It's mid August.
Josiah's in his office proof reading his report to the state on the five teenage boys in his custody when someone knocked on his door.
"Enter," Josiah said.
The door opened to reveal Nettie Wells, "Evening Josiah," Nettie greeted.
"Good evening to you too. Give me a few more minutes and I'll have my report done and printed out for you."
"No hurry. I wish all the Foster Parents I have to deal with were as diligent as you are. Some of them only want the money," Nettie said as she sat in a chair in front of Josiah's desk.
"If that's your way of asking if I have any room for any more boys, the answer is no, my hands are full with the six I do have."
"No, but I'll tell Orin and Evie not to send any more your way," Nettie laughed. "No, the reason I am here, is because JD's Aunt and Uncle are partitioning the court for custody since they're his family, not you."
"If the court sends him back, he'll just run away again. And then God only knows where he'll end up," Josiah stated.
"I know and agree with you. But he did run away from them back in Boston."
"When do we leave?" Josiah did not like the thought of JD going back to Boston, let alone by himself.
"I'll let you know." Nettie smiled at Josiah.
Josiah hands Nettie his report and she puts it in her brief case.
"Have you been able to find Ezra's Mother?" Josiah asked, needing to know.
"Not yet. And before you even ask, Vin has no living relatives, so there isn't a chance he'll be taken from you, Chris and Buck are old enough to be on their own any way."
Josiah nods, frowning. "I just wish Mr. and Mrs. Wilcox would just go away and leave JD alone. Every time they call, it up sets him. Are we even sure Roselyn Wilcox is his real Aunt?"
"We're checking on that. From what I understand, JD's mom and Roselyn had the same mother, but different fathers, Roselyn being born first."
"So she's only a half sister, so how is that going to work? The DNA test I mean."
"I have no idea, but Dr. Morningstar assures me it can be done," Nettie stated. "Now, on to a much better subject, what have you got planned for next weekend?"
"Nothing that I know of, I have plans to enroll the boys in school this week, but nothing for the weekend. Why?"
"As you know, Labor Day weekend is coming up and with it, Founder's Day," Josiah indicated he knew. "Well, Orin and Evie wanted me to ask you to join Orin's teem," Nettie goes on to explain when she sees the confusion on Josiah's face. "There will be an old fashion barn rising out at the O'Rourke's since their barn burned down and they don't have a barn to keep their livestock sheltered for the winter. We're doing it like they did back in the mid eighteen hundreds when the town was founded."
"Sounds like fun. Count the boys and me in. Ezra, Vin and JD may not be able to do much, but, Nathan, Chris, Buck and I. Oh yeah, we'll be there."
"Good, we meet next weekend at the Travis' to discuss strategy."
Josiah looked to0 Nettie and asked, "Strategy? What kind of strategy?"
"There's going to be four teams. The Royal's, and the James' teamed up together, the Bishop's and of course the O'Rourke's. Then there is Orin. You know Montgomery St. Claire; he is on the team as is Orin and his son Stephen. With you and your boys, that'll give Orin his ten man team that he needs."
"Guy and Stuart formed a team? You can bet there'll be some cheating on their part."
"You know it, Josiah. That is why we are meeting this weekend. Therefore, I can count on you and the boys to be there. Orin is grilling out."
"Oh, well, then you know we'll be there. I hope he has enough to feed an army. I have three bottomless pits, believe me, he'll need it."
"I'm sure he does." Nettie laughed.
"I'll walk you out, Nettie," Josiah said as he stood with Nettie.
"I am so glad you came here Josiah and I am so pleased you have gone on with your life. Rebecca would be proud of you right now," Nettie said before they left the room.
"It wasn't easy watching her slowly slip away and not be able to do a thing about it. She always wanted a big house, full of children with enough room for them to grow in."
"Well, you got that now."
"You know, Nettie, I think it was Rebecca who had a hand in bringing me these troubled boys." Josiah smiled, "Well, her and Obadiah."
"I don't doubt that for a minute, Josiah." Nettie smiled.
The two left the office and walked out into the dinning room. Ezra was doing his chores and JD was doing the dishes, as was Josiah's way of curing JD's boredom.
"Josiah, why do I have to do these, we have a dish washer?" JD complained.
"You were bored and couldn't find a thing to do. That's why."
"If you thought for one, or even five minutes, Josiah, that you were not doing a good job with these boys, think again," Nettie whispered.
At Nettie's car, Nettie tossed the folder onto the passenger's seat and turned to face Josiah. "When did the workmen say they would be out to take care of the mold problem?"
"Today, man, Nettie, it was horrible when we took up the carpet in Ezra's room. No wonder he was having headaches." Josiah shakes his head. "And thank you again for pushing the funding for it. There was no money in my bank account to fix it. We would have had to move, where, I had no idea."
"The boys are wards of the state, Josiah. It was my job as their case worker to see to it, and Orin kind of helped it along a bit."
"Well, all I can say is thanks. They are even working on the basement. This house is going to be mold free."
"They are such beautiful hard wood floors, why anyone would cover up such beauty is beyond me. Well, I have got to get going if I am to hand in this report to my boss on time," Nettie said rolling her eyes. "It's always a pleasure seeing you and the boys. Have a good day." Nettie planted a kiss on Josiah's cheek before getting into her car and driving away.
"Are the two of you, you know?" Buck asked when Nettie was out of the driveway and headed down the road.
"No, Bucklin, were just friends," Josiah said, smiling up at the young man standing on the porch.
"But she kissed you."
Josiah sighed, "On the cheek, Buck, on the cheek."
"But, I thought that's how old people kissed when they liked each other."
Josiah gaffed, "Old people? Who are you calling old?"
"I'm just saying," Buck said holding up his hands in surrender. "Besides, I call em like I see em."
Looking up at the young man, Josiah decided not to tell the boys about Mr. And Mrs. Wilcox until he knew when the custody hearing was. Until then, they were going to have some fun. Founder's day is not far off, and they had to get ready for it.
"Buck?" Josiah called.
Buck took a drink of his soda before answering, "Yeah, Josiah?"
"Keep an eye out for the workmen who were supposed to be here by now, okay?" Josiah asked.
"Sure thing," Buck smiled back.
"Thank you," Josiah said.
Buck smiled when Josiah took a few steps, "Hey, Josiah?" Buck yelled, "There's the workman."
"Smart ass," Josiah yelled back."
"I would rather have a smart ass then a dumb one." Buck smiled back.
"Do you even know the meaning of the word dumb, Buck?" Josiah asked.
"Nope, but I guess you're going to tell me."
