Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
Randy didnít sleep as late the next morning as he had hoped, but it was still much later than usual. It was around ten when he shook the sleep from his eyes, got up, took the shower he should have taken the night before, and headed down to the kitchen to find Nicole having a cup of coffee with Blake Walworth.
Blake was a long-time friend and lived near Randyís parentsí Point Drive house. Heíd been at least peripherally responsible for the security of his wife, Jennifer, who had once been known as country music singer Jenny Easton. In years past, Randy had worked event security with Blake for Jenny, so this was something of a favor returned. More importantly, Blake was about the only person in Spearfish Lake who could be considered Randyís equal at martial arts Ė in fact, Randy had learned a great deal of what he knew about the subject from Blake. Having him around to keep an eye on the women eased his mind considerably.
"So," Blake said jovially, "How are you today?"
"Somewhere between here and California," Randy told him. "Yesterday was a pretty tough day."
"Yeah, that redeye stuff gets old real fast," Blake replied as Randy went to the counter and poured a cup of coffee. "Believe me, I know that from experience. I take it that youíre considering this as a serious threat?"
"Yeah, thatís the only way to do it," Randy told him. "If weíre overdoing it, weíre just playing it safe. I figure on him showing up anywhere from right now up through the next few days. After that it may ease a bit, but we just donít know yet. I never thought he had his head screwed on very tight, but it turns out he was more abusive than we had been thinking, so if he shows up heís pretty sure to be throwing his weight around. I just canít guess how hard."
"I think I remember him," Blake said. "It seems to me that Rachel introduced him to Jennifer and me back when Jared was a baby."
"Yeah, something like that," Randy said as he sat down at the table with the coffee in his hand. "I think it was when I was home from college, so it would have been a while. Anyway, weíre pretty sure heís not going to let Rachel go without a fight, since heís after the money she controls. Incidentally, heís a pretty big guy and doesnít take my martial arts background seriously, so he may be more willing to start something with me than with you. I just donít know."
"Well, weíll just have to take it as it comes," Blake shrugged. "So, are you going to go to work today?"
"I might as well," Randy said. "I mean, as long as youíre here. Iíll be on my cell, and I wonít be any farther away than the office." He changed the subject; the security concerns were precautions but they were still making him a little paranoid. He wanted to get this settled, and soon. "So, howís it coming with the work on the new album?"
"Slow," Blake replied. "Jennifer and Myleigh are working on a new piece, and theyíre having some troubles getting the kinks out. Theyíre at a point where I figured the thing to do is to let them work it out while I stay back out of their way, so this comes at a good time."
Randy, Blake, and Nicole talked for a bit while Nicole put together a light breakfast for him. It didnít take long to get through it, and finally Randy finished his coffee and said, "Well, I guess Iíd better get over and see if the shop is still there. Iíll be back for lunch, but itíll probably be a little later than usual."
"Have fun," Nicole said. "Iíd imagine that Rachel and Jared will be getting up any time now. Why donít you and I take the Chrysler back to your dad? You can drop me back here on your way."
It sounded like a plan to him, and Randy added that he wanted to take a look at the boat in the daylight. While Nicole went for her purse, he headed outside.
For some reason the boat seemed larger in the driveway than it had alongside the road down in Moffat. Heíd never done anything but take a quick look at it, but now climbed up on the trailerís fender and hoisted himself aboard. On deck, it didnít seem a lot smaller than the Felicity Ann, the boat heíd been on with Scooter and her boatman friends down in the Bahamas, but he knew that it was a lot lighter. Curious, he opened the hatchway and looked in; the boat was much more cramped than the Felicity Ann had been, but then this was a smaller boat. There wasnít enough room for him to stand up inside, and he was pretty short, but he remembered that the main cabin roof could be raised to something like standing headroom. God, he thought. There was going to be a lot to learn, but it was something new and he enjoyed the prospect of learning it. Theyíd have to get through this crap with Joel, and then he could get to it.
"Nice boat, isnít it?" he heard Nicole call from outside.
"Actually, better shape than I thought from looking at it down by the road," Randy said. "It seems a little cleaner than I remember."
"It should," Nicole told him. "Nellie and I spent quite a while yesterday cleaning it up and going over it. I think itís going to work out pretty well for us."
"Weíre going to have to come up with a name for it," he said, stepping back out of the hatch and closing it. "This is new enough to me that I havenít even thought about it."
"To tell you the truth, I havenít either," Nicole said. "Youíre going to have to take the trailer loose from the truck so you can use it."
"No big deal," he replied, clambering down to the ground. "Hey, Nicole. You did good to do all that by yourself."
"Well, I had a lot of help from Nellie," she said as he turned to unhitching the trailer. "Itís amazing the stuff she knows. Iím glad you decided to stop and clean out her driveway last winter."
"No fooling," he said. "Well, this is something to look forward to once this stuff with Rachel gets settled down a little bit."
After he dropped Nicole back at the house, Randy drove on out to the office as he tried to get his mind on work. Heíd been prepared to be gone all week, but things hadnít worked out that way. Still, that meant he could spend more time at home, to ease the load on Blake Ė it was good to have a friend like him who could pitch in when needed.
He parked the truck in the office lot and went inside. "Good," he announced. "The place is still here. I was wondering."
"Randy!" Regina smiled. "We didnít expect you back till the first of the week. Did everything go all right?"
"Pretty much," Randy told her Ė he hadnít passed along the details, that was family business and there was no point in bringing it up at the office. "I got back late last night and slept in a little this morning. So, whatís happening?"
"Carlos is over at Three Pines, just checking in," she reported. "Everything is going smoothly over there. He said that Mike is pouring the last two piers on Windmill Island today, and should be done there by the end of the day. Heís planning on heading over to the 484 job tomorrow. Don should be finishing up in Albany River today; all thatís left is the owner inspection, so heís ready to start moving his crew and stuff out to the island tomorrow."
"Good," Randy said. "I know Mike was getting a little behind on the island because of some of the rock he hit, but the timing worked out pretty well anyway. Anything else?"
"Not really," she replied. "Everything else seems to be going along on schedule."
"Good enough. Have you got a minute? Thereís something I need to talk to you about in my office."
"A minute, but no more," she said. "Iím really pretty busy this morning."
"Weíll make this quick," Randy said. "Come on into my office and close the door."
Regina frowned at that Ė Randy usually didnít close the door unless it was something personal Ė but she followed him into the office anyway. As soon as she had the door closed she asked, "So whatís this about?"
"I know I didnít tell you what I was doing the last couple days," he said. "To make a long story short, Dad, Mom, Ruth, and I were out in California to rescue my oldest sister from her husband. We brought her back here. Sheís got some self-esteem problems as a result of staying with him, and weíre all of the opinion that having some kind of a job will help her out with that. Sheís a college graduate, but Iím not sure what she can do after all this time. I wanted to bounce the idea off you of having her help you out and take a little of the load off you, and maybe have her run some errands like taking prints out to job sites or something that will make her feel useful. It probably wonít start for a few days, for reasons we donít need to go into now. If you can use her for something, we can arrange it. If not, Iíll tell Dad to come up with something for her over at the plant."
"I could use some help on a lot of things," she replied. "Iíd have to think about how to divide things up."
"Think about it, then," he said. "Like I said, this wonít start for a few days at the earliest, but we need to make her feel useful, not just make-work."
"Iím sure I can figure out something," she said. "Oh, I forgot to mention, the Newtons want to talk to you, but when I told them you were out of town they said it was no big rush."
"All right, Iíll give them a call," he said. "Theyíre probably looking for a progress report. When Carlos comes back, tell him to come see me."
Amazingly enough the stack of paperwork on his desk to deal with wasnít large, at least partly because he was back earlier than he had expected. He decided to get the call to the Newtons out of the way, especially since he had a little good news to report to them. They were pleased to hear that the foundation was nearly completed, and to hear that the plan was to start raising the stringers for the tower, probably early in the week. "Would there be any problem if we were there to watch?" Stacy asked. "Weíve dreamed about this for so long that itíll be nice to see it happening."
"Not a problem at all," Randy said. "The thing of it is that weíll have to stay out of the way, and that means me as much as the two of you. The guy we have for a super on this job is the best we have, he built my house, but he doesnít like me jiggling his elbow. When he framed up my house, he had my grandfather send me out to the Grand Canyon for three weeks so I wouldnít get in his way. Getting those stringers up without being able to use a crane is going to be fun, and I donít want his attention diverted."
"Would the hot air balloon help?" Dave offered.
"Probably not, theyíre going to be too heavy," Randy replied. "Weíve got a backhoe operator to help with it. Heís a good rigger and thinks he can manage it with the stuff we have on site. Weíve got a backhoe, along with plenty of cables and pulleys and stuff, so that and a little magic ought to do it."
"Good, thatíll just make it more interesting, if not nerve-wracking," Stacy laughed. "Weíll try to stay back and keep our mouths shut. Iíve worked with people like him before. Youíre saying the first of the week, then?"
"Along in there, I havenít talked with Don enough to pin him down exactly."
"Good enough, weíll be there."
Things went well enough for the rest of the morning, and in the early afternoon when Randy went home for lunch he decided to take the rest of the day off, at least partly to ease the load on Blake. He found Nicole, Nellie, Rachel, Jared, and Blake sitting out on the open front porch, watching the crew put the dock in. They were an experienced crew, and obviously knew what they were doing, so it didnít look like it was going to take them long to get it done. "You might as well take off," he told Blake. "Iím planning on being home the rest of the day."
"Jeez, and itís summer, too," Blake shook his head. "Whatís gotten into you?"
"Long story," Randy said. "Iím probably going to have to work most of the day tomorrow, so I might as well give you a break while I can."
"Oh, Iíll stick around for a bit," Blake said. "Jenniferís mom has the kids, and I know better than to be around Jennifer and Myleigh when theyíre being creative."
"Letís head in and get some lunch," Nicole suggested. "We havenít eaten, either."
"I guess weíre still pretty much on California time," Rachel added.
"Fine with me," Randy said. "My eating schedule is all screwed up, too."
As they headed inside, Blake reminded them, "Donít forget to lock up, just in case."
"Right," Randy said. "I locked the back door when I came in. Somebody must have left it open, and we canít have that right now."
Lunch, late lunch though it was, was simple, just sandwiches and chips. "Uncle Randy," Jared said. "Am I going to be going to school here, or what?"
"Not just yet," Randy told him. "Thereís still a couple weeks before school ends, and thatís something that needs to get worked out. Weíre not going to try to deal with it until after your grandmother gets back, so you may not be going here yet this year. Weíre just going to have to see."
"I was just wondering if I was going to get to go on to the next grade," Jared replied.
"Oh, Iím sure you will," Nicole told him. "Itís just one of those things that will have to get worked out, but I know we can work it out."
"Good," he said. "I hope I like going to school here. Back at home, it was much nicer to be in school than it was at home since Dad wasnít around to be mad all the time. I never thought this was going to happen, but Iím glad it did."
Randy breathed a sigh of relief inwardly. One of the big questions in the whole thing was how Jared was going to react to being taken away from his home and his father, and on first glance it looked like the answer was better than theyíd all expected. "There are still some things to work out," Randy told him.
Just then there was a huge THUMP! from the back of the house, and the sound of the door bursting open. "There the hell you goddamn are, you fucking bitch!" Joel yelled. "I donít know what the fuck you thought youíre doing, but you and the kid are coming with me right now!"
"Just calm the hell down, Joel," Randy said, pushing his chair back and getting between Joel and Rachel. "Rachel isnít going anywhere, especially not with you."
"Who the fuck do you think you are to talk to me like that, you little shit?" Joel raged. "This is your fucking doing; I fucking know it, and Iím going to fucking teach you a lesson youíll never fucking forget." He rushed Randy and reared back to throw a big swinging punch as he got within reach.
This was not the smartest thing Joel could have done around a couple of martial arts experts like Randy and Blake. His swing barely grazed Randy lightly as he dodged, grabbing Joelís arm as it went by, kicked quickly once, and then threw his much bigger brother-in-law over his shoulder. "You fucker!" Joel yelled, pulling himself up off the floor in obvious pain. "You had no call to fucking sucker punch me like that."
"Go ahead and try it again," Randy said, motioning Blake back, noticing his friend was putting himself between Joel and Rachel. "I went easy on you, but if you try it again, Iíll have to hurt you."
"You smart-mouthed little fucker," Joel raged, scrambling his way toward Randy. "Iíll fucking teach you to talk to me like that."
Randy wasnít kidding. This time, in only a couple of seconds, Joel was again on the floor, groaning, cursing, but unable to do much of anything. Randy figured that he had to be in a fair amount of pain, considering the broken arm, broken collarbone, and separated shoulder, not to mention the result of another kick, this one to the groin, that had been added for good measure. "You want to try me again?" he sneered at Joel, and without taking his eyes off him added, "Blake, weíd better get the cops here."
"And the ambulance too, from the looks of him," Blake said, eyeing the results professionally.
"The hell with the ambulance, let him hurt for a while," Randy said, contrary to his training as an EMT. "Heíd better damn well learn that he doesnít break in here and throw his weight around."
"Break in?" Nicole said.
"Yeah, he had to have kicked the door down," Randy said. "I always thought that one was a little too damned light, but Iíll do it right when I get it fixed."
"Is he going to be all right?" Rachel asked.
"Hopefully not, but you can never be sure," Randy said.
"Damn," she said, walking over to him. "Listen to me, you asshole," she said. "Iím never going to go anywhere with you again. Jared and I made it out of there, and thereís no way in hell weíre ever going back. Maybe this will remind you in the future." With that, she hauled off and gave him another vicious kick to the privates.
In fact, she got two or three in before Blake and Randy rather lackadaisically pulled her away. "Rachel," Blake said in a soothing voice, "I know you want to hurt him as much as he hurt you, but now is not the time."
"Too damn bad he didnít wait a few days," Randy said, more for Joelís sake than anyone elseís. "Weíre going to be pouring bridge abutments out on 484. He could have been in one of them."
"You fuckers," Joel moaned from the floor. "What do you think youíre doing pulling this shit on me?"
"What you deserve," Randy said. "And I wasnít kidding about the bridge abutment, either, and if you ever even try to hurt my sister again youíre going to find out that I wasnít kidding. Am I making myself clear?"
"You wouldnít dare," he moaned.
"Blake," Randy said casually. "Does it look to you like heís trying to get away?"
"Looks like it to me," Blake agreed calmly.
"Canít let that happen," Randy said, almost with a grin. "You think one broken leg, or two?"
"Go for two. Why take chances?"
"You just lie still," Randy told Joel. "You do that, you might still be able to walk. If you move, youíll be on crutches for a while. If you try to get up, itíll be the last time, since youíll be spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair. Your choice, Joel."
Joel was still lying motionless on the floor, although still muttering curses, when Harry Novato, the police chief arrived a couple minutes later, bringing with him Corporal Charlie Wexler, his second in command. Harry was getting on toward retirement, but he was also one of Blake and Randyís martial arts buddies. "What happened here?" he asked.
"This joker broke in here and tried to beat up on his wife, my sister, over there," Randy explained. "But he thought he had to take me out first."
"Bad, bad mistake," Harry shook his head. "Looks like you didnít hurt him too bad, though."
"No more than necessary," Randy said. "And I will press charges."
"You say he broke in here?"
"Yeah, he kicked the door down. I havenít had a chance to see how bad the damage is yet."
Joel let out a huge scream in pain when Wexler rolled him over to get cuffs on him. He gave Joel his rights from memory, then added conversationally, "I think heís faking a lot of that."
"Faking my ass," Joel groaned. "This fucker attacked me without any reason, and youíre going to go along with him?"
"I have witnesses," Randy said. "In fact, I have a lot of them."
Wexler was still on his knees busy patting Joel down. "Well, well," he commented. "What have we here? Looks like a .32, nice little pocket piece."
"I should have thought to look for that," Randy said. "He was trying to get to his pocket, but his arm hasnít been working too well since he fell down."
"Yeah, me too," Blake said. "I screwed that one up myself."
"More and more interesting," Novato commented. "Breaking and entering, ag assault, and carrying a firearm, too. Iíd be willing to bet money he doesnít have a permit for that."
"Probably not, at least one thatís valid in this state," Randy said. "Heís from California."
"Then heís probably not aware of the saying we have in this state, ĎOne with a gun gets you two.í"
"Probably not," Randy grinned. "I bet he never heard the saying, ĎYou do the crime, you do the time,í either. But you know, I have to wonder. Mom isnít home, and Iíll bet Dad is over at the plant. What if he went to their house, first?"
"I think maybe weíd better check on that," Harry said. "Charlie, letís get this guy down to the jail and get him booked. Maybe theyíll have Shovelhead come over and take a look at him, but I donít think thereís any real need for him to go down to the hospital. Then, Iíll call Ryan and have him meet you at his house. Maybe we can get another charge to hang on this joker."
"You fuckers," Joel groaned. "Youíre not going to get away with pulling this shit on me."
"Oh, I think we will," Randy grinned. "Youíre not in California now. Youíre in our territory. And if all else fails, donít forget what I said about bridge abutments. I really meant that and Iíll do it if I have to."
"Bridge abutments?" Harry frowned. "Whatís that all about?"
"Iíll tell you some other time," Randy grinned. "Just making my point."
"He was gonna kill me!" Joel screamed.
"Oh, I doubt heíd do that," Novato grinned. "I know Randy too well. Heíd never do something like that unless he really felt he had a need to. Just be glad he called us."