Vin, can I tell the computer who I was for Halloween?
Hi computer! I was the famous Wyatt Earp.
Or infamous, depending on who you read.
That's what I said Buck. The Famous Wyatt Earp. Did you like my picture, Buck? See, here's me as Wyatt Earp and here's a bat. Not the kind you play baseball with, but the kind that flies. And there's a Jack-o-lantern and another one. And that's Vin. He was really wearing all black, but I had to make him red because Peso is black and if I made Vin in black he wouldn't show up.
It's a fine picture, JD. Why don't you let Vin tell what happened this week?
OK, go ahead Vin.
Chris looked out the window at the vivid colors of the fall leaves. He couldn't believe where the time had gone. Life sure was different with two small boys running around the house. Chris shook his head as he finished packing the boys lunches. The wind blew and Chris looked up as the brilliant colored falls leaves swirled past the window. Halloween was at the end of the week and neither boy had said what they wanted to be. Last year had been their first Halloween and Buck had gone slightly over board. Sometimes Chris wondered if he was raising three children instead of two. The microwave beeped and Chris took out the two bowls of oatmeal and placed them on the table. As he was pouring the milk he could hear small feet running down the hall.
"Mornin', Chris!" JD exclaimed as he entered the kitchen.
"Morning, JD," Chris said as he watched the small boy climb into his chair. "Where's Vin?"
"He's comin'," JD said as he took a drink of his milk. "He's just packing his book bag."
Chris placed some buttered toast in front of JD and the boy dug in. A few minutes later Vin quietly entered the kitchen. Vin didn't say anything as he climbed in his chair and waited for his breakfast. Chris could see Vin wasn't happy. They had a hard time getting him to go to school even in the private school that Nettie had found. Some days he liked it but most of the time he didn't. Chris placed some toast in front of Vin then tousled his hair. Vin looked up and smiled as he reached for the jelly to put on his toast.
"Mornin', boys!" Buck said as he entered the kitchen.
"Morn, Buch," JD said around a mouthful of toast.
"Not with your mouth full, JD," Chris said as he placed the oatmeal in front of them.
"Sorry," JD smiled as he picked up a spoon.
"So either of you boys have any thoughts and what you want to be for Halloween this year?" Chris asked as he took a seat.
"Yeah!" JD exclaimed. "It's homework for school. We gotta pick someone from history or litter."
"Litter?" Buck asked confused.
"You know, someone from a book," JD said rolling his eyes.
"You mean literature," Chris said smiling.
"That's what I said."
"No you didn't," Vin chimed in. "You said litter."
"Boys," Buck warned and they both stopped.
"It's stupid anyway!" Vin declared.
Now Chris knew what was bothering Vin - his assignment. "Why do you say that, Vin?"
"Cause I already had something picked," Vin protested. "Now I can't be it because it's not from history or a book. So I ain't gonna do it."
"Vin but you gotta," JD said seriously. "Its gonna be graded."
"I don't care!" Vin said sullenly.
"Vin what did you want to be?" Buck asked. "Maybe we can make it fit into the teacher's requirements."
"Don't matter," Vin sighed.
"Come on, Vin, we'll think of something," Chris said.
"Wanted to be you," Vin said quietly, ducking his head. "You're old, but not old enough to be history."
"Thanks... I think," Chris replied as Buck choked on his coffee.
"Wanted to dress in your cool black ATF outfits," Vin said warming to the subject. "You know the ones Uncle Ezra hates."
Vin sighed as he thought about Uncle Ezra, hoping he would come home soon.
"Well even if it doesn't work for school you can be that around the neighborhood," Chris said.
"I guess," Vin said shrugging.
"Well, finish up or you'll be late," Chris said.
Twenty minutes later Buck and Chris were dropping the boys off at school on their way to work. The two men watched as the boys walked up the steps and opened the door. JD turned and waved before they entered the school. Chris waited until the teacher came out and waved that the boys were actually in the school, and then waved back and pulled away form the curb. As they were driving Chris could hear Buck snickering.
"What's so funny?"
"You maybe old but you ain't history," Buck answered then laughed.
"Keep it up and you'll be history," Chris warned as he continued driving.
Vin and JD put their lunches in the fridge and then stowed their backpacks in their assigned slots. Today was Tuesday and they always started out with a group reading by the teacher.
"Good morning boys and girls."
"Good morning Mrs. Roquette."
Mrs. Roquette smiled as all the children called out together. She told the students to gather around on the reading rug. There was some shoving to see who would sit where, but she put a stop to that quickly by having the smaller children up front. She wasn't surprised to find JD practically in her lap. She glanced around as the children settled and noticed Vin took his customary place in the back. Carolyn just shook her head but didn't say anything. She had asked Vin to move up front once and she could see he wasn't comfortable when attention was drawn to him. Carolyn smiled at Mr. Beidler as he pushed over the TV/VCR.
"Today we have a treat for you," she said. "First I will read you a story then we will watch a video."
"Yippee!" JD declared.
"Since we are getting close to Halloween I'm going to read you the story of the Headless Horseman by Washington Irving."
"OOOOO," JD said.
"Hush, JD," Emma said next to him.
"I ain't gotta listen to you," JD said. "You ain't the teacher."
"JD," Carolyn warned.
"Well she ain't," JD insisted.
"No, Emma isn't the teacher but she's right," Carolyn said.
"Alright. I'll be quiet," JD agreed.
Carolyn could hear Mr. Beidler chuckling behind her. They knew JD would only be able to keep that promise for a short time. Carolyn opened the book and began her story. As the tale of the Headless Horseman unfolded she could see each child was listening attentively. She was surprised when she looked up to find that Vin had moved closer to get a better look at the pictures. She could see he was enthralled with the story. When she was finished, she loaded the Disney cartoon into the VCR. The children all got excited as the movie started.
"Hush!" Vin yelled as the video started.
All the children looked at Vin in surprise and did what he said. Carolyn chuckled and moved over to join Mr. Beidler while the children watched the movie.
"What's gotten into Vin?" he asked.
"I don't know," Carolyn admitted. "He's truly enthralled with the story."
"Well at least we know he can voice his opinion when he wants to," Mr. Beidler laughed.
"Did you notice how the others didn't even argue with him?"
"Yes, I did," he smiled. "That boy is a natural leader."
After the movie was over the children were broken into smaller groups. The groups were mixed ages and were assigned different tasks. Mr. Beidler had Vin in his group and they were getting ready to do math.
"Mr. Beidler," Vin called.
"Can I go talk to Mrs. Roquette for a minute?"
"Of course," Mr. Beidler replied.
He watched as Vin approached Carolyn. She was putting away the TV and was about to put the Headless Horseman book on her desk. Mr. Beidler watched as Vin shyly asked Carolyn something. Carolyn smiled and handed Vin the book. Vin walked back over to the math group smiling.
"Aunt Rain!" JD exclaimed.
"Hello JD," Rain said a she walked into the school.
"Mrs. Jackson," Mr. Beidler said, "You're taking the boys today?"
"Did Chris forget to tell you?" Rain asked.
"It's alright," Jim Beidler smiled. "He gave us a list of people the boys can go home with."
"I bet Vin and JD have the longest list in the school," Rain chuckled.
"As a matter of fact they do," said Jim.
"Hi Aunt Rain," JD said as he came over with his backpack. "Buck didn't say we was going with you."
"We were," Rain corrected. "I guess he forgot."
"Buck always forgets," JD said. "Chris said Buck would forget his head if it wasn't attached. Could Buck really forget his head?"
"No, JD," Rain chuckled. "Why don't you go help Vin with his packing?"
"Okay," JD yelled and left his pack with Rain.
"Little ears," Rain chuckled.
"Yes," Mr. Beidler agreed. "Mr. Larabee and Mr. Wilmington need to watch what they say around the boys."
"Well its nothing bad," Mr. Beidler laughed. "We did a play where we explained about policemen. Vin was the policemen and he 'arrested' one of the other children and he read him his rights."
"Did he get them correct?" Rain asked.
"Word for word," he laughed.
"Chris will be so proud," Rain laughed.
"Hi, Aunt Rain," Vin said as he walked over with JD.
"You boys ready to go?" They both nodded and followed her out.
As they drove in the car Vin pulled out the Headless Horsemen book. As he flipped through the pages looking at the pictures he glanced at Aunt Rain. He'd seen some of the Jingle Dance dresses she wore at Powwow and knew she'd be able to help him.
Rain pulled into the driveway and let JD hit the button to open the garage. As the door went up she pulled the car in and parked it. Once the car was stopped she leaned over the seat to help JD out of his seatbelt. Vin already had his off and was exiting the car.
They went in side and JD declared he was hungry. Rain said she'd fix them something but they had to start on their homework. JD readily agreed but Vin wasn't all that happy. Rain smiled as she headed for the kitchen. A few minutes later Vin joined her.
"Yes, Vin," she said and turned to him. She could see he was carrying a book. "Do you need help with something?"
"Kinda," Vin said. "You're good at making costumes ain't ya?"
"What kind of costumes?" she asked.
"Well you made all them fancy Jingle dresses," Vin said. "I thought you could help me with a homework project."
"I can try," she offered.
"Well we gotta pick someone from history or a book to be for Halloween," Vin explained. "I want to be him."
Vin opened the book and showed Rain the picture. She smiled when she saw it was the Headless Horseman. It was the picture of him rearing up on his black horse holding the flaming pumpkin just before he threw it at Ichabod Craine.
"Can you do it?" Vin asked hopefully.
