Chapter Eleven Wings like Eagles

Chapter Eleven

Hidden behind the fence, Chris’s eyes went wide and he anxiously said, “Dad’s headed for the house, Rain!”

Rain nodded. He gestured at Chris to take Bandit and run across the open area between the fence and the Weston’s backyard. Snatching up Bandit’s leash, Chris darted toward the yard. Rain was quick to follow, hoping none of the Outlaws spotted him as he did so.

It was as they covered the last twenty feet around to the front door of their own house that the thunder of several bikes caused Chris to skid to a halt. Bandit, in full run-mode, nearly broke his leash as he catapulted back into Rain’s legs and sent them both sprawling to the ground. “Bikes coming up the road!” Chris cried.

Pulling himself to his feet, Rain peered in alarm at Daws Roberts and a dozen Guardians coming up the road toward the Nelson.

“What are we going to do about Cal?” Chris asked.

Rain muttered, “I don’t know!”

Bandit barked a fierce warning to the bikers pulling up in the street. A moment later, Chase came from around the side of the house as Daws and his men killed their bikes.

Into the sudden silence, Daws said, “We found my brother’s hog in front of the store down the street. Any idea where he is, Chase?”

Chase began to respond when Denny and several Outlaws came running from around the side of the house, none of them pleased to see members of their rival gang parked there in the street.

Denny snarled, “You’re not welcome here, Daws! You’re trespassing, and what’s more, you interrupted our session of church! Now start up those bikes and get the hell out of here!”

Chase reached out, placing a massive hand on Denny’s skinny shoulder. “Turn it down a notch, son,” he commanded.

And Rain and Chris standing close by heard him mutter beneath his breath, “Didn’t you hear a goddamned thing I said at the fire?”

“I don’t care!” Denny snapped, glaring down at his dad’s hand still clamped onto his shoulder. “I ain’t shaking in terror at his goddamned threat! Daws can just go to hell!”

Chase removed his hand, a dark glower coming to his face.

“Denny!” snapped Mike Shade as he joined them in front of the house. “Show your dad the respect he deserves!”

Daws and his Guardians sat there smirking and unafraid as thirty
more members of the Outlaws came around the house led by Doug.

“Oh, shit!” Chris whispered. “There’s gonna be one helluva fight!”

Rain whispered back, “Daws has no right trespassing into Sprague. The night that he and Mike fought, Mike’s settled the dispute as to the border the Guardians could no longer cross. Daws and his bikers are clearly out of line riding so boldly into our town.”

In light of all he had heard his dad say at the fire, Rain was wondering just how Mike was going to deal with this infraction, without bringing a full-scale war to the Outlaws.

“I am looking for my brother,” Daws told Mike. “I told him not to come here, but imagine he came to talk to Chase and his two boys about that damned unfortunate bus wreck that took place out near Miller’s Pond this afternoon.”

Mike took his place beside Chase. “Just what does your brother have to do with Chase, his boys, and that bus wreck, Daws?”

Knowing he’d said too much, Daws shrugged. “Don’t know, other than the fact that Cal doesn’t agree with that Indian’s story he’s been feeding the Sheriff down at the jail. Before things spiral out of control, I imagine Cal just wanted to wanted to make sure these boys had it straight in their heads as to what actually happened.”

Mike folded his arms before his chest and firmly said, “We don’t owe that Indian anything. We don’t much care what happens to him, but . . .” he paused, long enough to scan the faces of the thirteen Guardians before him, then said, “But if Cal came here uninvited, unannounced, he’s clearly out of line. If he was anyone other than your brother who pulled such a stunt, how would you deal with him?”

Daws shrugged his shoulders again. “You talking consequences?” he asked, a furrow creasing his brow.

Mike nodded. “I am,” he said.

Daws had just opened his mouth to respond when suddenly from inside the house came, “Daws? Is that you, Daws?”

Mike and the rest of the Outlaws wheeled around to see Cal hobbling toward the front screen door as he struggled to free himself from the clothesline. He gave one clumsy lurch forward, hurtled himself into the door, and he and the screen came exploding out onto the front porch. He crashed to the wooden boards with a loud crunch.
Taking one look at the bright red blood trickling down Cal’s face, Daws leaped off his bike and passed through the crowd of Outlaws to reach his brother sprawled on the porch.

“What the hell happened to you, Cal?” Daws snarled, his enraged glare settling directly on Chase.

“I don’t have a clue,” Chase said, “as to what this is about.”

