Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
"Well," Randy said after Novato and Wexler had hauled Joel away, "Iíd say that went about as well as could be expected. Iíd actually expected tonight, but at least he didnít keep us waiting. Like I said, he was an idiot to try something like that in our territory."
"Randy," Rachel said. "You were wonderful. I guess I knew about you and your martial arts, but I never realized you were that good."
"Itís just something Blake and I and a few others do on down time in the winter, to keep from getting too out of shape," he replied. "Fortunately, itís something Iíve rarely had a need to use. Iíve had to actually use the skills a couple times before this, and for once Iím glad I had them."
"Iíve seen him practice," Nicole said. "But thatís the first time Iíve ever seen him have to use them, and I can tell you he was actually holding back a little."
"Did you actually mean that about bridge abutments?" Rachel asked him a little warily.
"Well, yes and no," Randy said. "Having said it in public around you folks I wouldnít exactly do it that way if I had to, but there are other ways. It shouldnít be an issue though, at least for a while, and by then the rest of this will be over with."
"Iím still worried," Rachel frowned. "What if he makes bond and tries to come after us again?"
"If he does, heís not going to have long to wish he hadnít tried it," Randy said flatly. "Weíre just going to have to keep our guard up a little for a few days, but it should only be for a few days. Iím not saying Iíd actually kill him, but the rest of his life in a wheelchair isnít out of the question. Rachel, I said Iíd protect you from him, and I mean it. You donít have to put up with that kind of shit out of him anymore, and you need to learn that."
"I guess," she said. "Itís still just hard to believe that itís over with."
"Uncle Randy," Jared spoke up, the first time heíd spoke in several minutes. "How do you learn to do stuff like you did to Dad? Can I learn it?"
Randy squatted down to be able to look Jared in the eye. "It takes a lot of time to learn it," he said. "Iíve worked on it longer than you are old, lots longer. That doesnít mean you canít learn it, because you can. The thing of it is that you have to learn the responsibility that goes along with it, and thatís the hard part. You canít just go around beating up people because you feel like it, because that can get you into a lot of trouble in a hurry. Thatís why I set it up so your father would have to attack me, so I could do it in self-defense. Thatís not easy to do. If Iíd been the one to attack him, then I would have been the one in trouble, not him. Thereís an old saying, ĎThe best defense is a good offense,í and that was true here. So, yeah, if you are willing to accept the responsibility, Mr. Walworth and I can get you started at it, but not now, not until you have had the chance to think all this over and get a few things straight in your mind."
"I guess," Jared said. "I just wanted to know it so I could do something like that if he ever comes after me again. Iím tired of him hitting me all the time."
"I donít think youíll have to worry about that, not ever again," Randy said. "But itís something thatís not bad to know, since there are other bad people out there." He looked up at Rachel and added, "That goes for you, too. Nicole knows enough to take care of herself if she has to, but not like I do. Thereís no reason you should have to deal with it again, at least for Iíd guess three to five years depending on what the judge says. Thatíll give you plenty of time to get the divorce settled and get your feet back under you."
"You think?" Rachel asked.
"Itís a guess," Randy sighed. "But like I said, this is our territory, it isnít his, so itís probably a pretty good guess. Weíll just have to wait and see. And, that makes me think of a phone call I have to make, and I ought to do it pretty quickly."
"Whatís that?" Nicole asked conversationally, and a little surprised at how calm everyone was.
"I need to call Matt Schindenwulfe and ask him not to take Joelís case," Randy said. He glanced over at Rachel and added, "Heís the family attorney, and heíll be handling the divorce, so it probably would be a conflict of interest."
"Probably a good idea," Nicole agreed. "You might want to call someone over at the shop to see about the door."
"Yeah, might as well do that, too," Randy agreed. "I havenít even looked to see how bad he messed up the door frame yet, and probably Harry will want some photos before heíll let me have anyone work on it, but I might as well get Carlos to finding someone. What with that and Harry having to come back over, itís probably shot in the fanny for this afternoon."
"Thereís always tomorrow," Nellie said Ė sheíd been staying back out of the way. "Randy, you remember a long time ago when we had that discussion about setting your priorities in life?"
"Iíd say one priority you set for yourself worked out pretty good. That was very impressive. I didnít realize you had those kinds of skills."
"Like I said, the real intent is exercise, not actually using them," he said. "But it is nice to know that I can use them if I have to. I better go get on the phone."
It was most of an hour before Novato came back. "I guess weíd better get the rest of the paperwork done, since this is going to be a multiple felony thing," he said. "You were right, he broke into your dadís house. He kicked in the side door of the garage and went in through the kitchen. Tore the place up pretty good, too, enough so that we can add felony malicious destruction of property to the list. Itís starting to be a pretty good one."
