Double Trouble: Chapter 113

Wednesday Briefs

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


Chapter 113

Danny eased into the parking lot for the high school gymnasium. He turned off the engine but then sat without speaking. As he remained frozen, Rob glanced around them.

“Are we going in? My folks weren’t too sure how they felt about me taking you to the prom. But they’ll be pissed if the money for a tux and stuff was wasted.”

Danny grinned at Rob before leaning over to plant a kiss on his cheek. “Sorry, I was getting all mushy about finishing high school. I guess I’m being sentimental.”

Rob straightened the flower on Danny’s lapel then gave him a peck on the lips in return. “Tonight will be fun. Everyone knows us and we’ve been going together. It’s not like it’ll surprise anyone we’re with each other.”

Danny let out a long sigh before laying his arm across Rob’s shoulders. “You’re right. It’s the end of high school jitters. I might have put too much weight about it being prom and the stuff that goes with it. Now it’s here and I’m all twisted up about it. Damn.”

Rob spun around and grabbed Danny’s wrists. “Come on. Let’s see what’s going on.”

Danny rolled his eyes but smiled as he let Rob lead him into the gymnasium. They’d decorated the cavernous room in the tradition all small rural high schools. But he knew he would remember the experience for the rest of his life. Actually he had no idea if he’d recall much about tonight or not, but every adult he’d talked to for the past month said he would. Josh seemed to be on the verge of tears each time he saw either him or Samantha.

Trent became the only voice he trusted. His only advice to Danny had been don’t get anyone pregnant and to call him if he needed a ride home. Danny thought it had been a funny crack, but he’d given him nothing more than an eye roll. He realized Rob had pulled him into the gym. They stood at the edge of the boisterous crowd and took it all in. He saw several friends who smiled and waved.

But there were also people with scowls plastered across their faces. They were the same assholes that complained to the school board about same sex couples at the prom. But the screaming shit fit it generated had enough backlash that the vote to allow gay couples was unanimous. It was good they did, otherwise everyone in his family would be upset.

Samantha and Levi appeared at their side and for once he was glad for the advice he could tell she was about to share. I might not always agree with my sister, but she covers my back. I’m sure this was no different.

She caught Danny’s eyes and cocked her head. “You look good. You ready to show these city slickers how to do it?”

He met Samantha’s gaze and motioned her ahead of him onto the now vacant dance floor. They’d takes but a few steps when a boo drifted through the space. Danny spotted the hate filled person it had came from and moved toward the offender. But then an iron grip manifested on his shoulder. He turned in time for Samantha to step in front of me.

She locked eyes with the source of the outrage. In an unblinking glare, she dominated the encounter. In less than a minute, he dropped his gaze to the floor. Samantha studied the room, challenging any others. When none was forthcoming, she moved back to Levi’s side and grinned at Danny.

“I’m ready to dance!”


The links listed below go directly to the individual stories.

Double Trouble: Chapter 112

Wednesday Briefs

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


Chapter 112

Danny stood in front of the mirror, shifting first one way and then another. His boots had a polish that reflected light across their black surface. He’d spent the better part of an hour cleaning them until they looked new, coating them with ebony polish then working until the final results pleased him. He had put almost as much effort into the jeans he wore. This time Trent rescued him and offered to have Danny’s Wranglers starched. As a result, his jeans were stiff as a board and a professional crease ran down the length of his leg.

Now the search for the appropriate shirt and jacket had begun. He fought with not wanting to create the vampire, goth, or cowboy. All black wasn’t the combination he wanted. He flipped through his starched shirts until he stopped at a solid white one.

Maybe this will work.

He took the hanger off, slipped the shirt on and buttoned it. He focused on the mirror again and turned from side to side. After a short time, he concluded that the black and white reminded him of a waiter. Not what he wanted tonight. He sighed and hung the shirt up again. He knew better than to end up with a pile of pressed clothes getting messed up in the floor. His family made a healthy contribution to the local dry cleaner, but his dad’s would be so pissed off if he didn’t take care of them.

