The April 2003 Challenge (the Picture Challenge): offered by KT
Forget April fools! You will find 4 pictures below. Take a look at all 4 pictures and let 1, 2, 3 or all 4 inspire you. You don't have to be too bound by the details of the picture, all I ask is that the reader be able to tell which picture(s) you chose. This follows Little Ezra series The Chronicles of Thunder and Consolation taking place a few months after Promises to keep.
An idea spawned on to completion thanks to Angela Bs constant pestering and Heather Fs hilarious tales over dinner. 4/21/03
Today: early morning
The boots. They sat off kilter underneath the edge of the bed. The tips of the toes poked out from the folds of the blanket that hung off the mattress resting atop the hard wood floor just as they had been since previous night. Yet their presence mesmerized Chris. A memory of the previous Christmas flashed through his mind, when after a disastrous chain of events that left him arriving a day later than planned and broken ankle. But that hadnt damped the spirit of the season especially when he saw how Ezra practically glowed after receiving his gift, a pair of proper cowboy boots. Staring at them as he shifted trying to find a more comfortable position in the hard backed chair. Resisting the urge to reach out and pick them up once again noting that the normally clean, well cared for hand-tooled leather was caked with a layer of dried mud and paint.
A soft sigh had Chris's attention turned back to the bed. A red plaid flannel sheet was tucked snugly around its occupant. A hand made multi-colored afghan draped across the bed obscured all but a mop of brown hair and a blue fiberglass encased wrist resting atop a puffy pillow. Chris leaned forward gently caressing the boys warm swollen fingers. Taking care not to wake his son he reached and up smoothed an errant curl off the Ezra's flushed face.
The man smiled briefly casting his eyes upward. The silent words although unspoken were heartfelt.
Sarah, you'd be proud of our boy. I know I am.
His thoughts turned back to the sleeping child. Almost year had passed since the day Adam came back into his life in the form of a forty-year-old midget in the guise of an eleven-year-old boy going by the name of Ezra P. Standish. Chris had long since given up on trying to figure out the mind-boggling probabilities that brought them back together. Even the most liberal statistician would have balked at the odds.
Nope as Josiah often said, it was God's will they found one another. Chris had done his best to get to know his boy again, spending as much time as possible with him. Hadn't always been easy either, Ezra's vagabond lifestyle with Maude combined with the tragic events of the previous summer left an indelible mark on the child's psyche. But slowly and surely he was winning his boy back
It was supposed to be a normal day. During the months since Tilly's departure to Europe, the pair had settled into a routine of sorts. A quiet chuckle slipped out, for the first time since it happened he could finally find the humor in the disastrous day.
Saturday was a day spent trying to maintain the Larabee ranch. Chris wanted to impart to his son the knowledge his own father had passed to him along with the love for the lifestyle.
Although Ezra was neither an early riser nor was he accustomed to what Larabee often heard the boy term as menial labor. A little painting that was all was needed Chris figured it would be good for them both to spend a little time working together. Yet life in its infinite ways seemed to have other plans for the father and son.
The morning started off a bit on the cool side but promised to a warm, the pair begun their day after breakfast with the normal chores, feeding the horses along with mucking out the stalls. There were other chores that had to be done, that particular morning they were going to fix up one of the out buildings, a modest shed. So they set about the task with buckets and brushes in hand.
Unfortunately as nimble as the boy's hands were with a deck of cards the polar opposite was true when it came to handy work couple with Ezra's distaste for being dirty made the job awkward. But with a lot determination on his part Ezra managed to paint a good portion of the front wall perched on a step stool while Chris was behind the small structure atop an extension ladder painting the eaves.
A sudden thud caught the older man's attention, followed by a muffled curse.
Chris quickly climbed down and called out to the boy as he ran towards the front of the shed. Spying Ezra he did his best not to laugh, the boy was sprawled out on the ground covered in blue paint. You alright?
I'm fine Ezra sounded more frustrated than anything else as he got up twin rivulets of blue paint streaked down the side of his face. Larabee couldn't keep the smirk off his face as the mortified twelve year old rigidly stood there with sodden clothes staring down at the mess he had made of himself all while paint dripped in a tiny twisting spiraling, streams off his fingertips.
Are you sure you look at little blue to me
The remark earned Chris a piercing glare before Ezra turned around, grumbling loudly as he started to walk away.
Astounding what passes for amusement these day oh no keep laughing never mind that I could have fallen and broken my neck nope have to find my current state comical Heaven help me The boys gruff indignant mutterings almost had Chris laughing to the point of tears.
Which only spurred the youngster ire on, sucking in a deep breath Larabee quashed down his mirth and called after his son.
Im sorry In an attempt to smooth things over he made a peace offering. Hey why don't you go back to the house, clean up I'll finish up here and I promise we'll go out for sushi as soon as I get back. Ezra didn't look back instead he just bobbed his head slowly before heading back not noticing that Chris had watched until he had disappeared from view.
An unhappy Ezra stiffly walked through one of the open pastures. The sensation of the tacky drying paint was increasing his misery by the moment. Knowing full well his clothes were soiled beyond repair and the boots oh God, the boots he had gotten for Christmas. The ones his father had picked out for him were completely ruined.
Stupid, stupid, stupid
Just as he was trying to figure out how could he be so stupid a pitiful noise coming from the bushes off to his left caught his attention. Halting his pathetic trek he tried to listen to see where it was coming from but it stopped. There was nothing and Ezra for a moment thought he imagined it, but there it was again. The heartrending cry had him moving trough the dense brush to an opening that revealed a more wretched and filthy sight than he was, standing little more than 5 yards away in the shade of a massive pine was a horse leaning on heavily three legs while the fourth was tangled in a hopelessly knotted wire rope wrapped tightly in some thick brush. Instead of approaching the animal the twelve year old bolted across the field.
Forty-five minutes later
Larabee opened the front door expecting to find his son in the living room but didn't. A nagging feeling that something wasn't right had him returning to house without completely painting the out building. A growing panic gripped the man when he realized that fear was not unfounded as he searched the entire house room by room. The fact that the lights had been off was not unusual in and of it self but there was no trace of the paint soaked clothes or of Ezra. His boy simply wasn't there, nor did it seem to Chris that he even made it back the house at all.
Shit! Was all he said before he flew out the door again scanning the paddocks and the area around the barn trying to figure out where he should look first.
Afraid that Ezra had actually hurt himself earlier he started to run back towards the half painted shed but as he passed the barn something caught his eye. A smeared blue handprint was on the door. Without slowing down Chris cleared the fence and practically flying over the short distance to the barn only to find that Ezra had been there and gone. Tools were scattered far from their normal resting places. His eyes located a few more paint smudges that led out the other end of the barn and Chris was out the door and on the move again.
What he found was a sight to behold still spattered nearly head to toe in dusty blue paint was Ezra. Standing there next to him an equally pathetic looking member of the equine variety. The filthy animal snorted, stepping back a step, a bloody injury to its front fore leg combined with the ever tightening wire cable making the movement extremely awkward. The attempted egress only halted when the beast's hindquarters backed into a solid unyielding tree, the entire time watching the man as the boy stayed by its side speaking in a low almost unintelligible level. The frightened creature calmed slightly still keeping a wary eye on Larabee.
It took Chris a full moment to realize as he watched the proceedings just what Ezra was trying to do. The slight child had ducked down again and was attempting to loosen the constrictive hold of the wire rope by cutting through a section with a large pair of lineman's pliers while standing in the precarious area between the big animal and the massive pine. It had worked a little too well. Chris had no time to react as he watched the partially freed beast frantically lurch, then suddenly side step momentarily pinning the twelve year-old against the tree trunk. Larabee had at a dead run crossed the last few yards by sheer will and skill in time to forcibly move eleven hundred pounds of horse flesh before it crushed his son.
Managing to pull Ezra free, Larabee narrowly avoided the chestnut's snapping teeth. Latching onto the boy's thin frame Chris hugged him close as they both sagged to the ground gasping for air. Mumbling a litany of soft reassuring words before asking. "Are you okay?" Not satisfied with the shaky nod he received Chris carefully slid Ezra from his lap, never completely relinquishing the hold and looked the boy over. Gently running his hands over the child. Although the child said nothing, underneath the paint and grime the pale pinched face revealed he was clearly in pain as he touched a particularly sore spot on Ezras arm.
"I'm going to help you up... I'm taking you back to the house."
Even before Chris had finished, he could feel Ezra tense up in his arms, the shaky boy looked up at him and in a tremulous voice began to plead. "No! You can't leave him like that!"
"Ezra Chris wasnt in the mood for an argument. The foolish stunt could have gotten them both seriously hurt. But a look at the pained green eyes staring up at him stopped him. Okay but you dont move not an inch understand?
Yes sir be careful hes quick
Larabees terse matter of fact manner did not help the situation after picking up the fallen lines man pliers he had in several well placed cuts freed ensnared gelding. The moment Chris stepped back, an ill-timed step, far too close to the nervous beast it chomped down on his forearm. After tugging and pulling, it seemed no amount of persuasion on his part could get the animal to loosen the bruising hold. A stream of obscenities flowed from his mouth as the pressure and pain started to increase. Son of a bitch dammit Finally he mustered his wits together hauled back, slugged the horse rapidly three times in its broad chest before it abruptly let go and sent him flying ass over tea kettle.
Chriss hard landing brought forth an amused chuckle from Ezra, which was cut short as ill-advised movement sent an agonizing bolt of pain up through his arm. The boy sucked in a quick breath, squeezed his eyes shut as swirling nauseating sensation rushed over him. Ezra sat there under the warm morning sunshine, willing himself not to vomit as he held his throbbing wrist against his chest. A gentle caress against his cheek had his eyes fluttering open and staring up at the face of a very concerned Chris Larabee. Behind him he could see the horse standing stock still watching them.
I thought I told you not to move?
I didnt... Ezra denied the accusation.
The elder Larabee merely raised an eyebrow at the boys response. Not even just a little? Doesnt matter come on, let me help you up.
With a little assistance on his behalf Chris had Ezra up though wavering slightly on his own feet but kept a steadying grip on the boys shoulder.
What about our noble steed? The twelve year old eyed the animal covered in scrapes and cuts, hardly a beautiful creature sporting a dull brown matted coat encrusted with a thick layer of dust. The horse hadnt budged an inch since its encounter with Chris.
Ezra, there is nothing noble about that nag. Chris resisted the urge to rub his sore arm as he attempted to steer Ezra away from the temperamental animal managing to get a few more yards away.
But the boy stopped short, Chris looked down in time to see a painful wince flash across the youngsters face. After a second Ezra quietly called back to the horse. Come on my friend. The animal took one tentative step forward, followed quickly by another until it was limping awkwardly behind the duo as they resumed their trek back towards the ranch house.
Today: Early morning
A sharp twinge as he settled back into the chair reminded Chris that his own arm was respectably bruised. Gazing down at the sorry looking boots that sat off kilter under the bed. The saying, what a difference a day made, was appropriate. En route to the emergency room several phone calls had been placed. The sky was dark by the time Chris Larabee returned with an exhausted Ezra, who was sporting a new blue cast. In their absence a vet had been called out to tend to the sorry beast, Buck had volunteered to greet the man. Within an hour Chris received a call that the horse had been treated and the veterinarian had been not only been bit but stepped on. Animal control had been notified, seemed that no ornery foul tempered equines were reported missing. Leaving Chris to wonder when a simple day could have gotten so complicated. He didnt have to look far for the source as he turned his loving gaze back to his son.
Yes Sarah you would be proud
Up the hill
Across the sky
I see the world
In your eyes
Don't be frightened
Don't be sad
You'll see is bad
All the wonders
In the world
One simple thing
Makes us human