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  • Billy and the Kid - Chapter13 through 16

    The previous 12 chapters can be found here:

    Chapter 13.

    Mr. Baker put away the tools and went in the house. He was surprised he wasn’t any more tired than he was. He kissed Ann on the cheek and told her that the two things on her list could be crossed off and that it only cost $37 dollars. “But I noticed a few other things that needed to be done. The front door sticks a little and there’s a ceiling fan in a box in the hallway. Guess it needs to be installed somewhere. Judging by the looks of that A/C, I’m sure the filters need changing and somebody ought to take a look at the furnace and drain the hot water heater. Not a lot of routine maintenance has gone on over there I’m thinking.” “Thanks Billy. Was Billy any help”. William’s eyes lit up as he described all they’d done and how Billy listened and what he did. Ann pretended to listen, but studied his expressions and gestures more than the details. “Well good then. Now, you go in there in the living room and rest. I’ll bring you dinner in a little bit and we’ll turn in early. We’ve got a big day tomorrow. William’s smile faded a little. Ann noticed that too.

    Billy was out of breath when he made it to the lake…..probably because he ran the whole way through the woods. Billy just assumed it was because he was carrying the big tackle bag. He didn’t want to leave any of it behind. He rigged up a cork and float and used the figure 8 knot Mr. Baker and showed him and it only took twice to get it right this time to get the 1/16th ounce jig tied on. The tube was straight just like Mr. Baker had showed him too. He carefully tripped the bail on the Shimano and eased the rod back carefully not to get tangled in the branches just behind him and threw the rig out with as much flair as a fly fisherman. He even put some body English on it when it sailed a little closer to the stump than he’d planned on, but overall, he gave his first cast an 8. The balsa quill float hit the water with a big thump, rose with the wave and settled back down but tipped over on its side. Billy didn’t think Mr. Baker mentioned that and it looked odd to him. He tripped the bail by hand, took up the slack and gave it a twitch. The cork disappeared and the fight was on. To Billy, it was a monster and the fight lasted 15 minutes. Truth was, it was only about 15 seconds. Just when he thought he had it, the fish went to the right and was headed for a stump. Billy sat down on him and horsed him the other way and pulled him up on the bank flopping. He stood there admiring his accomplishment. He couldn’t believe it. The first cast too. His smile started to fade about the time the fished quit flopping. Billy wished Mr. Baker was here to see it. He took the fish off, measured it and it was exactly 10 inches long. Billy guessed that it had to weigh at least 2 pounds. He released it and the fish took off right back where it came from. “Man, I’m going to kill ‘em today.” He said out loud as he smiled and reset for another cast.

    On his next cast, he missed the stump by a mile and the float settled back in straight this time. Billy waited then reeled up the slack and bumped it back a little. Waited and bumped. Waited and bumped. All the way in to the bank. “Hmmm, maybe I did something wrong.” He tried again and again and again. Now he was really getting worried. It seemed so easy the first time. He dropped his hands to his hips and looked at his feet pondering his next move. Maybe the color….maybe the depth…..maybe a new spot……finally, he resolved to change to that pink and chartreuse Mr. Baker was talking about. He brought his rod back up and started to reel at the same time gazing towards his cork, but he didn’t see it. As he glanced back to his line as he reeled, the more he reeled, the more to the left it went. Finally, it connected that he had a fish about the time the fish realized Billy was on the other end and the fight was on. This one was much bigger than the last one judging by the pull. Billy fought to catch up and just as he did, the fish made a run to the right headed back to the stump. This time, the fish was quicker than Billy and went around and wrapped him up. As Billy pulled back, the fish surfaced just about the time it threw his jig. It was giant! Billy was sick and disgusted. Mr. Baker had told him to pay attention to everything and the biggest fish he’d ever hooked had just taught him a lesson. A lesson he should have learned the first time it was taught to him. With new focus, he managed to get the cork and jig back around the stump and straightened back out. Well….the fish just told me something. He threw by the next closest stump and let it settle and didn’t move it. 3…..5….8….11 seconds. All of the sudden, the cork completely disappeared and the fight was on again. This one was not quite as big as the first, but Billy still felt vindicated and pumped his fist after he let it go. Time to retie now. Just like Mr. Baker told him.

