I found an old childhood sweetheart and through Facebook have reconnected after 30 years. She inspired me to write this.
Just a thought in my head.
Sorry I have been away for so long. I have been trying to write this western story bouncing around in my head and time slipt away from me. Hope to be done soon so I can go back to my ranting old self..lol
“You’ll be Sorry!”
Copyright 2012 John Anthony Miller
No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher. Exception is made for short excerpts used in reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to persons living or dead is coincidental. This published work may not be used in any form except with permission from the Author
Thanks to my friends, including Samantha Fury and Mary C. Findley for all their help, support and encouragement in making this book a reality.
“You’ll be sorry!”
It was like any normal day in the small town of Englewood, Kansas on this early fall morning. The temperature outside was not real cold as Mark stood there with his morning coffee. It was just cold enough so he could see the vapor coming from his coffee cup. Lisa opened the door so Herman could go outside with Mark. He stood there watching Herman run around the back yard.
Herman. Funny name for a dog. But Lisa loved that dog. He thought back to the first day they had met Herman.
They sat at the kitchen table. Mark worked on a model airplane and Lisa did some work for the bank. Lisa was in deep thought as she looked in the direction of the back yard through the glass doors. Lightning flashed. She saw a dog sitting on the porch.
“I think there is a dog on the porch.”
Mark saw the dark shape. “Yes, we got a stray out there.”
Lisa headed over to the sliding glass door with Mark in tow. They slid the door open and there sat a stray dog.
“Aw, the poor thing. Can we keep him?”
“Now, Lisa, we talked about getting a dog later on.”
“”How about just for the night? Besides, it’s raining.”
“Come on, honey.” The dog looked at Lisa, then at Mark, and headed inside the house. They didn’t have any dog food and she figured the dog was hungry.
“Mark, can you go into town and get him some dog food? I know it’s just for the night, but he looks like he could eat…”
“Ok.” Mark got his jacket and walked out the door. Lisa got a towel and started to dry the dog. The stray had a distinguished look about him and was a good-sized dog, around eighty to a hundred pounds. He had a long snout and black hair, kind of long, with brown spots that went down from his head, over to one side, and down to his back. They knew he was part German Shepard and something else. But after they decided to keep the dog and took him to the vet even he couldn’t figure it out. It didn’t make a difference to Lisa.
When Mark arrived back home from the dog food run, he saw Lisa rubbing down the dog with a towel. “He doesn’t clean up that bad.”
“No, he doesn’t, but I think he has been hit by a car.”
“Why do you say that?”
“‘Cause when I was drying his back leg, he kind of got tense. He didn’t growl at me, but you could sense he didn’t want you to mess with it. I didn’t see any new injuries with all this hair. Maybe something happened when he was pup. Who knows?”
Mark got a bowl down from the cabinet and poured the dog some food. The dog headed over to it.
As they watched the dog eat Lisa looked up at Mark and said, “I want to keep him.”
“Only for one night though, right?”
“No, I want to keep him forever.”
Mark knew better to argue with her. She was stubborn! “You got a feeling, don’t you?”
“Yes, I got a feeling. He is a special dog.”
“Ok, then, do you have an idea what you’re going to name him?”
“Without any hesitation, Lisa said, “Herman.”
Mark just smiled. “Herman it is.”
Even after all these years he never could figure out where she got the name. She just called him Herman. As Mark stood there drinking his coffee and watching Herman, he thought back to when he had moved to Englewood.
He had been eight years old. At first Mark didn’t like the move. He’d been happy in Missouri with his friends and family. The move was only 170 miles from Missouri, but to an eight-year-old boy it might as well have been to the moon. His dad had gotten a new job offer in Englewood, so he packed Mark up and moved. Mark’s mom had died when he was two, killed by a drunk driver one night. Mark had been strapped in the back seat when the accident happened.
He missed his mom, even though he had really never got to know her. Mark was raised mainly by his aunt Sarah from his mother’s side because Mark’s dad was always busy with work. Aunt Sarah played with Mark and taught him right from wrong. She raised him as her own. The day they left for Englewood he gave Aunt Sarah a hug and got in the car to leave. As they pulled away he could not stop the tears from rolling down his face. As Mark watched Aunt Sarah slowly fade into the distance, all Mark’s dad could say was, “You’ll make new friends, son.”
“Thank you, baby.” Lisa poured him more coffee and watched Herman for a minute, then went back inside the house. Mark thought back to what his dad had said as they had left Missouri when he was eight years old. His dad was surely correct about making new friends in Englewood because he had met Lisa. Not only were they best friends growing up, but they also got married at age of twenty.
