Survivor: Moving On
Chapter 1

College Planning

During Pat’s Junior Year he starts researching various universities and colleges to attend after high school. Sarge convinces him he needs to research them well, so he can visit the ones he’s interested in. By the end of his Junior Year Pat has a list of institutions he’s interested in going to. Early in the research he limits himself to the ones in Texas, plus a few others in the surrounding states. In late July following his Junior Year, a week after his talk with the Sheriff, Pat takes a trip to visit the institutions he has left on his list of those to visit to see if he wants to go to them.

Pat’s trip takes him up through San Antonio, Fort Worth, Dallas, Hot Spring, Little Rock, Conway, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Muskogee, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City. He spends a few hours looking at the campus of each of the institutions he’s interested in going to, and talking with people there. He does a lot of his driving in the early evening to have the days for the campus visits. Pat can’t put his finger on what it is he doesn’t like, but there’s something about the first three campuses, and many of the others he visits, he doesn’t like. He now understands why Sarge told him to visit them. At the end of his visits his list is down to three colleges.

During September of his Senior Year Pat applies to all three of the institutions, and is accepted by his first and third choices, while the second choice college tells him they’ll put him on their call list. During February of his final year of high school Pat finalises his application with his first choice university, gets their confirmation, and withdraws his applications from the other two colleges. Thus he’s now registered to go to university in Fayetteville, Arkansas, when the classes start in August.

Getting Organised for College

Now he’s registered at the college Pat needs to organise the rest of his life in Fayetteville. The first issue to overcome is the requirement for all Freshmen to live in the dorms, so he has to arrange a special exemption, if he can. Talks with Erin and his doctors result in a set of prepared reports with letters from the school counsellors he’s seen over the years, as well as all of his doctors, plus Erin, Gunny, Bubba, and the Sheriff. All of the documents are worded to emphasis how mature he is for his age, while a couple point out how at risk he’ll be in the dorm situation.

In March, on the first day of Spring Break, Pat and Bubba fly out of Maverick County International Airport, Eagle Pass, Texas to Drake Field, Fayetteville, Arkansas in a light aircraft Pat charters for the flight up, because he doesn’t want to drive up and back. They’ve a meeting with the college Chancellor about Pat’s housing for his Freshman Year.

The taxi from Drake Field gets them to the Chancellor’s office before the time of the meeting, so they sit and drink some coffee while they wait for his prior meeting to finish. They’re only a few minutes past the time set for the meeting when they’re shown into the Chancellor’s office. He directs them to a discussion nook with comfortable chairs around a low coffee table. They all shake hands, and sit down.

Pat starts the discussion with, “Chancellor, I know I don’t fit any of the usual profiles you have for granting an exemption to living in the dorms for my Freshman Year, but I hope to convince you to give me a special exemption from living in the dorm.”

The Chancellor sighs, and replies, “In the past years I’ve heard many requests for an exemption, and none have been approved by the board. Tell me your reasons, and I’ll tell you why we can’t approve the request.”

Bubba grins when Pat says, “How many of those who asked you were emancipated just after their seventeenth birthday? How many were on the scene when the rest of their family were murdered, and had to call for emergency services for the injuries they suffered as well as the other people injured? How many killed murderers while still in Grade School? I’m not your typical eighteen year old, Sir.”

The Chancellor is stunned by Pat’s questions, but before he can say a word Bubba reaches forward to hand him some police reports while he says, “Here’s copies of the police reports of some of the incidents. The summary sheet on the front gives the essential information. Some gang members ambushed the pickup Pat was in, killing the driver, and Pat used the driver’s guns from the truck’s gun rack to kill twenty-two of the murderers. Later he also killed three other armed gang members with his bare hands. Pat has been living in the adult world for several years. I think you need to look at the psych reports we have, as well.” He hands over the other reports, then Bubba and Pat sit back to drink their coffee while the Chancellor reads the report summaries.

When the Chancellor starts to read the first report Pat adds, “Twice some Mexican criminals issued orders to have me killed, and some of their men died trying. We don’t think there’s any danger from them now. However, living off campus I can keep a rifle handy where I live, while I can’t do that in the dorms. Also, it means I’m not putting the other students at risk if I live off the campus.” The man slowly nods in reply.

Several minutes later the Chancellor looks up, and says, “I see you are self-motivated, and able to care for yourself. I can see why you have concerns about living in the dorms, but I don’t like the idea of you living by yourself, despite the dangers you mention.”

Pat nods, and says, “So do I! Which is why I’ve got a list of a number of people to talk to about living in a flat at their residence. That way I can live in my own space while the family who own it can keep an eye on me to make sure I keep up with my studies, and I behave right. They’ll be sort of guardians, but not have the same authority over me.”

