Night crawlers, p.17
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       Night Crawlers, p.17

          
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Thinking that things were back on track with Justin and Joshua, Jed soon went back to spending more time with Chelsea. He tried not to stay away from home for long periods of time, but the closer their relationship became, the more she pressed him for his time. She told him several times that she wanted to meet his brothers, but so far he had managed to keep them away from her.

  One night, while he was visiting Chelsea at “The Joint,” a couple came into the bar and they were talking about an annual “shin-dig” around Presidents Day, (mid-February) in Kernville California. The lady said, “They call the event, “The Whiskey Flat Days.” It’s held in a little town just over the hill and about two hours west of here. The town is called Kernville and it has an old west look to the town. It’s small and quaint. The beautiful Kern River runs right through the middle of town and the place is absolutely breath taking. They put on a Western type parade every year and they have a “Wild West Shootout during the parade. They have fishing contests, frog jumping contests, and there are tons of booths with homemade crafts and food for sale all along the main street and in the little park. They even put on a rodeo during one of the days. There are thousands of people that go to the event every year just to hang out and have fun for the day or for the entire three day event.” She told them that the event was coming up soon and he and Chelsea should go and just have fun.

  When Chelsea heard about it, she got really excited and she said to Jed, “That sounds like it would be a blast. We should go and we should take Justin and Joshua with us. They’d love it.” Jed didn’t say anything. He just sat there contemplating what he was going say next. The idea of taking Justin and Joshua with them kind of took him by surprise and he wasn’t expecting her to say that she wanted to take them along. Not waiting for an answer from him, Chelsea asked the lady, “How do we get there? The lady enthusiastically replied, “All you would have to do is go over the hill, hit Highway 14 and go north until you come to Lynch Canyon Road. Just follow the signs from there. I think you’ll love the drive.” Jed thought, I’d love to take Chelsea to a place like that and just have fun with her alone, sight-seeing and mingling with the people, but I’m not real keen on taking Justin and Joshua with us. She hadn’t met them yet and Jed wasn’t sure how she would react once she saw them.

  As Chelsea began pressuring him to take Justin and Joshua along, he looked at her and said, “I don’t think that would be a good idea.” He didn’t try to explain why not, but Chelsea was still very excited about the idea of going there. She said, “That’ll give me the perfect opportunity to meet your brothers.” Jed wasn’t really sure what to say as he raised his voice and said, “I said no, we can’t do that.” He instantly could tell that he had hurt her feelings when he raised his voice to her, but he didn’t stick around to try and apologize as he quickly got up from the table and left. The lady at the bar said, “Gosh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset him.” Chelsea was still trying to figure out what had just happened when she said, “Don’t worry, it wasn’t anything you said that upset him.” She had never seen Jed act like that before and it shocked her a little as she wondered what got into him and why he got so upset?

  Jed went home and started thinking about how he had reacted with Chelsea and wasn’t happy with himself for hurting her feelings. He knew he loved her and had to try and explain why he left so suddenly. He knew that if he was ever going to have a relationship with her, he had to be honest with her about Justin and Joshua. The thought of introducing her to Joshua and Justin caused him a lot stress. He had mentioned to her about their learning disabilities before, but he never told her about their appearance. He wasn’t sure if it would affect his relationship with her once she saw them. He was raised with them and he loved them and never thought about the way they looked until someone brought it to his attention. He wasn’t sure what he would do if Chelsea couldn’t handle seeing or being with them.

  The following evening, Jed went to see her at “The Joint.” He waited until she wasn’t busy and then apologized for his actions the night before. He told her he needed to explain why he had acted the way he did. She sat down across from him with a somewhat puzzled look on her face. Jed slowly started telling her everything about his mom and dad’s addiction to drugs and how it caused some physical and learning disabilities with Justin and Joshua. He told her, “They both look very different compared to a normal person. Neither of them have any friends nor do they leave the house during the day where people can see them. They each have some deep dark secrets that has gotten them into trouble.” He told her they had created some problems with the people in Red Mountain and Randsburg that he couldn’t tell anyone. She immediately spoke up and said, “You can tell me everything, Jed.”

  Feeling comfortable with her, Jed started to explain to her what each of them had done. He told her about Joshua sneaking out at night with Mister and killing the cats and the dog at Red Mountain. He said, “Remember the incident with the girl that was attacked here in Randsburg and the peeping tom in Red Mountain? She said, “Yea, sure I remember.” He said, “Well, that was Justin. He was sneaking out at night when I was with you. That’s why I’ve had to keep an eye on them. I couldn’t stand to have them taken away from me and put in jail or an institution. I promised them I would spend more time with them. I was hoping I could keep them from getting lonely or whatever it was that possessed them to do what they did. I can’t trust them to leave them alone very long.

  When he first told her those things she was in shock and didn’t know what to say. At that point Jed was afraid he had told her way too much when he said, “See, I knew I shouldn’t have said anything to you about what they’ve done.” She quickly regained her composure and said, “I love you Jed, your brothers are part of you and they’re all you have left in this world besides me. I don’t agree with what they’ve done, but I would never make fun of them or disrespect them in any way. I wouldn’t do anything that could have them taken away from you.” Chelsea was actually a little relieved Jed had told her everything. She had all kinds of thoughts that she had imagined why Jed wouldn’t introduce her to his brothers. She kissed Jed and said, “You can always trust me Jed, I’ll never say anything to anyone about what you’ve told me, I promise you. Thank you for sharing everything with me.” One of the things he’d been most worried about, was that she may not be willing to keep what he’d told her a secret. He knew that if she told anyone, he would lose Justin and Joshua and his relationship with her would be over.

  Jed was a little surprised that Chelsea handled what he told her as well as she did. Believing that he could now trust her with everything, he said, “I’ll introduce you to my brothers if you think you would feel comfortable seeing them and being around them. I’ll even take you guys to “Whiskey Flat Days” if that’s what you really want.”

  He knew there was no way he was taking Chelsea to his house to have her meet Justin and Joshua there, so he told her that one day when she was in town shopping, he would bring them there to meet her. She agreed that would be okay with her. A few days later when he loaded up Justin, Joshua and Mister and they headed into town. When he first introduced her to Justin he just said hello. He seemed be either a little shy or a little embarrassed as he held his head down and stuck out his hand to shake her extended hand. When Jed introduced Joshua and Mister to her, Joshua blared out loud, “You’re pretty.” Chelsea blushed and said, “Thank you, Joshua.” As he pulled Mister up close to her, he said, “This is Mister. He’s my buddy.” Everyone laughed and that broke the ice with all of them as they stood around talking for several minutes.

  When they were getting ready to go back to Red Mountain, Jed and Chelsea were alone for just a few minutes and she said, “They seem pretty harmless to me Jed. I don’t have a problem going with them to the “Whiskey Flat Days” celebration if you really wanted to take us.” Jed told her, “We’ll go if you’re being totally one hundred per cent honest with me that you don’t mind being seen with them.” She reassured him as she said, “I’m totally okay with them and their appearance doesn’t matter to me.” Jed instantly felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted from his chest when she told him that. He’d been dreading that day for a long time and soon found out that the fears in his head were a lot worse than what her reaction turned out to be.

  On their way home, Jed told Justin and Joshua about the trip to Kernville and “The Whiskey Flat Days,” celebration. He told them that Chelsea wanted them to go with the three of them and have some fun. Jed said, “We’ll take some of the left over money from when we bought the truck and have a good time with it. The event is still a month away but when it’s time to go I’ll let you know.” Joshua asked, “Can I take Mister with us? Jed thought for a minute and said, “I guess we can have Chelsea ride in between me and Justin in the front and the two of you can ride in the back seat.” They were very happy to be getting out of the compound during the day and going someplace different.

  When it was time to go to Kernville they loaded up Mister, then went by and picked up Chelsea. She jumped in between Jed and Justin. Jed was joking with Justin when he said, “I know she’s pretty Justin, but keep your hands off of her.” Justin blushed and replied, “I will Jed, I promise.” Everyone just lauhed.

  They headed west and hit highway 14 and went north until they came to a sign to the left that said, Lynch Canyon Road, (highway 178) just like the lady at the bar had told them to do. They were soon in Walker Pass with its narrow twisty two lanes road. Chelsea was reading the signs along the road that said sometimes the road is closed that time of year because of the snow and falling rocks. One sign she read said that area is a “National Historic Landmark” and has remained the same since it was discovered in 1834.

  As they were heading down the pass, Chelsea pointed out the Joshua Trees to Joshua and he said, “I’ve seen them before. Jed told me they named that tree after me?” They all just laughed as she said, “Yea, I guess they did.” The road was open all the way through the pass and even though there were signs saying beware of cattle in the road, they didn’t see any. They continued down past Caneback, Onyx, Wofford Heights, Mountain Mesa, Lake Isabella, Weldon and then followed the signs around Lake Isabella until they arrived in Kernville.

  When they got there the party was in full swing. The cars and people were everywhere. Jed said, “Wow! There must be ten thousand people here.” There were hundreds of motorcycle riders with their bikes parked in front of a couple of the main street bars. They drove by “The Hut, Kernville Saloon, Kern River Inn and each one of them were packed with people. Joshua became real excited when they passed a little carnival, while they were trying to find a place to park.

  The parade was getting ready to start when they finally found a parking spot about a half mile away. Joshua quickly jumped out and he had on his sunglasses and the umbrella in one hand and the harness that was attached to Mister in the other hand. Jed had warned Chelsea that Joshua would probably do something like that, but she still thought it was funny to see as she chuckled at the sight of him and Mister. Mister seemed just as excited and eager as Joshua as he pranced around proudly.

  They finally found a spot in the crowd where they could watch as the parade started. Jed told Joshua he would hold onto Mister as Joshua edged his way closer to the front where he could get a better look. The little parade didn’t last long, but everyone loved it. They especially loved the Eagles women’s auxiliary in their blue and white uniforms passing out candy and the shoot-out. They kept talking about it as they started to make their way around the town. Justin and Joshua kept imitating the gun slingers with their hands, pretending it was a gun and drawing on each other. They spent time watching the frog jumping contest and then they visited the carnival where Justin and Joshua each got to ride some of the rides. Chelsea and Jed were holding hands as they walked down to the river and watched some of the kids that were in the fishing contest. They went all over town looking at the booths with all the hand-made crafts. Jed gave Justin and Joshua money to buy a souvenir and he bought Chelsea a hand-made Turquoise native Indian bracelet. Mister got a huge chew bone as his souvenir but he wasn’t getting it until he got back home. They went over to the ice cream parlor and got an ice cream cone and then walked around the little park looking at all the booths.

  They made an entire day out of the event and nobody wanted to leave. The mountains hide the sun in the late afternoons in Kernville and it was starting to go down when Jed thought it was about time to leave. Just as they started to head to the truck, there was a middle aged biker looking guy that approached them. He was a big man with long hair pulled back in a pony-tail and he was dressed sharp. He walked up to Jed and said, “I hate to bother you, but I’ve been watching your dog ever since you got here. He’s one of the most beautiful animals I’ve ever seen. What kind of dog is he?” Jed looked at Mister and saw the muscles bulging from every inch of his body. He hesitated, and then looked at Joshua to see if he was going to answer as he said, “I believe he’s fifty percent Pit Bull Terrier and fifty percent Rottweiler, but we don’t know for sure. He just kept admiring Mister when he said, “Man, he’s huge and really powerful looking, especially when you get up close to him. He looks like he might have a little Cane Corso in him.” Jed replied, “All we know is what they told us when we got his mom and dad at the SPCA.” The man finally introduced himself as he said, “My name is John Jackson, but most my friends just called me Johnny.” Jed introduced everyone to him as he went back to admiring Mister. Jed said, “Yea, he’s a nice looking boy, but he belongs to my brother over there.” He pointed to Joshua and he could see Joshua’s chest start to puff up with pride the more Johnny talked about Mister.

  Johnny then asked Jed, what he thought was a strange question, when he asked, “Is Mister a good fighter.” Before anyone had a chance to answer he said, “The main thing I want to know is, does he have that that gameness and ability to finish a fight?” Jed wasn’t sure what all that had to do with Mister as he asked, “What do you mean?” Johnny said, “The Pit Bull is the ultimate canine gladiator. They’ll fight to their death, “on stumps” with two or more broken legs and sometime in worse condition than that.” Chelsea spoke up and said, “Ooh! That sounds gross!” Jed answered back and said, “I don’t know if he fights, we’ve never seen him fight.” Joshua had been listening intently to the entire conversation and he piped up and said, “Yes, he’s a good fighter.” He knew the truth about Mister that no one else knew. He knew that Mister had killed both, the neighbor’s dog and Brutus. Johnny said, “I have a big solid white, Pit Bull Terrier female and she’ll be coming into heat soon. I’d love to breed her to this big guy. I’d be willing to pay you a thousand dollars to breed her to my girl - If - he can fight?”

  Jed was taken aback by the offer and said, “Wow! I don’t know, we don’t have any way to prove if he can fight or not.” Johnny hesitated for a few minutes, like he was thinking of something and said, “You know, I have a smaller male in my truck and we could let them fight for a few minutes, just to see if he’ll fight back.” Jed was very apprehensive about the offer and said, “I don’t think my brother here wants to see his dog get hurt.” Joshua looked at the Jed and then Johnny and smiled and said, “It’s okay Jed. He won’t get hurt.”

  Deep inside Joshua really wanted to show Jed and everyone there that Mister could hurt or kill another dog on his command if he wanted Mister to kill them. Johnny replied, “If you follow me out back behind the buildings, where I’m parked, I will give you a hundred dollars just to see if that big guy will fight my male. I promise you, I won’t let your guy get hurt. I’ll break it up before it gets too far out of hand. I have a “breakstick” to break them up before it gets that far.” Jed didn’t know that the owners of Pit Bulls sometimes have to carry a “breakstick.” He asked Johnny, “What the heck is a breakstick?” Johnny replied, “It’s a tool used to pry open a pit bulls jaws when they accidently get into a fight with another dog. Pit Bulls have developed enormous jaw strength, as well as a tremendous “hold and shake bite” style of fighting. They tend to attack the deep muscles, to hold on and shake, causing ripping of the tissue which is a lot like a shark attack. They are the only dog breed that possess that bite style and they can never be fully trusted. Sometimes you have to pry their jaws apart to get them to release the animal they attack.” Jed looked a little perplexed by it and said, “I don’t know Joshua that sounds like it could be a little dangerous for Mister. Are you sure you’re willing to let Mister to do that?” Joshua looked up at Jed with a smirk as he said, “It’s okay, Jed. Mister will be ok.” Jed told Johnny that if Joshua was okay with it, then he was too. Besides, Jed felt the hundred dollars would pay for a lot of what they had spent for the day.

  While they were following Johnny to the truck, Chelsea said, “If it’s okay with you Jed, I’ll just wait in the truck while you boys have your fun.” She wasn’t really interested in seeing any animal get hurt, especially Mister. She was already starting to get pretty attached to him. Jed went over and kissed her and gave her the keys to the truck. He said, “We’ll be back in a little while. Just lock the door to the truck and wait for us.”

  When they arrived at Johnny’s truck, Jed told Johnny that before they did anything, he had to hand over the hundred bucks. Johnny gladly and quickly reached in his pocket and pulled out a big wad of money folded together. He pulled out a one hundred dollar bill and gave it to Jed. Johnny had both the pretty white female and a smaller tan colored male Pit Bull Terrier under a camper shell of his truck. As they approached, each of them lunged at the back of the truck until Johnny yelled at them to relax. The boys got up a little closer to take a look at the white female and she was a beautiful dog, just like Johnny had said. Jed understood why Johnny wanted to breed her to Mister. The male was a little smaller and they could see that he had a few scars on his face as he growled angrily out the back.

