Josiah Sanchez sat in the corner in a worn out wing back chair and watched his God son, Nathan Jackson, sleep in the only bed in the one bedroom flat over looking hamburger alley in the part of Denver Colorado known as Purgatory.
"This is no place to raise a teenager," he thought to himself. "But what else can I do? The money Obadiah left, barely covered funeral expenses and medical bills. My counseling work is volunteer, and what little I make from the church goes to keep this place over our heads and pays the utility bills. I have a little saved for a car, but other then that, nothing. How am I going to get a decent place to raise a teenager?" The gun shots outside the window in the alley made Josiah even more determined to get out of this place. "I'll just have to find a way. My lease is up in six weeks, I should be able to find something by then." Josiah picks up the framed photo of his beloved wife, on the bed side table, "Hey Becky, tell the man upstairs to send me an angel. He always listened to you better then me."
Four weeks later:
Josiah is sitting in his office at the youth center he volunteers, reading the letter from the loan officer at the bank:Dear Mr. Sanchez
I regret to inform you, that I am unable to grant you the loan you requested due to insufficient funds and collateral.
Mr. Eugene Cooper
Josiah tosses the letter on his desk in despair. He has just two weeks left of his lease. He put the word out on the street, but not one has come forward with anything. The church found him a seven passenger van at a reasonable price but other then that, they couldn't help him. Nathan refers to it as the bus. There's two bench seats in the back and bucket seats in the front. The color is yellow, although not school bus yellow, it's yellow just the same. When Josiah brought it home, Nathan laughed.
Twenty minutes later, there's a knock at the door.
"Come in," Josiah calls.
"Hey Preacher, how's everything going down here?"
Josiah stops typing at the computer and looks up at the young man that had entered his office and was now sitting in a chair in front of Josiah's desk. "Montgomery St. Claire, it's been a long time. You still keeping your nose clean?"
"Yes I am. I've been clean for almost three years now."
"So what have you been doing with yourself?" Josiah asks leaning back in his chair.
"I moved back to my home town of Four Corners, I even have my own business."
"That's great." Josiah was pleased to hear about Montgomery turning his life around. "What brings you here to my neck of the woods?"
"Yeah it is. And to answer your question, I heard a rumor."
"A rumor? What rumor?"
"Yeah, the rumor has it, there is this ex preacher looking for a place to raise a teenage son. The description of said ex preacher fit you to a T, but last time I checked, you didn't have any kids."
Josiah laughed. "I do now. My God son, Nathan Jackson, came to live with me when his father died and mentioned me as guardian in his will. And I am in deed looking for a place to raise him. My one bedroom flat over looking hamburger alley is getting a bit cramped."
"I bet it is. Are you looking to stay here in Denver? Or would some other town work just as well?"
Josiah eyed the young man he rescued from the streets so many years ago. "You have something in mind?"
"Well, there is this farm house down the road where I grew up. It has a full basement, huge front and back yard, a barn with a corral and stables. The second floor has four small bedrooms and a small full bathroom. In the basement, there's a utility slash laundry room, a three quarter bath, and two bedrooms. The people that had it was turning the basement into an apartment. It was all but finished when they ran out of money and couldn't keep up the mortgage payments. Um, what else? Oh yeah, it has a two car garage, a large porch, the master bedroom is down stairs. There isn't a master bath, but it does have a nice full bath on the first floor. It has an open floor plan with high ceilings. The draw back to the place is, it's a fixer upper, a handy man special. All it needs is some TLC. You interested?"
"I would be a fool if I wasn't. What about the price tag? I don't have much for a down payment."
"That's the best part, I can get you the place for no money down, low to moderate monthly payments and you can move in immediately. What do you say to that?"
"I'd say where are the cameras? This must be candid camera."
Montgomery laughs, "No this isn't candid camera."
"Then there has to be something really wrong with the place other then it being a handy man special."
"The place is up on the auction block and me and a couple of my friends are trying to find someone to buy the place before a locale rancher grabs it. We have the down payment, but since we all have our own places, we need someone to act on our behalf. And all we ask in return is, board our horses. We'll pay for feed and vet bills and pay off the down payment when ever you can. A little here, a little there, what ever. Think you can help us out?"
"It sounds great and I would love to help you out..."
"But?..." Montgomery hedged.
"What kind of jobs are in the area? If I am going to do this, I'll need a steady income."
