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EricJohn

The Killer Man's Horse, update 13, sheepishly returning

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Well. . . I'm just completely enthralled! I just found this thread and started reading . . . and couldn't stop! EJ. . . you truly have a way with words [Not Worthy] , and I'm eagerly awaiting your next installment! Please make it quick! I'm not good at the whole "patience" thing! [big Grin]

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Tazzin,

You know why. I have a soft spot for horses, not winning. [Wink]

More in the morning.

I drove two hours to sit in a 4 hour meeting to find out that I will have the biggest "speeking part" in the managment presentation, seems the program I coordinate is highly regarded, [Roll Eyes] , then two hours back.

So I'm mentaly drained. I've got to put together some sort of speech that will do the program justice. A safety program that does a lot of good for alot of lineman, adn I don't know if I can do it justice.

The committee is hitching their wagon to a fella more prone to bouts of Public Intoxication as a apposed to Public Speaking. Hope I don;t let them down. [Embarrassed]

I called April call to let her know I would be late and Casey, our big paint ex-rope horse, has been rattling today. He has COPD and with this heat wave it's been labor intensive to keep his lungs sound.

We've done everyting right so far and it seemed like we were keeping him were he needed to be, but with day after day of heat indexes in the triple digits and no rain, the ground is like a powerder puff, which reaks havoc on his lungs.

Might have to start putting him out at night. He spent three days at the vet the year before last. We battle it pretty good last year, but the weather is just too much right now.

Between him and his pasture mate, which is the 30+ yr old gelding, Red, we've been nervous wrecks trying to keep them healthy. I'm not so sure Red makes another year as hot as this. [Frown]

laters

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OOOHHH. . . still lookin forward to the new update!

EJ. . . sorry to hear that the horses aren't tolerating the heat well! I can only imagine how bad it is for a large animal with so much body mass to cool. It's hard enough for us!

I hope your horses fare ok thru the heat. . . and I'm lookin forward to more story! [Wink]

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Hoss please turn the page when you have the time.

I understand the stress unsound horses that you love and care for put on a person.

Just know that we all love your stories.

[Huggy]

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I've been swamped today so now writing time.

But here is a something I wrote awhile back taht some of you may or may not have read.

Maybe it can hold you over.

Please excuse the spelling, grammar and possible continuity errors. I;ve not proof read it in a while.

Jobe swung down off of the gray and tied him to the rail. He looked up at the sign over the restaurant. ?The Cross Buck? was painted in block letters over the lean-to porch roof coming off of the false fronted building. He took off his weathered hat and beat the trail dust off of his cloths as best he could. He swiped it back down over his greasy blonde hair. It lay a bit sideways when he did that. To make up for his crooked head, he used to joke.

He pushed open the half glass front door of The Cross Buck and looked the room over. He scanned for a familiar face. Behind the far end of the bar, ingrained in an intense conversation, was Reese Daniels. Reese was always in an intense conversation with somebody. He was a serious man with specific intentions. Jobe couldn?t always figure those intentions out, but Reese always seemed to be on a mission just the same.

Jobe walked up next to the man Reese was talking to. He elbowed the bar and looked Reese right square in the eyes. Reese blinked a look at him and was almost agitated for a second.

?Hey cowboy!? Reese broke the conversation mid stream. He poked out his hand to Jobe.

?Hiya Reese, been a while. How?s the family?? Jobe took Reese?s hand.

?Just great, Jobe.? Reese remembered the man he was talking to. ?Bill Mason, this is Jobe McKillian. Cowboy, loafer and bonifide saddle tramp.?

Jobe chuckled at the introduction. He didn?t like being called a cowboy, he was a horseman, but it was only Reese?s way. He shook the man?s hand. He had already forgotten his name.

?What are you doing around here? Looking? for work?? Reese knew Jobe well.

?Yeah, I?d heard from Vance about a job out in Kansas;? Jobe paused, ? Catchin? up horses.? Jobe searched Reese for the answer.

?Hadn?t heard. Vance is probably still over to the house. He makes a day out of the night you know. Ride over there and get him up. I need to talk to him anyway.? Reese motioned out the door. While he spoke.

?Sure thing Reese. Hey it?s good to see you again.? Jobe lifted his failing chaps at the waist belt as he turned around. It had been awhile since he had a steady grub line and his riding attire were beginning to show it. Reese noticed this.

?Ok, Jobe. You too, and hey, get yourself a meal from Martha while your there. You look like you couldn?t ride a heavy storm; with out tying yourself to the saddle.? Reese smiled as he said it. He knew Jobe well. Yes he did.

Jobe felt a bit embarrassed as he left the restaurant. He stopped long enough on the porch to tighten his buckles a hole before he untied the gray and swung up. He reined the fine gelding towards the end of town and bumped him into a trot. ?Smart aleck.? He thought as he felt a grumble in his belly.

Jobe turned the gray towards the big frame house that stood at the end of a shaded lane. It was simple in its extravagance with a wrap around porch and some hand cut trim. A short white fence blocked in a handful of sheep that kept the front yard manicured. He trotted easy up to the front porch steps. He cocked his hat back on his head and listened to the women inside. He recognized Delouis voice right away. To him her voice was the sweetest he had ever heard. He could listen to her talk for hours on end. As a matter of fact, he had taken many hours of ribbing from the working hands for sitting and listening to her recite poetry. But a man can endure allot of things for the companionship of a girl as sweet as Delouis. The other voice he did not recognize, but it was not unusual for Delouis to have a new friend. He sat for a minute and listened to them discussing the gossip of the day before he cleared his throat and announced his visit.

?Hello the house.? He shouted just loud enough for them to hear. The two girls became silent except for some curious whispering. He saw the curtain move in the room he knew to be the parlor. Then he heard their lightly healed footsteps across the hardwood floors. Delouis pushed the screened door open and held it while she looked Jobe over. This always made him nervous and she knew it.

?Well, stranger, what brings you back to civilization?? She tried to be as pious as her mother but she did not have the reverence of Miss Geneva.

?Aww, you know. Last job played out. Just driftin? I guess.? Jobe shifted in the saddle a bit. He didn?t like it when a woman studied him. Delouis grinned at his uneasiness.

?You better get that?? She didn?t get to finish the warning before Miss Geneva was pushing past Delouis through the door.