“Try something that has an actual color. Almost no one can wear head to toe black and not be the vampire in the room.”

He glanced to find Trent leaning against the door and grinning at him. Danny sighed and rolled his eyes. “Come help me then.” Trent cocked an eyebrow. “Please.”

Trent pushed himself from the doorframe and ambled to Danny’s closet. After flipping through his impressive collection before selecting a few of them and tossed them onto the bed. He motioned to Danny and nodded at the clothing. “Try them on. I think any of them would work, but let’s see how they work out.”

Danny picked up the first shirt, one in shades of coral and white and glared at Trent. “Are you kidding me? Everyone would think I’m a fucking rodeo clown. There’s no way I’ll wear this. It’s like Halloween colors or some shit like that.”

“Watch your mouth and try it on. Let’s see how it looks.”

Danny tugged on the shirt Trent had chosen to discover it wasn’t as horrible as he’d first thought. It surprised him how much he liked the combination. He turned to admire the match before looking to Trent to give him a grudging compliment. “It’s better than I thought it would be.”

Trent chuckled and shook his head. “Don’t act like you’re shitting gravel to tell me I can put together an outfit. I have been to a club occasionally.”

Danny rolled his eyes but kept his comments to himself. He wouldn’t admit his dad might be right. Otherwise the possibility was too high he would go in a powder blue tux. Which wouldn’t happen. So he tried on the other two shirts. The coral colored one didn’t win out but it was close. He chose a wine red top he agreed looked best with the rest of the outfit.

He turned a few times in the mirror and fussed with his hair. He saw Trent grinning at him. “What?”

“You’re fine, and Rob is waiting.”

“Well crap! Why didn’t you tell me?” Danny said. He shot out of his room to spot Rob all but pacing in front of the whole family. Samantha and Levi were cuddling in one of the huge chairs, and Danny froze. Samantha and Levi were both wearing their corsages. His panic grew when he realized Rob was holding a clear box with dark flowers. Damn! I forgot.

In his panic his mind was gibbering as Rob pinned the arrangement to him. He wasn’t sure how he would recover this time. After a few thumps of his racing heart, he realized Josh stood at his side and held out a white corsage that was the perfect match for what Rob wore.

The parents and grand parents insisted on taking pictures of every conceivable combination before letting them escape. Once he and Rob made it to the pickup, they exchanged smiles.

“Hurtle number one over,” Danny said.

Rob moved closer and kissed Danny’s cheek. “It’ll be a fantastic prom.”


The links listed below go directly to the individual stories.

Double Trouble: Chapter 111

Wednesday Briefs

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


Chapter 111

Mitch heard the now familiar sound of Cody’s wheelchair coming down the hallway. He smiled but didn’t stop packing even when he knew Cody had stopped at the doorway. Well, it felt like his after essentially living in it for the last month. It was a decent room and Gordy and Sam had been fantastic hosts. They had met the friend’s test—they hadn’t threatened to shoot him.

At least that’s what Darrin had told him. But his husband was skilled at telling him the unvarnished truth. A few days earlier, he’d gotten that lecture. Like many times when Darrin shared more opinion than Mitch really wanted, it had pissed him off… at first. But after he had thought about it, Mitch had to agree with Darrin’s assessment.

“You sure you have to leave?”

Mitch continued with his packing as he let Cody  consider his question. After a minute or so passed, Cody sighed. “I guess it is time. Everything seems to be okay—months of PT is what I have left.”

“You’re doing fine. The doctors all said you’re going to make a full recovery. You’re getting off a lucky man.” He turned to look at Cody. “But would you do me a favor?”

Cody seemed surprised but after quick consideration, he nodded. “Sure. What is it?”

“Calm your driving down—a lot. I don’t think your parents can take another crisis as bad as this one. They were in rough shape when I got here.”

This time Cody’s face turned red as a summer sunburn. But he seemed to give the request serious consideration. Eventually, he nodded his head. “Okay. I know I’m an adrenaline junky. I like to go fast.”

“I understand that. I’m kind of the same. But you have to figure out how to get your adrenaline rush without it ending up with your pickup wrapped around a tree.” Mitch’s grin grew. “My personal addiction for meeting my thrill is coasters. I love them.”

“Roller coasters? Like at the fair?”

“Exactly! Who do you think builds those things?”

Cody looked confused. “Engineers?”

“No! It’s adrenaline junkies.”

“And who do you think they are built for?”

This time Cody was catching on to Mitch’s point and grinned. “They’re building them for adrenaline junkie!”

“Damn, the boy can learn after all.”

“Got it, Uncle Mitch. Roller coasters and swimming with sharks are safe ways to burn off extra adrenaline, drag racing on Johnson’s mile is bad”

Mitch grinned at the boy and shook his head, “I think your racing days are over. Do your parents a favor. Stick with safe thrills and jobs that aren’t risky. We almost lost you.”

A smile appeared on his face. “We? I figured I was driving you crazy.”

Mitch put the last shirt in his bag and zipped it shut before turning to Cody. “You did drive me crazy—sometimes. That’s what happens with family. I’m sure there were times when you wanted me to go back home.”

Mitch walked over and gave Cody a hug. He released the young man and squeezed his shoulder. “I have to go back to Oklahoma. You’ll be walking again in a few days. You don’t need me.”

Cody smiled again and Mitch saw a glisten at the corner of his eye. “You take care, old man.”

Mitch chuckled. “Stay out of trouble you young whipper snapper.”

They shared a moment, then Cody disappeared back into the house. Mitch waited but when he heard nothing, he grabbed the packed luggage. Cody was the last of his goodbye and he was ready to go home.

A few hours later he was headed for the Oklahoma-Colorado border…and Darrin.

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


The links listed below go directly to the individual stories.

Double Trouble: Chapter 110

Wednesday Briefs

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


Chapter 110

Cody stared at the setup Mitch had worked most of the day to create. Mitch was feeling pleased with himself with the entire plan he’d worked out with Gordy and Sam. Now he had the biggest battle ahead of him, and he was ready. Cody better bring his ‘A’ game.

Mitch pushed the wheelchair to the top of the ramp they’d built to help get onto the horse. He set the brakes on the chair before walking over to get the horse they had borrowed from a local equine therapy place. They had assured Mitch that Cody couldn’t throw a fit big enough to rattle this horse.

“Okay, bud. You ready for a little ride?”

Cody had a death grip on the arms of his chair and an expression on his face that said he had no intention of sitting on that horse. He glared at Mitch. After a brief standoff, Mitch threw up his hands and walked back down the ramp. Cody watched for a few seconds and realized Mitch was leaving him on the platform.

“Hey! What the fuck! You can’t leave me up here.”

Mitch made some odd hand gesture over his shoulder that might have made sense to Darrin, but no one else in the world. “I’m done with begging or forcing you to do things that would help you. So I’m finished, and you can figure out how to get off.”

Mitch slowed his pace when he heard Cody moving. He stood waiting for what he hoped would be Cody’s reply. After an uncomfortably long pause, he heard a quiet voice. “I’ll ride the damn horse. You’d probably leave me out here all day, and I’m not using that pee bottle again.”

Mitch got his grin under control, so when he turned around, the expression he wore was as dower as you could hope to plaster across a face. He folded his arms across his chest and studied Cody.

“Then you’re finished with the poor me crap and ready to see if this will help?”

Cody squirmed uncomfortably before replying. “I’m not that bad.”

“You’ve been a royal pain in the ass—but you deserved a break. But now it’s time for you to suck it up and listen to other people. So here’s the deal. We try the therapy horse and then we call it a day.”

“And this is the therapy for today?”

“Yup. You can lay in bed and ring that damn bell while you watch TV and I won’t bitch about bringing you trays of junk food. Deal?”

“Do I have any choice?”