Josiah smiled. "The meaning of the word dumb is the enabling of speech, to not be able to utter a word."
"Like I said, I want a smart ass, not a dumb one." Buck smiled back.
"Yes, well, a dumb ass would be a lot less noisy then a smart one."
"Yeah, but it stinks just as bad," Buck laughed.
Josiah did not comment back, just smiled, shook his head once, and turned toward the utility van that was now coming to a stop in his driveway, and uttered to himself; I walked right into that one, smart ass."
Two men got out of the van. The bigger one, Reggie, wondered his way over to Josiah. "Good afternoon. You must be Josiah Sanchez. I'm Reggie Mc. Donald," the man said, introducing himself as he held out his hand for Josiah to shake. "That's my colleague, Randy, over there unloading the van. I hear you have a mold problem?"
Josiah shook the man's rather meaty hand. "Yes I am and yes I have a mold problem. It needs taken care of ASAP. My son, Ezra, is allergic to mold. So it needs to be taken care of immediately."
"It's as good as done." The man nodded. "How many children do you have?"
"I have six boys, ages 17 to 12."
"Whew, you have quite a hand full. I bet they keep you and the Misses quite busy."
"My wife died a few years ago."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"Like you said, the boys do keep me busy."
"Thank God for kids, no matter the age, right? Now how about you show me this mold problem of yours," The worker said, gesturing for Josiah to show him the way.
"Right this way," Josiah said as he led the way to Ezra's room.
JD was finishing with the dishes when Josiah and the two workers walked in.
"I'm done with the dishes, Josiah. Can I go and play outside with Chris, Nathan, Buck and Vin?"
"Go ahead. Now remember, if you get bored, I can find something for you to do." Josiah smiled at the youth.
"I won't get bored. Are you coming Ezra?"
"I still have a little bit more of my chores to do, and then I thought I would catch up on some unforgotten reading. But, thank you for the invite."
"What ever. A simple yes or no would have worked," JD muttered as he left through the back door.
"Your sons call you by your first name?" Reggie asked.
"They are my foster sons," Josiah answered in way of an explanation.
"Oh, I see. Good for you, we need more foster homes. Some of the ones we do have aren't worth the paper work it takes to establish them."
"Amen," Josiah said.
Reggie and Randy got to work on the damaged floor and wall. At the end of the day, Reggie and Randy were ready to lay in the new flooring for the whole up stairs and Reggie told Josiah not to let any one up there while the boards were drying. The wall had very little damage to it, and that the repairs had already done. Reggie also said he and Randy would be back in the morning at about ten. Reggie also informs Josiah, he was able to find a near match of wood flooring that would work with the one he had up there. The basement was an easy job to do. It would not take that long to fix. Josiah signed the paper work, said his good nights to the two men, and went back inside after showing them to their van.
"So, Josiah, where are we to sleep for the night?" Ezra asked when Josiah came back in.
"The living room, where else? I have an air mattress, and the sofa makes out into a bed big enough for two of you. Then there's the recliner Vin likes to fall asleep in."
Ezra nodded his okay.
Josiah sighed, "Ezra?" Ezra looked to Josiah. "You do not have to keep looking out for them. I am here to do that."
"Old habits are hard to break Mr. Sanchez."
"You're 14, Ezra, not 34. I want you to be a teenager. That's why I took you and the others in."
"I have never been able to act my age. I do not know how."
"It's high time you learned."
"Excuse me?" Ezra's puzzled by Josiah's words and expression.
"Go and get the others and I'll explain."
Ezra did as asked.
A few minutes later, Ezra was back with the rest of the boys. Josiah gestured for the boys to join him in the living room; he then explained what he had done.
"Labor day weekend is coming up, as well as Four Corner's Founder's Day. Judge Travis would like us to join his team and I said we would."
"What kind of team, Josiah?" JD asked.
Josiah smiled and said, "A barn raising team."
Chris said skeptically, "Barn raising?"
"Yep, I t seems the O'Rourke's are in need of a barn and since its founder's day weekend, we're going to build a barn the old fashion way like they did back in the mid eighteen hundreds. It should be a lot of fun."
Ezra gaffed, "For whom? It sounds rather like a lot of hard and menial labor."
"I'm in Josiah," Buck said.
"Me too," Nathan said.
"Hell, why not, count me in," Chris said.
"Yeah, I guess I'm in," Vin said.
"Cool. I am in too. Come on Ez, we can do this," JD pleaded.
"Yeah, come on Ezra. Make it unanimous. Who knows, you may have fun," Josiah coaxed.
"I doubt it, but since you are all bent on my participation on this ludicrous idea, then yes, you may count me among you."
"You know, Ez, a yes or no answer would do. You don't have to make a speech," Chris said, annoyed.
"Yes, but where is the fun in that." Ezra smiled back with a raised eyebrow.
Buck snickered, as did Vin, Nathan and JD as Chris glared at Ezra. Josiah shook his head. For the life of him, Josiah could not understand why Ezra persistently has to butt heads with Chris, knowing Chris's temper.
"Okay then. On Saturday, we are to go to the Travis's for dinner and discus strategies."
Nothing more was sad that night about the barn raising.
At Four Corners junior and senior high, the boys signed up for their classes.
With Chris's current school records, all he needed was a semester of English and a year of government to graduate. What was so surprising to everyone except Buck was Chris took English Lit., which was a two-semester course. Chris then took wood shop for a year. All three courses were in the morning, which left his afternoon wide open so he applied at the local general store for a job and got one as a stock boy.
As a junior in high school, Buck had a full day's schedule starting with U.S. History, then English, then Spanish and in the afternoon, Buck has job corp. The only reason Buck took Spanish was the Spanish Teacher, Miss Martinez. Chris teased Buck about it, but the truth is, Buck had signed up for the class before he seen the teacher, what ever, Let them think what they want. , Buck thought.
Nathan is a Sophomore. He has P.E. first thing in the morning, then algebra, health, biology, English, and the last class, world history. Nathan like health and wanted to be a doctor when he grew up so he could find cures for diseases like cancer and others that kill people. Nathan knew Josiah's wife, Rebecca. She was very nice to him and his family. He did not want any one to hurt like that again.
Ezra is a freshman. The course he wanted, he could not have because it required two years of English. Since he was required to have three years of English to graduate in four years, he took two of them this year, so his schedule is, Freshman's math, then science, P.E., his first English class; reading skills 101, (a prerequisite to Drama class,) business, and last, general English, a required freshman course.
