58. Fire and Rain

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A weaker mind, hell bent on self-preservation proved to be an asset in difficult situations

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A weaker mind, hell bent on self-preservation proved to be an asset in difficult situations. 

Overburdened by the shock of Charlotte's actions and the trauma of trying to make sense out of her confessions, my brain cells decided to pack it up and go home. 

Which was fine, because my job at the moment suffered from a serious case of Hurry-Up-and-Waits. The helicopters rounding up the cattle in the pastures were so far away that I couldn't even hear their rotors yet.

It was really stupid too, we were so close to the ranch that I could see Alice sitting by the barn, bobbing her head along to her music. I could've easily hung out with her to pass the time and have gotten back into position once I saw the cows on the horizon. Unfortunately, OSHA regulations required that I stay put.

Partnered up with I-don't-talk-unless-my-life-depends-on-it-Garrett, I sat atop Satan in my bright orange safety vest, bored out of my skull, and baked in the sun. Garrett sat a few feet from me on a Blue Roan, playing video games.

"How much longer?" I called out to him.

He shrugged without looking up.

"We've been sitting out here doing nothing for over an hour." It made no sense to whine at him about something he had no control over, but I couldn't help myself.

He ignored me.

"So tell me again how this is supposed to work?" I knew damned well how it worked, but couldn't stand to sit there with only silence to keep me company for even a minute longer.

"Think relay race. Substitute cattle herds for batons," he said.

We were assigned to the home stretch. It wasn't a difficult position, all we had to do was wait for the herd to pass, then bring up the rear.

And then, return to position for the next round. All. Day. Long.

"Is it just me or is it getting super hot? I think the forecast was off. My neck stings, so I'm pretty sure I'm getting sunburned. Oh, what are we supposed to do for lunch? I'm hungry. Aren't you?"

Wordlessly, Garrett shifted and detached the two way radio from his belt. He fiddled with the buttons some then turned his body my way. He whistled to get my attention, his arm swinging down in preparation for a windmill pitch.

"No! Don't! I'll drop -"

Before I could finish, the radio landed square on my lap.

Wow, now that's some aim.

I was about to tell him so, but Garrett was already dead to the world, fully engrossed in his game.

"What do you want me to do with th-" The radio buzzed and Jake's voice broke through the static. "Jake?"


I smiled, picturing him not too far away, doing the same thing I was doing. He had such a good heart, defending poor Charlotte like he did, I should've known better than to doubt him. "Wait, Garrett, did you need to talk to Jake?"

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