The leader followed the tracker for another hour before Vin halted his horse and stated, "This is it." They walked toward a tree that had a path to it. "He rested here for a bit, then went into the woods, probably to the stream to get a drink or clean up."
"Does he know about the stream?" Chris wondered with worry about the boy wondering around alone
in the woods.
" Relax, cowboy you're startin' to sound like Buck," Vin said jokingly.
"Shoot me ......quickly," he said, a grin trying not to emerge.
"It ain't too far, pard" Vin declared as he patted Chris on the back.
Chris had to admit it was real nice here, he could picture JD coming here and just thinking, about anything. Or just relax. This place fit JD, or was it the other way around? Vin was concentrating on the path the kid had left and keeping his eyes open so he wouldn't jump JD, that was the last thing the kid
needed. Who knew it would be Vin and Chris startled by a loud snap and a scream of extreme pain. "JD?" The gunman knew it was.
"KID!!!" Vin yelled and listened for a response.
"Vin!??" The voice was barely recognizable and he sounded like he hurt in a way he had never hurt before.
"There he is.." The tracker pointed towards the kid.
They arrived to find JD lying face down on the ground, he seemed to be trying to back up. Vin saw why. "Lay still, kid." Vin stood up to meet Chris who was a little behind him.
"He's caught his leg in an old trap," Vin said quietly. "Looks like he mighta been runnin', his pants are torn."
"Hey kid, how ya doin'?" Chris knelt down near his head and saw the pain in his hazel eyes.
"Hurts, Chris...," was all he said, what else could he say. He had never felt anything like this before in his life. His shoulder was sore but his leg..he was just hoping he would pass out before he couldn't hold in his pain anymore.
"I know, son, hang in there. Can ya tell me what happened?" Chris said gently.
"Thought I heard my horse...," he said between clenched teeth. " I started runnin' hopin' to catch her...next thing I know.....my face is hittin' the ground." He tried to smile but the sharp intake of air prevented it. God it hurt.
"JD, we gotta get this thing off of ya'. I ain't gonna lie to ya', it's gonna hurt like hell," Vin said wincing at the thought of what was gonna have to happen. Chris looked over to Vin , stood and knelt down next to him.
"How bad?" Chris said in a hushed tone, not even caring that his worry was evident.
"Pretty sure his legs busted, this things pretty rusted I ain't too sure we're gonna get it off. I tried the triggers and they ain't movin'."
"Well, guess we better find the end of this thing and get him home as soon as we can. He ain't doing so great, and his shoulder's bleedin' again." Chris explained to JD that they didn't think they could get the trap off without causing more damage so they were gonna dig up the chain and get him home as fast as they could.
* * * * * * *
Back in Four Corners two riders approached the Jailhouse. A man and a woman dismounted and
approached the jail, they were greeted by a tall slender man and a extravagantly dressed man , the tall mustached man spoke first.
"Ma'am, sir, is there something' we can help ya' with?" Both men tipping their hats.
"Am I to assume that you are the law?" she said so coldly it sent a shiver down the men's backs.
"Your assumption would be correct, as my associate has already inquired, are you in need of our assistance?"
"We are looking for someone, a young man who left Boston as a Ward of the State. In essence he is considered a runaway."
"And you believe he is here Miss.....??"
"Ballard, Amanda Ballard, and this is Warrant Officer Delaney, and yes, we have reason to believe he is here associating himself with six other men." Her tone reminded Ezra of old school marm, and the memory wasn't pleasant.
"How long ago did this kid runaway?" Buck asked, knowing that JD been here for awhile, and was wondering why it had taken them so long to come after him.
"That isn't important."
"How old is this juvenile runaway, Miss Ballard? Or are you not allowed to divulge that information as well?"
"The young man in question goes by the name JD Dunne, and is seventeen years of age, has black hair and hazel eyes. Is that enough information 'gentlemen'?" she spat it out.
Buck looked at Ezra slyly, "Well, I guess but what makes ya think he's here and runnin' with a bunch of outlaws?"
"The men aren't outlaws, they are hired guns. And we learned of him from.."
Ezra noticed her hesitate and had an idea of where her 'information' had come from. "Ma'am? Your information is a reliable source, I assume. The thought of your journey here on horseback , without a reliable source...my my my..," is all he could say, as he bowed his head shaking it, trying hard not to laugh.
