Read To Everything a Season Online

Authors: Lauraine Snelling

Tags: #FIC042040, #FIC027050, #FIC042030, #Christian fiction, #Love stories

To Everything a Season (9 page)

BOOK: To Everything a Season
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“I am, but . . .” Thorliff stared out the window. “I think they'll come back tonight. They can't afford to let him talk. Besides, there is no moon tonight.”

“But according to the sheriff, their little brother is tough. He's not talking.” Trygve tilted his chair back on two legs. “However, we can't leave our people unprotected. Meeker's idea of deputizing tomorrow might just be too late.”

“Who's at the hospital now?”

“Annika is the nurse on duty,” Daniel answered. “Elizabeth is over there now and the second of the county deputies. The condition of that boy will determine if others take shifts to care for him. I suggest we take turns for the night patrolling the exterior, singly or in teams of two.”

“I say at least three.” Trygve had been quiet up to now. “Four of us and possibly Toby and Garth.”

“Why so many?”

“One of the last wells we drilled before we came home taught me some things. The fellow I bored the well for was both ignorant and stubborn. He was unlettered, which is no crime, but he thought he knew absolutely everything. Adamant about it. If that's what we're dealing with here, willful ignorance and bullheadedness, the brothers will not behave normally. They're unpredictable. We cannot say, ‘They will do this,' or ‘Surely they wouldn't do that.' We must be ready for anything, and that takes more than just one or two.”

The others nodded.

Thorliff looked at Daniel. “You call the others. Okay?”

Daniel nodded.

“Glad we are doing something. The thought of those lowlifes injuring our neighbors and friends . . .” Thorliff wagged his head.

Daniel jotted down a schedule and read it, to the approval of the others. “Good! Then let's get at it. I think we should let Solberg know too. He'll marshal prayer support.”

“Good idea.” The men rose and headed out the door. This promised to be a long night, but hopefully a productive one.

Thorliff raised his voice. “I'll call Sheriff Meeker and tell him what we are planning.”

The others waved. They had much to do. And little time to get started.

Chapter 9

G
abe McCrary was just as noble a leader of men as was Jesse James or Cole Younger. Look how many robberies he and his brothers had pulled off—just as many as any of those others and nary a hitch—well, except for losing Manny, of course. And they were about to take care of that little detail shortly.

They wouldn't have lost him in the first place if it hadn't been so miserable dark in that alley. Why, they ran right past him and never even saw him. Gabe leaned against the side of a big square building of some sort and watched the Blessing hospital across the street.

“You sure that's where he is?” Beside him, Meshach scowled.

“Sure of it, Shack. That little girl was just a gold mine of information. Ask her a question and she'll take off rattling like an empty buckboard for a couple minutes. I thought Pearly Mae would talk your ear off, but this kid's even talkier than Pearly Mae. And she hears everything.”

“But kids lie. Well, they tell fibs anyway.”

“Pretty certain she weren't lying. Her name's Inga 'cause her grandma's Ingeborg. Says the bank robber is just a young 'un, and he's in the hospital. Broke his leg. So he ain't gonna
go running for a while. We might even have to carry him out to the horses.”

“Well, I ain't carrying him.” Shack's scowl deepened.

“Don't fret your britches. I'll carry him.” Jedediah leaned just as casually against the wall. “There's the church bell pealing, so folks are mostly gonna be in the church.”

“We give 'em a few minutes or so to get settled and sing something,” Gabe said. “Then we go in.”

“Because some little chatterbox says so.” Shack obviously was not convinced.

Gabe sighed. “Look, she knows everything 'cause her ma and aunt Astrid are doctors there. So she hears all about it.”

“You mean her pa and uncle are doctors.”

“Nope. Women doctors. Shack, this is gonna be the easiest thing. A couple excitable women is all that stands between us and Manny, and maybe one of them is in church. He might even be all alone in there.”

“Can't believe they wouldn't put a guard on him.” Shack was looking all around, as if some of those churchgoing people were waiting behind a tree to jump out on him or something. “We shoulda gone back home to Kentucky, like Manny wanted. Rob banks in Kentucky, where we know the lay of the land and there's hills to hide in.”

“No banks in Kentucky got money,” Jedediah opined.

Shack snorted. “They got a darn sight more than fifty-five dollars in them!”

Jedediah lurched himself upright. “About time to work our way around to there, eh?”

Gabe nodded and stepped back.

As they led their horses back a ways, crossed the street, and headed up the alley, Gabe rehearsed what went wrong Friday night, because he sure didn't want it to happen again. It took
them until first light to finally catch up with their horses, and then to find the satchel practically empty . . . He shuddered.

