High Plains Affair

High Plains Affair- Billy Henderson

   A story of a Rancher and a Mexican woman whose lives have been upturned by the tragic accident of his family and the murder of her husband suspected of drug dealing and theft.

High Plains Affair

High Plains Affair – Billy Henderson

Chapter 1

    On a stormy dark West Texas summer day on a highway south of Amarillo, Texas, a terrible accident happened. Mr. and Mrs. John Adams and their 14-year-old daughter were killed in a tragic car crash. An eighteen wheeler ran a stop sign and broadsided the Adams family car. All were killed instantly. The Adams had one 24-year-old son, Jake, who was working on the family ranch at the time. Jake was devastated and mentally affected by the loss. His family was gone and he was lost. Without them he measured his days by the hour of just getting through from sun up to sun down. After the funeral Jake refused to have help or company to stay with him at the family home.

   He was all alone with his grief. Jake was a rugged man, six foot  three, brown hair and hazel eyes. He was handsome with a quiet virility that he carried with pride. He never knew a stranger but he held his ground in his beliefs. But this has shaken his confidence to the very core of his being.

    Down the road about a quarter of a mile lived a young Mexican family. Paco Ramiro, his wife Risa, 24 and two young sons, Gunter, 7 and Roberto 5. Jake hired Risa to clean his house. She brought the two boys to work. Jake enjoyed playing with them and teaching them English. Risa can speak decent English enough or little better to get by at the grocery store. But believed if you live in America you should speak English, so with Jake’s help the boys were steadily learning the language. Risa’s husband Paco is employed by the ranch to help tend the cattle. He is a good cowboy. Jake liked him and Risa. They were a fine family, caring and hard-working or so it seemed to him until one hot summer Saturday morning.

   Jake heard a woman screaming. He ran to the door and saw Risa running toward his house carrying a child under each arm. Further back he could see two men chasing them. Jake grabbed his rifle and shot one of the assailants. The other assailant shot at Jake almost hitting him. Jake fired back and hit the bad guy in the chest. Jake ran for Risa and the boys. She said Paco had been shot and she thought he was dead. Jake immediately called 9 1 1. The first responder was a deputy sheriff who was traveling nearby. Both assailants were dead. The Ambulance swiftly arrived and declared all men dead to the sheriff and State Police who were there to investigate the crime scene.

” I am sorry Risa, but Paco is dead,” said the sheriff.
“Oh no.” she wailed, wringing her head in her hands, clutching tightly to her children she cried out “I just don’t understand why!”
Jake told his neighbor, Martha to take them to his house and keep them there. The sheriff sent a deputy to stay outside the house in case someone else showed up to harm Risa and the children.
” Do you have any idea what this is about Miss Risa?” The Sheriff asked her gently.
Risa began rambling loudly in Spanish. Jake translated back to the Sheriff with her testimony. “These men drove up and threatened to do harm to me if Paco didn’t tell them where he hid the drugs. Paco started to fight them and they shot him! Paco never did drugs or even knew anything about them. He told them, you are crazy, I don’t know anything about any drugs. You must have the wrong person.”
Jake put his arm around Risa and led her to a bench outside his house. “Sit down for a moment Risa. There is time to answer more questions later.” He could tell she was just beside herself and was in no shape to continue in the questioning.
The Sheriff knew the two assailants, they were known drug dealers. The law enforcement officers called an ambulance to take them to the hospital coroner. Officers took drug sniffing dogs back to the ranch and found a truckload of drugs covered with weeds and tree limbs stashed out back in the lot behind Paco’s house Law enforcement thought Paco might have seen the drugs and hid them after the dealers left, rather than immediately reporting it to the police, or maybe he was protecting his family from something he didn’t want them involved him. It was hard to know just what had happened and since Risa for all intent and purposes was an innocent in the matter; the case was closed as all suspects were dead.
Risa and her two sons were so devastated by their loss. They are in the country alone, no family, with no income. They gathered up some belongings and stayed with Jake that night. The neighbors pitched in and helped bury Paco. No one knew exactly what to do with Risa. There was a church meeting with the neighbors that Sunday to decide how to help her. Jake asked if he could speak with Risa in private. They met for about fifteen minutes. Jake walked back into the meeting holding Risa and her son’s hands.

   Jake addressed the small crowd. “I have asked Risa and her sons to come and live in my house. I need help and since the four of us are all dealing with a terrible family loss I am hoping we can help each other heal. I will never take any advantage with Risa. You can see she is a beautiful woman. She is free to leave at any time. Her boys will be treated well and I will see they both get a good education. Now, if anyone would like to object or have a comment, I will listen. Feel free as I want to assure everyone that I aim to do the right thing with Risa.”

    A few of the ladies spoke and volunteered their help to Risa if she needed to talk and help with the children or give their support in any way possible.. Jake also said, “He would do all he could to find Risa another place to live and try to find her a job. Further, I will help Risa get back to her family in Mexico to if that’s where she would rather go. I believe that is fair to her. I will ask for help in getting the family’s clothes and furniture moved from her house to mine. We can store anything she doesn’t want at my house, in the shed behind the house. Jake said, “I want you to burn the house after everything is out, and not tell a soul where she is in the time being. “ All assured it would be done the next day.

   The Pastor dismissed the meeting with a passionate prayer wishing good fortune to Jake and the Ramiro family. Jake loaded the Ramiro’s in his truck and drove to his house. Risa did not want to go  back to her house, not even to pick up some clothes. Jake’s mother and her sister’s clothes were still in the house. Risa agreed to look at their clothes to see if she could or would wear any of them. Risa felt like she had no choice. She did go thru the clothes and found some she could wear. Jake fixed supper for the family. He knew Hispanic’s had different diets than Caucasian people but he did the best he could with some smothered pork chops and onions, pan-fried potatoes, and a salad.  Risa came in to help. Together they got the meal prepared. After they ate Jake and Risa and the boys cleaned up the kitchen. They felt safe in Jake’s home and appreciated the kindness that he extended to them.

   Jake gave Risa a room down the hall from his it was his mom and dad’s room. It was plenty big enough for Risa and her boys for the time being. After watching a few TV shows, Risa helped the boys bathe. Jake found some PJ’s of his that they rolled up the pants legs and waistbands for the boys to wear to bed. He would get their clothes from their house the next day.

   Risa bathed and went to bed. Jake was reading a book in the living room. He heard a soft cry from Risa. He knew she was grieving for Paco. In a few minutes Risa ran into the living room and grabbed Jake and said, “Hold me, hold me” Jake took her in his arms and they sat on the couch. Risa was sobbing as she held onto Jake.
Jake told Risa to “Go ahead and cry it all out.” Risa cried herself to sleep. Jake pushed her gently over on the couch and covered her up with a blanket.  Jake sat in his recliner and watched over her while she slept.  It was morning before Risa woke up.  She looked around and saw Jake sitting in his recliner.  She went to him and hugged him and said, “Thank you.” She dressed and went about fixing coffee for her and Jake.  They moved to the front porch and sat in the porch chairs and drank their coffee. The boys were still asleep.   They sat silently staring at the hills and pasture.  They could see deer and wild turkey’s moving about scratching for their morning meal.  The house sat on a hill with beautiful scenery all around, like God’s anesthesia; it helped calm their grieving hearts.

   Jake owned the house that they had been living in. Fearing that the dealers would come back with different assailants he thought it best to burn it down, possibly throwing them off track and leave the area. He poured some gasoline near the inside of the door, and ran a long fuse up the porch steps. The  fuse crackled and sparked, hissing its way to destruction, then burst in a hellish flame as black smoke began to engulf the inside. It was an old wooden shotgun house that sucked the fire quickly down through the halls and rooms and shot out the back door in a screaming red and orange inferno. He watched it burn down hoping that Risa and her boys would truly be safe from here on out.

     A few days later, Jake asked Risa if she felt like going to town and do some grocery shopping.  Jake told her he needed to talk to his lawyer and insurance person to find out if the insurance would pay anything on Paco’s death.  Risa reluctantly agreed.  She dressed the boys then herself.  Jake loaded them all up in his pickup and away they went.  First stop was the insurance agent.  Jake asked if Paco’s murder was covered by insurance.  The agent told Jake, “There is coverage.  Your dad and mother believed in having plenty of insurance.”  The agent also told Jake, “Paco would have to have been a legal resident in the USA for the insurance to attach.  Jake thought he was but would have the lawyer to look into it.  Jake told Risa what the agent said about being a legal resident of the USA.  Risa said, ” I think so but Paco never talked about it.  I have applied for my papers but I do not have them yet.  Jake said he would talk to his lawyer and have it all checked out.  They drove to the Lawyer’s office.  His name is Claude Holloway.  Lawyer Holloway asked Risa a lot of questions some she could not answer.  Risa had little education and couldn’t read all the papers that were sent to her.  It was the one thing she took from the house the night of the murder. She kept them in a strong box along with the children’s birth records.  Mr. Holloway asked her to gather up all the papers and bring them back for him to look over.

   Next stop was McDonalds for lunch, the boys liked that.  Jake asked Risa if she needed any clothes.  He knew she did but gave her a chance to tell him.  She said, “I can make it with what I have.”   Jake said, “Well, just in case let’s go over to the department store and see if there is anything you can use, day and night clothes and bath sundries for everyday.”  Once they got to the department store Jake asked the manager to send their best sales lady to help Risa.  In a few minutes a lady appeared and introduced herself as Marcie Jones.  She knew of Risa’s situation.  She asked Risa if she knew the sizes of clothes she needed.  Risa did not.  She had never had new clothes only hand me downs and those from the second-hand store.  Marcie called her to the back of the ladies department and talked to her about what clothes she had.  Marcie discovered Risa had very few clothes and they were just rags.  Marcie said lets start with underwear. You are about my size and I think my size will fit you.  They went through the stacks and found several pair that Risa would need.  Then they went to the ladies garments section.  Risa had to try on some of the clothes to get the right size.  She bought three pair of pants three blouses and three shirts for everyday wear.  Marcie asked Jake if he thought she needed dresses.  Jake said, “Get three nice ones.  She will need some short pants to work in.  It is so hot she will need them and don’t forget socks and a good pair of work shoes and a pair of dress shoes.  Be sure you take her to the makeup department and help her get what she needs and how to apply it.; and a hair brush, comb and some inexpensive jewelry and a purse; fix her up and make her happy.”

    It took most of the afternoon to get the things Risa needed.  Jake and the boys went walking down the streets window shopping.  They would buy clothes after their mom was finished.  They walked back to the store and Risa was finishing up her shopping.  She had a bright smile on her face.  She looked so at ease.  When she was finished Jake took the boys back to the boys section and asked Risa to help them get the clothes they needed plus shoes.  After that Jake took them to the toy department and bought them some good things to play with.  Balls, bats, gloves and other toys they wanted.