Montgomery grinned, "The high school is in need of student counselors. Here is the number for you to call." Montgomery hands Josiah a slip of paper with a phone number on it. "Call them, with your degrees and experience, you're a shoe in."
Josiah took the slip of paper and looked at it, "What have I got to loose? You have a deal." The two men stood and shook hands.
"Excellent, I'll let my friends know. Here is the address and directions to the farm house. You are going to love it there. And thanks Josiah. This really means a lot."
"No, thank you. I'll be out at the house by the end of the week and you can bring the horses out next week."
"That would be fantastic. We'll see you then."
Josiah walked his friend out. As he watched the young man drive away, he thanked the good lord for sending him his angel.
It's Friday afternoon, and Josiah had the van and rented trailer loaded with every thing he owned when Nathan returned from school. Nathan had taken his finals a week early because of the move and Josiah didn't feel the need to enroll Nathan in the new school since summer vacation starts in three days there. Nathan was looking forward to the move, he didn't like living so close to the war zone. He was always afraid of going outside and be a victim of a drive by.
"How was school?" Josiah asked as they climb into the van.
"It was okay," Nathan answered, buckling his seat belt.
"How do you think you did on your exams?" Josiah asks as he pulls away from the curb and into the street.
"Well, I'm pretty sure I passed, so I'll be a sophomore in the fall," Nathan said with pride. "Josiah?"
"Can we get a dog? I always wanted one. I don't want a little one, or a really big one. Just some where in between."
Josiah smiled at Nathan, "Sure we can. But first, lets see what the house is like so we can get the right dog for us, okay?"
Nathan nodded his agreement.
It didn't take them long to get there, Montgomery was at the house waiting for them when they arrived.
"I see you made it."
"Of course, you gave me excellent directions," Josiah said getting out of the van.
Montgomery walked over to Josiah and greeted him with a hand shake and hug. Turning toward Nathan, Montgomery states; "This must be Nathan."
"Yes it is. Nathan, this is Montgomery St. Claire, Monty, Nathan Jackson," Josiah introduced the two to one another.
"It's nice to meet you Nathan."
"Same here. Can we go inside and check the place out?"
"Of course, its yours now. I'll give you the grand tour."
"Lead the way my friend."
Monty started at the garage, then he took them through the breezeway from the garage to the back door.
"I'll give you a choice, we can go down the stairs to the basement or up the stairs to the first floor."
Josiah looked to Nathan to choose, "The basement."
"The basement it is."
The first room they come to is what was suppose to be a family room of sorts, Monty informed them. Monty then showed them the utility slash laundry room. Josiah liked what he saw. The two bedrooms wasn't to small, the three quarter bath needed to be finished along with what looked like the start of a kitchenette. Then they went up stairs. The door opened to the dining room. With the open floor plan, you could see the living room that was straight ahead of the dining area and the kitchen that was on the right. There's a hallway off the left of the dining area that led to a den that was at one time a bedroom, then the hallway went to the right. As they went to the right, they came to the bath room on the left. The master bedroom was straight ahead, the hallway went to the right again and into the living room. The hallway ran around the upstairs stair well. At the top of the stairs, there are two bedrooms on either side of the hallway and the bathroom is located at the end of the hallway.
"So what do you think of the place?" Monty asked as they walked out to the van and rented trailer.
"I think we're going to like it here. Like you said, it does need some work, but it is livable."
"I'm glad. Do you need any help with your stuff?"
"Sure, if you have the time."
"Time I have."
It took the whole weekend for Josiah and Nathan to get settled. Monday morning, Josiah took Nathan to the animal shelter to choose a dog. Nathan fell in love with a mix breed. Nathan named the year old, Hobo, because of its shaggy hair and different colored eyes. Josiah shook his head and thought the name was perfect. The dog was the size of an Australian Cattle Dog. The Veterinarian said that the dog looked like it had some kind of cattle dog in it, maybe some collie. What ever the breeds, the dog was ugly, but Nathan thought it was the cutest dog he had ever seen. Before they went home, they made a stop at the pet shop to pick up supplies.
Josiah and Nathan was choosing dog food when they were approached.
"Hey Orin. What can I do for you?"
"Am I that predictable?" Judge Orin Travis asks.
"You forget, I know you remember. So what do you need?" Josiah says as he puts a twenty five pound bag of dog food into the cart.
"I heard you bought the Foster place."
"You heard correct."
"How many bedrooms does it have?"
Josiah thought about telling the judge exactly how many there was, but told him about the ones on the second floor, "Other then the master, four, why?"
