Chapter 1 - Rescuing Mickey
Prez walked over to his office and called the leather shop to order the needed cuts. He had planned to go check on Amanda and Daniel but as soon as he hung up, his phone rang. It was Julie from the diner.
“Hello?” Prez answered the call. “Hey Prez. It’s Julie from the diner.” Julie said.
“Hey, Julie. How are you?” Prez asked.
“I’m good but we’ve got a situation that I think I’m going to need your help with. The guys in the kitchen have been seeing this boy that they think is about 16 or so digging around in our dumpster. Our busboy, Jerry, said that he’s spotted him a couple of times digging in the trash for food.
One night after closing, they found him asleep in the alley but when they tried to talk to him, he got scared and ran. Jerry said he’s tall but skinny as a stick. He said it looked like he was wearing someone else’s clothes because his clothes just seemed to hang off of him and he’s wearing two different kinds of shoes. He’s got a sneaker on one foot and a torn rubber boot on the other foot. His hair is all matted and he’s filthy dirty.” Julie told him.
“Damn, he sounds like Scar almost. How long has he been there?” Prez asked.
“Jerry said he first saw him about a week and a half ago. He thought he had left because he didn’t see him again until a couple of days ago but since then he’s been around several times. Jerry said he’s been leaving things out for him like a bottle of water and a plate of food that’s not leftovers or trash. The kid won’t come near it until he’s sure no one is watching.” Julie said.
“Is there a way to block off the area near the trash cans?” Prez asked.
“Yeah but Jerry said to warn you that the kid has some impressive looking nails on his hands. Said they are like claws and he holds his hands like he would use them if someone tried to grab him.” Julie told him.
“Okay, so we wear our leathers. What time did Jerry say he normally sees him?” Prez asked.
“After the dinner rush is over or just before closing.” Julie said.
“I’ll get some of the guys to come down this evening and see if we can’t help him.” Prez said.
“Thanks Prez.” Julie said. “Hey, I heard Amanda gave birth to a little boy. Congrats!”Thanks, Julie. When he’s a bit older, we’ll bring him down for you to see him.” Prez told her.
“Oh yes, please do. Well, I need to get off of here. I’ve got tables filling up.” Julie said.
“Okay. See you soon.” Prez said before he hung up. He texted Spokes and asked him to come to his office.
In less than 5 minutes, Spokes showed up. “What’s up Prez?”
Prez explained about the call from Julie. “From what she described, this kid sounds like Scar except he’s not injured as far as she can tell. Said it looks like he’s been surviving on trash cans and the goodwill bins. I wonder where he’s from? Surely we would have heard about him before now if he was from around here.” Prez said.
“Who do you want to try and capture him?” Spokes asked.
“Scar for sure. Shadow, in case he gets away from us and we need to track him, Rick, Clay and me. Me and Scar are big enough to stop him for sure and the rest of them are young enough that maybe he won’t feel so threatened by them. Going in with guys like Thor, Hammer or Tank would scare the hell out of him and that’s not our mission.” Prez reasoned.
“Sounds good to me. Want me to call around and see if anyone else in that area has ever spotted him around their places?” Spokes had to agree that it was strange that no one else had reported seeing this kid.
“Yeah. I think I’m going to call Captain Joe and see if anyone has reported this kid hanging around or stealing from them.” Prez said.
“Okay. I’ll call around and let you know what I find out.” Spokes said and went down to his office to make his calls. Prez called the police station and asked for Captain Joe. When he came on the phone, Prez said, “Hey Cap. It’s Prez. Question for you. Has anyone reported seeing a homeless kid hanging around or stealing from them?”
“A tall boy about 16 or so? Looks like he’s been living in the woods, has nails that look like claws and is wearing clothes that someone threw away?” Captain Joe gave the same description that Julie had.
“Sounds like the same one. What’s up? Any idea where he came from or who he is?” Prez asked.
“We started getting reports of him startling people when they went to dump their trash a little over three weeks ago. Either he sees our patrol cars coming or he’s damned good at hiding because all of my patrolmen said there was no sign of him when they arrived. The only thing they noticed in one place was that he seems to be wearing two different shoes because of the tread prints in the dirt out behind the gas station.” Captain Joe told him. “Where have you guys spotted him?”
