You Ain’t Santa Claus
by: E Walk

(© 2009-2010 by the Author)

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...

Chapter 27

Day of Reckoning


When Dan and I woke up the next morning, I could hear voices, because we had left our door ajar, probably because of our paranoia.  I walked out on the balcony what a sight met me.  Ryan was standing on a chair helping Vince do something and Alex and Nathan were doing something.  I watched as Alex handed a tray with two mugs of coffee to Nate and he started toward the stairs.


I went into the bedroom, “Coffee inbound, Danny.”


Dan answered from the bathroom, “Never fear, Kirkie.  I’m decent.”


Nate made a bumping sound on the bedroom door with his foot since I had obviously shut the door.  When I opened the door, Nate chastised us, “Dads, you need to get a door chime or something if you’re going to keep your door shut.  It's pretty hard to carry two mugs of hot coffee and open a door.  Uncle Vince said the Farmer’s Breakfast was going to be ready in fifteen minutes.”


When Dan and I made our way down the stairs, breakfast smelled wonderful.  The four younger guys were all set to eat in their briefs.


We had a fun breakfast and as we were eating, Vince announced, “The boys classes won’t be starting this morning until nine, because of everything that is happening at Homebase.  We and your sons are to stay here and make sure that the kennel people get the job started correctly.”


I asked, “Aren’t you four guys going to get dressed or are your only going to wear your briefs all day?”


Ryan answered, “Daddy, be nice, Uncle Vince and Uncle Alex didn’t bring any clean clothes and theirs are in the dryer.  Me and Nathan didn’t want them to feel bad.”


I hugged Dan as he was leaving for the hospital and whispered, “Well I know when I’ve been put in my place.  We wouldn’t want Vince and Alex to feel bad, would we?”


I hugged the four guys as I was leaving for the University, “Nate, I’ll be back for you.  We have an appointment at the school at two o’clock.”


When I was driving down the hill, I met a construction crew and a concrete truck coming up the hill.  There were also some people working at the bend in the road where there was a steep drop-off on both sides of the road.  I wanted to stop and see what they were doing, but I was running short of time.


I made a quick stop at the house and the three teenagers had already departed for the high school with George and Bruce, so they could enroll Jacob in the same school that Shane and Shawn went to.


I was working at my new desk, looking at the materials for the  courses that I would be teaching during the semester.  I realized that I would only be teaching three courses but would be responsible for monitoring two new instructors who were working on their doctorate degrees.  I looked at their resumes and one person was older than me.  I thought to myself, ‘I’m in trouble.’


I looked at the clock and it was already one fifteen so I packed my shoulder briefcase and started toward the exit.  I stopped at the receptionist’s desk and told her that I would be able to be reached on my cell phone, since I had no idea what the phone numbers of Homebase and Little house were.


As I was driving to Belle Monte, I realized that I needed to get my act together.  The only person I knew how to contact was Dan, and he was at the hospital.


When I arrived at Belle Monte, not only was Nate waiting for me, but also Alex.  Nate giggled, “Uncle Bruce told Uncle Alex he was to stick to us like glue.”


I looked at Alex, “Where is everyone else?”


Nathan answered before Alex could, “Uncle Vince took all the other kids to Little house.  Uncle George and Uncle Bruce thought that would be the safest place since the kennel people and the people installing the gate are there to watch out for strangers.  Jacob is at the high school with Shawn and Shane, and Mrs. Bates went with them, to take care of some paperwork so she can get a new husband.”


As we were driving, I noticed that Alex was very carefully watching the cars on the road, especially any that were going in the same direction as we were.  When we arrived at the school, Alex suggested, “You two start walking toward the entrance and I’ll follow to make sure that we weren’t followed.”


We went to the office and signed in.  I approached the Secretary, “Hi, I’m Kirk Richter and this is my son, Nathan.  We have an appointment to meet with Mrs. Brooke at two o’clock.”


The young woman looked up, “Good afternoon, Dr. Richter.  She’s expecting you in the conference room, right over there.  Alex, you aren’t here to do what you do at The Golden Nugget are you?”


Alex blushed, “Watch what you say, Kim, or I’ll tell the principal what you do every Saturday night to be able to afford a new car.”


I decided that Nate didn’t need to hear anymore of this kind of talk between Alex and this Kim person, so I took him to the conference room.  We could see Mrs. Brooke talking on the phone, so I knocked.  She motioned for us to enter.  We heard her say, “I’ll check into the matter, Dr. Wilcox.”