Lisa was only four months older than Mark. When he made comments about her being his “old lady,” Lisa just laughed about it. The day he met Lisa had changed his life forever. Being the new kid in town was rough on Mark. He didn’t have any friends, and the really bad part was he didn’t know the local bullies in town. He was walking home from school one day down by the old creek bed when the Jenkins boys showed up. Sam was thirteen and Bobby was ten.
They stopped Mark and Sam shouted, “Hey, what are you doing here?”
“I’m — I’m on my way home,” Mark said with a tremble in his voice.
“Not this way,” said Sam Jenkins, and pushed Mark down in the creek bed.
Mark just sat there for a moment. He wanted to fight the boys but two against one was not a fair fight. Sam was the oldest and outweighed Mark by at least fifty pounds. Bobby was a little smaller than Sam, but still had a size advantage over Mark. Just as Mark stood up and was about to try and walk past the boys, Sam pushed him down again with a scowl.
“I said you were not getting past us.” Sam began to laugh. Just as Mark stood up again he heard a voice come from behind him.
“Leave him alone!”
What now? He turned and noticed a small girl standing there.
She was about Mark’s age, eight or so, standing there pointing her finger at Sam and Bobby Jenkins. Sam just scowled at her and then they both laughed. “What are you going to do about it?”
What happened next was a shock even to an eight-year-old boy. She said, “You’ll be sorry.”
Mark was in awe of this little girl staring down two big bullies. The little girl just started skipping around the creek bed, humming to herself and doing a kind of a dance routine, not really looking at the boys.
She would stop, pick up a rock, hold it for a minute, drop it, then pick up another rock and drop it. Even Mark was wondering what was going on with her. She slowed her dance down. The last rock she picked up, though, she didn’t drop.
She held it in her hand, looked at the Jenkins boys again, and asked, “You going to leave him alone?”
Sam laughed again. “No.”
To this day Mark couldn’t believe what happened next. The little girl drew back her arm with a sideways motion and flung the rock at Sam. He heard the thump as the rock hit Sam right between the eyes.
“Wow,” Mark thought. Sam dropped to the ground. Bobby just stood there in awe. She leaned down and picked up another rock. “It’s one-on-one, now.” Mark jumped at Bobby and knocked him off balance. As Bobby fell back, Mark jumped on him and began hitting Bobby in the face wildly.
Sam started to get up. The little girl smiled at him and said,“You’ll be sorry!” Sam stood up but didn’t make a move toward the little girl. He leaned over and pulled Mark off Bobby. Mark stopped his attack. The two Jenkins boys stood there trying to figure out what just happened. An eight-year-old boy and a little girl had just got the best of them.
Sam looked at Mark and the little girl and said, “You will see us again.”
“You’ll be sorry again,” the little girl answered. The two Jenkins boys took off over the field.
Mark sat up. “Thanks for the help.”
“You’re welcome,” the little girl smiled.
“My name is Mark. What’s yours?”
“I just want to thank you again.”
“No problem. You’re new around here?”
“Yeah, my dad and I moved here about a week ago. I am learning the town and all.”
“Well, you just met the town bullies.”
“How did you learn to throw rocks like that?”
Back in high school and college my dad was a baseball pitcher. He wanted a boy but got me instead.
“Boy or girl that was a good throw! Can I walk you home?”
She smiled. “Maybe I should walk you home. The Jenkins boys may not be too happy with you right now.”
Mark looked at her in disbelief. “I can take care of myself.”
“I know you can, but let’s not take any chances. Besides, the Jenkins boys better not come after you again.”
“Why is that?”
“Because I will tell everyone in town that you took them both on and won. That would be embarrassing for them.”
“You would do that?”
“Why not? Who would believe a girl can throw rocks like that?”
Mark laughed. “Yeah, who would believe that?”
Mark and Lisa had become great friends. In the springtime when the lake was still at its highest, Lisa would take him down to the lake and skip rocks across it. Lisa wouldn’t just pick up any rock. It had to be perfect, the size and shape; how it felt in her hand. Lisa told Mark stories about her dad’s pitching abilities and about the trophies he had gotten in school.
“My dad would have made the pros, but he wanted to stay home with me instead of traveling the country, missing me growing up.” He still taught her how to throw a baseball, even though Lisa preferred rocks. Mark could remember going to Lisa’s softball games in high school. Lisa was a really good pitcher.
Herman wound down and sat beside Mark’s chair as he drank his coffee on the porch. Mark reached down to pet him on the head and thought back to the fact that he had never heard from the Jenkins boys again. Rumor had it that someone told the truth about that day. Their dad got real mad that his boys got whipped by two eight-year-olds, one being a girl. The Jenkins boys got into trouble later on in life.
