• Billy and the Kid - Chapter 9 through 12

    Chapter 9

    William and Billy went back at it. Billy climbed back up on the boat and William noticed he’d remember what he’d been shown. Billy moved to the front deck and set up on the starboard rod locker and opened the first box labeled fishing. This was the part he’d been looking forward to but after the story he’d just heard, he wasn’t quite as upbeat as he was earlier. “What’s in there Billy?” “Looks like jig heads to me Mr. Baker. Lots of them”. “Oh yeah, that’s my spares and duplicates box. Scoot it over this way and I’ll get it. It’s heavy though”. Billy did as asked but had to reposition himself for enough bracing to scoot it over. “Billy, you ever fish much?” “Sometimes Mr. Baker, but I don’t have much stuff. My Dad keeps most of the fishing stuff at his place. There is a little lake through the woods that has some fish in it though. I’ve caught some bream and catfish and a couple of Crappie out of it”. That was about all William Baker needed to hear. “What do you use to catch them Billy”. “Well, I’ve got a little rod my Mom bought me and I’ve caught the Bream and Catfish on worms and grasshoppers that I find around the pond. All of the Crappie bit the grasshoppers though”.

    Mr. Baker took the box and set it on the floor and started going through it. “Billy hand me that blue Plano bag over there”. Billy did and Mr. Baker started a new line of stuff on the floor. “Billy, what’s this little lake like?” “It’s pretty good sized. It’s got some fairly deep water in it I think. There’s some weeds around the edge and some old trees out away from the shore. I catch most of the fish about midway to the levee around some trees I can cast the cork out to.” “What about the water? How far down you can see?” “Oh it’s fairly dirty. I can see maybe 2 feet deep most of the time. I can take you back there to see it if you like.” “Well, maybe some time”. Billy felt bad about that last comment, but didn’t realize what it might mean to Mr. Baker when he said it.

    Over the next 2 hours they carefully went through each box. Each box was chuck full of one style of baits just in different sizes and colors. Mr. Baker would stop every now and again and describe how each one was used and some even had stories connected about where they came from or how Mr. Baker used them on one particular lake at one time or another. Billy drank in every word. As William talked and Billy listened Mr. Baker was not up to 5 straight and neat rows of tackle and gear lined up on the garage floor. Just as Billy was moving the last box off the deck, his mother rounded the corner of the garage. “Hi Billy, I’m Carol, Billy’s mother” she said as she walked up to Mr. Baker. They shook hands and Mr. Baker introduced himself. “I hope Billy hasn’t been any trouble coming over here and your boat is about all he’s talked about since he met you and your wife” “Moooom” Billy managed. “Oh he’s been no trouble at all. Matter of fact he’s been a big help. I couldn’t have managed all this without him. I appreciate you letting him spend the afternoon with me.” Billy puffed up a little with pride when Mr. Baker said that, but tried not to let it show. “My wife has been itching to meet you, let me go get her”. Mr. Baker stepped inside and Carol moved over to the boat where Billy was sitting. “You haven’t been pestering the Bakers have you Billy?” “No Mom, I promise.” “Good, now we’ve got to get home pretty soon and get dinner and you need a bath so let’s finish up here and get going” Ann Baker stepped through the door and greeted Carol warmly insisting that she come in so they could talk and visit some. “Let’s let these boys finish up what they’re doing while we visit”. All Carol wanted was to get home after finishing work, but she couldn’t find a way to refuse.

    After they’d gone in Mr. Baker said “Your Mom seems nice”. Billy half rolled his eyes and said “She’s OK, but she stays on my case a lot”. “I’ll tell you what William Brannon, I wish I had a Mom to stay on my case,” he said. “You’re lucky to have her and don’t you ever forget it”. The tone in which he said it made Billy sit up straight. “Yes sir” Billy said as he sat up. Later that night Billy would dwell on the way Mr. Brannon had corrected him and would decide he was in fact lucky to have her and that he needed to be more appreciative of his Mother.

