Dante, My Inferno

Chapter 24 Class and the Cat

The flight home was better than the one we made to D.C.. Well except when we went over the Alleghenies, and turbulence. Dante was better, but my left hand was sore.

 We took Sam and Diane home. Diane had packed a bunch of Dante’s things that we were picking up. But suddenly Dante just had to ask me a question. 

 “Shower or bath tonight?” he asked me with that evil little smile of his on.

 “Oh my God Dante!” Diane said to her son, as Sam and I smiled.

 “It’s not a bad question,” Sam told his wife with raised eyebrows. 

“So shower or bath?” Sam asked kissing his wife’s cheek.

 “Samuel Green!” Diane said rather seriously.

“How about we take a bath,” Diane then said. Catching us all off guard, and causing us all to laugh as she kissed her husband.

 “Mom!” Dante said acting shocked. Before laughing himself. We pulled up to the Green’s house still laughing.

 “Dante,” Sam said before we got out. “Your mother and I love you.”

“We want you to be careful and watch out for these people from the church.”

 “There may be others like Sharon McCall  in  that church, ” Diane told her son. Then she leaned over and kissed his cheek.

 “How come you’re not saying anything to Billy?” Dante asked slightly upset with his parents.

 “Dante! He’s a federal officer,” Sam told his son. “He probably watches for people following him all the time.” Dante looked at his father. Realizing he was right.   

“Oh yeah,” Dante finally said."I'm sorry."

"Don't be," I told him. "Because..."

“There's a sedan that followed us from the airport,” I said looking into the back seat. So I could covertly get a better look at the car.

 Sam grabbed and kissed Diane to keep her from looking back at the car. She got the message. While Dante used the side mirror. 

Once inside Sam called and filed a police report. He also asked a patrol car  to roll by.

 "How do you know if they’re from the Church of God’s Light?” Diane asked us.

 “They have a Church of God’s Light decal,” Sam told her. “It’s a Cross with beams of light emanating from the cross.”

 “What can we do about them?” Diane asked. “I do not like this.”

 “Keep a pad handy and write down their License plate numbers and descriptions of the drivers. And any passengers present,” Sam said pointing at the table. “I’ll also arrange for local precinct do regular drivebys.”

 Diane went and got a pad and pen. Which she immediately put on the coffee table. Then she pulled out a snub-nose revolver. Then concealed it on the  coffee table.

 "A Pistol!” Dante roared. “Mom they haven’t done anything yet.”

 “You were young, very young, when a gang threatened your father,” Diane told her son. “They started following us, you and me. Driving by the house.”

“Then one of them took a shot at you and your mother,” Sam told his son.

 “And I did what Billy had to do,” Diane told us. “So I know how you felt Billy.” We all gave her a kiss on the cheek.

 “Come on babe,” I told Dante. We need to get home before the Cub Scouts arrive.”

 “You’re right,” Dante said grabbing a box of his things. I grabbed another. As Sam picked up the last one, and Diane of course cried a little.

As we left we picked up another car. They were beginning to make Dante and me mad. But I had an idea.

 “Let’s stop by the office,” I told Dante. “Maybe we can give them a surprise.” Dante smiled with a gleam in his eye at that. 

 “I think I would like to see that,” Dante said as he slowed down so they wouldn’t lose us. I had to smile.

 Then I called A.P.D. to send a cruiser. I was hoping to get a look at the driver. And maybe put a scare into them.

When I saw the cruiser I stepped out of the entrance of the garage. The driver of the car that followed us dropped it into gear and barked the tire in front of the cruiser. Giving them a reason to pull them over. But George and Bob had come down.

 “Let us handle this Billy,” Bob said as they stepped up. I nodded.

 “Dante called you? Didn’t he?” I asked them.

 Bob smiled at me. Then just nodded.

 “Well you just got out of trouble,” Dante told me from behind me.

 “Okay, I see your point.” I told him. “But sometimes I just have to do it myself.”

 “I know,” Dante said sliding under my arm. As the driver got out and looked our way, well. I just had to kiss him. The lady was obviously upset by it.