At sixteen Sam robbed a liquor store in the next town over and was sent away to juvenile detention. When Sam got out from juvie he robbed another store, got caught, and was sent to prison. Bobby was just plain mean and was sent to live with his uncle in Texas, his dad maybe hoping that living down there would change him. Their mom took off when Sam was nine and Bobby six. She just couldn’t take the old man slapping her around ’cause of his drinking and couldn’t do anything with the boys. She didn’t want to leave the boys, but Sam and Bobby’s dad gave her no choice. Their dad couldn’t raise the boys by himself.
Mark got up from his chair and opened the door. “Let’s go, Herman.” Herman got up and went thru the door over to Lisa, who sat at the kitchen table. She reached down and petted him on the head. Herman did a few circles, and then lay down next to Lisa. Mark was making his way over to the sink to rinse out his coffee cup.
“Babe, would you mind getting Herman a chewy bone?”
“Sure.” Mark moved over to the other side of the kitchen to the cabinet where Lisa kept Herman’s treats.
Herman sat up, and then took off running. Mark heard Herman’s toenails clicking across the wood floor. Mark opened the box and handed a bone to Herman. Herman snatched it, ran over to Lisa, and lay down again, making quick work of the chewy bone.
“Anything new and exciting happening at the bank?” Mark sat down with Lisa at the kitchen table.
“No. Oh wait! I forgot. David is coming in to the bank today.”
“Oh, really? What time is he coming by?”
Lisa thought. “I know it’s after lunch today.”
Mark remembered back to when he first met David. He was seventeen and doing work around town for people. Even though his dad had made him an offer at the plant he worked at, Mark had said, “Thanks, but I’ll get something.” Jobs in town were hard to come by. So he did what he could for money. Mark was real good with engines and such. Even though auto body wasn’t offered in school he still had away with mechanical things.
Word had spread through Englewood and neighboring towns of his talents. One day he was in the next town over, about fifteen miles from Englewood. He was working on Miss Johnson’s riding lawnmower that day. He had been out to her house before. He would fix it and week or so later she would call him up to fix it again. Miss Johnson was hell on wheels! She would speed around her yard and run over rocks and things. One time she bent the blades, so Mark fixed them for her. This time, though, she bent the shaft on it. Mark was still able to repair it for her. She paid him for the work. Before he left he decided he was going to try and help her out.
He took a walk around her yard, picking up the rocks and debris so maybe she wouldn’t break her lawnmower again. One rock he picked up, looked at it for a minute, and slipped it into his pocket. He heard a noise and saw a small crop-dusting plane flying overhead. Mark stood there for a moment and watched it. He had always loved airplanes. In his spare time he built models. Only when it didn’t take time away from Lisa, of course.
Mark watched the little plane get lower and lower. He realized it was going to land nearby. Since Miss Johnson was his last job for the day and Lisa was busy with her dad, he got into his car and headed toward where the plane was landing. He drove a few miles and looked over to his left. The little plane had landed and was taxiing over to what looked like a barn. Mark pulled up a safe distance from the plane and waited as the pilot shut off the engine and climbed out of it. Once the pilot was out he noticed the man was in his late forties or early fifties, a tall man, about the same height as Mark, six feet two easy.
The man started walking over to Mark and asked, “May I help you, son?”
“I’m just out here admiring your plane.”
“You must be bored, son, if you’re admiring that old thing.”
Mark chuckled. “It’s still a plane though.
“Yes that it is.”
“My name is Mark.” He reached out to shake the man’s hand.
“Glad to meet you, Mark, I’m David.” David had been in the Navy most of his life. He had flown F14’s and F18’s. Mark was impressed by David’s accomplishments. David had retired from the navy and started a small crop-dusting business. “I like to fly, so why not do it for myself?”
Mark and David stood there talking for minute. “You have any more planes”?
“I have two more in there.” Mark asked if he could see them. “Sure, follow me.” In the barn sat another crop dusting plane and what looked to be an old T6 Texan. The T6 Texan was a World War II training plane.
“Do they fly?”
“Well, the crop duster flies but the T6 won’t.” Mark asked him why. “Beats me. I got it at some auction years ago but I’ve never gotten it to fly. All the cables and such worked. It has fuel in it. When it starts up it just sounds like it’s not running on all cylinders.”
“Mind if I take a look?”
David just stood there for a moment. He didn’t seem sure of what to say. Mark knew he must be thinking, I’ve never met this kid before, and he wants to go messing with my airplane. “Ok kid; let’s see what you can do.”
Mark was just in awe of this airplane. He asked David to fire the engine up. Smoke bellowed out of the exhaust system as the engine began to turn over. Mark stood there just listening to the motor turning over. He yelled at David to turn it off. David did so and the propellers slowly wound down to a stop.
“Can I take off this panel?”
Mark asked David for a stepladder so he could climb up to reach the panel. As Mark removed the panel to get better access to the engine he could see that David was still a little nervous. Mark took off the last bolt and asked David if he could take the panel from him. David took it.
