Sunlight filtered through the wooden shutters in fine filaments of golden strands. Cody strained to open one eye, but the lethargy that had been his constant friend these last six months, weighed heavily. He snuggled deeper within the soft folds of down. As he turned on his side, he tried to reach his hand up to fluff the pillow against his cheek, but he was stuck. His pajama buttons must have caught on a thread on his sleeve. He yanked hard as his eyes flew open. His hands were tied in front of him.
Then memory flooded his weary brain as he sat up in bed. He remembered clearly the previous night's events. How Nate Berringer and his dog, Bear, had interrupted his suicide attempt; how he had been spanked like a child then held until all the tears of a lifetime of rejection and failure had pooled around them drowning them in sorrow. Reddening at the remembrance, he yanked hard on the rope that was now tied around the headboard. The knot so intricate and heavy, he would need a knife to cut himself free.
The large man had shared the same bed with him last night, but lost in his sorrow and regrets, he didn't mind. In fact he rather found a calming comfort in the large frame. He must have fallen fast asleep before he was trussed up. His memory vaguely allowed him small snatches of being walked to the bathroom, the mint-green sweater pulled off, a cold washcloth wiping his tear-stained face, and guided about his routine, never allowed time alone. He remembered being tucked beneath the covers. Then he had drifted quickly off into a tender realm where only comfort awaited him.
Suddenly there was movement against the door. A snuffling sound and the eager whining of the huge dog made him panic. It would surely announce to his captor that he was awake.
"Shhhh!" Cody said softly, hoping against all hope that he could still make a break for it. "Good boy, sit."
The words only excited the visitor all the more. Ready to get re-acquainted with his new plaything, Bear started scratching on the door. Footsteps and a reprimand followed, "Stop that, you'll wake him."
Cody was just ready to fall back onto the pillows and feign sleep, perhaps buying himself some precious minutes alone, but it was too late. The door opened only a crack and suddenly bounced out of Nate's hand and slammed against the wall as Bear raced in and jumped on the bed.
"BEAR!" Nate shouted, more concerned now with the springs and mattress than waking the kid. However, the huge pup was wagging his tale as he slobbered all over the laughing boy's face.
Nate watched, mesmerized by the scene. The golden hair, all amiss and wild, the bound hands raised in defense that now playfully pushed the big dog down against the pillows. Bear lay on his side, his large head on Nate's pillow, panting excitedly, but amazingly still as he gazed into the green eyes on the pillow next to him. There was some sort of communication going on here, Nate thought to himself. These two seem to have a rather sweet effect upon each other.
Cody had been so determined to greet the day in a tiff, hard-assed, bitter and fighting mad. However, it was hard to keep your mood slicked down with anger when such a loving mass of fur stormed the fortress. Cody had always loved animals, but Faber Colson had refused any pets within the walls of his estate. "People fawning over animals. It's not right and I won't have my family wasting time and money on creatures not fit for human companionship."
Nate saw the smile on the boy's face and he returned a huge one of his own. "Seems Bear can't start his morning properly without you. He's been sitting out in the hall all night. Didn't pay me no mind this morning, when he'd normally stick to me like glue. You've apparently alienated his affections," Nate said with mock sternness.
"Just shows the dog has taste," Cody shot back, not sure if he was being joshed or set up for more hurt.
Nate shook his head as he entered the room, "Let me untie your hands. Not fair leaving you tied like this. Bear might get it in his mind to take you for a walk. He's big on pulling ropes around."
Cody laughed at the image of Bear hauling him around by the lead. He sat up and presented his hands. Nate pulled a large pocketknife from his back pocket and opening the blade, he had Cody cut free in a matter of minutes.