She motioned for Nate to sit down, “I couldn’t remember which of the boys was going to be coming today. So I was ready for either of the them.  Kirk, I’ll need to spend about ninety minutes with Nathan.  Why don’t you pick him up about 3:45?  Would you please close the blinds, so that we won’t be bothered by people who are visiting the office?”


“I walked up to where Alex and Kim were talking.  Kim looked at me, “Dr. Richter, the principal would appreciate it if you would stop in to visit.  She’s free as we speak.  Her office is right there.  She’s working on a report.”


I looked at the sign on the door and it said, Ms. J. Wagner, Principal.  I was thinking to myself, ‘Who is J. Wagner?’


I knocked on the door and the lady looked up at me, “Hi Kirk, it’s been a while.  I never expected you to have two sons whom you needed to have tested.”


“Look, Miss Jolene, since when did you become a Ms?  How can you be a Ms and have twenty some grandkids?”


She grinned, “I figured if I was a Ms here at school, I could get away with seeming not to care about kids.  I love the kids, but I dislike the paperwork and parent complaints that I have to deal with.  I would rather be back in the classroom teaching hellions like you.  I’ve decided that I’m calling it quits at the end of this year.  I’ve been teaching or in school administration for thirty five years.  That‘s enough.”


Mrs. Wagner had a call and she looked at me, “Kirk, we’ll need to talk later.  This call is from Senator Herschel.  This may take a while.”


When I returned to the reception area, the Kim person was busy talking to a group of ladies, and Alex was sitting in a chair waiting for me.  I motioned, “Alex, let’s go get something to eat.  I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast and I’m getting hungry.”


Alex gritted his teeth, “Sir, do you really think it’s safe for us both to leave?  Uncle Bruce called and told us that Mr. Bates had made bail and was acting like a wild man.”


“Alex, if he had been following us, he would have made his appearance by now.  I’m sure that Nate will be fine here.  You saw the policeperson at the door; she made sure that we went to the office.”


We went to a small diner that was close by and I had a cup of soup and half of a egg salad sandwich.  Alex had a piece of the home made pie.


As we were eating, I asked, “Alex, how is it that you and Vince became such an important part of the Belle Monte operation?”


Alex frowned, “Dr. Richter, we had someone watching out for us.  Our stories are not very pretty.  Are you sure you really want to hear them?”


“Look, Alex, you can can the Dr. stuff.  I’m 32 and I’m guessing that you’re twenty three or twenty four if you are just about finished with graduate school.  So from now on, especially when it is just the two of us, I would prefer that you call me Kirk.”


“Kirk, our stories aren’t very nice. Are you sure you want to hear them?”


“Alex, if the two of you are going to be around our sons, I think you should be open with us.”


“Kirk, it almost sounds as if you might not trust us and are afraid that we would do something to harm Ryan and Nate.”


“Alex, I never meant to imply anything like that at all.  I’m just curious as to why two handsome young men would be content to live isolated from your peers.”


Alex chuckled,  “That’s what's so neat about living at Belle Monte.  We can pretty much come and go as we choose as long as everything is progressing smoothly.  I’ll cut you a deal, Vince and I will tell you our stories tonight after we get the boys to bed.  They aren’t exactly stories that will make you feel good.  We need to get back to the school to pick up Nathan.”


I looked at my watch; I hadn’t realized how much time we had spent talking.  When we arrived at the school, the last of the children were being picked up.  Alex and I went to the office and the conference room door was open and Nate was sitting talking to Mrs. Brooke.


When Nate saw us, he waved, “Daddy, Mrs. Brooke would like to speak to you for a minute.  Alex, I need to go to the bathroom, bad.”


Christi pointed, “There’s one in the hallway to the left of the office.”


After Nate and Alex had departed, Christi motioned for me to sit down next to her.  She opened Nate’s folder, Kirk, I haven’t had an opportunity to totally evaluate all of Nathan’s tests, but I can assure you that the young man is very intelligent for someone who has led the life that he has.  His primary concern is how much money people keep spending on him and Ryan.  I’ll be able to go over his results with you tomorrow when you bring Ryan.  I’m guessing that Ryan is probably just as intelligent.”