“Do you have a small flashlight?”
David walked over to a workbench, rummaged around some, and then returned with a small flashlight.
“Thanks.” After making sure it worked correctly Mark wiped the back end of the light with his shirt, and then he stuck it in his mouth so he would have both hands free to feel around the engine compartment. He glanced at David, saw Smart kid written on the older man’s face, and grinned.
“Got a piece of wire?”
David looked worried again but said, “Ok.” He walked back over to the workbench. “How big a piece you need?”
“Oh about a foot will do it.” David cut the wire and handed it up. Mark reached down into his pocket. He felt the rock he had put there earlier, and then found his small pocketknife. He spliced both ends of the wire and made a connection he knew David wouldn’t be able to see.
Mark stepped down off the ladder. “Try it now.”
“Ok, it’s your show.”
David climbed back into the cockpit and flipped on the start switch. The engine began to turn over and the smoke wasn’t as bad as the last time. David gave the engine more fuel and before you knew it the smoke stopped and the motor was running fine. Not a miss to it at all. Mark just stood there listening to the engine.
David gave it more fuel and had it revved up almost to take-off speed. The only problem with that was, David had lots of papers on his so-called “desk.” The paper starting flying around the barn like mad. Mark shouted at David and pointed at all the debris flying around the barn.
David shook his head and yelled back, “Yeah, I see it.” Mark heard the engine throttle back. David shut it down. As David climbed out of the cockpit he had a grin on his face. “Boy, I don’t know what you did, but she has never sounded like that before.”
Mark chuckled, “Ah, it was an easy fix.”
“What did you do?”
“Just replaced a broke wire from the magneto to the cylinder head.”
“I’ll be damned. How did you know how to look for it?”
“That just sounded like the problem to me.”
“Do you live around here?”
“No, I live in Englewood.”
“Do you have a job, son?”
“I work on different jobs as a handy man.”
“Well, I can give you a job for now. How would you like to help me fix up that old plane for air shows?”
“Yep. Been wanting to do that for years now. Just need help on it. I can’t pay you a lot, but it would be worth your time.”
Mark looked at the old airplane and smiled. “You got a deal.” he said, “but I want a bonus when we’re done.”
“Yes, when we’re done, you have to teach me how to fly it.”
“Son, you have a deal.” The two shook hands.
As Mark sat there with Lisa at the kitchen table he thought of how David and he had fixed up that old World War II plane for air shows and had become great friends, though David was more of a father figure to Mark than a friend. When Lisa and Mark got married, there was David, sitting in the front row at their wedding. Lisa would invite David over for dinner. David would accept. They would laugh and talk the night away. She became fond of David. She was impressed by how David was a man of his word.
After they got done with the Texan, David taught Mark how to fly it, just like he said he would. Not only to fly the Texan but the crop dusters also. He helped Mark get his pilot’s license. Then he told Mark he was done crop dusting. So he sold the business to Mark and retired. He sold Mark the planes and the so-called barn hanger he had. David did keep the Texan for air shows, but he still let Mark fly it during the off-season.
Mark missed David when he was out on tour with it. That was why, when Lisa told him David was coming by the bank today, he had to see him. Mark got up from the kitchen table and said, “I’m going to take a shower before I leave home.”
“I already took mine, so go ahead.”
“You taking Herman in with you today?”
“Don’t I always?” Most people would think a dog at a bank would be strange, but Herman was up in age. He mainly sat beside Lisa’s desk on a blanket she had made up for him and just watched people come and go all day long. Since Englewood was a small town and all, Herman knew most of the patrons that frequented the bank. He just watched with no interest. Lisa got away with Herman being there because she was the bank manager.
Lisa didn’t start out that way. She had applied for a teller’s job when she seventeen. She graduated high school that spring before she turned eighteen and the bank hired her as a teller. She worked hard at her job, never missed a day, so when she was nineteen they offered her a job as a loan officer. She still worked hard and when Mr. Adams, the long-time bank manager, retired, she got the full-time job as manager and never looked back since. She was twenty-one when she got that position. Lisa, now in her thirties, had carte blanche as manager so Herman wasn’t a problem.
Mark got out of the shower and yelled to Lisa, “I have to go and get some parts for one of the planes this morning.”
Lisa yelled back, “It’s no problem. I’ll drive myself to work.” One of the planes needed a cable replaced on the rudder control system. He had to drive almost to Kansas City to get the part. It would take four hours round trip. So he would be back at the bank in time to see David in the afternoon.
“You going to drive the pickup truck to get your part?”
“No, I don’t trust it to go that far.” David had also sold Mark the old work truck he had, along with the planes.