Vin is in eighth grade. In addition, in junior high, you have seven classes not six. He took all the required classes, his first is English, then P.E., health/science, social studies, math, eighth grade shop class, and because he had to have a seventh class, he took band. At least that is what he told every one. He hoped he could play the violin. His mom loved violin music. However, her favorite was the dulcimer. She told him it reminded her of the highlands of Scotland where her grand father was born. She never tired of Celtic music. Therefore, Vin loved it.
JD took all the classes he was required like Vin had, he just took the seventh grade version of them, starting with social studies, math, English, P.E. fifth class was computers, then health/science, last, seventh grade shop. JD was excited to be able to take computer class. He wanted to be able to design his own soft ware some day.
Buck had also gone out for football and made the team. His position is a linebacker.
Josiah settled into his office. Josiah sat out the picture of his wife next to the computer on his desk. The office was not big, but it was nice and clean.
"All settled in Mr. Sanchez?" A feminine voice said into the room from the doorway of his office.
"Yes I am, Ms. Patten," Josiah said to the brown-haired woman.
"Velma. Call me Velma." Velma smiled. "You are going to the barn raising?"
"Yes I am. In fact, my boys and I are on one of the teams," Josiah answered.
"Good. Now I know who is getting my basket. See you then."
Josiah smiled at the veiled flirtation. She may be small in stature, but she was most defiantly his kind of woman. He liked it when she smiled at him. He learned from other staff members, her nickname in high school was 'Dimples'. He also learned her father is an Irish Immigrant. Velma displayed her Celtic lineage very well and thought maybe later, after he has had the chance to know her, he would ask what part of Ireland her family hails from.
The week passed by quickly, and now it was Saturday afternoon and the meeting at the Travis's.
Evie met them at the door when they arrived. "Come on in. The meeting is outside by the pool, Orin is expecting you so go right on out. I'll be out shortly with some lemon aid."
Josiah led the way since he has been here numerous times. When they entered the back yard, they could hear the Travis males arguing about something.
"Tell them you can't. We need you," Stephen stated.
"This way, the judging will be fair; we will find another man to replace me," Orin said.
"Who will be team Captain?" Stephen asked, crossing his arms in front of him.
Orin took that time to look up at their new arrivals. "Josiah. Boys, Glad you could make it. Help yourselves to some refreshments. Evie should be coming with some lemon aid soon. The burgers and hot dogs will be done after the meeting."
"Did I over hear you won't be on the team?" Josiah asked, getting down to business.
"That's right. The Mayor asked Orin to be one of the judges, and I think he should. With the Royals and James's as one team, we need all the good judges we can have. There will be three judges. Orin, Virgil, and, unfortunately, Mr. Conklin," Nettie said.
"What's wrong with Conklin?" Chris asked.
"Simple, what ever the James' want, he delivers. Him and his bunch of cowards," Stephen said. "There isn't one of them with enough back bone to stand up to the likes of the James' and Royals."
"Stephen! That's enough of that kind of talk in my home," Evie said when she heard her son's disrespectfulness of his elders, even if he was right.
"Orin was to be the team Captain, but now we need someone else to be," Monty said, and then smiled up at Josiah, "How about you?"
"Me? I'm no leader, Monty," Josiah answered.
"Ha! Don't even get me started," Nettie said. "I knew you when you were in high school and dated my sister. And if my memory serves me right, you were the Captain on the wrestling team and the debate team."
"That was years ago, Natalie," Josiah said, using Nettie's given name, knowing how much she dislikes it.
"That don't work anymore, Josiah. You would be the perfect replacement for Orin," Nettie said raising her eyebrows.
Casey leaned over to whisper to JD. "No one has ever called Aunt Nettie by her real name."
JD looked at the female when she straightened back up. "Josiah just did."
"That still leaves us one man short," Stephen complained.
"I know someone who could fill in." Monty smiled as he dialed his cell phone.
"You do?" Orin asked.
Monty just smiled at his host. "Hey, bro, how would you like to help your big brother out of a jam? Great, you remember Judge Travis?" Monty laughed. "Yeah, Okay then. I'll see you shortly and fill you in what we've decided on," Monty laughs again. "You know it."
As Monty talked with his brother, Orin hung his head and smiled. Stephen's face lit up like July 4, his birthday and Christmas all rolled into one. He was even jumping around and yelling with glee.
Orin eyed Monty when he hung up the phone. "He had better behave himself. I don't want to have to have him arrested again."
"Don't worry. We have Josiah." Monty smiled.
"I hope you're up to leading a bunch of teenager's. Monty and you will be the only adult's on your team," Orin told Josiah.
"How old is Monty's brother?" Chris asked.
"Your age," Orin grinned. "Now let's get this cook out underway."
Nettie put a hand on Josiah's shoulder when he slumped back in a wicker lawn chair. "You'll be just fine. Nash isn't all that bad, just has a problem with his strength."
"And what would that be?" Josiah gave her a worried look.
"He doesn't have the first clue what is too much. You will need a good anchor, Nash will be that anchor. When you meet him, you'll know what I mean."
"I hope you're right," Josiah said as he got up to join the group.
The first week of school went okay. Ezra helped Vin with his homework. Since Ezra was allergic to mold, Josiah was not taking any chances, Ezra had many of the indoor chores, like, vacuuming, dishes, dusting. He did not complain too much about the dishes, since they had an automatic dishwasher, but dusting on the other hand, was an entirely different story. Josiah got a laugh when Ezra had dust from head to foot the first time he had told Ezra to get the dusting done. The other chore, Ezra complained about the most, was the bathrooms.
The other boys had the chores of mucking out stalls, spreading fresh bedding down for the horses, mowing the lawn, etc. Some of the chores, Ezra wanted to do, like brushing the horses and feeding them. However, Josiah said there may be some mold out in the barn, and did not want Ezra ending up in the hospital because of it. At least, he could ride them. He had never ridden before and when Monty told him he would teach him, Ezra jumped at the chance, as did Vin and JD.
Monty found out, through teaching the boys how to ride, JD was from Boston Massachusetts, Vin was from the Texas pan handle, and Ezra was from Atlanta Georgia. Now the question on his mind was, how the three of them hooked up, they were from different parts of the US.
"I have a question," Monty started, "How did the three of you get together?" Monty asked the three youths.
"Yeah, how did the three of get together?" Buck asked.
This had Chris and Nathan's attention as well. Ezra, Vin and JD looked to one another, then back at the others. "The Carney," All three youths said at once.
Monty looked puzzled, "The Carney?" Monty asked.
