Chapter Ten of Wings like Eagles

Chapter Ten

At a sudden noise behind him, Cal shot a hasty look over one shoulder. Rain and Chris looked past him to see several bikes pulling onto the vacant lot. Mike, Doug, Denny and the bikers riding in behind them all nodded cordially to Chase standing before a roaring blaze in the center of the field.

“You done now?” Rain asked, causing Cal to look back around, a bit of panic in his eyes. “If anyone of those guys found out you were sitting here in our kitchen holding our dog hostage with a knife–”

“You,” Cal said, “ain’t heard the best part of the story yet.”

With the knife still pointed at Rain, Cal clamping down on Bandit to keep him from squirming in his lap.

“You see,” he said, “since the Vietnam war started, drugs have been making the mob very rich. Speed, acid, coke, heroin, and magic shrooms. Ever seen a farm boy whose got nothing better to do than ride his tractor around plowing up fields? Add a pill or blow to hun-dreds of bored farm boys and pretty soon you’ve got thousands of farm boys looking to you for that next high. It’s spread like wildfire through the state, and with biker clubs distributing it, the Irish and the Angels share in the wealth.”

Cal chuckled, raising his knife slightly so that the tip was only two feet away from Rain’s chest. He jabbed at Rain with his knife, sternly saying, “I am a major player in these sales, so in order for me to stay in that position, both of you need to keep your damned mouths shut about the bus wreck. Understood?”

“Yes,” Chris said, nodding vigorously. Rain, however, glanced up over Cal’s shoulder, his eyes focusing on the back screen door.

At once, Cal also glanced back, alarmed by the wide-eyed look in Rain’s eyes.

It was at that moment that Rain snatched up the large cast-iron frying pan situated on the front burner of the nearby stove. He then brought it around in a full swing, catching Cal in the side of his head with the flat bottom of the heavy pan.

The knife in Cal’s grasp tumbled to the floor and Bandit sprang off his lap. While Chris kneeled down to comfort the squirming little terrier, Rain raised the iron pan for a second swing, but Cal simply slid from the chair and collapsed in an unconscious heap in the mid-dle of the kitchen floor.

Chris gasped, “Geeshus, Rain! You killed him!”

Rain said, “He’s just out cold, Chris. I whacked him pretty hard.”
Bandit excitedly fidgeted beneath Chris’s free hand, whining and carrying on in appreciation of being freed from the biker. Chris continued to comfort the dog, while Rain gathered up an old clothesline from the back porch and tied Cal up with his feet and hands pulled up snug against his back while he lay face down on the kitchen floor.

“Rain,” Chris asked, “what are we going to do with him?”

Straining to pull the plastic coated wire of the clothesline snug and tight, Rain grunted through clenched teeth, “Wait until church is over, then tell Dad we got a trussed pig laying on the kitchen floor.”

After letting Bandit outside in the front yard to pee, Rain and Chris decided they had as much right to hear what was being said at church as any Outlaw did. In fact, they had more rights to listen in for they were the ones being forced to remain silent about the real cause of the bus crash.

Putting a leash on Bandit and checking one last time on Cal still out cold on the kitchen floor, Rain led the way over into Mister Weston’s backyard which lay adjacent to the field where the council fire burned bright against the night sky. Once the boys snuck into their elderly neighbor’s yard, they crept along the thick hedges there blocking them from the view of the crowd occupying the field.

At the edge of the yard, Rain plowed a pathway through the tightly clustered bushes there and opened a clear walkway for Chris to pass through. He did so, following behind his brother, holding the cast on his left arm high to avoid snagging it on branches. In his right hand, he held tight to Bandit’s leash, pulling the small dog along behind him.

Rain went on ahead and was forced to belly-crawl another ten feet to a stockade fence bordering the field. If he’d simply walked across the open ground, there was a good chance that someone in the field would have spotted him.

Chris hesitated, lifting his heavy cast to indicate he was going to have a difficult time maneuvering across the wet grass on his belly. Rain crawled back, told Chris to lay on his back, and proceeded to pull him across the open ground by slipping his hands under his arm pits. In this way, the boys managed to remain unseen as they took cover behind the stockade fence. Rain pointed at Bandit, and the dog scurried across the open ground so low to the ground that he, too, remained undetected.

There, only twenty yards from the huge fire, both boys found peep holes in the rotten boards of the fence and settled onto their knees to watch and listen to the proceedings as the Outlaws attended church.

Chase Nelson stood between the fire and the gathering of sixty-some club members seated in lawn chairs or log seats.

“You all know me,” Chase said, his voice carrying across the field. “You all know I have always taken a hard-line to these drugs that thousands of fools snort or inject. I don’t have a problem with weed, but I do have a problem with these hard-core life-wreckers that our rival clubs are making gobs of green on. This drug trade is only going to get worse. Drugs are going to be the ruin of our country one day.”

He glanced over at Mike and said, “So far, Mike here has taken the same stance in regards to these stronger drugs, out of respect for me. He had to make a statement, too. He beat the hell out of some dealer in Crete. Had he known at the time when he caught the poor smuck selling blow in Crete, that he had the backing of the Angels, Mike would not have fractured the guy’s skull.

“When word got to them that Mike had made such a mistake, he and I rode up to Omaha to have a sit-down with the Angels and the Irish. I have strong ties with the Irish, and they forgave him, but not the Angels. They gave Mike a serious beating, leaving me as former president of the Outlaws, a firm warning. The Angels in Omaha told us just one more phone call reporting any more interference with their drug deals, and they would send some maniac known as the Nomad down here to clean house on the Outlaws.”

He turned toward the fire and grimaced as he said, “Daws Roberts was at this meeting and he was assigned the role of watchdog on the Outlaws. One phone call from him and the Nomad shows up here.”

It was Denny who spoke up then, saying, “A single man is supposed to put fear into the Outlaws? Let Daws make his call, we’ll deal with this Nomad when he gets here.”

Chase peered hard at Denny, then scanned the faces of the crowd gathered before him. “This Nomad,” he said, “is notorious in Callie, where he took out an entire gang, killing them one by one. He first started on their president. Later, his crew found him with his balls in his mouth for shock effect. So, if you don’t want this maniacal killer paying us a visit, we need to keep the peace between the Outlaws and the Guardians.”

He paused, then added, “I just thought you boys should know about the trouble we could be facing.”

A loud commotion carried across the field. Some club members were angry at the threat, especially when it depended on Daws Roberts to make the call that could send hell’s fury their way. Others were slightly unnerved by the fact that a cold-blooded psychopath might be stalking them.

Doug and Mike got into an argument, and Denny and three other hard-cores backed Doug. Seven more members extremely loyal to Mike supported him, and as the shouting match between Doug and Mike continued, Chase shook his head, and started across the field toward the house.

Chapter Nine: Wings like Eagles

Chapter Nine

Outside in the clinic’s parking lot, Rain actually offered his injured little brother shotgun for once, refusing to claim it in light of Chris’s broken arm. He had even closed his door for him, then taken his place in the back seat, and out of reach of Chase’s swat in case he decided Rain needed one for his defiance inside the clinic.

Not one word was spoken by any of the three on the drive back to the small town pf Sprague. The two brothers sighed in relief when Chase stopped the car in front of the driveway and without saying a word, gestured toward the wrap-around porch of their two-story wood frame house situated on two wide lots.

Rain climbed out of the car, opening the front door for Chris. He helped him out, being careful not to bump his cast on the door as he exited the front seat. Both boys froze as Chase cleared his throat. “You boys do your chores,” he said. “I’m heading down to the fire pit to prepare it for church tonight.”

Rain said, “Dad, could we sit in on church? That way we’ll understand why we have to keep our mouths shut about the bus crash.”

Chase looked over at both boys, his eyes softening slightly. “You know better, Rain. Church is club business, not yours. See to your brother. Get him some aspirin as I imagine that arm is going to be throbbing soon. Let Bandit out. Later, I’ll take you boys down to the Bluestem for some late night fishing. I’ll explain things to you then.”

Chase then drove the car into the driveway, past the Nelson house, and continued down into the wide, open field where the large stone fire pit was situated.

As Rain and Chris reached the porch, Chris said, “That was ballsy, asking Dad about us attending church, my brother.”

“It was a fair request,” Rain told him as he opened the front screen door, “someone has to let us know why we can’t even tell the truth about that damned bus crash.”

He ushered Chris inside and added, “Besides, when Dad’s being so secretive, it would take someone with balls as big as mine to confront him and get to the bottom of this bullshit.”

Chris burst out laughing. “You?” he snorted. “The last time I knew you were using two peanut shells and a rubber band for a jock strap!”

Rain grinned and said, “You’re lucky your arm is broken, or I would kick your ass!”

When they entered the kitchen they found Bandit, the family’s black rat terrier seated on the lap of Cal Roberts.

Cal sat there in a chair, one hand holding the small dog by the scruff of his neck, while in the other hand he held a knife up to the shivering dog’s throat.
Chris bolted forward. “You creepy bastard!” he cried even as Rain stepped in front of him and blocked his path. “No, Chris,” he said.

He used one arm to keep Chris in place. “What are you doing in our house?” he asked. “What the hell do you want with us?”

Bandit began to squirm, wanting nothing more than to greet the two boys, but Cal took a firmer hold on the back of the little terrier’s neck, causing it to yelp as he clamped down hard.

“Stop that!” Rain demanded. “You got something to say to us, then do it! Just leave our dog out of it!”

“Knock off the tough guy shit, kid,” Cal said. “Say one more thing that offends me, I will cut this mutt’s head clean off. Understood?”

“Yes!” Chris sobbed as he buried his tear-streaked face against Rain’s back and leaned into him for support. “Just please don’t hurt our dog. Please, leave our dog out of this.”

Seated there looking like a homicidal maniac, Cal Roberts started to make chopping motions toward Bandit with his long hunting knife. “Now listen closely to what I got to say,” he said. “This smelly mutt lives or dies, depending on how you react.”

Chris raised his head, looking up and over Rain’s left shoulder. “We haven’t said anything to no one,” he sobbed, his voice catching with a hitch on his last word.

“Good,” Cal said, planting the sharp edge of his knife directly on Bandit’s neck. “You boys keep your mouths shut about this whole damned wreck. So far, the blame for this crash has settled quite nicely on that Indian’s shoulders. Since alcohol was involved, he’s looking at an automatic ten year prison sentence, but now that the Morris kid died, he’s gonna be nailed with a lot longer term.”

Rain felt Chris’s hot breath blowing on his shoulder as he leaned against him. He heard a quiet sniffle come from him, as well. He wanted to rip that knife out of Cal’s hands and plunge it into his heart for threatening to kill Bandit with it, but he knew he didn’t stand a chance against the bearded loon in the chair.

Instead, he said, “We haven’t told Baxster about your involvement. Our dad refused to let us. So, you’re wasting your time out here. Just put our dog down and leave. If Dad finds you sitting in our kitchen with a knife to our dog’s throat, you won’t leave here alive.”

Cal frowned at this. “You mouthy little bastard! I warned you about lipping off to me!”

With that, he placed the tip of his knife against the side of Bandit’s head. The dog whined, but remained still as stone in the biker’s grasp.
“No!” wailed Chris. “Please, don’t hurt Bandit! Please! Please!”

Cal froze, the knife in his grasp an inch away from Bandit’s right eye. “It’s not Chase I am worried about,” he said. “He knows better than to incriminate me. He’s well aware of the consequences of such actions. It’s you two little punks that could sink my ship, and I am just making sure you’ll know better than to do such a thing.”

The grungy biker glanced over one shoulder, shooting a wary look at the open back screen door. From where they were standing at the center of the kitchen, both Rain and Chris could see the door, as well. All three of them stared for a moment at the sight of Chase three hundred yards past the door as he loaded logs onto a pile at the center of the fire pit.

Lowering his voice, Cal said, “Let me give you boys a little history lesson on the notorious Chase Nelson.”

Rain and Chris stood there, their brows furrowed in concentration as Cal related facts they knew nothing about in regards to their dad.

“At 16 years of age,” Cal said, “Chase started the Outlaws out of Lincoln, Nebraska, in the small suburb of Havelock. He built a solid crew of five members that grew to twenty, then thirty, until they branched out with chapters in forty small towns throughout Nebraska.

“Chase ruled his fellow club members with an iron hand, too. He incorporated rules that other bike clubs would never abide by. Besides dealing harshly with members who beat their old ladies, he also forbid his crew to bum rush a single rival biker, demanding one-on-one terms to settle disputes.”

Cal grinned as he said, “Your dad drove all the way out to Fort Robinson in the western part of the state to deal with some hot head who put his woman in the hospital. Drove out there all alone and put that guy in a world of hurt, placing him in his own hospital bed for failing to abide by your dad’s rules.”

Chris said, “Why you telling us this? Just let my dog go. We’ll still listen to you, just let Bandit go, without hurting him, Cal.”

The biker shook his shaggy maned head, saying, “You’ll pay better attention to me so long as I am holding your dog.”

Narrowing his eyes, the bearded biker pretended to saw on Bandits neck, holding the blade of his knife an inch away from the dog’s throat as he continued to tell the boys his story. “Long time back, Chase set a precedent. He rode solo into Angel territory up in Omaha to have a sit-down with the president of the Nebraska chapter. Chase asked him to leave Sprague, Crete, Martell and Wilber out of the loop in his state-wide network of dealing heavy drugs in the four small towns. While marijuana was the cash cow of the day, Chase argued that more powerful drugs such as coke, heroin, speed and acid posed a certain danger to those who used them frequently. Chase told the Angel president that despite the fact that he and his club members smoked weed, he didn’t allow his members to use the stronger drugs let alone sell them to make money.

“The president of the Hell’s Angels strongly disagreed with Chase. Although he respected the guts it took for Chase to ride solo into Omaha to plead his case for his drug-free policy in his little domain, he wouldn’t agree to his terms.

“So, Chase turned things up a notch by having a sit-down with the head of the Irish mob. Surprisingly, the leader of the Irish called for yet a third sit-down on the matter. At that table were members of a number of biker clubs, the Association, the Gladiators, the Guardians, and the Screaming Eagles.

“The leaders laughed at Chase’s objections to the stronger drugs. The Eagles said it was worse than prohibition to have such a stipulation on where they could sell their chemicals. So Chase challenged anyone of the leaders to a one-on-one fight to win his case. Our old man, then president of the Guardians accepted, and the fight was held in an old barn west of Omaha. Your dear old dad won that fight, and the Irish granted him that the four small towns would deemed a no-man’s land as far as the sale of these stronger drugs were concerned.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Eight of Wings like Eagles

Chase stopped in the parking lot of the Crete clinic. Before the car engine died, tall, lanky Red Ellis approached the station wagon, his long legs carrying him directly up to Chases’s side of the car.

Rain noted old Red wore his usual beat-up black cowboy hat and he hadn’t shaved in days for salt and pepper grizzle covered his nar-row face. He was dressed in his faded jean jacket and his equally faded Levi jeans, and looked every bit the rancher that he was.

Red leaned on the driver’s door and gruffly growled, “That bastard Baxster is actually doing his job for once! Maybe on account of your boy, he’ll drop these goddamned charges against Ben!”

Chase didn’t quite understand what Red was saying. “My boy?” he asked. “The Sheriff ain’t getting no report from Rain here.”

“Your other boy,” Red said. “Baxster’s in there grilling him–”

“Hell!” snapped Chase, nearly throwing Red off his feet as he swung his door open and sprang out of the car.