“Oh, I see,” said Lisa, “you want an excuse to drive the Trans Am today. I see how you are.”
“No, dear, it’s not like that at all.” Mark got dressed for his trip for his parts. As he walked past Lisa he gave her a kiss and scratched Herman behind the head. He took the keys off a hook and headed toward the garage.
Lisa looked up. “You really didn’t need an excuse to drive the Trans Am. I know you love that car.”
Mark smiled. “Not as much as I love you.” She smiled back.
Mark opened the garage door and walked over to a covered vehicle inside. He pulled back the car cover and there she was, A 1974 Trans Am, metallic blue with a gold bird on the hood. It had a 455 engine and a four-speed transmission. He had gotten the car as a sixteenth-birthday present from his dad. Of course the car then wasn’t in the shape it was in now. Mark got into the car and switched the garage door open by remote control. Before he started the engine he thought about how the car looked now compared to how it looked when he first got it.
His dad had been on a business trip for the plant. On his drive he saw the car in a field out by the highway. He knew Mark wanted a car and that Mark had a talent for engine work, so he bought the car for him.
The paint was faded. The bird decal on the hood was peeling off. The engine had seen better days. But to Mark, at sixteen years old, it was freedom.
The car had run decent enough for its age but it smoked a lot. The main problem was the valve guide seals were bad. Mark figured this was because the car had just sat there so long in the field.
After a few parts here and there, Mark got it to stop smoking. The only problem Mark had was that at the age of sixteen, money was tight, so he couldn’t afford a lot of the parts he needed. He drove the car anyway and took Lisa along a lot of the time. As long as she was with Mark, it didn’t matter to Lisa what she rode in. Mark drove the car for a few years. Eventually he got more money from his work and bought something newer, but he still kept the Trans Am. The crop dusting business had been good, and Lisa had been made bank manager, so he finally had gotten together the money to fix the old girl up.
Mark rebuilt the engine himself. He gave it more horsepower and rebuilt the four-speed transmission. At mechanical he was ok, but not at paint and body. David, however, knew a man in the next town over who was good in that department, so he introduced Mark to him and they made a deal on the paint and bodywork. He painted the Trans Am a metallic blue with silver ground effects. Mark had to order all the decals and the man put those on also. David did the interior work for Mark, and then she was done.
Mark reached down and turned the key. The engine fired up immediately and purred like a kitten. Mark stepped down on the accelerator, watched the tachometer go up, pushed in the clutch, put the Trans Am in reverse, and started backing out the driveway. As Mark backed down the driveway he wanted to do a burn out in front of the house, but Lisa did get on to him the last time he did it. He just smiled, put the car in first and took off for his parts.
Lisa finished her bookkeeping at the kitchen table. She looked at her watch, looked at Herman and asked, “You ready for work, Herman?” Herman began to wag his tail. Lisa led Herman out to the garage and into her Nissan Altima. Lisa liked the Trans Am but she preferred to drive her Altima. The trip to the bank was only a fifteen-minute drive. Englewood only had four red lights, and downtown wasn’t that long. She made it there at her usual 8:45am time. After all, she was the bank manager and couldn’t afford to be late.
Lisa pulled into the bank parking lot and shut her engine off. Herman seemed to be excited. She opened the door of the Altima and Herman jumped out and headed for the front door of the bank. Lisa cried out, “Hey, slow down. Wait for me.” She reached the front door and unlocked it. As she turned the knob to unlock the door she noticed the alarm didn’t go off. Normally when she did this the bank alarm went off for thirty seconds till she reset the code inside the bank, but for some reason it didn’t do that.
She opened the door and Herman jumped in the bank first and headed to his blanket. Lisa walked over to the other side of the bank and checked the control box on the wall. It said all systems were working normally. The alarm system of the bank had not been upgraded since Lisa was first hired as a teller. She walked to her desk and looked in her Rolodex for the alarm company to call about the alarm. She wanted to make sure it was working properly. She wasn’t too worried. This is Englewood. Who would want to rob us?
The bank door opened and Amy walked in. “Good morning, Lisa.”
“Good morning to you, too.” Herman got up from his blanket. He wandered over to Amy at the teller stand and peeked around the corner.
“I see you, Herman.” Herman responded with a tail wag. The bank door opened again and Janice walked in.
“Morning, Herman.” Herman met Janice halfway across the lobby. She reached down and petted him on the head. As Janice walked to her workstation she noticed Herman didn’t follow her over to it. Instead he just sat there, staring out the bank door. Janice put her purse in her desk but Herman still sat there.
“Something wrong with Herman, Lisa?” she asked.
Lisa stood up. Herman’s ears and the hair on the back of his neck stood up and he just sat there, staring out the bank door.
