pointing to the words while the truck slowed down and parked beside the SUV.

The man driving the truck had closely cropped black hair that resembled the way the Doctor had his hair in his ninth life. He was a bit pudgy with dark brown eyes. Next to him was a man who looked similar to him except his dark hair was in a mullet and he had a bit of growth on his lean face. They looked at the Doctor and his family and stared at them in silence for a moment.

"Will these blokes be carrying guns," Amy said while the Doctor waved back cheerfully, "and will we have to pry them from their cold, dead hands to get the guns away from them?"

"Didn't the American Civil War end about a hundred and fifty years ago?" Rory said, folding his arms over his chests. "I had no idea there were still Confederates in the US at this time."

The doors opened and the men got out. Ruth glanced at the children before walking down the hill towards them.

"Do these delightful chaps belong to Ruth then?" the Doctor asked the children.

"They're her sons," Brittany said. "They don't live at home any more though."

"I gather not since they're apparently off fighting the American Civil War," the Doctor said.

Brittany snickered at that.

"They're racist, remember?" Brittany said as she leaned in to his ear. "Confederates didn't like black people and they don't either so…stars and bars."

"Lovely, just the sort of people you want to share turducken with," the Doctor muttered while Brittany snickered.

"They shoot Santa too," Michelle said, looking over her shoulder at him.

"They do what?" River said, doing a double take.

Brittany sighed.

"The reason why they come to our house is because Mom refuses to take us to their houses," Brittany said. "And it's because every Christmas they'd go outside with a shotgun and pretend to shoot Santa as a joke. Except it scared Shelly one year and she ran screaming and hid in a closet. Everyone laughed at that except Mom and Dad and it pissed Mom off so much we haven't been back to their houses since."

River's mouth dropped open while the Doctor looked at Amy and Rory.

"Them?" River said, pointing to the men who were now chatting with Ruth by their truck. "They did that?"

The children nodded and River glared at the men.

"River, don't," the Doctor said, stepping up beside her. "Don't do anything to them."

"I won't but believe me, I'll really have to restrain myself," River growled.

She backed up away from the porch when the men turned and walked with Ruth up to the house. She glared at the men when they gave her suspicious looks.

"You know what?" River said to her friends and family, "let's go around back and have some more fun."

"Yeah, I'm not eager to meet these people," Amy said.

They grabbed the discs and headed around the back of the house.

"It's nice to know that you didn't turn out like them," Rory said to the children while they walked.

"Mommy told us that they are wrong to hate other people like that if they're different from us so we don't," Michelle said.

"Good," the Doctor said. "I'm glad someone in your family has some sense."

"Wanna go back to the creek?" Michelle asked them.

"Where's that?" the Doctor said.

"See those trees?" Michelle said, pointing to the forest beyond the barren field. "There's a creek running through them. Daddy built a bridge there and a little playhouse for us so we go back there and play."

"Sounds good to me," the Doctor said.

They stepped off into the snowy field and trudged along. The Doctor heard his name being called and turned to see Lori. She was standing on the upper deck.

"We're walking back to the creek," the Doctor called out when she asked where they were going. "They want to show us their playhouse."

"Don't be gone long," Lori called out. "And be careful. I'll yell when dinner's ready, okay?"

"Okay, Mommy," Michelle called out.

Lori waved and went back inside as the Doctor and his family turned and followed the children. The field was an acre wide so it didn't take very long to get to the wooden bridge inside the forest. A creek ran about ten feet below it but at the moment it was frozen over. On the other side of the bridge by the other field was a large blue, wooden playhouse with a yellow shingle roof. The door to the playhouse was yellow and so was the trim around the windows.

"We wade in that sometimes when the water's warm," Michelle said, pointing down to the frozen creek while they walked across the bridge. "But we gotta be careful cause there's leeches in there."

"Yeah, Shelly went in there one day and splashed around and when she came back out, she had about five leeches on her legs. Dad had to burn them off with a lighter."

"I was once the prisoner of a madman who tried to kill me with a leech that was the size of a rhino," the Doctor said. "It would have sucked all the blood out of my body in five minutes."

"Ewww," Mandy said, making a face.

"Yes, it was quite slimy and gory," the Doctor said.

They crossed the bridge and carefully walked to the snow to the playhouse. Michelle opened the door and went inside. The children followed and the Doctor and his family bent down to get inside. Inside the ceiling was high enough that they could stand up. The interior was cold but cheerful with yellow painted walls, a blue wooden floor and tiny chairs and table near the back and a small wooden toy chest near the door. Toys and games were scattered all over the floor.

"This is nice," the Doctor said, looking around.

"We like to come here and play," Mandy said.

"We like to walk to the woods too," Tom said, pointing to the woods in the distance.

"You have a lot of freedom here," the Doctor said as he picked up a My Little Pony coloring book and flipped through it.

"Nothing happens out here," Brittany said with a shrug. "There's an abandoned railroad track about a mile from here. We walk out to it and walk down to Kennard, which is about two miles away."

"See, that's one of the advantages of living out in the country," the Doctor said, sitting down on the floor beside the chairs. "You can have more freedom and there's less worry about crime."

"That's why Mom and Dad wanted to live out here," Brittany said, sitting down on the other side of the room. "They like it out here. It's kinda far to the city but it's quiet and peaceful."

"Except when the dummies come," Michelle said as she and Tom and Mandy sat in the chairs.

"Are more dummies coming then?" Rory asked as she and Amy and River sat beside the Doctor.

"Probably," Michelle said. "But the main buttholes are here now. My Uncle Dan and Cousin Jack and Cousin Randy, they make the most trouble."

"Randy, eh?" the Doctor said with a huge grin.

"Yeah, he was the one driving the truck," Brittany said. "Why? What's so funny?"

"Randy is a slang word for horny in Britain," the Doctor said.

Brittany snickered.

"Yeah, Randy is randy at times, that's for sure," Brittany said while Michelle giggled.

"He's always talking about who he's been dating," Michelle said, turning in her chair so she could see the Doctor. "They sound like ugly dogs when he talks about them."

"Probably desperate too," Brittany said.

"And I knew a Jack who was also very randy," the Doctor said. "Is Cousin Jack randy as well?"

"No, he's antisocial and a felon," Brittany said.

"Really, why is he a felon?" Rory said while the Doctor looked at the coloring book and listened.

"He stole a bunch of printers from his workplace and tried to sell them," Michelle said.

"Seriously?" Amy said. "He's a thief?"

"Yup," Michelle said. "My grandma died a few years ago and he had to come to the funeral in handcuffs."

"Yeah, they wouldn't let him out of them," Brittany said. "Aunt Ruth and Uncle Dan were angry but the cop that went with him to the funeral didn't let him out of them. He had them on his wrists and on his ankles."

"Charming," River said. "So which one of them shoots Santa?"

"Dunno," Michelle said. "We didn't go out and watch. But they were both laughing while they did it."

"Like I said, charming," River said. "Compared to them, this house will seem cozy."

"Yes but we can avoid them, it' s a large house," the Doctor said. "We'll just go downstairs and eat in Shelly's secret spot and lock the door."

"Sounds good to me," Michelle said.

The Doctor shushed them all for a moment.

"Your mother's calling us, we have to go," he said, standing up.

"Wow, you have good hearing," Brittany said.

The Doctor gave her a smug look and then winked as everyone got up and headed out of the playhouse.

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