We saw Nate and Alex returning, so we walked into the office.   I shook Christi’s hand and thanked her as did Nathan.  Nate talked the entire trip to Belle Monte.  His big question was, “Daddy, how long is it going to be before we can be like other kids and not have to worry about someone trying to kidnap or hurt us?”


Alex looked at me and arched his eyebrows.  I answered as best as I could.  “Son, Uncle Bruce is working on that.  I’m sure this mess will be cleared up shortly.”


When we arrived at Belle Monte, Nate directed, “Daddy, you need to pull around back.  We kids aren’t to be seen in the front of the house or to answer the door, for now.”


As Alex and I were walking toward the house, I asked, “Who decided that?”


“Uncle Bruce.”


Alex and I hadn’t even reached the house when Nate was coming out, “We need to go to the Little house.  All the other kids are already there, except the three teenagers.  They’re working in Jacob’s room.   Uncle Charles is taking down the Christmas decorations and the ladies are in the kitchen, cooking.”


The three of us climbed into the van and started to the Little house.  When we arrived at the place where the people had been working in the  morning, Ian was talking to the crew.  He motioned for us to stop.  We climbed out and went to see what he needed.  He grinned, “You’re just in time, the guys are getting ready to set the code on the electronic gate.  They need to know what numbers you would like the code to be.”


The gentlemen working in the box looked at us, “The number has to have four digits so that it should be four numbers that mean something to you.  The numbers should all be different to really make it difficult for someone to accidentally be able to open the gate by guessing the numbers.”


I pointed to Nathan, “You’re the boss, what should the four numbers be?”


Nate thought for a minute, “Could it be something like 7209?”


The gentleman nodded yes and fixed some wires and the gate closed.  He looked at Nate, “Young man, if you want to get past, you will have to push the code.  There is another keypad on the other side to close the gate with the same number.”


Nate punched the numbers and the gate did indeed open.  Nate had some questions, “Sir, if we’re in the Little house and someone wants to visit us, how will they be able to get in?  Are we going to have to come down and open gate?”


“Good question, young man. There’s a speaker with a button that will permit them to contact you and tell you that they are at the gate.  We have tied the system into the existing intercom system.  Why don’t you call the house and ask them to open the gate.”


Nate punched the speaker button, “Little house, this is Nate.  Would you let us in please?”


Vince was chuckling as he answered, “Never, you mean little kid unless you have your Dad and Alex there, with you.  I’m pooped chasing after eight little brats.”


“Don’t kid me, you wicked old man, they’ve probably had to sit in the corners all afternoon.  Now push the silly button, or I’ll send Uncle Alex to beat you up.”


“Oh no, anything but that.  Okay, I’ll push the silly button.”


The people who had been working on the gate were all laughing as the gate opened.  We heard Vince yell, “Come on kids, we have time to get away before the mean kid gets here.”


We shook the gentlemen’s hands who had done the work and the head person commented, “Sir, you don’t have any idea how much we appreciated having some work.  There is isn’t much call for our work this time of year.”


Nate asked the gentleman, “Sir, what’s going to happen if someone pushes the wrong numbers to open the gate?”


The person gets three tries.  If the numbers are wrong a red light will appear.  If the person misses three times, they will be told to call for entry.  The boxes and the intercoms have lights that are activated by a nearby movement.”


Nate asked another question, “What’s going to happen if a vehicle tries to go around the gate?”


The construction foreman, lead us to the side of the road, “Unless, it’s a very, very small car it’s going to be going way down and I don’t think the occupants are going to be climbing up the cliff.  The other side of the road is the same.”


Nate had some last questions, “What would happen if someone ran into the gate and tried to knock it down or tried to climb over the fence?”


Nate if the someone were to knock down the fence it would send a signal to the sheriff’s office and all sorts of sirens and whistle would sound.  I wouldn’t try to climb the gate for two reasons.  First the gate is pressure sensitive and the barbed wire coils at the top are electrified so it would be very uncomfortable to come in contact with.”

Nate had the funniest look on his face. “Daddy, how are we going to be able to pay for all this work?”


Ian put his arm around Nate, “Nate, I’m going to take Mr. Chambers to talk to Mr. Fort, so Chase and Evan’s Dad can pay the men for their work.  You need to go check and see what the mean one is doing to Ryan and the other children.”


Nate was watching out the back of the van as the gate closed.  When we walked into the house, Vince was sitting at the breakfast bar watching out the back window.  When he heard us, he stood, “Well, if it isn’t the meanest kid in the world.”