    “Now let’s finish up that last box,” Mr. Baker said, “so we can get you and your mother home”. Billy could tell that the curtness in his voice was already gone, but he worried he’d upset Mr. Baker somehow. Billy pushed over the last box. This one was full of odds and ends. Sun screen, batteries, pumps, old sunglasses. It was just a miscellaneous catch all box. Mr. Baker again set in on the floor and started through it. Billy managed up enough courage to ask “Is your Mother still alive Mr. Baker”. “No Billy, she died many years ago, but I’d give almost anything to see her again.” A few minutes later, Mr. Baker stood up and told Billy he’d be right back. Mr. Baker disappeared into the house and Billy was able to take stock in what all they’d accomplished. The boat was now completely clean and seemed even larger. The Marine section of the garage was now almost completely filled up with spare parts and baits and only a few things were still left in 2 cardboard boxes. All of the rods had been removed from their packaging and were lined up on 2 rod racks on the other side of the boat that Billy hadn’t noticed earlier. The 5 rows of miscellaneous tackle and gear was still lined up in the floor of the garage, but other than that, the garage was spick and span with everything in it’s place.

    Mr. Baker, Ann and his Mom all stepped back into the garage with the ladies saying their goodbyes. Mr. Baker came back over to the boat and thanked Billy for all of his help and saying that he would be able to finish up from here. Billy climbed down and thanked Mr. Baker for letting him help and showing him all of the equipment and explaining so much about it to him and then he thanked Mrs. Ann for the cookies and tea. As they walked out of the garage Ann called to Carol “Don’t forget about lunch tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to it.” “Oh we won’t. We’ll see you at noon.”

    Back at home, the next couple of hours were a flurry of activity for Carol getting dinner ready and clothes folded and put out for the next day. And before she could even think about getting a bath herself, she needed to pay the light bill and replace that light bulb in the bedroom. To make matters worse, Billy kept getting distracted from his chores while he recounted something that Mr. Baker said or describing that silly boat. Even as warm as it was in the house that night, Carol finally flopped in the bed at 11 and was almost asleep when Billy stepped in the door and said “Thanks Mom for letting me go over to the Bakers today. I love you. Good night” It occurred to Carol when she said “I love you too” that Billy rarely said thank you to her for much in the last couple of years. He was always polite, but sometimes he seemed to take her for granted. “Your welcome Billy. Good night.”

    Chapter 10

    The next morning Carol was gone by 5 AM, but today she’d have only 5 hours to work at the diner and still would have time for lunch with the Bakers before heading out again to be at work by 2. Before she left, she checked in on Billy and noticed his room was picked up more than usual. It still wasn’t clean exactly, but she could tell he spent some time on it last night.

    Billy resisted the urge to run over and see what Mr. Baker was up to when he got up. Around 8 he noticed Mrs. Ann leaving in her car and it wasn’t much longer before Mr. Baker drove off in that big diesel too. Great, now how was he supposed to pass the time. Billy thought back to the project he’d started last night and decided that was as good a way as any. It wasn’t exactly fun, but it did manage to pass the time. He didn’t even realize how late it was when his Mom walked in the door yelling his name and telling him to hurry up, they didn’t want to be late. Ann threw her things down, picked up a pie off the kitchen counter and herded Billy down the hall and out of the door.

    They walked past the garage and to the Bakers front door. Ann greeted them and hugged Carol and Billy as if she’d know them all their lives. Mr. Baker was busy in the kitchen, but managed to pop his head around the corner to say hello to them. Ann took Carol into the kitchen and soon sent Mr. Baker back to the living room to be with Billy. They chatted and talked fishing while the ladies put the finishing touches on lunch. Soon they were eating like kings on what seemed to Billy to be a feast. The conversation during lunch was more about getting to know each other than anything else. Billy just ate and tried to keep quiet while concentrating on not spilling anything on the white table cloth. They talked about where they were all born, his Mother’s jobs, Mr. Baker’s work and their kids. Soon lunch was over and Ann insisted on sending the boys out to the garage so she and Carol could visit some more and so the boys wouldn’t be in the way. Mr. Baker seemed relieved and so did Billy so they didn’t put up much of a fight. This was all a bit too formal for the both of them.