"I'll think of something," Rain said. "Let's have our snack and think about it."
That's when Uncle Ezra called us.
Yeah. That was really great even though he couldn't talk very long.
Tell them what happened next, Vin.
I will, JD.
Tell them you got into a fight with Chris.
Weren't no fight.
Yeah it was.
???. Yeah I guess it was.
Chris walked in the door after a long day at work. A long day in another long week. Buck had come home earlier to let Mrs. Potter head home to her own family. Chris had stayed behind to finish up some paper work and attend the meeting of the division heads. Chris hated these meetings because nothing ever seemed to get accomplished. Tonight's meeting had been the same. Chris could hear the TV as he walked towards the kitchen.
"Hey, pard, how'd it go?" Buck asked.
"Same as usual," Chris said as he took a seat. "We got nothing done."
"Hey, Chris!" Vin exclaimed as he came running into the living room.
"Hey yourself," Chris said as Vin stopped next to his chair.
"Chris, we gotta get up early tomorrow," Vin said.
"Yeah, so we can get Peso ready to go," Vin said.
"Where are we taking Peso?" Chris asked, confused.
"He's gotta go to school with me," Vin said.
"Vin, Peso isn't going to school with you," Chris said, looking over at Buck to see if he knew what was going on. Buck gave him a shrug.
"But he has to!" Vin insisted.
"Vin it's been a long day," Chris said, rubbing his eyes. Not only did he have to deal with department politics, but Ezra had postponed yesterday's meeting and had checked in late. "I'm tired and I'm not going to argue with you about this. Peso isn't going to school with you."
"But he's gotta come!" Vin demanded.
"Enough!" Chris yelled, his frustration getting the better of him. "Peso isn't going to school with you and that's final!"
Vin stared at him for a moment, his hurt and anger building. "I hate you!" he yelled and ran from the room.
"What was that all about?" Chris asked, dumbfounded at what had just transpired.
"I don't know," Buck said. "He's been waiting all night for you to get home. Said he had to ask you something. Wouldn't tell me what it was."
"Well, now we know," Chris said as he stood up and headed for the kitchen. He needed some time to unwind. "Want a beer?"
"Yeah," Buck said.
Nathan came up behind his wife and kissed her on the neck. Rain was placing pumpkin cookies in packages for Vin and JD.
"Yum, you taste good," Nathan said as he nibbled on her ear.
"Always said you had good taste," Rain said as she turned to face her husband.
Nathan kissed his wife passionately on the lips and then sighed as the phone rang.
"Perfect timing," Nathan complained.
"You'd better get it," Rain said pushing him away.
"Let it ring," Nathan said moving in for another kiss.
"It might be Chris."
Nathan sighed and let her go so he could answer the phone.
"Jackson residence," Nathan said.
"Aunt Rain..." The plea was followed by a distinctive sniffle.
"Vin is that you?" Nathan asked. When he didn't get an answer he could only imagine Vin had nodded. "It's for you."
"Vin?" Rain said. "Vin, honey, what's wrong? I can't understand you Vin, its alright. Don't cry . That's it, honey. Now tell me what's wrong."
Nathan listened to the one sided conversation and started to worry when he realized Vin was very upset about something. It took Rain a few minutes to get Vin calmed down enough so she could understand him. Nathan listened as Rain told Vin not to worry and that everything would be all right. That she would take care of everything. He listened as Rain said goodbye to Vin.
"What's wrong?" Nathan asked as Rain began dialing a number.
"Oh that man!" Rain said angrily.
"What man?" Nathan asked concerned.
Chris leaned back in his chair and enjoyed his beer. In few minutes he would go find Vin and try to figure out what was going on. Right now Vin needed time to cool down and he needed to unwind a bit. JD was watching a video with Buck when the phone rang.
"I get it!" JD declared as he picked up the phone. "Hi, this is JD, who's this? ...Hi Aunt Rain! ...OK I'll give him the phone. Chris, it's for you."
"Thanks," Chris said as he took the phone, wondering why she would be calling him. "Hello, Rain."
"Don't you 'hello, Rain' me!"
"Rain, what's going on?" Chris asked, surprised at the angry response.
"How dare you yell at Vin!"
"He called you?"
"Yes, he called me. He's been working so hard on this homework project. Peso is a part of it."
"But Rain I don't understand. Peso is a part of what?" asked Chris
"His Halloween costume for school. Didn't he tell you?"
"He hasn't told me anything," replied Chris. "All I know is JD is going tomorrow as Wyatt Earp. Vin never said what he wanted to be and I didn't press him."
"Oh Chris, I'm sorry. I guess he wanted it to be a surprise."
"Well, it's a surprise alright. I got home tonight and all he said was Peso had to go to school with him. I thought he wanted to bring him for show and tell."