Rain sat there watching his dad angrily taking long strides toward the clinic.

“What the hell’s his problem?” Red asked, glancing at Rain as he opened his own door and climbed out of the station wagon.

Not particularly liking the cantankerous old rancher, Rain simply shrugged. “Have to ask him,” he muttered.

Red fell in beside him as he made his way toward the clinic doors. “This is damned serious!” snapped Red. “That ass-hole of a sheriff has Ben brought up on some serious charges–”

“That’s bullshit!” Rain said as the two of them reached the doors.

“Damn right it is!” Red said. “You and I both know that Long Soldier doesn’t even drink!”

Reaching for the door, Rain stopped. He turned his head slightly, saying, “You . . . and . . . I?”

An old rage came boiling to the surface. Especially since Red Ellis tried to make it sound as if he and Rain were friends, when they were anything but that. Not since the incident that took place on the Ellis ranch last summer. An incident that left Rain and Chris despising the cold-hearted son of a bitch named Red Ellis. After that day, it would be a cold day in hell before Rain ever considered himself friends with the old coot.

The you and I that Red spouted struck a nerve in Rain, and he took issue with the fact that Red made it sound as if they were on the same sides. Even if they were both wanting to clear Ben Long Soldier of any wrong doing in regards to the bus wreck.
Rain and Chris had stood mute as Red Ellis shot and killed the one and only horse out of the three-hundred others who stubbornly defied every attempt Ben made to tame him. Although Ben never gave up on any horse brought before him, after three weeks of trying over and over to convince the wild stallion he was only looking out for its best interest, Red made the call to put the horse down. He claimed the three weeks were a waste of Ben’s time. Time that could have been spent taming other unruly horses.

After the shooting, Ben had cremated the unfortunate horse and while the boys looked on, he had scattered its ashes to the four winds in a most solemn ceremony that left the two boys openly weeping for the slaughtered horse.

For such cruelty on Red’s part, Rain would never forgive the man.

The old rancher swung the door open, ushering Rain inside the clinic. “Ben don’t deserve to be falsely accused,” Red said, “of any-thing let alone drunk driving and motor vehicle homicide!”

Rain fell speechless for long moments as he and Red moved down the hallway toward the ER. “Homicide?” he managed to ask. “What do you mean?”

Red removed his dusty black cowboy hat. He ran slender fingers through the long strands of hair that at one time had been red, but now looked like sun-baked straw, with gray dominating the gold in his ragged curls. “The Morris boy?” he said. “Bobby? The one who broke his leg? He had a punctured artery. The snapped bone in his leg pierced it and he bled to death before they got him here.”

Rain felt dizzy. The same sick feeling that overcame him back on the bus when he’d seen Chris’s bone sticking out of his arm stole up over him. He reeled to one side of the hallway.

Red caught him before he could fall. “Whoa, son!” the old rancher said, gripping him with strong fingers. He carefully guided Rain over to a chair in the ER waiting area. “Sit yourself down there, boy.”

“Little Bobby Morris?” Rain asked, his vision blurring for several seconds. He sucked in a gulp of air. “Bled to death? He’s dead?”

“Yep,” Red said, seating himself in the chair next to Rain. “Here, take a couple of deep breaths. Maybe even put your head between your legs to steady yourself some.”

Rain shrugged Red’s gnarly hand off of the back of his neck. “No,” he said, weakly. “I’ll be okay now, just shocked me with that news. Can’t hardly believe Bobby is dead.”

Red sat there, holding his hat. “Doctor said he shouldn’t have been moved,” he said. “Says on account of him being jostled around like he was, the bleeding became more severe. Guess, Ben is taking the blame for that, as well–”

“No,” Rain whispered, finding it too hard to speak properly in his condition. “Wasn’t Ben who moved him. It was Baxster. Ben even told him to leave him alone until the ambulance could get there.”