?Get that awful animal out from in front of my house! If he soils my front walk I?ll have you both skinned!? Miss Geneva was Delouis mother. She was a strong built, strong-willed woman that had an arrogant way about her that grated Jobe. ?And take your hat off when you speak to my daughter!?

Jobe jerked straight up in the saddle and it made the gray jump a little. He swiped the hat off of his head abruptly. ?Yes mame?, Miss Geneva. I apologize.? He reined the gray around and the horse?s hoof dug into the dirt walk. Miss Geneva fumed at the sight.

?Go get a rake and fix that hole. That?ll be mud puddle after two rains!? She pointed towards the barn as she followed Jobe down the porch. Jobe slumped in the saddle a bit. He cut a sheepish look back at Delouis and her friend. They were giggling as they watched him being chastised. He felt even more embarrassed then. Miss Geneva swung around and walked towards Delouis. ?You stay away from those cowboys. Most of them aren?t worth their saddle leather. Especially that Jobe McKillian.? Deluois nodded her agreement, and then muffled a giggle as Geneva grumbled her way back into the house.

Jobe rounded the side of the house and was headed for the barn when he saw Vance step out of his bedroom door. It opened out to the porch, which gave Vance the luxury of not disturbing Miss Geneva when he came in late. Vance was buttoning his ironed shirt and laughing at Jobe. Jobe scowled as the gray clopped by.

?Welcome back Jobe.? Vance retorted facetiously. Jobe mumbled something under his breath as he made for the barn. He unsaddled the gray and turned him loose in a dry lot. The weary horse sniffed a around then proceeded to roll the kinks and itches out of his back. Jobe slipped him a scoop of grain and a little hay before he found the rake. He dreaded passing Vance again on the porch. Fortunately Vance was more worried about getting himself dressed than digging at Jobe so he was safe. Back around front he filled the hoof print, hoping all the while Geneva would not come out to help him. He heard Delouis and her friend whispering and giggling in the house as he worked. It made him feel silly, so after he had filled the print he tipped his hat to the parlor window, bowed like finest of royal princes and made his exit. Vance was waiting for Jobe at a table on the veranda by the kitchen door.

?Come have a cup of coffee and a bite of breakfast with me.? He invited to Jobe. Jobe questioned the character of a man that ate breakfast at nearly noon. But he knew Vance. Vance was Reese?s brother and Deluois half brother. He was a vain man that was much more in the preference of fast money and fast women than work. He liked starched cloths, fine cigars and fine whiskey. He fancied himself a gambler and a ladies man. He certainly had the looks for it. Tall and black headed with deep brown eyes and certain charisma about him that made the ladies want to get close to him. But Vance was a better lover than a gambler or worker, often coming out on the losing end of fast deals. He had drawn Jobe into a few of these at times. But Jobe liked him. He was an adventurer like Jobe and was a man you could count on in a pinch. And Jobe and Vance had been in a few.

Jobe took a seat at the table and hung his hat on its back. He swung over the table and clasped Vance?s hand and gave it a shake. ?So what?s this I hear about horses in Kansas?? Jobe settled into the chair. It felt funny to him after spending so much time in the saddle. Vance sipped at his coffee not wanting to get into the conversation too quickly. ?Martha, bring my friend here a cup of coffee.? Vance called to the older black lady that worked for Miss Geneva. Martha gave Jobe a wrinkled look as she sat the coffee in front of him. She knew she would be sweeping the spot where he sat after he left.

Vance went over the plan briefly. He was not one to get into the particulars of one of his schemes too quickly. If things changed that might make it more profitable to him. He didn?t want to reveal too much.

?I could eat a meal I guess.? He fished trying not to look too hungry.

?You got any money?? Vance didn?t really care about Jobe paying for the meal. He just wanted to know. Jobe looked out to the dry lot at his horse munching on the hay. He acted as if he didn?t hear Vance. He knew not to let Vance know he had a steak. He finally looked back at Vance after watching the gray eat was getting too much for him.

?I got enough to eat I reckon.? He blurted out in a perturbed way; acting as if it offended him that Vance would make him pay for a meal. Vance chuckled at him. Martha was already coming with the plate. She knew how Vance was also. She set it down in front of Jobe with out a word and went back into the kitchen to make ready with her broom.

They ate together and Vance filled Jobe in on the deal. They would ride up to Kansas and take over pushing the herd south. Jobe would be trail boss while Vance handled the particulars of business. Vance would do all of the fast-talking and paper work once the horses were there. Jobe balked a little at the thought of it. It seemed like a lot of work for him. He knew his cut would not be as big as Vance?s but his part would be integral to the success of the endeavor.

Jobe listened to Vance with his best poker face on. He knew Vance would be trying to read his response. If he seemed too excited about the deal, Vance might think he would settle to easy on it. If Vance thought he was less interested he might make it worth Jobe?s while. Jobe knew Vance needed him on this one. Jobe finished his meal without a word and leaned back in the chair. He looked at Vance with caution in his eyes and studied him over the table. Vance sipped the last of his coffee. ? So what do you say, partner?? He inquired dryly.

Jobe let his eyes wander out to the pasture and across it to some distant place he always looked to when he was thinking. He tried to sense Vance?s response to his uncaring attitude. Then he snapped back to the veranda. ?Hey, I almost forgot. Reese wanted to see you in town. Let?s ride in and talk about it on the way.? Jobe was happy with himself. He used caution with Vance and Vance didn?t like that. He wanted Jobe to jump in headfirst. That way Jobe would be more likely to do all of the work. Jobe knew this and acted less interested.

They saddled two of the working horses from the dirt lot. Jobe let the gray rest since there was fresh horses around to ride. They mounted together and trotted out of the barn and down the side of the house towards the road. Jobe made a point to look for Delouis in the parlor window as they passed. He saw the curtains move a bit and turned in the saddle to try and catch a glimpse of her. He tipped his hat at the window just in time to catch a glaring look from Miss Geneva on the front porch. She had been out to check his handy work on the hoof divot. He jerked straight ahead in the saddle and the little gelding under him jumped into a short lope. He heard the screen door slam shut behind him as they rounded the lamppost and headed for town.