"Extremely reliable, a novel was written about these seven men and his name appeared in it more than once. We contacted the author and he confirmed that he had spoken to the boy in question."No need to tell them that it was a stupid Dime Store novel.
"That 'novel'? 'The Magnificent Seven'? He still owes us money don't he, Ezra?" Buck's eyes twinkled as the color drained form Miss Ballard's face.
"I do believe you are correct, Mr. Wilmington."
"Miss Ballard, when next you contact Mr. Steele, please remind him of that small fact." The gambler's tooth glinted in the sun.
Miss Ballard fought to compose herself, "Well..ahem," clearing her throat, and returning to her previous tone, "Then you know who I am talking about, will you please tell me where he is so we may take him back East?"
"Dunno, Ma'am." It wasn't a lie, Buck really didn't know where he was.
"You don't know? I find that hard to believe, Mr. Wilmington?"
"I'll ask you again, where is he?"
"Miss Ballard, I assure you that he is no longer here. If you do not believe us, feel free to ask anyone in town and you will discover that Mr. Dunne departed our company months ago."
"I will do just that Mr.....Standish isn't it?"
"Correct, Miss Ballard. If you'll excuse me..Miss Ballard , Mr. Delaney." Buck and Ezra then
left to go to the saloon.
Just outta ear shot Buck said to Ezra, "I hope this works."
"Have faith, Mr. Wilmington , and say a little prayer." The two men entered the saloon and sat down to see how this would all play out.
* * * * * * *
Vin and Chris had managed to expose the chain holding the trap in place. Before they began digging, they decided it would be best to get JD on his back. They moved him ever so carefully and JD tried not to squeal , but made a few sounds when the pain was to intense to ignore. Hearing JD acknowledge the pain made it all too clear to other two how many times they didn't hear the kid acknowledge it.
At the end of the chain was a lock, could this get any worse, thought Vin. The sharpshooter told the kid he was gonna shoot the lock and to not move. With one carefully place shot of his mare's leg the lock opened, Vin took off the last link and looked at the men in front of him and said, "Ready whenever you are kid."
JD had managed to sit up but wasn't looking good at all, he was paler than when they'd first found him, he had a fever and the thing that had unnerved the hardened gunslingers the most...he hurt. It was in his face, in his eyes, and he let it be known that he hurt. Chris couldn't remember J D ever saying he hurt, but he'd heard it every time he asked the kid how he was holding up. Why can't he be normal and just pass out already? Chris thought.
JD nodded his head and the two older men got on either side, putting one hand under his knees and the other around his back, they looked at the kid for a signal to let them know he was ready.
"Okay," his voice was raspy, but the word was said quickly. Deep down he was hoping he would
pass out before they got him to far off the ground. If his leg hurt this much just lying still, what was it gonna feel like when they moved him? As much as didn't want to know, he wanted to be home more.
The seasoned gunslinger looked at the bounty hunter and simply asked, "How you wanna do this, Vin? Easy and slow or just get him up?"
"Just..get..me..home..please," the boy tried to smile. Chris just shook his head, kid's trying so hard not to show his hurt.
"Okay then, on the count of three?"
"Sounds good..One..Two....Three..."As they lifted JD from the ground they prepared themselves for the scream that left JD. It took them maybe twenty minutes to get JD out to the clearing to the horses, it would have taken longer but the tears that finally showed themselves and the steady chant of 'Oh God' kept them going. Vin thought it would be torture to put him down and lift him up again so they just kept going.
They came to the edge of the woods and spotted the horses. Vin took all of JD's weight as they lowered him to the ground, and Chris held him . The kid was exhausted and lay his head on Chris's shoulder as his whole body shook with small tremors, the kid was fighting to keep some control, not wanting to give into how much he wanted to close his eyes and just sleep.
"I..shoulda....stayed in...bed..," it was such a small voice.
"You'll be home soon, son," Chris said softly, but it didn't matter. JD had given in. As his face grew relaxed the tremors began to subside.
Vin approached the two men on the ground, "Whenever you're ready, kid," the buffalo hunter said, letting the kid have some control on the situation.
"He's out, let's get him home pard."
"Want me take him?"
"Yeah, we'll take turns. He ain't none too light. Damn trap weights bout as much as he does," the aggravation was apparent.
They decided to use JD's horse to bring him home on. She wasn't as skittish as the others. The kid had shown the others that he could mount her on the "wrong" side once, just to show how smart she was. Vin was glad he remembered that, it would be easier to get him mounted that way, they wouldn't have to lift his bad leg up and over..they could just let it hang.