"Doesnít surprise me," Randy said. "I should have thought that heíd try to go there first. So, what happens now?"
"Well, heíll probably go up for arraignment in the morning," the police chief replied. "Matt Schindenwulfe said he couldnít take the case, so heís got Pat Roberts for an attorney. My guess is that the judge wonít set a low bond since heís from out of state and an obvious flight risk with multiple felony charges against him."
"So you mean he could be out of jail tomorrow?" Rachel asked fearfully. "Randy, what are we going to do?"
"Deal with it," Randy said. "I already told you. And with that broken arm and bad shoulder, he wonít be good for much."
"Just because the judge sets the bond doesnít mean that your husband will be able to post it," Novato pointed out. "I donít know what you know about the process, but what a bail bondsman usually does is cover the bond with a cash payment, and a lien on property or something. If your house is in both your names, that means youíd have to agree to the lien. You might want to think about not doing that."
"No way in hell," Rachel sneered. "I doubt his parents would cover it, either. He hasnít treated them much better than he treated me."
It took a while for Harry to get done with taking statements from everybody and getting photos of the damaged door for evidence of the break-in. About the time he finished up, Carlos drove up in his pickup. In spite of owning the company, Randy was at best an amateur carpenter, while Carlos held a union journeyman card heíd earned before finishing college. "Busted the hell right out of the frame," he commented after a quick look. "The door seems to be all right, though. I can patch the frame for tonight, but youíd probably better figure on replacing the whole thing."
"Iíll get a new one ordered tomorrow," Randy told him.
Carlos was still working on the door when Ryan showed up. He reported that while Joel had made a mess of the house, there really wasnít much that he could see that had been damaged. "Iíd really rather not have Linda come home and find it," he said.
"I can have Randy or Nicole bring me over in the morning to help you work on it," Rachel offered. "Iím used to cleaning up the messes that Joel makes."
"No big deal, Iím about halfway through with it by now, and I should be able to have it wrapped up before I hit the hay," her father told her.
One thing led to another, and since the afternoon was advancing it soon became dinner time. Blake and the police chief didnít stick around, but Myleigh and Trey, then Danny and Debbie soon showed up to meet Rachel and see what had happened. Ryan was dispatched to the Super Market to get hamburger patties and buns; soon Randy and Ryan were working at the gas grill, which was loaded with meat. "Sounds to me like you pasted him a good one," Ryan said softly as he worked at flipping burgers.
"Not all he deserved, but enough to do the job," Randy told him.
"You know, I sure am glad that we decided to have you come home rather than driving the truck back."
"Yeah, we should have thought that one through a little more," Randy agreed. "But with any kind of luck, itís a problem we wonít be facing again."
"At least for a while," his father smirked. "I talked to Matt Schindenwulfe, and he thinks four years if the judge is in a good mood, and longer if he isnít."
"Four years might teach him a lesson," Randy grinned. "I get this vision of Joel yanking open her door after he gets out and being met by her new husband, whoís about as big as Blake and with Blakeís skills. Then weíd see just how pushy he is."
"It is a nice vision. The only problem with it is that I donít think Rachel is going to be ready to have a man in her life again quite that soon."
"Oh, maybe, if itís the right guy, but I donít know of any candidates right at the moment. Youíre right, sheís got quite a bit of ground to cover before sheís ready, but having Joel on ice for a while ought to help out, I hope. You do anything about getting a job for her?"
"There are some possibilities, but weíd have to shuffle some things around."
"Same here, but Regina is awful busy and I think we could use her for a while, anyway. Itís beginning to look like our summer intern isnít going to work out, and thereís some stuff she could do to fill in."
"Thatíll do for the summer," Ryan agreed. "When things slow down in the fall, there might be something opening up in the office over at the plant. We could switch her over if we need to."
"Weíll just have to wait and see how useful she makes herself," Randy replied. "It might be we want her to stay at Clark Construction, I donít know. I donít know how anxious she is to get to work, Iíll have to talk to her."
"It probably would be the best thing for her," Ryan advised. "Itíd help make the point that things have changed and would give her something besides Joel to think about. Itíll be a little better when your mother gets home. Thatís going to be a couple days yet."
"You heard from her?"
"Yeah, this afternoon. They made it as far as Reno last night and I guess they spent some time playing the slot machines. Theyíre going to take their time, and I guess Salt Lake City tonight, maybe. That means another couple days before they get home, at least."
"Itíd be nice to take that drive sometime, but I guess itís not going to happen anytime soon," Randy said sadly.
"Your time can come," Ryan pointed out. "I mean, itís possible you, or maybe you and Rachel, will have to go back out to San Jose to settle things up for Joel."
"You know, that sounds good, but I think thatís one trip Iíd just as soon not make."
It was getting dark Ė late this time of year Ė when everybody went home, leaving Randy and Nicole and Brent home with Rachel and Jared. "Good grief, what a day," Randy commented as the last visitors left. "Iím not a whole lot better off than I was yesterday for being tired."
"I think we need a soak in the hot tub," Nicole said. "I think that would relax all of us."
"You have a hot tub?" Rachel asked. "I didnít notice."
"On the side porch, on the way to the garage," Randy told her. "Nicole and I use it, oh, two or three times a week."
"It was a big help in the latter stages of my pregnancy," Nicole told her. "We had to dial the temperature down a bit so it was safer for Brent, but itís back up to normal now."
"It would be nice," Rachel said. "Thatís one of those things it would have been nice to have, but Joel wouldnít hear of it, of course. He must have thought Iíd get some enjoyment out of it."
"Then letís do it," Randy said. "The only thing is that Nicole and I are usually nude in the hot tub. We donít have a rule about no swimsuits in the hot tub like some people do, and weíre willing to go along with the wishes of our guests."
"God, I donít know," Rachel sighed. "I mean, I guess I could do it, but what about Jared? Weíre still on California time, itís nowhere near bedtime for either of us."
"Letís let him decide," Nicole suggested.
When the put it to Jared, who had been watching a DVD in the living room, he decided on swimsuits, which surprised no one but made him feel a part of the process. Everyone headed upstairs to change. Randy and Nicole were back down on the side porch by the time Rachel and Jared joined them. It turned out that Jared didnít even have a swimsuit, but was making do with a pair of shorts; Rachel had on a one piece swimsuit complete with skirt that made her look positively dowdy.
"Thatís pretty conservative," Nicole commented dryly. "Donít you have anything thatíd be better for being with friends?"
"No," Rachel said sadly. "This is the only swimsuit that Joel would let me have, and even then I only got to wear it a couple times. He said that he didnít want other men looking at me, not that I was much to look at, anyway."
"Rachel," Randy shook his head. "You know that Joel was full of shit, donít you?"
"I guess so," she sighed. "But I donít have anything like you have on, Nicole."
"Nicole, take Rachel upstairs and find her something decent to wear," Randy said. "Something that will make her feel as pretty and appealing as she is. Something that would give Joel a shit fit." He turned back to his sister and said, "Rachel, those days are behind you, and weíre going to help you believe it."
"All right," she said. "But I donít want to put you to any extra trouble. Iíve caused you enough trouble today as it is."
"No you havenít," Randy told her. "Joel, yes; he caused me more trouble than I really wanted to deal with, but youíre not Joel and you donít have to answer to him anymore. Wearing that swimsuit is just answering to him, and thatís causing me trouble."
"I guess," she said. "Itís just so hard to quit thinking like that so quickly."
"Weíre going to work on it," Randy told her. "I remember you with a nice bikini body, so letís see if you still have it."
Nicole and Rachel headed into the main part of the house, leaving Randy alone with Jared. That made Randy feel just a touch awkward; heíd thought heíd have nine years to learn how to talk with a nine-year-old boy; now he was going to have to learn on the fly. "Letís get into the hot tub," he suggested. "If your mother is like she was when we were growing up, itíll take them a while."
"Itís not over my head, is it?" Jared asked shyly.
"No, you can stand up anywhere, and there are seats about a foot and a half down," Randy told him. "It may be a little warm for you when you first get in, so just sit on the edge and ease your way in slowly. If you get too warm, just sit back up on the edge again."
"All right," the boy said uncertainly, clambering up on the pool deck and sticking his feet tentatively in the water. "It is kinda warm," he said after a few seconds.
"Just take your time," Randy said, deciding to sit up on the deck with Jared for a while rather than getting all the way in the tub. He reached for something to say, and finally had to settle for, "So how are you liking Spearfish Lake so far?"
"Itís nice with Dad not around," Jared replied. "Itís sure not like it was last winter, is it? I got to see more around here then."
"Well, things have been a little crazy," Randy said. "This afternoon was pretty busy, but things should ease up some, now. I hope youíll like it here."
"Itís going to be better with Dad not yelling at me all the time," Jared said flatly. "The only thing is that I donít know anybody here except for you and Aunt Nicole and Grandma and Grandpa. I didnít have a lot of friends in school at home, and I never got to play with them after school or anything. Do you think I can find someone here?"
"I donít see why not," Randy smiled. "I donít really know anybody around your age, but your grandma will be back in a couple days. She teaches fourth grade, so Iíll bet she can find someone for you to be friends with."
"That would be nice," he said, brightening a little bit. "Do they have Little League here?"