    Mr. Baker motioned for Billy to come with him and they stepped out to through the utility room to the garage. Billy was amazed that Mr. Baker had completely finished everything since he was over the day before. All of the gear on the floor was gone and the peg board was even straighter and more precise that it was yesterday. Even the cardboard boxes were gone and had been replaced by some plastic storage bins with drawers. But the boat was cluttered up again with some tackle and rods and some odds an ends. “Mr. Baker, can I help you finish cleaning the boat?” “I was hoping you would Billy. Climb up there and hand me all that stuff”. Billy did and one by one handed over the 2 spinning rods and reels, a large tackle bag that was heavier than it looked and 2 plastic bags of loose stuff. With each hand off, Mr. Baker created a little pile on the garage floor. Then walked over and turned on the fans and pulled up the two chairs. “Billy come on down here and lets look at this stuff”. Before he did, he took a moment to marvel at the boat they’d cleaned off. It seems like you could land a plane on the front deck and still have room for the helicopter on the back now that it was cleaned off.

    They took up their positions in the chairs and Mr. Baker leaned over and grabbed the spinning rods. “Billy, I want you to take this stuff home with you.” “No Mr. Baker, I appreciate it, but I don’t think I can do that.” “Why not Billy?” “Well, I don’t want you to think I was helping you just so I could get stuff, besides, my Mom wouldn’t like me taking it.” “Well Billy, Ann and I talked to your Mom about it yesterday and she said it’d be fine with her. You’ve seen how much junk I’ve got and you know I’m never going to get to use it.” He paused for a second to check to make sure Billy understood what he’d just said then went on. Billy did. “I’d rather you take it and use it to catch every fish in that lake back there with it and then come and tell me all about it. Besides, if you don’t take it, I’m just going to throw it all in the corner and let it rot.” Billy slumped back in his chair and furrowed his brow. He glanced down at the pile, up at Mr. Baker, then back to the pile. A few moments passed and Mr. Baker sat patiently. Billy’s brows eased and a smile started and continued to grow. “Mr. Baker, I will take this stuff. I’ll take it and do my best to clear out that lake with it. Thank You. Thank you so much.” “Billy, I can’t accept your thanks. The only thanks I want is for you to come and tell me about the fish you catch with it and I want every detail from every trip back there. Promise me.” “Oh you can count on me Mr. Baker. I promise”. The grin on Billy’s face would stay would be one of the things that kept coming to mind to him on the day he died. “I’m sure you will Billy. Now, let’s go through all of this stuff and let me show you how to use it and how these reels work.”

    Chapter 11.

    Back in the house, Ann and Carol finished cleaning up and settled back down at the table to visit like only ladies can visit. Ann started with gentle questions: Tell me about Billy. What about your work? Etc. Then went deeper: Are you divorced? Where is your Ex-husband? Etc. She managed, as only Ann could, to get a deep understanding with only a few questions and let Carol fill in the blanks. Ann was so easy to talk to and Carol had so little time to really talk to another woman since her Mother had died 5 years ago that Carol poured out like a tea pitcher before she knew it. Before it was over, Carol has relayed her entire history, the struggles she had to make ends meet and the exhaustion she felt trying to keep them tied together. And on top of it all, there was the ‘man stuff’ that need to be done. The A/C was on the fritz and the leaking faucet and just about the time she managed to fix one thing, another would break. When Carol had talked herself to the point where it started to make her sad, Ann jumped in and changed the subject to her and Mr. Baker.

