'Good Friday?' A less appropriate name, the undercover agent could not imagine. The day had started poorly and progressively gone downhill. He had received an early morning call from their infamous leader to be informed that a computer glitch had consumed several reports and files, two of them, his own. As the files were vital to a case going to trial in two weeks, Larabee strongly 'suggested' that Standish 'drag his ass out of bed' and 'get down here. Now.' There's nothing like a gentle voice to draw you tenderly from a restful sleep, the undercover agent thought to him self as he rose.
Against his baser instincts, the southerner had quickly showered and dressed. He grabbed his laptop and personal files on the way out the door. Thirty minutes later, he was sitting at his desk, steadily and efficiently reconstructing the needed information.
All six of the men worked quickly, using his notes and the morning had quickly turned to afternoon. Luckily, they were able to reconstruct the data and JD created backups to protect against future problems. The computer tech wasnt going to allow this to happen to his team again. JD had been mumbling and grumbling to himself all day about the glitch that had forced the team to come in on the holiday.
In fact, everyone had grumbled. They had planned to head out to Chris and enjoy the crisp spring air in the hills, everyone except Ezra. The southerner had plans with a young woman he had met at the market, of all places. But, late Thursday, Cheryl had called Standish to inform him had her mother had taken a fall back home in Augusta, Georgia and she would have to postpone their plans for the weekend. He had taken the news in stride and told the woman that of course she must go attend to her mother. Their plans were flexible and would easily wait for her return. It seemed that event was to mark only the beginning of a bad weekend for the man.
+ + + + + + +
By mid-afternoon, the work was done and everyone was ready to leave. Plans that had been put on hold were reinstated and the six men headed out to begin their long weekend. Ezra had declined to join them on the pretense that he had replaced his previous plans and would not be going into seclusion for the next three days as one of the men had so bluntly suggested.
The seven headed down to the garage and got into their vehicles. Buck and JD rode together as did Chris and Vin. Nathan was going home to drive Rain to a friends to spend the weekend brainstorming a charity benefit. Afterwards, he was going to pick up Josiah and head to the ranch. All six had tried to convince the southerner to join them, but no amount of talking would sway the man. Ezra had countered all their agreements and gotten into his Jaguar and driven off. The others bid their goodbyes and headed out, the weekend calling to them.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra moved slowly down the street, his thoughts on the rest of his weekend. He had been looking forward to the three days with Cheryl, feeling closer to her than any woman he had been with in a long while. The change in plans had left him feeling hallow and adrift and, after years of caring for only himself, it was an unfamiliar feeling. The undercover agent was used to being alone, he thrived on it, using the time for introspection. He had become less of an outsider since joining the team and, as much as he enjoyed the time that they spent together, he still appreciated his time alone.
Ezra drove cautiously through the streets. The traffic had been light due to the holiday, but closer to home the streets were lined with cars and trucks, visitors from out of town, friends and family. The Jag purred, seemingly gliding through the narrow boulevard and Ezra felt the tension flowing away. The day had started poorly. After the previous days events, with Cheryl canceling their plans, and then the computer problems, Ezra felt that the weekend was becoming a total loss, but as he drove home, the car performing flawlessly, the tension melted away and he began to feel that things were still salvageable.
Slowing as he approached an unmarked cross street, he was startled at the loud thump on the right side of the car. He slammed the high performance vehicle into park and jumped out. Coming around to the passenger side, he stared at the dent and scarred paint marring the skin of the door. A few feet behind the car, a brick lay on the ground. Staring at the projectile, he moved toward the rear of the car, reaching for the offending brick, but out of the corner of his eye, he saw movement and turned to find a young boy staring at him.
Standish considered himself of reasonable man, but today he had been pushed to his limit and beyond.
"You malicious miscreant," the man began. He stepped forward and took hold of the slender arm. "Have you nothing better to do than assault passing automobiles?"
The arm in his grasp was trembling, but Ezra had little sympathy for the boy. Even as tears ran down the young face, the man continued to call him to task for the damage to the expensive foreign car.
"Have you any conception of the value of this automobile? You have maimed it. And why? To entertain yourself? Do you have parents or do you run wild through the streets, destroying other peoples property?"
"No one would stop." The words were spoken so softly and hesitantly, that Ezra leaned down to hear.
"No one would stop? Pray tell, why would you want someone to stop after you have assaulted their vehicle?"
The child turned his tear-streaked face up to look at the man. "I tried to get someone to stop, but they just kept going. No one is home and no one would help."
Concerned at the words, Ezra squatted down next to the nine- or ten-year-old. "Child, why do you need help?"
"Not me. My brother..." The small arm pointed to the truck that sat between the curb and Jag.
Ezra stood as he asked, "Your brother?" He started forward as the boy continued speaking.
"We were going to the store, but his chair slipped off the curb and fell over. Hes too big. I cant get him up."
Standish cleared the bumper of the big truck just as the boy finished speaking. An older boy lay in the gutter, a wheelchair tipped over next to him. His eyes were closed, but opened as Ezra uttered, "Oh, dear Lord in Heaven."
The man moved forward and straightened the wheelchair. He went down on one knee and placed a hand on the boys shoulder. "Young sir, are you injured?"
Blue eyes looked up at him and a deep, but shaky voice replied, "No, sir. I just cant get up."
"Well, may I offer my assistance?"
Within a minutes time, the boy was restored to the chair with his brother at his side. Ezra pulled a handkerchief out and wiped at the scrapes and cuts that marred the boys hands and knees. After determining that the boys were all right and would be able to get home safely, the undercover agent turned to leave.
A small voice followed him around the corner. "God Bless you, sir. Happy Easter to you." He stopped and turned around.
The smile that he bestowed on the two boys lit the undercover agents face and revealed the dimples that too rarely appeared. "I believe that he already has, but thank you for the salutations." He stood and watched as the two boys moved down the sidewalk.
The southerner walked back to his auto and drove away. Three hours later, he pulled up and parked at Larabees house. The rest of the team was in the barn, loading the horses and tack. All activity stopped as Ezra got out, dressed in jeans, boots, and western shirt, waving to them as he grabbed his bag from the back of the car.
"Damn, Ezra, you about missing the train," Vin called out as he walked over.
"I believe the agreed upon time was to have been four-thirty. I appear to be eight minutes early."
"Damn, Ez. What happened to the Jag?" Buck asked. A low whistle was JDs response.
"A minor incident. Nothing to concern yourselves with."
Six pairs of eyes stared at the undercover agent as if he had suddenly grown two heads. He merely smiled beguilingly.
As he tossed his bag into the truck bed, he turned to the others. "Shall we be on our way, gentlemen? There is a frontier awaiting our exploration."
Shaking themselves out of their stupor, the agents moved to the truck and the waiting Standish and climbed into the vehicle. Since Chris Dodge truck was too small for everyone, Larabee had acquired a limo truck, complete with six doors and a fifth wheel hookup. As he dropped it into gear, he glanced back at the undercover agent and asked, "Ezra? What changed your mind?"
The enigmatic man stated, "It was brought to my attention today, that I was traveling too fast through life and it took a brick to bring make me realize that."
Josiah, sitting next to the man, heard the contented sigh, as the man settled into the seat. With a broad smile, he looked at the back of their fellow agents heads.
"I believe this shall be a most interesting weekend, brothers."
This story was inspired by an email I received. I dont know that it was a real event, but it was touching.
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
"God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we dont have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. Its our choice to listen or not."