 Bob and George were talking with the driver and the patrolman. Then they turned and headed back to us. The looks on their faces.

 “That’s not good,” Dante said as they came closer.

 “Well?” I asked them when they got close enough.

 “It’s Beatrice Lovejoy herself,” George told me. “And her husband is upstairs right now. Or he was.”

 “Well let’s go say hello to the Bishop,” I told them turning for the elevators.

 When we got to our floor. We could hear loud voices. They were coming for Ethan’s Secretary's office. So I stepped in, followed by Dante.

 “Young lady I merely wish to see Marshal McCall,” roared a man. “I merely wish to tell him about his wife as I knew her.”

“She was a God fearing woman who wouldn't hurt a fly.”

 “And I have said. He does not wish to meet you,” Jeanie told him. “Ever!” As I stepped in.

“Marshal Hickok. You’re back,” Jeanie said upon seeing  me. Lovejoy turned, giving me a look of contempt.

 “Is there a problem Jeanie?” I asked her. With Bob and George just outside the door. “Oh! And Reverend. Why don’t you tell Charlie Driscoll how Sharon wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

 “The Reverend here won’t take no for an answer, either,” Jeanie told me.

 “That’s Bishop! The Bishop David Lovejoy of the Church of God’s Light,” He corrected us.

 “Well Bishop is it?” I said to annoy him. “You need to leave. Now!”

“Ethan McCall doesn’t want to see you.”

 “I protest,” Lovejoy blustered. “I would prefer to hear from Marshal McCall himself.” Causing Ethan’s door to fly open.

 “Shut up! Get Out! Or Face Charges!" Ethan yelled at him. “And if any of your church come near my children again. It will result in charges as well.” Then Ethan slammed his door.

 Bishop Lovejoy was smart enough to just leave. George and Jessie walked him to the elevator. When Lovejoy got onto the elevator. So did they.

 “He’s gone Ethan,”I called out. So Ethan stepped out of his office.

 “Billy, Dante. I’m sorry you had to meet that ass hat,” Ethan told us.

 “Well we got a look at that ass,” I told him. “Because they’re already following us.”

 “And they’re watching my mom and dad too,” Dante told him. “Congressman Sanders told us that your wife was...”

 "A member of the Church of God’s Light,” Ethan said. Finishing Dante’s statement. “I learned from the good Bishop himself.”

 “How are the kids doing?” I asked to change the subject.

 “They’re great,” Ethan said with a chuckle and a smile. “They’ve been out at your ranch everyday learning to ride.”

“Kevin’s been following Amelia around like a puppy Jean tells me.”

 “Or visa versa,” Bob added.

 “Who’s the best rider?” Dante asked him.

 “Peter. Daniel and Angel have taken him under their wing,” Ethan told us. “He's been riding with one of John’s saddle blankets.”

 “I didn’t see the boys when I told Jean about the posse idea. Peter heard,” Bob told us. “He asked if he could join like Daniel and Angel.”

Ethan just rolled his eyes.

 “I had to promise him he could attend your tracking class,” Ethan told us. “And that he had to do very well. And you had to say yes.”

“Oh, yeah. He’s been talking to John alot as well,” Bob told us.  I just raised my eyebrow.

“Well it sounds like he enjoys this stuff,” Dante said smiling at us.

 “If he could,” Ethan told us. “He would stay out at your ranch forever.”

 “Well he’s welcome to stay as long as you will allow,” I told Ethan.  “Katy and Kevin as well.” Ethan smiled.

 "Don’t you have your hands full,” Ethan replied. “Cub Scouts, Charlie, Daniel, and Angel. As well as the girls.”

“Bass and Amelia. Plus the Church of God’s Light trying to get to you.” Then I smiled an evil smile.

 “My property is posted, No Trespassing,” I told him. “Bob could you ask Jean about keeping the boys at the ranch  the rest of this summer?”

 “You can ask her,” Bob said as Dante’s phone beeped. So Dante answered the call.

 “Hey. We need to go,” Dante told me tapping his phone. “Ethan will we see you later?”

 “Of course,” Ethan replied. “I’ll be out to pick up my kids. Like I said.  Peter would be happy out there all summer.”

 “Well if you’re fine with it. We’re fine with it,” Dante told Ethan.

 “I will give it serious thought,” Ethan told us. “I will have an answer tonight.”

 “Well I hope you let them,” I told Ethan. “It’s been a joy having them.”

 “Oh Bob,” I said.

“Do you know what Jean is planning for supper tonight?” I asked.

 “Take out is your answer,” Bob chuckled. “The boys eat like locusts. Even with the girls help.”

 “So pizza maybe?” Bob asked.

“Chinese it is,” Dante said with a smile. “Will you let her know?”

“Sure,” Bob said with a chuckle. “Dante you make me laugh.”

 “I’m glad I do. So I’ll call and get enough,” Dante replied.

 “Well that sounds good to me,” I said. “But truth be told I called already.” 

 We all laughed. As Dante shrugged his shoulders and smiled.

“Well let’s get going,” Dante said with a kiss. 

 An hour and a half later we were unloading the food. Chinese take out, 12 gallons of milk, 18 loaves of bread. Then  12 dozen eggs, Bacon, potatoes, and sandwich meat. Our two refrigerators were full. 

Oh and 8 gallons of tea.

 We were setting up when the scouts and their parents arrived. In a borrowed school bus.

 “Dante!” I said suddenly.

 “Yes Billy?” Dante asked me.

 “I love you,” I said then I kissed him. Getting whoops from people.

 The kids were riding up. Daniel and Angel whooping as well. Peter slide off a sorrel mare as if he had been riding all his life. The sorrel had a yearling filly. That followed him as he charged Dante and me.Hugging us both.

“It's  been great. Thank you Marshal Billy, Dante,” Peter finally said after the hugs. But the filly wouldn’t leave him alone.

“Tickles will you stop,” Peter told the filly nibbling on his ears. Dante and I laughed at what was going on. 

 “Tickles?” Dante asked him. “So what do you call her mother?” 

 “Well if it’s okay? Hermosa,” Peter told us rather sheepishly as Ethan walked up.

 “Hermosa, it means beautiful,” Ethan said looking at the mare. “I think it fits.”

 “Well they’re his,” I told them. Causing Peter’s eyes get as big as saucers.

 “REALLY!” Peter shouted. “They’re mine!”

 “You’ll take care of them, Right?” Dante asked Peter. He threw himself at Dante. Then he realized.

 “Dad?” Peter asked with pleading eyes. Ethan smiled at his youngest.

 “Well I guess you have two horses now,” Ethan said as Peter hugged his dad. Katy and Kevin looked a little left out. So I nudged Dante as I indicated  them.

 “Well you two can keep horses as well,” Dante told them. They hugged Dante until.

 “Hey!” Ethan said to get their attention. “I haven’t said yes yet.”

 “But dad,” Peter told him. “That wouldn’t be fair.”

 “Well then, I guess I should say yes,” Ethan told them with a smile. The kids cheered, they all cheered. While his kids hugged him.

 “Well I guess I’m going to need a horse too,” Ethan said  with a smile.

 “There’s another mustang adoption next month,” Tommy told us.  We looked at him. “Sebastian and I want another horse each.”

 “Well we could always use a few more horses around here,” Dante said with a crooked smile.

 “You’re a goof,” I told him with a kiss. Then I got a kiss as well.

 “Folks the food is in the kitchen and getting cold,” Dante told them. “So leave your things on the bus for now.” 

 “So tables are set up on the patio,” I told them. “And these young people will show you the way.”

 “Follow us folks,” Charlie said with a smile.

 The kids tied their horses up. And started leading people through the house. Mary and Paula pulled up. They had brought us about a dozen fresh baked pies.

 We took them inside to see the kids eating like locusts. I was expecting some leftovers, but I was wrong. The food didn’t last long, and neither did the pies.