"Yes, the Carney. When Maude left me with, yet another, relative, and was forced to do things I was not comfortable doing, I fled the first chance I got, and joined the Carney, just, the Carney did not know that. I would hide in the roustabouts gear trailer in the daytime. I did most of my work at night any way, so it did not matter if I slept or not."
"My Aunt and Uncle had showed up, pretending to care about me, when my mom died. The foster home people I was living with at the time didn't bother to check if they were my real Aunt and Uncle, but when they showed up with papers claiming my aunt was my mom's sister, they said they could take me. I found out my aunt was a stepsister to my mom. By then it was too late to do anything. The only reason they took me was the state money. What cloths I did have, one of my teachers gave me. Her son out grew them, and they were nice cloths, I mean the real good stuff, like JC Penny and Macy's. I never had that kind of cloths before, my cousin kept taking them and when I went to my aunt and uncle, they would defend my cousin. Then the Carney came to town. My aunt and uncle did not let me go to it, so on the last day, I snuck out of the house and went, and that is when I met Ezra. He helped me to get away from my cousin, who was chasing me when he seen me at the live stock barn."
"I knew what it was like to have to stay with people who pretended to like you, for one reason or another. When he told me about his aunt and uncle, I knew what kind of life he was in for and I could not let that happen to him, so, I told him if he liked, he could join me and together, we could go from town to town with the Carney and see the States."
"It sounded like fun to me. My mom had always wanted to travel, see the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, all the stuff she only read about, so when Ezra said I could go with him, I went."
"We rode with the roustabouts gear. No one knew we were in the back with their things, and when we arrived at a new town, we would quietly leave our hiding place and go mingle with the town's people."
"That's when I joined. I was hiding from a foster home when the Carney came to town. A couple of the boys at the home did not like me very much, and would beat on me, or take my stuff. The foster parents at the last foster home blamed me for something I did not do. They did not allow me to go to the fair for punishment. On the last day, I snuck out and went anyway. I sat up in the rafters so no one would see me, and that was when I seen the boy that likes to beat on me, push JD to the ground. Ezra came to his rescue, but the other boy stopped him and started to beat on Ez, that was when I threw the oranges. I knew I couldn't go back to the home after that."
"Yeah, Ezra and I were hurting."
"The two boys wanted the money they lost in a game of chance," Ezra said, shaking his head.
"But when Ezra gave it back, they said they wanted it all, and tried to take it from us," JD finished.
"It was a good thing the three of you met up then," Monty said.
"Yes it was. We made a good team, JD would distract the local security, while I did my thing, and if anyone gave chase, Vin would make sure neither JD nor I got caught."
Chris rubbed the back of his head as he remembered that day at the fair.
"Come Founder's day, we may need that cunning," Monty sighed.
Chris asked Monty, "What do you mean?"
"We'll be up against the Royals and James', they aren't known for playing nice."
"Bring it on. We can take what ever they dish out," Buck stated.
"I bet you could," Monty nodded.
+ + + + + + +
Before they knew it, Founder's Day was here. Founder's Day was a two-day event. Saturday was the barn rising, with a one-hour break for lunch, which the local women would make picnic baskets for the barn raising teams. Then there was a street dance Saturday night. On Sunday, was the tug of war, chili cook off, pie eating contest, bake off and sale, all sorts of races and games for the young and old, men as well as women, were schedule. Josiah had entered the chili cook off. In the late afternoon, a soft ball game was scheduled.
Saturday morning, Josiah had the bus loaded for bear, as it were. He made sure each one of them had a tool belt for the barn raising, he had a cooler full of bottled water and power aid, because, the last thing he wanted, was JD full of sugar and caffeine, and not focusing on the tasks at hand. The first aid kit was equipped with an inhaler for Ezra, just in case they come across some mold, along with some headache and allergy medicine. He also had Vin's brace, just in case he needed it.
Monty and the Travis's were waiting for Josiah and the boys when they arrived.
"Where is your brother?" Josiah asked when he seen only Monty.
"He's on his way, he should be here shortly," Monty answered.
As if on cue, a menacing, black, decked out, 1969 Chevrolet Camaro with red flames on either side, pulled up beside Monty's blue Dodge Neon.
Chris looked at the car with admiration.
"Nashville!" Steve Travis yells, and runs to a mountain of a man after he steps out of the car.
"Stevie," The big teen said when he was greeted by Stephen Travis.
Buck leans in toward Josiah and whispers, "Are they sure he's only seventeen? He's as big as a semi."
"You remember Dad and Mom," Stephen said.
"How could I forget?" Nash said as he came to stand in front of them. "Judge, Mrs. Travis."
"Nash," the Judge said.
"It's good to see you again, Nashville," Evie Travis said before she planted a kiss on his cheek.
"Hey little brother," Monty said and gave Nash a hug. "I would like to introduce a friend of mine, Josiah Sanchez, and these are his boys, Chris, Buck, Nathan, Ezra, Vin and JD. They'll be on our team."
Nash shook all their hands. "Nice to finally meet the famous Josiah Sanchez," Nash noticed Chris admiring his car. "She is a beauty, isn't she?"
"That's an understatement. It must have cost you a pretty penny," Chris said as he circled the car.
"No, not really, it was a piece of junk when I got it." Chris looked at the teen as if he were crazy. Nash laughed. "I love restoring them. I have a 1966 Dodge Charger at home in the garage I am working on right now. I have it almost done, in fact. I got this from a man that was selling it for scrap, so I gave him the money he would have gotten from the junk yard, a whole whopping fifty dollar bill."
"No fu "
"Chris," Josiah said, interrupting Chris.
"Sorry, Josiah, no stinking way," Chris corrected.
Nash laughed. "Yes way. It is what keeps me out of trouble, besides, when I am done, I sell them, and make a heavy profit doing it. There ain't a motor around I can't rebuild."
'"He isn't exaggerating either," Monty stated.
"How did you ever get started in rebuilding cars?" JD asked.
"Auto shop, my girlfriend does the custom paint jobs."
"You have a girl friend?" Monty was surprised, "Since when Brother?"
"Since the last time we spoke, now where do we go for this barn raising? I want to kick some Royal and James butt," Nash said rubbing his hands together. "is there still going to be the Founder's Day tug of war?"
"Of course, it wouldn't be Founder's Day with out one," Evie laughed.
The O'Rourke's farm was a small one, it had a pen for the hogs, the geese were running a muck, one goose, a drake, was chasing visitors and biting them, while the chickens peeked the ground, and two draft horses were grazing in the pasture, along with a few milking cows, and one bull. There was a hay wagon sitting off to the side, with out any hay on it. It looked to be a bit charred, but overall, in good condition, considering, it was in the barn when the barn was on fire. JD and Vin ran to help round up the geese.