The horse never flinched , she stood so still Chris wondered if she knew what was going on. As Chris held on to JD, Vin mounted, not really knowing how she would react to an unfamiliar rider. Chris watched Vin mount, stroking the horses neck and talking to her, he'd seen JD do this a thousand times. He also remembered one Buck Wilmington mounting her, while trying to escape an upset boyfriend, and the reaction the horse had. But the horse's ears were forward and relaxed, she knew this was serious.
Vin nodded his head and Chris got on his horse, holding on to the reins of Vin's horse and made his way to Vin and JD. He pulled past the tandem riders a bit, turned to get the reins of JD's horse, but was surprised to find the mare beside him. He looked at Vin and smiled, "She part dog?"
Vin just smiled back, "Looks that way to me, kid was right, she is smart."
Chris urged his horse on, occasionally glancing sideways to make sure the younger men were still there, he was never disappointed to find the horse right there. The only thing discouraging was the sheriff's condition. Vin had had to move the kid's position, having him sit up wasn't working so he cradled him in front of him like he was a baby. It was easier, but hard on Vin. Chris saw the tension in his friend's face.
Vin didn't have a chance to answer, JD tensed and began to wake.
"It's okay, kid, hold on."
Hazel eyes fluttered open and looked at Vin.
"Hey, how ya doin?"
"Vin?" His eyes grew wide, "Chris! Where's Chris!??"
"Right here son, take it easy."
As JD became more aware of what was going on and where he was the small tremors returned and with the small tremors came the painful reminders of why Vin was holding him. He laid his head back on Vin's arm his face contorted in pain and squeezed his eyes shut, causing tears to escape the corners of his eyes. A gentle hand wiped them away and then rested on his forehead. Chris frowned.
"His burnin' up," he said, taking off his duster.
The older men began to change positions, it was a remarkable thing to see. Vin dismounted holding the kid's legs up just as Chris had mounted cradling his back, the action had taken a little longer, but it was smooth and JD barely moved. As soon as Chris was situated he covered JD with the discarded duster. Vin then mounted his own horse, took the reins of Chris's and the three men began to move out.
Realizing he wasn't still, JD panicked a bit, grabbing at Chris and breathing heavy he gasped, "W-w-w-what's going on..Where..we .going...Chrissss...Vinnnn??"
Chris held him tight, feeling the struggle. "We're goin' home, JD, remember? Vin and I switched. I got ya' now,"Chris spoke to him gently and as he relaxed, he wiped the stray hair from his eyes. Once again the tremors stopped and JD gave into the quiet place he had been before.
Chris looked at the kid's shoulder, wasn't bleeding too bad in front. He held him strongly with one had and examined the other, good not bleeding to bad in back. Then took a look at the kid's leg.
He saw gash's where the teeth of the trap had torn at his flesh. His foot was at an odd angle appearing to be pointing south more than the other. A shiver ran through Chris as he wondered if when they got the trap off and went to take his boot off if his foot would stay with the boot. He shook off this image quickly. What an outlook, Chris he screamed at himself.
Vin glanced at Chris and nodded "Won't be long..another hour."
All he could do was nod, but a raspy voice let out a, "Good", and went back into the darkness. The man holding the kid just smiled and shook his head.
"Let's get him home, cowboy," Vin smiled back.
* * * * * * *
"Miss Ballard, Warrant Officer Delaney. I sure do wish I could help ya out, Dunne a left few months back." That was the basic response they got at every stop in town. Amanda suspected that maybe this was some sort of setup, so she began asking the townspeople who were walking the street. After an hour of that she decided that this was simple, the men had told the truth. JD Dunne wasn't here, and hadn't been for awhile.
With a defeated sigh she entered the saloon. She approached a table in the back where four men sat. "Excuse me, gentlemen."
"Miss Ballard, Mr. Delaney. From the resigned look on your face I suspect you did not find your 'quarry'?"
"No, Mr. Standish, it appears that what you said was true. May I ask if any of you have any idea where he was going?"
"No ma'am, can't say as I do. None of us were here when he left. We had a complaint outside of town, left him here, didn't want him to get hurt, from what I understood he was madder than hell...he was mad. He was gone when we got back," Buck laid it on pretty thick.
"I see...and you never went looking for him?"