Here was the back door of the hospital. They tied off their horses to a rail fence across the way and casually sauntered to the door.

Gabe tried it. Wasn't locked. He pushed it open. They were in a big kitchen of some sort, probably where they made the patients' food and things. A woman was stirring a pot with her back to them. Silently, they slipped past her and out into a hallway. She didn't look toward them at all.

Where was he? This was a big building. Real big.

“Listen!” Jedediah hissed.

Someone was saying something, ranting, it sounded like. Yelling. Gabe paused. Yep. It sounded like Manny.

But Jed was pushing past him, muttering, “It's him.” Jed led the way up and out into a hall.

They did have a guard, and there he sat on a chair outside a door. Was Manny beyond that door?

“Please help!” called a woman's voice from inside the room.

The guard leaped up and ran into the room. More ranting. Yes, it definitely was Manny.

Gabe and Jed, with Shack trailing behind, hurried to the door and stopped, listening.

The woman's voice: “He's out of his head with fever and pain. We gave him morphine, but it will take a few minutes to gain a hold. Please help us hold him until the morphine quiets him.”

Another woman's voice: “I have to finish this procedure, and he's moving so much, I could make a mistake.”

The guard, presumably: “All right. I have his leg pinned down. Just a scrawny kid, and I can't believe how strong he is.”

Gabe stepped into the room. Jed moved in beside him.

Manny was lying on a bed, his head flailing back and forth. He cried out, “I won't go back with them! I can't! Help me!”

One of the two women, the one facing them, looked up and yelped.

The other, a blonde, twisted to look at them. “You're his brothers! Come help us!” She didn't seem scared of them at all, yet she was frantic in a way.

“I'll help.” Jed rushed over. He pinned down Manny's arms. “Imagine how strong this kid's gonna be when he gets his growth.” Manny was lifting an arm off the bed even with Jed leaning on it.

The blonde barked, “Elizabeth, fill a syringe with morphine, a
big
dose.”

The other woman started to say something, but she closed her mouth into a sort of smirk. She picked up one of those shot needles and filled it from a big vial on a tray.

Gabe stared. “You gonna give him a shot? Don't want shots!”

“He is in intense pain,” the blonde said. “We had his leg in a traction splint. He tried to get out of bed and twisted the break severely. Now I must operate to repair it if he's ever going to walk again.” She bent over the leg with a tool, blocking Gabe's view.

Jed asked, “Ain't you gonna just cut it off?”

“We may have to, but he's so young, I hate to. We'll save it if we can.”

Jed looked at her strangely. Obviously he was thinking something. Gabe could usually tell when his brother was thinking something deep.

The woman called Elizabeth was still holding that huge needle. “I have to get more alcohol from the cabinet.”

The blonde nodded.

Elizabeth hurried around to the side of the bed, passing Gabe.
Suddenly she tripped and tipped forward, and he felt that needle go right into his behind! Right through his pants and everything!

He yelped and tried to lurch aside, but he bumped into the blonde. But she was tough! She was braced for it, bumped into him right back. Swift as lightning, that Elizabeth woman ran out the door.

His butt hurt where she'd slammed into him, really hurt. “Shack! Grab her!”

But she was gone before that oaf Meshach could even move.

The guard cried out, “I don't dare let go!”

“No, you don't. Please, just keep holding his leg steady.” The blonde continued to work on the leg.

A bloody nail fell to the floor. Well, it looked like a nail, but it didn't have a head. Obviously one of those fancy new medical devices.

Jed said, “He's not fighting as much. He ain't dying, is he?”

“No, he was dosed with morphine. It's finally helping him relax. Thank you for holding him down.”

“Welcome. I can see what you're doing there. Never saw a human bone before like that. If you bring them ends together, they're gonna knit?”

“We hope so. Suture. Oh, that's right. Elizabeth left.” She stepped over to the tray, picked up a couple pieces of thread, and returned to her work. “I suppose we shouldn't try putting him in traction again. He fights it. I'm just hoping this will heal without complications.”

“What complications?”

“When a leg bone breaks, the muscles around it contract. It's not something your brain tells it to do. It just happens. And if the bones are the least bit out of line, the muscles can force the end of a bone right out through the skin. It's called a compound fracture. Traction prevents that from happening.”

Jed nodded toward a sort of rope harness thing at the foot of the bed. “That the traction?”

“Yes.”

“Then put it back on him. I'll make certain he doesn't fight it anymore.”

“The devil you will!” Gabe exploded. “We're supposed to get him out of here. Take a hand. We're gonna do it.”