    “Carol, I’ve got to tell you something. The reason we moved here is William. We don’t think he has long.” Ann went on to recount the entire story all the way to the point of his pending PET Scan Thursday. Carol sat quietly listening. Embarrassed that she had been so caught up in her on troubles. “Carol, I need your help” “Anything,” Ann said. And she meant it. “William thinks that I don’t know, but he’s given up on getting better. He’s convinced himself that he’s going to die and he’s going to do it soon. Truth is, maybe he will, but I don’t want him to give up before it’s time. He’s always needed something to work towards and up till now, I’ve been able to provide it for him. The last 6 months, it’s been this move. But now that we’re settled in, he thinks he’s finished. That everything is done and I’m taken care of and that he can just lie down and die. I’m not going to have it.” She paused and cleared her throat and wiped a soft tear. “What can I do to help Ann? Just tell me”. “Well, it’s Billy. He needs something or someone to focus on. He likes Billy too. And he doesn’t like many kids these days. If you will, would you please let Billy spend some time with William? I mean, just let Billy come over and visit and let them piddle in that garage. And I’ll make sure that Billy is always safe and where he’s supposed to be when you need him. I can help look after him and help you when you need to work too.” Carol held up a hand to stop Ann before she went any further. “Of course Ann, I’ll make sure Billy stops by any chance he gets and I’ll let him know that he can come over any time he wants. To tell the truth, you and William are Godsends. Billy’s at an age where it won’t take much to get him going in the wrong direction and without his Dad around.....” She let that last sentence trail off without finishing it. Deep down, she wasn’t sure that having him around right now would be such a good thing if she stopped to think about it. “Ann, you have my word, we’ll put these two together as much as possible and if things don’t go well with William, it won’t be from our lack of trying”.

    Ann hugged Carol and tried not to break down. “Ann, I’m sorry, but I have to leave for work now. Thank you so much for lunch and for everything.” “No, Thank you Carol. Thank you.” The two hugged and headed out through the garage. The boys were deep in discussion over the merits of solid body tubes verses hollow body tubes when the girls stepped through the door. “Billy, I have to leave for work now, but you can stay here with Mr. Baker and Mrs. Ann as long as you don’t get in there way. You’ve got leftovers in the frig and I expect you to be bathed and in the bed no latter than 9 tonight. We’ve got to get up early and do the grocery shopping.” Ann paused to let Billy do is normal whining about taking a bath and the early bed time. “Yes Ma’am and I’ll be sure not to leave a mess in the bathroom again”. Carol’s eyes went wide. She half smiled and cut a glance at Ann. “Well…….oh….Ok then, I love you and I’ll check in on you when I get home” “Love you too Mom”. Carol blinked again. Really hard. She had to leave 5 minutes ago and she’d cry about it on the way to work when she had the time. “Mr. Baker, thank you for lunch. And please don’t let Billy get in your way.” “Oh, he’s not trouble at all Carol, I’m happy to have him around.” “Mom, did you really say Mr. Baker could really give me this fishing stuff”. “Yes Billy, but it sure is a lot, are you sure it’s OK Mr. Baker?” “Oh sure, it’s just some stuff I was going to throw away anyhow” That wasn’t true of course, but a little fib wouldn’t hurt anyone he thought to himself. “Well, if you’re sure then. Yes, you can keep it Billy, just be sure to take care of it.” “Yes Ma’am” There was the Ma’am again. Good thing is was a full 30 minutes to work. Ann and William watched Carol leave.

    “William, Billy, ya’ll put that stuff away for now. William, go grab your tools, I’ve got some things I need you to do. Billy, would you mind helping William with some chores?” “I’d be happy to Mrs. Ann”. Good, I’ll make a list and you go change into some clothes that you can get dirty in. “Yes Ma’am” and Billy lit out for his house. “We’ve got to be at the doctor at 10 AM in the morning so I want you to go over and check on Carol’s air conditioner and get Billy to show you which one of their sinks is leaking. Now, don’t do anything to strenuous, but see what needs to be done to that A/C and go ahead and fix that sink. She flashed a smile at William and planted a big kiss on his cheek while she hugged him. Then spun on her heels and left William standing there not even giving him a chance to say yes, no, huh, wait a minute or anything.

    Chapter 12

    William just smirked to himself and turned for his tool box and bag. Hmmm…Better get my meter and test light….might need a pipe wrench….probably need my pressure gauges…he thought as he loaded the bag. Just as he loaded the last item, Billy re-appeared. “Well Billy, looks like we’ve got some fixin’ to do”. “Great. What needs fixing Mr. Baker?” “Well, Mrs. Ann wants me to go over and take a look at your air conditioner and said something about a sink”. “Oh…OK. It has been getting hot in the house lately. And the sink in the kitchen drips and I think Mom said there is a leak in under the cabinet.” “Well, we best get moving if you’re gonna go fishing today.” Billy grinned as big as ever. “Let’s go then”.