"Nathan has one of them, so that leaves three."
"Yes it does." Josiah says suspiciously.
"I have a couple of situations that you may be able to help me with."
"Really? Like What?"
"Like two hot headed teenagers. Come by the office and I'll fill you in."
"Okay." Josiah smiled, "How's an hour sound?"
"See you then."
Josiah and Nathan grabbed something through a drive thru window and went to the park for lunch since they didn't have time to go home and fix lunch and be back in time for the meeting. Nathan wanted to stay in the park and play with Hobo while Josiah was in his meeting.
Josiah entered Orin's office after Orin's secretary told him to.
"Have a seat Josiah." Orin indicated a chair in front of his desk.
"Thanks." Josiah sits in the chair. "You needed to talk to me about something?"
"Yes I do. I'll get to the point." Orin hands Josiah two folders. "Your expertise is of the adolescence mind, correct?"
"You know it is. What is all this leading up to Orin?"
"The situations that I mentioned earlier, are these two. All they need is some guidance. Their names are Christopher Larabee and Bucklin Wilmington. "
"Where are their parent's?" Josiah asks, looking through the folders.
"Larabee's father is in the army and is stationed over seas. His mother died a few years ago. Wilmington's father is unknown and his mother was murdered by an ex-boyfriend that decided he wasn't going to be dumped by a no talent Reno show girl. I have them in lock up."
Josiah was curious, "Why do you have them there?"
"Larabee got in a brawl and the a young man he was fighting with lost an eye. The other kid started it, but you know the laws as well as I do when it comes to things like this, and Wilmington went after the ex-boyfriend that murdered his mother with a gun. Need I say more? They're good boys at heart, but they are carrying big chips on their shoulders."
Josiah put the folders on the desk in front of him. "And I can help how?"
"You have that big house and I need to place these boys in a home where they can get the help they need."
"Orin, I would love to help out, but I don't have a foster care license."
"You did at one time, so it won't take much to get you another and these boys need what you can give them."
Josiah took a deep breath, "I guess I could give it a try."
"When can I expect them?"
Orin leaned back in his chair in thought. "I would like to have them out at your place this evening. All it would take would be your signature on this temporary foster home app." Orin produced the app.
Shaking his head, Josiah signed the paper. "You owe me Orin."
Orin looked over the papers, "Thank you again Josiah."
Josiah's on the porch watching for the Deputy Sheriff to arrive while Nathans in the back yard playing with Hobo. Josiah looks at his watch and wonders, "Where are they?"
Hobo comes running up to Josiah with a stick in his mouth. "They're not here yet?" Nathan complained as he sat down in the chair next to Josiah.
"Well, maybe that's them coming down the road."
"I hope so." Nathan sighed.
When the car turned into the driveway, Josiah stood to greet the new comers.
"Evening Joe. These my charges?" Josiah asked coming down the stairs.
"Yes they are. I need your John Hancock before I can hand them over to you."
"No problem. What took you so long?"
"We stopped for burgers and the Wilmington kid seen something he couldn't resist."
"Oh really? Like what?"
"A blond with chocolate colored eyes."
Joe opened the trunk and opened the back door of the squad car to let the two young men out. Each teen took his bags from the trunk.
"Thanks, Joe. I'll take it from here," Josiah says as he lays a hand on Joe's shoulder.
"You're welcome brother Josiah. Have a good evening." Joe then got into his car and drove away.
Josiah turned toward the teens. "Now, before we go any further, we need to set some ground rules. One; there will be no cursing in my house. Two; you are responsible for your things. Keep them in your room if you do not want them messed with. Three; your are to keep your room neat and picked up. Four; Wednesday is laundry day, I do not check rooms for dirty laundry, so if you don't set your laundry out side your bedroom door, it will not be done. Five; you do not enter one another's room without permission from that person. Six; any messes you make in the basement, living, dining, kitchen, bath and laundry area's, you will clean up. Seven; my office/den and bedroom are off limits. Do you have any questions?" They shook their heads no. "Good. Now , there is another teen that lives here, he is African American. If you have any prejudice, get rid of them now." Josiah turned toward the house. "Welcome to my home boys."
Josiah showed the two teens the house.
Wednesday, Monty and his friends brought their horses. Chris was taken with them.
"Hey, Chris, is it?" Chris nodded. "You like horses" Monty asked.
"I like that one," Chris answered.
"How would you like to ride him?"
"You serious?" Monty nodded. "I would love to. What's the catch?"
"The catch is, when I am unable to be here, he'll need someone to take care of him. He needs to be exercised every day, fed, his stall will need to be mucked out, he likes to be brushed and he loves the occasional apple or pear. Do we have a deal?"
Chris grinned at the young man, "Deal."
Monty looked back at the horses, "Do you think your brothers will want the same deal?"
Chris looked confused, "Brothers? What brothers? I'm an only child."
"Not any more." Monty smiled back at Chris.
Over the next three weeks, the boys worked with the horses. Hobo looked on and refused to leave the boys side. It was like they were his flock to guard and keep an eye on in case of trouble.
Josiah's at the dining room table looking over his bank statements and doing some calculations.
"What ya doing Josiah?" Buck asked sitting down in a chair with a can of store brand cola in his hand.
"The fourth of July fair is next week, and I was thinking of checking out some horses."
"Cool. Have you given any thought to our talk last week? Chris and I will get jobs to help pay for the stuff that needs done. We really want this."
Josiah leaned back in his chair and looked Buck in the eyes. "If I agree to let the two of you do this, the two of you will be responsible for the up keep of the place, and all expenses like food, other bills."
"Yes we know," Buck said hopefully.
Josiah smiled, "Okay, you and Chris can have the basement."
"Yes!" Buck yells and jumps up out of his chair. "Thank you Josiah. Thank you." Buck hugged Josiah and ran out the back door to tell Chris.
Chris comes in shortly after. "Josiah?"
"Buck said you were thinking of buying a horse. Is that true?"
"Yes it is. There will be a livestock auction and if I see anything I like, I'll make a bid."
"Can anyone bid on a horse?" Chris asked as he sat in the chair Buck vacated.
"Yes. You thinking of owning a horse?"
"I have always wanted to own my own horse. My dad sends me money for living expenses. The army takes it out of his checks every month and puts it on a pre paid master card. I want a horse."
"Then make a bid on one. You have already shown you're responsible enough for one."
"Thanks Josiah." Chris stood up and started to walk away when he stopped and turned toward Josiah, "And thank you for the basement."
"You're welcome," Josiah said to a retreating Chris.
The fourth came quickly and the boys were looking forward to it. Each one for a different reason. It's a week long celebration and Josiah chose to go on Thursday since that was the day they were auctioning off horses.
When they get there, Chris, Buck and Nathan head for the midway while Josiah heads for the merchandise booths.
Josiah was looking at some leather tack when all of a sudden Sam Watson went running past him with the rest of the security following. He was talking into a shoulder mike. Alarmed, Josiah ran after him.
"What's up Sam? Anything I can do?" Josiah asked when he caught up with Sam.
"Hey Josiah, we got a youth trapped up on the bleachers roof that we've been trying to get a hold of for a few days now."
"What has he done?"
"Well, he and his two buddies have been running cons on the people; they have started a floating gambling game, and a lot of people are complaining about it."
"How can I help?"
"If you could talk the kid down, we might be able to get him to tell where the other two are."
"I can try, I won't promise any thing."
"I just need to distract him long enough to get one of my men up there to catch him."
"That I can do, lead the way."
Sam lead Josiah to the bleachers where the kid was at currently. The youth wasn't big, he looked to be about twelve years of age, dark, almost jet black hair and hazel brown eyes. He sat on the edge of the roof swinging his legs back and forth, just out of reach, taunting them.
"Hey kid, come down here so we can talk," Sam demanded.
"I don't have anything to say to you."
Josiah steps forward, "What is your son?"
"I ain't yer son."
"Okay, but I still want to know your name."
The boy smiled down at them and said, "Why?"
Josiah could tell this was going to be a battle of wits, "Why not?"
The boy sighed, "Because I don't want to tell you."
"Why don't you want to tell me?"
Just then there was a loud whistle and the boy stood up, "Gotta go, bye."
The boy then ran to the other end and jumped off. Josiah, Sam and the three security men with them ran around the bleacher expecting to see the youth lying injured on the ground, what they found was nothing. The boy was no where to be seen. It was as if he had disappeared into thin air.
"Where is he!" Sam yells looking around with his arms in the air.
"Don't know sir."
"Well find him. He couldn't have gone far," Sam ordered his men. "Damn, he was a decoy," Sam said out loud when his men left.
Josiah could tell this was trying and frustrating for the man. "I hope you catch them soon."
"Me to. The Mayor is breathing down my neck."
"I bet. Do you know anything about either of them?"