 “Well is everyone full?” Dante asked when we didn’t see anyone with a plate. 

 “Yes sir!” the kids all roared. 

“Thank you!” the Cub Scouts added.

 “Well you all are welcome,” I told them. Then Ned Blount and Dan Cantori came around the corner.

“Ned, Dan. I’m glad you guys could make it,” I said.

 “Well thank you,” Ned  said.

 “Mr. Blount and Mr. Cantori are early,” I told everyone else. “But that’s okay.”

 “We have talked with the Marshal,” Ned told them.  "We would like to explain what we hope to do with a PBS film we are making.”

 Now some of the parents looked concerned . But I smiled reassuringly  at them.

 “Just so you know folks. Ned Blount has quit his job with the network,” I told them. “And I have the final say on the film.”

 “So if you don’t like it what he has. It doesn’t get shown?” asked one of the mothers.

 “Who’s he making the film for then?” asked a dad.

 "Well Dan and I are making the film for New Mexico Educational Television,” Ned told them. "And possibly  PBS nationwide."

“So we want to do a story on Marshal Hickok,” Dan told them. “His posse, and Your Cub Scouts.”

 “And in answer to your other question,” I told them. “Yes. I have control over the film.”

 “I’ll go a step further,” Ned told them. “I’ll show it to everyone here. And if just one of you don’t want it released. So be it.”

 “So Marshal you signed off on this?” asked Jesus Montoya, Miguel’s dad and Angel’s uncle.

 "I have," I told them.

“Now Mrs. Driscoll and the Kids will get you all set up with rooms,” I told them. “Dante and I flew in from Washington and we are very tired.”

“So we will see you all for breakfast in the morning at 7 a.m.,” Dante told them.

“Then after breakfast we’ll get started,” I told them.

“So Jean if you an the kids will get started?” 

 “We got this,” Jean said. “So you and Dante go and get… Some rest.”

 “Yes ma’am,” I said getting Dante inside.

 Jean handle getting everyone bedded down. We filled rooms but it worked out. I went into the bathroom first. I smiled at what I found.

 “Who filled the bathtub?” I asked Dante in the bedroom. In answer he grabbed me from behind like on his birthday. Naked and hard.

 “Let’s get these things off you,” Dante said as he pulled my shirt off over my head. It didn’t take long to get into the tub.

 We were starting to relax. Despite the fact that there was a crowd out on the patio. And the patio door was locked. So Dante and I finally went to bed. We were asleep, about two hours later. 

 Dante and I rose early the next morning ahead of everyone, we hoped. Then we started cooking breakfast. But the girls soon joined us. And I mean all four and they jumped right in. 

 Then Sam and Diane walked around to join us. Diane jumping right in to give the girls direction. While Sam used my thirty two cup percolator to make coffee.

 “Billy what would you like me and Donna to do?” Jean asked as she came as they came out. I smiled as I thought.

 “I want you two to sit down and relax,” I told her.

 “But!” Donna started. But she got cut off.

 “He said sit down and relax,” Dante told them. “We have this.”

“Dad when will the coffee be ready?”

 “Ten minutes tops,”  Sam replied carrying out a bunch of coffee cups.

 “Dante Green! Is that how you talk to people?” Diane asked her son. 

“This time,” Dante told his mother. Diane thought about it and smiled.

 “What else do you need me to do Dante?” she asked her son. Sam and I smiled at that. While Amelia gave Dante a thumbs up and a smile.

 “When the coffee’s ready there are several carafes ready to put it in,” Dante told her. “Then if you would start a fresh pot please.”

“Sure,” Diane told him. Some of the Cub Scouts and their parents were coming out to the patio. The boys were excited by the smell of breakfast. And asked if they could do something.

“Can I lend a hand?” Ned Blount asked as he and Dan came around the corner. Dan was filming, to some of the parents dismay.

“Sure,” Dante answered him “Help the girls get the plates and plasticware out.”

 “Dan how about filming later,” I said.

 “Sorry,”  he replied. While Amelia walked up to Ned.