Vance rambled on about how much money they could make if they ?played their cards right?. He liked using gambling terms to describe things. Jobe knew a deal with Vance was a gamble at best. He let Vance talk while he sifted though the rhetoric of it all. When they got to the Cross Buck, Reese was headed out the door. ?Come over to the lumber office.? He motioned towards a medium sized wood building down the street. It had ?Daniel?s Land and Timber? In the same block letters as was on the Cross Buck. The two of them tied their mounts at the rail and met Reese as he was going in the door The double doors were opened in and a mealy looking clerk drudged over a big leather ledger book at a desk behind a trimmed wooden half wall. Behind him was a book case that reached all the way to the ceiling and it was filled with leather ledger books and rolled up maps and various papers of every kind. There was a bench down one wall, obviously were the lumber hands sat while waiting for their money on payday. Straight-ahead was the door to Roland?s office. Roland was Reese and Vance?s father and the owner of the land and timber company and also the Cross Buck. He had pretty much put this little town on the map with his lumber business. He had helped pay for and build a spur line from the rail road into it and because of that the town flourished with the rise and fall of the timber business. That?s when Jobe had hired on with them. He was working for the rail rode crew when they finished the line and hired on with Roland to build and string the telegraph wires in along the same right of way.

Their boots sounded heavy on the wood plank floors of the office. Wilber, the clerk, looked a bit disgusted when they broke his concentration. Reese never looked up. Just kept walking as if he were on a mission. Vance grinned at Wilber, which tended to make Wilber even more disgusted. Jobe glanced an eye at him but did not say a word. Not wanting to irritate the nervous little man any more.

Roland was sitting behind his big cherry wood desk looking over some land papers and maps. He was not a big man. In fact he was slim and refined in stature. His white hair was short and fresh cut. He wore a pair of tiny glasses that he could look out over to see far away if he needed to, but needed them to read things up close. He looked out over them at the group of men as they sauntered into his office. Reese took a seat in a big leather chair and started to roll a cigarette. Vance made his way to a decanter of bourbon on a table by the window. Jobe took notice of this but stood still in the middle of the room until Roland could acknowledge him. Roland looked up and saw Jobe. He smiled as he stood and offered his hand to Jobe.

?Well I?ll be. Where the heck have you been.? Roland asked. Jobe had not seen Roland since he had carried some law documents to New Orleans and never returned. Jobe had found other things to do after delivering the papers and simply did not go back. As a matter of fact, Roland still owed Jobe for half of the pay he had promised him for the trip. But Jobe was not worried about the money. He liked Roland. Roland was a self made man. A man of character and principle that Jobe looked up to.

?Aaah, Here and there. You know me.? Jobe shook Roland?s hand over the desk and looked him in the eye. Jobe liked that Roland looked back.

?Well sit a minute and lets visit.? Roland motioned to a big leather chair that was the twin of the one Reese was sitting in. He rolled his knife case and pistol holster up so as not to scratch the leather seat. They sat till afternoon, the four of them talking over Jobe?s latest adventures and the general family business. Roland had mentioned that he needed Vance to go to New Orleans and pick up some legal documents and a check for a land sale he had made. Reese usually took care of such things, but he would be leaving for St. Louis in the morning to look at some steam-powered equipment for the logging end of the business. Vance told Roland about his newest scheme in west Texas and was a little perturbed that he had to go to New Orleans. Reese rolled his eyes at the thought of it, but Roland was always cautiously supportive of both of his sons. The trip to New Orleans would only take a few days and Roland assured him it was necessary. He asked Jobe if he could go with Vance and Jobe jumped at the chance. He always liked going to the city and getting paid to do it would be a bonus.

Roland called for Wilber to pay Jobe the remainder of the pay he was owed from his last employ and give him half for the next trip. They would leave in the morning on the log train that was being loaded as they met. They would ride it to Natchez and take a river boat to New Orleans then back the same route. It all seemed like great fun to Jobe.

Roland took the money from Wilber and counted it out to Jobe. He spoke to him as he counted; ?Now you come up to the house for dinner tonight. I?ll bet Delouis will be happy to see you. She always speaks fondly of you.? Roland had a funny look in his eye when he said that. Jobe blinked it off and gathered his money. ?Sure thing Mr. Roland. I?d be happy to.?

Reese and Vance were standing at the back door of the timber office when Jobe found them. They always seemed to be talking about something very important to them but not anyone else?s business. Jobe slid up beside them and made them stop their conversation with his presence.

Reese gave him a smack on the back; ?I ain?t never seen a rouge cowboy the likes of you. Ain?t been in town a day yet and you?ve already scrounged yourself a meal, a pocket full of money, a job and an invitation to dinner. You a regular scamp ain?t you Jobe McKillian??

Jobe hung his head and drug his boot toe across the plank porch. He really didn?t know how to answer.

?Come on Jobe.? Vance stepped off of the steps, ?Lets get you cleaned up and a new set of duds. You need a new suit of cloths if you?re going to New Orleans with me.? It came across with a condescending tone. It kind of grated Vance that Jobe could be so resourceful at times. Jobe looked at Reese and grinned. Reese gave him a shove as he stepped off of the porch.

Jobe caught up with Vance at the hitching rail. They mounted and rode through the dirt streets to a hotel and bathhouse not far from the lumber office.

?Get yourself a bath, shave and a hair cut Jobe. If your gonna eat up at the house, you better get yourself presentable to Geneva.? Vance smiled at Jobe. He knew the comment would burst Jobe?s bubble a little.

?Jeez, I didn?t think about that.? Jobe looked across the street and through the woods to that same spot he always did. IN his minds eye he saw Geneva scowling at him over the dinner table. Then his minds eye saw the pretty Delouis batting her beautiful eyes at him. When he flashed back to himself, Vance was already in the hotel lobby. Vance was fingering off his leather gloves giving the room a good look. He always tried making an entrance; like, because he was there, things were about to get started. Jobe brushed past him like he wasn?t there and rang the little bell on the register counter. He leaned against the counter and watched as a plump little lady with ?pinch your nose? glasses came waddling down the hall. He could tell by her face that she was a jovial little woman and she greeted them in kind.

?Good afternoon gentlemen. I can see one of you will be needing a bath.? She winked at Vance, whom she already knew. Jobe flushed a bit at the thought of what she said.

?Yep, that?d be me ma?am.? He stood up straight and poked his thumb into his chest. ?And a hair cut and shave, too.?

Vance left Jobe at the bathhouse and went to his dad?s store to find Jobe a new suit of cloths. By the time he got back Jobe was fresh cleaned; cut and ready for his new cloths. He donned them proudly and sacked his work cloths together over his shoulder He paid the jovial lady for his bath and shave. She gave him a healthy pat on the back and with a wink invited him back for the same treatment anytime.

Jobe and Vance mounted and rode back to the main house so Jobe could store his gear. They had some time to kill before dinner and that always tended to turn into an adventure for Jobe and Vance. Vance figured on a game of cards at the Cross Buck and Jobe could think of nothing better to do, so that?s where they ended up. Vance slipped into a game with some of the locals and Jobe relaxed and watched them. He was not much of a card player but he did enjoy watching a good game of cards.

The game rolled on until the evening and Vance held his own. Jobe had gotten board with it and stepped out on the front walk to catch a nap and loaf a little before it would be time to head back to the main house for supper. He was snoozing well leaned back in the straight back with his hat drooping over his face and his long saddle bowed legs stretched out in front of him. Almost locked unnaturally in the same position as when he sat a horse. Vance kicked the leg of his chair. It made Jobe jump. Being surprised in his sleep always made him mad. He raised a vengeful eye to Vance who was not looking at him, but lighting one of his expensive hand rolled cigars. Jobe was never one to lose his temper easy so he let the annoyance go unchecked but promised himself to get even with him. The sooner the better.

?How?d you make out?? Jobe pushed his hat back on his head and blinked the sleepiness out of his eyes. Vance shrugged a shoulder as if to say it was no big deal then pulled his pocket watch from his pocket and read the time through the cigar smoke that had accumulated under the brim of his hat.

?We better get back up to the house. Miss Geneva wouldn?t like you to be late for dinner.? Vance raised an eye brow in Jobe?s direction. The statement brought butterflies to Jobe?s stomach. He really wanted to have dinner with the lovely Delouis but the thought of Miss Geneva staring at him over the dinner table made the event seem less palatable. Jobe didn?t say a word. He got to his feet and straightened his new clothes and pulled his hat down in the front a little. As he stepped past Vance he bumped Vance?s shoulder with his own. The blow unbalanced Vance a little causing him to cath his balance. It was enough of a diversion to knock the growing clump of white ashes that loosened on the end of his cigar. The clump of ashes cascaded down the front of Vance?s pressed shirt. He immediately started patting the ashes cold and trying to brush them off.

?Hey!? He shouted at Jobe?s back as Jobe stepped off of the walk.

?Let?s go partner, wouldn?t want to keep Miss Geneva waiting.? When Jobe mounted he swung his mount around and gave Vance a quick look. Vance was still trying to get rid of the stain the ashes had put on his shirt by licking his thumb and thumbing at the dingy spot on his shirt. Jobe chuckled to himself and turned towards the house.

Vance had caught up to him as the rounded the lamppost into the carriagway. Jobe slowed to a walk and waived at Delouis watching him from her bedroom widow on the second floor. The same friend that was with her before was trying to get Vance?s attention also, but to no evail. Vance trotted on into the barn, undoubtedly thinking of getting a clean shirt as quickly as possible. Jobe?s heart raced as his eyes locked on to Delouis. It was a funny feeling he was not used to feeling. He sighed deeply and tried to dry his balmy palms on his pant legs. She smiled at him and Jobe felt like he could not wait until dinner. Delouis? friend pulled her away from the window and Jobe watched it until the curtains had stopped moving. He shook the feeling off as he kicked his mount into a trot. He fully couldn?t understand it, and in a way did not like it, but in another way he did. He had no time for the extended company of a woman. But Delouis was surely making him think of other things.

Jobe rubbed the horse down that he had been using and turned him out in the dry lot. He would bunk in with Vance tonight so he carried his bedroll to the house and dropped it on the porch outside of his room. When he looked up Vance was standing in the door buttoning a new shirt. ?You?ve ruined that shirt, mind you.? Vance was almost scolding Jobe. Jobe chuckled at him, ?Aw, you?re a great card player Vance, you can afford another one partner. Just go win you another hand or two.? Jobe noticed Vance?s scrutinizing gaze.

?What?? He said

?You?re covered in horse dander and you smell like an old mule.? Vance grinned a little. He knew that Jobe was not attuned to such things and Jobe could mostly careless, most of the time. ?You need another bath.? Vance knew even the thought of another bath in the same day would be completely foreign to Jobe. Jobe scoffed, ?No ****, I don?t. That?s crazy bathin? twice in a day.? Jobe brushed at his shirtsleeves and chest. He dusted himself vigorously for a few seconds while Vance watched in amusement.

?There, good as new.? Jobe licked his fingers and smoothed his hair that stuck up on the back of his head. He straightened his back as if sitting a Calvary horse and grinned wide at Vance. Vance shook his head and turned away, ?You still smell like a mule.? Jobe shrunk back down. ?See you at the dinner table, I hope you not sitting next to Miss Geneva.? Jobe cussed under his breath, as he smelled the sleeve of his shirt. It did smell like the horse he had been tending to. Vance exited his room by way of the hall and when he did Jobe went over to his chest of drawers. He knew that Vance would be keeping a bottle of hair tonic or something that smelled good around there somewhere. He found a bottle of colored water that smelled almost a little like the pudgy woman down at the bathhouse. He doused a little in his hands and wiped it on his neck and under his arms. The he gave himself another sniff. He doused a little more and sniffed again. ?Perfect.? He thought as he wiped the rest it off of his hands by rubbing them through his hair. ?Now who smells like a mule?? He said to himself as he buttoned his top button and tucked at his shirt for the last time before making his way to the dining room.

He straightened his collar again and gave himself another quick sniff before he rounded the hall to the dining room. The cologne seemed a little strong, but he was not used to it and it was probably fine, he thought. He made a sheepish scan of the room to see if Miss Geneva was present yet. Luckily she was not. Unfortunately neither was Delouis. Martha was busy setting the table and shuttled back and forth through the ?swing both ways? door between the dinning room and the kitchen. Jobe always thought it would be funny if the door got stuck half way. He chuckled under his breath as he made his way over to Roland and Reese and Vance, who were having a before dinner drink and talking over some business that Jobe could probably careless about. The smell of the cologne preceded him as he moseyed up to the group of men feeling full of his self. Reese was the first to notice.

?My God, son!? He drew back and waived his arm in Jobe?s direction. Jobe was confused. He sniffed his arms with a dumbfounded look on his face.