“Herman, you ok, honey?” Lisa shouted. At first Herman didn’t respond. Lisa called him again. “Herman, come here.” Herman sat there for a minute, then stood up and walked back to his blanket. Lisa wondered what was wrong with him. Maybe a stray cat was out there or something. Lisa looked around her desk for some papers she needed to get finished for some customers. Then she saw the rock. It was a rock that Mark had given her on her eighteenth birthday.
He had found the rock when he was doing one of his handyman jobs for Miss Johnson. He had picked it up when he was cleaning up her yard. The rock was special to Lisa. It reminded her of how when they were kids they would go to the lake and skip rocks across it. This rock was special because Mark had sanded it down to a smooth finish. He had painted the rock a bright red. He had clear-coated it. In white letters he had painted an “I”, then a heart, then a “U”, and clear-coated it again. It was Mark’s way of saying he loved her.
She picked up the rock and held it. A good rock, she thought. I could get some distance with this one. It was special, so she had just kept it all these years. She placed the rock back on her desk.
Mark was making great time on his parts run. The speed limit on the highway was seventy and he was pushing that to its limit. He wanted to make sure that he was back in time to meet David. Mark got off at the airport exit and turned left, back over the freeway. He was hoping there wouldn’t be too much traffic going in and out of the airport. He didn’t mind the drive to get his parts, but he always wondered why they would never ship them to his house or to the bank in Englewood. He did have to custom-order these parts because the planes he owned were so old, but they were still in great working condition.
He pulled into the parking lot of the small aviation company and shut down the engine. As Mark walked along toward the hanger he looked over at the planes sitting on the tarmac, mostly Cessnas, a few piper cubs. He stopped to get a closer look at the plane of his dreams. It was a bright yellow crop duster. Mark just shook his head. Maybe someday. In the hanger at the counter he told the clerk he was there to pick up some parts. The clerk asked the name. Mark replied, “Marisa Aviation.” Mark had named the business using part of his name and part of Lisa’s name.
Lisa has always supported him in his decisions. He wanted her to be part of the business also. When he had told her the business name, Lisa had smiled and said, “Thank You.”
The clerk went back through a set of double doors and returned a few minutes later with a huge box on a two-wheel dolly.
Shit. Shoulda drove the pick up or Lisa’s Altima. He wrote the man a check for the parts and the clerk wheeled the box out with Mark. As Mark walked back he had to slow his pace and take one more look at the yellow crop duster sitting there. He again shook his head and smiled. Maybe someday. He popped the trunk on the Trans Am.
The clerk said, “You’re joking, right?”
Mark just smiled and said, “Nope.” The clerk dropped the box and headed back to the hangar. Mark opened one end of the box to look inside. Luckily it was just rudder control cables and they used a much bigger box than needed. He took out the cable, laid them in the trunk and folds up the box, seeing a dumpster close by to dispose of the box.
Mark sat back in the Trans Am and started the engine. He looked down at his watch. I’ve got plenty of time to make it back to see David. He put the Trans Am in reverse, backed out of the parking spot, and sat there for a second.
Hmm, Lisa’s not here. He put the car in first revved it up to about 4,000 rpm and dropped the clutch. The rear tires spun, blue smoke flowed out from under them, and when the positraction rear end caught, the Trans Am sped away with a smile on Mark’s face.
Lisa was ready for the day. She was excited that David was coming by to see her and Mark. He used to email them on a regular basis about the air shows with the Texan, but then he got busy down in Texas and they had lost touch. She thought it had been two years now since they had seen him in person.
The bank door opened and in came in Miss Miller, dragging Tommy behind her as usual. Lisa thought Tommy was around six or seven. Miss Miller called last week to say that she would be coming by today. Tommy wanted to start his own savings account.
Lisa smiled at Tommy. He kind of hid behind his mom. Being a Monday morning in the middle of the month and all she figured it would be a slow day. Most people came into the bank around the first of the month or the last of the month, not in the middle.
Lisa looked at her watch. It was around 11:30 am. She was looking forward to seeing David. She poured herself a cup of coffee, smiled at Tommy again, and walked back to her desk. When Lisa had taken over as bank manager, within six months she had remodeled to advertise an open-door policy with the community. She had her office door removed and the wall taken down. A four-foot partition ran the length of the lobby. She could have some privacy but get her “open door” point across. Lisa did some paper work but looked up when she heard the door open.
“Oh, my God! David!” She ran around the small partition and gave David a big hug.
“Whoa, little lady.”
“My God, it’s so good to see you.”
David smiled. “Good to see you also. Where is Mark?”
“He is on his way back from a parts run and should be here shortly, I hope. I wouldn’t want to have to kill my husband for missing you.”
“I hope he didn’t take that old truck!”
“Please, you know what he is driving.”
“Oh, yeah, the Trans Am.”
