I decided to see who was driving the pickup. Slowing my speed to force people behind me to pass, didn’t make me popular. To keep people from being too angry, I pulled out at the next wide spot in the road. That forced the Kennedy pickup to go past. I was disappointed and relieved at the same time to see Bunny Kennedy at the wheel. I hadn’t noticed her at the funeral, but maybe she had been there. But Art wasn’t in the pickup with her. Bunny kept her eyes on the road as she went past. I wanted it to be Art driving so I could chase him down and beat on him. But I was glad it wasn’t Pinky on my tail.
I dropped Frank at his brother’s place. Frank was heading to another AA meeting. As long as I was in the trailer court, I swung past Letty’s home. It looked just as dilapidated and worn as my last trip past. Letty was in what passed for a yard climbing on the old pickup. I guess that was her equivalent of a jungle gym. A tall dark haired man was talking to her as she climbed on top of the cab. His darkly stubbled beard split into a smile at some story Letty was telling him. He looked healthy but his face had a haunted look. That reminded me to get to work on Letty’s problem. But where do you find a job for someone with post-traumatic stress disorder?
A quick drive past Judy’s house showed her pickup gone. I texted her to see if she could come over this evening. She texted back that she missed me but was busy training for the St. Onge rodeo with Laurie. I was getting very frustrated at my lack of face time with Judy. Laurie may be her good buddy, but how long was this going to go on?
A quick change of clothes was called for after the funeral. I did this not only for comfort but for a mental adjustment. It helps your mental outlook to be in your favorite faded blue jeans, cowboy boots with walked over heels, an old snap front flannel cowboy shirt and my very stylized straw cowboy hat with a front brim bent so far down that it almost touched the tip of my nose. With my mental adjustment in place, it was time to feed my buddy Dan. Just as I headed out the back door, I heard a vehicle crunching gravel in the driveway. Maybe Judy decided to come over after all.
I have had some unpleasant surprises in my driveway including the ex-wife and dead bodies. As I neared the corner of the house I slowed and peeked around the corner. It was a white Kennedy Rodeo pickup. Had that ass, Art, decided to pay a visit? At least this was a direct approach which was much preferred to someone spying on me. I was quite surprised when instead of Art or Pinky, Bunny Kennedy stepped down to the ground.
What the hell was she doing here? I may have known Art a few years, but I had never met his wife. I stepped around the corner of the house and asked, “Is there something I can help you with?”
Bunny stormed toward the house with a powerful stride, stopping right in front of me. She looked me up and down and said in a nasty tone, “Are you the father to Thomas Tobin?”
Her approach had gotten my dander up. You do not throw off attitude when you are an uninvited guest in someone else’s house. “And what if I am?”
“Well you have that same broad nose and that stocky build as he does. Although it looks like your chest has slipped towards your belt. So I guess you must be him.” With this she gave an aggressive lift to her own chest, which had mine beat by a mile. “I want that boy of yours to stop seeing my daughter. He’s a bad influence on her. She isn’t paying attention to her rodeo training when he is around. And I’ll tell you we didn’t buy no fifty thousand dollar roping horse just so it could get fat eating hay.” With that, she stopped to catch her breath.
Before she could get her second wind, I cut in and said incredulously, “My son is a bad influence on your daughter? You have got to be kidding me. I think it is the other way around. Now why don’t you take your high faluting ass off my property before I start calling names I may regret.”
She hauled herself up with an air of being insulted. “That explains where your son gets his manners. I suppose he can’t help it if he got such poor training at home. But just the same, he needs to stay away from Brenda, or else.” She never filled in the ‘or else’, but instead spun on her heel and headed back to the pickup.
At this point I was too angry to speak. In frustration I picked up a small rock and flicked it at her pickup. I heard a satisfying ping. She obviously heard it too, as she stomped down on the go pedal and threw gravel back in my direction.
I vented my frustration in a sandwich feeding frenzy. I checked to see if I had the fixings for a Goliath. Most everything was there and if I put in a few substitute ingredients, it would work. First I took out some honey oat bran heavy bread and cut off four pieces. I sliced two thin for the middle layers and two thicker for the outside layer. I sprinkled them all liberally with garlic and placed them in the oven to slowly toast. I then placed some shaved beef pastrami with some caramelized onions to simmer.