?What! I put some of Vance?s ?smells pretty water? on!? Jobe lifted the front of his shirt towards Reese.

?Yeah, I can tell.? Reese laughed and waived at Jobe again.

?You got into my cologne?? Vance was mad at the thought of it. He gave Jobe a shove in the chest. Jobe grinned a little but notice Roland?s amused look. ?Did I get a little too much?? Jobe stepped a little closer to Roland. Roland took a step back.

?Well kid, at least you don?t smell like a mule.? Roland made a hasty exit towards the table. Reese shook his head and waived his hand at Jobe as he left. Jobe turned to watch them go, feeling even more sheepish now. Vance shoved him in his back.

?You ignorant cow hand. Do you know how much that stuff costs? He shot Jobe an angry look then took it back. Vance could tell Jobe was getting mad about the whole thing and he surely did not want to have to fight him over it. Jobe grabbed his shirtfront between his thumb and index finger and fanned it back and forth in a vane attempt to extinguish some of the smell. All it did was spread it and the sum of it all began to make Jobe feel lightheaded.

Miss Geneva entered the room then, with Delouis and her friend at her heals. Delouis made a beeline for Jobe and he was immediately weak in the knees. He felt selfconscience about being close to her now and the smell of the cologne was beginning to make him feel drunk. Miss Geneva spotted her right away.

?Delouis, come sit down!? She ordered and pointed to a chair next to the one she would be sitting in. Delouis stopped short.

?I was only going to introduce Matilan to Jobe. They?ve not been properly introduced.? She said innocently. Miss Geneva gave her sharp look.

?Jobe, this is Matillin.? Delouis winked at Jobe and slipped her fingers into the palm of his hand while Matilan was between them and Miss Geneva. Jobe was about to pass out. The room was spinning as he tried to focus on Matilan. He mumbled something to the effect of; ?How do ma?am?? and extended a shaky hand to clasp the one Matilan was hanging in the air. Delouis squeezed Jobe?s hand soflty and looked at him with a quizzical look. Jobe swayed in front of her and she began to understand why he was so sheepish. The overwhelming smell of the cologne made them both step back from Jobe and Delouis let go of his hand.

?Delouis!? Miss Geneva motioned to the chair and both of the girls took a seat on either side of her. Jobe made his way to his seat next to Vance at the opposite end of the table from Roland. The smell of the cologne water was beginning to dissipate some. Jobe gulped from a glass of cool water on the table, generating a sound similar to that of a thirsty cow pony. He was able to focus his eyes a little better in time to catch the disapproving stair of Miss Geneva. He set the glass back down on the table and lowered his eyes and humped his back as he wiped water from his upper lip with his sleeve. Miss Geneva?s disapproving look turned to anger at his rude table manners. Jobe quickly realized what he had done from the smell of his sleeve and yanked his arm down to his side. He shot a quick glance at Delouis and Matalin, who were stifling a giggle.

Jobe straightened up in his chair. He had manners by God; his mother had made sure of that. He just didn?t have to use them very often and they had grown a might rusty. With all of the excitement he had just forgotten himself. He straightened his collar and sat like he was on a Calvary horse, straight backed and stiff. The rest of the dinner went uneventful, with Roland leading the conversation as always. They mostly talked about things that Jobe really didn?t know that much about, but the talk did turn to horses for a while. Jobe was able to take the floor then and even Miss Geneva seemed impressed with his knowledge. Delouis seemed even more impressed and that made Jobe?s head swell a bit. Jobe liked it when she was pleased with him. He wanted to speak to her directly but he couldn?t bring himself to it in the presence of Miss Geneva. It was a bitter sweet dinner for him, indeed.

After dinner, Reese, Vance and Jobe rode into town. Reese lived over the lumber office in town. He was married but his wife was already in St. Louis attending a wedding of a friend. Reese would be joining her shortly to meet with an equipment company. He could appreciate the freedom while they were separated. His wife was not an easy keeper and Reese needed time away from her some times.

They all tied up in front of the Cross Buck and loafed on the walk until the bartender came out to light the oil lamps on the porch. They followed him in and Reese got them a bottle of whiskey from the bar. They found an empty table and the started a game of cards. The Cross Buck was a busy little place in the evenings with loggers and drovers and teamsters of all kinds coming and going. The whiskey flowed freely and Reese liked to see it that way. They made a good profit off of the workmen that frequented the place.

As with most places that whiskey flows, before long there were challenges made over liquid courage and a group of men moved out the back door. Jobe had gotten board with the game and seeing the men going outside, figured a good fight would be entertaining. When he got up Reese noticed and went with him. Reese knew there would be money bet on the out come and if he knew Jobe, Jobe would be in on it.

In the street behind the Cross-Buck two men stripped to the waist in an open circle of men. Boasts were taunted and bets were wagered. Reese and Jobe leaned against the railing of the back stairs.

Reese pointed to one of the men in the circle, ?That one there, with the beard. He?s pretty handy. I?ve seen him beat a few around here.? Jobe studied him. He was strong built in his upper body; thick in his chest and back. Jobe guessed he was a teamster because of his lack of development in his legs. Most of the teamsters were that way. They used their arms and shoulders a lot handling the reins but did not use their legs much as they were sitting most of the time.

Reese leaned in close to Jobe, ?The other fella, I don?t know. But he?s a logger by the looks of him.? Jobe agreed. The other man was strong looking and sinewy. Most loggers had very little fat on them. They wielded an ax or saw all day and had the grip strength to prove it. ?Who do you think?? Jobe asked Reese with out taking his eyes off of the men. Reese studied a little then said, ?I?ll take that teamster. I?ve seen him go and he?s a good fighter.? Jobe knobbed but did not speak.

They watched as the two men circled one another with their hands up. The logger dodged and fainted a little and threw a couple of out of range punches to test the bigger man?s reserve. He didn?t so much as blink. He only circled and waited. The crowd of drunken men around them edged them on. The big teamster moved forward and threw a hard looping right that the logger ducked under. He flinched as the logger swung two fast right hands in to his ribs. They must have hurt because the teamster swung a big back handed fist and caught the logger high on his shoulder and it knocked him into the circled men. They shoved him back into the teamster and the teamster caught him coming in with a straight left hand. The logger swung another left and then right that both grazed the nose of the teamster. The logger back up a step and then the fight was on. He fainted and bobbed as the teamster took every punch the logger threw. The big teamster swung hard shots that just bearly missed their mark each time.