"Iím sure they still do," Randy said. "I played it when I was your age. I think practice is still getting going, but Iíll call around tomorrow and see if I can get you in the program, if you want."
"Iíd like to," he said. "Dad would never let me do that. He always said he was too busy."
"Well, weíre pretty busy too, but not that busy," Randy said, slowly coming to realize that Joel had kept his son as isolated as his wife Ė and that he was looking at a bad case of bleacher butt from watching Little League games in the next few months. "Thatíd probably be as good a way as any for you to get to know some of the other kids around here. Theyíll have a youth wrestling program in the winter, and I did that when I was your age, too. My martial arts grew out of that, and you might like to give it a try."
"Iíd like that," the boy smiled. "Can you take me for a ride on your sailboat sometime?"
"Sure, thatís why we got it, so we can go out with friends and have a good time. The only thing is that I have to learn how to sail it, first. I donít see any reason why you canít learn it along with me."
"Wow, thatíd be cool," Jared replied, showing more enthusiasm. "Do you think I could learn to take it out by myself?"
"Not just yet," Randy told him. "Probably when youíre older. Iím not to the point where Iíd want to take it out by myself yet. It takes time to learn everything you need to know."
"I think Iím going to like it here," Jared smiled. "At least, I already know Iím going to like it better than when we were living with Dad."
"Itís going to take some getting used to," Randy counseled. "Itís probably going to take more getting used to for your mother than it is for you. I mean, itís like that business about her swimsuit a few minutes ago. A lot of the old rules arenít going to be the same anymore, and you both need to learn that they arenít. That doesnít mean that some of them still wonít apply, but weíll all have to find out which ones they are."
"I guess," Jared said, obviously not quite understanding what Randy was saying. "Did you mean what you said about using this without any clothes on? I mean, boys and girls together?"
"Sure," Randy told him. "Itís one of those things we do differently than other people might do. Itís not necessarily right or wrong. Some people would probably think itís wrong. I wouldnít be surprised if your dad was one of them. Your Aunt Nicole and I know people who think we donít go far enough. My feeling is that itís all right to be in a hot tub without clothes on so long as itís among close friends. That doesnít mean we can run down Central Avenue with no clothes on. There have to be some limits, and thatís where we set ours. If you want to get in the hot tub either with or without a swimsuit, itís fine with me either way. Itís your decision."
"Wow," Jared shook his head. "Dad would never have said something like that. He would have just told me what to do, whether I wanted to do it or not. And he never would have let me get into a hot tub without any clothes on. I mean, not ever."
"Well, itís not your fatherís decision to make anymore, is it?"
A few minutes later Nicole and Rachel came back downstairs. Rachel was rather shyly wearing one of Nicoleís more conservative bikinis Ė Nicole had some so hot that sheíd only wear them when she was alone with Randy, and said that they made her feel more naked than if she was naked. Rachel was feeling pretty naked herself by comparison to the dowdy swimsuit sheíd worn earlier, but when she walked into the room and saw Randyís swimsuit and Jaredís shorts laying on the floor she started to feel overdressed again.
"Mom," Jared said. "Itís OK with me if you want to leave your swimsuit on or take it off. Uncle Randy said it was something we had to make our own decisions about."
Making a decision was still strange to her, but on looking at her son sitting naked on the edge of the hot tub, she made it almost instantly. In only a moment the bikini sheíd borrowed from Nicole was on the floor, too. "California sure seems like a long way away, doesnít it?" she said to him as she swung into the hot tub, feeling embarrassed and free at the same time.
"It sure does, Mom," Jared grinned. "I think Iím going to like it here."
* * *
Joelís arraignment in the Spearfish County Circuit Court came the next morning. Neither Randy nor Rachel were there, but Ryan sat quietly in the back of the courtroom to check out the proceedings. After Joel pleaded "not guilty" the judge bound him over for trial, set a trial date, and set bond at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Joelís attorney, Pat Roberts, argued that it was too high, but the judge stated that considering the charges and the fact that he was from out of state, that he was both dangerous and a flight risk, he refused to change the figure.
Rachel and Nicole were at home with Brent and Jared a couple hours later when the bail bondsman called to ask if Rachel was willing to sign a lien on the house in San Jose so Joel could be bailed out. "No way," she told him. "Let him rot, for all I care."
"He insisted that youíd sign the paperwork," the bail bondsman persisted.
"Like I said, not just no, but hell no," she replied. "And tell him if he manages to come up with the bail money somewhere else, I have two words for him: Ďbridge abutment.í"
"Bridge abutment?" the bail bondsman replied. "Whatís that supposed to mean?"
"Just tell him," she smiled. "Heíll know what it means."