Double Trouble: Chapter 108

Wednesday Briefs

The continuing saga of three generations of ranching family. Below the story you’ll find links to other flash fictions.


Chapter 108

The sound of a handbell ringing echoed through the entire house. What idiot gave Cody that damn bell? Mitch heated the skillet, focused on getting the meal cooked right. Sunny-side-up eggs and whole-wheat toast. That’s what he wanted for breakfast, and what Mitch was making. As the last of the butter melted in the skillet, he cracked in three eggs. But as soon as they sizzled, the peals filled the house again.

Mitch yelled out. “That damn bell isn’t going to make this faster. It’ll get your breakfast burned, and both of us end up pissed.”

“I don’t want eggs! I’m sick of eggs.”

“Five minutes ago you loved eggs.”

“Yeah, well, now they sound gross.”

Mitch took a deep breath and let it seep out to control his temper. He slipped the eggs to the plate where he’d put the toast. Either I’ll eat them or the dog is going to get a treat. He left Cody waiting the few minutes it took to finish the meal he’d started. Time to cool down wouldn’t be a bad idea. After checking to make certain he’d turned everything off, he made his way to Cody’s bedroom.

He stopped at the door and leaned against the frame. He felt sorry for Cody, he wasn’t able to do much for himself. But battling with Mitch wouldn’t help, and both of them understood it. Mitch knew Cody’s anger came from the frustration of being unable to do anything for himself. His family helping was bad enough, but that Mitch had arrived out of the wild blue and took over Cody’s care left him angry.

Mitch struggled to create an easier situation. Right now he wasn’t having much luck. Cody spotted Mitch at the door.

“What?” Cody snarled.

“You need to eat. It will be oatmeal again if you don’t figure out something else.”

Cody made a sound Mitch couldn’t identify with accuracy, but it left no question as to the ire of the person making it. Trent stood still and chuckled. “What the hell was that? It sounded like a cross between an elk in rut and a wet cat.”

Cody tried to reply several times, but each time he would abort the effort. Then his chest wiggled and a small laugh escaped his lips. After a few seconds more he laughed in earnest. The laughter might was tinged with a note of hysteria, but at least it meant Cody was making noises that didn’t consist of bitching at Trent. But the humor shifted to sobs. This was Cody’s realization of the severity of his injury.

Mitch moved close, trying not to touch anything that would cause more pain, but pulled Cody’s head against his shoulder, trying to comfort Cody. Between his tears Mitch made out “I almost died. They told me they thought I wouldn’t make it.”

“But you did. That’s what matters. Once the casts and stuff are off, and you have a few months of rehab, you’ll be fine.”

Cody groaned against Mitch’s shoulder. “Months?”

Mitch couldn’t keep from laughing at the reaction. “Do you want me to lie? Would that be better?”

“Yes! Lie!”

“Okay, everything will be fine tomorrow and you’ll be back to one-hundred percent. Now, eggs and toast, or yummy delicious oatmeal?”

 

[If you want to know more about Sam and Gordy don’t miss “Tackling the Subject” the story of how they met. Preorder is June 20th and Early Release slated for July 4th.]


The links listed below go directly to the individual stories.

 

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Double Trouble: Chapter 107

Wednesday Briefs

The continuing saga of three generations of ranching family. Below the story you’ll find links to other flash fictions.


Chapter 107

Mitch drove up to the front gate of Gordy and Sam’s ranch. Other than a few bathroom and food stops, he’d been driving since before dawn. Now his butt had been pounded into a numb lump of ass muscle. But he’d made several calls and a couple of text messages to their friends. So far Cody was progressing well. He’d been moved from Intensive Care yesterday, and Sam had told him the doctor said the hospital would release Cody in a few days. When he was about a hundred miles away from his friends, Mitch had called, and a frantic Sam informed him that the doctor decided it would be okay for Cody to go home—if he had constant care.

Mitch had reassured Sam he’d be arriving in a few hours and was ready to stay for as long as they needed him. The relief in Sam’s voice was unmistakable. The conversation lasted only a short time longer—Sam was anxious to get back to the hospital, and Mitch needed to hit the road.