"Yes we do. The youth that we were just talking to, his name is John David Dunne. He prefers JD. He's from the New England states," Sam informed Josiah as they left the bleachers.
The two men didn't know how close they were to JD. They were with in two feet of him. JD didn't dare move or make a sound until they moved away, then he sighed. "That was close," JD whispered to himself.
JD made sure the close was clear before he left his hiding place.
Meanwhile, Chris, Buck and Nathan were having fun ridding on the rides and playing a game or two. Buck was flirting with a girl when Chris came up to him. "Buck, come on, were hungry, lets eat."
"Okay, I'll just say good bye, then we can go eat." Chris nodded and held up five fingers indicating he had five minutes.
Buck left with the girl's number. "I can't believe you, in the short time you've lived here, you got a date for every night."
"Hey, what can say, I'm irresistible."
"Please," Chris said sarcastically.
They pay for their food and drinks and sit at one of the outside table's that were provided when they hear a loud whistle but pay it no mind. They were throwing their trash into a trash bin and walking toward the rides when a kid accidentally bumped into Buck.
"I'm sorry," the kid apologized.
"No harm done," Buck said and turn back to Chris and Nathan.
Buck didn't see the grin on the kid's face.
"Buck! Chris! Nathan! Stop that kid!" The trio turned toward a shouting Josiah. "Catch him!"
The three take off after the kid that had just bumped into Buck and who now has a huge head start and was running in between people. Chris was bumping into people left and right with Buck and Nathan close behind him apologizing as they went. Chris was with in reach of the boy's collar when something hit him in the back of his head causing him to lose his balance and he tripped and went down in the midst of a full stride. Buck and Nathan were running at full speed and didn't have time to stop or jump over Chris when he fell, so they ended up tripping over him and falling into the crowd. This allowed the boy to get way. Chris lay out on the ground, Nathan was trying to stand, but his ankle said other wise, he did limp over to where Chris was laying and looking up at the clouds moving over head. Buck was holding his arm to his chest when he came to stand over Chris the same time Josiah got there.
"Chris! Chris are you okay? Answer me son?" Josiah seen Chris go down and his heart fell with him.
Sam came to stand next to Josiah. "Is he okay?"
"What the hell hit me and who threw it?" Chris said through clenched teeth.
Sam bent down and picked up a softball, "This, and if I'm not mistaken, Vincent Tanner is the one who threw it. He has a wicked throwing arm with deadly accuracy."
Buck stared at the man, "Oh really? We had no idea."
Josiah helped Chris up off the ground. Chris was a bit wobbly but stood rubbing the back of his head where the softball hit him.
"Take them to the first aid tent and have them looked at," Sam said tossing the ball into the air and catching it again.
"I will, thanks Sam. Come on Boys, lets get the three of you taken care of," Josiah said helping Nathan to walk.
The Medic said the teens would be okay but to take it easy. She also told Josiah to keep an eye on Chris and report if he shows any signs of a concussion. So they decided this was a good time to go check out livestock. Josiah seen a few possibilities, Chris found one he liked. He found out the reason the horse was being sold, it had an ornery streak. Buck seen a couple he liked and so did Nathan. After they were done, they made their way over to the refreshment tent. There, they were serving barbeque chicken with all the fixings for a half way decent price. Chris and Nathan said they weren't that hungry, Buck on the other hand, is always hungry. The young girl smiled at Buck when she handed him his plate. Buck reached into his back pocket to get his wallet. But his wallet wasn't there. Buck started to check the rest of his pockets. With each discovery, Buck grew more and more panicky.
"What's wrong Buck?" Josiah asked seeing the look of panic on Buck's face.
"My wallet is missing."
"Are you sure you brought it with you?" Josiah asked.
"Yes. I paid for a hotdog, chips and Pepsi earlier."
"He's right Josiah," Nathan confirmed.
"It must have fallen out of your pocket," Josiah said.
"Or pick pocketed," Chris said as matter of fact.
Buck stared at Chris in disbelief.
"Dunne," Josiah whispers. "I'll pay for your food and loan you a little money so you can bid on a horse. Just as long as it's not too much."
"Thanks Josiah," Buck says with a sigh.
Meanwhile, JD Dunne, Vincent Tanner and Ezra Standish meet up at their hideout.
JD takes out the stolen wallet from his pocket, "Hey Ezra, look? I did just what you said to do."
Ezra takes the wallet from JD, "Excellent. Let's see what we have."