“Julie from the diner said that they’ve been seeing him on a fairly regular basis for about a week or so. The bus boy caught him digging in the trash for food one night but he got spooked and ran before Jerry could stop him.” Prez reported. “We’re going to go down tonight and see if we can catch him. I’ll let you know if we do.”
“Good deal. You know I always appreciate your help.” Captain Joe said before he hung up.
Prez went to his door and yelled for a prospect. Rick showed up at his door within a minute. “Rick, go find Scar, Shadow and Clay and tell them to come to my office. I want you to come back with them too.” Prez told him.
“Sure thing. Be right back.” Rick said, without questioning why they were being called to Prez’s office and didn’t hesitate to do as he was asked.
As soon as they were all assembled in Prez’s office, he explained what was going on. “We don’t know where he came from or why he’s currently homeless but from what Jerry, the busboy at the diner, told Julie, he’s afraid of everyone. She also said that he had really long claw-like fingernails so wear your leather jackets. Clay, Rick, since you don’t have one yet, borrow one from the front closet.
We want to try to talk him into coming with us, not just grabbing him and making him more scared than he already is or for anyone to get hurt. Make sure he knows that all we want to do is to help him, not hurt him. Keep your voices low and soft.” Prez said, thinking how the soft spoken Beau would be perfect for this mission but Beau was almost as big as Hammer now and Prez wanted someone more experienced to help him if they had no choice but to overpower him.
“Julie said that they normally only see him after the dinner rush is over around 8:30 and the diner closes at 9 pm so we’ll go down just as the dinner rush is ending. I’ll tell Julie to order a meal for him on our tab to draw him in. Shadow, I want you up on the roof or somewhere you have a clear line of sight of the back of the diner. I want to see if we can figure out where he’s coming from. If he grabs the meal and runs, watch where he goes and keep in contact with us via com and don’t let him know you are tailing him if you can help it.” Prez told them.
“Clay, you and Rick are about the same age as this boy. Try to talk to him if you can. Scar and I are going to try to stay out of sight as much as possible. We’ll talk to you through our coms if there are things we need for you to ask him. Don’t rush him or even try to put your hands on him. Just try to keep him calm.
Tell him you can help him with a place to stay, food to eat, clothes and a chance to get cleaned up. Ask him questions like where he’s from. How did he get here, if he’s not from around here? Where is his family? Stuff like that. Get him to trust you and make sure he knows we are not going to hurt him. Do you have any questions?” Prez asked at the end and everyone shook their heads.
“Good. We’ll leave here at about 8:15. Thank goodness this is not in the middle of the winter. Might make wearing our leathers a bit uncomfortable but it’s better than him being able to scratch us with his nails.” Prez said then dismissed them.
Spokes met him outside of his office door as Scar and the others filed out to return to the gym where they had been training. “I called around and several people have said that they could tell somebody had been rummaging through their trash but he’s not stealing otherwise and no one’s actually seen him.” Spokes reported.
“Well, we’re going to ride down to the diner about 8:15 and see if we can’t talk him into coming with us willingly. I really don’t want to force him. He’s not hurting anyone and so far as I’ve heard, he’s not breaking any laws other than being truant. He may not even be underage.” Prez said.
Spokes could tell something was nagging at him but also knew his friend well enough to know that he had to let him work through it on his own.
Prez left his office and went to find Amanda. She was back in their newly painted room, feeding their son when he entered.
“How is my lovely wife?” Prez asked, kissing her. “And my handsome son?” He said, kissing his son’s head.
“Cramping. Your son is a pig when it comes to nursing and while I know it’s going to help me lose the baby weight and tighten my stomach muscles again, I have to say that there have to be less painful ways to do it. I have to concentrate to let my milk go because it makes my stomach hurt like mad when he gets to sucking really strong.” Amanda told him as she winced through another cramp.
“I know you want to breastfeed but if it gets to be too much, why don’t you just pump and put it in a bottle? I don’t like to see you suffer.” Prez told her.
“I’m not sure if pumping is going to help with the cramps or not but if my nipples get any more raw, I just might do that. This breastfeeding is no joke.” Amanda said. “Melinda says you eventually get used to it but I don’t know about that.”
She watched her husband and instinctively knew something was bothering him. “What’s wrong, my love? I can tell something is bothering you.”
Prez told her about the homeless boy they were going to go after this evening and then added, “I don’t know what it is but something is telling me that this kid really needs our help. From everything we’ve heard so far, being homeless is not a new thing for him. How the hell did he survive the winter months? How long has he been wandering around like this? Where did he come from? How did he become homeless? Where is his family?” Prez asked all of the questions that were plaguing his mind.
“I wish I could answer some of your questions but until you go down and talk to him, we won’t know.” Amanda said as she detached their son from her nipple and wiped first his mouth and then her breast clean. “Want to burp your son? I need to pee.” She grinned at him.
“Yeah, give me that big boy.” Prez said, tossing a burping cloth over his shoulder then taking his son out of her arms. He carefully put him on his chest and began to rub his back like Melinda had shown them. After a minute, Daniel let out a healthy burp and Prez let him slide down into the cradle of his left arm. Thankfully, he hadn’t spit up this time.
He sat and looked at his son, committing his looks to his memory while Amanda used the bathroom. A minute later, she stuck her head out of the bathroom door and quietly said “Can you watch him long enough for me to get a shower? I want to wash my hair.”
“Sure baby. I’ve got him.” Prez said. While Amanda went to bathe, Prez laid his son down on the bed, kicked off his shoes and curled up next to him. He just watched his son sleep and must not have realized how tired he was but before Amanda finished in the bathroom, Prez began to softly snore as he fell asleep with his son.
When Amanda came out of the bathroom and found her husband and son curled up on the bed asleep, she immediately grabbed her phone and took several pictures of them sleeping together. She couldn’t remember a time when she had seen Prez look so peaceful as he did at that moment. He might be worried about some homeless boy but when he was sleeping with his son, he seemed to be completely relaxed and at peace.
Amanda got dressed, put a pillow behind Daniel just as precaution and then left the room, taking the baby monitor with her. She went downstairs to check on when dinner would be ready and snagged a couple of Bubba’s delicious cookies.
She also went to check on Margie who was currently still staying in the club house but Prez had mentioned that they were getting ready to go home soon. Little Tiffany had hit a few health snags after she was born and while it had scared and worried both parents, it hadn’t been really life threatening.
Because she had been born so early, she had had to stay in the warming bed, that Dr. Allen had gotten on loan from the hospital, longer and had also caught a cold. The poor baby had been so congested that they had to water down her milk, keeping Margie from being able to breastfeed like she had wanted to do and poor Margie had been so worried that she nearly made herself sick.
Amanda knocked softly on Margie’s door, hoping she wasn’t going to wake the baby if she was sleeping. Butcher opened the door to her. “Hey Butcher. I just came to check on you guys. How is everyone doing?” Amanda asked softly.
Butcher opened the door wider and quietly said. “We’re all fine. Just getting things ready to go home. Come on in.”
Amanda stepped into their room and almost had to laugh at all the stuff they had managed to make fit in here. It looked like “Baby Mart” had exploded in their room. “Wow, have you had one of the boys bring up a box truck for all of this?” Amanda teased.
“I think we’re going to have to. I didn’t realize how much stuff we have over here until I started pulling things out getting it all ready to go home but then I never took anything home after the baby shower.” Margie said.
The women had been planning a baby shower before Margie went into early labor so she had gotten all kinds of stuff after the fact but at least it had given all the women the chance to exchange the things they had bought in blue or unisex colors to things specifically for a little girl.
“Is she over her cold now?” Amanda asked as she bent over the bassinet to look at the sleeping baby girl. “She is just so pretty.”
“Yeah, Doc was down earlier and gave her a clean bill of health. That’s why we’ve decided to go home. I can’t believe she’s over a month old already and she hasn’t even been in our house yet. It will be so good to have some space again. We’re getting overrun with baby stuff in here.” Margie said as she zipped the diaper bag she had been packing up closed. “Where’s Daniel?” Margie asked.
Amanda whipped out her phone and showed Margie the pictures of Prez and Daniel asleep on their bed. “He’s stressing about some homeless kids that Julie said has been digging in the trash behind the diner. Prez is going to go down with some of the boys after the dinner rush is over and see if they can’t convince him to let us help him.” Amanda told them.