The Chancellor thinks for a moment, and replies, “You find someone to do that, and give me their details. I’ll investigate them, and put the matter to the board, if I like what I find out. But we need to have their details by the first of June. Otherwise it’s the dorms for you. Agreed?”

While nodding his head ‘yes’ Pat says, “Agreed. We plan to talk to a few of the people today. Thank you.” They all stand, and shake hands again before Pat and Bubba leave the office.

Housing

Ten minutes after leaving the Chancellor’s office Bubba and Pat are at the house of a family who rent out an apartment over their garage to students. They ask a lot of odd questions which make both Bubba and Pat wonder if they’re the right people for Pat to live near.

The second place they stop at have had it with male students, and are now only accepting female students for the apartment in the back of their house. The third place turns out to be an eight apartment complex with the owners living in one of the apartments. The place is summed up by Bubba with the comment, “This’ll be like living in a dorm!”

They stop for a quick lunch on the way to the fourth place, which is a little further away from the college than the other places. At the house they’re met by a woman in her early fifties, and Pat says, “Excuse me, Ma’am, are you Missus Warren?” She nods ‘yes, ‘ so he adds, “I’m told you’ve an apartment you rent out. May I look at it, please?”

She frowns, and says, “Yes, we’ve an apartment above the garage. But we’re only just now thinking about renting it out. Who told you we had an apartment available?”

Pat turns to Bubba, and opens his mouth to talk. Only to have Bubba say, “I was told by Master Sergeant Bradley you had a recently finished apartment you were preparing to rent out. He suggested we talk to you about it, so you can save on the advertising costs.”

“Did Tom tell you about why we have it?” Both Pat and Bubba give a ‘no’ shake of their heads. “Our son, Bill, built it during his holidays last year. His company was opening a new office in town, and he was going to work there. So he built the apartment for him and his wife. However, they died in car accident four months ago, while on their way here. The place is a fully furnished four bedroom apartment with a good gym and a double car space. The apartment has an access separate from the main house and our garage space. There’s also a nice covered pool behind the building you can use. When do the two of you wish to move in?”

Bubba replies, “Pat here is starting at the college in August, and will be looking to move in sometime during the summer. I’ll be staying on the ranch in Texas. The apartment is a bit bigger than what we were told it was. How much are you asking for rent?” The rate she gives is a fair rate for the size and location, but more than Pat or Bubba had in mind to be paying for Pat’s housing.

Pat asks, “May we look at it, Ma’am? It’s more than I was planning on, but I can afford it. Also, if you allow me to sub-lease to another student or two it’ll be more affordable for me.”

Mrs Warren reaches back, grabs some keys, walks out while pulling the door shut behind her, and saying, “I’ll show it to you. If you have anyone move in for more than a day or so we’ll have to check them out, and approve them, too, before they can stay for longer.”

“Of course,” is Pat’s response. A moment later the three are walking through a very nice apartment above the four car garage and gym. The front stairs are on the side away from the house, with another stairway down the back to near the backdoor of the house. The apartment’s roof extends over the twenty-five foot by twenty-five foot swimming pool in the enclosed grassed area behind the garage / apartment building.

Both Pat and Bubba like the apartment. They look at each other, and smile at each other. Pat turns, and says, “I like the place. However, before we complete the paperwork there’s one issue I need to tell you about.” Mrs Warren turns to scrutinise him, and Pat says, “I’m eighteen years old, but this is the first time I’ll be living on my own. If you don’t mind, I’d like for you to keep an eye on me, and to let me know if I’m slacking off or wavering off the course I should be on. The college Chancellor agrees I should have someone checking up on me, too.”

She grins, and replies, “So I should treat you like you’re my son or grandson living in the apartment?”

Bubba grins, “That’ll be ideal, Missus Warren.”

Twenty minutes later they’re signing the lease papers for Pat to start leasing the apartment as of June first, and he hands her a cheque for the first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and the security deposit. He’ll get the keys the day he arrives to move in.

From there they go to a car dealership to buy Pat a new car. While in the taxi on the way there they phone the Chancellor’s secretary with the details of where Pat will be living, and who with.

All Pat wants in the vehicle is a reasonable level of comfort with four wheel drive plus a towing package, but not a pickup truck. Bubba likes the GMC Yukon, so the yard they go to is the local GMC dealer. After spending half an hour in the yard looking at the different models and accessories Pat decides to purchase the Yukon SLT they have on special sale. It has the towing package, sunroof, and many of the other optional extras. A big point in its favour is it’s already registered because it’s been used by the dealership staff for their work and they no longer use it; thus they can drive it away. Pat grins, and says, “It may be hard to find at night, but it’ll be easy to keep clean!” Bubba laughs, because the car is onyx black with an all black interior, black wheels, and black tinted windows. The big thing Bubba likes is the extra security package fitted to the SUV. Because this is ready to go they don’t have to stay the night to have it made ready.