  Johnny snapped a chain to the collar the male dog was wearing and had him jump out of the truck as he told everyone, “This is Sam.” Joshua had Mister standing about twenty feet from the truck as the Johnny had unloaded Sam. He told Joshua, “You can take your dog’s harness off and hold him and when I unchain Sam you can let go of Mister to see what he’ll do.” Joshua just nodded his head in agreement as he took the harness off. He didn’t have to hold Mister back because he knew Mister wouldn’t do anything unless he gave him the correct command. Mister was standing next to Joshua just waiting in anticipation. He was ready and willing to “mix it up” with Sam.

  As soon as Johnny unchained Sam, Joshua gave Mister the command to attack with the clicking sound of his tongue. That’s when Mister’s primitive instincts to kill or be killed was awakened. He charged Sam and knocked him to the ground with his chest, but Sam was a warrior as he came up snarling and biting. Mister bit down hard and clamped on to Sam’s hind leg muscle. There was a snap of the bone and in an instant Sam was seriously injured. Johnny saw all that he needed to see as yelled at Sam and Mister to stop. He knew that wasn’t going to do any good so he headed to the cab of his truck to get an ax handle to try and separate them. He knew full well that with Pit Bulls, if you tried to stop them during a fight you could also get seriously injured. Sometimes the only way to stop them during an attack is to shoot them. The ax didn’t work and the two dogs kept fighting. That’s when Johnny went to the cab of his pick-up to get the breakstick.

  While Johnny was getting it, Mister had managed to avoid all attempts by Sam to grab him in a chocking hold. Mister swung his body in on Sam like he had done to Brutus and he instantly had Sam by the throat and was ready to kill. He waited for the signal from Joshua as he held Sam there defenseless. Joshua smiled and looked over at Jed and Jed was looking back at him. He clicked Mister the signal to kill and the fight was over almost before it started. Mister was then standing over the limp and lifeless Sam. By the time Johnny got back with the Breakstick his dog lay dead. Mister had a few cuts that Joshua would have to attend to but nothing deep and serious. Joshua clicked the signal for Mister to return to his side. He patted him on the head and said, “Good Boy.”

  Jed looked over at Johnny and said, “Well it looks like he can fight. I’m sorry about your dog, Johnny.” He now had mixed emotions about what had just happened and he was still in shock because it had happened so fast. He was very disappointed that his dog was dead, but he was now, more than ever, willing to pay the thousand dollars to have Mister breed his female. Before they left, Jed got his address and phone number and told him he would call him in a few weeks to coordinate with him when it would be a good time to get Mister and his female together.

  When they got back to the pick-up, Chelsea was waiting patiently but also a little apprehensive of what she thought may have just happened to Mister. She looked at Mister and he didn’t look like he had even been in a fight. He didn’t look hurt in any way as she said, “Wow, that didn’t take very long. Was everything ok?” Jed looked at her, held up the money in front of her and said, “We got the hundred bucks.” Chelsea said, “That’s great, but what happened. Did Mister fight his dog?” Joshua piped up from the back seat and proudly said, “Yep, he killed him.” Chelsea’s eyes and mouth opened wide and she didn’t say anything as she looked at Jed and he shook his head up and down as to confirm what Joshua was saying was true. She was surprised, and the only thing she could say was, “Are you serious? Oh my gosh! I’m glad I didn’t watch.” Jed was still in a little bit of shock himself as they left Kernville and headed up the mountain. Jed had seen all the things Joshua had taught Mister since he was a puppy, but he had no idea how much control Joshua really had over Mister. The more he thought about it, the more he believed, Mister was a lot like Joshua having a loaded gun, and that is scary.

  On the way home they tried to put the dog fight behind them as Jed and Chelsea started talking about what a great time they all had. Justin told Jed and Chelsea that they all should go on another trip again someday. They were talking and joking around all the way back to Chelsea’s house. When Jed dropped Chelsea off she made Jed promise her they would go to “Whiskey Flat Days” again next year.

  * * *

  Chapter 18 - Joshua Crosses the Line

 
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