She stayed with them visiting for a while and then said “Well, I’m going to see if I can find Stella before Prez and Daniel wake up. I doubt if Prez will stay down for long. Don’t be strangers now.” Amanda said as she hugged them both goodbye before she left their room.
As she figured, she found Stella with the other women in the living room. They had all taken up quilting and were working on squares for a new quilt that would be ready to assemble soon.
She stayed and visited with them for a little while but since Daniel was keeping them up a lot at night, she finally decided to go lay down with her husband and son and try to get a nap too. She hurried back to their room and after another quick trip to the bathroom, she moved the pillow away and laid down next to her son. They all slept for over an hour, thankfully. Prez woke up first when his phone buzzed with an incoming text.
It was a message from Julie saying that the homeless boy was out back and it looked like someone had beaten him up. “He’s conscious but tries to fight us when we get close to him.”
“Be there asap.” Prez texted back and carefully rolled to sit up on the bed so that he could put his shoes back on.
“What’s going on, babe?” Amanda asked as she woke up when he moved.
“Julie said that someone beat up the homeless boy and he’s behind the diner. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Prez said then kissed her and his son before he quietly left the room.
He hurried downstairs to the gym to find Scar, Shadow, Clay and Rick in the gun range. He told them what was going on and to follow him. He also texted Doc to give him a head’s up. “May need your help at the diner soon. Will call if I need you to come down there.”
“I’ll be ready to go when you call.” Doc texted back.
“Rick, you and Clay bring an SUV so that we can bring him back.” Prez ordered as they left the house. Prez, Scar and Shadow jumped on their bikes and led the way to the diner. As soon as they were parked, they jumped off their bikes and hurried inside. Julie saw them coming and met them halfway.
“He’s out back. Won’t let any of us near him but someone really worked him over. They even stole his shoes. Jerry rolled a bottle of water over to him but every time we tried to get close, he started to crawl away. I’m not sure if he can stand up or not but Jerry was right, his nails are impressive and they look sharp, like he’s filed them like a bear’s claws.” Julie told them.
“Scar, you and Clay go down this end of the diner and keep an eye on him. Shadow, you and Rick go down this end. I’m going to approach him from the back door.” Prez said motioning them in the directions he wanted them to go.
Prez texted Doc to come on to the diner, telling him to bring a needle with a strong sedative ready to go. Prez gave Scar and the others time to get in place before he opened the back door. As soon as he stepped through the door, Jerry pointed out where they had last seen him. “He was leaning up against the dumpster over there by the fence.” Jerry said quietly.
Prez nodded and then stepped down off the step to the ground and saw a matted brown head peek around the corner of the dumpster and then quickly pull back. Then he couldn’t be certain but he thought he heard the kid whimper.
A minute later, Prez saw Rick begin to approach the kid quicker and started to warn him off when Rick called out “Mickey? Is that you?”
Prez was shocked and quietly said into his com. “You know this kid, Rick?”
“Yeah. He was picked up by the Vipers not long after me. I thought he was dead.” Rick said. “Mickey, it’s me, Rick. Remember? The Vipers called me Skunk. How did you get away? How did you get here?” Rick shot questions at the kid and then realized that Mickey was nearly unconscious. He had blood on the side of his face, his left eye was swollen almost completely shut and his nose looked broken. As Rick got closer he also noticed that Mickey’s feet were all busted up like he’d had to walk a long way barefoot.
“Please, don’t hurt me.” Mickey whimpered.
“Hey man, it’s okay. We’re not going to hurt you. We just want to help.” Rick said when Mickey held up his claw-like hands as if to ward Rick off. Then suddenly he passed out.
“Prez! He’s passed out.” Rick said as he rushed forward to keep Mickey from striking his head as he began to fall over. He managed to catch his head just before he hit the ground. “Ew! His hair feels like someone poured oil on his head.” Rick said as he gently put Mickey’s head on the ground and pulled his hand free and held it away from him when he realized it wasn’t oil but blood. “Damn. I wonder when the last time he had a bath was. He smells awful.” Rick said as they all gathered around the unconscious boy.
“Doc should be here soon. Tell me what you know about him, Rick.” Prez said as he looked the kid over as much as he could without actually touching him. Rick was right, he smelled really bad, like he had been in the same unwashed clothes for a long time.
“The Vipers snatched him not long after me. He was subjected to pretty much the same treatment as I was even though he was twice the size he is now. Man, he’s really lost some weight. He used to be almost as big as Beau when he first came in but taller. He’s normally soft spoken and not very confrontational. They made a slave out of him.” Rick told them.
Just then Doc showed up and immediately sent Clay and Shadow to get the gurney out of the back of his ambulance. “Shadow, drive the ambulance to the end of the alley, please. We can’t carry him through the diner with the way he smells.
Prez, can you call Vie and tell her to meet me by my back door with her hair clippers? I don’t even want him in the clinic until we get him cleaned up a bit. I’ll knock him out if I have to but we’re going to have to get him clean before we take him inside. There’s no telling what he’s infested with.” Doc said and all of them stepped back a couple of steps.
Shadow and Clay came back pushing the gurney and they both held their breath as they quickly loaded him up while Prez called Vie. “Tell the boys to run a hose out the window of the laundry room so that we’ll have some hot water and bring us lots of soap.” Prez told her.
Vie was curious to know what was going on but also knew that Prez would not be issuing these orders without good reason and she could get details later. While she hurried to do as Prez asked, the boys loaded Mickey up in Doc’s ambulance, they tied him down and then Prez and the others hurried back to their transportation and drove back to the clubhouse.
As soon as they pulled up, Doc did a quick exam after they had Mickey unloaded in the yard and once Doc determined that Mickey wasn’t in any immediate danger, he told Vie “Go ahead and shave his hair off. Hair will grow back. Make sure you wash off when you are done and try not to get any hair on yourself. We don’t know if he’s infested with anything or not.”
“Ew! I want some protection before I do this. Someone, bring me a small tarp. I can wrap it around myself and hopefully it will protect me some.” Vie said, stepping away from the unconscious boy laying on the gurney. As soon as she had the tarp wrapped around herself, she made quick work of shaving Mickey’s head, being careful of the gash on his head. Now he had what looked like a five o’clock shadow on his head instead of the brown matted mess that had been there a few minutes before.
Vie quickly checked and was thankful when she found that at least he did not have lice, which had been what Doc was worried about. If that ever got into the clubhouse it would be nearly impossible to get rid of and would be passed from one person to another, around and around in a never ending circle.
“Can you clip his nails too? Those make me extremely uncomfortable. It’s like having an M-16 pointed at you by a man who doesn’t like you.” Prez said and Vie just grinned but did as he asked. “Man, his nails are disgusting.” Vie said as she gave him a fast manicure.
As Vie worked on his hands, Doc thoroughly checked the injury on Mickey’s head. He had a nasty gash just inside his hairline to the middle of his skull that looked like someone had hit him with a bottle or a sharp object.
“Having all of that matted hair on his head probably saved his life because it acted like a cushion against whatever someone hit him with. I want to take an x-ray of his skull but from what I can see, it looks like it’s just skin deep but it’s deep enough to make him dizzy and bleed. Head wounds always bleed more than most injuries but he’s so skinny and underfed that the loss of blood probably contributed to him passing out. Judging by the dark bags under his eyes, I bet he hasn’t had a peaceful night’s sleep in a long time.”
Once Vie was done, they cut away Mickey’s clothes and between Doc and Scar, they bathed him and then covered him up before they rolled him inside to the clinic. Doc took an x-ray of his head and it came out showing nothing broken.
“Man, someone had been beating on this boy. He’s got whip marks all over him. He’s even got a scar on his penis and he’s been raped, more than once.” Doc noted and reported to Prez.
“Damn. Rick said he was brought into the Viper camp not long after he was so I guess it’s not really surprising. I wonder how he got away? I wonder if there are any others out there wandering around that need help? No one knows for sure how many people were in that camp when it blew up.” Prez said.
“Well, when he wakes up, maybe he can tell you more. For now, I would say let him sleep as long as he wants and then get him something to eat. He’s going to need nourishment and rest.” Doc said as he hooked up an IV that would give him some nutrients that had obviously been missing from his diet.
“Do you want him in here where you can watch over him or is it okay to put him in a room?” Prez asked.
“The bed in a room will be more comfortable than these beds. They are okay for a short term but to get a really good sleep, it’s hard to match a regular bed.” Doc said.
“Okay. I’ll have Rick get a room ready for him and tell him to stand guard over his room to listen for him.” Prez said.