Realizing he was naked from the waist down, Cody looked around the room for his pants. Nate caught the searching eyes and held them. "I'm sorry, your pants are ruined. I ripped the zipper pulling them down last night. I might have a pair of jeans that'll fit you. Gil Farber was about your size and the Wild Bunch usually kept some spare clothes up here." Nate walked to the small closet by the bureau and after rummaging through it he came out smiling with his prize. A pair of jeans and a flannel shirt were held high for Cody's viewing. Opening a drawer in the bureau he produced a plain pair of cotton boxers and a clean t-shirt.
"I can't wear that," Cody said indignantly. Then seeing the hardened look in Nate's eyes, he amended, "I mean, I've never worn jeans. I'd just as soon have my pants and I'll have 'em mended."
"Mended? By whom?" Nate asked. "This is Turtle Town and surrounding area. There aren't any tailors here or maids or nannies. Put the jeans on and the shirt. It's still a might chilly up in the mountains and you've hardly enough meat on your bones to give you much protection."
"I don't want your clothes, I don't want your help. I just want to get away from here," Cody was nearly whining now.
Nate didn't like the tone or the turn of the morning's start. Placing his hands on his hips he towered over the small figure still sitting protectively under the covers. "Do you want me to dress you?"
The green eyes hardened in self-righteous indignation.
The blue cooled, widened and brightened in pure threat.
Bear sat up and scootched closer to the boy. Cody put a protective arm around the huge dog, but the protection was being taken not given. Nate realized lines were being drawn and the dog was siding with the boy..at least in the boy's mind.
Nate walked to the door and snapping his fingers, he pointed out into the hallway, "Bear, Come!"
The large brown eyes looked from Cody to Nate. Nate snapped his fingers again and the large, black dog lumbered down from the bed, whining his confusion. Nate pushed him out the door and closed it soundly behind him.
Turning he saw the look of capitulation in the green orbs, the lower lip caught between his teeth, making him look like a child, unsure and afraid.
"One," Nate said softly.
Cody's head turned slightly, unsure he had heard correctly.
Nate pointed to the clothes lying on the bed next to him.
Cody's mouth dipped in displeasure.
"Two," echoed in the morning stillness. Bear whined out in the hall, recognizing the battle being waged.
Nate opened his mouth to finalize the count, when Cody jumped out of
bed and stepped into the boxers. Grabbing the jeans he snapped them
out into the air and raised a foot to show that he was indeed dressing
and doing it quickly. Nate nodded his head in approval and leaned against
the door. Folding his arms across his huge chest, he was seeing this sartorial
through to the finish.
Cody sat at the breakfast table and tried to quell his grumbling stomach. The smell of bacon cooking in the pan, the flapjacks on the griddle and the eggs searing beside them, pulled his innards tight. He was famished. Emotional binges were tiring and depleting and he needed his reserves replenished.
“You sleep okay?” Nate asked as he fussed and tidied the kitchen. Cody noted how the man insisted on washing each dish as it was used and putting it back in the cupboard, a neat freak that much was for sure.
“I slept,” Cody said, refusing to be friendly with anyone but Bear. The huge pup settled on the floor near him and raised his head adoringly every time Cody shifted in his seat.
Nate watched the young man out of the corner of his eye as he propped his head on both hands and closed his eyes, still carrying the lethargy of depression. Nate was well aware of the signs and he made a mental note to give Uncle Jim a call.
"You like coffee?" Nate asked, thinking he might as well fuel the kid.
"Ummm," the blond head nodded in its cradle.
Nate flipped the pancakes over and poured two cups of coffee. Setting one down in front of Cody, he picked up a plate and layered it with pancakes, two sunny-side up eggs and several strips of bacon.
"Not hungry," Cody said as the plate was lowered in front of him.
"You just think you're not," Nate countered, setting his own full plate down as he turned off the griddle and stove. Easing his large frame down into the chair he started shaking salt on everything in sight.
"That stuff will kill you, don't you know?" the young man contributed, but Nate noticed he slowly picked up his fork.
"Live to the fullest and die young, that's my motto," and Nate laughed, feeling good all of a sudden and not knowing why.