Nate hugged him, “I guess I did good in taking lessons from you, meanest person in the world.  Where are the other kids?”


Vince pointed, “They’re in the back yard teaching Snitch, Snatch, Hodge and Podge how to play soccer.”


Talk about vanishing, Nate disappeared in a flash.  I looked at Vince, “I hope the children weren’t too much of a bother?”


Vince started to laugh, “Not really.  Ryan was outside making sure that the people putting up the humongous kennel were doing it right.  He even made them put in a gate so he and Nate could put their horses in the enclosure if they needed to.  I’ve never seen anything like it.”


Our conversation was interrupted by the arrival of Ryan, “Daddy, you gotta come see the neat passageway that Uncle Vince built for Hodge, Podge, Snitch and Snatch to get out of and into the house without leaving all the cold air in.  We can ride Roly and Poly here and get something to eat and not have to worry about them.  Uncle Vince says we can bring some hay for to them to snack on when they’re here.  He’s going to help us make a place so they can drink when they’re thirsty.”


I was being pulled by our six year old son, to see what had happened.  I could hardly wait for Dan to see what had transpired.  Ryan was explaining in intricate detail what happened when Vince called, “Homebase called and said we were to begin our decent.  Everyone who is going to Homebase needs to board the Belle Monte Express and fasten their set belts.”


I looked at the guys, “You go ahead.  I need to change clothes and I'll bring the van.  I can’t imagine that we’ll all be sleeping here again tonight.”


Nate looked at me and grinned, “Daddy, you do remember the code to open the gate, don’t you.”


Being the good Daddy I was, I replied, “Of course, Nate, it’s 6107.”


Nate shook his head no, “Daddy, you may be stuck here, forever.”


I called Dan and told him to stop at the big house. He asked that I bring a change of clothes for him. 


Almost as soon as Dan had arrived and changed clothes, dinner was served.  While we were eating, Bruce explained, “We had Mr. Bates’ adoption of Jacob nullified.  After we had taken care of that and had enrolled Jacob in school, we filed the paperwork for Martha’s divorce from Mr. Bates.  We put a large announcement in the paper, announcing the divorce filing and made it clear that Martha would not be responsible for any debts incurred by Mr. Harold Bates.”


“When I delivered the paperwork to Mr. Bates at the county jail, he was just getting ready to leave, after having posted bail.  When he read the paperwork, he went totally out of control and the sheriff’s deputies had a difficult time restraining him.  He threatened to make me pay for ruining him.”


“Ian tells me that the security gate is in place and working.  I think it would be wise if all of the young people sleep at the Little house, especially Nate, Ryan and Jacob.”


Martha nodded, “I’m guessing that my parents are going to want to go home tonight.  Dad can’t be away from his business for too long, especially at this time of year.”


We had just finished eating and the young people were taking care of the cleanup when the doorbell rang.  Charles and Ian stood, and Charles announced, “We’ll get it.”


They returned with two older couples. Charles introduced Mr. and Mrs. Bates and Mr. and Mrs. Elder.  After the introductions, the Forts and the McTavishes excused themselves as did Vince and Alex who announced, “We’ll stay with the young people.”


I started to stand and Bruce motioned for me to sit still.  Bruce started, “Mr. and Mrs. Elder and Mr. and Mrs. Bates, will you be able to spend the night?”


Mr. Elder shook his head no, “I have some important business things that I need to take care of in the morning.  We’d like to leave before it gets too late.  Marty, is there anything at the house that we need to pick up.”


Martha grinned, “Nope, Mr. Holloway made sure that anything that we would want was put in storage this morning, before Hal was released from jail.  I’ve already withdrawn the children from school.”


Mr. Bates asked, “Does anyone have any idea where the imbecile is now.  I had a call from the insurance company advising me that our insurance policies were not current and that no premiums had been paid to the company for the past two years.  They advised us that Hal’s agency had been closed indefinitely, and premiums were not to be paid until further notice.  They informed me that all of the clients were receiving such notifications.”


Mrs. Bates frowned, “People, I don’t understand why you people are involved in this mess.  It seems as if you’re caught in the middle of something that does not have anything to do with some of you.”


Bruce looked at me, “Since you started this mess, you can explain it.”


I was as concise as I could be and when I got to the point where George had received the phone call from Jacob, demanding to be picked up because he found out the George was really his father, and not his uncle, the four visitors eyes were focusing on George, and Mrs. Elder laughed, “So George, this is really all your fault.  Have your parents met your son.”