   When it was all done there were a big pile of packages.  They are still sad about the loss of their father and husband but happy to have good clothes to wear.  The clerk totaled up the bill and Jake wrote a check for the merchandise.  The store clerks helped them get all the packages loaded in the truck.  Jake has a camper shell on his truck so anything in the back can be locked up.  Last stop, the grocery store.  Jake got a shopping cart and asked Risa to get what she knew was needed at the house, Some Mexican and some old-fashioned American food.  Jake told her, “no goat meat.”  Risa understood.  Jake made sure what they bought was healthy and wholesome for the whole family.  Jake asked Risa if she knew how to cook a steak.  She said, “What is that?”  Then she laughed and said, “Yes I can” Jake got enough for them all-knowing they would not eat much.

    It took a while to get everything they bought unloaded and put up in its place.  Jake asked the boys to show him what they bought.  The boys eyes brightened up they were so happy with what they got, especially the toys.  They had never had a Christmas as good as that.  Jake asked Risa to put her new clothes on and model them for him. “A run way model.” Risa laughed.  Jake is finding out Risa has a good sense of humor. Risa put on the dresses first they looked so good on her.  The colors were bright and matched her skin color.  Risa is light-skinned.  Jake figured her father  may have been Caucasian.  Her hair was not very dark; in fact it had streaks of blonde in it.  Risa is beautiful.

  They had a steak dinner and settled in to watch TV and went to bed. Except for Jake who was still up, just sitting on the porch swing, keeping a look out and doing a lot of thinking about Paco’s murder.  Something about it just didn’t seem right.  There were not enough drugs on that old truck to justify killing Paco.  The culprits seemed too desperate and didn’t mean to kill Paco.  So Jake thought.  He would let it go for now then he would question Risa if Paco had said anything she may not have remembered before or at the time of the shooting at a better time.

   Next morning Risa was up early fixing breakfast.  Jake slept in a little while.  He got up and dressed and washed his face and hands and went to help Risa.  Risa gave Jake a big hug and told him to sit down and she would bring his breakfast to him.  He said let’s eat on the front porch table.  They did and had a good time talking and looking at the nice view of the pasture and hills.

High Plains  Affair – Billy Henderson

 Chapter 2

   Jake said to Risa, “Risa, we need to talk.  There are two things I need to talk to you about, I know this is hard but I need to know. First it is about the death of Paco.  When the intruders broke into your house did Paco tell you anything?  This is important.”  Risa’s face flushed up, she had a sad look.  Jake said, “I know you have been asked this before but maybe you remember something now.  Jake said, “Please take your time and think hard.” Risa said, “Ok.”  She began to relive that horrific day, blinking back tears from the pain of remembering. Risa said, “I do remember something but I didn’t think it was important.

…Just before they shot Jake he said to me, “Escondido which means “hideout” in Spanish.  I thought he was telling me to hide out.  Jake thought a minute and said, “Risa, whatever you do, do not repeat that to anyone not even at the trial.  Risa said “Ok but why?”  Jake said, “I am not sure but I think there is something else to this murder.”

   The other thing is we need to do is to go to town and meet with the lawyer about insurance on Paco.  Risa I think you are going to get a lot of money and I want to warn you if you do you should keep it quite.  Once people find out you have money they will come begging for some of it and some might do you harm to get their hands on it.  This took Risa by surprise.  She sat quiet for a while.  “What do we do?”  Jake told her, ” Nothing now we go on like we are.  You can get some of it when you want it but not enough to call attention to yourself.  Risa I hope this doesn’t change your feelings toward me.” Risa said, “Jake, nothing in this world could do that.”  Jake said, “I care about you and the boys, I want to make sure nothing happens to you. We should get ready and go.  Just be careful of what you say, reply with, I don‘t know or I can‘t remember; I will be there to make sure they don’t get you confused.”

   They arrived in town just in time for the appointment.  The lawyer and the insurance agent were waiting.  They called Jake and Risa in.  The insurance agent, Roger Dolan, told Jake and Risa, “After talking to Lawyer Holloway and the Insurance Home Office, we believe we owe the claim.  The insurance is for $100,000 dollars.  Risa it is your right to sue us and Jake but be aware the lawyers will end up with most of the money if the Judge rules in your favor. It is up to you but if you take the money you will have to sign papers holding us harmless.  It is up to you.”

   Risa whispered to Jake, “What should I do?”  Jake asked. ” I would like to  talk to Risa in private for a few minutes if I could please.”  ” Sure, that will be fine.”  They both stepped outside.   Jake told Risa, ‘Risa I truly care about you and the boys and you can believe I would never intentionally tell you wrong but I strongly believe you should settle now and take the money and do all you can to keep it quiet.  If there is a trial and you get money it will be printed in the newspaper and everybody will know about it.  Risa said, “OK, I will take the money.  What will I do with it?”   Jake said,” I think you should let Mr. Holloway go with you to the bank and open up an account.  They will fix it so you are totally in control of your money.  No one can get any of it except you. I will teach you how to write a check and keep records of the money you spend.  I think a little later you should put some of it in a Trust Fund for your boys and Write a Will naming them beneficiaries of any money that is left.  The Lawyer can help you with that.  We will get you checkbooks with your name on them.  Before you leave the bank you can get any amount of the money you want.  Please don’t get very much as you can always get more. “Risa agreed.  They went back in and Risa told the agent she would take the money.

   There were lots of papers to sign.  Roger explained each paper to be signed to Risa.  She signed each one and the agent handed her a check made out to Risa Ramiro for $100,000.00.  She cried as she accepted the check.  She handed it to Jake and asked him to hold it for her.  Jake asked Lawyer Holloway to call the bank and advise the Bank President they would be coming in and asked if they could make the opening of Risa’s account in his office.  The bank agreed.  Risa, Jake and Lawyer Holloway walked over to the bank and waited for the Bank President.

    The President came out and introduced himself as Jeff Bolls.  He asked them to come into his office.  Lawyer Holloway explained the situation to him and asked him to assist Risa in opening an account.  Mr. Bolls called in his personal secretary to set up the account.  She asked Risa some questions and finally had it all set up.  Risa had to sign a Bank card with her signature on it so she could draw money from the bank.  Finally it was done.

   The secretary asked Risa if she wanted any cash.  Risa said, ” Yes, I want some money.”  The secretary asked her, “How much?” Risa looked at Jake. He whispered to Risa, “Get a hundred dollars in tens and fives.  You can get more when you need it.”  Risa said, “I want a hundred dollars in ten’s and five’s.” The secretary left and in a few minutes came back with the money and a ladies wallet.  “Here is your money, a hundred dollars in ten’s and five’s.  We give each person that opens a new account a new wallet, here is yours.” Risa looked at the wallet and said, “It is very nice thank you.” She put the money in the wallet hardly believing that it was hers, she never had this much money at one time. She and Paco struggled throughout their entire lives and now she didn’t have to worry about providing for her boys. A feeling of relief swept over her. All the banking business was finally done.  When Jake and Risa went back to the truck, he asked Risa if there was anything she wanted to buy. She said, “Yes, I want to buy you dinner.”  Jake laughed, “That is a good deal, let’s eat”   They went to a good restaurant and ate a big meal.  When the bill came for the meal Risa picked it up and looked at it.  She took out her wallet and counted the money correctly.  “Jake, how much tip should I leave?”  Jake said, “Five dollars will be enough.”  She put 5 dollars on the table and paid the cashier for the meal. Risa was so proud of herself.  This is the first extra money she ever had and so much of it too.

    On the way home Risa sat close to Jake and thanked him for his help.  Jake said, “Now Risa you are no longer a poor Mexican girl.”  Risa said, “I am thankful for that, I just wish I hadn’t come by it in such an awful way.”

  When they arrived home the boys were waiting, a neighbor was staying with them.  Jake paid the sitter so she wouldn’t know Risa had money.  Jake took the boys outside and they played ball.  The boys had fun.  Risa sat on the porch and watched them.  She still was a little confused about the events of today.  She was sad too, as her feelings towards Jake began to deepen her life before was starting to fade. She never thought in a million years she would be here. Risa thought she would grow old with Paco, raise their boys together and never have much money. But now here she was, living in Jake’s home, having feelings for another man, her own money and security for her children; she didn’t know quite how to adjust to her new life.

    Jake looked over at her contemplating off into the distance. He sensed she was overwhelmed. He came up and sat next to Risa and held her hand.  He said, “Risa it will take a while for everything to settle in.  One thing I would like for you to do is to learn to read English.  I will teach you.  You will need to know that.  It is important.  I am a pretty good teacher if I do say so myself.”  Risa said, “ yes, I see how you are with my boys, I should learn too, Ok when do we start?”  Jake patted her hand and told her, “We will wait until next week, let’s take some time for you to heal. Tomorrow we will saddle up some horses and we all take a ride around the ranch;  pack us a lunch if you don’t mind because we will be gone most of the day.”

  It was getting late.  Risa and Jake cooked supper together.  Risa made the most delicious tacos Jake had ever tasted.  Jake and Risa sat on the porch after supper for a while just looking at the night sky with all the stars sparkling clean and clear in a cloudless sky. Jake and Risa went inside and Jake sat in his recliner.  Roberto the youngest boy climbed up in his lap.  In a few minutes he was sound asleep.  Jake let him sleep a while before carrying him to bed. He was very fond of Risa’s boys. They had come into his life at a time when he needed someone to care about. He was use to caring for his own family and now that they were gone there had been a huge hole in him that the Ramarios’ were surely filling up. The boys love Jake, he is their hero.

   The next morning Jake saddled up four horses even one for Roberto.  He was the gentlest and would be good for Roberto to ride.  Risa and the boys had ridden horses many times to ride with Paco.  The ranch was large covering several sections of land.  They mounted up and Jake made sure Roberto was riding beside him.  The ranch had some steep hills and valleys.  Some of the hills could only be climbed by horseback.  Jake didn’t say but he remembered there was a place where outlaws in the old days hid out.  Jake couldn’t remember exactly where it was but he would know it if he saw it.

   Jake asked Risa if Paco had ever showed them a “hideout?  Risa said, “Not that I can remember.  Gunter spoke up and said, “He showed me a hideout.  I have been there.  Jake asked if he knew where it was and Gunter said, “Not exactly but there was a big rock that looked like a buffalo.” Jake remembered where that was but didn’t say anything to Risa or the boys about it. “Oh, Ok, thanks Gunter. Jake said, “Let’s ride over to the big pond and eat our lunch.” They galloped over like they were in a race, hooting and hollering, it had been a long time since the boys had  fun.  The boys threw rocks and skipped them on the water.  They saw a herd of deer, a Bob Cat, a Quail and flocks of geese flying south.  Risa and Jake watched the boys play.  She laid her head on Jake’s lap and took a nap.  After the boys got tired they loaded up and headed home.  It had been a good day.  Jake was not sure of what he was thinking but he still had a strong feeling something was not right about the story of Paco’s murder.