 “Come on Mr. Blount,” Amelia said leading the way inside with the rest of the girls.

 We set the food out as it got ready. Miguel got caught trying to sneak some bacon.

 “M&M put it back,” Antonia told him. Some of the other boys found it funny and laughed.

“We haven’t said you can get any food yet.” His parents looks spoke their approval of what Antonia said.

 “Sorry,” he said pulling his hand away from the bacon.

 “Line them up ladies,” Dante told us suddenly. “Food’s ready. Youngest to oldest.”

 “Yes sir,” Alice replied with a smile. “ Folks. Seven year olds first. Then 8 year olds.”

 Now Charlie, Bass, and Kevin fixed plates for their girls. While Peter fixed one for Katy. Dante and I smiled as we watched this unfold.

 Before long we all sitting down eating breakfast. Ned and Dan sat down with us.

 “May I ask a few questions Marshal?” Ned asked me. Dan huffed as he started to pick up his camera. ”Put it down Dan. This one is a gee whizz question.”

 “Go ahead Ned,” I told him. “Ask away.”

 “I heard some of your friends say things had changed around here,” Ned said. “If you would. Could you tell me how it had changed?”

 “If he won’t I will,” John said when I hesitated.

 “What do you think John?” I asked him. Honestly a little pissed off and curious in equal parts.

 “Billy has love back in this house after a long time,” John told Ned. “And it’s due to that young man sitting next to Billy.” I smiled and leaned over and kissed Dante on the cheek.

 “And that’s a fact,” I told Ned who smiled. Jean, Bob, Mary, and even I explained how and why.

 After clean up I stepped out. Everyone went quiet. Peter came and sat down front.

 “Well let’s get started,” I said. “Parents may stay if you want.”

“This is going to be basic tracking instruction.” The boys were excited.  Some were bouncing, including Peter.

 “Now we will start right here,” I said getting the groan I thought I would get.

 “But Marshal Hickok,” said one of the boys.  

 “Wouldn’t it be better teaching us out there?” the boys then asked.

 “Well. No!” John said. “Listen to Billy and me. And we will give a foundation to build on.”

 “It’s an easy and hard thing to do,” I told them. “So listen, ask questions. If you want to take notes. I have some official U.S. Marshal’s notebooks and pens.”

 The boys jumped up and got their notebooks and pens. Peter just sat there. Dante and I looked at each other. Ethan got up to get his youngest one, but.

 “Dad I don’t need it,” Peter told his father. John just grinned at us.

 “Looks like we have a natural,” John said. The other boys looked at Peter in aw.

 “What?” he asked the rest of them.

 John and I smiled as we started. We went over the basics things. Sound, smell. touch, scanning, and stride. When I mentioned smell the Cub Scouts laughed.

 “Oh! So you think you can't find someone by smell?” I asked them as they still giggled.

 “If they’re farting, you can find them,” Miguel Montoya jokingly. Getting a few laughs.

 “Or if they forget to take a bath for a month,” said another Scout. Getting a few laughs as well.

 John and I looked at each other. John gave me the honor with a  wave of his hand.

 “Do you boys remember when Jamie Montero dropped off that trail. And where you boys camped and why?” I asked them. Causing them to wrinkle their brows.”Or how badly he was hurt?”

 “You guys remember Jamie was hurt and pinned in place for at least three days,” Alan told them. “That’s why I had you guys camp up on the trail.”

 “Yeah. You said he would have to go right there,” said one of the boys. First there were Ahh’s followed by Oww’s and Eww’s. Several of the fathers chuckled at their sons reactions. The mothers followed Jean and Donna inside. Jean was laughing.

 “So a few of you went down to help. Right?” I asked. “So did it smell like cow manure or horse manure?” 

 “No!” the boys answered. Peter was grinning.

 “He smelled like my little cousin Arturo when he poops his diaper,” Miguel said.

 “Is that why you carry those cleaning wipes Marshal Hickok?” Henry asked.

 “That is one of the reasons Henry,” I told him. “John, you’ve found people by smell?”