"Vin, be careful, it's only been two days since that thing was taken off," Josiah yelled, referring to Vin's cast.
"He had that cast on for quite awhile, didn't he?" Orin asked.
"Dr. Morningstar told us that his arm would take a long time to heal since it was so badly broken. He's happy it's off," Josiah said as the two men dodged a biting drake.
"The good doctor will be on hand if there are any injuries," Orin informed.
The Mayor handed out colored t-shirts to the teams. There were four colors, blue, red, green, and yellow. The team leaders took a slip of paper out of a bowl that had a color on it. Royal/James team leader picked the red, O'Rourke team took green, and Bishop's had blue, which left Josiah with the yellow. A plan and instructions was given to each team to go by on how to build their side according to the mid nineteenth century, the only difference was, and they will have scaffolding for safety reasons.
Each team took on a name for their team, the Royal/James team was the Ranchers, O'Rourke's; the Irishmen, Bishop's; the Wild Bunch, Josiah's; the Renegades, some referred to them as the delinquents as well, but of the two, the team settled on the renegades, it sounded more western like the others.
"You know, guys, their kind of the same thing when you think about it," Vin said.
Josiah ruffled the youth's long hair, "Only you could find the link between the two."
Vin shooed Josiah's hand away, "Stop that, will ya?"
After everyone put on his or her t-shirts, the Mayor started the contest by shooting off a starting pistol up in the air.
The morning went well with no real problems. JD and Chris were the runners, their job was to make sure the team had everything they needed to get the job done, Josiah was the one who was the caller, his job was to make sure JD and Chris knew what was needed and who needed it. The others operated hammers, 2x4's, and the wood planks for the siding. When it came to the real heavy stuff, Nash was called on to lift it into place. In no time at all, the yellow team had their wall done and ready to raise it into place so the rafters could be hoisted into place, but in order for that to happen, they had to wait for the other teams to catch up.
"You did real good JD, real well," Chris said patting JD on the back.
"Yes you did," Josiah agreed. "How's your knee?"
"Dr. Morningstar said all I did was twisted it. It'll hurt for a little bit, but it should be okay after lunch."
"Good." Josiah patted JD on the head before he left to go talk to Orin.
Buck stopped in front of JD. "You sure you're okay?"
"Yes Buck, I'm fine." JD shook his head.
"Orin, May I speak with you?" Josiah said when he found Orin Travis.
"I know what you're going to say, Josiah, and I've already talked to Stuart James on his nephew's behavior. He said he would have a talk with the boy."
"We both know how that's going to turn out. JD could have been seriously hurt. I want them to stay away from my boys."
"But he wasn't, was he, Sanchez."
"James," Josiah growled through clenched teeth as he turned to face the man, "You had best keep that bunch of yours under control, or I swear I'll let Chris and Buck have them."
"Is that a threat?" James said getting into Josiah's face.
"That's a promise, I don't do threats," Josiah stated just before he walked off.
"Orin, keep him and his bunch of delinquents in check, will ya? The last thing we need is a dust up. Now have you seen Conklin?"
"You just keep an eye on your bunch, and there won't be a dust up, and no, I have no idea where Conklin is. If you want him so bad, find him yourself," Orin said, then turn his back on the man and went back to what he was doing.
When all the walls were done, there was a lunch break. The four teams gathered and were told they had one hour for lunch, in which case they were to return and be ready to put the rafters and roof on. Josiah and his team found their way to where the picnic area was. Velma was waiting with her girls, as well as the Travis, Wells', and Stephen's girlfriend Mary Preston. Stephen and Mary went off by their selves to enjoy the basket Mary made, in privet, while the rest of the group gathered around the tables that were shoved together. They ate the food from the baskets, and had a nice lunch.
Meanwhile, somewhere else, Matt, Lukas, and Ryan James and Kyle and Timothy Royal were up to no good.
The scaffolding was already up and waiting for the teams when they returned.
JD was impressed by the scaffolding, "Whoa, look at them, Vin, we could have used them when we were with the Carney."
"I bet you could have," Buck said, shaking his head.
Vin ran up to the scaffolding, and in no time at all, he was at the top, looking down at everyone. Josiah shook his head at how quickly Vin climbed the scaffolding. From there, Vin was able to climb out on the edge of the walls that were up, and walk along them like a cat.
Josiah and buck look over at Chris, who was turning white.
"I wish he wouldn't do that," Chris murmured.
"Hey," Vin yells down, "Watch this."
Everyone watched as Vin ran along the wall's edge and do a cartwheel as if he were on a balance beam, and take a bow as JD and Ezra applauded. Vin then did a backward walk over. It was obvious to everyone that Vin was having fun.
Nettie came to stand next to Josiah, "He should go out for gymnastics."
Buck looks over at her, "You think?"
"Yeah, well, if he doesn't quit, Chris is going to pass out," Josiah stated.
Nettie looked over at Chris, "I see what you mean."
"Vin," Josiah yells, "Stop that, before you fall and hurt yourself."
JD laughed, "If you think for one minute he's going to fall, you don't know him. He used to do that in the rafters of the barns at the fairs when we would hide from the local security guards."
"He fell out of a hay mow," Chris stated.
Ezra and JD glared at Chris "Don't remind us," JD said.
Ezra put a hand on JD's shoulder, "It was an accident, JD."
Vin did a dismount and landed on the scaffolding, Josiah sighed in relief, as did Nettie.
No one noticed the screws in the scaffolding were loose when Vin did his acrobatics.
Nash yells, "That's amazing, what else can you do?"
"I don't want to know," Chris complained. "Let's just get this done."
Orin second the thought. Soon everyone was back to work, putting the final additions on the barn.
They gotten a few rafters in place and nailed down. Josiah was feeling real proud of his team, they were so far ahead, that they even helped out the one team that was be hind the most. Vin was going from one rafter to another with no problem. Chris stayed down on the ground, as did JD. The only reason JD didn't go up on the scaffolding was his knee. He wanted to, but Josiah said no.
The screws were working them selves loose with each passing minute.
Vin's in the rafters, while Ezra is sitting on top of one of the walls, hammering a nail as was Stephen, Josiah had the plans laid out on a table, looking at them while Nash and Buck were taking a ten minute break. Chris and JD were filling up a buck with bottled water to send up to the guys working on the walls and rafters, and Monty and Nathan are on the scaffolding, when the screws work themselves the rest of the way out.