    As the sun set, Billy’s tally was 11 Crappie, 2 nice Bluegill, 1 little Bass and a story about the one that got away. Easily the best day he’d ever had at that little lake. He considered the long walk through the woods to the house. He’d heard the stories the boys at school had told about the Big Foot that was supposed to live in those woods. At the time, he dismissed them as just a stupid story to scare the little kids, but now faced with the long walk in low light, it dawned on him that he was thinking about it. He put it out of his mind and made one last cast in hopes of just one more before he ran all the way home to tell Mr. Baker about it. The fish didn’t come, but he double timed it home just in case he was wrong about that “stupid kiddie story”.

    He went between his house and Mr. Baker’s and rounded the corner to go in the garage only to see it was closed. The porch light was off too. Billy stopped in his tracks, catching his breath and remembered what Mr. Baker had to do today. He decided to wait and see him in the morning and tell him about the trip just like he’d promised.

    Chapter 14

    The trip home was pretty much silent for Mr. and Mrs. Baker. William was bone tired from all the waiting and testing and waiting some more. Ann knew he didn’t want to talk and as much as she wanted to say the words to encourage him, she knew when he wanted to just sit and she let him. They made it home and William turned in to bed without so much as a bite to eat.

    It was 10 O’clock and Billy had been sitting on his porch since he got up waiting on that garage door to open. Just as he was about to give up and find something else to do, he heard the motor on that door crank up. He closed the distance between him and the door before it made it 1/3 of the way up and leaned over at the corner to see Mr. Baker’s legs. As soon as it made it up enough, Billy ran in. “Mr. Baker, you should have been there!” Billy blurted out the whole story just as he’d promised without letting Mr. Baker get much of a word in edge wise. Mr. Baker just smiled and listened, but got in an “Atta boy” or “You’re kidding me” at the appropriate time. He was thinking as Billy recounted almost each cast that this was possibly the best promise he’d ever made someone give him. Billy finished up and just beamed a smile ear to ear. “Billy that’s a heck of a good start.” “Tell me, why do you think that those fish liked it to be sitting still like that”. He asked in such a way that Billy thought he knew the answer already and was making him think about the reasons why. The conversation went on for a bit with William asking questions and Billy struggling for the answers but learning as he answered.

    When the conversation trailed off a bit, Billy looked down and kicked the ground as if there was something to kick. After a short pause, Billy put his hands in his pockets. “Mr. Baker…… did it go yesterday?” Mr. Baker put his hands in his pockets and kicked the same imaginary rock Billy was trying to see. He looked over his shoulder to the door and back down to his feet again, then up at Billy. “Well, I really don’t know yet. They poked and prodded me, scanned me, x-rayed me, then poked and prodded me again all day long. When it was all said and done, I finally got to see the doctor. He spent about 6 minutes with me saying they wouldn’t have all the results for another week to 10 days and then we’d decide what to do.” “Oh, well that’s that then”, Billy said not really knowing anything else to say. Mr. Baker chuckled to himself under his breath. “Yep, that’s that.”

    “Billy, I’ve got to go run some errands today while I’m feeling up to it. Why don’t you take back off to the lake and this time try a little deeper. It’s going to be a blue bird day today and hot, so I’m betting those fish are going to hunker down and try to get out of the sun. Start in the same place you were yesterday and try to find the deepest part of that hole, but don’t be afraid to try some new places too. Just look for that deepest part you can get to. Mrs. Ann is going to talk with you Mom when she gets home and see if it’s OK if you go somewhere with me tomorrow if you want to and on the way there you can tell me about how you did. If that’s OK with you.” “Sure Mr. Baker.” Can I help you with the errands?” “Naw, you just head out fishing and I’ll see you in the morning about 8.” “Sure, where are we going.” “Well, we’re going to see a man I used to work with, John Wilson, but everybody calls him Mr. Make Do.” “Mr. Make Do? Never heard a name like that.” “Yeah, I’ll tell you all about it on the way there and you can tell me about the fishing today” “OK, see you in the morning” “If you Mom says it’s OK.” “Yes sir.”

    Mr. Billy went to get his fishing stuff and Mr. Baker jumped into the truck for another run to the hardware store. He’d made a list after Billy’s Mom had called to thank him almost in tears when she’d come home to find the air conditioner was fixed. In the conversation, Mr. Baker came to understand that money was tight for them and was able to get permission to do a few other things he noticed that needed doing. Carol had started to get embarrassed that Mr. Baker wanted to do all those things, but William insisted saying that maintenance was nothing to do and would cost more not to do it. Carol finally relented after asking Mr. Baker to get Billy to help him so he didn’t over do it and so that Billy could learn how to do some of them. That was fine with Mr. Baker.

    Ann had listened in to his side of the conversation. When he hung up, she kissed him on the cheek, smiled and walked out of the room. Ann realized that just like that, Mr. Baker had adopted another family. Of course, he would never admit it, just like he wouldn’t admit it with the other families he’d adopted over the years that needed some help. He probably even thought that she’d adopted them. William watched as she walked out of the room and thought to himself “Now what in the world was that for? After all these years, I still don’t know what makes that woman tick”.

    Chapter 15

    Mr. Baker got the things he thought he’d need for the Brannon’s house and did a walk around on the outside of the house that afternoon making mental notes of what needed doing. He fixed the latch on the fence to the back yard and mended a down spout on the gutter, but most of the doings needed doing from the inside. Billy spent the afternoon at the lake and fished till dark, this time though, with only 3 fish to show for it and all of them on the small side. The summer had gotten in full swing now and as much sweat as he offered with his efforts, he just couldn’t reach the deep water where Mr. Baker had suggested the fish would be. The creek only came close to the banks in 2 places on that lake and it was a fight to get to the second one with all the brush and briars. Billy wouldn’t tell this part of the story the next day, but he’d spent the first 2 hours of his trip in the same spot doing the same thing he’d done yesterday before he decided that Mr. Baker just might be right. All 3 of his fish came from the deepest water though. He’d decided then to take Mr. Baker’s suggestions as commandments from then on.

    Ann had made all the arrangements that night and had gotten Carol’s permission for the short trip for the boys and had packed the cardboard box with the jars. William had made the phone call to John around lunch and had it all worked out. Ann had even thrown in a couple extra just in case William needed a bargaining chip.

    The next morning when the garage door started up, Billy didn’t wait for the full 1/3 opening and ducked down and in to greet Mr. Baker. “Well, you’re ready to go aren’t you?” “Yes sir, still don’t know where we’re going, but I’m ready to get there”. “Open that door for me on the truck and let me put this box in the back seat and jump in and I’ll tell you all about it.”

    They loaded up and Mr. Baker hit the key to let the glow plug heat up. “Well, how’d you do yesterday?” Billy started in with the story careful to leave out the 2 hours in “his” spot while Mr. Baker navigated the streets to the highway. They were fully out of town before Billy had finished up. “Never been this way before Mr. Baker.”

    “Well, I might as well tell you where we’re headed then. We’re going to see Mr. Make Do. We’ve got some business to tend to, but before we get there Billy, I need to tell you a little bit about him. John is probably going to be the meanest old guy you’ll ever meet. He’s gonna cuss you and me up one side and down the other, then he’ll spit and cuss some more. He’s not gonna like us being there and he’s gonna tell us about it. We’ll either be early or late and he ain’t going to like that either and he’ll cuss us for it. You’ve got to promise me to stand your ground though, don’t back down and don’t let him get to you and especially don’t pick up any of the words you hear. You’re Mom would skin me alive.”

    “Sounds plain awful Mr. Baker. Why in the world would be going there?”

    “Because it’s all an act Billy. He’s a good man with a broken heart is all. He needs folks more than he’ll let on and he’s just grown this way to keep folks at arms length. John and I used to work together. He was the finest machinist I’ve ever known. He could build a 351 Windsor out of a bar of soap and a box of paperclips. He could fix anything that ever was made assuming it ever worked in the first place and some that never did. Well, along the way, he lost his only son in some gosh awful place this country sends our soldiers these days. He took it hard too. They were awful close since he was John’s only son. We all called the boy “Shadow” at work because anytime you saw John outside of work, there was his “Shadow” right beside him. Anyway, after John got the news about John Jr., he just shut down. Not much anyone could do for him. It wasn’t long after, he just dropped out of everything. He wouldn’t hardly speak for the first year or so. After a while, he lost his wife, his home and his job over it. Just like always though, he just sort of made do with what he had. He ended up on his old family place out here that his Mom and Dad had left him. Now he just gets by doing odd jobs, making things for people or fixing this and that.”

    “Well, how should I act around him Mr. Baker?”

    “Billy, you act the same around him as you would anyone else. You act the way you are. Don’t ever pretend to be someone you’re not or act a way because you think that’s the way they want you to act. You just be you and let everyone else be themselves”.

    “Yes sir.”

    Billy thought about that for a bit as they drove on down the 2 lane highway. They’d gotten far enough out now that the houses weren’t close together any more. When Mr. Baker hit the brakes and turned onto the gravel drive, Billy noticed the mailbox wasn’t really a mailbox. It was a blue Igloo cooler turned on it’s side about the size for a 12 pack of cokes with the word “WILSON” scribbled on the side in yellow paint. It even still had the carry handle on it just turned to the side.