 “That I have,” John told them. “I’ll demonstrate.” Walking up to the boys.

“Henry here likes red hots,” John started. Messing up Henry’s hair. “I can smell the cinnamon.” The boys laughed.

“Miguel you love roasted chilis alot,” John said causing Miguel to stop laughing.

“Alan’s mom uses a strong additive to freshen his clothes in the laundry.”

 "Hey! What about the girls?” asked Mark, the youngest Scout.

 “They all have been using a Lavender Body Spray,” Peter told them. Drawing some stares from the Scouts and Ethan. Smiles for some of us. “It’s my sister’s. She’s been sharing.”

 “PETER!” Katy barked as the other girls just laughed. The mothers had heard and were laughing from the doorway.

 “I see you’ve been teaching while I was gone?” I asked John. John smiled.

 “Well he asked me to,” John replied.

 “He’s very good? Isn’t he?” Ethan asked. John and I smiled in answer.

 “He’s going to be,” I told him. You could see the pride in Ethan's eyes.

Then we got the boys to list sounds that could help. People talking, horses, or dogs people have with them. The crackle of a fire and the sound of a radio. Can you think of some sounds?

 The mom’s had packed some lunches for us to take with us. All the dad’s and most of the mom’s wanted to go with us. Now the boys were hoping that we would ride. But John pointed out that tracking was better done on foot. That it took experience  to do it from horseback.

 All in all there were about 30 of us. We rotated the boys to the front. We saw horse tracks, cow tracks, turkey, deer and roadrunner tracks. Oh, and the snake the roadrunner was following.Then we watched as a flock of Gamble’s quail crossed in front of us. There were a lot of oohs and aws.

 About 1 pm we stopped by a spring for lunch. As we were at the head of the spring. We drank from it and refilled our water bottles.

Peter ate quickly. Despite Ethan and Katy trying to get him to slow down. But once done he explored the banks of the spring for tracks.

 “Hey John! Marshal Billy!” Peter called out.”I found a large track.” John, Dante, Ethan, and I went to have a look. 

 “What have you found?” I asked as I looked down at the print.

 “I guess it’s a cougar track,” he said as he squatted down. “It’s a cat of some sort.” I looked up at John. It was a cougar. A cougar I knew to well.

 “It’s missing a toe though,” Peter said a little curious as he pointed it out. Dante caught my look at John.

“And that means?” Dante asked wanting me to tell him.

“I know this cat,” I told them. “He lost that toe in a coyote trap set by the Fish and Wildlife guys years ago.”

“He’s a mean one as well.”

 “How do you mean?” Henry asked having walked up.

“Yeah?” asked Peter putting me on the spot.

 “Well losing a toe has made him very mean,” I told them. “He’s got no fear.”

“He’s careful and smart. He won’t confront a person if he can avoid it.”

 “John where’s your bow?” Dante asked him and he turned to face him.

 "It’s up at the wickiup,” John told him. “Tally was planning on going up there this afternoon to rest.”

“She has been working hard this week with the kids.”

 “I guess we have to go back, huh?” Peter asked me. Brought down a little bit by the idea.

 “Well that was the plan anyway,” I told Peter. “Mr. Blount wants to interview the scouts and their parents about the rescue.”

“But everyone has done very good today. Especially you Peter.”

“Now let’s you and me lead out when everyone is ready to head back.”

 “Really! You mean it?” a very pleased Peter asked.

“You want me to watch for more tracks?”

 “You found it,” I told him. Peter smiled with glee at his dad. “That’s a big deal in a situation like this.”

 Ned and Ethan got up next to me before we headed out.

 “Are you serious about this cougar?” Ethan asked me when he thought Peter couldn’t hear.

 “He’s serious dad,” Peter told him. “You can tell by his expression.” Dante and I both roughed his hair up.

 “We can do more down at and around the corral,” John told the boys.

“Besides, Billy needs to talk about the Marshal’s posse as well.”

 Peter was showing off his new skills as we headed home. We were taking our time. Then Peter found footprints crossing our earlier prints. 