“He broke into the house, Dad!” cried Chris, stepping forward to approach the porch. “He had a knife to Bandit’s neck! He was going to kill him if we didn’t listen to what he had to say! Rain beaned him with the frying pan! We were going to tell you about it after church!”

Chase stood there, looking at Chris and Rain, a dark scowl coming to his bearded features. “Not that my boys would lie,” he growled, softly, “but is this true, Cal? Whatever you had to say to them was that important that you threatened to kill their dog?”

Untangling his hands with the help of Daws, Cal staggered to his feet, saying, “It wasn’t like that–wasn’t how they said it–wasn’t how it happened–I swear–”

“Bullshit!” Rain blurted, passing between Doug and Denny as he joined Chris and Bandit on the porch. “You’re a liar! You’re lying now and you lied about Ben Long Soldier being drunk! It was you who caused that damned crash! You were the one who was drunk!”

Daws and Cal Roberts stood frozen as the Outlaws closed a tight circle before them. In desperation, Daws called out, “Chase? You best call off the dogs! If this goes one step further, the end of the Outlaws will be soon to follow! I swear!”

Denny made a lunge, his fist cutting air an inch from Cal’s nose as Doug latched onto his wiry brother and swung him around to keep him from connecting with Cal. “Denny!” Doug grunted, straining with the effort to hold him back. “Stop! Stop, now!”

“But,” Denny cried, his one arm held by Doug and his other pinned to his side by Mike, “we can’t just let something like this go! This crosses a line in so many ways! How can we let this go?”

Rain could see that Denny had tears in his eyes as he expressed his rage at the injustice of it all. He struggled in the grasp of Doug and Mike, trying with all of his strength to break free. “Mike? Dad? How can you just let him go after knowing what he put Rain and Chris through? This ain’t right!”

At the sudden crunching of gravel behind the mob of Outlaws, Chase turned around to see that the twelve Guardians who had ridden in with Daws had placed their kick stands down, preparing to back their president if the need arose. Things were about to turn ugly real fast. Yes, the Guardians were badly outnumbered. Yes, they would suffer greatly if they persisted. And later the Outlaws would pay the ultimate consequence, for Daws would certainly make his phone call.

Chase surmised as he watched the face-off taking place with the Guardians in the street and the Outlaws gathered in his yard, that the bad coming their way was inevitable. If it didn’t happen after this violent altercation, it would somewhere down the line.

He decided to take the matter out of the hands of Mike and his sons, hoping to place the burden on himself, hoping to shift the blame for what was going to happen in the near future on him, only on him.

“Stand down!” Chase thundered, causing the Outlaws between him and Guardians in the street to glance back at him in puzzlement. “Let them go!” he commanded, brooking no nonsense from any of the biker mob taking up his front yard. “Mike? Doug? Keep a muzzle on Denny, and make room for Daws and Cal to walk off that porch.”

Daws sighed in relief, “Smart move, Chase! You’re smarter than you look! Saved your club a world of hurt, for sure!”

The big golden-haired biker president led his brother off the porch and wove his way in between the enraged Outlaws reluctant to let them go freely on their way. Alarmed by their angry glares, Cal placed one hand on his brother’s shoulder as Daws muscled his way through the crowd. It was just as the two Roberts’ brothers passed in front of him that Chase reached out and latched onto the front of Cal’s blood-stained T-shirt. Daws turned quite suddenly and tried to pry Chase’s hand off of his brother. “Think again,” he said, “before you do something stupid here, Chase!”

Chase struck so fast that Daws found himself landing hard on his ass that created a furrow in the deep gravel of the street where he had skidded to a stop, blood running from his busted nose.

“You’ve got a choice to make,” Chase said, his hand locking once more on Cal’s T-shirt. He took a moment to glance back at Rain and Chris. “You can go directly to Sheriff Baxster’s office and confess your sins, getting those false charges on the Indian dismissed. Or suffer my wrath for dealing so foully with my boys. You’ve got five seconds to decide. Starting now.”

Cal pulled back, squirming to free himself from Chase’s iron-like grip. “I ain’t saying shit to the Sheriff!” he snapped.

“That was fast,” Chase said, matter of factly.

He then let loose with a flurry of punches that sent Cal catapulting off his feet. He landed heavily beside his brother, falling on his tail-bone and then sprawling flat on his back, out cold and down for the count due to Chase’s brutal assault.

Daws groaned as his brother jarred him with his dramatic landing, causing his hand over his profusely bleeding nose to come away from his face.

He grunted, “You’re gonna pay for this, you cold-hearted bastard!”

To which Chase said, “Yes, I suppose I am.”

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.”