    Chapter 16

    Mr. Baker pulled up the gravel drive and parked in front of Mr. Make Do’s house. Billy thought he’d arrived at Fred Sandford’s house. Once they had cleared the hedge row in front of the house, there was stuff all over the place. At first it looked like a junk yard, but the more Billy looked, the more it seemed to be arranged in some sort of order. There was a section for each and every household appliance you could imagine or at least what household appliances evolved from. Most everything looked like it hadn’t been made in years and years. The old house was just a farmhouse shack complete with a tin top and a big porch with almost every inch of it filled up with TVs of some sort or another.

    Right on cue, Mr. Make Do threw open the screen door just as Mr. Baker killed the diesel. As soon as the engine went to rest, Billy could hear him cussing. He threw a look over at Mr. Baker and Mr. Baker shot him a wink, slapped him on the knee and said, “ Remember, don’t pick up any of that. Let’s go.”

    Mr. Baker stepped out and made a B line for John. Bill was worried there was going to be a fight but managed the courage to step out of the truck and stand there in case Mr. Baker needed some help.

    “Billy, I know I #[email protected]%-ing well told you not to 234908-ing park that *&*&% diesel there a hunnert $%$^&%$ - *&^*&^8 – ing times before”

    “Hush up you old goat. You’re going to scare my partner.”

    “Who the sh(*&t you got there?”

    “That’s Billy. Billy Brannon. He’s got equity in this deal.”

    Mr. Make Do pulled one hand up on his hip and put all his weight on the same leg and studied in Billy’s direction. Billy swallowed hard and started forward and up the 2 steps towards them. “Pleased to meet you Mr. Wilson” and stuck out his hand. Mr. Make Do snorted and spit just to Billy’s left, “Where’d you find this one? F(*^^ ing Sunday School”? Billy didn’t understand, but that hat must have been the funniest thing Mr. Make Do had ever said before because he laughed so hard he almost choked himself. Billy didn’t think it was all that funny, but pulled his hand back and stuck it in his pocket and studied this character harder now. He was scrawny for an old man and didn’t look to take very good care of himself. His clothes looked like they came mail order back many years ago. Plain faded work pants, a button up work shirt and a ratty old T-shirt underneath. The more he studied, the less reason he seemed to find to like him. Mr. Make Do finally came to his senses and noticed the look on Billy’s face. “What the (*^&( are you looking at boy? You want to take a poke at me?” Billy pulled his hands out of his pocket, “Only if you think you need it, Mr.” and bowed up as if he could back it up. That set Mr. Make Do off again. This time he wretched even more than the last and staggered backwards and leaned against the wall with one hand.

    Billy thought this was even less funny than the last time. He looked up at Mr. Baker and Mr. Baker winked at him again while he tried not to laugh. Finally, Mr. Make Do collected him self. “Whelp, William, looks like you’re running with a rough (*^*%-ing crowd these days” and that set him off again, but not quite as much as before this time.

    Billy didn’t like this fella at all now.

    “A’ite, come on then. I ain’t got all *(&&-ing day to (*^*&^ with you two (*^&(^s. You bring my (*^&^?”.

    “It’s in the truck. Lets see it first though. I want to know what I’m paying for.”

    “Oh (*9^ll Billy, you know I ain’t never cheated anybody, ya &$^# head. Come on then, lets go.

    Billy really didn’t like this at all now. He’d decided if this old man kept it up he was going to get that poke afterall. He furrowed his brow, tilted his chin and fell in behind the two of them as they went of the end of the porch.

    The back yard was even junkier than the front if that was possible. This was all gas burning stuff though with an occasional appliance. Motor cycles, lawn mowers, a few old cars, even a hearse that looked to be from the 50s. Now what kind of crazy old man keeps a hearse in his back yard, Billy thought to himself. They made there way through the junk and Mr. Make do unlatched the double doors on the shop that looked like it might fall at any second. He swung open one door and then the other. And there it was. A boat.

    Billy stopped at mid step and shot a look towards Mr. Baker. Mr. Baker didn’t even look in his direction though.