Cody reached for the maple syrup and just about drowned his whole plate in the thick, sweet goo. Nate watched as he cut up all his food, using his knife and fork, then when all food was practically mixed together he started gathering up the pieces and shoveling them into his mouth.
Nate dropped his eyes as Cody looked up, but the smile that cracked his features was a dead giveaway. "What?" Cody asked innocently, then he, too, chuckled.
"I like my food to get acquainted."
"Well, I think there's a wedding taking place there about now."
Both men seemed to relax with the small dribble about food and diets and the small idiosyncrasies of dining. Breakfast was an enjoyable affair. As Nate picked up Cody's empty plate and his own, he slid it into the hot, sudsy dishwater to soak.
"Can I trust you out on the deck?" Nate asked as he stood beside the table.
"Yes," Cody said quickly, then calling to mind some past hurt, some deep pain that he just remembered, he lowered his eyes and his voice softened, "I guess so."
"You don't sound very sure of yourself," Nate said. He walked over to a large box near the door and pulled out a long length of kemp. Cody's eyes widened in fear.
"NO! Please don't tie me again."
"Come on. Stand up," Nate said, gently.
Cody stood and closed his eyes, hating being treated like a prisoner, but Nate grabbed his shoulders and spun him around. Tying the rope around his waist, he anchored the knot through the back loophole of Cody's borrowed jeans. They practically hung on his hips, but it would serve the purpose of keeping Cody safe. One wrong move and Nate could yank the boy off balance enough to tackle him and forcefully keep him secure.
Seemingly surprised by the freedom granted his hands, Cody almost smiled at Nate.
"Grab your cup, boy, coffee in the mountains tastes better outdoors on a crisp morning."
Nate led the way and Cody followed dragging the rope that was secured around his waist. Bear seeing the moving snake hauled his big form across the hard wood floors, picked up the rope and started tugging Cody backwards. The dog’s weight alone was enough to topple a man of Nate’s size and frame.
The boy, taken unawares, almost spilled his coffee, but Nate turned in time to realize what had happened. Grabbing the mug from Cody he placed his and the boy's on the coffee table and watched the proceedings.
Bear was determined to pull the boy back, getting really into a game of pull tug.
Nate burst out laughing as the blond boy's eyes widened in disbelief, unsure of where he was being taken. The green eyes looking up and seeing the laughing man, realizing the absurdity of his predicament, joined in the mirth. Nate and Cody laughed until the boy finally lost his footing and was pulled back along the floor on his butt.
"I've got a babysitter for you and a buffer for the floor all in one," Nate said when he could get a sentence out.
"You think he likes me?" Cody asked, giggling uncontrollably, but when Nate met the green eyes, he saw desperation in that question that brought him up straight and short on the side of seriousness.
No longer laughing, Nate answered gravely, "Why do you sound like you find that hard to believe?"
Cody now sat with the huge dog lying across his outstretched legs rubbing the big head. "Just do, that's all. I'm not very likable."
"That's bullshit, boy," Nate said angrily. Then bending down and pulling the obstinate winner in the tug-of-war off of his captor, Nate reached a hand down and pulled Cody up by his arm. Taking the loose rope, he wrapped it around his own waist and returned the coffee mug to Cody's hand.
"Come on, morning's losing the gold, let's catch what we can."
Cody tensed and grabbed the overhead handgrip as the Jeep Cherokee slowed. The Sheriff’s office was just up ahead and he dreaded the revelations due Nate Berringer.
Nate couldn’t help but notice, but he held himself firm. He wanted some things settled so he could work on getting the boy back on track…whatever or wherever that track had bent sending him on a self-destructive course.
There had been a short skirmish both with Cody and with Bear before the law was set down for both, but Nate wanted to get this unpleasant task over with as soon as possible. He had, at first, opted to wait until Ben came for dinner over the weekend, but the boy needed some new clothes. Nate was bound and determined to keep him with him for a while. The boy was not in any shape to be left to his own devices.
