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Chapter Twenty One
I spent most of the day Thursday going from building to building around the base out-processing, getting everyone from the Military Police to the base Library to sign this stupid form saying I didn't owe any overdue book fines or stolen the Army's Holy Grail, and was 'cleared' to go on 'terminal leave'. Although I would get paid, and be on call if my help was needed for the next two months I didn't have to report for duty. The only thing I still 'Had' to do was attend a breakfast given in my honor the next morning, then return one more time and turn in my ID, laptop, etc once my retirement was official.
The breakfast party was somewhere between a joke and a compromise. Much like military retirees, as an upper level Civil Service employee I had the option of having a luncheon, dinner party, reception, on and on at government expense to calibrate my retirement, the only thing they offered military that I wasn't was a parade in my honor. When asked what I wanted I think I pissed a lot of people off when I asked that they turn all the traffic lights green in my direction while I got the hell off base, and compromised on having a taco breakfast catered at our building.
All I wanted to do that afternoon was open a cold beer, climb into a pair of well worn shorts and kick back. Although the kitchen looked much more barren than it had this morning, thankfully the Bald Banditos hadn't stolen the beer, and I grabbed one before rushing down the hall to climb into my shorts.
I groaned at the note taped to my bedroom door: 'Christian, please pack clothes for the weekend incase the movers have a problem. Also, do whatever you do to your computer to prepare it for movement. Suspense date 0630 hrs tomorrow. Dad' I read.
I had stripped down to my briefs by the time I had really digested his 'request', written in the same spirt he 'asked' me to do things back from when I was a teenager. I couldn't resist turning around, clicking my nude ankles together as I snapped to military style attention and gave my bedroom door, and his note, a crisp one-fingered salute. Just like the old days, I quipped as I dug out a pair of shorts. After telling Binki and Bandit hello I started back down the hall for a fresh beer, but turned back and started a backup on my bedroom computer.
After giving the kitchen chair someone had sadistically put where my recliner belonged I grabbed my laptop and went out on the patio. Thankfully the Bald Banditos hadn't packed our networking equipment and I spent a few minutes setting up what I wanted Junior and the twins to do this afternoon, checking my messages and completing a few projects for our clients.
A few minutes later the sounds of a flurry of activity in the kitchen told me the boys were home. I wasn't at all surprised when I stepped inside and confirmed the commotion was that of a mass production sandwich shop opening for business, all six of the little feeding machines in full production. I felt a little honored when one at a time they stepped out of the assembly line and gave me a hug, even Timmy. Somehow I managed to maneuver through the turmoil and get a fresh beer out of the refrigerator without my hand being mistaken for sandwich makings, and escaped back onto the patio.
I was in the middle of uploading a program update to one of my clients a few minutes later when I felt something softly brush my shoulder. My throat tightened when I looked around and saw the worried look on Carl's normally pixie face.
"Hi Turkey, what's up?" I asked, getting only a hint of a shoulder shrug as an answer. Oh boy, what now? I groaned when I noticed a well thumbed folded paper in his hand. "What, did you bring me a sample?" I teased as I reached over his facebow and wiped his chocolate milk mustache off with my finger.
Great, I silently moaned when he didn't respond. The instant I sat my laptop on the table next to me he hopped into my lap and squirmed sideways against me, leaning his head against my chest.
"What's wrong Son? How was your day?" I tried. Putting two and two together I was fairly sure the paper was from school, and not good news.
"Do I still got that money you said they gave me, that the, the cops gave me?" he asked my tee-shirt.
He surprised me with his question. When I finally got around to telling about his reward money and the trust fund I was setting up for him he wasn't in the least interested, I might as well have told him he had gotten a twenty-five dollar Savings Bond for a gift, one that he couldn't spend for twenty years or whatever. When I asked him if he wanted to buy something with a little of it he was more interested in rejoining his brothers at whatever they were doing then even answering.
The dark side of my brain made me wonder if he hadn't taken out one of the schools security guards, but I dismissed the idea.
"Yes of course, I'm taking care of it for you, it's even growing," I answered. "You have even more money now."
I could feel gears grinding in his little head as he rolled the folded paper between his fingers for several seconds. "You said I geta spent it if I wanta buy something," he whimpered. "And you said I got a lot of money and stuff." I felt his thin body stiffen in my arms as he took a deep breath, clearly summoning some extra courage. "Do you think I got, ah, do I got four thousand dollars yet?" he whined.
Four grand? I silently tittered. I bit my lip to keep from telling him he was a millionaire, actually a multimillionaire.
He's been around Adam's kids too much, a stereo, a big screen TV, the Mother of all Game Boys, this has to be good. I groaned. Chill Christian, maybe a horse, , , but horses cost a lot more than that. I had already decided to buy each of my boys their own horse as soon as cash flow from my new enterprise stabilized, but knew that would take a few months.
"Yes, you have that much, actually a lot more. But, what does a young turkey want to spend that much money on? That would buy a bunch of bird seed!" I tried, hoping to break the ice.
He rubbed the mystery paper in his fingers for a second, then took a deep breath. "I, I wanta buy one of these," he announced as he struggled to unfolded the somewhat crumpled paper.
I was caught completely off guard as I looked at the printout of an old fashioned horse drawn Buckboard, Surry, whatever, complete with a frilly top and spring seats, straight out of an old western movie. I could almost picture Doc Adams from Gunsmoke, or Butch Casady trotting out of town with his girlfriend next to him on it.
"Please Dad, I wanta, I wanta get it and give it to Gramps!" he begged. "We get to ride the horses and have fun and stuff but Gramps is too old and stuff but he can ride them! And Doctor Pop said the horses can pull it for him and stuff, I called him and he did, and him and Mary can go riding too like us! And, well, I, I wanta give it to him, Please Pop, please?"
It was my turn to take a few deep breaths, then wipe my eyes as I tried to digest his request. God really did send me an angel! I thought.
"But we want to help buy it too," Jerry's voice rang from behind me. I had a two pair of identical arms hugging my shoulders before I could look around.
"Can we spend our computer money? Maybe if we can borrow some if we ain't got enough yet? We wanta get it too," Jeff added, hugging me and Carl.
"No! NO! I wanta give it to him!" Carl barked. He stuck his liver lipped frown out from under his facebow and declared, "Gramps gave me a gramps, a granddad, , , whatever, I never had one before! I wanta give him some stuff too!"
"But, we want to too, he's our gramps too! We, , ," Jerry began, and gave me a dirty look when I raised a finger to silence him.
"I think this is something Carl wants to do guys," I gasped, trying to keep my voice steady.
"But he's our gramps too!" Jeff challenged. "Dad, we wanta, , ,"
"But, wait." Carl snapped with a determination I didn't know he had in him. He stared out across the yard for the better part of a minute before a small puff of smoke seemed to come out of his ears.
"Well, but you got me a family and everything too," Carl told the back fence. He took a deep breath as he turned back and surveyed all of our faces. "What about if it's from all of us and I get to pay your share? Please, please Jerry, Jeff? I wanta!"
Thankfully they stayed locked in what seemed like a stare-down contest long enough for me to partially recover. I was still trying to think of what to say when Jerry let go of my shoulder, sat on my lounger and threw his arms around Carl, as his twin hugged him from the other side.
"Well, you gave us a little brother!" Jerry exclaimed. The twins pushed their facebows against his temples and kissed him. "Really, three of them!"
"You give the buggy to Gramps," Jeff added. "We'll, , , we'll help take care of it."
"Can I Dad, please?" Carl begged.
I moved my mouth two or three times trying to push words out, but ended up nodding my head and pulling them into a group hug. "Where do we have to go to get this thing," I managed a couple of minutes later.
They had done their research, they had located a shop in town that build and sold carriages. What the hell, I decided. I earned disappointed looks from the twins when I announced I would be checking Carl out of school at noon tomorrow, but no arguments from Carl. A few assurances that they would be careful about saying anything that might tip off their grandfather and they took off inside, the twins to attach their computer projects, and I'm sure Carl to do some more online buckboard shopping.
After an evening of Gramps mandated packing and getting ready for the great move, none of the boys offered any argument about bathing and getting into bed, and I was only a few minutes behind them.
"You lucked out, you worthless piece of shit!" I snarled at my buzzing beast the next morning. I was tempted to go out to the garage and get a hammer like I had threatened, but wasn't too sure it hadn't already been moved. I kissed my two furry bed-mates and staggered out of bed, praying Dad hadn't packed the coffee pot off already. The wonderful aroma that struck my nose as I stepped into the hall told me I was saved.
At first I wondered what was going on when I stepped into the kitchen and saw a flock of grim faced kids, already dressed for school and already eating breakfast. I didn't get a chance to ask why they were up so early before Dad answered my question.
"Hurry up and eat." he barked in his best command voice. "The move begins at oh seven hundred, I expect the dishwasher loaded by oh six fifty."
I noticed a clipboard on the table next to his chair. Time to go! I decided as I glanced over his shoulder at it; a complete battle plan for moving the last of our belongings. '1025 hrs - loading trailer completed, troops allowed ten minute break.' ... '1035 hrs - truck departs quarters.' ... '1108 hrs - Moving truck arrives new quarters.' told me not to even get involved, better put to get the hell out of there.
I gulped a half cup of coffee while I hugged the kids, earned a sleepy but wide grin from Carl when I reminded he and Dad that I was picking him up from school to 'take care of some business regarding his trust fund' and tried to act casual as I rushed toward the front door. Made it! I congratulated myself, I felt tension draining from my neck and shoulders as I closed the door behind me.
That relaxed feeling only lasted a scant second, until I turned to walk out to my truck and saw a huge eighteen wheeler with 'Allied Van Lines' written on its side; four sour faced men were stacking blankets and boxes in our front yard. Holy shit, I groaned as I noticed another big rig parked in front of Tim's house.
"You COLONEL Miller?" a man almost as big as Tim snarled in a gruff voice. "We were told to get here and be set up by seven, we're here." he growled, his face clearly showing his displeasure.
"He, the Colonel is inside," I answered. I ignored his dirty look as I walked by him, glanced at my watch and added, "Wait seventeen minutes and ring the bell." Have fun dude, you have NO idea what you're in for! I silently chuckled.
What now? I groaned when I noticed Tim shuffling across the street, his chin hanging down to his belt buckle.
"She threw me out," he grumbled. He turned around and gave his house a dirty look. "The bitch gave me five bucks to buy breakfast and kicked me out! At least Timmy got some cereal." He gave my house nasty glare and added, "It's YOUR fault! Your Dad's suppose to be the master mover, he put her up to this shit!"
"Want a free taco?" I offered. He didn't argue when I suggested he attend my 'retirement party' and followed me to the base gate.
The big man not only fit in much better with my co-workers than I had expected, but provided me with the perfect excuse to do what I really wanted to an hour or so later. He had to leave his truck at the base gate and ride with me to my building, and everyone understood when I excused myself to drive him back to the gate so he could go to work. Have fun folks! I chuckled after I dropped Tim off, and kept driving toward town instead of returning to the 'party'.
Our shopping trip for Carl's 'Gramps Buggy' was an adventure to say the least. When I picked him up from school I was impressed that he had put his headgear in his back pack and it as soon as we got in the truck he installed it. But that didn't stop the youngster from talking, I'm sure he wasn't silent for more than a second or so at a time during the thirty-minute drive across town to the carriage works. Somehow I kept from crashing my truck as he kept sticking pictures of the two wagons he had decided to choose between in front of me, blocking my vision as I tried to drive.
At first the shop was far less than impressive, a small unkept store front with high, well weathered wooden fences on each side of it. Who I was sure was the owner was equally discouraging, an elderly man that reminded me of the stereotype Red Neck Willie - well worn cowboy hat and almost high heal boots, western shirt and jeans, even a gap between his teeth that I was fairly sure had been designed to aim the spit from the tobacco chew that bulged from his right jaw. Somehow I wasn't surprised when he spit into the repulsive looking Coke can, complete with dried tobacco juice stains running down it that he was carrying, and introduced himself as 'Tex'.
I had just asked myself if we were in the right place, and was about to tell Tex what we were looking for when Carl hooted, "Look! There they are!" and bolted out a glass door at the back of the shop.
At first I thought I had walked into an old west museum when we followed behind him. There were several rows of covered areas, about like long multi-vehicle carports, full of covered wagons, stage coaches, horse drawn wagons of every sort. Each of them were clearly pristine, when I gave the stage coaches a second look I could almost picture 'Tex' on top of one, sawed off shotgun in hand.
"Pop, Pop, look! I don't know which one!" Carl howled as he darted between the 'exhibits'. "They are so awesome! Totally awesome!" he screamed as he hopped into one, then another of the buggies. "Gettie up! Hey'ya!" he hooted as he jumped up in down on one of their driver's seats, playing his air reins with one hand, snapping an imaginary whip over his head with the other.