Jed stared straight at Gabe. “This here woman is doing some mighty tough work trying to save our brother's leg when she doesn't have to,” he said, his voice raised some, which he never did. “She coulda just cut it off. Lots easier. But she didn't and that's good. You try riding a horse with only one leg. Or running, or anything. If she cares that much to try to save it, so will we. You best get out of here while you can. That Elizabeth woman's probably to the church by now fetching up menfolk.”

Shack poked Gabe. “He's right. I'm getting outta here!”

Now Gabe was the leader, the boss, and he should have decided something definite about what they ought to do, right? But he couldn't. His brain was kind of fuzzy, not in an unpleasant way but just . . . well, like he'd just got up before dawn. That kind of fuzzy. At least his butt didn't hurt anymore.

Shack bolted toward the door. “I'm going clear away, clear home to Kentucky.” He screeched to a halt out in the hall and came running back in. “They're coming already! A half dozen of them, running down the hall this way, Gabe! Whata we do?”

Gabe figured it out. He had the only gun, so he drew it and pointed it right at the blonde.

When the men appeared in the doorway, he yelled, “Stop right there, the lot of you! Back off!”

“Don't hurt Astrid!” one of them shouted, but they backed off and disappeared from the doorway.

Jed was looking at Gabe kind of funny.

Gabe knew they were just outside, waiting. But he wasn't certain what to do next.

He realized something he ought
not
be doing: He was aiming his .45 at the floor. He swung it back up to aim toward the woman. So long as he was doing that, they wouldn't dare barge in or try to shoot him, for fear she'd get it. So far, so good.

Jed was talking to the blonde. “For a couple little females, you two are pretty sharp. When that Elizabeth lost her balance and tipped into Gabe, she stuck a shot into him, didn't she? With morphine.” Jed sounded distant, like he was way down at the end of the hall or somewhere, but he was standing right there. Gabe could see him.

“But I don't know if she delivered the whole dose or only part of it, so I can't say how much he actually got.” The blonde sounded distant too, like she was a long way off.

“Gabe, gimme the gun.” Jed was looking at him weirdly again.

“Why should I? I'm the boss here.”

But Gabe realized he was pointing it at the floor again, so when Jed came around the head of the bed and took the gun out of his hand, he didn't object too loudly.

He was in a different room, not that one. And there were different people here, not Jed or Shack or the blonde or the guard. He felt groggy, like he was drunk, but he couldn't be. And he felt sort of happy too, like everything was just fine. He was sitting in a chair . . . well, not sitting, more like sprawling down in it. He sat up straighter.

A smiling fellow pulled a chair up beside his, facing him. “Why, howdy. My name's Clyde Meeker. What's yours?” He pumped Gabe's right hand in an exuberant handshake.

“Gabe McCrary, pleeztameetcha.”

“McCrary! I've heard that name before. Ain't you one of them
boys that's been holding up banks and stores? If you are, I'm especially pleased to meet you. You boys are a legend around here. Truly admired.”

A legend. Think of that! It pleased Gabe mightily. A legend. And admired. “Thankee, sir. I mean, Clyde. Thankee. Yessir, that we are.”

“Don't ever see you boys around town, though. Where do you hang out when you're not doing your work? Know what I mean?”

Gabe grinned. “We came on this old abandoned farm, out beyond those low hills out east. Makes a nice place to settle in, y'know? Just set. Rest up. That sorta thing. Legend, huh?” He really, really felt all fuzzy and comfy inside. He hadn't felt this good since he couldn't remember when.

From somewhere off to his right, a woman's voice asked, “Is there a nice stable on that farm?”

“Stable? Yes, ma'am, a mighty fine stable.” He looked over to an old woman with a braid that wrapped clear around her head. “Haymow was even half full. We don't have to turn our horses out to graze unless we wanna. Though they's good fences.”

The woman said, “Clyde, I know exactly where he's talking about.”

“That's right, Ingeborg, you've been here a long time.”

“Hefners'. Remember? Anna and Lester left their farm and moved in closer when their daughter died.”

“That was before I took office. Can you show me where it is?”

“I can, ja.”

Ingeborg. Where did he hear that name before? Try as he might, Gabe could not bring up where he'd heard the name.

This Clyde fellow asked some other questions that Gabe enjoyed answering, but what he enjoyed most was the lovely, warm, peaceful feeling that settled all through him, skin to bone, and made him comfortable. He wondered where Jed and Shack had
got to, and he asked a couple times, but nobody seemed to know. The only one they knew was him, Gabe, and they addressed him as
sir
and were really respectful, and they seemed to enjoy his company. For sure, he enjoyed theirs.

Then Clyde suggested they all ride up to somewhere for a drink. Gabe was in for that.

BOOK: To Everything a Season
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