"Miss Ballard, he managed the adventure to our fair town unaccompanied. Young Mr. Dunne also
took the duty of being sherif of this town and lived to leave it. There is no reason to believe that he wasn't capable of taking care of his own well being," Ezra laid it on thicker.
" Well then.," she turned to the man riding with her, "..Mr. Delaney, I believe our business here is done. We'll be leaving shortly..Gentlemen, thank you for your help and cooperation." And she stood up to leave.
"You headin' back east now? It'll be gettin' dark in a bit," Nathan spoke the truth, and he felt someone kick his shin just enough to hurt, and looked at the three men giving him steady cold glares.
"Yes, we rented the horses in Sweetwater, we 've made arrangements for them to be taken back for us. There's a stagecoach leaving soon, I spoke to the driver and he has allowed us to go with him. You do not need to be concerned." She then turned and left the saloon with Mr. Delaney close behind.
The group of men then went out onto the porch to see if Miss Ballard and Warrant Officer Delaney boarded the stage, which they did. As soon as the stage pulled out of the town, the streets were alive with an arousing cheer. The noise was heard in the stage and Miss Ballard wondered what that was all about The stage driver sported a huge smile and patted his breast pocket, he had been paid 'very very well' to "escort" the occupants as far east as he could.
As the town settled back down and thank yous were said, Nathan frowned and looked to the opposite
side of town. "They been gone long don't ya think?" asking no one in particular.
"We gotta couple hours of daylight left, let's give them another hour, then we'll head out." It was said by Buck, and if he wasn't worried then they had no reason to worry. They also knew Chris and Vin would take care of JD's shoulder and would keep an eye on him. If he had been bad off when they found him they would've been back sooner.
"They are probably talking things over, Brother Nate," Josiah still saw the concern in his expression.
"Probably, right. Thirsty?" Nathan said with a smile.
"You bet, and Ezra ain't buying...that was one hell an idea! I still can't believe it worked!"
The four men entered the saloon still talking about the con they, and the rest of the town, had pulled off. Little did they know that things hadn't gone as smoothly for their three friends.
* * * * * * *
Time had passed slowly, they were making good time, it just wasn't usually this quiet when the kid was with them. Always full of questions and wonderin' about things. Always wanting to learn something new. Vin was always surprised that Chris never ignored the kid when he was on a ' why and what' tear. As stupid as some of the questions might have been to himself or Chris, he would get an answer, sometimes leading to more questions or some heavy pondering by JD. Guess the kid got more than just Chris under his thumb, he questioned light heartedly.
"How ya doin' pard?"
"We're doing good. You wanna ride ahead and get Nathan ready?" They were just outside of town and
Chris seemed to know that's what Vin wanted to do, but would never ask.
Vin reached over and touched JD's head , blank eyes opened slowly "Almost there JD, not much longer."
"Is it gettin' dark or are my eyes playin' tricks?"
"Relax kid, its gettin' dark," Chris smiled.
"How much longer?"
"'Bout fifteen minutes. Vin's gone ahead to get the others. You gonna stay awake?" Chris added sarcastically.
"You s'pose Buck is still mad at me?"
"Dunno, don't worry about that, we'll find out what's got him hot under the collar."
A small chuckle escaped JD, "Betcha Nathan's gonna be mad," a weak smile crossed his face.
"He was plannin on ya' not feelin' so great, but this is a little over the top, don't ya think?"
"I guess. Never could do much right" the smile faded and his eyes closed, "Sorry, Chris, I tried...." He barely heard the boy and he fell back asleep.
"No problem, kid," Chris said, thinking about the words JD had just said. Never could do much right. Chris had a hard time believing the kid was that bad back east. He was usually doing more than his share most of the time and it didn't seem like he was doing it to impress anyone. He was shaken out of his thoughts as the horse came to a halt, and found himself in front of the clinic.
* * * * * * *
Chris eased JD to Vin. Normally he would of just handed him to him, but the kid became heavy after awhile of holding him like he had been, plus he had the extra weight of the trap. He was reminded of that as the chain fell to the ground and a horrendous sound came from JD.
Chris was faster off the horse than Buck was getting passed Josiah and Nathan. Chris grabbed JD's hand. "Sorry, kid, my fault give it to me..send it to me," as he said it he felt the kid's hand grip his and noticed his knuckles turned white instantly. Vin took him upstairs with Chris still attached to the vice grip he had put his hand in, and Nathan and the rest right behind.
