I saw one of the outlaws pick up a rifle, he was shaking so bad it would have been a miracle for him to have hit anything. I quickly pulled my 44, and shot him in the chest. “Now!” I shouted as I spun around to head for the children.
I could see the children, one man was holding Lizzie, “Come-on boy! Come get little chickie!” he shouted.
“Let her go!” I said hotly. “I promise you now, if you don’t, you’ll die harder than your buddies.”
The man laughed his response.
To be truthful I never did see Joanna or Sherry come into the camp, I heard the snarling and then I saw the flash of black. Then I saw Lizzie fall to the ground, as Sherry attacked the man. For a moment, I watched in mute horror as she tore the man to bloody pieces with her powerful jaws. I forced myself to move and I managed a smile as Joanna joined me.
I quickly cut the children free, “Come-on let’s move!” I shouted to them. For once in their lives, no one gave me any lip.
I was feeling pretty good about myself, maybe too good as we ran into the clearing. I was young and over confident and had grossly underestimated the remaining men. The large man smiled as he blocked our escape, “You’re really good for a kid.”
He said in a low voice. “You killed em all. . . you and your dog, I’ll make a deal with you: you let me go, and I’ll let you live, I’ll not tell Borga about you.”
That hushed whisper. The look that passed between the kids was not lost. They knew something. Something very dark and evil.
I shook my head in disgust, “I can do one better. . . I can kill you too, and we can all walk free, and Borga can go fuck himself.”
The large man smiled his teeth were yellow, and the smile made him look more sinister, “Just like your father, more balls than brains. You think you can take me in a fair fight boy? I’ve killed men twice your size, without even trying. Yeah, you got the gun, and you got that dog, but do you have what it takes to kill a man with your bare hands?”
I never took my eyes off the man, as I spoke to the children, and Joanna, “Nobody interfere. Keep Sherry off him.”
I know that it was very foolish to even try to fist fight. . . a man that looked like Mount Rushmore with fists. But I wanted to take everything he had, and then to crush his throat with my bare hands. “A fair fight is for the ring. Out here asshole it’ll be just you and me.” I said as I dropped my gunbelt.
The two of us circled one another for a moment, it was as if we were waiting for the other, to throw the first punch. I saw him throw a right, and I blocked with a left, and punched him in the mouth.
I followed with a series of combinations, driving him back, I saw his eyes begin to glaze over, and I felt victory, within my grasp. But I had been in enough fights, to know not to get too cocky, but I was so sure, he had been all talk.
He was suddenly able to blocked my blows, and hit me so hard I fell to the ground. “Enough play boy! Now I kill you slow.” he said as he lunged for me.
It was more a reflex move, than that of a skilled fighter, I kicked out with the heal of my right foot, driving it into his groin. His face went suddenly white, as he sank to his knees, I jumped to my feet and rushed him.
Joanna and the kids watched the death fight in mute horror.
I hit him with a beefy forearm across the face, and slipped in behind him. I got him in a choke hold, and quickly jerked his neck to one side. I heard the snapping of his neck as he went limp. I released my grip and he fell to the ground, his head at a funny angle.
I could feel my heart beating heavily in my chest, I was sure everyone could hear it, for some reason this embarrassed me. I wasn’t sure what I was suppose to do next, so I just stood there for a moment looking and feeling very foolish.
It was Joanna that came to my side first, “That was the best fight, I’ve ever seen.” she said with a faint smile.
My brothers and Lizzie rushed to my side, and wrapped their arms around my waist. Russ smiled as he looked, at the larger man. “You really did it! I thought for sure, that you bit off more, than you could chew.”
For some reason my hands started to shake, and then my body followed. I couldn’t seem to stop. Joanna took me into her arms and spoke softly to me. I don’t remember half of what she said, the rest of the night is a blur. All I can tell you is what I was told.
As we were walking the children to the horses, Sherry started acting strangely growling, and snarling. Then suddenly, there was a very large black wolf that just appeared out of nowhere. I felt the fangs bite deep into my arm.