   Next morning Jake told Risa he had some business to attend to and would be gone most of the day.  Jake had an extra cell phone and showed Risa how to use it.  She caught on quickly for never having used one before. Jake said, “Call me if you need to.  Jake drove over to the ranch headquarters and talked to the foreman and the cowboys. He asked them if they had seen any one driving around the ranch.  They said they had not.  Jake told them, “If they did to be sure and let him know immediately.”  ” You still worried about more dealers coming back this way?” asked Al the foreman, who had been with Jake’s family for around as long as he could remember. “Just making sure we’d be ready if they did; just help me keep a look out.” Jake then drove over to the place they called the “hideout.”  It was up a steep incline and the only way in was by foot or horseback.

   Years ago the outlaws used it to hide from the law.  Jake parked his truck in some brush so it wouldn’t be visible from the road.  He got a large flashlight out of the glove box and climbed up the old path to the hideout.  It was in a cave with a small opening.  He squeezed through it and turned on his flashlight.  It appeared someone had been there fairly recently.  He looked around and found another room to the cave.  It was covered up with brush and rocks.  Jake carefully pulled back the brush and enough rocks to climb through.  He crawled through the opening he remembered from his childhood. While exploring the hideout he discovered a small shelf above the opening.  It too was covered with brush and dirt.  He cleaned it enough out to feel if anything was in there.  Sure enough Jake felt something.

   He dug some more and found two suitcases with straps and a lock on them.  He didn’t quiet know what to do with them.  He knew Paco had taken the suitcases from the dope peddlers and hid them in the hideout so probably no one knew where they were.  Jake went to the truck and got some bolt cutters and came back and opened one of the suitcases.  It was full of money, most likely drug money.  Lots of it.  Now Jake didn’t know what to do with it.  He decided to leave it where he found it and do a better job of hiding it.  He crammed the suitcases in the narrow opening in back of the shelf and covered it with big rocks, as big as he could carry.  Then he covered all that with brush.  He felt like no one could find the money.

   Jake found some large snake skins and carefully placed them in front of the brush where they would be visible.  He then carefully covered all his tracks and didn’t leave a sign that anyone had been there.  He eased out of the cave and placed more big rocks in front of the opening. He scratched a mark on one of the boulders so he would remember where the cave is.  He eased down and carefully looked around to see if anyone was watching.  When he was satisfied they were not he got in his truck and drove off.  He didn’t immediately drive home but drove around the ranch looking for signs of anyone who might have been snooping on him while he was in the canyon.

   Jake drove home and acted as though nothing was wrong.  Risa had cleaned the house real good it smelled nice and clean.  She had done the laundry too.  Risa is a hard worker.  Jake told her and the boys, ” You have done so good today that I am going to take you to town for supper.  YEA! They all said.  Jake cleaned up and changed clothes.  They drove to town and ate at a good eating place.  The boys wanted to eat at McDonald’s but Jake said no you are going to eat a meal with veggies.  “Aw,” the boys complained.  It was a good meal. The boys sang funny little songs on the way home. It was nice to see them beginning to put things behind them and become happy once again.

   Jake and Risa sat on the porch a while, the boys were watching TV.  Risa snuggled up next to Jake.  He gave her a big hug and told her he was glad she was in his life.   Risa said, “Me too.”

High Plains Affair – Billy Henderson

Chapter 3

   Jake has his own business to attend to.  The wreck that killed his parents is being litigated.  Jake knew he would end up with a large sum of money plus he is the sole heir to the ranch and all the Adams family assets.  Jake wished he could be happy about that but instead that day came back to him in a torrent of emotions that cloaked him in despair all over again. Jake drove into town and met with his lawyer.  Lawyer Holloway said,  ” I have been in contact with the insurance litigators and the company that owned the truck Jake. “It looks like we are going to have to sue the truck and insurance company.  They want to settle for a lot less than other similar cases settled for.  Lawyer Holloway is a good lawyer and has a lot of experience in these kinds of cases.  He is a tough and tenacious man.  Jake felt like he would get a fair settlement.  Lawyer Holloway said it will take a few more months or longer before it is settled.  In the mean time Jake could borrow money from the bank to run the ranch.

   Jake learned his folks had large life insurance policies and Jake is the beneficiary.  Jake will be a wealthy man when all is settled. Jake does not care about that right now, he knows it will get sorted through; for him he is just glad that Risa has some money.  He will do his best to get Risa some education so when the time comes she can get a job if she needs one.  Risa is anxious to become independent.  She loves Jake but she knows that a possible romance might not survive the trauma of the deaths in their families.  She knows too that Jake will be very wealthy someday and might have lots of women after him and that his feelings might change over time and He might not want a Mexican girl with two kids as time went on.

   Jake came home in the late afternoon.  Risa and the boys greeted him.  Risa didn’t question Jake about anything.  Instead she gave him a hug and said, “Jake, I am here for you.”  Jake understood what she meant. He knew she cared, maybe even loved him. Risa asked Jake what he wanted for supper.  Jake said, “Anything you cook will be good for me.  Risa prepared a really good meal.  She said, “A little Mexicans and a little home-style.”   So they ate burritos and fried chicken. Jake and the boys helped clean off the table and wash dishes. After that Jake invited Risa to the front porch. He reached out and took hold of her hand and they just sat there for awhile in silence, appreciating that they had each other to get them through these tough times.

            Risa said, “Jake, I have something to ask you.  Do you think there is a chance that I could get my mother to this country?”  Jake said, “I think that’s a good idea. I will ask the lawyer about it if you want me to.”  “Oh, please do, I want to see her so bad,” Risa said.  Jake said, “You know if she came we could fix up the old house out back.  It was a servant’s quarter at one time.  It is a very sturdy house.  “Is she able to do housework?”  Jake asked.  Risa said, “I haven’t heard from her in about five years.  I don’t write good enough to get a letter to her.  Jake said, “We can fix that, come in to the kitchen table.”  Jake got his stationary out and asked Risa what her name is and her address.  She said her name is Rose Ramirez.  I have her address somewhere in my things I will find it.  Jake asked, “What did you want to tell her?”  Risa couldn’t find the right words.  Jake said, “What if we start by telling her you are alive and well. We will tell her about Paco and ask if she would like to come to America if you can arrange it.  Tell her you have a place for her to live.  Ask her about her health.  We will tell her she will be happy here” Risa replied,” That is all good, could you write that all down Jake, I will go find her address.”  It didn’t take her long to find it she had it in the bible the church had given her.  Jake fixed it all up and read it to her.  Risa smiled and said, “It is perfect, can we mail it tomorrow?”  “Yes we can,” Jake said. ” Oh, you know we should put your cell phone number in the letter so there is a better chance she will call you.”

   We also can ask the lawyer how to go about getting her here.  Risa said, “That would be so good.” Now Risa really felt that her life was getting better.  After the boys went to bed Jake got a book and asked Risa to come sit at the table for a reading lesson. “The book is well written and easy to follow.  Jake started at the beginning and explained to Risa what he wanted her to do.  In no time Risa was into reading simple words at first then sentences.  After a while Jake said, “That is enough for tonight, I don’t want to tire your mind out.”  Risa said, “Jake, just a little more I want to learn to read so badly.”  Ok a few more minutes.  Risa was so proud of herself. Risa and Jake then went to their separate rooms.  Jake is keeping his word to take advantage of her.

   They worked at reading every night.  Jake was back working on the ranch and was gone during the day.  Risa went about doing the household chores and playing with her boys.  They were all glad when Jake got home.  He came in and took a shower and put on clean clothes.  This night was Friday night Jake asked the boys and Risa if they would like to go to town and eat supper.  They were all for that.  They ate at a Mexican restaurant but they also served Caucasian food.   They all stuffed themselves.  Tomorrow was Saturday.  When they got home and settled down Jake and Risa were cuddled on the couch.  Jake said to Risa, “Tomorrow Risa you and I are going for a ride and you are going to learn how to drive.  You are also going to take a driver’s test and get a driver’s license.

   That shook Risa up a little.  “Jake do you think I can really learn how to drive?”  “Sure you can Jake replied, also as soon as you get your driver’s license. I will help you buy your own car.  You need one.  It will be in your name but it will be a used car so no one will be suspicious.  Don’t worry it will be a good one.

   Next day Jake and Risa got in Jake’s truck and Jake drove them to an open pasture.  “Ok Risa get out and come around to the driver’s side and get in and put your seat belt on.  Remember, always put your seat belt on.”  Risa did as Jake said.  Jake went over everything Risa needed to know about driving.  “Ok now put it in D for drive and ease in on the accelerator.  Go slow and listen to me as you go.  Risa did as Jake asked and eased out across the pasture road.  It was a little bit of a rough ride but that is ok.  Jake said, “Try to drive in a straight line like you are on a highway.”  Risa was nervous and it showed but soon got comfortable and was enjoying the ride.

   Jake asked her to go a little faster then asked to ease to a stop.  Risa caught on quickly.  Jake asked her to drive on one of the ranch roads that were narrow with trees on each side.  Risa drove very slowly which is what Jake wanted her to do.  She drove for about an hour on the ranch roads.  Jake said, “Ok Risa drive us back to the house.  Risa said, “Jake I am lost I don’t know where the house is from here.’  Jake chuckled and said, “Stop the truck.”  Risa did.  Now Jake said, I want you to back up and turn around.  Risa had a problem with this but they practiced until she could do a backup turnaround.

     Jake showed her the way home and Risa drove all the way and parked the truck in its parking place.  Jake gave Risa a hug and said “Good Job.”  Risa was proud of her self.  Jake said, “Risa, next time you will get in the truck and drive by yourself.  Drive until you get comfortable with it and then next time we will drive on the highway.”  Risa said, “I am almost ready.  I can’t wait to get my own car!”

     Risa, Jake and the boys fixed lunch.   After they ate, Jake hitched up the horse trailer and loaded his horse and took off to the ranch headquarters.  There he met up with the rest of the ranch hands and they headed out to round up the cattle and look for strays.  Jake questioned all the ranch hands about Paco.  He was wondering if Paco had said anything to them about the two men before they killed him.  The men were reluctant to talk about Paco but after while they opened up a bit.

     Jake had to read between the lines but pretty soon it became clear that they had suspected Paco was either a thief or a dealer himself. “Sometimes, he would disappear for a few hours and take the old farm truck out into the valley. He was always silent when we asked him where he went and just say,  he had to check on the “fence line” or something that didn’t quite add up.”  It was no surprise to Jake that Paco may have watched the drug dealers and saw where they stashed the suitcases full of money.  More than likely Paco never actually saw the money since the suitcases still had locks on them.  Jake wondered if Risa knew Paco might be a dealer or a thief.  In Jakes mind he thought she might know because Risa was a loyal, trusting wife, uneducated and didn’t think badly of people by nature; she might not of ever suspected Paco of any wrong doings.

   Jake worked with the ranch hands the rest of the week and he was convinced Paco either stole the money or knew where it was hidden and the other hands never knew anything really for sure about it.  Jake decided just to let the money set where it is and see what happens. He never divulged the knowledge of the suitcases to them. He told them only, ” I just thought it strange that he had stashed drugs in the back of his old shed, I don’t know if her was dealing or was just confiscated them from the dealers.”  He figured if anyone else knew about the money they would come looking for it.  He would have to watch his back,  keep it quite and definitely  not tell Risa yet.

   Each night Jake would give Risa reading lessons she was learning fast.  Soon Jake would teach Risa to write in English.  Once she was ready he will see to it she gets a drivers license and help her get a car of her own.  Now Jake has feelings for Risa but has said nothing to her.  He was fond of her and wasn’t sure if it was just one of those things that people are known to do when they have been traumatized. He’s heard about it before, people finding a bond that eased the pain of loss. He wasn’t really sure this could be a true and everlasting love. This was good enough for now, people need friends to get through things, and there is no way he could have just turned his head away from the boys and Risa.

   Days passed, Jake and Risa were sitting on the porch one morning eating breakfast and Risa cell phone rang.  It was in the kitchen and Risa had to hurry to get it.  Jake could hear Risa talking loudly in Spanish.  Jake could tell she was excited.  It was her mother calling.  Jake didn’t hang around to hear their conversation.  He knew Risa would tell him all about it.  As he walked away he could hear Risa crying and laughing at the same time.  He knew things were good with her mother and was so happy that he had helped write her a letter.

   When they finished talking Risa ran to Jake.  She said her mother was not well and could not travel.  She had two sisters and one brother that were doing well.  Risa asked if she could go to Mexico to help take care of her before she died.  “I will take the boys with me; they would want to see their grandmother after so many years.”  Jake said, “Risa, I understand, it is your decision.”   Risa was overjoyed but at the same time didn’t want to leave Jake alone. “Jake can you come with me?  They live in a nice and safe place. They actually live and work in one of the resort places, it is beautiful there.”  Jake said, “Give me their address and I will check into it. I sure could use a vacation.”  After some research Jake found out they live in a small town next to a really nice resort.  What good luck it is near Cancun, Mexico.  Jake told Risa he would be happy to go.  “We will all go in the truck so we will have room and a place to carry our clothes and other things.  Risa told the boys and they ran across the yard screaming with delight. Jake was very happy about the road trip and vacation himself. He smiled too knowing that he could also keep a watchful eye on Risa and the boys as they traveled, he had become quite protective of them.

High Plains Affair – Billy Henderson

Chapter 4

  They began packing the next day; the more Jake thought about the long drive own to Mexico the better he thought it would be to fly. If he got down there and Risa needed more time with her family too he would have to get back to the ranch. He bought them all open ended tickets. “We’re flying!” the boys exclaimed. They couldn’t believe that they were soon going to be soaring above the clouds on their way to see family in Mexico. “Mex-i-co, Mex-i-co, we are all going to go to Mex-i-co,” they sang, with their arms out stretched like a plane, flying around the room.

    They arrived very early at the airport, went through security with the passports he had their Lawyer help expedite for them. Risa had found the papers of the children and herself stating that they were applying for citizenship having been in the country with a green card and have been physically present in the United States for at least two and a half years. They drove to Dallas and parked the car in long term parking. Needless to say it was a big and new experience for the family.  When it came time to board the airplane Jake told them “they would be in row 33 so listen to the announcement when they were to board.”  Then the announcement came, “Now boarding rows 30 through 45.” They waited in line, excited and a little anxious to having never flown before. Gunter’s seat was by the window and Roberto was next to. A little grandmother sat next to the boys and Jake and Risa were across the aisle. They held hands almost all the way to Cancun.

   After a while they began to relax but still looking out the window.  They were all very quite.  Finally one by one they dozed off to sleep.  The Captain came on and told them they were approaching the Cancun Airport.  They sat up and started looking out the window again.  They were a little nervous but Jake explained to them what was happening.  The pilot made a smooth landing and the Stewardess guided them off the plane.  They were all wide eyed when they got of looking at all the people and all the shops.  Jake told them to stay close by as they went through customs. The pilot came on and told them, “We are now approaching the airport in Cancun.”  They all looked out the window the view was so beautiful, in fact, breath taking.  The plane taxied to the gate and after a while they were allowed to deplane.

   Once they got off they were met by all Risa’s family her mother two sisters and a brother.  They all hugged and cried and hugged some more. They were all so happy to see each other.  All commented how pretty Risa is, and that the boys were so grown.  They were meeting the boys for the first time and it filled them with much joy. They all commented on how handsome they are.  Jake excused himself and went to the car rental place and rented a car big enough for them all to ride comfortably in.

   The sister’s name is Nina she is older than Risa and a beautiful lady too.  She works as a Hostess in one of the restaurants.  The other sister is named Rosa she is a waitress at one of the local bars. The brother‘s name is Jose’ he works as a handyman for one of the hotels.  Risa’s mother wanted them to come to come to her house for dinner so she could get to know her grand children better. She asked Risa if she could spend the night. “My house is small, so maybe the boys could stay with Jake for just one night.  Jake said that is fine I will check us in at the hotel.  The boys can stay with me.  Risa said, “Are you sure it is ok with you?”  Jake said, “Risa you need to spend time with your mother.  In fact stay as long as you feel you need too.  The boys and I will be having fun on the beach.  Don’t worry about us.  Risa kissed Jake on the cheek and said, “Thank you.”  Then she kissed the boys and told them to behave themselves.  Risa rode in the car with her family talking and laughing on the way to her mother’s home.  Risa’s mother lived in a very small house which was suitable for her. Risa noticed a grocery store down the street.  She told her mother she would be right back.  Risa bought enough food for her mother to last at least a week plus some treats.  Her mother was grateful.  Risa cooked a big meal for her and her mother.  Risa then cleaned the kitchen and sat down with her mother and asked her to tell about her life.  Risa ask her about her father.  She never knew him.  He had to leave and go to America to work but he never came back.  Risa remembered those days and how they all had to find work doing anything just to eat; they were very poor. They worked in the tortilla factory after school, sweeping and carrying boxes to the warehouse. At the time they were all in their teens and the long hours in the day took a toll on them.

   Once they got old enough they went to the hotels in the area and found work cleaning rooms.  Risa met Paco and he promised her a better life in the USA.  She wasn’t sure why it had turned out so badly. All she was sure of was that Jake rescued her and the boys from the killers and now she is so in love with him,  She hopes one day he will ask her to marry him,  Risa and her mother talked until midnight then went to bed.  Risa was up early and cooked breakfast for her and her mother.  They enjoyed each other’s company.  Risa and her sister took her mother shopping and Risa bought her some clothes which she needed badly.  Risa told her mother she needed to get back to her family but would see her more. She called Jake on her cell phone and asked him to come get her.

    After while Jake drove up and visited with Risa’s mother.  They talked in Spanish.  Risa’s mom liked Jake.  The boys were happy to see their grandmother again and she gave them each a hand carved toy.  Risa I thought we might take the boys to the beach later, but I made an appointment at the beauty shop for you. “Thank you, I could use a new look, I will get my hair cut shorter” Risa said.  He had made appointments at the massage parlor for the both of them while the boys went to play in the pool while their uncle Jose watched them on a break.   Risa Jake said, “Risa, I bet you need a bathing suit.” “Yes I do,” she replied.  “How about this one?” He held up a skimpy bikini.” Risa said, “Jake do you really want me to wear that.”  Jake said, “I do, you will look so good and sexy.  Wear it now while you’re young.”  Risa laughed and said, “Ok you asked for it.”  Risa loved her hair and the swim suit it made her feel like a new woman.   Jake changed into his swim trunks and got the kids out of the pool and they all headed for the beach.

   They took beach towels and lay in the sun. Jake could use a tan; he paled greatly beside Risa’s beautiful olive skin. They carried bottled water with them to keep them hydrated.  They talked about the trip and what they wanted to do.  Jake told Risa that night he wanted her to dress up for supper.  They would put the boys to bed and go down to the club and have few drinks and dance.  Risa thought she was in heaven. As they entered the club Risa’s sister greeted them she is the hostess there.  She said, “Risa you look so beautiful.”  “Thank you,” Risa said.  Jake asked what she recommended they eat for supper.  Nina said, “Jake if you like steak we have the best in the world here.  Risa you know what you want so you pick it out you know it will be good. Jake and Risa looked at the menu they decided they would share a steak and some of the best Mexican food on the menu.  It was expensive but Jake thought they may never have the chance to enjoy this again.

   The food was so delicious.  They had wine with the meal.  After they ate Jake asked Risa to go walking with him and walk off some of the food in his belly.  They held hands as they walked around the hotel lobbies.  After a while they found a Club with a band, they would play all kinds of music.  This is where Risa’s other sister Rosa worked.  She would be their waitress and tell keep them informed as to what is going on.  The club had a very good crowd.  Jake ordered a Margarita for Risa and one for himself.  He cautioned Risa to sip on it slowly. ” These pack a pretty good wallop.” Risa assured Jake she would take it easy.     They sat back enjoying their drinks and listened to the music.  Finally the band did a slow American song and Jake asked Risa to dance. They got on the dance floor and held each other closely as they danced.  After another drink they were dancing the faster songs.  They were having fun.

   They danced until the Club closed it was late and they were a little tipsy from the drinks.  Risa’s sister came over with their check and Jake paid with a credit card but left a nice tip in USA money.  Rosa called one of the waiters over and asked him to escort Jake and Risa to their room. Jake protested a little at first but after Rosa told him that, ” Sometimes robbers take advantage of people that a little too much to drink; Pedro will take care of you and get you safely to your room.”  That was ok with Jake.  When they got to their room Risa fell out on the bed Jake undressed her and got her in bed.  Then he undressed himself and put on his PJ’s.  The boys woke them up the next morning, but not to early.  They all dressed and went to breakfast.  Risa felt a little bit of a hangover but it didn’t last very long.  She asked Jake if he would take her to her mother’s house. “Sure,” Jake said.  “How long do you want to stay?”  “Just the day,” Risa replied.  She said she wanted to take the boys so they could get to know their grandmother. “Good idea,” Jake said.  They dressed and Jake drove them to Risa’s Mother’s house.  Jake stayed a while and visited then told Risa he would be back to get them later in the day.  “I will cook supper for us all later.”  “Ok,” Jake said.

   Jake drove back to the hotel and hung out in the lobby.  He met some interesting people and made friends with a few of them.  After that he went to his room and slept until it was time to go to supper and get Risa and the boys.  The boys said they enjoyed the visit with their grandmother and Risa said she also had a good time.

   They took the boys over to Uncle Jose’s for the night and went back to the club where Nina worked, danced some more and called it a night.

  The next morning Nina called Risa and asked if they could keep the boys a few days.  They had children about the same age and they wanted to get to know Risa’s boys.  Besides you and Jake need a little private time together.  Risa agreed with that.  So did Jake.  Risa got the boys suit cases ready to give to Jose, who would take the Boys to his sister’s house.  They were anxious to go visit their cousins.

   After they left Jake and Risa embraced and kissed. “I have grown quite fond of you Risa; I have fallen in love with you. Risa kissed him back and they made love.   They both took a short nap and Jake asked Risa if she would put on her swim suit and go with him to the beach.  Sure she said.  They took beach towels and regular towels and some water.  Jake said the would eat at the snack bar on the beach. “Besides, I want to show you off a bit.”  Risa said, “Jake, you embarrass me sometime.”

   They found a good spot on the beach and placed their belongings and headed for the water it is so beautiful, a deep blue color.  They stayed a while and went back where they left their towels.  They dried off and lay in the sun a while.  Risa kept rubbing sun tan lotion on Jake she did not want him to get sunburned.  Jake appreciated that they stayed over an hour and Jake said, “Risa let’s go to the hotel pool and swim a while I need the exercise.”  Risa said, “Fine,  but I am not a good swimmer.”  Jake said, “I can teach you how to swim.”  It wasn’t long before they were in the pool Risa stayed in the shallow end for safety.  Jake was swimming up and down the pool.  Finally they got out and sat at one of the tables.  Jake ordered them a drink and they sat and talked for about an hour.  By then it was time to go to their room and get cleaned up for supper.  They showered and dressed.  They went where Risa’s sister was working and they ate another good meal.  Had a few drinks and danced a while.

   Jake asked Risa if she was ready to go to their room.  Risa said, “I thought you would never ask.”  They held hands as they walked to their room.  It was a good night.  Next morning they slept late and the phone woke them both up.  Jake answered the phone and it was Risa’s sister Rosa.  She asked to speak to Risa.  Risa got on the phone and they talked.  Rosa wanted to know if she could meet her and Nina down stairs to talk.  Risa said, “Sure, I will be right down.”  Risa told Jake what they said, it sounded important.  Jake said, “I will walk you down then I will come back to the room.”

   They found Rosa and Nina waiting in one of the empty conference rooms.  Rosa and Nina said “Jake can you stay too?”  Jake said, “Sure if you want me too.”  Rosa said it is about our mother.  She had another attack last night and is in very bad condition we think she had a stroke.  We did carry her to the emergency room and the doctor said it is very bad.  Someone needs to stay with her all the time.  Neither Nina nor Rosa was willing to give up their job to say with her and asked Risa if she could stay with her.  Risa looked at Jake with concern in her eyes.  Jake knew Risa would stay if she had to.  Risa said, “Jake what do I do?’  Jake said I don’t know Risa maybe you can find a nurse to stay with her.  You and your sisters will have to pay for her care.  They all agreed if they could find the right person to stay with her.

    Nina and Rosa put out the word they were looking for a full time nurse.  In the mean time Risa would have to stay with her.  Jake agreed but said, “Risa I have to get back home in a few days.  Do you want me to take the boys?’  Risa said, “If they can stay with Rosa and Nina I would like to have them close to me.”  Jake said, “I understand, I will stay here as long as I can.  Risa was in agony, she wanted to be with Jake but her mother needed her and she was obligated to stay with her.  Jake was very sad too.  Lawyer Holloway called Jake and asked him if he could come home and help settle the lawsuit concerning the trucking company who killed Jake’s family.  Jake said he would be home in two days.  Jake drove over to see Risa to tell her the news and Risa agreed it was the best thing to do.  She asked Jake if she would ever see him again and Jake assured her as soon as everything is settled he would be back.  He also said if her mother got better or passed away Risa could come home.  Risa didn’t like that answer but accepted it.

   Jake made arrangements to fly home and would leave the next day.  Risa asked one of her sisters to stay with their mother so she could spend the night with Jake.  Nina agreed to stay.  Jake and Risa drove back to the hotel and had a sad night.

Risa said,” I will miss you so much Jake, we are just getting started and now we have to part. Will I see you again? Did you just take us here to leave us?”

“No, my Risa,” he said brushing her bangs from her forehead. I love you and as soon as you can, come back to Texas and me.”

    Next morning Risa helped Jake pack his things and Risa packed her things to move them to her mother’s house.  Jake drove Risa back to her mothers. Jake asked Risa if she would say goodbye to the boys for him.  After a while it was time for Jake to leave.  Risa, with tears in her eyes kissed Jake goodbye, doubting she would ever see him again.  Jake drove to the airport, checked in the rental car and waited for his flight home.  Jake was sad too but had to do what he had to do.  He certainly wanted to hold the people responsible for his family’s death accountable. And there was still that matter of the cash in the cave. It was late when Jake arrived home.

High Plains Affair – Billy Henderson

Chapter 5

   Next morning Jake went to Lawyer Holloway’s office. They talked about the settlement with the insurance company for the death of his family.  Lawyer Holloway said the insurance company had made a reasonable offer and left it up to Jake whether to accept the offer or sue them in court.  The settlement was in the millions and Jake decided to accept the offer.  Lawyer Holloway also had the paper work giving Jake the deeds to the land and all possessions of his family.  After the court filings with the county it would all be a done deal.  Jake was glad to get that behind him but sad at the same time.  Now he is alone.  Risa and the boys are in Mexico and Jake has no close friends to talk to. Jake feels lost, it finally all hits him.  He goes home and goes to bed for some needed rest.

  The next day he visits the Ranch foreman, Pete Brown.  Jake tells him he now owns the ranch and asks Pete to stay on, nothing is changing.  The foreman is happy on the ranch and likes his job.  The ranch is making money.  The cattle business is good.  Jake still is not happy he is depressed about all that has happened including him shooting the two men that killed Paco and were after Risa and her boys.  Jake didn’t know what to do.  He is alone and lonesome, he misses his mom and dad and his little sister.  He is thinking about going to see a psychiatrist.  He misses Risa but is wonders if she will ever be back.  About that time his cell phone rings and it is Risa.

   Risa tells Jake, “I miss you Jake. It seems like forever since I saw you.” “I miss you and the boys too Risa, but this is the right place for you to be right now,” Jake tells her. “Mother is near death, I don’t want to leave her alone.  Risa is upset she asks Jake, “What should I do?”   “Stay with her and comfort her and make sure she is comfortable,” He softly tells her.   “She is in the hospital and will get good care.  Risa told Jake.  “I have to go now, but I will let you know if things change. I love you.”  “I love you too Risa, stay in touch.” Jake is worried about Risa. He knows it is the right thing to do but it breaks his heart to be away from her for so long. The house is empty. All around him he sees them back when, cooking together, reading, playing out in the yard and sitting on the swing.  The two sisters and brother have full time jobs and can only help part time. So he sends off a money order to Risa to tide her over while she is down there. Jake finishes breakfast and drives home.  When he arrives,  there is a car parked in his driveway.  The man driving the car shows Jake a badge and identifies himself as a Federal Investigator looking into the Paco Ramirez case.

   Jake invited him in and they sat on the porch as the investigator ask Jake questions about the case.  Jake told him how he got involved and what led up to him shooting and killing the two assailants.  The investigator asked to speak to Risa.  Jake told him Risa is in Mexico taking care of her mother.  He asked Jake if he thought Risa was involved with the drugs.  Jake said, “I am sure she is not.  I don’t think Risa knows anything about drugs “Risa and her boys stayed with me after the death of her husband and she never showed or expressed anything about drugs.”

   Jake asked the investigator why he is here asking him about drugs.  The investigator told Jake it is more than drugs.  “We just learned that the two men that Jake shot had stolen money from the drug cartel.  They thought Paco might have gotten the money when he stole the drugs and either Paco or the drug dealers probably hid the money somewhere on the ranch.”  Jake said, “It sounds probable but I am sure Risa knows nothing about it.  In fact I am not sure Risa is planning to come back to the USA.”  The investigator told Jake it would be necessary for his agency to conduct a thorough search of the ranch for the money.  Jake said, “I will give permission as long as you keep the search quite.  I cannot have the ranch overrun by treasure hunters.”  The agent assured Jake it would be kept quiet.

   Jake wanted to know when they would start the search.  The agent said, “Actually, we have already started.  We have two agents as we speak looking for possible hiding places.  We will identify them and later conduct a thorough search.  We have a helicopter flying around now looking for good hiding places.”  Jake said, “Please don’t tear any fences down or do any damage to the ranch.”  The investigator told Jake, “Anything we tear down will be replaced as good as new.”  That satisfied Jake but he also knew he couldn’t stop the search.  Jake said to the investigator, “Have you considered they may have hidden drugs or money in the Palo Duro Canyon?  It is only about thirty miles from here.”  The investigator said, “If we don’t find anything on the ranch then we will look there.”  Jake said, “If I can be of help just let me know.”  The investigator assured Jake they would and they would let him know where they are looking and would let him know if they found anything.  Jake told the investigator that if they couldn’t reach him to contact Lawyer Holloway.

   As Jake was getting ready for bed Risa called and said her mother had passed away.  Risa is upset.  Jake tried to console her and he did manage to calm her down.  Jake told her to call him when the plans for the funeral were made.  “I will come down for the funeral.”  Risa said, “That would be wonderful I have missed you so much.  I love you Jake.”  Jake didn’t dare tell her about the search.  He would do that when he saw her.   Jake called the travel agency and made plans to go back to Cancun.  He would leave the next day.  The Agency got the tickets and made reservations where Jake stayed before.  He is all set.  He packs his bags and calls Pete Brown to drive him to the airport the next morning.

    Jakes flight left at 9:52 and he would arrive in Cancun at six.  It would still be daylight then.  Jake rented a car and drove to the hotel.  On the way he called Risa and told her he was on his way to the hotel.  Risa asked if he could come pick her up.  Risa said her sisters and brother are there and she is not needed until tomorrow.  Jake said sure I’m on my way.  Risa was waiting at the front gate when Jake drove up.  She was crying because she is so glad to see Jake and for the death of her mother.  She hugged Jake and told him how much she had missed him.  Jake felt better about Risa coming back with him.  Jake asked about the boys.  Risa said they are doing well they are going to school and like it but they miss home too.  Jake asked to see her sisters and brother.  Jake delivered his condolences to them.  They all thanked Jake for allowing Risa to stay with their mother.  Risa packed some clothes and Jake drove them to the hotel.  Risa asked if she could use the shower first.  Jake said, “Sure.” After she finished bathing she came out of the shower naked.  She came to Jake and helped him undress.  They held each other close and made love. The pain of losing her mother so soon after it took so long to get back to her and the time away from each other made them long to be in each other’s arms, soothed in the love they had for each other. They slept awhile and when they woke up Jake asked Risa if she was hungry,” Let’s go out for awhile then,”  Jake said and took a quick shower and dressed.  By then Risa was dressed and they walked to the restaurant.  Jake had a glass of beer and Risa had a mixed drink.  They talked as they ate.

   Jake told her about the agents searching the ranch for drug money. Jake reminded Risa about her conversation about Paco telling her to “hide out.”  Jake asked, “Risa do you know anything about the drugs or drug money?”  Risa said “Jake I do not.”  Jake said, “If you do the Federal Investigators will get it out of you.  “I am not worried; I do not know anything about the drugs or money.”  Jake said, “Risa I asked you before not to mention Paco telling you to hide out.  If you mention it they will think Paco is telling you the money is in a “hideout.”  “Jake I will not tell them.  I promise.”  “Ok will you be ready to go home after the funeral.  Risa assured Jake she and the boys would be ready.  Risa tell the boys not to mention a hideout if they are asked.  I think the investigators just might ask.

   After supper they walked down to the beach and sat on a bench and holding on to each other.  Jake told Risa he loved her.  Risa said, “Jake do you love me enough to marry me?”  Jake said, “I do Risa but I am having a hard time getting over my family’s death.  It is really hard on me but Risa I need you. I want you to come home with me.”  Risa said, Jake that is not good enough I want a commitment.  I can’t afford to come home with you and later you kick us out.”  Jake said, “I understand but that is the best I can offer.”  Risa said, “Jake that is not good enough, I am sorry but I will stay here.  I can get a job at the club as a waitress and make good money, enough to support my boys.”  “Damn,” Jake said, “Risa I was counting on you to come home with me.  “Jake, I love you but unless you marry me I won’t come home with you.”

   Jake said, “Risa I love you but my mind is not clear. I don’t want to marry until I get my mind straight and I can settle down and be happy. Risa said, “I understand Jake and I think it is best I stay here until you make up your mind.  I will be hurt but I think it is best that you have some time to grieve.”  Jake said, “Risa I think you are right I will stay for the funeral and leave after that.”  Risa had tears in her eyes but she knew she was making the right decision.  Risa spent the night with Jake and Jake took her to her mother’s house the next day.  She met her brother and sisters to make plans for the funeral.  It would be the next day.  Risa called Jake and told him about the plans and told him where the funeral would be held.  It would be a graveside service.  Before the service Jake spoke to the boys and asked them if they liked it there.  They both said they did but Jake could see it in their eyes they were not telling the truth, that they would rather be with him back in America.  Jake was sorry for them. he felt sorry about the whole deal, but he wasn’t ready to make a lifelong commitment to them, not just yet. Not until he straightened his head out and got past the past.

   He also figured it is best if Risa didn’t come home right away.  Maybe the investigation will cool off some.  Jake did not think they would find the money no matter how long or hard they looked.  After the funeral Jake and Risa had a long talk” I do love you Risa, I love the boys too, but I need some help in order to move forward, I am going to see a doctor to help him cope with the death of my family when I get back. I need to face my feelings about them and about killing those two men who were after you. I know it was self protection and I would do it again, but still; I killed to human beings. “There wasn’t any other way Jake,” Risa told him gently, trying to reason with him. “I know that, but that is a lot to go through in such a short time; I need to sort it all out,” Jake told her leaning in to kiss her. It was a kiss that said, I love you but I hope you understand. Risa accepted that.  Jake said goodbye to the boys and Risa’s family. He stood out under the night sky, black as coal with just a few stars above and for a long time. “I wish I felt differently Risa but it is time to go to the airport.  They promised to say in touch.

High Plains Affair – Billy Henderson

Chapter 6

    When Jake’s flight landed in Amarillo Pete Brown was there to meet him.  Pete drove Jake to his house.  He told Jake he had the housekeeper clean the house make it comfortable for Jake.  Jake went to bed early and slept until eight o’clock the next morning.  He got dressed and drove to town to see Lawyer Holloway to see how his settlement was coming along. “It’s going to be a little while longer, till it goes through probate. The lawyer added, “Federal Investigators have been by and said so far they had found nothing.  Another week should wind up the search. If they didn’t find anything they would move on to the Palo Duro Canyon and search there.” Jake listened and thought to himself, If they found the suitcase that would be that, he knew they would be watching to see if anyone might lead them to the money.  It would not be Jake; in fact it might be fifty years until Jake recovers the money.  He would give it to Risa’s and Paco’s sons.

   He stopped off at the department store to buy a few shirts for himself and Marcie waited on him. She had helped Risa find her clothes. She was a kind person, who always seemed to have a friendly smile.

Hi Jake, I hear you been in Mexico, How was your trip? “Marcie asked.

“It was OK, Risa’s mother passed away and she and the boys won’t be coming back for awhile.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, you two looked like you were getting along pretty good. You must miss her,” Marcie said.

“I do, we were getting pretty close. So much has happened to both of us though over the past months, that we felt we needed some apart to figure out our feelings.”

“I can understand that Jake,” Marcie said.

“I’ve been thinking about getting some counseling about it all,” Jake whispered embarrassedly.

“That would help you talk it out and work it through, there’s a new Psychiatrist in town that’s suppose to be good, and I can look up her number for you if you like.”

“That would be great,”Jake said.

Marcie wrote the number down and handed it to Jake. He paid her for the shirts and told her, “Thank you, I appreciate your help Marcie, It means a lot to me.”

“Hey, no problem, we all need a little help now and then.”

Jake shook her hand and said, again, “Thank you, you are a kind person Marcie.”

“Good luck Jake, I hope everything works out.”

  He called for an appointment and there was one available that afternoon at two o’clock.  Jake got there on time.  The receptionist called him back to the Dr’s office.  Jake was surprised to find out the Doc is a younger woman.  She introduced herself as Missy Walker.  The doctor asked Jake about his background.  Jake told her how his mother and dad and sister got killed and about the day he had protected Risa and the boys from the drug dealers, “I had to shoot them,” he said pausing. They were shooting at the kids. I couldn’t let that happen.” Yes, it was something you had to do Jake,” Missy told him. He did not mention the drug money.  He went on to tell her about Risa and her two sons and how much he loves Risa and their conversation that lead Risa to stay in Mexico.  The doctor listened closely and made notes.  She had question about how Jake feels and asks if he drinks a lot or takes any medicine.  Jake said he drank some but so far it is not a problem.

   They talked for about an hour.  Jake then asked her about her background.  She just graduated from North Texas State University with a Doctorate in Psychiatry.  This is her first job.  She is  very pretty and has a pleasant personality.  Her hair is dark like Risa’s in fact she reminds Jake of Risa.  Dr. Walker asked if Jake could come back the next day for another visit.  Jake said, “Sure what time?”  Dr. Walker said, “Same time if you can, at 2:00. I need time to go over my notes so we can plan a method of treatment.  She said “I understand what you are going through and we need to get a handle on it before it gets worse.”  That satisfied Jake in fact made him feel better to know he had someone to talk to and would get the help he needed.

   Next day Jake was back and on time.  Dr. Walker had another patient so Jake had to wait a while. He didn’t mind, in fact it made him feel like she cared about her patients and took extra time if needed to help them out.  The Doctor called Jake into her office and asked him to have a seat.  The chair is very comfortable.  Dr. Walker said, “Jake we have some options on your treatment.  I can prescribe anti depressants but I want to try therapy.  If it works you will be feeling a lot better.  If you agree I want you to come by at least once a week.  I prefer you come by on Friday afternoon.  Jake questioned her about what she has in mind.  Dr. Walker said we will start with one hour talk sessions and I will make recommendations as to what you can do to get better.  In the meantime I want you to stay busy I know there are things on the ranch to occupy your time and your mind.” That is ok with Jake.  He felt secure and comfortable with the Doctor.

    Jake drove home and on the way he thought about he and the Doctor talked about.  Jake decided to get more active in the running of the ranch.  Pete is the man in charge and Jake will not interfere with that.  Jake drove his truck to the ranch headquarters where he met Pete and they talked about what was going on with the ranch.  Pete filled him in. They were about to start the process of castrating the bull calves and give them their shots and dehorn the ones that needed it.  The heifers would get their shots and wormed.  The ranch had lot of cattle and it would take a couple of days to get it done after they were rounded up.  Jake always liked working the cattle and that would give him something to keep his mind occupied.  He told Pete to have one of the hands catch his horse in the morning and have him ready for him.  Jake called his horse “Taco”,  he is a gelding 12 years old and a really good cow horse.

   Next morning Jake was at the headquarters on time and his horse was waiting on him.  It was a cool morning and Taco had some buck in him.  Jake was ready Taco would always buck a little in the mornings but would settle down after that.  The cowboys rounded up the cattle and separated the calves from their mothers.  Pete and the cowboys had built the fences so that would force the calves into a barn and into a squeeze chute.  As they came in one would worm the calf and give it a shot another would brand the calf, one would castrate if needed.  It was a good and fast operation.  The smell of the burnt hair during branding was a sickening smell.  It made Jake sick so he stayed away from that.  It actually was a fun day for Jake.  After work he went home and showered and drove to town for supper.  As he was sitting and waiting for his food Missy Walker came in to eat.  Jake invited her to sit with him.  She accepted.

   They did not talk business but Jake told her about working the calves and getting sick from smelling the singed hair.  She laughed.  Jake asks her questions about her background. She too was raised on a ranch.  She said she grew up in New Mexico and was the tomboy type.  She said she could rope and do about anything any cowboy could do.  Because her mother had some mental problems and actually committed suicide it encouraged her to study for a Psychiatry degree.

    They lingered after they ate and visited a good while.  Finally Missy said she needed to be going.  She said, “I will see you Friday, Jake.” Jake said, “Sure thing Doctor, Missy said, “Just calls me Missy. Good night.”  Jake took her check for the meal, Missy objected but Jake would have it no other way.  Jake was thinking about Missy on the way home.  Jake spent the days working cattle on the ranch.  He was in a hurry for Friday to come.  He was on time for his appointment.  Missy asks Jake to come in to her office and have a seat.  Missy wanted to know what Jake did since their first meeting.  Jake told her he was busy working cattle.  Missy asked Jake several questions.  She said, “Jake let’s work on some things you can do to ease the pain of losing your family.  She said, “Jake understand that there will never be a day go by that you don’t think about your family, and that is natural, you will never get over grieving for them but you can heal the scars from the accident.”

    Missy said, “ You have everything inside to sort this through now, just keep busy and remember that the past is the past. Jake I am going to give you a chance to end your visits with me, I think that you are ready, as long as you continue your daily practices. Jake said, “I am a little disappointed.” ” I think there is only one more thing to address Jake tell me about Risa, all about Risa,”  Jake went over his relationship with Risa. He said, “I am not sure if I am in love with Risa for who she is or do I feel sorry for her because she lost her husband and her mother and she is alone with two young boys.” I think it is best that Risa stay in Mexico until I know for sure what I feel for her. “That is a good first step” Missy told Jake.  “Maybe you should not talk to Risa as much as you have and see how much you miss her as a person or just miss having someone around.”

   ” I think that’s a good idea too, but what if she needs me? Should I answer the calls?” Jake asked.

   “But of course, but don’t call her, just keep an emotional distance for awhile,” Missy suggested. “You went through so much together that you have to give yourselves, her too, some time, “Missy said.

    “In the mean time I want you to see other women and date.  I think that will help you figure it all out.  Jake agreed and said “I think you are right.  I like female companionship.  Missy said, “Jake just follow your heart and your instincts.  You will be ok Then Jake, get back into the church and read the bible.  That will give you peace.  Promise me you will do that.” “I promise. I have been thinking about doing that.”

   Jake grew up going to church he was Baptized when he was twelve years old.  He is a Christian and attended the Baptist church in town.  Sunday, Jake attended the church and was reacquainted with friends he grew up with.  Marcie was there. Jake felt a peace he hadn’t felt since his family was killed.  He promised himself he would attend more regularly.  After church Jake found Marcie and asks her to have lunch with him.  She accepted Jake’s invitation.  They ate a good lunch and had a good talk.  Jake felt at ease with Marcie.  After lunch Jake drove home and changed out of his Sunday clothes.  He sat on the porch and read his Bible.  He read in the book of the Psalms.  When he was finished his cell phone rang it is Risa.  Risa tells Jake her boys are getting in trouble at school they stole some money from a teacher’s desk and got caught. She found out that is not the first time the boys had been in trouble.

   She wanted to come home and get her boys out of that situation.  Jake said he was undergoing therapy and asked if she could wait a while.  He told Risa he was feeling better and she could come home in a few weeks.  Then he thought that is foolish Risa would be good for him, they could heal together.  Marcie and Jake were friends but not lovers so Jake and Risa could be together and be happy.  Jake said “Risa get your clothes and things together, let me know when you are ready and I will come and get you and your boys.  But understand your boys are going to toe the line and be good or I will put them in the Reform School.  They are young but they know right from wrong. “Risa said she understood.

   Next day Jake got the bad news.  Risa called and said “Jake I have something to confess.  I have been going with the manager of the hotel and I think I am in love with him.  He wants me to move in with him and he will work with my boys.  Jake I hope you understand and I am so sorry I lied to you but I think it is best for me and the boys.”  Jake was so stunned he didn’t know what to say.  Then he said, “Risa are you sure you want to do that?”  Risa said Jake I am sure, this is a good man too and I can hold onto him, I know he loves me.  Jake said, “Risa do you love him?”  Risa replied Jake I do but not like I love you it is the best thing for me and my boys.”  Goodbye Jake.”  Then she hung up the phone.

       Jake felt so bad he wanted to cry now he was so down he almost committed suicide.  He called Missy Walker at her home and told her what had happened.  Missy said, “Jake I am so sorry can you come see me in the morning or you can come on to my house tonight I will fix supper for us and we can talk.”  At first Jake said no then Missy said, “Jake can I meet you at the restaurant and we can eat and talk?”   Jake needed to talk seemed like his world was coming to an end.  Jake said, “Can you meet me at the Silver Spur Café in an hour?  Missy said “I will be there in thirty minutes so speed it up and come on.”  Jake was there on time Missy had a table in the back so they could talk.  Missy said, “Jake I am so sorry.  Are you sure Risa means it?  Do you think she is in love with the man?”  Jake said no I don’t, I think Risa is afraid I will kick them out and they have no place to go.  But that is her problem now.  I want to get over her and find me someone and get married and settle down.” “That is a good thought Jake but I want you to heal before you marry.  I want you to be happy when you make the commitment.  It is important.”

   “I have to be honest with you Jake part of the reason I am  letting you go from therapy is because I am attracted to you and didn’t want to betray patient client confidence. I was hoping you might have feelings for me, or at least give it a chance to see if we could be more together  If you want to take me out I will accept, if you don’t I will still try to help you.”  Jake said, “Well I am surprised, I thought you could see I was attracted to you.  How would you like to come to the ranch this Saturday afternoon and we could ride horses around the ranch then come to town for supper.  Missy said, “I would like that very much I haven’t been on a horse in a long time.”  “Good,” Jake said I will pick you up at your house at noon and we will have a burger or something before we come to the ranch.  I will have you a good horse to ride.  “That sounds good, Jake.

    Saturday before noon Jake went by Missy’s house, she was ready she was dressed in jeans and a western shirt a western belt with a trophy buckle on it and a nice western hat.  She looked beautiful to him. They stopped by the restaurant and had a sandwich then headed out to Jakes Ranch.  Pete had the hands to bring Jakes horse and a pretty paint horse for Missy.  Missy mounted the paint and petted him his name is Freckles.  Missy looked good sitting on Freckles.  Freckles are a gentle horse but not a “dead head” he has plenty of fire in him.  They took off and went to the flattest part of the ranch.  The ranch covers about five sections of land.  Each section has about 640 acres of land so they had plenty of room to ride. Jake would only show Missy the most scenic parts of the ranch.

   They rode by the ranch headquarters.  Jake said. “Missy there is a restroom in Pete’s office if you need it.   Missy said I think I do is there any water around I am thirsty?  Jake said, “Sure.”  There is a refrigerator in the kitchen it should have plenty of bottled water.  I will get us a bottle I am thirsty too.”  When Miss came out of the restroom Jake handed her a bottle of water.  They sat in the kitchen and Jake told her about the headquarters and how why it is located there.  Pretty soon Missy said, “I am ready Jake when you are.” “Ok let’s go” Jake replied.  As Jake was riding he kept his eyes open for the Marshall’s that were searching the ranch.  Jake never told Missy about the drugs or the money. In fact Jake avoided the place where the money is hidden in case the Marshalls were watching.  As they rode they could see deer and turkeys and quail and some pheasants.  It was a fun and peaceful ride.  About four o’clock they arrived back at Jakes house.  They cowboys were there to get the horses.  Jake said, ” Missy can I cook you supper I have steaks and quail and some good ham?  Missy said I could eat a small steak but I will help with the cooking.

   Jake said,” Missy can you make the salad and bake the potatoes?  I will fire up the grill and cook the steaks.  How do you like your steak cooked?  Medium will be fine Missy said.  In about fifteen minutes the steaks came off the grill and the salad and potatoes were ready.  Jake sat the table on the front porch overlooking the pasture.  It was a delicious meal and they enjoyed the view.  Missy said “Jake this steak is so good.”  Jake said, “Cooking steaks is about the only thing I do well.“  Missy said, “I doubt that.”  They cleaned up the kitchen and sat on the porch and talked.  Missy asked Jake how he is feeling?  Jake said, “Right now I could not be happier.”

  Missy said. ” Jake I think you should take me home before we get too involved.  Jake stood up and said, “We are just getting to know each other.”    “Missy can I kiss you?”  Missy didn’t answer she just walked over to Jake and they kissed each other in a long and passionate kiss.  “Now, take me home Jake.” On the way home Missy sat close to Jake and they were quiet most of the way home.  Finally Jake said, “Missy I could easily fall in love with you.”  “I know,” Missy said, “Same for you.”  Jake, “We will let this rest a while and see what happens.  I still need to separate our personal life from our professional life.”  Jake walked Missy to the door. Missy said “Jake I am not inviting you in I don’t trust myself with you.  “I understand,” Jake said.  Missy said “I will see you Friday please don’t call before then.”  It was a long week but finally Friday came.

   Jake stopped by her office to pick her up for lunch. Missy was waiting. Missy asked Jake what he is thinking. Jake said, “Missy I think you know.” “Yes I do,” Missy said, “Jake it is not going to happen at least not for a while.  Missy told Jake needed to talk to him.  Missy said, “Jake I have something to tell you that you probably won’t want to hear.  I am moving back to New Mexico.”  Jake was silent then said “Missy I thought you liked it here, and I thought you had feelings for me.” “I do Missy said but I don’t have enough business to make a decent living and I have been asked to go into a partnership with a friend of mine.  He is an older man with a good business and about to retire.  I will take over his business when he does. Also, it is close to my home town and I can help with the ranch in my spare time.  I am so sorry Jake.”  Jake said, “I understand Missy you have to put yourself first.  Don’t worry I will be ok.”

   They talked some more and after a while Jake said Good bye to Missy and drove home.  He was so sad and confused.  When he pulled into the yard at home there was someone waiting on the front porch.  He couldn’t tell who it was until he was within a few feet of them.  It is Risa and her boys! Risa looked awful! She had lost weight and her clothes were ragged. All Risa said was, “Hello Jake, I am home.” She didn’t try to hug Jake nor did Jake hug her.  All he said was hello to the boys they looked awful too.  Jake said “Risa go take a bath you smell like a goat.”  “Risa said, “Jake I do not have any clothes to put on.  Jake said “I will find you some now go!”  You boys go to the other bathroom and bathe. It took a while but finally everyone is clean and smelling like a human again.  Jake found clothes for them all.  They didn’t fit but they were clean.  Jake went into the kitchen and fixed them all something to eat.  They were hungry.  They ate and ate.  Finally Jake said, “Ok Risa tell me what happened but I‘ll bet I already know.  He took your money and kicked you out. Risa said, “It was worse than that, he got very abusive when he learned that my money was almost gone, he beat me up Jake. We ran away and hired a friend of my brother to get us across the border and bring us here.  That took the rest of our money.  We rode in the back of a truck full of garbage. Missy stood before him, ashamed, lost and desperate.  “Jake, I had nowhere to go I am so sorry I disappointed you.  Can you put us up until I can get a job?”

High Plains Affair- by Billy Henderson

Chapter 7

   “Ok I will put you up.  I guess I will have to start over with you and the boys.  You all need clothes and should see a doctor to get examined and a dentist to tend to your bad teeth.  I want to help you Risa.  First I want you to sit here and wait on me.  I have to make a phone call.”  Jake went inside and called Missy he told her what happened and ask her if she could come and talk to Risa and her boys.  “They are very mentally distraught. “Missy said, “I will be there in an hour, I don’t know if I can be of any help but I will try.  Jake told Risa to go brush her teeth there is a new tooth brush in the medicine cabinet.  Risa brushed them until they bled.  Her gums are infected.

   Jake explained to Risa that a lady psychiatrist is coming to talk to them.  Jake told Risa he is in love with Missy but she is leaving and he won’t see her again.  After a while Missy drove up and Jake introduced her to Risa and her boy’s.  Missy told Risa that she understood she had been through some hard times.  I want to help you get your mind straight and get you back where you were before you left for Mexico.  Missy asked Jake to take boys for a ride and be back in an hour, then she would talk to them.  After Jake left Missy asked Risa to sit down.  Missy told Risa that she is in love with Jake but she is leaving and will not see him again.  Risa said, “Jake told me that. He loves you too.”  Risa tell me what happened in Mexico.  I will not tell Jake or anyone else but tell me the truth.

   Risa  told Missy the whole story. “When he found out she had some money he coaxed me into moving in with him. He was fine for a while, but when he saw the money dwindling away,  he began abusing me  I managed to hide some of it.  Enough to get back to Jake’s. I took the boys and with the help of my brother managed to escape and get out of the country.  Missy talked to Risa and assured her she was safe and Jake would see to it she got medical help and help her get clothes.  When she gets well and mentally stable she could get a job.  Risa accepted that. She tried to apologize but Missy would have none of that.  Missy said, “We all make mistakes and you are lucky to get back here with your boys.  Jake will take care of you at least until you are well. Jake and I could never together, now that I am leaving for New Mexico. I feel better knowing that he has you and the boys to focus on. It will make this transition for him easier.”  Risa thanked her. “It is very kind of you to be so understanding. I will try to make up for all the hurt I have caused him.”

   About that time Jake drove up with the boy’s.  Missy asked Risa to go sit on the porch and wait until she called her in.  Missy asked Jake to stay with her and listen to what they talked about.  Missy got the boys to tell her how they were treated it was a horrible story they were all beaten and their mom was beaten every day.  That is something Risa didn’t tell Missy.  Missy talked to the boys and assured them that is all behind them and they were safe with Jake.  The boys broke down and cried and both ran to Jake and hugged him.  They were sobbing hard.  Jake held them and assured them they were safe.  This hurt Missy.  She felt so sad for them.

    Missy called Risa back in and talked to all of them including Jake.  She asked Jake to assure them they would never be harmed again at least as long as they stayed with Jake.  When they are well Risa could decide what she wanted to do.  Risa felt so ashamed and embarrassed.  Missy asked if they had questions and they didn’t.  Missy said I need to get back to town.  Jake walked Missy back to her car and thanked her for the help.  He said to charge his bill.  Missy said Jake “I wish I weren’t leaving, you are such a good man and I love you very much.”  Jake said I love you too Missy I hate to see you go.  We could be happy here. The ranch makes a big income and I have enough money to support you well.  You would never have to work.”  Missy said, “Jake that is so tempting but I have to give this a try I think my job is a calling and I could never forgive myself if I gave up on it. Also, I think that Risa and the boys need you more.”  Jake said, “I understand.“

   Jake walked back in the house and asked Risa to sit down.  Jake told her he would make an appointment with a doctor and dentist and see if they could get her health back.  He would take her to town and get her and the boys more clothes.  Risa said, “Jake, I don’t deserve your help.”  “Yes you do Risa you could not have known what was going to happen to you.  We will get you well then you can decide what you want to do.  School starts soon and we will enroll the boys and get them started on a good education.  They will have to keep their grades up or they will have to answer to me.  They will behave like young gentlemen.”

    “Ok let’s fix supper and get to bed.”  Risa helped Jake cook supper and helped clean up the kitchen afterward.  Mainly he wanted to see how strong Risa is.  Risa’s eyes are so sad she realizes what she threw away.  She took a sorry mean man over a gentle man who loved her.  She knows she doesn’t deserve Jakes help but she is trapped and needs to get well.

   Next morning Risa is up and fixing breakfast when Jake got up.  They all ate and washed and dried their clothes, the only clothes they have.  Jake called the doctor and dentist and set up appointments.  The dentist can see them later this afternoon.  The Medical Doctor would see them at four o’clock tomorrow afternoon.  Jake called Marcie at the department store and explained the situation to her and ask if she would help Risa pick out more clothes as well as the boys.  Marcie said, “I am willing to do what I can Jake you know that.”  Jake said, “I really need your help getting Risa and her clothes they need so badly.” Jake thanked Marcie and hung up the phone.  Jake told them all to “get in the truck.”  They were all quite going to town.  Jake parked in the front of the store and told the boys to stay in the truck he will be right back. It seemed they had all made a full circle, back where they had started.

   Jake walked Risa into the store and asked for Marcie.  Marcie was waiting for them to arrive.  She spoke to Risa and told her she remembered her size.  Risa just spoke and followed Marcie back to the ladies department.  They picked out underwear and a dress and three pair of pants and some shoes suitable for work.  She did get makeup but no jewelry.  She also got a small purse.  Risa thanked Marcie and gathered up the packages and headed for the truck.  She met Jake and the boys and they would get clothes too.  Marcie took them to the boys department and Jake said to get them clothes for school and some to wear around the ranch.  They were all grateful but not happy like before when it was celebration; now it was a necessity that made them feel indebted.  They drove back to the ranch and changed into some of their new clothes.

            Now they were ready to see the Dentist.  The Dentist’s name is Doctor Bevans.  He told Risa to sit in the dental chair and explained to her he is going to give her teeth and mouth a thorough exam.  Risa still had all her teeth but her gums are swollen and there are many cavities that had to be filled.  Doctor Bevans called Jake in and explained what needed to be done.  The Doctor said “Jake her mouth is a mess.  Her gums are swollen and there are several cavities that need filling.  I recommend making an appointment with a Peritonitis, they will deep clean Risa’s teeth and treat her gums, she should get well.  In the meantime I will start with filling her cavities and clean her teeth the best we can.”

            Dr. Bevans told Jake to, “See the receptionist and make an appointment with the Peritonitis, he is in Amarillo.  It may be a week or so before he can see Risa.  I can start on her in the morning just to get her infection cleared up before then.  Now bring one of the boys in.”  Jake brought Roberto in and sat him in the chair and told him not to be scared.  The doctor talked to Roberto and got him to smile and be at ease.  He found about what he expected that the boys too had neglected their teeth.  There are cavities to be filled and the teeth need a good cleaning.  He found the same with Gunter.  They made appointments to come back as soon to get there teeth fixed, meanwhile they gave them a good cleaning and took x-rays.

   Next afternoon they were at the Medical Doctor’s office.  His name is Doctor Barnes. Risa went first.  They found Risa to be under weight and the Doctor pulled some blood and checked it for parasites and found her to be anemic.  He decided they all needed a round of worm medicine just as a precaution.  He checked them for head lice and did find there were some present in their scalp.  He gave them a bottle of penicillin and told them how to use it.  He put Risa on medicine to build up her blood as well,; she is so run down.

   The boys are next Jake stayed with them while the Doctor examined them.  The Doc said the whole family needs worming and their heads scrubbed with the miticide.  Put them on a good diet and they should be fine.  The Doctor wrote out the prescriptions for the worm medicine.  Doctor Barnes said he wanted to see them in two weeks.

   On the way out the nurse made appointments and the doctor said.  Jake paid their bill.  There was a little more talk on the way home Risa now feels she and the boys will get back to good health and feeling good again.  Jake was relieved the news was not any worse than what it was.

    After they got home and the packages unloaded and settled in Jake called Risa to the front porch he said, “Risa you can work around the house cleaning and cooking but only as you feel like it.  That way you can earn yours and the boys keep.”  Risa said she would and then said, “Jake I can’t thank you enough someday, I will make it all up to you.”  Jake said, “Risa I am disappointed in you but at the same time I can understand your thoughts and feelings.  You were afraid I was going to kick you and the boys out and you would have no place to go.  I would always see to it you are taken care of.  Now let’s put all that behind us and get you and the boys healthy again.”

   Jake smiled and said, “ We will get this behind us that is a start.  Tonight I want you to scrub the boys with the head lice medicine as well as yourself.  In the morning strip the beds and wash all the bed clothes including all the underwear and pajamas.  Then scrub the floors with Lysol, make the boys help.”

   It took some time but gradually Risa and her boys were getting their health back.  Risa is looking better and her attitude is almost back to her old self.  When Risa gets her mouth well and she is feeling good Jake will ask Risa out for supper.  It is not a date but Risa deserves a second chance.  Jake still cares for Risa but not like he did before.  Maybe that will all change over time.  In the meantime Risa is working in the house keeping it clean and doing the cooking. Sometimes Jake will help.  Jake is busy helping on the ranch.  Jake is glad Risa is back and he misses Missy.  She is back in New Mexico at her new job. He knows that she helped him get through this tough time and is glad of the little time they had together.

   The next week Jake took Risa to the Peritonitis they cleaned her teeth below the gum line and treated them.  The Peritonitis explained it all to Jake he said Risa will need to come for an office visit every six months.  Her gums will heal but we don’t want them to get infected again.  If they did she could lose all her teeth.  “I think I can save them,” the doctor said.  Jake paid the bill and they left for the ranch.  On the way out of town Jake stopped at a nice restaurant and they ate lunch.  Risa is now feeling much better she tried to thank Jake again but he would not listen.  He said, “Risa you are going to be ok but please stay out of Mexico.  Risa laughed, “You can bet I am not going back there again.”

   Time passed, Fall was in the air the boys were in school and doing well thanks to Jake.  He made sure they got all their lessons and studied hard.  They were happy too.  Risa is still in love with Jake although she didn’t dare tell him but Jake knew.  Next week is the county fair; complete with a big Rodeo Jake would take Risa and the boys.

   On a cool and rainy day with the boys is school Jake pulled his pickup truck into the yard and went inside the house.  He found Risa in the shower.  Risa saw Jake and stepped out naked.  She invited Jake into the shower.  He accepted Risa’s invitation.  Now things were back like they used to be.  Risa and Jake are back in love.

Now it is time for things to be normal again and they were. Risa and Jake went on a formal date at least once a week they are as happy as they once were.

Now it was time for Jake to decide if he wanted to turn the money he found over to the Feds or just let it stay where it is.  He decided to let it stay where it is.  That money belongs to Risa and her boys but not for a long time.

  He got in his truck and rode down to the bank to get a little money out for himself and asked to be let into his security box. He had some jewelry that had belonged to his mother and he wanted to keep it safe there. The teller let him and he unlocked his security box. He took a small jewelry box out of his pocket. In the bottom of the box was a map that led to where the treasure was. He lay it among his papers with a bag of rare coins that his father had given him when he was a boy. He locked it back up determined to keep this a secret. Finally things got back to normal, at least as normal as they could expect.


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