“Please tell me what you’ve been up to.” Lisa and David sat at her desk and talked for about twenty minutes until Mark came through the door.
David stood. “Speak of the devil.”
“How ya been, old man?” Mark smiled.
Mark gave David a bear hug. Mark and David headed back toward Lisa’s desk.
“Oh no. You two stand over there and have your man talk.” The two men just laughed.
While David and Mark chatted Lisa said to Janice and Amy,” Do you two girls want to go to lunch together today?”
“Sure,” Janice and Amy agreed.
“It’s not busy here today and I got Mark here in case it gets to be.”
“You buying today, boss?” Amy grinned.
Lisa laughed. “Yeah, put it on the bank’s tab. I’m in a good mood today.”
The two girls gathered their purses and headed out the door. Lisa headed back to her desk. She could see the front door from there. If a customer came in she could get up easily and go to the teller window.
David and Mark were talking and didn’t notice that Herman started to sit up. Lisa didn’t notice it either till she heard the low growl.
“What is it, honey?” Two men came in the front door. One headed toward the teller desk while the other man stopped only about five feet inside the doorway. Lisa stood up to see better. By this time Herman’s growl had gotten louder and the hair on the back of his neck stood straight up. She motioned to Mark.
“What’s wrong?” Mark asked. She motioned with her head toward Herman. Mark could hardly believe what he saw. David stood still.
Lisa nodded in the direction of the man standing at the teller desk. If the feeling she had was wrong she would explain to the Sheriff. Lisa leaned slowly over and hit the silent alarm button on her desk. She didn’t take the time to look to see that the light didn’t turned red, showing the alarm was inactive.
Herman began to move slowly toward the man at the teller window, then sprang. He covered the twenty feet in record time. The man saw the dog coming at him but didn’t think an old dog could move so fast. Herman caught him dead in the chest and knocked him down. Herman was a big dog, eighty-five pounds at least.
Mark yelled, “Herman, no!”
The man at the front door pulled a large revolver from the small of his back.
Lisa yelled, “No!” The man pointed the gun at Herman but appeared to afraid that he would miss and hit the man being attacked.
“Call him off. Call the damn dog off.”
“Herman, come here. Herman, please, baby, come here.” Herman ignored Lisa and kept up his attack. He had already chewed the man’s arm up as he tried to fight him off. Herman let go of the man’s arm and tried to catch the man in the throat as he screamed in pain.
The man at the front door fired his gun in the air. Startled, Herman stopped his attack. The man by the teller window was still screaming in pain and writhing on the floor, bleeding badly from Herman’s rage.
The gunman aimed at Mark. “Call the damn dog off.”
Mark yelled for Herman but instead of coming to Mark, Herman began to make a wide circle between Mark and the man with the gun. Herman didn’t take his eyes off the man with the gun as he tried to get between them. All the while Mark and Lisa could see the rage in him building. They had never seen him act like this before. As Herman made his circle he closed the gap between himself and the man with the gun and leaped. The man tried to aim at Herman.
Lisa screamed, “No!” She reached down, picked up the rock on her desk, flung it at the man with the gun, and caught him in the side of the head. It stunned the man. His shot went wild. Herman caught the man, knocked him down, and started his attack. Mark tried to run over to Herman and help. Something tripped him up. David held his pant leg. Mark saw the red stain on David’s chest.
“Oh dear God,” he said. The wild shot had missed Herman but had caught David in the chest.
David said, “Don’t hurt them.”
Confused, Mark hesitated until he heard another shot and Herman’s yelp. The man had got a shot off that caught Herman in the hindquarters.
“You threw a rock at me,” the gunman snarled at Lisa.
“Please take the money and go. Please, you don’t want to be sorry for this.”
The man looks at Lisa in disgust and growled, “What did you say? You’ll be sorry?” The man leered at Lisa.
Wait I know you! You’re that little bitch with the rocks!”
“Sam? Sam Jenkins? Oh my God!” David still lay motionless on the floor. Mark glanced back at him.
Sam looked past Mark. “Uncle David!”
David didn’t respond. Mark started to slowly stand up. Sam saw the blood on David’s shirt.
“You made me shoot my uncle because of your damn rock, bitch!”
Sam’s next shot fired hit Lisa on the right side of her chest just below the shoulder.
“Noooo!” Lisa fell to the ground. Mark stood. “You bastard, you!”
Sam laughed. “I just shot your little girl friend. Now it’s your turn.”
“She is not my girlfriend, she is my wife.” Mark launched himself at Sam. Sam fired a shot at Mark that hit him in the arm but only grazed him.
He was just about to fire another shot when Herman leaned over and bit Sam on the Achilles tendon. Jerk. The shot went wide left. Mark hit Sam with all his force and knocked him down, full of rage for Sam shooting Lisa. Mark was on top of Sam pounding his fist in his face, his head, wherever he could inflict any pain. Sam caught Mark with a right cross and knocked him off balance for a moment.
Sam grabbed a handful of Mark’s hair and pulled him over, getting on top of Mark. He struck Mark in the face and just as Sam was about to hit Mark again Mark heard a shot. Sam’s head exploded and his body fell over to the side. David lay on the floor with a gun in his hands.
“Hang on, boy,” Mark said to Herman, who lay nearby, whining softly.
He rushed over to Lisa, lying behind her desk. “Lisa, Lisa!”
“I’m ok,” she groaned.
“Why, David?” Mark asked his old friend.
“So you’re the two kids that got the better of my nephews all those years ago. I never would have guessed it was you two.”
”Why, David?” Mark asked again.
“Their mother was my sister. She left the boys before you two had the rock incident. I was in the Navy. I was always away. I felt responsible for not being there when they needed me. Their dad was a piece of shit. When word got out about the rock throwing, he beat those boys every day. He said, “No one gets over a Jenkins.” Their dad found their mom and beat her up too. She killed herself shortly after. So I felt responsible. The boys found me in Texas at an air show. They said I owed them something.”
“We never told anyone about that day.”
“Bobby did. He always had a big mouth. They wanted money, so I thought they could rob the bank. I would be here so you two wouldn’t get hurt. I never dreamed it would happen like this.”
“How did you disable the alarm?”
“Remember how you fixed my plane?”
Mark thought a minute. “Yeah, a bad wire.”
“This bank is old and so is the wiring, so it was easy to bypass, a trick I learned from you.”
“I’m sorry, son. I never meant any harm. I just thought it would be an easy robbery and the boys would leave.” They heard the sirens approaching, getting louder as they got closer. “Mark, Lisa, please forgive me.”
The sirens stopped. Mark heard the bank door open and footsteps approaching. The Sheriff screamed, “Mark, Lisa, you all ok?”
“We need an ambulance here!” Mark looked down to David and realized he wasn’t breathing.
Mark started to cry. “Baby! Baby!” He said to Lisa.
“Yeah, I’m ok. It just hurts like hell.”
Mark smiled at her. Mark looked around the bank in disbelief. Sam lay dead by the door, shot by his uncle. David was dead beside Mark, shot by his nephew. Bobby rolled and screamed by the teller stand, in agony because of Herman’s attack.
The gurney arrived for Lisa…Paramedics strapped an oxygen mask to her face and put an IV in. As they headed toward the door, Lisa pulled off the mask and said, “Wait, stop! Herman, you have to take Herman.”
“We can’t take a dog to the hospital.”
Mark agreed.” No, Herman has to go also.”
They started to protest.
Lisa said, “You ever want to borrow money from this bank again, Shawn Scott, you’ll take Herman.”
They put Lisa in the ambulance and Mark set Herman inside the back door.
Mark sat by Lisa’s bedside for two straight days. Since the surgery for her gunshot wound she had been in and out of it. Luckily it was a through and through. A slight knock roused him and the Sheriff entered. Mark walked over and shook hands.
“How is she?”
“She’s in and out, but she will be ok.”
“Any word on Herman? I’ve been here for two days. I haven’t had time to check on him.”
“Herman? He will be just fine,” smiled the sheriff. “That is one tough dog you have there, and old. “
“What do you mean?”
“How long have you two had Herman?”
Mark took a moment to think. “Lisa and I got married when we were twenty. It was a few years after that, so I’m thinking maybe ten years now.”
“Oh yeah. The vet thinks ol’ Hermy may be close to twenty years old. Very rare for a dog his size.” The sheriff held out an envelope.
“Is that something for me?” Mark asked.
“Yep. This is the reason I came out here. The vet thought you might find this interesting. Well, I’ve got to go.”
Mark started to open the envelope as he walked back to Lisa’s bedside. He made it about five feet when he stopped in his tracks.
A note from the vet on the envelope said, “Thought you might find this interesting. I had to shave the hair off Herman’s leg for surgery and found this.” Inside the envelope was a picture of Herman’s hind leg. Mark looked at the picture in awe. There on Herman’s leg were burned the words, “Property of Sam and Bobby Jenkins.”
The vet’s note continued. “Looks like they branded him with a soldering iron.”
“I’ll be damned,” Mark said. As he walked over to the bedside to watch over Lisa, he looked at the painting over the bed. He had never really paid attention to it till now. It wasn’t a Norman Rockwell or any fancy painting, just something you might see in a hospital, motel, or a doctor’s office. As Mark looked at it, He smiled at a little boy and a little girl about eight years old, down by the lake skipping rocks. What really surprised Mark was in the bottom right hand corner of the painting was one word: