by Grasshopper

Chapter 13

Davy wriggled but Agent Parsons, sensing something more was wrong, held him tightly by the arm, as they watched Jase ride off across the desert.

Davy was scared. Even more scared than he'd been in the cave at Chaco Canyon. He didn't know where his daddy was going but he'd seen the look on his face. He didn't know where Cody was either.

Knowing he had to find out, he said calmly, "Mister, you can let me go. I just want to go in my house."

Agent Parsons was torn between watching the boy and finding his partner. "Okay, but I want you to stay out here on the porch." He gestured toward the area next to the screen door but Davy drew back, seeing the body of the dead trooper sprawled in his daddy's rocker.

Figuring that Jase McBride would never have ridden away and left his son behind unless there was no danger, Parsons peered inside the dimly lit kitchen. He could see dust motes dancing in the sunrays filtering through the open window, falling lightly on the pool of blood.

Opening the door slowly, his gun gripped, he immediately saw his partner lying on the floor and rushed into the room. Davy peeked in, and not wanting to stay on the porch with a dead body, he slipped in and stood right inside, the screen door brushing up against his small shoulders.

He started to take a step further into the room but felt his sneakers start to slip. Looking down, his eyes widened to find that he was standing in a pool of congealing blood. Jumping over it, he left tracks on the vinyl floor. His pulse quickening, he slid to a stop beside the hand gun by the refrigerator. Frozen, he stared down at the weapon. Where was Cody?

"You okay?" Parsons tried to help Crisp into a sitting position to lean against the leg of the old oak table.

"Yeah," he answered groggily, "Son of a bitch clocked me good." Crisp rubbed his jaw and rolled his head, hearing the cracking sounds as his neck tried to ease the soreness away.

"Where did he go? He rode out of here like a bat outta hell."

Agent Crisp started to speak and then saw Davy standing by the refrigerator, staring at him. He cleared his throat and raised his eyebrows, signaling Parsons not to say too much in front of the boy.

"Where's Cody? Where's my daddy?" Davy asked, his voice high and full of fear. Before either man could get to him, Davy ran out of the kitchen and down the hall to skid to a stop just inside his bedroom doorway. By the time the agents could catch up, Davy was over at the wall, his fingers reaching out to touch the bloody letters.


"It's that crazy man," Davy choked, his voice full of frightened tears. "Where is Cody?" He looked frantically around the bedroom, hoping to see Cody but no one was there. "Where is Cody?" he cried again.

Agent Crisp walked over to the terrified boy and tried to pull him into a light hug but Davy jerked away. "WHERE IS CODY? WHERE'S MY DADDY??" His voice was raw.

"We don't know," Crisp answered honestly. "It's time to call for extra manpower and spread a search out over the desert." He turned to Parsons, "Call it in. We need helicopters. Get someone to watch the boy. McBride took off on his horse out into the desert. He knew where he was going. I don't see what he could know from just this one word." He turned and looked at the bloody letters scrawled on the soft blue wall.

Davy raised his eyes and stared at the letters. His Mama's name.....written in blood........Cody's blood? His Mama's name.....Why would he write my mama's name like that? How did he even know my mama's name?

Suddenly, Davy knew. His mind screamed, 'That sick freak that had me is who killed my mama. That's why he wanted me to call him father.' His small body shook with rage and he pulled himself in tight. 'Daddy didn't tell them. I won't either. Mustn't let them know....mustn't say anything.'

"You have any idea where your dad went, Davy? He said a name.....some ravine."

He swallowed the anger and spoke slowly, "No, sir. I feel sick. Can I go to the bathroom?"

Agent Parsons had gone out to phone for assistance. Agent Crisp looked at the pale little face and the wide eyes and turned toward the hallway door. "Sure, call me if you need help."

Davy edged around the burly agent, headed down the hall for his daddy's bathroom. Turning the knob on his daddy's door, he glanced back at the agent but he was headed into the kitchen.

Davy slipped back out, climbed silently onto the arm of the recliner by the living room doorway, felt along the doorway molding above the door and lifted the tiny key from its hiding place. He eased his way down to the floor and tiptoed over to the big cabinet standing against the north wall,

It was and old oak cabinet with inlaid glass on the front. Grandpa Edgar had built it when he was a young man. It had several racks and two drawers at the bottom for all the supplies and cleaning equipment. Twice as tall as Davy, he had never been allowed to open the cabinet unless Daddy was with him. Davy slid the key into the keyhole and slowly turned the lock until he heard the click. Twisting the key, he carefully pulled the door open and reached in to grab his Remington model 870 20 gauge shotgun.

Daddy had given it to him on his 8th Christmas. He'd shown Davy how to load it, fire it, clean it, respect it. Davy remembered the first time he'd shot it, how it had knocked him flat on his butt. Daddy had laughed and showed him to hold it at his waist and ease the trigger, not jerk it. Davy knew how to use his gun.

Taking it from its rack, he reached into the drawer and found the Winchester box. "Shit', he cussed the box. It only had one triple 0 buck left. 'Well, it'd have to do.' Shoving the big red shell into his pocket, he closed the gun cabinet door quietly and snuck back into his daddy's room.

Carefully sliding the bathroom window open, dropping his shotgun to the ground before him, Davy climbed out, his sneakers gripping the air conditioner and then landing on the hard packed sand. Not wasting any time, he scooped up the gun and ran for the barn.

Adjusting the bit and throwing an old Indian blanket over his pony's back, Davy climbed on and leaned down to whisper, "Be very quiet, Sassy. We've gotta sneak." He urged the small paint out the back door of the barn and, looked off across the hot desert sand at the faraway crags of Wild Horse Ravine.

At first, he kept the reins tight, the pony at a walk, but when he was yards out, he kicked in his heels and said strongly, "Go, Sassy." The small paint pony and the small Indian boy, his family in danger, his gun in his hand, made for Wild Horse Ravine.........the place his mama had died.

Cody could not get the tight leather to loosen. He rolled over and spit sand out of his mouth. He could taste blood and his whole face ached but there was no time for that. He had to get up. He had to help Jase. His frustration threatened to overwhelm him. Taking deep breaths, he pressed his cheek to the hot sand and closed off his mind. He could feel horsebeats. He could feel someone riding fast. Trying to inch his way to the edge of the path, he tried to peer over the side but his eye was swollen and his vision was blurry. That last kick from his father's boot had landed right on his temple. Shaking his head to get his long hair out of his face, he felt the pain shoot behind his eyes. God, he had to help Jase.

Jase rode fast, not knowing if Cody was alive or dead. This maniac, he still couldn't put all the pieces together, but it really didn't matter right now. It didn't matter who this sicko was as long as he could get to Cody in time.

The crags came closer and he slowed Sazi down. "Whoa to walk, boy," he said softly, rubbing Sazi's heaving neck. "We've gotta be quiet now."

Knowing that the killer was surely watching him right now from atop the cliffs, he knew his only hope was that the man wanted to talk to him. Why drag Cody way out here and write Charity's name, baiting Jase, unless he had something to say. Jase knew his only chance was in listening to man's bullshit and catching him off balance. He would do anything to save Cody. He tried not to think about Davy, back at the house and scared. He had to think positively. He would bring Cody back to Davy. It would be like it was before ......before this nightmare began.

He climbed off Sazi at the base of the rocks and leading the big black horse, rounded the boulder. He stopped suddenly, seeing Cody lying, twisted and bloody, in the path. Taking off a run, he was stopped by a loud shout.

"STOP RIGHT THERE !! Touch him and he's dead!!"

Jase's head jerked up and he looked right into the sunlight gleaming off the barrel of a sleek Magnum 57, the owner standing, feet spread, grinning, the gun pointed directly at Cody.

"You can't just kill people," Jase yelled, his heart breaking as he looked from the gun to the bloodied face of the man he loved.

"Oh, but Dakota and I have agreed now that I can do just that. I can because well, I want to and it's fun."

Jase looked at Cody and saw him shiver. "Jase, do whatever he says. He will kill you as soon as you can blink an eye."

"See," Charles smiled, "He understands me now. No one can stop me. I just want my son and I'll be gone. Of course, you'll be gone too but I'm going to show the world to my son and you'll be going to hell."

Jase tried to think but his mind couldn't get past the crap spewing out of the killer's mouth. "Who is your son? Davy isn't. He's MY son."

"Are you really Davy's father?" Charles growled. "Did you ever fuck that girl and make that child? I think not. He is MINE!!"

