When rays of the scorching sun went over the mountain that night, Larry slogged up Robert’s long driveway to his log home adjacent to their Rusty Springs Store and built higher up the mountain on a little plateau.
He was angry, a general with a plan that needed action. That no-good bastard, he fumed over and over to himself as he made his way to the house, ’We’ll smoke’em out… run’em out again.”
He knocked. Robert peered out the door, yawning. He held a western handkerchief in one hand like a napkin. His short-sleeve Western shirt and jeans were crumpled, a wash long overdue.
“You and me got business,” Larry said, eager to roll out his battle scroll. He didn’t notice from Robert’s manner that he might have other ideas about how he wanted to relax tonight other than visiting with a neighbor after having been on his feet all day at the store.
Robert held to the door without coming out.
“Who is it?” a tired woman’s voice came from within.
’Wait here,” said Robert. “I’ll be out.” The door closed.
Larry’s anger cooled with Robert’s mild reception. He took a seat on a porch chair on the long deck fronting the house and realized it was one he’d seen it at the Wal-Mart in Missoula as part of a table and chair set. He did like the view from Robert’s deck. He didn’t quite fancy sitting in this one made of thin wicker.
It was a mighty fine night in spite of the lingering heat. The sun streaked across the gigantic sky waving ribbons of red and gold, creating an awesome display over a green canopy of forest.
Larry waited. He was not a patient person. He had come here on a mission and by God the troops needed mobilizing. What was taking Robert so long?
Robert finally ambled out and unfolded into a chair. “Another long day,” he said.
“Anyone tell you they saw a nasty customer in your store a few weeks ago?”
“Nah. . .who might that have been?”
“Joy came home in a rant yesterday. You sold him some cigarettes. Took her a long time to remember who he was, but she finally nailed him because of that twisted snake tattoo on his neck. They scared her the first time she saw ’em, too. She said the kid caused a lot of trouble when he lived here and now there he was grown into a bull of a man with a huge chest and mighty tall.”
“Just another in a line of too many customers,” said Robert who yawned again.
“By God, Robert, he’s part of the Hicks family. We’ve got to figure out what to do,” pressed on Larry.
“Figure out what? Get to the point. I’m beat.”
“Hicks, the Hicks. Those dirty sons . . . that motley crowd. One of them was either passing through or they’re all back!”
“Thought we took care of that family,” said Robert. He bent over and put his head between his hands as if this knowledge were too weighty for him to bear and shuffled his feet.
“This is a big problem,” said Larry.
Robert straightened and looked up to see Larry’s face in the growing darkness. He paused, finally admitting, “You’re right. Undoubtedly, the family has grown Those adolescent girls are now raising more problem kids. Those Hicks are a Mormon-like-but-without-morals sort! Whenever I think about them, I remember what the UPS guy told me . . .he saw children playing in a stack of dirty diapers inside that rundown trailer.”
Larry stood, asking a little hesitantly, “Notify Tony?”
“Sheriff wasn’t involved the first time, was he? We handled them on our own, no help from him. Let’s do it again.”
“That was years ago,” Larry sputtered. “We’re older, more beat up.”
“Hell no, we aren’t.” Robert slapped his knee and looked up at Larry. “By God, that was one unforgettable night, wasn’t it? We got the job done and they left the area.”
“Want Barbara to know that the Hicks are back?”
“If Joy knows, Barbara should too. Better keep a good watch around your place, Larry. I’ll do the same up here at the house and down at the store.”
Larry said with conviction, “Come over for a beer tomorrow night. We’ll get on it.”
Robert rose. There was a a steely look in his eyes as he gave Larry’s outstretched hand a firm grip. “I’ll do some hard thinking. You do the same. We’ll get this situation under control.”