This news seemed to annoy Red. He settled his hat back on his head and offered Rain a piercing stare with his light blue eyes. “If in that is true,” he said, “then this whole thing appears to be a snow job to set the blame on Ben. God damn! That pisses me off! You and I both know Long Soldier is a good man!”

Rain leaned back against the soft cushion of the chair. “There you go,” he muttered, softly, “with the you and I again.”

A few minutes later, Chris walked out of the ER, being careful not bump his cast against the double doors as they swung open.

Rain felt relief wash over him that his little brother seemed to be okay. There he stood almost a carbon copy of himself, small, slender, long unruly hair, only Rain’s was raven black and hung just past his shoulders, while Chris’s white-blond hair hung to his collar.

Must be on pain-killers, Rain thought as Chris walked up to him, grinning. “Want to be the first to sign my cast, Rain?” he asked.

“Sure,” Rain said, pulling himself to his feet and looking directly into Chris’s glazed yes. Yep! he thought. Someone has him all doped up! He’s feeling no pain!

Red offered Chris his seat. “Here you go, son,” the old rancher said. But Chris, much like Rain, did not care for the man on account of him killing that horse last summer.

“No, thanks, Red,” Chris said, not in total disrespect because that just wasn’t in the kid’s nature. “We’ll be leaving soon as Dad sets Sheriff Baxster straight.”

Red peered coldly at the ER doors now standing closed before them. “What did the Sheriff want with you, son?” he asked.

It wasn’t Chris who answered him, however, as Chase and Baxster came bursting out through the swinging ER doors. “All I needed was information from the kid, Chase!” growled Baxster. “So far, I’ve got Long Soldier being responsible for the crash due to his intoxication. Then there’s that Morris kid, dead because of rapid blood loss! If your boy might add something more to what happened out there, perhaps Judge Saunders won’t throw the book at the Indian come Monday morning in court!”

Chase wheeled around to face the big, brawny Sheriff, and Baxster took a step back in sudden alarm. For a moment, Rain thought his dad was going to perform an ass-whooping on the overweight Baxster. He could clearly see that Baxster thought so, too, as his hand dropped to the butt of the pistol holstered at his ample waist.

Chase glanced down at the meaty hand of Baxster as he fumbled with the strap holding his pistol in place. “Oh, knock this shit off, Clyde,” the ex-president of the Outlaws said. “I’m not a threat to you, but I can see, though, I made my point. My boys are not answering anymore of your questions.”

It was Red who caused both big men to turn the tension down a notch as he said, “Let your boys tell this redneck sum bitch what they know of this so-called accident, Chase. Any thing they can do to clear Long Soldier of wrong doing is a win in our favor.”

The lanky old cowboy gestured at Rain, saying, “Seems there’s some discrepancy over who moved the Morris kid and got his leg to bleed so badly. Maybe if this idiot of a Sheriff heard the whole story from Rain’s point of view, he might have a different take on things. Maybe even clear Long Soldier of these ridiculous charges.”

Red glanced over one bony shoulder at Rain. “Go on, tell your Dad what you told me just now, son.”

Rain opened his mouth to speak, but Chase snapped, “Not a word, Rain! Not one damned word, got it?”

“But, Dad,” Rain said, “this whole thing about Ben drinking is a lie. Ben doesn’t drink, ever. He’s been sober for ten years.”

Chase narrowed his eyes. “Rain?” he sternly said. “You and Chris get yourselves out to the car!”

He snapped his fingers and lifted one thick arm to point toward the clinic’s doors. Chris immediately walked toward the doors, but Rain stood his ground for one long minute, holding a stare down with Chase. The large ex-biker president offered his son a fiery glare, and Rain turned and followed his little brother.

As he approached Chris standing there holding one of the doors open for him, he heard Red snap, “What the hell’s your problem, Chase? Who put a bur under your saddle? Last summer you were all for my Indian working with your boys, and now look at you, refusing to help clear him of any wrong doing? Why?”

And as the doors swung closed behind them, Chris and Rain heard their dad mutter, “I’ve got my reasons, Red. Reasons that don’t concern you and your Indian.”