Chapter six – Is there a Doctor in the house?

I jumped off Pretty Girl and ran  over to where Dick was laying. He was on his back, but his eyes were open and he watched me coming over to him. “Are you alright?” 

“Not  totally sure but I think both of  my legs are broken.” 

I knelt down beside him, His left leg was going off at an odd angle. “Well, the left one for sure. You’re lucky you didn’t break your neck.”

“Good training in being a stunt double,” he said. “Could you help me get up?”

”There is no way in hell that you’re going to do anything but lay there until the EMTs come and check you out.”

I rolled up my jacket and handed it to him. “Use this as a pillow, I’ll send someone over with some water in a minute. You lay right there til I get back.”

“Forget the water, I’d rather have a beer.”

“I’m sure you would. “

I stood up and started to walk away, stopped, turned around and said, “If you make any attempt to stand up,  I will kick your ass into next week. Got it!?”

“Alright! One little explosion and you become a real …”

I jumped into the saddle pointed at Dick and said, “Keep talking and I’ll Kick your ass just for good measure.”

I swung Pretty Girl around, I was sure as soon as I had my back to  him he flipped me off.  I started towards what was left of the chuck wagon, which was burning out of control, the grease, from the deep fryer making dark black billowing smoke. I could hear sirens coming up the road towards the ranch. 

As I got closer I saw Pedro and Sam, trying to put the fire out in the grass and trees around the Chuck Wagon, to keep the fire from  spreading any further and taking down the out buildings. Maria, and some of the other staff, were with the Senior Group in the barn and corral, I rode over to them and dismounted. 

“What happened to the chuckwagon?” Maria asked.

“I’m not totally sure, but it seems that Dick thought the hose for the propane tank was a snake tried to kill it and instead blew up the chuck wagon.”

“Don’t tell me you gave him a gun with live rounds in it because I know, for a fact, that the pistols he has only shoots blanks. “

“Very true, but with blanks like that you don’t need live ammunition. “

“I know he’s your friend  but  every time I have to deal with him I  think of the bumper sticker  that says, ‘Why are there so many DICKS and so few Richards?’ Where is the old Skunk boy anyway?

“He took a tumble off Diablos and is laying on the other side of the Northern Fence with a broken leg or two,” I said. “If you could direct the ambulance that direction, I’m going to sit with him  until the EMTs take him to the hospital.”

“Better you than me. “

“What’s going to happen with the Senior Group? Are they all going home early with Refunds all around?”

“Please. They are made of much tougher stuff than that. We’re going to load them back up and ride out to the creek and have a picnic lunch. Tina’s in the kitchen getting a few things around and She’s put in an emergency order to the pizza palace. I want to get the Seniors out of here before the place gets all cluttered up with police cars and fire engines,”

“Sounds like everything is in good hands.  I’ll check back once DIck is on his way.”

I grabbed a couple of beers out of the cooler and started back to where DIck was laying. 

When I got to where Dick was, he had somehow moved himself so that he was sitting up with his back against a tree. I handed him one of the beers and said, “Maria wanted me to tell you that Black Mambas Live in Africa, not in California.”

“You didn’t have to tell her that part of the story! SHIT!! Now she’ll think I’m some kind of a pussy where snakes are involved,”

“I was just pulling your leg…”

“My broken Leg.”

“Your broken leg. I didn’t say a word about you screaming “Black Mamba!’ to her.  I didn’t know you were so terrified of snakes.”

“Truth is, I’m not afraid of all snakes. My fear of Black Mambas comes from when I was in Africa, with John Wayne, filming the movie Hatari! This was in 1961 and, to be honest, I’m not sure why I was there since he did all of his own stunts. There were a lot of stories from local people about the snake Black Mamba. To hear them tell it, if a black mamba wanted to kill you it would chase you down, and there wasn’t a man alive who could out run one. One of  the crew was bitten by a Black mamba and through some mix up there wasn’t any venom in the first aid station. ..”

He glanced down, a look of grief came over his face. He took a swig of his beer. “Damn it all!! Why do I always Bullshit people? The truth is I know exactly why I was there. I had fallen in love with a beautiful brunette named Joy. Let me tell you  that woman lived up to her name. Joy. To know her was to know joy and I was going to marry her. When I heard she got this gig with Duke in a movie that was being shot in Africa, I did everything I could to be a part of it. Let me tell you, There is nothing better than being in love on a movie set. It was like we were having our honeymoon before we got married.” 

“I was helping some of the crew set up for a shot when someone ran up and said, “Joy is in the first aid station and has been bitten by a snake!” After that everything is a blur. I was holding her, we were both crying….she started having spasms, almost like an epileptic seizure….It seemed like it went on forever…then she was gone.”

I reached out and touched his shoulder. “I’m so sorry,”

He reached up and put his hand over mine. “Thanks. Some things you just don’t get over….You know, they get better but…”

Just then Maria and two EMTs, carrying some kind of medical equipment, came around the fence. “There’s your patient.” She said, Pointing to Dick.

He grabbed my hand and quietly said, “Do me a big favor and take my guns and belt. More than the monetary value they mean so much to me, a gift from Duke and all. I don’t want them stolen or some body thinking they should be held as evidence if this thing blows up in my face.” 

  “Evidence?? For what, a mechanical failure on my propane tank? By now the chuck wagon is nothing but a pile of embers. I’ll keep your guns safe, but there is nothing to blow  up in anyone’s face.”

I picked up his belt from beside the tree and walked over to Maria. “Are the Seniors on their way?”

“By now they should be down by the creek eating lunch and listening to good country western music.”

“I appreciate the way you can so quickly come up with plan B when plan A goes all to hell. You are one in a million.” 

“Does that mean I get a raise?” 

“Will you look at the time! I need to get into town and see my lawyer.”

“Yeah, I see how it is.”

Dick was on the stretcher waiting to be loaded into the ambulance, I went over stood by him “How you doing?” 

“I can’t remember the last time I’ve had more fun.”

“You always did enjoy breaking stuff and blowing things up. But next time keep yourself off the list of things that you break. “

 “Listen. If I’m admitted to the hospital I  might need a huge favor.”

“Anything. Just name it.”

“I’m scheduled to speak at tonight’s Divorce Support Group meeting. My talk is on my laptop which is in my truck.  You could either read what I’ve prepared or update the talk you gave the last time you spoke to the group. “

I turned away, rubbed my eyes and said, “Shit!!” under my breath, pasted a smile on my face, turned back and said,”Hey, I said anything.”

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