I screamed out in total fear as I began to fight for my life. I pried the powerful jaws open, and tried to push the wolf off of me, but I was too weak. For a moment I’d given thought to giving up. Then I heard a voice saying: “You don’t quit. You don’t know how to be a quitter. Fight You Big Bastard. Damn You Fight!”
The wolf and I rolled over and over on the rocky ground, I tried to get my arm wrapped around his throat, and I felt the fangs bite deep into my arm again. I screamed out as I began to pound the beast with my fist.
The one question I had in my mind was “why?” Why had this wolf attacked me. Rabid. Sweet Jesus Christ! The fucking wolf was rabid.
The children were screaming and crying, I saw Joanna rushing forward with the rifle in her hands.
I pushed the wolf back and drew back my fist, and suddenly there was an explosion and a force knocked the wolf away from me. Then all was quiet.
It was the scariest moment of my life, I had no idea if I was even still on my feet, or if I was dead on the ground. I just felt very light.
“I didn’t fail this time Pa.” Did I actually say the words or did I just simply will them?
I felt hands touching me, and I could hear the sounds of someone crying. I thought I’m dead, this is what it is like to die. I felt myself floating up higher and higher, my only thoughts were: Are the kids still safe? What about Joanna?
They say I was in and out of consciousness, for many days.
They also said that I’d re-fought every battle several times a day and night. I also had some very weird dreams. Or I think that they were dreams. Maybe I was just out of it, or maybe I’m truly crazy. . . then again maybe the light of truth came to see me.
A man had come to visit me in the darkness. He’d just hold my hand and talk to me about fighting the big fight. That fighting the good fight was forever in my blood and soul.
The fight for life was most important now, that I could never give up or give in. That I’d come too far, that my time was much further down the road.
It was a full week later that I was fully conscious, and the first face I saw was Joanna’s. “I must be dead. . . I’m looking into the face of an angel.” I said with a smile.
“You really know how to scare, the people that love you.” she said as tears welled up in her eyes. “It was touch and go there for awhile. If Darrell hadn’t showed up when he did. . .”
Now I was really confused, “The wolf?” I asked in a shaky voice.
“Rabid. Daddy showed up just in time and shot it, you put up a good fight but you were weak from the lack of food, and fighting the outlaws. You hadn’t been sleeping enough. . . Sherry knocked the wolf off of you, and daddy shot it. Darrell showed up in the helicopter and brought you in.”
I remember I was going to ask her about Sherry Berry, but I fell asleep again. When I awoke again my parents were in my room, my mother was caressing my face, and there were tears in her eyes. “Ma. . . what’s the matter?”
“Oh. . . someone I love has been very sick.” she said with a faint smile.
Hey Champ!” My father called out cheerfully. “I hear you really stomped some ass out there.” he said as he wheeled himself over to my bed.
“Pa what’s going to happen to me?” I asked in a hushed tone.
“No one can give an exact location, of the outlaws. The D.A. said without any bodies nothing can be proven.” he said with a grin. “It has rained a few times since you came here, and with all them wolves. . .”
“Pa it was a fluke about that wolf, it must have just wandered up from New Mexico.” It suddenly occurred, to me what my father was saying, or not saying.
As if to prove his point, he turned on the television. The newscaster was a very pretty young woman. I’d say about twenty-five.
“What in the world coming to? Fifteen year Bill Macalister went into no-mans-land, and rescued his young brothers, and sister from five escaped convicts. Bill Macalister went deep into Echo Canyon, with only his wits and a young friend, and rescued the children. District Attorney Harry Wilson, feels it would not be in
the state’s best interest for charges to be filed against Bill Macalister. America has cheered for the young hero, but for now America holds it’s breath, as Macalister’s life swings in the balance.”
I looked at parents, “I don’t fully understand. What exactly did she mean by all that?”
My mother stifled back a laugh, “Stop teasing the boy, and tell him.” I noticed an odd look that passed between them.
More secrets, more lies and half-truths.
“Son you’re not just someone that rescued members of your family, you’re a hero. Both The Governor and the president has followed the story very carefully. A full pardon has been signed for anything you may have done out there.” Dad said the last part with a full smile.
I nodded my head in acceptance, I felt a slight shudder, as I remembered the events of the past, “Sherry Berry?”
Both my Parents laughed,“Sherry Berry? Sherry Berry, is just fine.” They said in sync. “Waiting for you to come home.”
I nodded my head. “Who is Borga and why is he after our family?”
My parents looked at one another, “Borga? Never really heard of him. Must be some nutcase son.” my father answered.
I held up a warning hand, “Someday you’ll have to come clean.”
It was two days later, I was in the car heading for home, I was silently willing my mother to speed it up. I wanted to see my dog and hug her neck, from what I had been told she was the one that helped Joe Mills to get the killing shot.
As we pulled down the dirt road I saw a strange pickup, and a man about forty squatting down talking to Sherry. Mom came to a quick stop and even though I was still in pain I was out and running. Sherry saw me and broke away from the man, the silly dog knocked me down, and slurped my face, till I thought I was sure to drown.
The man called to her but he called her Sabath, “So you’re the young man, that Sabath teamed up with.” he said with a grin, as he extended his hand.
“Yeah, I’m the one,” I replied hotly. “just who the hell are you, and what do you think you’re doing here?”
“Bill Macalister! You apologize!” My mother said in a hotter tone than I’d ever heard her use before.
“Let me guess! You’re claiming SHERRY belongs to you. Where’s your proof? Show me the papers, cause you ain’t leaving with her till you do.”
The man shook his head sadly, “They were lost in a fire. . .Sherry as you call her pulled me out. My wife died in that fire.” He replied close to tears.
“Son, I’m not here to try and take your dog, I’m moving away and I can’t take her with me. I sent away to Austin for copies, I had my attorney draw up these papers I’m giving Sab. . . Sherry to you.”
I stood there in shock as he signed the papers, “She’s the best dog you could ever hope to have.” he said with a grin.
I read and signed the papers, feeling like a real asshole. He took his copy, and got into his truck, “Mister I’m sorry, for the way I acted. . . it’s just that she and I. . . well we’re a team she saved my life.”
“I know.” he replied softly. He leaned out, and gave my face a light slap. “Just take good care of Sherry Berry, and her pup.” he said with a grin.
I looked to my mother then the thought hit me, “Please wait. . . what if I made a gift of the pup to you? He’s a part of her and I guess in a sense, he’s a part of you. He’s just as good as his mama is.”
The man smiled brightly, “I’d like that.”
It was two hours later Jim Sweet pulled out with the pup, I still felt bad for the way I treated him, he told me not to worry about it. He shook my hand, and told me, it showed him the dog would be well cared for and very loved.
My brothers and sister looked at me in a different light, from the moment I got home. They knew just how close I’d come to dying, in order to bring them back home. They offered to do my choirs just so that I could get more rest.
I smiled and said. “Don’t worry none about me, it’s gonna take one hell of a powerful force to stop a Macalister.”
That comment stopped them all cold.
Darrel walked up to me and smiled as he sized me up. “Yes.” I replied with a smile.
“You did good little brother, you done damn good.”
“But I thought that it was you that said. . .” I began with a sarcastic smile. “Yeah-it was either you or your exact twin that said I shouldn’t be so ornery. Wasn’t that you? I could swear. . .”
“Smartass.” Darrel said with a shake of his head.
I took a couple of steps backward, “You know what really burns my butt? For my big brother not to be able to make up his mind. Are you proud of me or not? Calling me a smartass isn’t exactly a wonderful endearment. Come-on now make nice call me an asshole.”
Darrel turned and looked toward our parents. “He’s going to be impossible to live with. You guys know that. How about I avoid the Christmas rush, and put him out of our misery now?”
I could hear my parents both laughing, and Sherry Berry was running in circles barking her head off. Or was it possible she was also laughing?
He’ll never get pass my dog I thought as I tried to outrun Darrel. “Try it Jar-head!” I shouted as I sprinted.
That dog. . . Sherry Berry turned traitor and tripped me up. Darrel caught me to keep me from busting myself up, and held me down and gave me a wet willie. Sherry helped him by slurping my face.
The laughter the rang out the most was Pa’s.
Hey, I was alive my family was alive, I had a dog all of my own and a girl if I just asked her to be mine. Life was just so sweet.