At first the boy had been reluctant to go. “I don’t want to go to town. Let me stay here. I promise I won’t do anything.”
“Boy, I won’t let you take a piss by yourself, you think I’d trust you a few hours up here alone,” Nate walked past the smaller man an took his jacket off the coat rack. He threw the extra denim one he’d brought at the boy. “Let’s go.”
Cody had hesitated long enough to show Nate he wasn’t easy in that regard, but the moment Nate pointed a stern finger of warning at him, he had walked sullenly out the door and towards the Cherokee. Bear close on his heels had taken every opportunity to pee en route. Opening the passenger door, Cody barely had time to get a foot up when Bear plowed past him and almost made the leap to the front seat. However his huge butt, poor coordination skills and the gangly paws of the still young pup, made him flounder for footing. The dog had already claimed the passenger side as his own in the ten months Nate had him.
Cody helped the hindquarters up and was ready to close the door, when Nate interrupted the seating arrangements. “No way, the dog goes in back. You,” he pointed a sharp finger at Cody, “in front.”
“Let him sit in front. He’s your friend,” Cody sounded surly when he made the statement. Nate had a suspicious feeling that the boy was becoming fast attached to the huge mutt, however, there was no way, even with the child-protection door locks, that he would trust the boy out of his reach.
Nate pushed past Cody and grabbing Bear’s collar he pulled the dog out of the jeep, repeating the ritual of assisting the pup down the small drop off. With Nate’s firm grasp on his collar and the harsh command in his voice, Bear eagerly ensconced himself in the back seat. Nate stood by the passenger door and jerked his thumb inside, clear indication for Cody’s butt to sit where told.
The boy had been sullen the whole drive in even when Nate tried to open the door to communication. “Why don’t you just tell me who you are,” Nate encouraged, trying to sound paternal and understanding.
“You’ll find out soon enough,” Cody played his hand. There was a good possibility that they would be duly impressed by the Colson name and release him to go about his business. Maybe for once, being a bastard Colson, but still a Colson would work in his favor.
“Have it your way, but it’s not helping your case any.”
As the trio entered Sheriff Bracken's office, he was on the phone. Seeing Nate, he eagerly waved him in, throwing him an inquisitive look when he spied the thin, golden haired lad, wearing rolled up jeans and an over-sized flannel shirt along with Nate's favorite denim jacket.
Bear tried to pull away from Nate who held him firmly on his lead, eager and excited to visit with Ben again.
"Yes, Mr. Colson, yes, sir, I understand," Ben threw his hands up in a gesture of impatience, but it didn't impair the fawning attitude he displayed towards the man he was talking with on the phone.
Cody made an abrupt about-face when he heard the name "Colson," but Nate snatched out a strong arm and pulled the boy back into the room. Pointing a finger at a chair in front of Bracken's desk, he indicated the boy should sit and sit fast.
Dragging his feet, dramatically, Cody sat in the chair, slouching with enough attitude to make James Dean look like a clean-cut jock in "Rebel Without a Cause." Nate was ready to pull him up by his ears, when Bear jumped up, paws on Cody's shoulders and decided to show how much he cared. The boy sat up quickly, trying to fight the slobbering kisses off.
"Good day, sir," Bracken said as he terminated his phone call.
Then looking at Nate, he scowled, "Damn asshole. Just because you've got money doesn't make you king in this country."
Nate laughed, "Sorry to bother you, Ben, seems you're busy and this is a bad time, but I need you to run that license check for me."
Ben looked at the blond-haired boy and dog, still struggling with each other. Bear was getting into a playful mood and he was just as happy to tussle with the boy as lick him. Cody couldn't help laughing as he tried to shove the dog down, "Down, Bear, get down."
Instead of interfering, as he would normally have done, Nate felt the dog was a good paperweight securing the boy in his seat and he let the show continue.
"That's what this was all about, you and your damn license plate," Ben said. "Ever hear of Faber Colson?"