?If he ever lands one of those it will be over.? Reese observed.

?Yeah, but that little guy is cuttin? him to pieces. He?s just too fast for him.? Jobe was right. The teamster was a bloody mess. He had begun to have to wipe blood out of his eyes. Jobe knew it would only take one blind punch to topple him. Just as he thought it the teamster landed a heavy right hand to the side of the loggers head. The logger stumbled back. The crowd of drunken men, sensing an end, cheered. The teamster moved forward swinging both big hands and landing blow after blow on the addled logger.

?It won?t be long now.? Reese was getting excited. He had made the right choice. The logger fell to one knee and the teamster laid one in on him that knocked him flat on his back from there. He started to get up but the crowd rushed in. The fight was over. The loggers hefted their man up and half carried him over to a water barrel. They made taunts and excuses for their bewildered friend. But the teamster was out of breath. He could not return the challenges. Jobe bumped Reese. They exchanged a look.

?I?ll stand for the teamster.? Jobe shouted over the crowd. A waive of looks came his way. Reese stepped off of the porch to make ready take bets. He knew that Jobe could take any of the loggers that were there. He knew that Jobe had worked for the circus as a mule handler and had lived with the carnival boxers and wrestlers. He had watched and learned from these great fighters. He had learned the technical side of the sports but also how to cheat. That?s what Reese liked about him. If there was anything Jobe knew better than horses it was how to fight, and win, anyway he could

The loggers hesitated for a moment. None of them knew Jobe but he didn?t look all that imposing in his new suit of close. Jobe was not a big man, but he was stronger than he looked. He had learned from the carnival boxers and wrestlers how to condition his body to withstand the punishment of match after match like they did on the road. He faithfully performed exercises that strengthened his joints and tendons to with stand even the most excruciating of submission holds. He had learned how to toughen his knuckles from the old boxers and his fist were hard as rock. When Jobe stepped off of the porch and began to take his shirt off the teamsters began antagonizing the loggers. The taunts and jeers were more than one logger could take and he raised his hand, ?I?ll fight him!? The crowd roared as they made ready for the next battle.

Vance stepped up behind Reese. ?Is he fighting again?? Vance could not understand fighting for fun and profit. He would fight if he had to but he was no fighter in the ay Jobe was.

?Yeah, that guy there.? Reese pointed to the man across from Jobe taking his shirt off. Vance gave him a quick look. ?I?ll take Jobe.?

Reese took bets on Jobe and against the logger. Not many knew Jobe but all of the loggers bet on their man. The teamsters bet mostly for Jobe because they appreciated his valor. The split was pretty even for the rest.

Jobe could feel the fight in him building as his heart rate and breathing quickened. He?d been right here many times before and he even liked the feeling. The man across from him, Jobe could tell, was not a fighter. He was a stout man about his height and weight, and probably very strong, but not a fighter, not like Jobe. The crowd grew excited as the two of them began to circle. They all anticipated a good fight. Both men were about the same size. Both looked strong. That should make for a good fight.

Jobe put his hands up and looked the logger in the eyes. He saw a bit of apprehension. But he also saw the whiskey the man had consumed. He knew it would take away any feelings of fear this man had to fight. The logger put his hands up and Jobe assessed his posture. He had been in a fight or two as it seemed but he still did not seem to posses any extra knowledge. They both stepped towards each other cocked and ready.

The drunken belligerent crowd around them craned their necks and climbed on hitching rails and wagons to get a look at the fight. They hollered at each other and the two fighters in their lust for blood. Their frenzy was at a pitch when Jobe stepped in with the first punch.

He looped a lead left hand around the logger?s right arm and caught him in the cheek. Jobe saw the rage in the logger?s eyes as he lunged forward. Jobe ducked under his arms and drove his forehead into the loggers chin. The force of it made a trickle of blood. Jobe began hooking blows to the logger?s hard stomach. With each blow he felt the muscles soften a bit. The logger pushed Jobe back away and charged in again wild eyed and swinging. He caught Jobe twice on the face with one hand then the other. Jobe tasted blood as he dodged and stepped back. Jobe slipped a left hook and stepped to the outside of a big right hand then threw his own right under the loggers elbow into his ribs and then over it to his ear. The logger stumbled away clutching his ear. Jobe knew it hurt. He noticed the logger did not charge back to him this time. The fight was wearing off of him. Jobe stepped in jabbing at the loggers face. He began picking his shots. He was getting into the ebb and flow of the fight now and he had the logger realing and confused. When the logger tried to grab a hold Jobe would slip him and punish his effort with his hard fists. Although not even close to being tired the logger was addled enough for Jobe work on him easily. It was only a matter of time. He swung two big left hooks, one right after the other that distracted the logger enough to swing a hard punch to his stomach. It felt like it went all the way to his back bone. The logger lurched forward gasping for air and Jobe drove a hard left hand down behind the logger?s ear and he fell in a heap in the dirt.

The crowd exploded and rushed in on Jobe and the fallen logger. Jobe backed up swinging at all of the yelling, cursing faces until he heard the familiar voice of Vance behind him. Vance and Reese pulled him out of the crowd of rioting men onto the back porch of the Cross Buck. Jobe felt the lump that was coming up under his eye. He winked at Vance and said, ?He never laid a hand on me.? Vance took a good look at Jobe?s swelling cheek and just shook his head.

A gun shot made the three of them duck. Vance pulled a Derringer from his waist belt out of reflex.

?Let?s get inside till this breaks up.? Reese pushed the back door open and let Jobe and Vance go in. He looked back at the rioting men as he closed and locked the back door. He came through the swinging doors to the front bar room and ordered the tender to close and lock the front doors. He surely didn?t want the riot to spill over into his establishment and ruin the furniture.

Vance stepped behind the bar and poured up a shot of whiskey for them all. Jobe threw it to the back of his mouth and gasped after he swallowed. He was still winded from the fight. He wiped his mouth with the back of his arm and felt the burn and pain of the cut inside his lip. He checked himself in the mirror behind the bar and he had a good cut and a big red lump under his left eye. ?I?ll be needing a few more of those.? He said, referring to the shot of whiskey.