Jase was lost. Was Davy Tommy's? God in Heaven, Charity hadn't let this lunatic touch her, had she?

"He's mine," Jase said loudly, "Because I love him and I raised him. I will never let you touch him."

"And how will you stop me?"

Jase fingered the shotgun hanging loosely at his side.

"Do it and your little Indian is dead.," Charles snarled. "Now, drop it and kick it away."

Jase hesitated.

"Shoot him, Jase. He can't kill us both. You have to save Davy."`

Jase's triggerfinger itched to blow the fucker's head off but he knew he couldn't save Cody. He let his fingers drop the gun and he kicked it off into the sand.

"Good boy. Now, we wait."

"Wait for what?"

"For my son to come, of course. He knows where he belongs."

Jase groaned, "Oh lord, Davy. Please stay put."

"Get over there by Dakota and sit down. I WILL shoot him if you even think funny."

Jase wanted to ask why he was keeping them alive if all he wanted was Davy but he didn't want to plant the idea, so he walked slowly over to Cody and sat down. He reached for Cody to pull him close but was stopped by the madman's voice.

"Do NOT touch him. One of my small pleasures is that he never be happy again. It would make him happy for you to touch him, so don't." He laughed, as if he had told a great joke.

Jase sat still. "Cody, are you okay?" He looked at the bruises and the blood welling down his face. He could see that Cody's shoulder had reopened and the old bandage was caked in dried blood.

"Yeah," Cody said quietly, his voice soft and tired. "I'm so sorry, Jase."

"Hush that. It's not your fault this nutjob is doing this."

Cody breathed in deep, his chest hurting from his father's kicks earlier, and tried to answer.

"It is. It is my fault."

How can any of this be your fault?"

"Jase," Cody sighed, wishing he could tell Jase this with his arms tight around him and their hearts beating together. Wishing he could have a kiss, a hug, something before he tore their world apart. "Jase, it is all my fault. That man up there................he's my father."

Davy heard the shouting and slid off Sassy's back. "You shhhh and wait right here,k?" he said as he left her in the shadow of a clutch of rocks. "I'll be back for you."

Davy was small and Davy was young but nobody had ever said he wasn't brave. He could hear that crazy man yelling and his daddy answering. He knew Cody was down there somewhere. He heard the man yell that he was waiting for him, for Davy. He'd never go with him. Never !

The sun was shifting across the western sky, dipping toward the horizon. Davy could gauge where the man was by the sound of his voice. He climbed nimbly up the smooth rocks, his shotgun in his left hand, grasping at rough branches with his right, his sneaks giving him a firm tread.

Reaching the peak of the cliffs, he could feel the man on the other side. Davy knew the top was a plateau and was picturing it in his head. He sat very still, his back against the rocks, his feet pressing to keep him steady. Davy had killed squirrels and a jack rabbit. He had shot pretty good at targets and cans with his dad. He could feel his chest pounding and was sure the man could hear it. Gulping for breath, he knew he had to move, do something before that creep hurt Daddy......hurt Cody.

Agent Crisp was on the communicator with the helicopter pilot. The agents had been joined by four more FBI agents, seven state trooper cars and the local sheriff. They were only waiting for a head's up from the copter to tell them where to go.

When Crisp had gone to check on Davy and found him gone, he had stridently called for assistance. "There's a child involved. We need help NOW!!"

He sat in his car, holding the communicator and jumped when it crackled to life. "We've got visual. Three men, two down. A big black horse."

"Where? Where are they?"

"Wild Horse Ravine...............due north about 10 miles."

"The boy? Do you see the boy?"

"Negative........no sign of a boy."

Crisp clicked off and, with a wave of his arm, they headed out, sirens silent, toward Wild Horse Ravine.

Just as Jase heard Cody's words, the sound of a helicopter caused Charles to raise his eyes for a second off the two men below. Jase moved, rolling Cody over and down a short embankment into a narrow dry gully, out of range. Jumping to his feet, he almost made it to the edge of the rocks when he felt something hot tear through his thigh. Dropping, the feeling gone from his right leg, he felt his fingers scrape along the rough striated rock and his head swim with the pain.

"Stupid move! He can't go anywhere and now you're shot!! All I have to do is come down there and kill you both. You can't even say goodbye." His laughter clawed at Jase's gut. " I'll make sure you never look at each other again."