"Yeah, isn't he the big logging tycoon, strip mining, every environmentalist in the world would like to lynch the man? Right now he's in hot water with the Federal Government for illegally exporting minerals."
Nate took no notice, the cognitive light still not on. However, Ben Bracken looked long and hard at Cody. Memory tickled his knowledge and the green eyes, the blond hair so striking on Susan Colson only made the boy look frailer, more vulnerable.
Cody caught the look and blushed, feeling insecure and small. He wanted the earth to swallow him up. He could well imagine the conversation Colson had with Sheriff Bracken.
Bracken rose and motioned for Nate to follow him into the back room. Berringer looked at Cody and shook his head.
Then a thought came to him. "Can you do me a favor, Ben, can you lock these two up in a cell for just a moment or two. We need to talk in private."
"WHAT?" Cody almost choked on the suggestion.
"Just for ten or fifteen minutes, relax. You know as well as I do that I can't trust you a stone's throw."
Reaching for the keys on the hook by the door leading into the back room, Ben motioned to the trio. Nate rose and pulling Bear back by his lead, he hooked an hand under Cody's arm escorting the reluctant young man back to a holding cell.
When Ben locked the door, Cody sat dejectedly down on the bunk, his hands under his chin, looking as forlorn as a real prisoner. Bear, sensing his distress, whimpered and jumping up on the bunk he lay his large frame across Cody's knees forcing the boy to wrap his arms around him and bury his face in his thick neck.
Nate tilted his head to towards the front office and both men walked out, closing the door behind them.
"Who is that? Why did you have me lock him in a holding cell?" Ben finally asked. "I can tell you who it looks like, I can tell you who it most definitely IS if that's the kid driving the car that hit you yesterday."
"Then tell me, who is he?" Nate asked, solemnly.
"Cody Colson Blade, Wild Bill Blade's boy. You remember don't you?'
Nate sat slowly down in the chair and his mouth dropped in utter amazement. Bill Blade, Captain in the army, Uncle Jim’s best friend and career man, had met and married Susan Colson that one wild weekend.
"Well, that there is the one good thing that came out of that marriage, at least according to Bill. Faber Colson doesn't see it that way." Ben shook his head, no doubt quite disgusted with Colson after the brief conversation.
“You weren’t up here with us that one weekend Bill brought the boy up here. He must have been nine, maybe ten, skinny little runt, polite, but reserved. Old man Colson put that boy through his paces, I’ll say that much. He was like a little soldier with his ‘yes, sirs,’ and ‘no, sirs.’ Just about had Wild Bill pulling his hair out.”
“Is that who the car was registered to?” Nate asked, still not believing the coincidence. He had heard about Wild Bill Blade and his whirlwind romance and marriage to the young debutante. He heard Uncle Jim’s conclusively blunt observations about the mistake and how the marriage lasted only six months.
“Nope, car belonged to Susan Marie Colson. Seems Faber had a trace put on all police computers. Apparently his influence in high places---caught the check I was doing and called personally to find out what happened to the car. I explained the hit and run and he point blank told me he disowned the kid, the car was being transferred over entirely to the boy, and he was not responsible for any damages or lawsuits pending said accident.” Ben shook his head, remembering the small boy who had stolen all their hearts that weekend. The small, polite boy, who got his first spanking from his father that one time they had spent together.
“Never even asked if the boy was hurt. Can you imagine that?” Ben continued shaking his head. “Anyway, kid’s broke, penniless, according to Colson. His final words were to tell the poor sod he hit to goldmine somewhere else.”
Interested in more, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
A hunger that’s a human need can guide to reckless yearning,
The things we want, the things we need leave us hot and burning.
Contact jolts the tempered zones connecting with a fire
Consumed by passions bright and hot, burning with desire.
A look, a smile, a nod of need, and tumbling down I go
I’m weak and lost and so alone and this and all you know
For like of mind and heart and soul do make us kin in kind
And like the stars and planets, we position and align.
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