?I?ll take it out of your winnings.? Vance joked as he poured Jobe up another shot. Reese counted out the money on the bar and divided it up. Jobe took his share and counted it. Not a bad haul for short little fight like it was. He had made less on worse fights. ?Travlin? money.? He said as he folded it and shoved it down into his pocket. He put his shirt back on and buttoned himself back up. Vance was checking the window at the front of the bar. The crowd of fighting men had spread into the front street. Reese parted a curtain and watched also. ?They?ll get tired of that before long.? He said as he turned and sat down at a table by the window. ?What time is it Vance.? Vance pulled his pocket watch from its pocket and read the time to Reese. ?Reese shuffled at a deck of cards for a second in deep thought, ?We better bunk upstairs tonight. Won?t be worth trying to get threw that bunch out there.?

Reese usually operated a hotel that had a few sporting women in it above the Cross Buck. But pressure from Miss Geneva and her church group had stopped it; temporarily. They had tried to shut the Cross Buck altogether but Roland stepped in and made a compromise that all involved had to adhere to. The rooms were vacant now since Reese had not hire anyone to rent them as a hotel as of yet. It was surely a waste of space and it cut into Reese?s revenue.

Jobe sat down at the table with a bottle of whiskey in one hand and three shot glasses in the other. He poured them all up a shot as Reese dealt a hand of cards. Before long Jobe didn?t even feel the burn of the whisky on the open cut in his mouth. They played and drank while they listened to the fracas outside. Jobe told stories of his adventures, something he enjoyed and Vance and Reese discussed their trip to New Orleans. It was quite late before they all made it to a room up stairs. The linens were fresh from their last changing and made for a very comfortable sleep. Morning would come too soon.

Jobe turned over onto his swollen cheek and the pain woke him up. He sat up in the bed and scratched his head until he crossed a sore knot left over from the fight. It was well into the morning and he felt guilty for sleeping so late. He donned his wrinkled cloths that he had hap-hazardly thrown on the end of the bed and made his way down stairs.

The tender had already opened for the day and the bar room had a smattering of loafers getting a head start on their day. Vance came out of the bar?s office and Jobe took notice of him. He looked as if he had never lain down. His clothes and hair were as if he just stepped out of the barber shop. Jobe raked his fingers over his head to flatten his puffy hair. He stopped when he raked over the throbbing knot. He looked at himself in the bar?s mirror. His eye had blacked over during the night and his lip was swollen. He looked rough.

?Mornin? killer.? Vance shouted taking muse in the fact that Jobe was hung over and sore from his fight. He gave Jobe a heavy pat on the back and Jobe winced from the pain of it. Vance couldn?t under stand why he did it. ?Are you stove up?? Jobe made note of the sarcasm and how Vance was patronizing him. He knew Vance had made money on him last night and the thought of it riled him. He made note of that before he stepped behind the bar and poured a tin cup full of coffee that the tender had sitting on a pot bellied stove in the corner. He held it up for the tender to drop a shot of whisky in it then sat at a table that was in a beam of sun light. He let the warmth of it all loosen him up.

Vance sat down at the table with him. He had a plate of fried eggs, bacon and a biscuit. The sight and smell of it turned Jobe?s queasy stomach. Vance made a motion to ask Jobe if he wanted some. Jobe wrinkled his nose at it.

?You going up to the house this morning?? Vance asked between bites, he knew Jobe hadn?t. Jobe had not even thought about it. He would have to face Delouis with his black eye and she would know what he had been doing. Even worse he would have to face Miss Geneva. Jobe sipped his coffee. He was fine for the time being, so no sense in worrying over the inevitable.

Jobe had closed his eyes and was enjoying the warm sun light. He was dozing a little when a commotion outside the Cross Buck caught his attention. Vance stood a little and wiped his mouth as he peered out of the front window. ?Uh ohh.? Is all he said as he pushed his chair back from the table a little and sat back down in it. Jobe sat up straight when he saw Miss Geneva and her church group headed down the dirt street towards the Cross Buck. She was in the lead in her Sunday?s best with the preacher in lock step with her on one side and the mayor on her other. She walked as if on a mission and as far as she was concerned she was. The gaggle of church ladies behind her walked head up clutching their bibles.

?Reese!? Vance shouted as he leaned a back in the chair, ?you gotta problem.? You could tell Vance was going to enjoy this. Reese came out of the back just as Miss Geneva was parting the double doors of the Cross Buck. All of the usual loafers scattered as the Sisters for Sobriety took up positions behind Miss Geneva, the preacher and the mayor. Reese met her half way and the two locked eyes. Vance cracked a smile and kicked Jobe under the table. Jobe was trying not to draw attention to him in the hopes that Miss Geneva would not notice him.

Miss Geneva had heard about the riot the night before and was demanding the closure of the Cross Buck this very instant. Reese scoffed at the idea of it and the argument was on. They argued the ills of drinking, fighting and gambling. Miss Geneva started beating the dead horse of prostitution. Before long Reese had to hold his open against Miss Geneva and the preacher while the mayor tried to calm the proceedings. He surely didn?t want to get Reese to turn on him. The mayor had been a frequent customer for Reese when the ?hotel? was still up and running. Things really got frenzied when the Sisters for Sobriety broke into hymns right there in the middle of the Cross Buck and the preacher started an impromptu sermon from up on a chair by the bar. Reese and Miss Geneva were toe to toe before them letting each other have it with both barrels. It was all quite amusing to Vance. All of the yelling and singing made Jobe?s head hurt. Vance gave Jobe another kick. He pointed t the street. Jobe looked up and saw Roland coming towards the Cross Buck from the lumber office. He had the city judge with him and the judge had brought a deputy with him to arrest any person that he might see fit for arresting as things progressed. Roland did not look happy.

Roland burst through the doors of the Cross Buck and shoved passed the singing Sisters. He got between Miss Geneva and Reese and stopped the argument short. He began to lay down the law to Miss Geneva about the Cross Buck, but everyone could tell it was falling on deaf ears. When he told the preacher and the Sisters of Sobriety they were trespassing it all boiled over again.

Miss Geneva stood her ground. She turned to her Sisters and worked them up into another unheralded singing frenzy. The judge surely didn?t want to arrest any of the Sisters for Sobriety nor the preacher. Because his was an appointed office. Appointed by the mayor who surely did want to arrest any of them, as his was an elected position.