Chris seen a screw land on the ground in front of him, he bends down and picks it up and looks at it, wondering where it came from. It was then he heard the scaffolding moan, and knew what had happened.
Shoving JD out of the way, Chris yells, "The scaffolding!"
Up in the rafters, Vin hears the moaning of the scaffolding and Chris yelling. Ezra and Stephen hear Chris's yell as well and both youths and Vin look over at the scaffolding to see it start to crumble.
"Vin," Ezra yells as he reaches out to the two on the scaffolding.
Vin leaps to a rafter as he yells back, "I'm on it."
Nash runs to the falling scaffolding and grabs onto it stopping it from hitting the ground, Josiah and Buck fallow. A hammer falls from the scaffolding and hits Chris on the head, knocking him out cold. Up in the rafters, Vin swings his self down, using the bucket's rope and catches Monty as he's falling off the scaffolding, while Nathan leaps off to catch Ezra's and Stephens's out stretched hands.
Orin runs over to where JD is lying on the ground, holding onto his knee, with Dr. Morningstar. Josiah is kneeling next to Chris, "Chris, Chris answer me son."
"Get him away from here; I don't know how much longer I can hold this," Nash grunted out.
Buck quickly goes and helps Nash with the scaffolding. Sam Watson, who is on the O'Rourke team, came to help Josiah with Chris.
Vin and Monty are holding onto the bucket rope and making their way down it, while Ezra and Stephen pull Nathan up to sit between them.
Josiah and Sam got Chris to safety, "You can let it go boys," Josiah said.
Nash looks to Buck, "On three," Buck nodded he understood. Nash counted and on three, the two teens let go and ran as if the devil was after them to safety.
"Scott," Josiah yells for Dr. Morningstar, "Chris isn't responding."
Scott came to kneel beside Josiah and Chris.
Nash is looking his brother over; when Monty finely slides the rest of the way down to safely stand on the ground. Vin dropped down the last eight feet to the ground, and Nash greeted him with a bear hug.
"May we have some assistance up here?" Ezra calls down.
Chris starts to stir when Scott finishes, "He's going to need stitches, Josiah."
"I'll be fine," Chris protested, trying to get up.
"Chris, you have a huge gash on the top of your head, you need to go to the hospital," Buck said.
The world started to spin when Chris stood, and if it weren't for Josiah, Chris would have ended up on the ground again.
"Buck," Josiah yells, tossing Buck the keys, "Get the bus."
Buck runs to get the bus, as Sam grabs a ladder for the three still up on the wall.
Lukas James comes to stand next to Orin and the other two judges. "I guess they forfeit, since they don't have ten men anymore."
Buck stopped dead in his tracks and turned to face Lukas. "You bastard,"
Nash grabbed Lukas by the front of his shirt and slammed him up against a finished barn wall, "What did you do?"
"Who says I did anything? Your teams down two men, and if Sanchez leaves with Larabee, that'll make three men down," Lukas smiled down at the youth.
"Go, Josiah, I can handle everything here," Monty said coming to stand behind his brother.
"Hand me a shirt," Mary demanded.
"Me too," Said a tall brown-headed teenage girl as she pulled off the shirt she was wearing.
At the sound of the brown-headed girl, Nash let go of Lukas and turned toward her as Monty asked, "Cheyenne?"
Buck's mouth dropped open when the girl passed him, stripping off her shirt.
Cheyenne smiled up at Monty, "Who else, big brother?"
"Go put a shirt on," Monty told her.
Cheyenne puts her fists on her hips, "It's a bikini top, and if you like, I'll take my shorts off and really embarrass you."
Looking around at the crowd, Monty asked, "Why are you here?" Monty asked.
"Like we would let the two of you have all the fun," Cheyenne said, rolling her eyes.
Monty glared at his sister, "We?"
"Yes, we," Came another female voice, this one belonging to a very pregnant woman. "I may not be able to climb up into the rafters, but I can do the running down here."
Monty stared at the woman, "Are you sure, Ally?"
"Yes, Montgomery, I am, and Cheyenne and me, have a bone to pick with you later."
Nash looks down at Lukas, "They make, eight, nine and ten, jackass."
"Buck," Josiah said, Start the van, then hurry up and get back here."
Lukas growled when Cheyenne stuck out her tongue and crossed her eyes at him.
Mary handed Cheyenne a yellow t-shirt, "It's good to you again Cheyenne."
Cheyenne put the shirt on, "Thanks Mary."
The scaffolding was put back together and the barn rising resumed.
Dr. Morningstar went with Josiah and Chris to the hospital.
Chris was taken in immediately to one of the exam rooms. The doctor on call, Dr. Madison Parker, came in.
"Let's see what we have, shell we?"
Dr. Parker ordered x-rays and then stitched Chris's head back together. She told, Josiah, Chris had a slight concussion and the x-rays didn't show any fractures. Chris was to take it easy, and kept an eye on for the next twenty-four hours. The doctor also said the stitches were not to get wet. If needed, Chris could take some over the counter meds for pain. Other then that, he was free to go.
When the trio returned to the barn rising, there were people shouting and giving each other high fives, except for the Royals and James', they seem to be pissed off about something.
JD hobbled over to them, "We won Josiah. Cheyenne's almost as good as Vin is at gymnastics. You should have seen them up there."
Orin came over to them, "The St. Claire and Sanchez team done an excellent job today," Orin said, "How are you doing, Chris?"
"He has a slight concussion," Josiah answered.
Mrs. O'Rourke over heard what Josiah said and came over to stand next to Orin, "Do you need some Motrin, son?"
Ida O'Rourke took Chris with her into the house to get him some Motrin and a glass of milk to take them with, saying Sadie gives the best tasting milk in the County.
The O'Rourke's had an old fashion cook out just before everyone left to get ready for the street dance.
Main street was blocked off for the dance. The only vehicle allowed other the emergency vehicles were the musicians van. Buck was excited. He already had a few girls who wanted to dance with him, as did the rest of the boys.
The live band played a wide assortment of different kinds of music, from country to rock, a little rap, and even some gospel thrown in. They had something for everyone, no matter the taste.
The St. Claire's showed up in two vehicles, Nash's car and Ally's mini van. They mingled among the people. Cheyenne was walking around, just looking at everything that was going on. She stopped at a vender that had elephant ears for sale. While she was there, she over heard someone talking. She made her way over to where she heard the low talking and listened in, but kept out of sight, what she heard, she didn't like. She had to tell some one, and she knew who and where to find him.