“Not really.”

Cody let out a sigh that Mitch knew could be heard for several miles then looked at Mitch. “Fine. Let’s get this shit going. But so you know. If I fall, it won’t be good.”

Mitch started back, his face covered with a long practiced smirk. “You aren’t going to fall. This horse is better trained than I am. She’ll take good care of you.”

Cody grumbled the entire time Mitch was getting the final points ready. Once he was certain there were no problems, he moved the horse into position and put Cody’s chair so they could move him. They had a transfer system setup, and Mitch was glad they did. But before too long, Cody was in the saddle, looking terrified.

“How is this going to help?”

Mitch guided the horse forward for a few steps and stopped. “The motion of the horse makes you constantly catch your balance. So your muscles remember how to walk before the casts come off.”

They repeated the routine until Cody looked fatigued. “I think that’s enough for the first day. Let’s get you off the horse.”

They reversed the process but Mitch found out coming off was harder than going on. By the time they’d gotten Cody into his chair, there was no doubt it was time to stop. As he wheeled down the ramp, Cody motioned toward Mitch.

“What do you need?”

Cody’s face transformed into the first smile Mitch had seen on him. “Thanks, that was fun.”

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


The links listed below go directly to the individual stories.

Double Trouble: Chapter 109

Wednesday Briefs

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


Chapter 109

Mitch had a grin etched across his face as he maneuvered the wheelchair they’d rented for day’s little event. There was a part of him that planned to enjoy the argument he was going to have with Cody over today’s outing. But Darrin was always quick to point out that Mitch enjoyed getting under people’s skin, like the world’s biggest chigger. After all the crap he dealt with over the past two weeks while being the live-in caretaker for Cody, he was looking forward to peppering the boy with some good natured ribbing.

He wheeled into the room to find Cody looking miserable as he focused on the television. Sam and Gordy would have bought Cody an even bigger TV, but Mitch had to be the voice of reason. They were two shellshocked parents who were trying to deal with the near loss of their child. At this point a thousand dollar television is nothing, they still had their child. Anything they could do to make him more comfortable was reasonable so far as they were concerned. Mitch had assured them Cody didn’t need the giant ass TV to entertain him. Mitch’s suggestion hadn’t left Cody very pleased for a few days afterward, but he got over it.

This time Cody might be even more unhappy than over the television, but Mitch had no doubt that he would be thrilled once it worked. And Mitch knew it would work.

Cody glared at Mitch and put the remote on his side table with a firm click. Well, that’s better than throwing it at me. We’re making progress.

“What do you want now?” Cody asked.

“I thought a little outing would be good. And yes, I talked to your parents and your doctor. Everyone agrees that getting out would be good for you.”

He motioned at the casts enclosing both his legs. “I’m sure being wheeled around with all this crap on my legs. I’ll just stay in bed and watch cartoons or something else equally stupid.”

Mitch shook his head and wheeled the chair into the room, parked it beside Cody’s bed then pulled back the blankets covering the young man. Then Mitch gave him what would have been a lethal glare given to anyone else. “Get ready because your ass is about to climb back on a horse. And you’re just going to have to suck it up and deal with it.”

The color drained from Cody until he looked like a zombie. Mitch grabbed a T-shirt from the dresser and tossed it to Cody. “Put this on. We probably won’t be there long, but I figure the last thing you need is a sunburn.”

“You’re fucking crazy. I can’t do anything but sit. Broken legs. Ring any bells.”

Mitch lifted an eyebrow. “I can put you in the chair, and you can go out in your undies. You know I’m not above doing it either.”

Their eyes met, and Cody tried being defiant, and it worked exactly as well for him as it had worked for people in the past. A few minutes later Cody was dressed in a tee and gym shorts, and they were making their way out of the house and toward the stables.

Cody began to look panics when he saw where they were going. “What the hell are you doing? What if I fall? You crazy bastard!”

“Well, for one thing, you’re going to take a little ride.”

 

\[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.

 

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.

 

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.