Davy heard the helicopter and squeezed himself into a tiny ball in the shadows of the cliff. He was glad he'd hidden Sassy. He heard the gun go off and nearly jumped over the ridge. Oh please God, not Daddy; not Cody."

He heard the man scream and the words let him know that Daddy and Cody were still alive. But Davy didn't know how long the man would wait. It was getting dark now and how long would he wait?

A shiver of fear ran down his small body as he dug in the pocket of his jeans for the single bright red triple 0 buck. He had to do it. He had to do it right. Not kinda right like sometimes but totally right. He slid the 20 gauge up into the fading light, bracing it with his knees. Running his hand over the cool wood, he remembered what his daddy had said when he handed the gun to him that Christmas morning:

"Never use this for fun and games. Never shoot at anything innocent of harm. But, if you need to use it, hit what you're aiming for. Use your head, Davy Boy."

Okay, he'd use his head. He'd hit what he was aiming for. He chambered the shell and took off the safety. Taking a long breath, he said one small thing before he climbed up and over the precipice:

"Mama...........help me!"

"Who are you?" Jase called out, his voice weak from loss of blood. He had crammed his hand against the bullethole in his leg but it still pumped weakly.

"Didn't your little Indian tell you?"

Jase was trying to think clearly. "He said you are his father. That's can't be."

"You're right. I'm not his father. He thought I was but that slut fooled us all. I wanted a son. Someone I could be proud of but all I had was him; him and his twin brother."

Cody could hear what they were saying and he couldn't even imagine what was racing through Jase's mind right now. Would he think Cody had lied to him somehow? That he had known? He felt hot tears gush from his eyes, burning into the deep cut and washing at the blood. "Jase?" he called.

"Cody? I'm here, baby. I'm okay."

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

"This sick bastard can't be your father, Cody. He must have it wrong. Tell me he's wrong. Your father couldn't have killed Tommy.......Charity.....all the others. Right, Cody?"

Cody heard the question in Jase's voice. It was nothing to the hate he would hear when Jase truly understood. All the years of misery, of pain, all because of Cody and his father. All because of some twisted fucked up nightmare in the mind of a madman.

He didn't answer. Couldn't answer. To answer was to die inside. He wished his father would just climb down and shoot him and end it before he ever saw the look in Jase's eyes.

Davy held his breath, peeking up over the low ridge of rock that lined the narrow plateau. He saw the man. He couldn't see Daddy yet; couldn't see Cody. They were down below. He climbed over silently and watched the man as he strutted along the edge of the flat rise.

The gun felt heavy in his hands. He was terrified to shoot it but there was no choice. He knew that the buckshot would scatter when he pulled the trigger. He just had to aim for the middle and the man would go down. He couldn't shoot him in the back though, not even him. It wasn't right.

He straightened up and searched for strength. He felt a slight breeze tickle his face and heard the sound of a coyote cry in the distance. He felt gentle hands close over his as he leveled the shotgun. He felt warm arms cover his as the stepped out into the waning light.

"Hey, Mister," he called, bracing himself, the trembling in his hands forgotten.

Charles spun around, his face smiling at his son's voice, until he saw the shotgun aimed at his chest.

"Why do you have that, my son?"

"I AM NOT your son!!" Davy said, his voice strong. "My mother's name was Charity Carson and my father's name was Quiet Water. I am not your son."

"That's not true. I've done all this for you," Charles mumbled, his face a mask of confusion.

The breeze became stronger and the fading light of day mingled with the darker shades of moonlight. An angry voice made of earth and sun and the hot breath of the desert wind spoke into the air, "You have done nothing but cause sadness and pain. You are a miserable excuse for a man. You had two beautiful sons and yet you wanted mine." The soft voice echoed into the ravine. "You cannot have my son."

Charles let out a growl, pulled his sharpened knife from his belt and lunged for the lights and shadows.

Davy, protected by his parents, held the gun firmly and squeezed the trigger.

The buckshot spread out in the warm night air, hitting Charles Taylor, shoving him back and over the edge of the plateau. It tore the knife from his hand and lifted the gun from his grip. He fell, tumbling down to lie twisted in the sand at the base of the cliff.

Jase had watched it all. He had seen his son climb over the ridge, hold the shotgun trembling in his small hands, and then straighten, and become a man fighting for his family. Jase had heard the voices. He knew who had protected Davy.

He watched Charles Taylor struggle to reach for the gun that had fallen with him just within his reach. Jase knew that wasn't going to happen. He gathered his waning strength and crawled to his shotgun.

Sitting up, he chambered a shell, the pump sending the sound of death into the night air.

Charles looked over at Jase. "I know you. You won't do it. You can't kill me. You'd have to live with what you've done. I'll just get a good lawyer and be out in a few years. I'll come back for Davy. I'll just have to kill them all then. But I can still kill you now."

The sound of cars filled the night, as Jase could hear the police and the FBI locating their position. He watched Charles trying to lift the gun. He could feel Davy's eyes on him and he wanted so to hold Cody.

"I don't think so. You're not getting off so easy. This is for Tommy." He squeezed the trigger and the man, who had ended the lives of so many innocent people, died in the hot sand of the ravine where wild Indian horses had run free years and years ago.

Jase felt a warm hand on his cheek. "You're welcome," he said softly.

Dadddyyyyyyyyy!!" Davy yelled, as he slid down the last few yards on his butt, to tumble at Jase's feet. "Oh, Daddy!"

Jase held on for dear life. He had his son.

"Daddy? Did you see? Did you hear? My mama....oh, Daddy."

"We'll talk it all out, Davy boy. It's time you knew everything. They love you and gave you strength."

"I know, Daddy. Cody???"

"Go to him. He's down in that gully. I can't make it right now."

Floodlights...........a hundred people milling around..........stories told and retold.

"I killed him. He was threatening my son."

"I couldn't see but I do know that Jase had to kill him. I heard it all."

No one questioned Davy, after all, he was just a small boy. Jase had lifted his finger to his lips and Davy had understood. Later, they'd talk. Right now, the grownups had to do their jobs. Time enough for a little boy later. But, Davy knew. He knew what had really happened. He had heard the coyote call and felt the love and warmth. He had heard the soft voices. He would just wait.

Davy showed a nice policelady where he had hidden Sassy and she promised to get her home safely along with Sazi. The guns were all collected and bagged. The knife was carefully bagged as possibly the murder weapon in at least nine murders.

Charles Taylor was bagged. Zipped into a black bag. The son he had wanted didn't mourn him; the son he never wanted didn't either.

Ambulances came. Medics checked Cody and put him in one ambulance. Jase was strapped to a stretcher and put in another with Davy by his side. The sirens began to wail and the flashing lights headed off south down 666 towards the hospital in Gallup.

Cody's wounds were cleaned; the knife wound in his shoulder cleaned and restitched. The knife slice on his face was held shut with butterfly bandaids and the bruises and scrapes checked. He spent the night in the hospital and was released the following day with orders to let the police and FBI know where he was.

He stood in the parking lot of the Gallup Hospital and stared up at the windows. He knew Jase was behind one of them. He knew Davy was fine and in a nice warm bed in Jase's room. He had waited till the lights were low and then opened the door to their room quietly.

Standing there, the hall light flowing over him, Cody had looked at the sleeping faces of the two people he loved more than his own happiness. He couldn't stay.....not now. It was too big. There was no getting past what all had happened, who it was and who it was all about.

One of the Shiprock policemen drove him back to the ranch. Cody walked from room to room, touching the things that made up Jase and Davy McBride's lives. He sat in the rocker in Davy's room and thought about Charity and Tommy. He had heard them last night saving their son. That was love. He held Davy's bunny and slowly untied the blue velvet ribbon that had come to mean such hatred and pain.

He lay crosswise on Jase's bed. No longer his bed. He remembered the whispers and the love; the caring and the promises. He didn't deserve any of it now.

Taking a bucket of hot water and soap, Cody began to scrub Charity's name, his blood, off of Davy's bedroom wall. He didn't want it there when Davy came home. He wanted the house to be just like it had been before he ever set foot in it. They'd forget him in time. Jase would see to it.

He heard the knock on the door and stepped out into the hall. A dark figure stood framed in the front doorway. As Cody walked down the long hall, his head cocked, trying to see who the visitor was, he heard a voice that made his eyes slam shut and his heart clutch and shudder in desperation.

"Dakota. I'm here to take you home. I told you if you left me, you'd screw things up royally. I see I was right. No one knows you like I do. You know where you belong. Now, pack your things. It's time to go."

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