 It was obvious that whoever they were. They were trying to stay out of sight of the house.

 When we got to the house. Bob had the two of them on the patio. And Sheriff’s deputies were reading them their Maranda warning. 

 “What did they do?” asked one of the Scouts.

 “They’re trespassers,” Ethan said while he messed up Peters hair.

 “You guys have to stop that,” Peter said.

 “They’re lucky though,” Peter told them.

 “Sure they are Peter,” Ethan said not taking it seriously.

 “He’s right,” Dante told Ethan. “He’s talking about the cougar.”

 “They are lucky,” I added. “That cougar is dangerous.” And I quickly got a rise out of the trespassers. As their heads turned toward us.

 “You’re messing with us?” the younger of the two asked. “Aren’t you?”

 “Not really,” Peter told them.

“Did you know my mom?” he suddenly asked. Catching us all off guard.

 “What?” the older one asked surprised by Peter’s question.

 “Peter,” Ethan said getting his son's attention. “I would like you NOT to talk to these men.” Peter looked from his father to the men.

 "Please do not answer me,” Peter to the men. Causing several of us to smile at the statement. “Come on John.”

“Show us some more things down at the corral.”

 “Come on boys,” John said. “Let’s head down to the corrals.”

Once the boys were gone.

 “Deputies I’ll press charges,” I told the deputies. “If you’ll check for their vehicle parked down on the road.”

 “We got dropped off,” the older man told us with a chuckle.

 “We’ll have patrols make regular checks out here Hickok,” the senior deputy replied.

 “Thanks Eddie,” I replied. “I’ll send my complaint and statements in via email.”

 “Sounds good to me,” Eddie said.

 As we started to take them to the patrol cars. Angel rounded the corner with his grandfather.

 “Sheriff Montoya,” I said taking his hand. “Good to see you.”

 “Marshal,” Gil said shaking as we shook hands. “I hear they’re making your posse a permanent thing.” He was smiling as Angel shook his head.

 “Angel will you go get everyone please?” I asked of him. Angel nodded and was gone in a flash.

 “I think you know more than you’re saying,” I said looking at Gil.

 “We were about to talk about that anyway,” Dante told him. Then there was a commotion in the kitchen. Looking in I saw Andrew, Jimmy, Jason, Jason’s Peter,and Mama Fernandez.

They had tubs and bags of food. I stepped in.

 “What’s this?” I asked.

 “We’re cooking for you Billy Hickok,” Mama told me. “This is now my kitchen.”

“Well get out.”

 “Mama,” I started to say.

“It is done. So get out,” she told me sternly. Then she smiled.

 “Thanks Mama,” I said giving her a kiss on the cheek. 

 “Thank you Mama,” Dante said kissing her cheek as well. We stepped out with a swat on the butt.

 Everyone was coming around. While Mama and crew took over my kitchen and the grill.

 Angel had summoned everyone. Including the Cub Scouts and their parents. But then I had asked him to go get everyone. I only wanted my regulars.

 Dante sat down in front of me. Charlie, Daniel, and Angel next to him. Then Bob, George, Jessie were sitting behind them. The girls wedged themselves next to the boys. Antonia and Bass with Peter sat down on the patio. Dante rose.

 “Folks. We’re going to start now,” Dante started.

“I mean Marshal Hickok is going to talk about the new Marshal’s Search and Rescue Posse,” he announced. “As suggested by Sheriff Montoya.”

 “Well thank you Dante,” I said getting a smile and a bow from him before sitting.

 “What about people who want to join?” Peter asked bouncing where he sat.

 “Peter give him a chance,” Ethan told his youngest with a smile.

“Yeah Petey,” Kevin said. “Relax.”

"I'll get to that Peter," I told him.

“Well I have been authorized to start The Search and Rescue Posse,” I said looking at Gil. "Thank you Sheriff Montoya."

 “So Bob and Jean. May I ask Charlie and Daniel if they would like to be posse members?” I asked getting started. Bob and Jean looked at each other then nodded yes. ”Charlie, Daniel?”

