Gathering the Flock

by KT

AU - Lost Lambs

Chapter 15
It took JD nearly and hour to shuffle his way along the track leading to home. When home came insight the sun was going down. Despite the pain in his foot JD quickened his pace as he saw the house come into sight.

Buck was sitting on the front step, he had the door open so he could hear the phone if it rang, the only call he had received was from Sanchez. Having returned home, the priest had found a note pinned to his door from Gloria Potter. Once had had spoken to Buck he got people organised in town to search the land between the ranch and the town. Buck had shouted himself hoarse calling to both boys over and over again. Now tired and dispirited he sat on the step, unable to contemplate his life without his little brother. He implored a God he only half believed in to bring his brother home. Something made him look up and down the drive. There, stumbling toward him, was a diminutive white clad figure.

"Oh sweet Jesus, thank you!" he cried as he shot to his feet and took off at a run to intercept JD.

JD's stubborn resolve disintegrated at the sight of Buck flying down the drive to meet him, he stopped moving and waited to be lifted up out of his misery. Buck dropped to his knees as he skidded to a halt, wrapping his arms around JD, thanking God repeatedly as he just held JD close. The little boy did nothing to end the tight embrace; it was all he wanted at that moment. Finally Buck pulled himself back.

"You alright Little'n?" he asked, standing and heading for the house, JD still held tight against him.

JD nodded, than thought about it a little and shook his head, he didn't care if he did have to show his foot to the doctor he wanted Buck to take care of him.

"Well you just tell Buck all about it," Buck encouraged.

"My foot hurts, I got my nightshirt all dirty an' torn, I'm sorry." JD explained.

"Don't worry about it. JD, where's Vin?" Buck cursed himself he hadn't noticed that the slim blond boy was still missing.

"He couldn't come home, he took me to the drive then he went back. I'm tired." JD lowered himself over Buck's shoulder.

Much as he wanted to let JD sleep he needed information. "JD, why did you run away?"

JD was fading fast. "I didn't run away I was havin' an adventure, I followed Vin."

"JD, did Vin runaway?"

"Yeah," came a very drowsy reply.

"JD why did Vin run away?"

"Not s'possed to say, see…cret."

By now he was back at the house. Lifting JD of his shoulder he realised the exhausted boy was asleep. He didn't have time to wake him and question him further about the secret so he just put JD down on the seat of the truck and ran inside. In no more than a minute or so he was back. He had left a note for Chris, and picked a blanket, which he now used to cover JD, stopping only briefly to kiss JD gently on the cheek. Gunning the engine he set out up the drive desperately hoping he could catch up with Vin. He reasoned Vin would be headed away from the town if he were running.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra regarded the boy. He was about fifteen, acne pockmarked his face, and from his breath alone Ezra could tell his teeth weren’t much better.

"You're Salter, right, Ethan Salter, you stole a horse?"

Ezra nodded.

"That ain't much these days; why they send you here?"

"The horse was very valuable, it apparently belonged so an influential man." This was the story they had agreed on.

"You gonna sell it?"


"So why'd ya take it?"

"I needed transport."

Sid Andrews snorted. "Well makes no never mind t' me. Around here you do what I say, got that?"

Ezra could indeed see this was his kingdom, and if he was to accomplish his task - When did I decide to do that? he wondered - then he needed the protection of this Neanderthal. Behind Sid on the bed were cards; clearly a poker school was about to start for the evening. Home-made candles were evident around the room.

"I can see sir, that you have power, I am therefore in need of your help."

The adolescent regarded him. "I'm not in the helping business, Reb."

Ezra wasn't sure he liked the idea of the Reb tag. "Of course not, but you are no doubt a business man, I will trade you; for the protection and freedom I need also information."

This time not only Sid but his whole collection of cronies snorted and laughed. "An' just what do you have that could interest me!"

Ezra let his eyes drift to the pack of cards and then back to Andrews. "Something valuable but…" he cast his eyes around the crowded room, "...private."

Sid hadn't gained his power just on muscle alone he had a good eye for the main chance as well. "Out, all of you, now!" he ordered his gang.

+ + + + + + +

Buck desperately searched the road on both sides for miles but there was no sign of Vin, as it got dark he turned back to the ranch with a heavy heart. JD has slept the whole time. Once home he carried JD inside and for the first time stared to ease off the sturdy boots. That woke JD.

"No!" he suddenly lent forward and grabbed his boot. Buck had noticed they were unlaced; the trailing laces caked in mud.

"Come on Little'n, you need a bath, then I'll get you some supper, then bed."

JD just held his left boot tighter. Buck gently but firmly lifted his small hands away. And pulled of the boot. JD's small heel was bloody, without the protection of socks his trusty boots had rubbed him raw.

"Oh JD!" Buck gasped. JD looked at his brother and for the first time tears fell down his grimy cheeks. "Does it hurt?" He nodded. "Want me to make it better?" JD's only response was to reach out to be lifted and hugged.

By the time Buck heard footsteps outside JD was fast asleep on the couch, his head on Buck's lap. He called out to Chris, hoping beyond hope that he had Vin with him, but it was not to be. Buck told Chris every scrap of information he had managed to get from JD. The one thing he had not been able to determine was why Vin ran. JD was adamant it was a secret. He let slip that Vin had wet himself, and that this was something to do with the secret. When he had finished Buck pulled back the cover to show Chris JD's battered feet, his left heel swathed in bandages, blood seeping through it still. Chris kneeled before JD, stroking his head He looked up at Buck.

"You're sure he won't tell you why Vin ran?"

"No, if he won't tell me I don't see him telling you, he's stubborn, Lord knows where he got that from."

Chris looked up at Buck. "Can't think," he commented. "I'll set out at dawn."

Buck nodded. "Josiah will be here before then, I'll be coming with you."

+ + + + + + +

Vin had walked for as far as he could walk. Although he didn't know it he was not far from where he and JD had tuned down to take JD home. Vin found a softish place, ate some of his dwindling supply of food, and then curled himself into a lonely, cold ball and cried himself into an exhausted sleep. Wishing with all his heart that he had never stolen from the pantry, so that he wouldn't be a thief and he could have stayed with Chris forever.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra let himself out of the landing past the stair grill. He had seen evidence that he was not the only one who found the locks easy. In return for a few lessons in dealing from the bottom of the deck, and card palming. Sid Andrews had put out the word that Ezra was under his personal protection. The stair grill locks yielded in record time. It was clear that he was not the only one who could open these doors. Down stairs however things were different. The partition between the main area and the administration area had a much stronger lock and it took him a good ten minutes to crack it. Andrews had assured him once the guards turned in no one patrolled; they were meant to, but they didn't. He found Rance's office despite having no light. Moonlight filtered in, illuminating the long corridor with the odd shaft of light. The office was also locked, this lock yielded only slightly more easily. Luck was with him, moonlight flooded the room. There was nothing of any interest in the desk although when he pushed the heavy overcoat aside he could clearly see the scratch marks on the door. Finally he turned his attention to the safe. He wasn't very good at safes, Maude was still teaching him the finer points of safecracking, but this one looked fairly simple. It took him over an hour but in the end the door yielded to his touch.

Just as he had thought he would, he found two sets of accounts; one showed the legitimate spending of state money. The second showed that almost all the produce was sold off, and used for what was called the 1916 project. The 1916 project seemed to be producing a healthy income; there were records showing how the money was distributed to the staff, clearly they weren't getting much, most went to Rance and a fair portion went to someone called Monroe. Well, it wasn't his job to work out what was going on, there was enough evidence in the books to convict Rance, and that was all he was meant to do. Carefully he put the books back, and re-locking doors made his way back to the second landing. Now all he had to do was wait out the week until he was rescued in just four short days, and report what he had seen. Then the Judge could search the safe and get the evidence; simple. Secure he knew what lay in his future Ezra lay on the lumpy bed to get a few hours sleep.

+ + + + + + +

Buck tried to wake JD. It was barely light outside but he didn't want him to wake up and find only Josiah in the house without explaining things to him. But JD was just too deeply asleep and in the end he had to settle for telling him while he slept. Chris had set out already, this time on foot leading Shadow behind him, to try and find Vin by picking up his trail. JD had at least been able to explain where he had climbed over the fence and entered the forest. Buck would ride along the road and try to back-track Vin and JD from there. In the movies tracking looked so easy, the faithful Indian guide would just look at the ground and then know instantly who had passed and how long ago. Both men hunted and could track a deer, but there had been no rain for some days and under the hot sun the ground under the trees was packed hard, things weren't helped by the very dark shadows the strong sunlight provided or the carpet of pine needles. If a trail showed up on a pine needle carpet Chris couldn't find it.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra's first full day at Stockwell began at six a.m. Ezra was not a morning person and he found it very hard to get moving, he watched the other boys quickly making their beds.

"Hurry up, come on or we'll get in trouble!" urged the small red-headed boy next to him.

His name was Angus and he was twelve, like Ezra he was small for his age and very thin. In fact by comparison with some of the boys Ezra was rather solid, when in truth he had always though of himself as slight. He made his bed just as a bell sounded. In response all the boys ran to line up at the bathroom to be checked off as they washed, still dressed in their regulation pyjamas. From the look of the older boys like Sid you only ever got issued with one set of these because while his were too big and trailed on the ground Sid's were nearly at his knees. The fact that they still went around his waist was testimony to years of under feeding. Ezra's protest that he didn't need to use the stalls was greeted with a stern comment that 'what he needed was of no interest; that was what he would do'. Once checked off each boy dressed stood stock-still beside his bed in silence. The last boy in had to rush to be ready in time. The guard then walked slowly down the row of beds. He stopped and eyed Ezra's efforts. Making his own bed was something he had done at school and at various homes he had stayed in and he was quite proficient. The guard seemed unhappy that he could find no fault with Ezra's bed and turned his attention to the boy who had come in last. He hadn't had time to tie his left laces.

"Jones, not dressed are you boy?" he asked swinging his stick ominously, letting it slap down into his palm and then releasing it to swing again.

"Strip boy!" he ordered.

Without a second’s hesitation the boy who's name Ezra didn't know but he looked to be about his age, pulled off all his clothes folding each one and placing it on the bed behind him until he was naked. All the other boys continued to stand still staring ahead. The guard left and could be heard inspecting and dismissing the other boys. Finally he returned.

"Dress," he commanded.

When the boy was dressed again, his laces tied, he was re-inspected. This time the guard decided the laces weren't evenly tied so he made him untie them and then take the laces out altogether and then replace them. It took the poor boy two more attempts to get them perfect. Only then were all the boys dismissed to go to breakfast. They had to walk in a long silent line down the dining room. As the guard had known breakfast was over, they were given a mug of water each and then sent outside to line up with the others to get their work assignments.

Ezra, his stomach still grumbling, was sent to the orchard. This at least was something he understood. The main building was surrounded by a high perimeter wall. The wall Vin had managed to get over by jumping from the fire escape at the admin end of the building. This part of the grounds was surrounded by its own wall. Beyond the main wall was a walled orchard and beyond this were the fields. In between was group of outbuildings, a barn and garage. Just as he had at the Kelly's Ezra was set to thinning the apple crop. From his perch on top of the ladder, Ezra had a good view over the whole orchard and the yard beyond. As he worked he watched several older boys sorting the apples as they were brought to a central collection point. Some were put in large wicker baskets, once full these were carried toward the main building. Ezra suspected they would appear at lunch and probably supper, from what he had seen most were only just ripe enough to eat, and would probably be very sharp. The rest, no matter what there condition, were placed with no care if they got bruised, into large boxes and stacked beside the big gates in the far wall. Now where are they going? Ezra asked himself.

The day dragged, lunch was a stew that was more vegetable soup than stew and, as he had predicted, an apple. Then it was back to work. More apples were placed in the boxes. As he watched, a truck drew up behind the doors. It was a green truck and something about it sparked a memory, he wasn't sure what, but there was something in his mind about a green truck. The boxes of apples were loaded onto the truck once it was backed into the orchard through the gates.

That night after teaching Sid to stack a deck, he went exploring again. This time he went outside. It took some time to pick the lock on the padlock chaining the orchard gate but eventually he got it done. Then he had to get into the yard. The double gates were also padlocked, but on the other side. He used the ladders to scale the wall and get over the other side. The truck was gone so he picked about in the empty garage for a bit until he found a stack of crates. These contained empty bottles. They had no labels on them but the faint whiff of whisky remained. Ezra hadn't smelt a lot of whisky in his life, after all he was one year old when prohibition came in, but the carnival folk who had raised him until he was four had paid scant regard to that particular law. Unfortunately they mostly drank bourbon and rum. Still, the aroma of alcohol was familiar. He had spent enough time in private clubs and speakeasies to recognise it. There were also barrels. These too were empty but their aroma was different, still alcoholic, very alcoholic but not familiar, slightly sweet. There were also boxes of various vegetables. He was about to go back when he saw headlights coming toward him.

+ + + + + + +

Vin woke up cold and stiff and hungry but his resolve was unchanged. Eating the last of the food, a small piece of cheese and some now stale bread, he set out again. He had no real idea where he was going, just away. He tried to remember what his mom looked like but he couldn't, not really, she had brown hair, and blue eyes but that was all he could remember. And of his father he had no memory at all. All he could recall was his mom telling him to always remember him, remember he was a Tanner; he thought there was something about a boat and ‘Arthur’, but he didn't know what that meant and now he couldn't ask her. It was her fault, she had left him, she didn't make any arrangements for him, she left him alone in the world, you weren't meant to be alone when you were five, even he knew that. JD wasn't alone. It wasn't fair! He was a criminal, a thief; so even if Chris found him he couldn't keep him, even if he still wanted him. Maybe if he found out about Vin stealing he would send him to Stockwell himself. Tears now running freely he trudged on. Even though a part of him wanted Chris to find him he kept walking away from the ranch.

+ + + + + + +

Chris forced himself to go slow, to use his eyes. At first he saw nothing, not one clue as to where the two boys had passed, until at around noon something caught his eye. There, just off to his left was a stone. It looked wrong, he couldn't say why, but it looked wrong. Squatting down he examined it. What was wrong was that the stone had been up-turned. It was set aside to reveal part of an ant colony.

"JD," he breathed. "Thank you, JD."

Little by little he began to spot the signs of JD's poking about.

Vin was walking with no destination in mind, walking with no particular purpose. With no bearings or compass, people will naturally walk in a circle. The circle will be quite big and the person will be unaware they are doing it. This was what was happening to Vin. From the moment he reached the dense woodland and headed off, he was walking in a circle.

Chris had reached the point where he could find no more signs. He had picked up a few scuffmarks where JD had started to limp, but they weren't easy to spot and now he had no idea where to go. He sat down and took a long pull on his canteen, he cupped his hand and offered some water to Shadow who guzzled it greedily.

"Where is he boy?" he asked the patient gelding. "What is he afraid of? Oh Vin, wherever you are come home, whatever you are afraid of we will sort it out together, don't leave me."

He sat in silence for sometime, His fear of losing Vin, losing another boy, was paralysing him, robbing him of his usual decisiveness. Suddenly Shadow flinched, lifting his head up suddenly. Instantly alert Chris stood, scanning the vicinity. The hairs on the back of his neck tingled.


Vin had pulled up short when he saw the large form of Shadow standing in the glade. He could see Chris sitting with his back to Vin. He looked so sad. Vin didn't want Chris to be sad. He wondered if he was making Chris sad. Then he heard Chris’ speech to his horse. Suddenly he gasped as Chris implored him to not leave; too quickly he put his hand over his mouth to stifle any more sound. But it was too late. Shadow had heard him.

"Is that you Vin?"

Chris knew it was, he somehow just knew, he could feel Vin, knew he was present.

"Please Vin, whatever you are afraid of, whatever you think you have done, whatever you think I'll do, we can sort it out, I just want you to come home. To your home, because it is your home. I know I told you the law can make people do things they don't want to do. Vin, I promise you if the law ever tries to make me give you up, I will fight to keep you. And if I lose, then you and me will go to Canada where the law can't reach us. But I won't give you up, no matter what."

Chris stood there staring into the deep black shadow ahead of him; he was holding his breath, silently begging Vin to believe him.

"Remember Vin, trust, we have to trust each other," Chris implored one more time.

Suddenly he heard the sound of crying coming from the shadow. Running forward he found Vin standing under a large pine, bedraggled, tired, hungry, thirsty and tearful. His hand was still over his mouth but he was crying too hard to stifle the sound. Chris advanced slowly; he didn't want to startle him.

"Come here son." Vin let his hand drop as a pair of strong arms encircled him, lifting him up out of his misery just as Buck had done to JD the night before. As his head dropped on to Chris' shoulder he let his tears flow unchecked. "It'll be alright, whatever it is, we'll face it together, always together, family." Chris gently rubbed Vin's bony back as he spoke.

Chris felt his own tears falling as a small fist gripped onto his shirt in a vice-like hold, the other still held on tightly to the flour sack and its precious cargo. Chris mounted without ever letting go of Vin, no mean feat, and they set out for home.

"Vin?" Chris asked gently as the familiar rocking motion of the horse began to relax the boy.


"Why Vin? Please tell me why you ran away? What scared you?" Instantly he felt Vin stiffen up again, his hand on Chris gripped tighter.

"Please Chris, don’t make me go back there, ’m sorry, I won’t ever do it again, don’t make me go t’ jail."

Somehow Chris knew this was not about a pair of wet dungarees. "I will never do that, never; didn’t I promise you that? Why did you think I would?"

"I heard you talking to Buck, I know I’m a thief but I won’t ever do it again, I didn’t wan’a do it but he was hurting Sam and if I didn’t do it he would make someone else do it an that ain’t right and I was so hungry." Once the dam was breached the words came like a flood. Vin had never told Chris why he had been beaten and locked in a cellar only that he had done wrong in some way.

"Ezra, you heard me an’ Buck talking about Ezra, not you, and he won’t be there long I promise," Chris explained.

Some careful and gentle prompting from Chris eventually revealed the whole story. In the end Chris couldn’t even be angry with Sid, he remembered the hunger and misery of the trenches, he would gladly have stolen to get food then, and did on more than one occasion, as he recalled; he, Buck and two other young officers had mounted a raid on the supplies for the staff officers’ mess.

"I told you then and I will say it again, no one deserves to be punished like you were, no matter what they did. And as to stealing, you were hungry, and you were forced into it, no one will punish you for that, it’s over, finished and forgotten, you understand me?"

"Yes Chris," came a sleepy reply from his shoulder.

"You about ready to go home now?" Chris asked but he got no response, the bundle draped over his shoulder went completely limp as Vin dropped into a deep exhausted sleep.

+ + + + + + +

Buck returned to the ranch tired, demoralised and sore. He had found the boys’ trail but he’d lost them in the woods. As he approached the house he spotted a second car next to Josiah’s; he recognised it instantly as the Judge’s. He was gazing ahead at the car, not really taking in much around him and so didn’t see the small figure sitting on the fence.

"Buck! Buck!" JD shouted excitedly balancing precariously on the top rail.

"JD what in the world…hold on, I’m coming." He pushed Max into a gentle canter to reach his brother quickly.

JD was dressed but had no shoes on, his heel had been re-bandaged and from the look of the professional job, by someone a lot better at first aid then Buck. Buck lifted him across and sat him on the saddle in front of him.

"Just how did you get out here with no boots?" Buck wanted to know.

"’Siah carried me," JD explained.

"Who looked after your foot?"

"Miz Travis, she’s nice I like her, she made cookies, an’ pie, and she made stew and it was much nicer then yours an’ she washed my nightshirt and mended the bottom and…" JD suddenly stopped his torrent of words. "Did you find Vin?" he asked suddenly.

Buck looked down at JD who had craned his head back to look up at his brother. "No Little'n I didn’t, I’m sorry."

"But…but Mrs Travis made apple pie ‘cause I told her it’s Vin’s favourite, she made it special…" All the joy left JD’s little face, tears once again welled up in his huge dark eyes. "She made it just…for… him." Buck pulled Max up and taking hold of JD picked him up and turned him around so he was facing Buck.

"Maybe Chris found him, don’t cry, we will find him, what do de Lesquans never do?" He looked JD in the eye. "Well?"

"We never give up," came a half-hearted reply.

"Damn straight boy! Never!"

Suddenly he was aware of another horse coming toward the house from another direction. A black horse carrying a black clad rider who was himself carrying a sleeping boy draped over his shoulder. Buck smiled as Chris got closer, and was relieved to see a smile in return. Vin was dirty and clearly very tired but he didn’t look too much the worse for wear.

"Hey, Little brother look at this," Buck encouraged. But JD had buried his head in Buck's soft flannel shirt and wouldn’t look up.

"Don’t wanna look at nuffing," he stated sullenly.

"Yeah, you do, JD," Chris encouraged.

JD's head snapped up at the sound of Chris’ voice, he looked around at him. "VIN!" he shouted with glee in an ear-piercingly high voice. Vin didn't stir, causing JD to turn imploring eyes on Chris.

"He all right JD, he's just tired and hungry," Chris assured.

By now the two horses with their precious cargoes were walking side by side. JD leaned over to touch Vin on the knee, just to be sure he was real, as Josiah and the Travis' looked on from the house.

+ + + + + + +

As the truck approached Ezra ducked behind one of the empty barrels. With the moonlight and the truck lights Ezra had a perfect view of the whole scene, the truck was quite small and a dark colour, probably green. He noted the licence plate. A man got out, he was not thin, you could almost call him fat – almost - and from what Ezra could see his hair was thinning. He leant against the truck and lit a cigarette, taking a long leisurely pull on the tobacco. Suddenly he wasn't alone; a second man had arrived, this man Ezra did recognise, it was Rance.

"I don't like having the stuff here Monroe," Rance commented.

"You know we are family, you could call me Gus just once," the man Ezra now knew to be the mysterious Monroe said with some irritation.

"Just because my sister married you, doesn’t make you family to me. Why is the stuff here anyway?"

"Because it's going out tomorrow, and it needs to be covered, I take it you have some stuff to camouflage it with?"

"Yes, I believe there are potatoes, carrots and greens of some kind. Did you get me a crate of the good stuff?" Rance was now peering into the back of the truck.

"Sure did, here…" He turned and pulled a wooden crate out from the back of the truck, as he moved it made a chinking sound and from the way he moved as he lifted it, it was clearly heavy. "We have to be careful you know, people got sick from one of the other batches."

Rance turned his attention from the crate to Monroe. "Well whose fault was that? You’re the one watering down the whisky with your home-made stuff. It was your idea to double our profits. I take it you have fixed the problem?"

Monroe shrugged. "I think so, trouble is I ain't entirely sure what went wrong."

Suddenly Rance moved with startling speed - as Ezra watched he pinned his brother-in-law against the truck with one strong hand around his neck, practically lifting him of the ground.

"It had better be fixed, that bad stuff had three sheriffs’ departments and the feds sniffing were they weren't invited. Now this time I was able to head them off, but it don't come cheap, and if it happens some place like Four Corners again…" Ezra had to stifle a gasp. "….where I can't get us any 'consideration' we are screwed, you understand me!"

By now Monroe was gasping for air, finally he was let down as Rance continued. "And you failed to get the Tanner boy back, who happens to be in Four Corners, in the care of that damn straight arrow Deputy and his nosy friend, who you also failed to deal with adequately!"

Monroe rubbed his neck. "I'll…got...him good enough, he don't…remember nothing, an' that damn nigger doctor 's so dumb he reckons a 'widow maker' got him." he gasped out. "Just let things settle for a bit...I'll get the kid back!"

Ezra was now finding it hard to breathe. He had never been so frightened in all his life. Not only had Rance tortured Vin, he wanted him back, and he was sending the man who tried to murder Buck to do it!

"You better for all our sakes, lock this lot up and come inside."

"How long you planning on being in there!" The shout came from outside.

As Ezra watched another man approached, Ezra recognised him instantly!

"You got my payment?" The stranger demanded impatiently.

Rance pulled a long brown envelope from his jacket pocket, and handed it to the man. Then he reached inside the crate and pulled out a bottle.

"There, count it if you want, it’s all there; have this on account." He passed the man the bottle.

"Oh, you’ll be hearing from me if it ain’t all there, nice to do business with you gents, we must do it again some time." With that he was gone; Ezra thought he heard a car start up.

"Ass-hole!" Monroe swore.

"A very useful ass-hole, " Rance commented.

With that Rance was heading back to the mail building carrying his crate. Monroe turned off the lights plunging the garage into darkness and walked around the truck to the rear, then with one quick glance around he shut the doors and padlocked them on the outside. Ezra sat still barely breathing, sure that his breathing was so loud he could be heard miles away. He wasn't sure how long he sat there; he didn't move, not one inch. Eventually cramp set in and still he didn't cry out as he tried to rub the pain out of his calf. Some hours later he ventured out of his hiding place. The garage was pitch black; he felt his way along the truck to the doors. They were locked tight, padlocked, bolted top and bottom; the well-maintained doors were heavy and solid. Slowly he made his way around the dark building. It was where a gang of bootleggers kept their illegal liquor and it was secure. He found no windows, no loose boards, not so much as a loose roof tile, which since the roof was made of corrugated iron this was not surprising.

Ezra was trapped; come the morning he would be missed at name check, all hell would be let loose, and no doubt the other boys would be made to suffer. Ezra slumped down in the corner. "Why did you do it Ezra? You had enough information, you just had to sit tight!" he lamented silently.


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