    “There [email protected]%$#-it, I told ya”. Mr. Baker stepped in and up to the old jon boat sitting on saw horses. He put a hand on it and called Billy over. “Well Billy, what do you think?” Billy wasn’t sure what to think. “I don’t know Mr. Baker….about what”. “Well, do you think you could catch a fish out of this up at the lake?” Billy looked at the boat and when he realized what they were there for, his mouth went open for a second. That quickly was replaced with a smile. He put both hands on the gunnels and started studying it. “You bet your sweet…er….Yes Sir. I’m sure I can.” That set Mr. Make Do off again, but this time it didn’t bother Billy.

    “Where’s the stuff that goes with it?” “Oh, well, (*^&*! I couldn’t find all of it Billy” “Now, we had a deal” “ !$#@, Billy, I know, but I found some other %#%$ to make up for it. Look, here it is” Mr. Make do started bringing it all over out of the corner and putting it in the boat. A life jacket, a paddle, a seat cushion, some rope and a home made anchor made out of what looked to be a railroad tie. I couldn’t find the %^[email protected]^-ed seat, but I’m throwing in the anchor and cushion to make up for it. Will that *&%#-ing work?” “I suppose that’s fair, if you think so Billy” “Hmmm, oh, sure, that will be just fine”. “Now, what’d you bring me? And it better not be those &^%&^%-ing short jars neither”. “Come on, you’ll see.” And they left Billy in the shop admiring the boat. His boat. His first boat.

    Mr. Make Do and William negotiated the particulars back at the truck. There was more cussing and some negotiating, but it ended up just like Mr. Baker planned it. John got all they had bargained for and William was able to force him to take the extra jars that Ann had sent as well. That seemed to make John mad, or at least it would have seemed that way to anyone listening to the conversation, but “the negotiation” went like planned. William fired the diesel and John guided him to the garage cussing the whole time about not hitting this or that, but managed to get the Ford backed up to the shop without too much fuss, well too much for Mr. Make Do anyway.

    William dropped the tailgate and he and Billy loaded the boat into the back with no help from John. He had disappeared into the back of the shop and was rummaging and cussing. Once William and Billy had put the extras either in the cab or the boat, Mr. Make Do had made his way back to the front of the shop. “Here kid. I want you to take this too” “What’s that John, William asked. “Awww (*^(*&-ll, it’s just some old fishing stuff. Probably not much in there useful anyhow. Used to belong to a kid I knew. Anyway, ain’t much use in it sitting here. Maybe you can make do with some of it.” “John, I’m not” “@#$!##%-ing hush now Billy. I @#$!-ing know what I’m doing. Besides, you ain’t giving me (*&-it for free (*(*#$-it” Billy took it and put the box in the truck. He knew what it was. Billy turned back to Mr. Make do and stepped forward just as John said “Now, you two ^&#%-ers need to get in that (**&^% and” Billy wrapped his arms around Mr. Make Do’s waist and hugged him. It’s stopped Mr. Make Do mid cuss word. “Thank you Mr. Wilson. Thank you”. It wasn’t a long hug. But it was dang sure the best John Wilson had had in a long, long while. “You’re welcome son. You’re welcome…………..” He cleared his throat and roared back, “ Now…you two git, before I get mean” “And tell that pretty wife of yours she knows where she can find me when she get’s tired of your old (*^&-ing @%$#%$#-ss” And that set him off again.

    “Thanks John. I’ll see you in a few weeks” “I hope so Billy, I hope so. And bring this fella with you. I might just need that poke by then”.

    Billy and William loaded up and drove off and they could still hear Mr. Make Do laughing until they rounded the house.

    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...

    Previous installments can be found here:
    Comments 11 Comments
    1. bassaholic's Avatar
      bassaholic -
      great read!I can't wait for the rest!
    1. "G"'s Avatar
      "G" -
      Wannabe really has talent for writeing
    1. Tolson's Avatar
      Tolson -
      Awesome story. I find myself here at work checking for the latest installment more than once a day.
    1. Billbob's Avatar
      Billbob -
      this time it is faster took 2 years first time
    1. Lotech Joe's Avatar
      Lotech Joe -
      Thank You Again.
    1. Daily fishin's Avatar
      Daily fishin -
    1. revitup's Avatar
      revitup -
      still enjoying this. keep them coming
    1. RetiredRR's Avatar
      RetiredRR -
      Is Wannabe really the cousin of Earnest Hemmingway?
    1. Swampthing6400's Avatar
      Swampthing6400 -
      man you can read thias stuff forever
    1. Bowbender's Avatar
      Bowbender -
      good reading
    1. Lundfisher's Avatar
      Lundfisher -
      Thanks for more of this great story.
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