"There ain't nothin' wrong with my Jeep, Larabee," Vin stated as he and Chris came through Team Seven's office doors.
"Vin, that damn piece of shit keeps stranding you. You can't depend on it."
Vin knew Chris was right, he just didn't want to spend the money for a new one. There was still some life left in it.
This was an all too familiar argument between Vin and his team mates. Last week, Vin was late for a very important meeting because he had to call the office for someone to pick him up because his Jeep had stalled and wouldn't start back up. The week before that, it had stranded him along the highway toward Chris's ranch. Vin kept taking it to the garage and pouring money into it to keep it going. He was told the money he put towards repairing his beloved Jeep, he could put towards a much newer and dependable vehicle. And last night, he called Chris and told him he needed a ride into work because the Jeep was in the shop again.
"You are wasting your breath, Mr. Larabee. I myself have tried on many occasion to convince, even bribery, all to no avail. When said Jeep strands him, or stalls in a most undesirable place and he is unable to have one of us come to his rescue, then perhaps he'll spend the money on a more reliable mode of transportation. Until then, save your breath."
"Let's hope it doesn't come to that," Josiah said.
"Well, I can't take him home tonight. I've got a date with Mary after work and I am not canceling it again."
Vin told them he could take a cab when everyone else came up with an excuse why they couldn't take him home, except for Ezra.
"I shall be your taxi, Mr. Tanner," Ezra told him.
"Don't do me any favors, Ez," Vin snapped.
Ezra looked across his desk at Vin. "It won't be a favor, Vin. If I in were your place, you would do the same for me, would you not?"
"Of course I would, but you don't like drivin' in my neighborhood."
"Be that as it may, I shall be you ride home because you would do the same for me."
"Thanks, Ez. Sorry I snapped at ya."
"Don't mention it."
Both men went back to work. Vin got a phone call just before quitting time, letting him know he could pick up his Jeep. Vin told Ezra he could drop him off to pick up his Jeep.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra dropped Vin off at the garage so he could pick up the Jeep. Before Ezra could leave, a man wearing a mechanic’s uniform came out and met them.
"Hey, Randy. What's it going to cost me this time?"
Randy gave him an amount. "Now, like I said before, Vin, I cannot guarantee how long she'll last. You need to retire her. It's getting harder and harder to find replacement parts because of her age. Call Darrel. You have his card. Call him. He'll give you a good deal, if not, come and tell me, I'll sic my sister on him." Randy smiled.
"I'll think about it," Vin said as he followed Randy into the building.
Randy shook his head. "Bull headed Texan."
Ezra waited for Vin to pull out to make sure the Jeep stayed running, then he headed home.
+ + + + + + +
The team had the next week off and had planned to go camping up in the mountains. Vin was looking forward to the trip. He had bought a new sleeping bag and hiking boots. Where they were going he could do some rock climbing maybe even some spelunking. He just hoped the Jeep would hold out long enough to get him there and back. Where he wanted to go, Chris's truck wasn't able. He thought maybe Ezra would like to go. Vin found out about Ezra's little secret about spelunking by accident when he was looking through a photo album and couldn't believe what he had seen. When Vin asked about it, Ezra told him he felt like he was looking for buried treasure and was hooked the first time he and his room mate from college had done it. Vin kept that little secret.
Vin sent Ezra an email asking him if he'd like to go spelunking. Ezra read it and smiled up at Vin and nodded. He emailed Vin back he would indeed love to go spelunking. Ezra also wrote he needed to stop at the sport shop and replace his spelunking rope and harness.
A couple days later was Friday and Vin was antsy. He had been looking forward to this trip for weeks. Chris sat in his office and watched Vin through one of three large windows facing the outer office that allowed him to watch his team. The man was as bad as JD sometimes. Chris had the funny feeling Vin and Ezra were up to something.
Chris stood up and walked over and leaned against the door frame of his office and looked at his men. "Who's in for blowing this joint?"
"Music to my ears," Buck said and closed down his computer.
"I hear that," JD said and shut down his computer.
The rest of the men all shut down their computers.
"Vin? What do you got going?" Chris asked.
"Ez and me thought we'd go up early and get us a good camp site afore y’all head up tomorrow."
"Hey, can I go with you?" JD asked.
"No," Buck answered. "You ain't ridin' in that death trap Vin drives."
"Besides, JD, Ez and me will have all our stuff loaded in the Jeep. There won't be any room fer ya," Vin said.
"Next time, JD," Ezra said.
"Yeah right. Not as long as Vin's driving that thing he call a vehicle," Buck said.
"Buck, I'm a grown man not some teenager that needs his big brother watching over him," JD protested.
The team left together. One by one they drove out of the underground parking. Vin followed Ezra back to his place. Once there, they loaded up Ezra things and started out of town. Vin put the rag top down so he and Ezra could enjoy the air. They came up to a traffic light and started through it when the Jeep started to sputter and smoke and stopped in the middle of the intersection.
Ezra looked over at Vin. "Since when has your mode of transportation taken up the horrible habit of smoking?"
Vin sighed. Horns were blaring from motorists passing them by. Vin looked over at Ezra. "Sorry, Ez."
"Let's just get this vehicle off to the side and call a tow truck," Ezra said as he started to get out to start pushing.
Before they got out of the Jeep, someone came up to them. "You Gentlemen need a push?" came a feminine voice from next to Vin.
Both men look over to the voice. "Yeah, but ya don't have ta push ma'am. Ez and me can push if ya wanna steer."
The woman leaned against the Jeep. "What part of Texas do you hail from, Cowboy?"
"The panhandle," Vin answered.
"Mah friend is correct. If you will steer, he and I shall do the pushing," Ezra said and started to get out of the Jeep.
The woman looked of at Ezra. "You from Georgia?"
"Yes Ma'am, that is correct. Now may we proceed?"
The woman sighed. "Get back in the damn Jeep. I'll push you with mine and then we'll take ya where ya need ta go. Oh, and by the way, I'm from Galveston." Both men watched the woman leave and get into her Jeep. Ezra got back into the Jeep and Vin put it into neutral and gently the Jeep behind them pushed them off to the side. Vin called Randy and told him where he was once the Jeep was off to the side of the road. The woman who talked to them earlier came back to stand next to Vin. "So, where do ya need ta go?"
"The nearest Jeep dealership," Ezra answered.
"I got ta wait fer Randy. Then I'll go and check out some Jeeps."
"Finally," Ezra said and threw his arms in the air.
Vin glared over at Ezra, then turned to face the woman. "I'm Vin Tanner and my friend over there is Ezra Standish. We were going to go campin' up in the mountains and maybe some spelunking."
"Really? That sounds like fun," came another voice, this one beside Ezra.
"Vin, Ezra, this is Joyce Collins. Joyce, Ezra Standish and Vin Tanner. My name's Lisa Armstrong," Lisa made introductions. "Joyce is from Savannah.
Ezra nodded. "I thought I had detected a Georgian accent. A pleasure to meet you ladies."
"We can put your stuff in the back while we wait for the tow truck."
"Are ya sure?" Vin asked.
Lisa looked at Vin and smiled. "Oh yeah, I'm sure."
Vin reached up and flipped down the visor and took out his insurance papers when Randy arrived to get the Jeep. Randy told Vin to remove the plate because he was taking the Jeep to the scrap yard because he was done fixing it. Randy gave Vin the address to his brother-in-law’s car dealership. "Like I said, he'll give you a good deal."
Lisa drove Vin and Ezra to the car lot. The ladies told Vin and Ezra they would wait so they didn't have to put their stuff in a corner or out in the parking lot for someone to come along and take. Vin and Ezra thanked them then got out of their Jeep. A man greeted them.
"Good afternoon gentlemen. Which one of you is Vin Tanner?"
"That would be me. This is Ezra Standish," Vin said and shook the man's hand, as did Ezra.
"The name's Darrel McGregor. Randy called and told me you were in need of transportation in the form of a Jeep."
"Yep," Vin answered.
"How do you feel about standard transmissions?" Darrel asked as he led them inside to his office.
"I prefer 'em," Vin answered.
"Good, good. I may have what you need. I already phoned my other lot. It's a 2012 Wrangler Unlimited Sport S 4x4. It has a standard 6 speed transmission with a standard 3.6 liter V6. 24 valve VVT engine. Here's a picture of it." Darrel turned his computer monitor toward where Vin and Ezra were sitting.
Vin liked what he saw. He wasn't sure if he could afford it.
"If mah friend chose to purchase this Jeep. What is he looking at in payments?" Ezra asked.
Darrel did some calculations and showed them to the guys.
Vin was surprised. "I think I can afford this."
Ezra looked over at him. "I know you can, Vin."
"Ah, here it is."
Vin and Ezra turned to see a blue Jeep pull into the parking lot. Both men got up and left the building. Vin walked around the Jeep.
As Vin walked around the Jeep, Darrel told Vin what it had. Ezra liked the idea of heated seats. Vin liked it had a rag top. He was itching to drive. Darrel handed Vin the keys so he could take it for a test drive. Ezra rode in the front beside Vin. Darrel rode in the back. At the end of the test drive, Vin sat in the driver's seat and looked over at Ezra. "What do ya think?"
"I think it's you." Ezra then smiled. "I know one team leader that would breathe a sigh of relief as will the rest of Team Seven."
Vin looked out the windshield and sighed. Nodding, Vin got out and looked at Darrel. "I'll take it."
Ezra joined Vin and Darrel in Darrel's office.
Twenty minutes later, Vin and Ezra comes out of the building and headed over to the Ladies waiting for them. Lisa got out and helped them transfer their stuff to the other Jeep.
"Oh, she's a beauty, Vin."
"She sure is," Joyce whistled.
"Thanks fer all yer help," Vin said.
"Yes, thank you, Ladies. There was no telling how long we would have had to wait for one of our team mates to show up to rescue us."
"You are very welcome." Lisa handed Vin a slip of paper. "Here's my cell number, Cowboy. Call me."
Joyce handed a slip of paper to Ezra. "The same goes for you."
Vin and Ezra both tipped imaginary hats to the ladies as they left and got into their Jeep. Vin and Ezra got into Vin's new Jeep and looked down at the slips of papers that were handed to them and smiled.
"Let's get goin' to the mountains and do some campin'."
"Onward, Mr. Tanner."
Ezra started reading the owner's manual. Vin noticed an evil grin spread across Ezra's face. "What?"
"Nothing except," Ezra started to plug his phone in the phone jack, "this Jeep is wired for Wi-Fi. Let's see what she can do." Ezra smiled. "It has hands free calling."
"Sweet. This is going to be fun." Vin smiled. "Who should we call?"
"How about our illustrious leader?"
"Chris? Go fer it."
"Vin's piece of shit Jeep broke down again and you need a ride," Chris answered.
"No, we don't need a ride. Just callin' ya ta let ya know were on the highway headin' out of town and thought JD would still want ta come."
"I thought you didn't have room for me."
"We do now, Mr. Dunne. May I presume you are at the saloon?"
"Yep. We got a bet going."
"What kind of bet?" Vin asked.
"If the two of you would make it without breaking down," Buck said.
"Shall we join them, Vin?"
"Yes we shall, Ezra. Besides, I'm hungry."
+ + + + + + +
Vin and Ezra entered the saloon and found the rest of Team Seven sitting at their table. As they made their way to the table a few other agents from other teams commented on Vin's new Jeep. By the time they sat down, there were puzzled looks on their team mates' faces.
JD got up and went and looked. He came back excited. "Vin's got a new Jeep. It's a nice one. I'm going with Vin and Ezra camping."
Buck, Chris, Nathan and Josiah left, in that order, to check out the new Jeep.
Vin and Ezra ordered their food then had a quick chat with JD before the others returned.
"Mr. Dunne, do you by chance know spelunking?"
"Cave diving? Oh yeah. Never done it myself, but I've always wanted to. Why?"
Vin and Ezra looked to one another. "You can't tell the others. Ez and me like spelunking. That's what we planned to do. You can come along and learn as long as ya don't tell anyone," Vin said.
"Deal. I wanted to get away from Buck and the others anyway."
The rest of the team came back and told Vin he had done good. When JD said he was going with Vin and Ezra, Buck started to object but JD informed him Vin had a 2012 Jeep, not the older-than-the-hills one he'd had. With everything Buck or the others came up with, JD, Ezra or Vin shot down. In the end, JD left with Ezra and Vin to go camping.
Buck watch the three leave. "I'm more worried now than when Vin had the piece of shit Jeep."
"Why's that, Brother?" Josiah asked.
Chris looked at Josiah. "Because he has a Jeep that can take him and whoever he wants to go with him anywhere they want to. You didn't notice the gear in the back?"
"Yeah, I noticed?"
Nathan looked at Josiah. "There was rock climbing gear in the back."
"And camping gear. We know how much he likes rock climbing."
Chris shook his head. "There was also spelunking gear in there."
Buck snapped his head up to stare at Chris. "Spelunking? Oh, hell no!"
Buck got up quickly and ran to the door to stop them but he was too late. He ran back to the table. "We have got to stop them. JD has never been spelunking before."
"Looks like he's going to now," Chris said and took a sip from his beer.
Josiah smiled up at Buck's face. "Besides, he's with Vin and Ezra."
Josiah's comment set Chris and Nathan into laughing fits at the horrified look on Buck's face.
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