Cheyenne found Buck on the dance floor with a blonde-haired person. She waited for the dance to end before she approached him. The blonde-haired person stepped aside for the next person in line waiting for Buck to dance with them. Cheyenne made her way to the front of the line. It was a slow dance, so Cheyenne took Buck by the arm and led him out on the dance floor, ignoring Alma Jean's protests.
"Dance with me," Cheyenne demanded when Buck was about to say something about her rudeness, "I have to tell you something."
"Oh really, then tell me," Buck smiled as he held her close to him.
"The screws' coming loose on the scaffolding was no accident. I over heard the James and Royal boys talking about it. Their fathers want the grazing rights, but Mr. O'Rourke told them no, and now they're trying to run the O'Rourke's out of town. I think, maybe, the barn was torched on purpose. I had to tell someone, Buck. The law won't do anything without proof, so, how do we get the proof?
"Shit, we have got to find Josiah," Buck said taking Cheyenne by the hand and left the dance floor.
The two teens found Josiah standing with Judge Travis and Nettie Wells.
"Josiah," Buck said, panting from the run to find him, "We need to talk to you."
"Catch your breath, Son, and tell me," Josiah said, concerned.
Cheyenne related what she over heard.
Josiah ran his hands through his hair, "Are you sure?" Cheyenne nodded she was, "Judge?"
"I will have the matter investigated, but other then that, I can't do a thing without proof, it's just hear say, I'm sorry."
"I understand," Josiah said.
"But in the mean time," Nettie said, "Not a word of this gets out. We don't want to tip our hand."
"She's right Josiah; let's keep this between us, which include the two of you," Judge Travis agreed.
Nothing happened the rest of the night, and all had a good time. The next morning, the women of the VFW hosted a pancake breakfast at the VFW hall.
Josiah and his bunch met up with the St. Claire's at the hall.
"Hey, Chris," Nash whispers, "May I have a word with you?"
Chris nodded his head, "Sure."
The two teens go and stand off in a corner, apart from the rest of their group.
"Okay, what's up, Nash?"
"I noticed you were dancing with Ella Gains last night."
Chris looked Nash in the eyes, "Yeah, so?"
"Well, she's bad news. Please, take my advice, put as much distance between the two of you as you can. I don't want to see you get hurt."
"I won't get hurt, Nash."
"She's a wild one, after she gets her hooks into you, she'll get you into all kinds of trouble, believe me, I know."
"I like them a bit on the wild side, Nash, that's why I like her." Chris smiled.
Nash sighed, "Just remember, I warned you," Nash said then walked away.
Chris shook his head, and rejoined the group.
Josiah resumed his potion as Captain of the yellow team. Cheyenne and Mary remained as back up for any injured teammates. During the tug-of-war, Cheyenne stood in for JD, because of his knee. Nash was anchor; he partially pulled the other teams across the line himself. They were undefeated.
"Told you he'd make a good anchor when you seen him," Nettie said to Josiah.
Josiah laughed, "Yes you did."
Josiah came in second in the chilly cook off, old man Bishop came in first, with his venison and sausage chilly. Even Josiah had to admit, it was better then his, hot and spicy, south of the border, chilly that was past down to him from his great grandmother. The two men exchanged chilly recipes. Old man Bishop even threw in his sweet cornbread recipe. Vin won a few races, as did Chris and Nathan. Ezra enjoyed the games, specially, since he wan a little money on the side. Ezra wanted to sit in on the poker games, but was told he was too young to play, and even he was to play, gambling was not allowed. Nash wan the pie-eating contest.
"Hey, Monty," JD asked, "What's going on over there?"
Monty looked over where JD indicated, "Cribbage games."
Vin watched the men and women for a few minutes, "Looks like a card game."
"It is, see that kid standing off to the side, with a smug look on his face?" Vin and JD nodded, "Well, he's the reining champion in these parts, one of these days, someone is going to wipe the look off his face and I hope I'm around to see it.
Vin and JD look to each other and say in unison, "Ezra."
Monty looked at the two, "Does he even know how to play?"
"His great Uncle Cecil taught him," JD answered as the three went in search of Ezra.
They found him sitting under a tree, cross-legged, playing solitaire.
The three stood over Ezra, "May I help you gentlemen?" Ezra asked, not taking his eyes away from his card game.
"Would you like to play some cribbage?" JD asked.
Still playing his cards, Ezra answered, "Not really, but thank you."
Monty squats down in front of Ezra, "Let me put it to you this way, you play in the tournament, I won't tell Josiah how you got the extra money in you wallet."
Ezra stopped what he was doing and looked Monty in the eyes, "Since you put it that way, I would love to play some cribbage."
Monty stood, and grinned, "I thought you might change your mind."
Ezra was able to wipe the smugness off the teen's face and win the five hundred dollar prize money that Monty did not inform him of, if he had, Ezra would have been more inclined to do so from the beginning
Soon it was time for the soft ball game. The team Captains were to pick as number from a hat. Since there were two softball fields, they had either the number 1 or 2 on a piece of paper of which to choose. Guy Royal stood in front of the table and instead of reaching in the hat to pick a number, he turned to Orin and said, "The Rancher's want to play the Desperado's."
Josiah stood in front of Guy Royal, "That's fine with us; we were kind of hoping to play against you."
Orin holds up the hat between the two rival Captains, "Well, one of you needs to choose a number."
Josiah indicates to Guy to choose, "Go ahead, no matter the field, we're "going to wipe the ground with you and your team."
Guy reached into the hat and took out a piece of paper and handed it to Orin, "You're playing on field number two. That means the O'Rourke's and Bishop's have field one," Orin said setting the hat down.
Monty came and stood next to Josiah when Guy left, They have something up their sleeves."
Josiah agreed, "I kind of figured they did, that's why I plan on having Vin do the pitching. Now all I need is a person willing to be catcher."
"That would be me," Chris said coming up behind the two.
Josiah and Monty turn around to see the whole team standing behind them, "You sure Chris?" Josiah asked.
Chris smiled, "I've been catching his shit since I've knew him, this way, I'll see it coming."
Monty smiled, "Nash, Stephen, do you think the three of us could handle the outfield?"
Stephen grinned, "Oh yeah."
Nash agreed, "No problem."
"I'll step in for JD, Josiah, as short stop," Cheyenne said.
JD wanted to play, "Why don't I get to play?"
Monty walked over to JD, "We're going up against the James' and Royal's, they'll more then likely be playing dirty out there, and we don't want your knee to be injured any more then it already is, understand?"
JD nodded that he did, "I still wish I was playing."
Josiah sighed, "Now for the bases," Josiah looked to the remaining three team mates, "Well, who has what?"
