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Chapter 11: Scene 39: Doc and Charlie


       Pat shifts his chair to make room for two kids who bring their food to our table. "This is Doc, and this here's Charley. Fresh from Howard." Pat waggles a fry toward Doc's glasses. "We call him Doc 'cause he's always got his nose in a book." He jabs his fork my way, from across the table. "And this here is Cowboy."

       "Cowboy, huh?" Doc says. "Hey, I bet I got a horse story you never heard before. Charley and me was finishing up work in the laundry when we see this wimp slip through the outside door. We look for the staff guy but he's got his back to us. We figure, hell, if this kid's already made it outside, we might as well find out what he's up to. We follow under a bobbed wire fence into a field."

       "Barbed," I tell him. " Barbed wire ."

       Doc pays me no mind and goes right on. "Well, it's starting to rain, and at first we ain't too sure how far he'll go, so I say to Charley, 'You wanna take a hike?' and he says. 'Sure, let's go for it."

       "Then we're both yelling 'Wait. Wait for us.' So the chump stops and we catch up with him. He's standing there shaking in his shoes, his hands out in front of him. 'You crazy?' I say. 'What d'you think we're gonna do to you?'"

       "'You was after me. I thought you was staff, and I was giving up," he says.

       "Hell, no, keep going," I tell him.

       "'Round this way then,' he says, and he ducks under the bobbed wire and starts for some trees growing back there. By then, somebody else is yelling from behind us. We all run like hell. Charley and me get to the trees, too, but we don't catch sight of the kid. Rain is coming down pretty good, and I can't see good out of my glasses. I spy this old shed, and head for it. I come around the corner, going like crazy, and I run smack into the side of this horse -- swear to God."

       "Bet you scared that horse shitless," Pat says, laughing out loud now. Glum as he's been, even Tony smiles. I want Doc to get on with it. Tell how it was to be on the run.

ThinkLink: What do you think the horse was doing out there? Has an animal ever startled you?

       "Scare the horse? What about me? The horse runs off, but it knocks me flat on my ass. I wipe off my glasses and look around and see I'm right by the road. Two security guards are there with their black-'n-white, the red cherry whipping around on top . Charley, here, is already sitting in the back seat."

       "'Come on, kid, it's all over,' the guard says. He holds the fence up for me. I catch my shirt on the bobbed wire, and pretty near rip it off my back. I shoulda sued 'em."

       "Barbed," I say.

       Hi-Lo comes up so quiet I don't even feel him behind me. "Yeah, man, those security guys got eyes coming outta the back of they ugly heads and outta they asses even."

       Doc beams 'cause he's got a bigger audience now. "Then Charley and me spend a week in Howard. They don't catch the other kid for three days. He's been hiding in a field on some farm down the road and he's half-starved when security catches him sneaking back onto the road, looking for a way into town."

       "Who's the kid?" Pat asks.

       "Hell, dunno yet. Some kid from Cleary Cottage . Never seen him before. Hope I never see him again. My backside's still sore."

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 Updated on 5/13/04

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