The final few hours of driving wore on Mitch’s nerves, but now that he’d arrived the urgency lessened and he began to think through what he needed to accomplish. Mitch understood he didn’t have the most developed skills for caring for other people. But years ago when he was thrown from his horse during a tornado that hit the ranch, Darrin took up the role of full-time caretaker for him. Was it embarrassing and uncomfortable—hell yes? But there comes a time when you have to suck it up and do what needs to be done. Sam and Gordy would do the same for Mitch’s family. It wasn’t like Mitch was going to be the only caretaker, but Sam and Gordy needed a break. It is going to take a village—a masculine village filled with folks who will help regardless. Now was time for his family, as unique as it was, to help.

As Mitch sat in the driveway, a slender figure stepped onto the porch, shaded his eyes against the bright sun and waved. It was good to see Sam again even if it wasn’t in the situation Mitch would have liked best. They kept in touch though, so he and Darrin kept up with their friend’s lives. Their reunion wasn’t under the best of circumstances, but it could have been worse.

Mitch drove the remaining short distance to the house, parked and climbed out of the pickup. What started as a quiet walk to greet his friend changed into a sprint at each other ending with a long overdue embrace. They held each other tight, and Mitch slapped Sam on the back until he wriggled away from Mitch’s enthusiastic greeting. Sam held his palm toward Mitch and grinned.

“Damn, Mitch. We’re getting to be old timers, and you’re still beating the hell out of me every time we see each other.”

Mitch stepped close and put his arm around Sam’s shoulders. “You guys are our oldest friends. I’m ecstatic Cody is getting better, and I’ll do anything he needs.”

“Gordy went to the grocery store. We didn’t have any food after living at the hospital for all this time. Come in, and I’ll introduce you and Cody.” He paused before turning back to Mitch. “I’ll warn you though. He’s not dealing with all this very well. He’s in pain and a lot like dealing with a foul-tempered rattlesnake.”

Mitch laughed. “I’m the perfect nursemaid then!”

Sam looked a little guilty but smiled. “Yeah, that’s what we thought too.”

[If you want to know more about Sam and Gordy don’t miss “Tackling the Subject.” It’s the story of how they met. Watch for its release in July.]


The links listed below go directly to the individual stories.

Double Trouble: Chapter 106

 

Wednesday Briefs

The continuing saga of three generations of ranching family. Below the story you’ll find links to other flash fictions.


Chapter 106

Mitch bolted from his fitful sleep by his phone ringing. He almost fell off the couch where he’d ended up sleeping after Darrin threatened him violence after he’d kept both of them awake for most of the night with his tossing and turning. Trying to become coherent, he stared at the screen on his phone until the individual letters formed words for him.

It was Sam.

This time his motions were frantic to push against the right part of the screen. There were times when Mitch missed the old days and the phones that were not so technological demanding—especially when he was not awake. He finally hit the right button, and a voice came from the phone.

“Mitch?”

Joy, happiness, numbness, horrible loss. Mitch wasn’t sure what he heard in those few words. But it didn’t matter, Sam and Gordy were their oldest friends, and they’d do whatever needed to happen to help them. A crisis like this was when friends stepped in to help.

“Yeah. I’m here.”

With no extra words, Sam plunged into his news. “He made it through the night. He’s still not out of the high-risk category, but he’s responding to voices. I’m trying to get Gordy home, but am not having too much luck.”

“Have either of you had a break?”

There was a pause that drew a little smile from Mitch because he knew Sam was shaking his head. A second later Sam began speaking again. “No. We’ve all been at the hospital since the wreck. They’ll only let one of us back at a time, so the other sat in the visitor’s room with everyone.”

Mitch tensed. He knew how independent Sam and Gordy were about taking care of their problems. Mitch recognized a kindred soul. But at this point, it was time to help, regardless of whether they thought they needed the help or not. Both Gordy and Sam’s family was back in Oklahoma. At that point, it only took a second for Mitch to make up his mind.

“Sam. I’m coming to help. I know you don’t want to take anyone’s help, but with everything that’s happening, I can get food or something. I can stay in a motel so I’m not in the way if that would help.”

The pregnant pause that followed was all the confirmation I needed. “See! Now I know you can use the help.”

Sam cleared his throat and paused for a few seconds before he started talking. “If you’re sure—I don’t think we can continue juggling everything. Both our mother’s offered to come. Gordy’s practically had to be locked up to keep her from coming.” There was a brief pause, and Sam chuckled. “She can be a little strong willed.”

Mitch flashed back to his graduate school days and chuckled. “It does seem like I remember that about her. A very determined woman—especially about her kids.”

Mitch moved with determination as Sam wrapped up the conversation. He wasn’t terribly surprised to find Darrin up, packing a couple of travel bags for him. His attention was brought back to the present when he realized Sam was wrapping up the conversation.

“Okay, sounds fine. Darrin is already getting me ready. I should be there in late afternoon.”

He clicked the phone off after a few final pleasantries and turned to Darrin. “Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you up. I guess you heard that I’m going to help.”

“Of course you are,” Darrin said as he packed another bag with underwear. “We both knew one of us was going if Cody survived.”

Mitch stood a little surprised when Darrin turned to him. “Get your ass in gear and get dressed. You have a long drive ahead of you.”


The links listed below go directly to the individual stories.

Double Trouble: Chapter 105

 

Wednesday Briefs

The continuing saga of three generations of ranching family. Below the story you’ll find links to other flash fictions.


Chapter 105

“Your grandfathers aren’t doing very well. A kid of one of their friend’s totaled his pickup, and they don’t expect him to make it.”

Danny leaned up from the backseat. “Is this the people they went to college with?”

Trent replied without glancing back at the twins. “Gordy has a Ph.D., like Darrin. But he works for some organic agriculture thing around Denver. They’ve kept in touch since college. Gordy is a genius according to Darrin.”

Danny considered what Trent said briefly before plunging in with more questions. “He must be hurt bad. What happened? What’s wrong?”

“They didn’t ask,” Trent said. “All we know is it was an automobile accident.” Continue reading

Double Trouble: Chapter 104

 

Wednesday Briefs

The continuing saga of three generations of ranching family. Below the story you’ll find links to other flash fictions.


Chapter 104

Mitch dug out one of the huge glass tumblers he and Darrin had collected from somewhere through their life together. But he wanted a glass that was going to take a lot of time to empty. He also didn’t want one of the flimsy plastic pieces of shit either. Mitch wanted a nice thick, hefty glass made out of—well glass damnit. So if I decide to have an ugly fit and throw the glass into the stone fireplace, it would break into a thousand satisfying fragments.

Not that he would ever do that. Mitch had pulled that stunt once during their marriage, and the relationship had barely survived. Mitch had never seen Darrin so pissed off before, then, or after. Mild mannered, polite Darrin had gone bat shit crazy on Mitch’s ass.

But Mitch had learned his lesson and kept away from the drama of breaking a glass and heated arguments. He filled the glass with ice, brought out the pitcher of sweet tea, and filled his glass. By the time he’d put the tea back into the fridge, condensation had coated the glasses exterior. The ran the chilled glass over his forehead as a sigh escaped his lips. Then he lifted the glass and took several gulps, enjoying the cold sweet liquid rolling down his throat.

The amber liquid washed the taste of dirt and alfalfa from his throat and as he cooled he walked to his recliner and sank into its soft cushions. He looked through the window to the sun-bleached landscape. Heat rippled across the blacktop, and he knew without testing it that it was soft under his foot.

“What are you doing sitting in the dark? I know it’s hot as hell outside, but it’s pretty good in here.”

Mitch took a deliberate drink from his glass before saying anything. “I called Gordy today. No real reason. Just haven’t talked to him in a while. They were at the Intensive Care unit at the hospital. One of their kids was in a wreck.“

Darrin grabbed the chair between them and had the appearance of someone who’d been kicked fully in the chest by a mule. He made it to the recliner and collapsed against the leather cushions. Time had lost relevance by the time Darrin could speak. “Which kid? How serious is it?”