It was then that the deputy took a look at Jobe sitting sheepishly at the table. He notices his black eye and recognized him from the fight. He made mention of it to the Judge and Miss Geneva over heard. They both looked at Jobe at the same time. Miss Geneva scowled at Jobe across the room. Jobe looked as if he?d been caught red handed. ?I want that man arrested!? Miss Geneva shouted pointing at Jobe. Jobe pointed to himself. Vance almost laughed out loud. The judge, seeing a way to pacify Miss Geneva, ordered the deputy to arrest Jobe. Roland tried to step in but the judge convinced him that something had to give to defuse the situation.

The deputy walked over to the table and asks Jobe to come with him to the jail house. Jobe was dumbfounded. Vance snickered as Jobe stood to leave with the deputy. As he passed Miss Geneva he looked into her eyes and saw only contempt. He looked to Roland for help. ?Go one boy, Reese will be over directly to see about you.? Miss Geneva shot Roland a hard look but he disregarded it. The Sisters for Sobriety parted to let the scorned Jobe McKillian pass their gauntlet of righteous looks. Jobe squinted into the sun as he and the deputy made their way to the jail house

It was afternoon when Vance came into the jails office. Jobe was laying on a bunk in one of the cells enjoying the peace of being locked up. Vance laid a folded paper on the deputy?s desk, ?The judge has released him into my custody. We have to be on that lumber train in few minutes.? As Vance said it the train blew its steam whistle.

The deputy looked the papers over. He walked to the cell and let Jobe out.

?Hope you won?t hold it against me. I was only doin my job.? Jobe thought for a second. A fella ought not have to apologize for doing his job. If he?s doing it right. It made him mad that the deputy called attention to him. But he was never one to buck the law. So he just gave the deputy a smile and the two of them left.

?You got yourself in a pickle didn?t you?? Vance gouged at Jobe as he swung up on his horse. He knew Jobe was a victim of circumstance. But he couldn?t help picking at him. All Jobe could think about was having to face Delouis when he went to the house. He figured Miss Geneva had filled her full all kinds of terrible stories about him fighting. Delouis did not like fighting. She thought it was barbaric. She had chastised Jobe before for fighting. Not that it did any good. But this time Jobe felt different about it. He was truly worried about what she would say to him and think about him.

As they rounded the gate post Jobe saw Delouis in her bedroom window. He knew when she saw his face because she turned away. Jobe felt bad. Worse than he had ever felt before. They put their horses up and Jobe went to Vance?s room to gather his things. He was busy with packing and feeling sorry for himself when he felt a soft touch. He turned and Delouis was right next to him. They looked at each other for a long second. Jobe felt like he would explode they were standing so close. He wanted to apologize but he didn?t know what for. He felt very confused. Delouis touched the lump under his eye and Jobe flinched. She smiled. ?Why do you do this to yourself Jobe?? Jobe struggled for the words, but just shrugged. He felt the roll of money in his pants pocket but he knew she would not understand that. ?Auhh it ain?t so bad. I?ve been beat up worse than this.? Jobe wished he could take those words back. It wasn?t what she wanted to hear. She took his hand and Jobe?s heart raced. She had a look about her that made him weak. He wanted to kiss her, but he couldn?t move. He just stared at her eyes with his jaw slacked open. She smiled softly and leaned towards him. Jobe leaned forward to meet her. They came closer looking deep into each others eyes. Jobe's heart pounded in his chest and it made the knots on his head hurt. He knew she had made up her mind to kiss him when she closed her eyes. Their lips touched and Jobe winched from the cut in his lip. She pulled away when she felt him and touched his swollen lip with her finger tips. ?Come back to me Jobe. Come back and marry me.? Jobe thought the knots on his head were going to erupt. His eye hurt and his lip throbbed. She lain the palm of her hand on his chest and felt his heart racing. ?You love me Jobe. Can?t you feel it?? Jobe knew it was true. He didn?t know it for sure until this moment, but he knew it know.

?I?ll be back before you know it. Then maybe?? Jobe didn?t finish the sentence. He had never even entertained such thoughts before in his life. She squeezed his hand when he almost said it. He wanted to kiss her again.

?Hey! Jobe, let?s go they?re holding that lumber train for us! Don?t make me have to throw you back in the pokey!? Vance pulled a farm wagon up to the porch; he knew it would grate Jobe to think that he had ?custody? over him. Delouis tried to turn away but Jobe held onto her. He kissed her again and it hurt his lip. They both pulled away laughing shyly. He touched his lip and she caught his scruffy face in her hands and caught his eyes with hers. ?Come back to me. I love you.? It was all too much for Jobe. He looked at his feet when he heard the words. Delouis lifter his chin and looked into his eyes. They knew it was meant to be. She gave him a hard shove in the chest, ?Now get outta here cowboy.? He shouldered his bedroll and grabbed his saddle on the porch. He stopped to look back at her again. She stood there holding her own face in her hands now, choking back tears. Yes it was meant to be.

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I can't waaaaitt. I'm tooooo excited!! -

"Please sir, Could I have some more?"

I just hooked on to this thread, and I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed it!

Thank you Eric John.

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Oiy Vey! Now I've gotta keep up with TWO stories! The sheer torture of this is killing me! What's gonna happen next with da Mustang. . .

And Jobe and his saucey girl!

It's all so intriguing! [Yay]

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I lost track of what number update we're looking for. Boy was I dissappppionted to find it's not number 8 but number 9 we seek.

Please do go on and on... and on! [big Grin]

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Guys,

I'm strugglin here so hang in there with me.

I think we have finaly found the formula to keep the two old troopers, (Red and Casey), from over heating, which includes but is not limited to at least one rinsing during the hot of the day.

But alas we are in a level 1 staging scenerio with Dean about to be in the Gulf and another TD right behind him, Felix. Lots to do in a Level 1 staging scenerio.

I went back to the doctor today and got released to back to work in the bucket truck. [Yay] But no climbing for another 7 weeks. [Duh]

I have a committee meeting in the morning then some field work, but I will be in the office Wednesday afternoon, so I will try to get some done then.

But just think, you guys are lucky, your getting it straight form the horses mouth, so to speak, no frills, All of the bad spelling, punctuation, grammar to boot.

Just like we was all settin' 'round a campfire sippin' whiskey after a nice day of trail ridin'. [big Grin]

****hopes silently the sugar coating will not where off before I get back****

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