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Bobby Fix-It Embraces Family: The Billy the Kid Chronicles Continue
Mike, This One’s for You
In truth it’s for all of you who have loyally and enthusiastically followed this series and encouraged me to continue. I’m more than happy to continue as long as there is support for it.
I even tossed in a new character this week…..Mike…..dedicated to my writing buddy from Arizona.
So let’s get this show on the road.
One month to go!
Thirty days until my life is cattle-prodded into another reality.
Fatherhood, man, it scares the shit out of me. Not only do I carry the normal concerns that every father-to-be carries, but I’ve got the Russian mob and the Mexican drug cartel beating the bushes, racing each other for the privilege of gutting me like a carp….and by extension that means my wife and future child are in the crosshairs as well. There’s always the chance they believe we’re dead, but can I really afford to rest comfortably on top of an assumption?
Not a comforting thought as I take the turnoff to the Circle T ranch. My foreman, Matt Stairs, waves from the corral as I pull my pickup behind the barn. Nice guy, Matt. Tough as nails, a banty-rooster with a prize-fighter’s attitude, he takes no shit from anyone, but he’s fair, and over the past few months we’ve become friends. A man could do a lot worse.
In fact, I figure I’m pretty damned lucky considering. I’ve got a woman back at home who loves me, my chocolate-colored lover, creamy-skinned, my better half, the calm to my storm. She wants a stable environment for our child and I’m trying hard to provide. Our fake IDs are holding up. There hasn’t been a whiff of trouble from those who are looking for us, and my adventures in Wyoming so far have been under the radar…..but luck will run out for any man and you can bet the farm on that truth.
Matt is approaching as I get out of the truck and prepare for a long day of tossing hay bales.
“Morning Bobby! How about you help Mike chase down some cattle that got loose over in the eastern quarter? They knocked down a section of fence. Something must have spooked them. Anyway, round up the strays and then get that fence mended. When you finish come and see me.”
It’s hard to believe I’m chasing cattle. A year ago I was chasing the hustle in the old neighborhood, Washington Heights, just trying to stay warm and keep a bullet from arriving unannounced. Now I’m wearing Wranglers and spitting chew. I figure my old man is laughing himself hoarse, wherever he ended up after being knifed to death in a barroom fight.
Here We Go Again
I found Mike in the bunkhouse. He’s a young kid, sandy-haired, perpetual dimples, the kind of kid who drove the girls nuts in high school down in Cooley, Texas. His shoulders are broad, waist slim, bowlegged from too many hours in the saddle, and a ready grin for his friends. Instead of a cowboy hat he always wears a cap that says NRA in big letters, a political activist without ever opening his mouth.
“I hear we’re chasing doggies this morning, Mike.”
“Sure ‘nuff, Bobby. Let’s go get a couple horses. We’ll see if it’s possible to teach a Bronx Irishman how to herd some cattle.”
“No reason to insult me, Mike. I’m from the Heights, not the Bronx. Good thing I like you ‘cuz those are fighting words back home.” We both laughed and headed out into the biting Wyoming wind.
We spent a good four hours chasing those bastards down. There’s nothing more stubborn than a Hereford after tasting freedom, but we finally rounded them all up, tucked them safely in our little corner of the world and then mended the broken fence. We got back to the bunkhouse in time for lunch, pork and beans, homemade bread, and coffee blacker than an ex-girlfriend’s heart. After lunch I went in search of Matt. I found him out by the wind turbines.
“We’re all done, Matt. Cattle are back in, fence is mended, and all is well for the time being. What did you want to see me about?”
He seemed nervous, unsure of himself, had a hard time looking directly at me as he dusted himself off and fidgeted in front of me.
“I was in the Fire Pit the other day. Got to talking to your buddy Ray about you. He says you’re a pretty handy guy. He even called you Bobby Fix-It, said you were real good at handling problems most people wouldn’t go near. Don’t worry, he didn’t name any specifics. He was real good at covering your butt…but the thing is, I think I need your help.”
“Well, the thing is, I’ve got a younger sister, Marie, she’s only twenty, the baby of our family. Hell, she’s almost twenty years younger than me, but that’s beside the point. She lived with me and my wife for a couple years but one day, man, Marie got this wild hair, and she joined a religious movement called the Angels of Heaven. They’re located over east of here outside Dubois. Anyway, I’m worried about her. I think she’s being held against her will by that cult of religious bastards.”
“Matt, if you think that, go to the cops and tell them to take a look at it. They carry a lot more weight than I do. What even makes you think she’s being held there? How long has she been with them?”
“She’s been there about nine months now, Bobby, and I did go to the cops, but they said without proof of a crime there was nothing they could do. They said she’s an adult and can join any group she wants.”
I tended to agree with them.
“Do you have any proof, Matt? Any signal of duress from your sister? Any letters asking for help?”
“That’s the thing, Bobby, she just quit calling us and that’s not like her. She’s my sister. She loves me. We’ve always gotten along and I’ve been like this surrogate parent for her once our real parents died in that car accident three years ago. We’ve never argued and she would never just stop calling me. She wrote and called like clockwork for the first six months and then just stopped cold turkey. I haven’t heard a word in the last three months. And then…..I drove over there, and some guy at the gate to the compound said my sister was no longer there, that she had left a couple months earlier, and they wouldn’t let me in. That’s just not right, Bobby. My sister wouldn’t do that.”
What was I supposed to say to that? Matt is a friend. His instincts tell him there’s a problem even though there is no evidence of it. He was asking for help, and one thing I learned from the old neighborhood….friends help friends.
“Okay, Matt. Give me three days off, with pay, and I’ll drive over to this compound and poke around a bit. I’m making no promises. I admit it’s a little strange, her just ending communication, and I trust your instincts, so let me see what I can find out. Remember this, though, if I find her and she don’t want to come back, there’s not a damned thing I can do about it. I’m not forcing her. Do you have a picture of her?
He handed me a photograph. Pretty girl, curly red hair, petite, athletic-looking with a wicked grin sure to break some hearts.”
“I understand that and I can live with it. I just want to know she’s all right. How are you going to get inside the compound to find out anything?”
“That’s really not your concern, buddy. The less you know the better, okay?”
My comprehensive book on writing
I talked it over with Dawn that night, told her Matt’s concerns, told her what I was going to do. She didn’t interrupt while I talked. She’s good about that. She listens about as well as anyone I’ve ever known.
I finished Matt’s story and asked her what she thought. Her dark brow furrowed in thought and, I suspected, worry.
“I think we’ve got a child coming in one month, Bobby, and when that child comes I want both parents waiting, so you do whatever you have to do to help Matt, but you do it safely. I don’t like the idea of you walking into the lion’s den, so try your best to tiptoe, okay?”
I kissed her and looked into her intelligent eyes.
“I’ve never tiptoed in my life, hon, but I’ll try.”
To Be Continued
Tune in next week and you can join Bobby as he travels east to Dubois, Wyoming, to find religion. Until then, have a fantastic week and weekend.
Love and peace to you all.
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)