Vin hands Ezra his winnings. Ezra then removes his money from his pocket to add to the growing bank and then counts it.
"Gentlemen, we have done well today. I do believe this little town has brought us the biggest haul of all." Ezra showed Vin and JD how much they had saved so far. "See what I mean?"
Vin whistled as JD exclaims; "WOW! That's a lot."
"Will we be able to get some real food tonight Ez? I'm tired of this fair food," Vin says.
Ezra thinks for a minute. "I think we may be able to spend some of our hard earned cash for, let's say, a burger and fries and a large soda apiece. We'll have to wait till dark to sneak out to get them. We don't want to be seen."
"That sounds good to me, as long as I don't miss the fire works," JD said.
Vin just nodded his head.
Ezra takes the money they have collected and put it in the coffee can they were using as a bank. "Good."
Vin grabbed his pack and started to go through it looking for his stash of junk food. "I'm going to need something to hold me over till then."
"You always need something to hold you over," Ezra said shaking his head.
JD took one of the blankets and laid it out over the hay where they were in, and the three boys sat and ate the packaged food and drank the bottled water they had bought from a gas station.
"Thanks Josiah, that was real good," Buck says, licking his fingers.
"It's starting to get dark, we had better head over to where their auctioning off the livestock," Josiah says as he stands to go.
At the end of the auction, Chris and Buck were able to get their first choice, while Nathan had to settle for his second choice. Josiah was surprised to be able to get two for the price of one, well, it will be as soon as the mare foals. The rancher said the mare was bred by a wild horse and therefore he couldn't use her as breeding stock any longer. After the auction, Josiah didn't have much money left, but at least he has something to show for it.
Unbeknownst to any one, Vin tanner had made his way above the crowd to a more advantage point to see the auction of the horses. He wished he could afford to own his own horse. It was a favorite dream of his, to be ridding a horse through a field, the wind blowing through his long brown hair. Vin closes his eyes as the dream comes to mind.
Ezra watched his friend and frowned, "Someday my friend, someday. I promise, you will have the horse of your dreams."
JD came up and sat next to Ezra, "What's up Ez."
Vin over heard JD and went and joined his friends.
"They're going to start the fireworks soon," JD stated.
"We had better get to our look out then," Vin said getting up from where he sat.
The three teens head for higher ground. They knew when the fireworks start, there would be more security people out looking for them.
Josiah laid out the two blankets he had brought with them. He propped Nathan's ankle on the rather large stuffed teddy bear Buck had won. Buck had torn ligaments in his wrist when he fell over Chris earlier and now its in a brace and sling. Nettie Wells and her niece, Casey, joined them. Soon the fireworks were full display. Chris was looking around the crowd of people when for some reason he couldn't explain, he looked up and when he did, something caught his eye.
JD loved watching the fireworks. It reminded him of the fourth of July celebrations he shared with his mother. While JD watched the fireworks from their hidden hideaway high above the crowd, Vin watched the people down below. He spotted the teen he had hit with the softball earlier and decided to keep an eye on him. Vin watched the teen as he watched the people, then turn his head their way, "Ez, JD," Vin says and backs up into the rafters.
Ezra sees the unease of Vin's movement and follows him as does JD.
"Buck, there they are," Chris says getting up from the blanket.
"Josiah! Chris found the three boys," Buck says as he gets up and follows Chris.
"Nettie, get Sam Watson and tell him to meet us at the livestock barns," Josiah yells over his shoulder as he runs after Chris and Buck. Nathan hobbles after the trio.
Vin, Ezra and JD climb down to the hay mow below. They heard shouting and it was getting closer. Vin and Ezra insisted JD go first down the ladder. Vin told Ezra he was next, but Ezra said Vin was to go next. Vin stood his ground, so Ezra went next. He and JD hid in a near by stall and waited for Vin. But there wasn't time for Vin to get down so he waited.
"When I get their attention, you are to slip under this tent and get as far away as you can," Ezra whispered to JD.
"I don't want to leave..."
"I know you don't want to leave us here but you have to."
"No buts JD. Just do it."
Vin watched the four guys come running in, or rather three running, one hobbling. Vin knew he had to do something so Ezra and JD could get away. Vin squatted down at the top of the ladder and looked down at the people down below him, "Hey, cowboy, you do know this is the twenty first century, right?"
"Chris glared at the teen that was mocking him.
"Now you went and did it kid, he don't like being called a cowboy," Buck yells up at Vin.
"Than he shouldn't dress like one. Tell me cowboy, does it still hurt where I hit you with the soft ball? I did throw it pretty hard."
Chris thought this was the one who hit him, now he knew for sure and now he was going to teach this kid a lesson.
Buck lays a hand on Chris's shoulder, "Um Chris, I don't think you should be fighting him right now. You're a bit on the mad side."
"I don't give a damn, Buck. He's going down." Chris hands Buck the duster he was wearing.
"Bring it on cowboy," Vin mocked.
Vin had everyone's attention which gave Ezra the break he needed. Ezra went for the entrance. Just as he reach the entrance, Josiah seen him and gave chase. Ezra had a clear path to the midway, the man chasing him was a lot bigger and not nearly as quick on the turns as Ezra, but he wasn't as slow as Ezra thought he should be. But as he ran, Ezra could feel the big man gain ground on the straight away. Ezra started to pull ahead a little bit and thought maybe he was in the clear, when out from no where, a kid on a bicycle pulls out in front of him. There was no time for Ezra to stop so they collided. Ezra caught the back wheel and he and the little girl went down together. Josiah was on Ezra before he could get untangled from the bicycle spokes. The little girl yelled at Ezra for ruining her bike when Josiah took him away.
Meanwhile back at the loft;
"I'll bring it on alright," Chris said climbing up the ladder to Vin. Vin stood up and took a few steps back and waited.
JD took this moment to sneak under the tent wall, and into the pathway of Sam Watson and his men.
"What have we got here?" Sam said with a grin on his face, and his fist on his hips looking at JD who was only like, ten feet away.
"Shit!" JD said then smiled, "Bye." Then he took off at a dead run in the opposite direction.
"Damn it, now we got to chase the little bastard."
"At least you're getting your exercise boss," one of the security men said as he went around Sam to give chase.
"Oh shut up and get that kid."
Sam's men snickered as they went by Sam to give chase to JD. Sam sighs and then follows his men.
JD ran like his life depended on it. As far as JD was concerned it did. He knew if he got caught, he would get sent back to his Aunt and Uncle in Boston. At least here on the street, his cousin wasn't getting him into trouble. He felt a lot like Harry Potter in the Harry Potter books he reads. So when ever he got a chance, he would tip over trash cans to slow his pursuers down. He was not going back there.
As Ezra and JD were trying to out run their pursuers, Vin was in the loft, squaring off with the teen he hit with the soft ball.
Buck watched Chris square off with the teen they now knew was Vincent Tanner. There wasn't a thing he could do, Chris was fit to be tied and that Tanner kid was asking for it. Buck hasn't known Chris for long, but he did know Chris had a short fuse. Some say he was carrying a chip on his shoulder the size of Texas, which would account for the short fuse.
"This kid knows how to fight," Chris thought as he took a round house to the stomach.
Vin knew some martial arts moves. He was no black belt, yet. But he did have a blue belt in Ti Kwon Do. He knew he could take this cowboy wanna be and win. He only hoped Ezra and JD got away.
The two fighters were giving As good as they got. Down below a nervous Buck was watching as they would get close to the edge than move away from it.
"You're pretty good. Where did you learn to fight?" Chris asked.
"One of my foster dads has a black belt in Ti Kwon Do, and he taught me."
Buck was getting tired of this, "Stop playing around up there."
"You heard him cowboy, stop playing around."
"Don't call me that," Chris snarled
Vin just laughed at Chris which made Chris all the more angrier.
One of the security men made a flying tackle and grabbed JD around the waist and the two went down. JD read the name Tom on the man's shirt that tackled him when they stood. Tom had a hold of JD's arm. To Tom's surprise, JD was able to turn in his grip and flip him onto the ground, knocking the air from his lungs. Before JD could run, another security man was on him. This guy didn't take any chances, he wrapped his arms around JD's upper torso, pinning JD's arms to his side and lifting him up.
"Wrong move," JD said then tossed his head back into his captives face.
The man yelped, but didn't let go of JD. JD then swung his legs and connected with the man's knee. The man yelped again, but he still held on.
"Give it up John. You're not getting away. Not this time," Sam said, panting. "Good work guys. Tom? You okay?" Tom nodded.
JD scowled at the over weight head of security. "I ain't going back."
"That's not for me to say. You can put him down, Lee." Lee set JD down, then Sam took JD by the wrist. "Go get you self looked at Lee, your nose is bleeding." Lee hobbled away toward the first aid tent. "Do you need to go to Tom?" Sam asked as his man stood.
"No, he just knocked the wind out of me. I'll be fine."
"Lets go John." Sam takes JD by the arm and leads the way back to the barn.
Chris charged toward Vin who easily side step him. Chris swung out at Vin who had to jump back out of the way so as to not get hit, but in doing so, he slipped on some loose hay and not realizing how close he was to the edge, Vin fell to the cement floor below just a few feet in front of Buck.
Josiah and Sam came in with their captives just as Vin jumped back to avoid Chris's swing and seen Vin slip and fall. More importantly, Ezra and JD seen it.
"VIN!" Both Ezra and JD yell as they watch their friend fall to the floor. They jerked themselves free and ran to Vin's still form lying on the floor and kneel down beside him.
JD yells up at Chris, "You killed him!"
Josiah and Sam walk slowly over to them. Josiah squats down and checks for a pulse. Looking up at Sam, he says; "He's still alive, we need an ambulance."
"Josiah?" Nathan whispers to Josiah.
Josiah looks to Nathan then in the direction Nathan indicated. "Shit, Buck go get Chris before he falls as well."
Chris was turning paler by the second as he looked down at the lifeless form on the floor. JD's words were echoing in his head.
"Josiah, take your boys and go home. I'll clean things up here," Sam said when Buck got Chris down from the loft. "You might want to have Chris checked out."
Josiah nodded. "Thanks Sam, I will. Keep me informed will you?"
"Yes, sure. Just take care of Chris."
Buck led the way out of the barn to the bus.
Back at the house a couple of hours later, a solemn Chris Larabee heads for his room in the basement.
Buck watches his friend. "It was an accident."
"I know Buck, but he feels at fault and hearing what JD yelled at him didn't help matters any." Josiah pats Buck on the shoulder.
"He won't listen to me when I tell him it was an accident. How can I make him see that?"
"I wish I could tell you, but I don't have the answer." Josiah had a heavy heart for the young man that is fighting for his life and for the young man who feels responsible for putting the boy in the situation. "Let's all turn in and maybe come morning, things will be better."
"Okay, but I won't be able to sleep. I know Chris won't either." Buck said then went down to his own room.
They all felt the heaviness in the air. "I don't think any of us will get much sleep tonight Buck." Josiah thought to himself as everyone went to his room.
An hour and a half later, the phone rings.
"Hey, it's me Sam. The Tanner kid is doing fine. He has a concussion and a busted arm, a few cracked ribs as well as a couple broken ones and bruised up some bones. The Doctor said he was lucky that was he suffered, he could have busted his neck or worse. He'll be kept in the hospital for a few days then sent to juvie hall where the others are being held."
"Thanks Sam. When are their arrangements?"
Sam was sure of the answer before he asked it, "Why do you want to know that?"
"I'm thinking maybe they could come here and live with us. I was reading about their cases on line, I think maybe there are some hope for them."
"If any one can turn them around, it's you. I'll let you know when it is. You might want to talk with Nettie Wells and Judge Travis and see what they can do for you."
"Thanks, I will."
Josiah looked around the table at the three teens that came to feel like sons to him. They weren't eating, just pushing the food around their plates. "Boys?" Josiah says to gain their attentions, "The Tanner boy is doing fine and will have to hospitalized for a few days. He's banged up pretty bad, but he will live." This last part was directed at Chris. "I was thinking, the three boys could come here and live with us. How do you feel about adding them to our family?"
"I like the idea Josiah," Nathan said.
"I have no problem with it," Buck added.
All eyes were on Chris. "Chris? You have any thing to say?"
"That Tanner kid better not call me cowboy. I hate being called a cowboy."
The other three at the table laugh.
A couple of weeks go by and Josiah finds himself waiting on the front porch again for the deputy to bring him three more boys to add to his family. As before, Josiah greets the deputy when he arrives.
"I see you're late again," Josiah said as he signed his name to the paper work.
Joe laughed, "Well, this time, the girls couldn't get enough of the Tanner kid. If you don't believe me, just look at his cast. It looks like a phone book."
This time it was Josiah who couldn't help but laugh.
Sure enough, when Joe let the three teens out of the squad car, Josiah seen the cast. The boys retrieved their bags from the trunk and Josiah said his goodbyes to Joe before Joe left.
Josiah gave the same speech as before. "Now, if you are ready, I'll show you the house. There are three bedrooms left on the second floor," Josiah started as he led the way to the house.
Chapter Two: Coming Together