As Nathan took off JD's shirt to examine the old wound Vin and Chris filled him in on how he'd gotten his leg in a bear trap. The others surrounded the room. Josiah had left to get the blacksmith, hoping he would have as idea on how to remove the trap. When Josiah returned with the blacksmith JD looked at them...and began to panic.
"Easy , easy. JD calm down..," saying it in firm but soft tones. Chris moved to block his vision.
"You ain't cutting my leg!!!! Chris, Vin...PLEASE..don't let him cut my leg off!!!!!" the kid begged through the panic and tears.
Josiah made his way to the kid quickly, "It's all right, son. No one's cuttin' your leg off, that thing's for the trap..supposed to cut through metal and steel.." The preacher's tones managed to work. JD's breathing seemed to slow but his upper body was still shaking uncontrollably.
Nathan approached the blacksmith, "Mr. O'Malley, can this thing make one cut through? Or is this gonna
"I really don't lad, only used it a few times. Maybe if Josiah uses it might only take a couple of tries. He a wee bit stronger than I." Mr. O' Malley was hoping the preacher would do this. He didn't think he could stand to watch this. Horses, injured or healthy, he could handle. People on the other hand.
"Thanks, Mr. O'Malley," and he ordered everyone else out. Buck was about to say something when Vin stepped to Buck .
"Let's give them time to work."
Buck just stood there when he felt a strong hand on his shoulder and turned to see Ezra, and without his usual tone, "Vin's right, come on, Buck, there's nothing we can do, we'll be in the way," but quickly added, "While we wait we can fill Mr. Tanner on the events of today and the reason for your recent slip in character." Buck nodded and left the room.
Vin thought they could have gone all the way to California and the screams wouldn't have been stifled. Fortunately, although they were loud, they didn't last long. The three men remained on the porch along time. They told Vin about what had gone on in town in their absence, which brought a smile to the tracker's face. By the time they heard the door to the clinic open the sun had set and the moon was out.
The three turned to see Chris. His hand was in a bandage of some sorts and he looked tired. "Nathan says you can come up."
"What happened to your hand?" Vin didn't remember him cutting it on the way back.
"JD happened. He's a lot stronger than he looks."
The men made their way up the stairs and to where JD was. Josiah greeted them at the door on his way out, Nathan was behind him. He saw the looks of concern on the men standing in front of him.
"He's doing okay, he's sleeping right now. Try not to wake him up. He's still got that fever, and gettin' that thing off him...it took a lot outta him. Done a years worth of stitchin' on him, and he'll be laid up for a while. His shoulder's gonna heal good, his legs gonna take a bit longer..if he does what he's told." Nathan rolled his eyes at his last words, knowing that JD wouldn't do what he was told.
Chris told Nathan to get some sleep. He figured the three of them could keep an eye on things. He knew Vin wasn't gonna leave, and Buck wanted to be there to apologize to the kid the first chance he got.
"All right." And he handed Chris some medicine to give to JD if he woke up, "Try to get some water into him too." The men nodded, and Nathan closed the door behind him.
"Thanks, Chris, I really messed up," Buck said gratefully.
"You can tell me all about it while he's sleeping."
JD was sleeping soundly. So were the two men on the other side of Buck. Buck was watching him sleep and noticed the kid try and roll to his side. Kid was sleeping so good he forgot he was hurt, he thought.
The pain took JD by surprise and he gasped at the air and tried not to make any noise, but a low groan found its way out. His eyes shot open and he grabbed a handful of the blanket that covered him.
"Hey kid, take it easy. You can't be movin' too much in bed," Buck said as he wiped the kid's forehead.
"Where's Chris and Vin, Buck?"
"They're here sleeping, you tuckered them out."
"I shouldn't of run off"
"Well, I shouldn'ta said what I did."
"Why? You were right..Where's Vin and Chris?"
JD was becoming agitated, something Buck could always cure, but not this time. The kid wanted Vin and Chris.
"They're sleepin' kid, now just calm down..here let me get some of this here medici..."
"Where are they? What happened Buck? Does he have them?! Oh God, he's got them..I'm sorry."
The noise aroused the sleeping men in time to hear JD asked Buck if 'he' had them.
"Who JD? Vin and Chris are right here."
"Did he hurt them?"
"Did who hurt them?"
"Chamberlain..Oh God, he did hurt them...," JD began to sob, saying, "..I'm sorry..I'm sorry..."
"JD...JD...KID. We're right here..look at me..JD! We're here..we're okay. Nobody hurt us," Chris said in only the way that Chris could to get one's attention. JD's eyes opened and looked for the source of the voice.
"Chris? You okay? What about Vin?"
"Right next to ya."
JD's body relaxed, "Don't leave me, okay?" Buck had been pushed to the foot of the bed.
"Not a chance.."
He went back to sleep and the two men stayed where they promised they would. Buck hung back. He had a feeling of regret as he watched the kid that had depended on him, looked up to him was looking to others for that comfort. What did he expect, he brought this on himself. He'd pushed and pushed the kid away, thinking he was doing the right thing, and it all backfired. Would JD understand why he did what he did? He knew he shoulda told him about the telegram. God, why couldn't he listen to that little voice in
his head that screamed for him to tell JD?
They heard the name Chamberlain a lot in the hours that followed, Buck finally asked who this Chamberlain was, the two shrugged and decided to ask the kid when he felt better.
The morning sun woke the three members who were caring for the youngest of there group. Buck woke
and stiffly rose from the chair he was slumped into. He took in the sight before him. Vin's head was on the edge of the bed his hand holding the younger's. Chris sat across from Vin his head in much the same position, his hand was laying on JD's chest.
JD began to stir as the sun hit his face. The motion was felt by the men on each side and they slowly raised their heads to see two bright hazel eyes and a smile and the face of the young man laying in the bed.
"How ya feeling kid?" Chris asked as he checked the kid's fever, a look told the other two men his fever was gone.
"Better...kinda dry though."
Buck retrieved the water and handed it to Chris.
"Not too much," Vin said as he helped JD sit up a bit. JD took a couple of small sips before he shook his head and laid back down.
"You up for a question?" Chris asked.
Buck really didn't think it was the time or place, but didn't say anything. He wanted to know, too.
"I guess, did I do something wrong again?"
"No..Who's Chamberlain?" Chris asked flatly.
"You mentioned his name..you were afraid he hurt Chris and me."
" I used to work for him, back east..," hoping that would end anymore questions. He was wrong.
"I take it he wasn't a nice guy," Buck put his two cents in.
JD sighed heavily. "He wasn't that bad at first, he made me work long hours, but he paid me pretty good. Then my momma got sick and things changed..," JD hung his head.
No one said a word, waiting for JD to say more. But he didn't. Chris decided the kid needed a push. "How'd he change," it sounded more like a statement than a question.
Lifting his head a deep breath he urged himself to say more. "Momma got sick and worked less and less until she couldn't work at all. I stayed working but with just me gettin' paid we didn't have enough to pay the rent, so I had to take some money from the bunch we'd put away.."
"For college?" Vin asked knowingly.
JD nodded his head. "I didn't want to take anymore cause I didn't know how much was there. So I asked Chamberlain to just let us stay there. The doctor said momma only had a few months, but Chamberlain didn't care. So I made another deal with him," JD's voice trailed off.
"What kinda deal, son?" Chris had a good idea what it was, but wanted the kid to unload his burden.
"Told him I'd work for nothing' if he let us stay there till momma was gone."
"And this piece of dirt agreed to that?" Buck never met the man, but he knew his kind.
"Well, kinda. He wanted me to work eight hours on the weekends, so I did."
"How long were the hours during the week?" Vin looked at the boy, afraid where this was going.
"Twelve hours, but after the 'deal' it was sixteen."
"And Chamberlain thought that wasn't enough?"
"Why wouldn't he, Chris? That's over sixty hours in a week."
"Did he, JD?"
Buck looked at him, "He make you work more than that?"
"He took it outta ya didn't he?" the hardened gunslinger said quietly, knowing all to well.
JD looked up into the eyes of his hero, then to the other men standing in silence. "He got me real bad the day momma died. I was up all night with her trying to make her feel better. She finally fell asleep about an hour before I had to be at the stables. I made sure she weren't gonna wake up for a while and ran to work. I weren't late. By the end of the day I was tired, I just wanted to go home. Chamberlain decided 'my work ethic' needed to be fixed. It took me over two hours to get home. Momma died right after I got there. I buried her that mornin and I left."
Buck was gonna tell him about being a 'ward of the state', but decided against it when he saw how tired the kid looked.
"Get some rest kid, we can talk about it later if, ya want."
"Thanks, Chris...,"JD said, whatever else he said was muffled by the yawn, and he slept.