After the bread was toasted I grated in some pepper jack cheese and a small dose of jalapeno relish. The toast was ready so I took each piece and coated it with garlic butter to soften the bread just a little and add to the garlic flavor. I put a thick slice of toast on the bottom and covered it with the beef pastrami spread. Next went on a thin slice of toast which I covered with a horse radish and a drizzle of honey. Another thin slice of toast was topped with more of the beef pastrami mix. A thick piece of toast went on the top. Prior to eating this sandwich, I took the precaution of eating a few antacids. Of course the sandwich was helped along with a tall Jack and Coke.
After snarking down the sandwich, my nerves seemed to calm down. A Goliath was just right for frazzled nerves. My Jack and Coke was surprisingly low so I topped that off and headed for the barn. Dan and Biscuit were ready for supper. I handed out the sugar cubes feeding the greedy mule first. If I didn’t feed her first, she would kick the living daylights out of Dan. She could be downright mean.
In my old barn, with the ratty roof, dusty hay smell, oiled saddle leather and aroma of horse manure, I was completely at ease. Dan was my best friend as long as I had alfalfa for his manger. With the horse and mule settled in for supper, I took up my favorite position on a bale of hay.
“Today was a long, hard day, Dan. I buried a friend that died way before his time. A person shouldn’t have to do that. Then that lousy Art Kennedy had the nerve to sing at the funeral like he was a buddy of Sammy’s. What a skunk. And he or that knife wielding henchman of his killed Sammy.
“Then I had to talk at his grave side. I think I did a rotten job and feel bad that my words didn’t do him justice. But that Lady Godiva act kicked things up a notch. Frank sure appreciated it. That little filly sure perked up his interest. I wonder what Laurie will say if she sees Frank escorting a good looking lady around? She might kill him but that would put him out of his misery.
“That damn Bunny Kennedy had the nerve to come by and tell me TT is a bad influence on her daughter. Can you believe that?” Dan and Biscuit kept pulling hay stems from the manger. I am sure Dan was listening and Biscuit like usual could care less. “When Bunny was spitting that out, I was instantly angry. But after I thought about it for a little, I must have been nuts to argue with her. She doesn’t want TT around, which is exactly what I want. Why did I argue with her? I should have given her a hug and did some scheming with her to keep TT and Brenda apart.”
It was easy to admit to Dan my shortcomings. He never judged me or minded when I came up short. That is as long as I had his feed on a timely basis. I recommend everyone to sit in a well-worn barn with an understanding horse and talk though your troubles. It is the best thing to rid yourself of troubles. But not even talking to Dan could cure my worse problem.
“It seems like ages since Judy and I have had any personal time. It used to be I was fine all by myself. Now If I don’t see Judy on a regular basis, my whole emotional equilibrium is off kilter. This issue with Frank and Laurie needs to get resolved so Judy has some time for me. But I don’t dare go around her anyway with Art Kennedy’s hench men spying on me. Look what they have done to her already. They are going to pay for that.”
The thought of people harming Judy took away all the good feeling I had built up talking to Dan. “I have to come up with a plan. There has to be some way of getting Art and his crew to back off. I wonder what Sheriff Rawlins is up to. You would think he would bust that drug ring operating in his back yard. I need to check to see if he has a plan.”
I got up and kicked the hay bale and then kicked it again. Dammit, what was I going to do? I couldn’t let any more harm come to Judy. I felt like taking a gun and going to Kennedy’s to make sure things got settled permanently. Going back in the house it was hard to sit still. I felt like I needed to be doing something but didn’t know what.
A call to Rawlins only added to my agitation. I was told he was unavailable and to leave a message. The message I wanted to leave including swear words and frustration venting went unsaid. What I did say was, “Rawlins, this is Mitch Tobin. I need an update on your plans for Art Kennedy. Call me!”
I tried another avenue to reduce stress by texting Judy. After I opened the text with, “Missing you.” I corrected to, “Missing you a lot.” That didn’t even begin to cover what I wanted to say so I erased that and tried again. “Miss you more than I can say.” That was a little better, but what next? “I need to see you. When can we get together?” I erased that because it sounded too needy. But I was feeling needy. Well not exactly needy, more out of sorts or lost. I didn’t like feeling this way – whatever way it was. Finally I settled for “I miss you, Judy. I know you and your good heart are helping your friend Laurie. But I hope for Laurie to heal fast so we can spend some more time together.” I was happy with my effort and hit send.
I fell asleep once more sitting in my recliner. Instead of counting sheep, I tried figuring out my real feelings. That puts me to sleep every time. The next thing I knew, Judy was shrieking out my name. “Mitch! Mitch, help me. Art’s got me and I can’t get away!”