Marty answered, “Mayor and Mrs. Masters were here last night and informed us that Hal had attempted to blackmail the Mayor, so he wouldn’t reveal that George was gay.”


Mr. Bates stood, “That does it.  Hal is definitely out of control.   Does anyone know exactly why he is so desperate for money?”


Bruce  nodded, “I have people checking into the matter and it seems that he is very heavily in debt to a powerful gambling syndicate, and they’re applying the screws to him, so to speak, for payment of the money due them.”


Someone was pounding on the door, Charles came out of his apartment to answer and  Mr. Hal Bates came charging into the room shouting, “Where is the bastard?”


Vince and Alex had obviously heard the commotion because they had appeared and were ready for action.  Vince grinned, “Sir, we didn’t have any of them bastards here, until you arrived.”


Mr. Hal Bates suddenly realized who was there and asked, “What are you old people doing here?  I suppose these hicks are brainwashing you, telling you how bad I am.”


Mr. Bates shook his head in disbelief, “Harold, you’re doing a great job of showing us what a louse you are, all by yourself.  As far as your Mother and I concerned, you are no longer a member of our family, and are no longer welcome in our home.  I think it is great that Marty and the children are going to be able to make a new start.  I suppose you’re going to try to hit me like you did Mr. Holloway.  I suggest that you make yourself scarce.  I don’t think you’re a welcomed guest here a Belle Monte.”


Dan and I stood, “As your Father suggested, you are not welcome here at Belle Monte, so I suggest that Vince and Alex escort you to your car and make sure that you leave the premises immediately.”


As Hal Bates was being ushered out the door, he yelled, “You haven’t seen the last of me.”


Mr. Elder stood, “Marty, I think we need to get you and the children away from that raving maniac, before he hurts someone.” 


Marty called down to the game room, “Children, we’re going to be leaving.  The twelve young people appeared.  Shawn, Shawn, Vince and Luke helped take the rest of their things to the vehicles.  It’s a good thing they had three vehicles because Marty had retrieved a number of things from the house, so her van was packed full.”


As soon as the Bates and Elder caravan pulled away, Bruce announced, “I think it would be wise for all seven of you young people to spend the night at Little house.  You high school students need to get everything that you need, so that Doctor Thornton can drop you off at the school in the morning.   I don’t want you to ride the bus until we’re sure that you’ll be safe.  Evan and Chase, pack an overnight bag. Vince and Alex, I would appreciate if you would also spend the night there.  Thanks for changing your night to work with Will and Brandon.  I feel safer having extra sets of eyes and muscles around.”


Alex laughed, “Not a problem, boss.  We’re enjoying being the kings of the hills.  We assumed that we would be spending the nights with the brats, so we are already packed and set to go.  Everyone under the age of 18, get your gear and get it on the Belle Monte Express.”


After the young people had departed, Bruce looked at everyone who was left in the house, “Everyone, Bates is desperate.  It is my opinion that if he and his cronies are going to try anything, it will either be tonight or tomorrow.  Everyone needs to be alert for any strange activity.”


As Dan and I were walking to the vehicles, I explained the key pad to him and when I told him the entry code, he questioned, “Why those numbers?”


“Nate chose them.  Think about it; seven plus two equals nine and zero plus nine equals nine, thus you have ninety-nine.”


I followed Dan and the gate worked slick.  He opened it and I closed it after we were through.  When we arrived at Little house, the older guys were already putting sleeping bags together while Nate, Ryan, Evan and Chase were taking care of the animals.”


Vince whispered, “Sir, I recommend that you switch the intercom to the master bedroom, so it won’t wake the guys, should it be activated.”


Dan and I took a shower and went to see what was happening, and Ryan, Nate, Evan and Chase were in the sleeping bags with Shawn in the middle and the dogs and kittens taking whatever space they could find.  Shane and Jacob were in Ryan’s bedroom and Vince and Alex were in Nate’s room.


Before I crawled into bed, I looked out the balcony door and the night was clear with what looked to be a big bright full moon.  I commented to Dan, “It’s so bright, surely no one will try to do anything tonight.”


To be continued...


Editor's Notes:  When are these people going to learn not to say things like that?  Almost every time someone says, “surely such and such won't happen,” it does. 


I guess we will have to wait for the next chapter to see what will happen.


Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher  


Posted: 02/05/10