Before the truck returned, Peter had tripped over something behind the pen and lost another roll of toilet paper to the goats that had the spot staked out. His flashlight didn’t deter the animals from tearing the roll apart and running away with it. He had a weird feeling the goats were enjoying the extra attention.
Baby watched silently from his post. There was going to be some way to get out of this pen tonight, he just hadn’t figured out how as yet. He let Peter leave without expressing his displeasure or letting him know he was there.
Before Cassie returned, Ralph Maybeath came up to Frank and apologized. “I knew I should have gone with them,” he explained. “I need to go to the house with the next bunch. Soon.”
“Next bunch?” Frank said.
Ralph looked at him. Frank looked back.
“I’ll just stay here,” Ralph added. “They should be back pretty soon, right?”
Frank didn’t answer, just pressed his lips tighter. Cassie’s sleepover wasn’t getting off to a very good start. And then he saw the Bishops who were sitting outside their tent with a lamp at their feet and looking at the night sky with binoculars. The little boy Leon was with them, Mr. Bishop helping him with the glasses, probably showing him the Milky Way, Frank guessed, from the way Bishop threw up his arms and pointed over his head and then down. His wife turned off the lamp at that point; all they had now were star shine and moonlight. Frank looked up at the stars; for the moment everything was peaceful.“It’s beautiful out here,” Ralph said quietly.
Frank didn’t reply. From where he stood he could also see flashlights from Ellison’s tent and from Marcia’s tent. He could see the outline of their bodies. Marcia was putting up her things, but then laid down and turned out the light. Ellison opened the flap to his tent. Frank saw him drag the sleeping bag out into the open before he turned his light off. The moonlight illuminated him enough for Frank to see him lying on his back, possibly also watching the stars.From a distance Frank heard Leon’s voice. “Mom, I need to take a leak. I don’t have to go back to the house, do I?”
Frank couldn’t hear Leona’s response, but he did see her when she switched her flashlight on. Before too long he saw Peter and Leon headed back to the pen area with two rolls of bathroom paper. He did quick addition in his head and then ground his teeth. They were really making a run on toilet paper, these people, he thought. Before too long their supply would be gone.
TO BE CONTINUED…
COPYRIGHT 2010 by Gretchen Rix. Photos by Roxanne Rix. The Cowboy’s Baby available at http://amzn.com/B003UYUVZC .
WHAT I’VE READ THIS WEEK—Sucker Bet by James Swain and The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal.