Main Character: Vin
Author's Notes: From Vin Feedback Group – use a prompt word – Memories, Costumes, Prejudice, Unexpected. I chose 3 of the words, Memories, Costumes & Unexpected)
Not my guys, L Just borrowed them for awhile.
From his vantage spot in the rafters, Vin watched the warehouse door open slowly. He’d been warned that some kids were coming in and he knew it was still several hours before the meeting was to take place. Several costumed kids walked in and he automatically counted them as they came through the door. After 21 kids entered the door swung closed and a couple of the flood lights came on illuminating the kids. The lights flickered before one quit, but two remained and the kids began to play around the crates that had been left around the floor.
Vin shook his head, almost all of the kids were wearing costumes of one kind or another. One of the girls was decked out as a belly dancer, another as Lady Di, a boy looked like an English lord while another one was an Indian brave in leggings, beech-cloth and headband.
A boy dressed like a gangster placed a radio on a small crate and yelled to get everyone’s attention, and the others gathered around the noisemaker. Moments later music erupted from the box, so loud that Vin flinched, but the kids instantly made two lines and started dancing with yells and hand clapping.
Vin was amazed with some of the steps the kids did as they danced below him. He wondered if they might be in a high school dance club or something, but why would they meet here? One song flowed into another and the dancers changed the steps to follow the music. Shortly another song began and the kids swung into a slow dance partnering up with each other.
From his hiding place Vin watched the kids dance through several more songs, with the gangster kid making a few comments to some of the dancers, before they gathered around the radio and the gangster in charge of it. Vin couldn’t hear what was said but within minutes, jackets, shawls, and coats were picked up and the kids were trailing out the door, grins on their faces. The lights flickered and went out and silence fell over the warehouse once again.
“Angel, are you all right?” Vin heard in his ear and the corner of his mouth lifted in a little grin.
“Fine Hawk, was a bunch of kids practicing some dances. Looks like they’re headed to a Halloween party, or something tonight and dancing there.” Vin answered Chris.
“Okay. Glad it was just that. You need anything?”
“Naw, I’m fine. Got a bottle of water left and some candy bars. I’ll be fine, just wish this meet was over.”
“So do we. Hopefully tonight will make it worthwhile and we can get out of here before midnight.”
“Yeah, keep hoping that Hawk, I’m sure hell will freeze over before that happens,” snickered Vin as he took a sip of water.
“Let’s hope not,” came the reply, before Chris clicked off.
Vin shifted and using his night scope looked around the empty warehouse, trying to work out a kink in his back. His thoughtful gaze fell on the crate that had held the radio and he could see in his mind’s eye the dancing kids. As he slipped into what he called his zone while waiting for the meeting, he relaxed his body and became part of the rafter beneath him. He let his mind drift as he watched the doors of the warehouse.
Seeing the kids in their Halloween costumes brought back what little memory he had of his own Halloweens. He could barely remember his mom taking him around the neighborhood when he was five, a couple months later she was gone. He’d been so excited, he was going to be a cowboy, but they didn’t have any boots and he had to wear his sneakers. His mom had cut down one of her old blouses, almost making it over so it would fit him. The faded blue cotton shirt had a pocket and she’s stitched a black cowboy hat on it. She sewed a yoke across the back, and did a double stitch down the front where the buttons buttoned. A pair of dark jeans and a mask made out of a piece of leftover shirt cut into a long strip with eyeholes finished his costume. His mom had made a Trick or Treat goodie bag out of a cut off leg of an old pair of jeans, bottom sewed up and with a jean material handle.
On Halloween they’d left the house, Vin holding onto his mom’s hand and almost bouncing with happiness; he was the best looking cowboy he thought. The time had passed fast and before long they were back home and he’d poured out his bag on the small kitchen table. He couldn’t believe all the candy and treats he’d received.
The next year he was with his grandfather and they didn’t have Halloween, it was just another day. For two Halloweens he lived with his grandfather on the reservation, then one day as he and a friend rode home from their horseback ride to a hidden canyon, they were met by one of the other elders and a stranger.
The stranger had a small pack with his belongings in it and took him away. He found out that his Grandfather had died and the elder had called social services to pick him up as there was no one there who would take him in.
For a short time he lived with a family but they decided the extra mouth was too much for them to handle no matter what SS paid them and he was put into a home for boys, with 14 other homeless boys.
Vin’s thoughts tried to veer from the time he was in the boys’ home and the years beyond, but he couldn’t block the memories.
He was the youngest in the home, and the older boys treated him as if he was their personal slave. He was shy and quiet and was treated badly. There was no Halloween, though he didn’t know when it came around, they only had Christmas Day, and they all got new underwear for their gifts. No other holiday was celebrated. He’d been passed around to foster homes after he’d been injured in the boys’ home.
For several years he lived with more families than he could remember many of them treating him like he was their slave. He was in one school after another and with his dyslexia was always behind.
Some homes he was punished for little things, sometimes things he hadn’t done. One family he was beaten by the father four times a week, no matter that he hadn’t done anything but what he was told to do by the mother of the house or their teenage son. He was moved to another foster home when he ended up in the hospital with broken ribs days before Halloween.
The nurses were kind to him and though he was still in the hospital with a fever, they had brought him some treats. He was surprised but happy. Days later when he was released he was moved to another foster home, this time out of the city and into a lush green country side.
A small ranch owned by a young couple with two small children. They had several horses and a small herd of blooded cattle. Vin thought he’d died and gone to heaven. He was so happy that he threw himself into learning everything he could about ranching.
Once his ribs were healed, Mike Maxwell, the owner and his new foster parent, began teaching Vin everything he could about caring for and working the cattle and horses. Vin thrived on the goodness of the family and helped in any way he could, from feeding to barn cleaning, to helping with fencing and caring for the horses. In the warm, happy home he helped Heather with house work and she taught him how to cook some simple meals.
On some weekends Mike taught him to shoot, and found that he was an excellent shot with every firearm and rifle Mike owned. He had promised Vin that when he turned 14 he would buy him his own gun and let him enter several of the shooting competitions in the area. Mike was thinking ahead, to Vin’s birthday, and of adopting the quiet boy at that time.
When Halloween came that year, he had a real cowboy costume with boots and hat and went happily with Mike and Heather, and their two little girls, Camellia (Camie) and Samantha (Sammie). One girl dressed as a ballerina the other as Princess Leia. The three had collected a huge amount of treats that lasted them a long time.
Disaster struck a month before his 14th birthday. A wildfire started by several lightning strikes and pushed by heavy winds, burned through the area and they had to leave. The horses were loaded into the trailer and family into the truck and they raced away, hoping the ranch would be spared. Two weeks later they returned home to find everything had been destroyed by the fire.
The house, barn and out buildings were gone, black timbers here and there was all that was left. Most of the cattle had been lost to the fire; the few survivors were wandering listlessly around the destroyed fields. The happy family home was wiped out, the herd decimated; the family would have to start all over.
Less than a week later social services showed up unexpectedly at the motel that was renting the family a suite for a reduced price, and Vin was taken away. Mike and Heather argued and tried to get him back but they were told they had no way to support the young teen. Vin was taken to another boys home, and within two weeks he had run away. Three times he’d escaped from the home only to be caught and brought back.
The fourth time he followed the plan he’d worked out and a week later found himself in Denver.
Halloween was over for him. He never had a chance to dress up again. Living on the streets it seemed to be Halloween all the time, having to find food one way or the other, and the clothes he had were scavenged from dumpsters, flea markets and Goodwill or cheap secondhand stores.
Vin sighed, well Halloween as a kid was gone, but now that he found himself the sharpshooter for an elite AFT team. With five brothers by choice and one soul brother, they would all celebrate Halloween one way or the other. They were all supposed to attend a Halloween party the next night and he hoped the meeting tonight went off with no problems.
He smiled, some day he would have to think of another costume, he was going as a tracker, in tan jeans, blue shirt, fake buffalo coat, cavalry hat and mare’s leg holster trapped to his leg. He knew Chris would be in a black western outfit from hat to boots. He wasn’t sure what Buck was coming in, but knowing him something that would appeal to the ladies; JD was going as an old time sheriff complete with two holstered revolvers. Josiah was dressing as an old time preacher complete with a wooden cross on a wood beaded thong. Ezra, Vin grinned, was staying true to himself and wearing a card shark outfit with a dark green velvet jacket, flat hat and hidden guns. Nathan, was going as a healer, in dark slacks, vest, white shirt, and stethoscope around his neck.
A click in his ear alerted him and he glanced towards the door seeing headlights shining in the window. Vin shifted slightly and focused on the door and what was happening below him. The last fleeting thought as he looked down his scope was, it was going to be a fun Halloween with his brothers.
Vin watched from his vantage spot in the rafters as Ezra and Josiah stepped thru the door, the headlights had turned off and the warehouse was silent and black.
Ezra walked over and flipped on a light. Vin was happy it was just the one; he could see them plainly below, and to the left. More headlights flashed in the window and at the same time he heard a click in his ear.
He saw Josiah glance up towards the rafters, where he thought Vin was hidding, raise a finger by his side and then glance away. Ezra stepped away from the doorway toward the crate which the kids had used earlier as their radio holder. He placed the briefcase on the top of the crate and turned to the door when it opened again.
“Well Mr. Sanford I see you are on time,” said a tall thin man dressed in a dark maroon suit, as he walked towards the crate. Three other men silently followed him, taking up positions in a semi circle around their boss.
Ezra placed his hand on the top of the briefcase, “Mr. Maifeld, we have been here for several minutes waiting for you. You will not see this money until I see the arms.”
“Right to the point eh Sanford? Okay, you have the two hundred thousand?”
“I would not have brought it if I didn’t have that amount. May I see the merchandise?”
For several moments Maifield stared at Ezra, then with a nod of his head, he snapped his fingers and a man left. Another walked to the front of the building, and swung open a large drive through door.
Minutes later a dark green van backed through the opening and the door was shut again, it was followed by a second man who walked around to the back of the van and threw open the doors. Four men, AK-47s pointing at Ezra and Josiah, got out.
Despite this unexpected situation, Ezra raised an eyebrow and coolly staring at Maifield said, “What pray tell is going on here? This does not appear to be the several crates of new AK-47s that I purchased. It is more like four.”
Maifield laughed, “Well Mr. Sanford, if that’s your name, we don’t have the guns, but we now have your money. It seems I sold the guns earlier and for a bit more. I am afraid you have been had and now you and your man will disappear never to be seen again.”
Vin waited no longer, he knew Chris and the others would be there in a moment but he didn’t want to see his two friends killed. He yelled as loud as he could, “ATF, drop your guns you’re all under arrest.”
The surprise on the men’s faces showed as they whirled around looking for where the voice had come from, giving Ezra and Josiah seconds to get to cover. They barely reached the corner of a crate when the first man opened fire on them. He died instantly with a bullet between his eyes. Men scattered and began firing at the crate, and into the rafters where one had seen Vin’s gun flash, but he’d already moved. He was now shooting down at Maifield who took a well placed bullet to the thigh. Another man began shooting at Vin as he once again moved. Finally, more guns began firing and several of Maifield’s men fell to the floor.
Damn, damn, Vin muttered as he tried to find the one man who’d stood to the right of Maifield, the man had enough time to take cover when the shooting began. Vin flipped on his night scope and began to look down into the scattered crates to locate the last man. In the background sirens could be heard as police and an ambulance arrived. Vin ignored the call to him through his head piece; he had to find the man before something else happened.
Suddenly Vin saw something small flying through the air and screaming “Grenade,” he tracked its trajectory. Ignoring the blast that sounded below, he eased along the rafter toward where he thought the man was hiding.
He noted sudden movement out of the corner of his eye, aimed his rifle just as he saw a hand lob another grenade, and yelled another warning. This time the blast was straight under him and for seconds he couldn’t see. When his eyes finally adjusted the man had moved again, this time he spotted him kneeling behind a crate almost below him. Two gunshots rang out and two men grunted. One fell dead.
“Vin, Vin, answer me!!” the frantic voice of Chris Larabee sounded in his ear.
“I’m OK Hawk… I’ll be down as soon as I get unhooked.”
It took him several minutes to get his harness unhooked and rifle secured before he slowly climbed down the ladder. At the bottom he was met by several of his teammates. Nathan was looking him over before he had a chance to turn around.
“What’s this?” Nathan asked, looking at blood on Vin’s forearm.
“Oh… Guess the last bullet grazed me. I’m fine Nathan.”
“Let me see,” Nathan directed his flashlight on the tear in Vin’s sleeve several inches above his elbow.
Vin grinned, Nathan was worse than a mother hen protecting her brood when he saw blood on someone. He let the man cut his sleeve off and check the wound as he looked around at his teammates.
“Everyone all right?” he asked looking at Chris.
“Yes, Josiah’s got a lump on his forehead where he hit the floor as he shoved Ezra behind the crate, everyone else is fine.” Chris answered.
“Well, not Mr. Maifield, and most of his men, but he’ll be in good health to stand trial, we have the money and his words on tape. I’m sure he’ll be in jail for a long while.” Ezra said brushing dirt off his jacket.
“Good, was stupid of him to pull this stunt.”
Buck smiled at Vin, “Well if we hadn’t have been here ole’ Ez and Josiah would have been, well not sure where they’d have been.”
“And they’d of missed the Halloween party tomorrow night too!” JD exclaimed.
Amid laughs the seven men walked out of the warehouse, all of them thinking how close they had come to losing two of their brothers.
As the door shut behind them, Vin thought again of Halloween, it was going to be fun to have it with his teammates.
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