 “We’ve talked it over,” Charlie said

 “And we want to be part of the posse,” Daniel said finishing it.


 Yes,” she answered. “Both of them.”

 “Well Angel?” I asked him.

“Of course I want to,” Angel replied. “I go where my Daniel goes.” Then kissed Daniel on the cheek. Who promptly turned red.


 “I’m in,” John said. “And I’ll be down here for the next two years.I'm working for the inter-tribal council.”

 “So you finally took the job?” I asked him. John smiled in answer.

 “Thank you John.”

 “Are you going to ask others?” Peter asked again. Ethan smiled and nodded to me. I smiled letting him know I understood.

 “Well first I think there are a couple of the ladies may want to join,” I told Peter. “If their parents are okay with it?”

 “Alice? Antonia?” They both looked at their parents. Alice’s mom and dad nodded. Antonia remembered her mother’s earlier answer.

Then the girls stood together. Both of them smiling.

 “Marshal Hickok, we would be honored to join your posse,” they said together. Like Charlie and Daniel, who Alice was smiling at. But Peter was bouncing again.

“Aren’t you going to ask anyone else?” a dejected Peter asked again. 

 “Ethan would it be okay if I asked your children,” I asked finally as a smile shot across  Peter’s face.

 Ethan looked seriously at his youngest. Peter got up and hugged his father.

 “Please!” Peter begged.

 “You’re starting 2nd grade this year,” Ethan said.

 “And maintaining your grades is a requirement,” I told him and the others.

 “I can do it, I will do it,” Peter told us.

 “Well Peter would you…?”

 “Yes! I want to join,” Peter said. As several of us laughed.

 “Katy, Kevin do you two want to join your brother?” I asked them.

 “Not yet Marshal Hickok,” Kevin said. “If that’s okay Sir?” 

“I’m not that good of a rider yet.”                                                                                                                    

“Just let me know when you’re ready,” I told Kevin. “Katy.”

 “I’m going to wait like Kevin,” she said. 

 “That’s fine Katy,” I said. “But I need to ask one or two more people to join.”

 “Donna, we could use some medical back up,” I told her. “How about it?” Alice and Antonia cheered while clapping their hands.

 “Are you sure you want me?” a shocked Donna asked.

 “Of course we do,” I told her. “We could’ve used you last time with what had happened to Jamie.”

“And I plan to ask Dr. Adam Patrick too.”

 “Well I guess it’s good that I’m here to be asked,” Adam said coming around to the patio. 

 “Adam this is strictly voluntary,” I told him.

 “And we’re both in,” Paul said coming around the corner.

“Dante told us you were going to ask us. And that we could keep our horses here.”

 I looked at Dante. Who smiled at me and shrugged. I mouthed later youngman. Dante giggled.

 “I appreciate this Adam,” I told him. “But I guess I’ll need to talk to your boss Monday.”

 “And he’ll see you Monday at 10 a.m.,” Adam told me with a cheer from the Scouts. “We’ve talked to him about it.”

“We were able to find out about Jamie Montero’s injuries.”

“He agreed that you could have used trained medical personnel along,” Adam told us.”Because they’re bringing Jamie to the University Hospital for another operation.”

 “Did we?” Dante asked upset by what he heard.

 “No Dante,” Adam said. “You just needed someone trained in trauma along.”

 “Will Jamie be alright?” Antonia asked concerned.

 “It’ll take the rest of the summer for him to recover,” Donna told her daughter and us. “But he will be okay.”

 “Donna if you would. Tell Jamie that John and I want to help him with his search when he's able.”

 “We would Love to,” John told Donna, giving me an evil look.                                                           “Right white man?” John asked in an old movie indian voice. “Heap big fun.” I had to smile. As a bunch of kids laughed at it. 

 “Well we’ll be able to tell him Monday,” Donna told us. “They’re bringing him down tomorrow for surgery on Tuesday.” 

 “Well who wants to work more on tracking?” John asked. And of course Peter was up like a shot. 

 John lead a group off back to the corrals. As Andrew stepped out of the kitchen.