"Chris, I'm so sorry I yelled at you. You better go talk to Vin. He's all upset that he's going to fail this project now, but he's more upset that he said he hated you."
"All right, Rain, I'll go find him. But Rain, why does Vin need Peso?" Chris asked.
"I've been helping Vin with his costume all week. He's going to be the Headless Horseman."
"I see." Now things were beginning to make sense.
"Have Vin show you the picture and you'll understand why he wants to bring Peso."
"Call me back. I need to know if everything's ok. I was supposed to come out early tomorrow to help with Vin's costume."
"I will. Talk to you soon. Thanks for calling, Rain. Bye." Chris hung up the phone and rubbed his hand over his face.
"So what's up?" Buck asked.
"Seems Peso is part of Vin's costume for that homework assignment," Chris replied.
"JD, do you know anything about this?" Buck asked.
"Yeah, but it's a secret," JD said.
"Figures this is one he keeps," Chris said rolling his eyes as Buck laughed. "I better go find Vin."
Chris walked down the hall to the room the boys shared. He peeked in the door to find Vin sitting at his desk with a picture book open. As Chris walked in Vin slammed the book closed but didn't turn around.
"That was Aunt Rain on the phone," Chris said. All he got was a shrug from Vin. "She said there was something you should show me. Something about your Halloween project."
Chris heard Vin sigh and then open the book. He turned it so Chris could see a picture of the headless horseman rearing on his black horse holding a flaming pumpkin. Chris smiled, now knowing why Vin wanted Peso.
"Vin, why didn't you tell me about this sooner?" Chris asked.
"Wanted to be a surprise," Vin sighed. "Now everything is ruined."
"No ,it's not," Chris said kneeling down in front of Vin. "Just this once I'll let you take Peso to school. You've worked hard on this, but next time you have to tell me sooner."
"You mean it, Chris?" Vin asked, his hope growing. "I REALLY need Peso."
"I mean it," Chris said. He was taken by surprise when Vin jumped into his arms.
"I'm sorry I said I hated you," Vin said as he hugged Chris.
"Sometimes we say things we don't mean when we're angry," Chris said.
"Then you don't hate me either?" Vin asked. "For talking back?"
"No, Vin. I don't hate you either," Chris said hugging him. "I guess we better head to bed early if we're going to take Peso to school with us."
"Alright," Vin said. "Thanks Chris."
All of the children OOOHed and AWWed as the Headless Horseman trotted around the school property. Even the parents were impressed by the detail of the presentation.
"Peso seems to be in his glory," Ezra commented. The boys had been so excited when he showed up for their Halloween party. They were fascinated by his costume, which included a beard and an earring. He was still on assignment, but had managed to make it to the celebration.
"What, that ham?" Buck asked. "You know how he is around a camera."
"I'm just glad he's not trying to eat the kids candy," Chris said.
"Rain, my dear, you've out done yourself," Josiah said.
"Thanks," She said smiling. "I've never seen Vin so excited about something for school. I couldn't disappoint him."
"Yeah, even if you used my favorite suit," Nathan grumbled.
"You haven't fit in that suit since college," Rain said.
"Yeah, well, I was exercising so I could wear it again," Nathan complained.
"Yes and if you believe that, I have a bridge in New York to sell you cheap," Ezra said.
They all laughed at the comment. Vin walked Peso over to Chris. Chris took the reins as Vin handed his flaming pumpkin to Josiah. Buck reached up and helped Vin down. Once Vin was on his feet he opened one of the buttons on the jacket and he poked his head out. Chris was happy to see Vin smiling from ear to ear. Vin gave Ezra a big hug, letting the undercover agent ruffle his hair.
"Can I take Peso home now?" Chris asked.
"Yeah, I'm done with him," Vin said as he pulled away from Ezra.
"OK. Well, you have fun the rest of the day," Chris said.
"I will," Vin said as he started to walk away. Suddenly he stopped and ran back to Chris and hugged him. "You're the best dad there is!"
Vin released him and ran towards the other kids. Buck just laughed at the look on Chris's face.
"Well, come on 'best dad.' Let's get this beast home," Buck said.
"Yes, and Josiah, I'd appreciate it if you'd take the film and get it developed," Ezra said as he patted his camera. "I especially want to see the one of each of us standing behind Vin with our heads in the spot for the headless horsemen."
"Yeah those should be funny," Josiah agreed. "Especially the one of Rain."
"You coming, Stud?" Buck asked.
"Yeah, I'm coming," Chris said and followed the others.
Boy, Chris was sure surprised when you said that.
I know, but it's what I felt.
Yeah, Buck and Chris are the bestest dads.
Just like Josiah, Nathan and Ezra are the bestest Uncles.
Yeah and Aunt Rain is the best Aunt.
And Miss Nettie is the best . The best what?
The best Miss Nettie. Say good bye JD
Next: Empty Faces
Things We Learned (Index)