"Get off there BOY!" Tex snarled. "That boy breaks something you bought it!" he growled at me. He spit in his can and snapped "Somethin' wrong with him, why you got that stuff on his face?
"You wanta look at a wagon fine, but rope that BOY!" he demanded; I could almost see the contempt drip off his mouth next to his drool.
I resisted the urge to punch him out then call Carl and walk out, and took a deep breath. "Actually, my son wants to buy a buggy for his grandfather. It's his money and his choice, I just drove him down here." I took a deep breath to keep from taking him out and added, "The Orthodontic appliances are to straighten his teeth, give him a good bite." I couldn't resist adding, "So he doesn't have an ugly gap in his teeth." It floated well over his head.
"Them things are hand made, they ain't cheep." he informed me between spits. "They start at three grand, that's more than that sick little scamp's got."
I shifted my feet and was about to cock my arm back to punch him out when Carl hooted, "Look Dad, this one's totally neat, and its only thirty-seven hundred! I got plenty of more money to spend!
"No, what about this one?" the youngster howled as he hopped onto a lace topped single seated surry next to it. "Maybe can I get Gramps both of them?"
"Pick out what you want Son," I told Tex's chin, my fist's its aiming radar was still locked onto as its target.
"Look Pop, this one's got a butt seat too! I want it!" Carl declared.
The redneck glanced at Carl, then back at me, I could almost see dollar signs in his eyes as he did, but from the tightness of his forehead muscles I think he realized how close to a fist fight he was. "Let me help you, I bet we got something that your Ganny would like!" he answered.
"Please get rid of that dip and wash your hands before you get near my son," I growled in a low voice. I was a little disappointed when he tossed his can into the trash and disappeared into a side room, but convinced my fist to relax, at least a little to 'at ready'.
The old redneck seemed almost like a different person when he returned from washing up, and began explaining the options we had regarding what he called buckboards and surries. Carl stole the old man's heart as he explained why he wanted to buy the wagon and announced that he was adopted: I was beginning to reconsider my decision to take the old bigot out as he worked with the boy.
Shortly they seemed to come up with the perfect 'Gramps Buggy', a two seater buckboard with a folding top, complete with the frilly trim around it, and a rumble seat behind it. I considered killing both of them when Carl insisted on extra padding and shock absorbers for both the seats and suspension, telling Tex that Gramps was even older than I was, but bit my lip instead. I thought the old redneck was going to have a heart attack when on my instruction Carl pulled out his cell phone and called Adam about what harness we would need, but the old man quickly started stacking it next to Carl's wagon.
The youngster's face sank, his liver lipped frown completely covering his facebow almost overshadowed the sad puppy dog eyes the twins had taught him when Tex announced he could have the buggy ready for delivery in seven to ten days.
"But, it's for Gramps!" the youngster whimpered, tears welling in his eyes.
I not only decided against punching the old red neck out, but fought off the urge to hug him when he offered to deliver the wagon the next morning. I think the hug Carl gave him paid part of the bill, which was much less than I expected.
After Carl and I celebrated the success of our shopping trip with a couple of banana splits I called Dad to check on the status of the great move (ment?, his moving his headquarters?)
"The only thing left that must be removed from our old quarters is your crotch rocket" he said. I ignored the tone in his voice, suggesting we dispose of my Hog instead of moving it to our new home.
His voice sounded a bit more testy as he added, "Judy needs to pick up Tim's truck, and I must pick the twins up from school. We've made arrangements to get them and Timmy out of school early, if you arrive out here in the next thirty minutes it would be helpful." he rang off before I could reply. Aye, Aye Sir! I silently snarled at the handpiece.
I had just changed course toward the ranch when my cell phone rang again. Okay, this might be fun! I tittered when I saw Tim's name on my caller ID.
"Dude, they found her!" he announced so loudly I had to pull the instrument away from my ear. "A Fatboy with fuel injection, springers, hardtail and everything I wanted!" he proclaimed. "Get your ass over here QUICK, you have GOT to meet her! I'm approved and everything!" I tried to ignore the urgency in his usually emotionless voice, but pushed my little truck's accelerator pedal to the floor a bit harder than normal when he hung up on me.
No one seemed to want to answer my queries about what Tim had going on as we rode back into town in Dad's van, except for Judy firing me a few dirty looks. I was a little surprised when we stopped in front of our house and instead of the kids arguing about who would ride with me the twins all but pushed Carl out of the van.
"I wonder what we did?" I half teased Carl as we walked toward the house.
The house was indeed empty, a little eery after having it so full of life for so many years. I was thankful that my Hog was waiting for us inside the garage door, along with our helmets.
A quick call to Tim confirmed he was at the Harley Davidson dealership, and I enjoyed Carl's tight hug leaning into my back as I launched us onto the street. I hadn't reached the end of our block when I again felt the soft vibration of him purring like a happy kitten.
"Check her out, and she's MINE!" Tim proclaimed as I shut my big hog off a few minutes later.
He was sitting an absolutely beautiful bike, a Fatboy with a gold-flake black paint job, probably twenty degree rake: she just had a 'growl' look about her that fit my big friend perfectly. Carl and I only had a minute or so to look her over before Dad parked his van next to us, and we were besieged by kids.
"Check it out Son, she's mine! She's OUR's!" Tim hooted as he scooped his son up and perched him on the seat. I felt a surge of cosmic energy blast the back of my head like a witch had just cursed the bike, or its new owner when Tim added, "Want to ride with me?" When I turned around I wasn't far from wrong, Judy's eyes were firing poison tipped arrows into her husband, the big bike, and I'm sure me. Dad's nasty glare didn't offer any safe haven.
"Time to get out of here, while you are still alive. While we are still alive!" I whispered to Tim.
"Honey, can Timmy ride with me?" Tim responded. I had a little trouble believing my eyes as he stuffed his son into a helmet without waiting for an answer. Although, in all the years I had known Judy I rarely heard her curse, if I had known how to read lips I'm sure I would have been able to review the entire Unabridged Dictionary of Profanity through her face when I risk a glance behind me.
"Scoot back, make room for Dad, let's go riding!" Tim told his son.
I guess the mental coordination Tim and I had developed as we covered each other's backsides, escaping dangerous situations back when we were Bikers kicked in, and I hustled Carl onto my bike and fired her up, ready for a quick escape.
Not real swift Dude, I thought as Tim a launched his new ride into a wheel stand and his rear tire left a black streak of rubber across the parking lot, but when I felt Dad and Judy's eyes penetrating my helmet and drilling into my skull I opened the throttle and released the clutch, hoping we could get out of the parking lot before one of them activated the death ray I was sure they were praying for. Oh shit, what have you gotten me into this time, I groaned when I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw Dad and Judy glaring at my flock of cheering kids.
Except for being stuck in a brain bucket I felt like I was twenty-years-old again as Tim and I roared out of town side by side. For the first time I kicked my highway pegs on my Hog open and extended my legs onto them. Yes, this is the life! I chuckled. Timmy's silver grin was so bright I had to divert my eyes away from it when I glanced over at them, from Carl's purring I was sure Tim had to do the same thing. I even heard, or felt several loud, happy squeals into the back of my chest after we left the freeway and began banking our big bikes around the curves on the winding road leading to our new home.
Yes, oh yes the good life! I tittered as I thought of the cold beer, and relaxed country life not many miles down the road; I couldn't resist opening my bike's throttle a little more and banking harder into the road's curves, a challenge Tim quickly accepted.
Oh shit, I groaned a couple of minutes later when I glanced in my mirror, and saw a passenger car behind us. Its black fenders, white hood and top complete with a light bar told me it was a State Trooper's vehicle, the last thing I would want to see. We were cruising about twenty miles an hour above the speed limit, and from my youth I knew the red-necked cops that worked in the rural areas of South Texas did NOT like motorcycle riders, especially those on Harley Davidsons. As I expected slowing down to below the speed limit didn't help, he continued to 'position keep' behind us like a combat aircraft waiting to close in for the kill.
Come on, let's get it done, Ass-Hole, I thought, all but prayed as we continued toward the ranch. I was so freaked I forgot my new bike had electronic turn signals as we slowed down to turn into the ranch's driveway and stuck my arm out as a manual signal like we had as kids. Oh well, I groaned when his red overhead lights came on.
Tim and I exchanged quick glances, asking each other if we could loose him in a chase, but we both pulled over and stopped a few dozen yards from the Ranch's driveway. I felt my rectum suck some air in when I saw it was the same Trooper Roberts and I had outrun to try to help Mary and Dad, the same poor bastard that Carl's horse had taken out.
"Good afternoon! I'm Trooper Harper, I was sure that was you," he began as he settled his Stetson cowboy hat on his head and walked toward us. I had a little trouble managing Carl, trying to hide behind my back, and getting the kickstand of my big bike down at the same time, but managed to nod at him, or his gunbelt and handcuffs.
"I was sure that was you, and I wanted to thank you for your help last weekend," he continued, offering his hand out for me shake. I was a little surprised that when I accepted his handshake I didn't get a handcuff slapped on my wrist.
"Ah, Christian Miller, I'm glad you are okay," I answered. "Any, damage, are you doing well?"
It was clear Carl wasn't going to move, or let go of me, and somehow I I managed to shift my slightly overweight frame around and convinced my middle aged hips and legs to contort enough to swing my leg over my bike's fuel tank and dismount. I stumbled a little from the weight of the eighty pound, blond haired fanny pack still wrapped around the back of my waist. Shit, he's going to think I'm drunk! I groaned.
"I'm fine thank you, I had a minor concussion, a few bruised ribs and strained muscles." He glanced at Tim and Timmy who were both sitting motionless on Tim's new Hog. "You folks have business out here? I like to know the people in my district is the only reason I, , ," a loud horse neigh distracted him before he could finish. We both all turned to the pasture at the same time toward the dozen or so steeds rushing toward us.
"Zoe! HaJo!" Carl streaked as he bolted from behind me, hopped over the drainage ditch next to the road and raced to the fence. "Diablo!" he screamed, thrusting his arms between the strands of barbed wire as they galloped to him.
"Yea! Hi!" Timmy hooted, bailing off his dad's bike to join his friend.
"Be care, those things are dangerous!" the trooper called after them. "Sonny, get away from that fence!" he yelled as Zoe skidded to a stop and buried her huge head in Carl's arms, Hajo trying to nose his way into the hug.
"They are okay, they wont hurt them," I said as Zeus and Diablo began to compete for Timmy's affection.
I'm not sure if Tim's painful groan, or a reflection made me look back toward the road. When I did in some ways I was glad I was a widower as I felt the poison tipped darts Judy was firing at the patrol car's flashing lights, then her husband then me as she slowly drove by. Dad's mini-van was right behind her. Yeah well, free, white and twenty-one or not, I'm going to catch hell for this too, I told myself as I saw the angry snarl on Dad's face, and the sea of frightened faces glued against the van's side windows.
Oh great, it's a God Damn parade! I groaned as I started to turn back to the trooper, and saw the ranch's vans lumbering down the road toward us. Is Eye Witness News, or maybe a news crew from 'Stars and Stripes' next?
When I turned back to the pasture the trooper was across the ditch talking to the boys, and it seemed the horses. I was a little surprised, but pleased as I hopped the ditch and watched him tentatively reaching out to pet a couple of them.
Just as I stepped next to the trooper Zoe let out a loud snort and turned away, an instant later all of the animals galloped away racing toward the ranch's van, that were starting up the drive.
"They wanta see their friends, they wanta get rode," Carl informed us. He looked up at the trooper with wide, frightened eyes and whimpered, "Are you gonna put my Dad in jail?"
"No, I wanted to thank your dad. Your dad helped me a while ago when I got hurt, and I wanted to thank him."
If you only knew, I silently tittered.
"Hey, you guys want to see my cruiser, my police car? I'll show you how to work the siren!" he offered as he tucked Carl under his arm.
Not wise, Dude! I moaned, frantically trying to think of a tactful way to separate them, to get the poor Bastard out of harms way. I didn't have enough time to think, they took only a couple of steps toward the drainage ditch before something seemed to catch the toe of the officer's cowboy boot, and he went crashing face down into the drainage ditch. Oh God, not again! I gasp.
"Oh Damn! God Damn!" he howled. He started to roll over but let out a scream and grasped his knee, his face racked with pain. "Oh shit, it think I broke my frigging leg!" His face tightened even more as he patted his gunbelt. "Shit, I left my walkie-talkie in the car!"
A movement next to me made me turn in time to see Carl twist around toward the pasture, but thankfully I was able to grab him before he bolted.
"Try and lay still, don't move around," Tim's deep voice made me look back at the downed trooper. Tim was kneeling next to the man. "We're getting help, try and relax."
Tim's glance told me to get in my cell. When I pulled Carl under my arm Timmy was stuck like glue to his friend's side, reassuring him. After calling 911 for an ambulance I called Adam. Regretfully he was still at work, but he told me Roberts was probably nearby, either at his house or possibly at Sonhos Dourados.
A couple of minutes after I called him he and Cindy galloped up to the fence. He's not too old! I thought as I watched Roberts jump off his saddle and over the barbed wire. Harper gave him, or probably more his faded jeans and tee-shirt, a questioning look until Roberts told him he was a surgeon. His face was worth a million words when the Doctor pulled out a large folding Buck knife slit his uniform pant leg from the hem to the crotch.
Just when I began to see at least a little hope of things calming down I felt the ground begin to vibrate ever so slightly, but was unprepared for what I saw when I looked around; what had to be twenty-five or thirty mounted horses thundering toward us at full gallop. An instant later the loud shrill of several sirens approaching told me life could still get even more interesting.
Pepe, Junior and another boy dove over the fence before their mounts stopped, and more stumbled than ran to Roberts, pulling bright orange packs off their thin backs. Okay, whatever, I thought when I noticed they were still in their Cornerstone Academy shorts and polo shirts as were most of the other boys, and that the most of the horses were unsaddled.
Just as the approaching sirens reached an ear piercing level thankfully one then another shut off as three cop cars and an ambulance skidded to a stop around us, brakes squealing. Even that peace was short lived, replaced by the loud screams of young voices from behind me.
Oh God, what next? I groaned as Zeus's, then Zoe and Diablo's big bodies, now outside the fence, lined up between Roberts, the downed trooper, boys helping him and the Army of cops and paramedics rushing to help. The stiffness of their posture, and their ears, pinned so tightly against their thick necks they all but disappeared, told me they hadn't drifted out of the pasture.
"Christian, control the horses," Roberts ordered.
"I got an officer down, get them damn things out of the way or we'll put them down! Do it now!" a thick county Texan accent barked. Oh God! Need some help! I prayed when I discovered it came from a fat, redneck cop aiming a big revolver that would have made Wyatt Earp jealous at Zeus's head.
"You ain't gonna hurt my horses!" a high pitched voice screamed. I died a thousand times as I watched the slender red headed youngster step in front of the cop, that big gun was now pointed directly at the boy's thin chest. Even though he had his back to me I could feel Johnny's eyes as he tried to stare down the big redneck, and his cannon.
"Move boy, now!" the man commanded. He started to reach for the youngster, but pulled back when Zoe and Diablo lowered their heads and leaned forward. At the same time two more large horses flanked the cops and paramedics. This cannot be happening! I gasp as all the horses flashed very frightening snarls like a pack attacking dogs. I was still trying to restart my heart when two more horses closed in on what was clearly their pray.
I couldn't believe how calm, yet determined Johnny's baby face appeared as he turned his back on that big gun, still pointed at his little torso. "They just wanta help, it's cool," he told Zeus, and the other big animals. "Ginger!" he yelled.
I followed his gaze back to the pasture. This has to be a dream, a very bad one! I tried to convince myself. His small cinnamon colored filly was standing by herself against the fence. All the other horses were ten of fifteen feet behind her, all of them in what looked like a wedge formation - The horses that had boys mounted on them were a layer or two back in the wedge, and a few baby horses were pushing their heads between the front horses like young kids trying push between adults to see what was going on.
Ginger seemed to study her boy's face for what felt like an eternity before she let out several snorts. This has to be a flashback, from my deviant youth! Dad told me not to smoke that shit! I decided when Zeus returned the snort and turned his big head toward Zoe. She leaned even further toward the cop, sniffed a couple of times and let out a soft whinny, which seemed to be enough for the other horses in the attack force, and all of them raised their heads a little and stepped back a step or so.
I pulled Timmy and Carl against my stomach and tried to use their wonderful snuggle to help again restart my heart and lungs as we watched the paramedics treat Harper and load him onto their stretcher. After a minute or so I felt what I was fairly sure was a small amount of air moving into my chest. I started to feel a little relaxed, that I might survive as the blurred image of several big animals passed me, I'm sure going back into the pasture.
Tim's panicked voice made my rectum suck in a breath. I'm sure it pulled in a gallon of so of air when I looked around; Diablo was standing at the edge of the road, her ears back against her neck again, and pawing the ground with her front hooves like an angry bull about to charge as she glared at our bikes. I was sure she was deciding which one to destroy first.
And this is retirement? I gasp as I watched her push her big snout against Tim's new bike pushing it back an inch or so.
To Be Continued . . .