“Dennis. Sounds like he swerved to miss a herd of elk crossing the road. He managed to miss the elk, but he wrapped his pickup around a tree. They had to life flight him to a hospital in Denver. It didn’t look good.”

Darrin took a deep breath and held it before letting it ease from between his lips. “That sounds bad.”

“The ER doctor said to bring the family in to be with him…”

Mitch took another drink and tried not to think as the icy liquid slide down this dry throat. Every thought was of the pain he heard coming from Gordy with every word that slipped past his grief-swollen throat. The anguish ripped his heart into pieces. He took another long drink before refocusing on Darrin.

The pain framed in Darrin’s face was as bad as he felt. Mitch wasn’t able to deal with more than the pain already washing through his body. Darrin wiped at the tears flowing down his cheeks. Both of them sat quietly, dealing with their emotions. Then Mitch slammed his glass onto the table beside him. He’d reached the bedroom before he heard Darrin’s voice as he struggled to catch up.

“What’re you doing? There’s nothing for us to do but pray.”

“Prayer hell. I’m going to Denver and help our friends.”

“Mitch…”

“No. Fuck no. Don’t start.”

“You’d be in the way. They don’t need help.”

Mitch yanked out a travel bag and started pulling out clothes. Darrin walked over and wrapped his fingers around Mitch’s wrists. “Mitch, they’re preparing to say goodbye to their son. What would you do to help?”

“I don’t know, but somehow I could make it easier.”

“No. We’ll wait, and maybe it won’t be as bad as they think.”

He turned to Darrin, the dam holding back his grief burst, his calm facade crumbled, and Mitch’s pain surfaced. Darrin held him as they cried in each other’s arms.


The links listed below go directly to the individual stories.

 

Double Trouble: Chapter 103

 

Wednesday Briefs

The continuing saga of three generations of ranching family. Below the story you’ll find links to other flash fictions.


Chapter 103

Danny sat at the dinner table with Trent and Josh flanking him. He looked about as unhappy as it was possible for a person to look. His face was a toxic mix of righteous anger and teenage angst. Josh wished Trent had already taken care of it before he got home, but as it seemed to go too often recently, Trent had waited until all of them were home. Apparently, Samantha had showed up from school, saw the situation and ran. She’d used the excuse of going to a study session, but Josh understood what happened. One glance at the family meeting expression and she was gone.

Josh braced himself against the whiplash he was about to experience. He had no driving need to gang up on Danny, or at least he didn’t want Danny to feel like he was being out maneuvered. Josh hated it when Mitch and Darrin did it to him when he was about Danny’s age.

“We need to talk with you, Danny,” Trent said.

Josh braced himself, this whole thing wouldn’t go well. But there wasn’t much else than support Trent… even if he was worse than Danny when he was a teenager. But that seemed to have escaped Trent’s recall.

“Fine. What horrible, offensive, earth shattering thing did I screw up this time?”

Trent adapted the condescending tone to his voice that sometimes makes me want to punch his face.

“Now Danny. It isn’t that we think you’ve done anything terrible. But we noticed behavior patterns and we find them… concerning,” Trent said. Continue reading

Double Trouble: Chapter 102

 

Wednesday Briefs

The continuing saga of three generations of ranching family. Below the story you’ll find links to other flash fictions.


Chapter 102

Danny stepped into the entryway and stopped to listen. It surprised him when he’d pulled into the parking spots in front of the house to find no one at home. It almost never happened that he had any privacy. He and Rob hooked up more often at his home because Rob’s older sister was away at college, and both of his parents worked in town. So there was a lot less chance of someone interrupting their fun.

But now he had time alone. At least, he thought there was no one around. But he had no intention of doing anything without checking the house to make sure. He worked his way through the living room and kitchen and found nothing. So far so good.

“Dad! Sis. Josh. Trent.” Continue reading