    Billy led the way and William followed right into the kitchen. “See that drip there, Mr. Baker?” Billy opened the cabinet and pulled all the cleaning stuff out for William. “Right there. See how it’s been dripping and stained the cabinet? Must not be much of a leak, but it is dripping some”. “OK Billy, that doesn’t look to be too much to fix. We better have a look at that A/C now. Billy, you ever do any fixing?” “Not really Mr. Baker. I don’t really know how most stuff works. Just never really had anyone to show me.” “Well, we can fix that too. OK, where is your thermostat and your fuse box?” Billy showed him the fuse box and then the thermostat after Mr. Baker told him the thermostat is the ‘A/C on/off thingy’. Mr. Baker took the time to explain the why every house had a ‘fuse box’, what a circuit was, hot, neutral and ground and why there were different sized fuses… least a quick course on it anyway. He took extra care to emphasize how to be safe with electricity when you had some work to be done with it. At the thermostat, he explained how a mercury switch worked and pulled the cover off to let him see it as Mr. Baker moved the control arm. “Huh. That’s pretty simple Mr. Baker”. “Nothing to it really. OK, let’s set it to cool and go out and take a look at the unit outside”. Mr. Baker could hear it kick on and assumed it was just probably low on Freon or maybe had a leak.

    Once outside, Mr. Baker could see no one had touched it in quite a few years. “Hmmm, look here Billy, the coil is filthy. No wonder this thing is not working like it supposed to.” What does the coil do Mr. Baker?” “Hand me that screw driver and go get the garden hose and I’ll show you”. Billy handed him a flat screwdriver and Mr. Baker explained the difference between a Phillips and a Flat and Billy took off for the garden hose. Mr. Baker removed the housing and exposed the coils showing all the dirt and leaf bits and explained how the Freon flowed through the unit and was cooled by the fan unit. Then he took the hose and sprayed it out. “Billy, this needs to be done at least once a year. I do mine twice just to make sure it’s operating efficiently as possible. Once in the spring when I see the first flowers and then again in the peak of the summer around the 1st of August because it’s usually gotten dusty by then and the pollen from the Spring would have built back up and made the dust stick to it. You need to make sure and do this for your Mom from now on. It’s one of the ways you can help your Mom out.” “Yes sir, I’ll take care of it from now on”. They finished the cleaning and Mr. Baker hooked up his gauges, explaining the theory of high side and low side and what the unit should be doing. “Well, there must not be a leak, something else is wrong. I still haven’t heard the compressor kick on”. “What’s the compressor?” Mr. Baker pointed it out again and explained what it does. “We better see if it’s getting power first. When your trying to fix stuff, it’s always easiest to start with the simple things and work up from there Billy”. Mr. Baker grabbed his meter and started connecting it here and there. He didn’t explain what he was doing though, other than to tell Billy that this was not something he should try because you had to be sure of what you were doing or that electricity would bite him like a Rattle Snake except the electricity wouldn’t let go right away.. Billy nodded and thought about that. He didn’t like snakes. “Yep, that’s the problem right there. The capacitor is bad. OK, you go into the house and turn the breaker I showed you off and we’ll get this fixed. Billy did as asked then came back out. “Billy, remember, always double check when working with electricity and I like to check 3 times. Mr. Baker reached over and threw the power switched mounted to the wall then showed Billy how to check for current with his meter. “That wall mounted box there kills the power to this unit…..or at least it’s supposed to if it was hooked up right. That’s the trouble, you can never be sure that someone else has done it the right way, so don’t trust your life on whether or not they did”. Mr. Baker threw the switch again and re-tested. Still no current. “This one was installed properly, but I’ve seen them where they weren’t. You see the trouble is that somebody may have done a repair down the road and bypassed that box and put current straight to the unit”. He turned the switch off again and removed the capacitor and explained how it worked and why it wouldn’t let the compressor come on. “OK, we know what’s wrong here, let’s get to that sink next.” The sink turned out to be a bad washer on the on the valve. The drain had just worked loose and only took ½ a turn with the pipe wrench. Mr. Baker explained every step of the way. “OK Billy, let’s run to the hardware store and get the things we need and we’ll be in business.”

    Billy had never ridden in a truck as big as this. He felt like an over the road trucker and grinned the whole way there just listening to that Power Stroke chug the hills. Barely, he managed to resist the urge to ask Mr. Baker to honk the air horn. They walked in to the hardware store and the 3 guys behind the counter greeted Mr. Baker like a long lost cousin. Billy didn’t understand how they seemed to know him so well. “Who’s this fella with you Billy, your Grandson?” “Oh no, this is my next door neighbor, Billy Brannon”. “Well hey there Little Bill, nice to meet you”. Yep, Billy really liked this new nickname for sure now. Billy managed a smile and shook the man’s hand. Another guy slid a container of candy over to him and winked at him to let him know it was OK to swipe a few. Billy took a seat on the stool and started fishing out the good stuff. Mr. Baker showed the man what he needed and the third guy went to get the things for Mr. Baker from this aisle and that and brought it back. “I sure do appreciate it Tim”. Billy noticed Mr. Baker put 2 brand new 20 dollar bills on the counter and took his change. “No problem Billy, we’re just happy to see you out and about. The wife and I have been praying for you”. Billy winced a little. Mr. Baker did too. Billy hadn’t even thought about Mr. Baker’s appointment all day. “Thanks Tim. Ann and I appreciate it. I’ll see you guys soon.” “You be sure and bring your helper back with you when you come.” “You keep giving him candy and I won’t be able to get over here with out him.”

    Mr. Baker and Billy drove back home, but didn’t say much. That was just fine with Mr. Baker. “This kid just knows when to be quiet”, Mr. Baker thought to himself. Back at the house, they installed the capacitor first and put the power back to the unit and it worked like new. The sink only took another 15 minutes and Billy could already feel the house getting cooler. “Well, that will do it for the day Billy. It’s 4 O’clock now. That gives you plenty of time to get back to that lake and catch me a story or two. Why don’t we gather up the tools and lock up the house and you take off. I better get back and check on Ann and probably ought to rest up for tomorrow. “Yes sir, I’m going to try those solid body tubes you showed me and I’ll be sure to come over as soon as you get back tell you all about it.” “Remember now, you promised.” “Yes sir.”

    The next four chapters will be published here soon. There will be a total of 6 installments, each containing 4 chapters. This story was written by our very own member: Wannabe...

    The first 4 chapters can be found here:
    The second 4 chapters can be found here:
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. Lotech Joe's Avatar
      Lotech Joe -
      Quite a project you have going here. And only 1/2 done so far. Looking forward to the next installment.
    1. Billbob's Avatar
      Billbob -
      great storie
    1. cricket george's Avatar
      cricket george -
      You are quite an author. I am looking forward to the next installment.
    1. kycreek's Avatar
      kycreek -
      it was a great story.
    1. "G"'s Avatar
      "G" -
      gets better every time
    1. Bayoudog's Avatar
      Bayoudog -
      Can't wait to
    1. RetiredRR's Avatar
      RetiredRR -
      Keepin' a positive attitude for the author.
    1. revitup's Avatar
      revitup -
      great read. thanks. I've been looking for this installment since i finished the last one and now have to wait again. Mark of a good story.
    1. Crappiegirl1's Avatar
      Crappiegirl1 -
      Still a great story---------
    1. Bowbender's Avatar
      Bowbender -
      great read again
    1. Swampthing6400's Avatar
      Swampthing6400 -
      Good read to pass some time
    1. boatdocksam's Avatar
      boatdocksam -
      great story
    1. bassaholic's Avatar
      bassaholic -
      I'm hooked !Great storey.
    1. Lundfisher's Avatar
      Lundfisher -
      Great story waiting on more.
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