Buck spoke up first, "First base."
Nathan was next, "I'll take second."
Everyone looks at Ezra, "Oh, you can not be serious."
Monty walks over to Ezra and whispers in his ear.
Ezra smiled, "Fine, I guess I'll take third then."
"Chris, you owe the jar another dollar," Josiah grinned at Chris.
The captains of the O'Rourke and Bishop teams were happy to be able to play one another, and let the Sanchez and St. Claire team play the Royal and James team. They only wish they were able to watch the game.
Old man Bishop sat on the sideline listening to his son and the O'Rourke team captain, "Why can't we?" Old man Bishop asked.
Orin was playing the Umpire to the O'Rourke and Bishop game, "O'Rourke, call it," Orin said, tossing the coin.
Bishop grinned, "No need, they win by default."
The coin lands in the dirt, tails up, as Orin asked, "What?"
O'Rourke's team quickly gather's their stuff, as does the Bishop's team, "You heard him, Orin. We would rather go and watch the other two teams go at it. It promises to be very entertaing," the old man said.
Mr. Snow was umpiring the game between the yellow and red teams, and he wasn't looking forward to it. Looking over into the stands, he sees Orin joining his wife, and the other two teams settle in to watch the game. He walks over to Orin, "You can't be done."
Orin grinned at his old friend, "O'Rourke's won by default."
Snow shakes his head, "You could umpire this game," Orin shook his head no, "Didn't think you would, you do know this isn't fair, he stated before he went back to the starting of the game.
"What's up, Harold?" Josiah asked.
"O'Rourke's won by default," Snow grunted, "And Orin won't umpire this one."
Josiah pats the man on the back, "You'll be just fine."
Harold Snow looked Josiah in the eyes, "Then why is it, I feel like I'm facing the gallows"
Red team was up at bat first. It didn't take long for the three outs, since Vin struck the first three batters out.
Lukas James took the mound with his cousin, Matt James as catcher. Matt's brother, Ryan was the first baseman and his sister, Nicole was short stop, Kyle and Tim Royal were second and third basemen, their brother, Blake and two of the Lynch boys, Butch and Lance, were outfield.
Yellow team was able to get a run in, barely, thanks to Nash's power hitting.
The people in the stands were enjoying the game, immensely. By the sixth inning, team tallow was a head by four runs.
Nash is at bat; Lukas pitches and hits him on the shoulder. The umpire told him to take his base, but Nash said no, and rolled his shoulder and took his stance, the next ball he hit a home run with, and gave his team three more runs.
When Nash crosses the plate and goes to sit down with his team, Josiah stops him, "Why didn't you take you base?"
Nash smiled, "Because that's what Lukas wanted, Ezra's next at bat, Lukas knows he's not our strongest hitter, if I took my base, with only one out left, and he could have struck Ezra out, leaving the bases loaded."
Josiah nodded in agreement to Nash's assessment of the situation, "Good job."
Ezra spoke negatively to Nash, "It is more then likely the case, since I have yet to hit the ball."
"It might help if you choke the bat, Ezra," Nash said.
Ezra looked at Nash as if he just grew another head, "Choke the bat?"
Nash laughed at the look on Ezra's face, "Yeah, like this," Nash showed Ezra what he meant.
Ezra went to bat, and did what Nash had suggested, and choked the bat. Ezra struck out on the first two balls thrown and fowled the next, the fourth ball thrown, he hit a grounder to the left fowl line and was able to make it to second base.
Guy Royal calls a time out; he and Harold go to the mound. Shortly Harold comes back to home plate.
Josiah motions for Harold to come over, "What's going on?"
Harold looks down at the mound, "Their changing pitchers."
Josiah was confused, "Can they do that?"
"There's nothing that says they can't, Josiah," Monty answered, "Who do they have to replace Lukas with?"
Harold looks back at the two men, "You do not want to know."
Harold indicated who the relief pitcher was. Both Monty and Josiah look to the stands as a young man, in his early twenties, stood and started to come down and head for the ball field.
Monty hung his head, "Damn, I knew they were up to something," Monty whispered.
Josiah looked to his friend, "Who is he?"
Monty sighed, "His name is Dexter Lynch, he's a left handed pitcher in the minor league," Monty said, "And we have mostly right handed batters, with Stephen being the only left handed batter."
Josiah just smiled at Monty as he called for Vin, "Vin, your next up to bat and this guy's a left handed pitcher,"
Vin shrugged, "No problem, I'll bat left handed."
Monty had a surprised, but happy look on his face as Vin went to bat and an even happier one when Vin hit a home run.
The look on Guy Royal's face was priceless when he seen Vin bat left handed. Monty held up two finger's to show they had two left handed hitters, Josiah reached over and lifted a third finger. Guy understood the meaning of the three fingers, and scowled.
Monty leaned over to Josiah, "Who's the third?"
Josiah grinned, "Ezra."
Monty gave Josiah a surprised look, "What?"
Josiah nodded, "Vin and Ezra are both ambidextrous, as is JD."
"No kidding, you're serious," Monty said in disbelief, "So, we have one left handed, power hitter with two switch hitters."
Harold over heard the two men and had to chuckle, the red team tried to pull a fast one and it back fired in their faces.
At the end of the game, team red had closed the gap a little, but was unable to catch the yellow team, and lost the game by two runs. The Captain's of the teams stood in front of one another to shake hands.
"You could have said something about having switch hitters on your team," Guy said.
"Well, that makes us even then, because you should have told us about your relief pitcher," Josiah grinned, "When are people like you going to understand, this makes three times you took us on, and three times you lost to a bunch of rejects. And further more, my boys and I are not going anywhere."
Orin Travis stood next to Josiah, "Royal?" Guy looked at Orin, "There is a rumor going around that says you and Stuart James had Lukas and your son's subterfuge the yellow team scaffolding yesterday, you had better hope and prey I do not find any truth in it."
Guy sneered at the Judge and walked off.
Judge Travis turned toward Josiah, "Congratulations on a game well played, I thought for sure your team was going to lose when I seen Dexter Lynch head toward the mound."
Josiah grinned, "So did Monty until I informed him Vin and Ezra were ambidextrous."
That night, Josiah and his boys, along with the St. Claire's, celebrated their victory by going to dinner and a movie. When they finally got home, JD was exhausted and, Vin and Ezra were not too far behind. Josiah sat in his office with the door opened and listened to the banter between his son's as the older three teased the younger ones about needing to be carried to bed. He never tired of hearing the friendly, if not brotherly, banter every night at bedtime.
Chapter Four: Gaining Custody