A quick trip to have the vehicle registration and insurance changed to Pat’s trust company, and they’re on their way home. The pickup Pat has been driving since he got his license will be left at the ranch for use by the new tenants moving in to live at the ranch with Bubba.

They take their time on the drive back to Texas, with a few days spent in the Fort Smith area for Bubba to visit his family there. It’s twelve hours on the road if done in one long run with two drivers, so they can afford to take the time to visit Bubba’s family for him to catch up with them. They also make a few other stops on the way back to the ranch. They return to the ranch early in the evening on Saturday.

All is now ready for Pat to go to college in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He just has to finish high school, and to move up there in a few months time.

Last Tasks Before Leaving

Pat was looking at joining the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars Auxiliary at the local post when he turned eighteen. However, when he spoke to the local VFW President about it the president convinced Pat to join the VFW Auxiliary as a National Member at Large so he can visit and help at any VFW post he happens to be near.


Another task Erin has Pat do before he leaves the area is to sit the paramedic exams, now he’s old enough to legally do the tests and be licensed. She’s had him obtain all the qualifications he can for his medical training when he reaches the right age to be allowed to sit the tests, despite having the training and knowledge for years before then. For these latest exams he has to be eighteen years of age, so after he turns eighteen he takes the tests, and gets the certificates.


During the last few weeks before he leaves Pat visits all the people he knows in Maverick County to spend some time with them to say ‘Goodbye, for now.’ He also talks with each of the tenants working the land he owns to see if there’s anything more he can do for them before he goes away to college for a few years.

The last weekend before school ends Pat takes the time to do a full walking examination of the main property by himself. First he walks the whole boundary, then takes his time walking through every part of the ranch while making sure everything is OK before he leaves for a long absence. The ranch is his responsibility, and he’s making sure it’s right before he leaves. Sarge trained him to take care of his responsibilities, so that’s how Pat is, and that’s what he’s doing before he leaves the area.

Holiday and Moving In

Time moves on, exams are done and marked, and Pat’s High School Graduation occurs on the Friday of the first week of June. Gunny and Erin organise a Graduation Party for Pat at his favourite eatery in Eagle Pass. Pat is surprised by the number of people who call in for a visit to say a few words, and to wish him well at college. The party starts in the mid-afternoon, and goes on until the late evening. It’s midnight before they return to the ranch after the party.

Saturday morning Pat is up a little later than usual, but he has all the time he wants right now. The Yukon is the only vehicle able to carry the whole new ranch crew at once, so they all went to the graduation in it, then on to the party. Now Pat has to pack the Yukon for his move to Fayetteville, and the short holiday he’s taking on the way there.

The back seat is lowered to increase the cargo area. Pat’s electric motorcycle is the first item in, set in place, and tied down. Around it are packed the several boxes of things Pat is taking with him, with the bags of clothes plus his camping gear going on top of the boxes. While he’s setting the safety net to hold the load in place Pat sees a box he’s not seen before, it’s about two feet thick, three feet high, and four feet long. When he reaches for it to see what it is Bubba says, “That’s our ‘Going Away to College’ gift for you, Pat. It’s not to be opened until after you reach the apartment.” Pat turns to him, nods to show he understands, and reaches out to shake Bubba’s hand. For the next few minutes Pat is hugging or shaking hands with everyone. Then it’s time for him to leave. Pat turns to the car, opens the door, gets in, and drives away. It’s hard for him to leave, but he has to go away to finish his education. Life must go on.

Pat stops at the front gate. After he locks it behind him he turns to wave at the camera, gets in the car, turns right, and drives off to Laredo while the sound system plays a medley of his favourite country music.

He’s lived in Texas for eight years, but has left Maverick County only four times since he arrived. Two trips into Mexico when he was younger, then his college tour trip last year, and the trip to Fayetteville this year. School holidays were all spent at the ranch, except for some days in Eagle Pass for activities. He wants to get to Fayetteville to get to know it well before college starts, but he’s taking a few weeks holiday to do a little ‘Rest and Relaxation’ with a little bit of sight seeing along the way. His plan is to drive to Laredo, then east to Corpus Christi to see the Gulf of Mexico he’s heard so much about, over the years. Other places he plans to visit are Galveston, Houston, New Orleans, Vicksburg, Little Rock, and travel to Fayetteville. He can take as long as he wants to on the trip, but he plans to be in Fayetteville in three weeks’ time.

The amount of time Pat spends at the towns and beaches along the gulf is a lot shorter than he intended, because he finds the large crowds of tourists and holiday makers too much for him. When he nears New Orleans he decides to skip the city, due to the obvious crowds he can see on the city’s outskirts. The end result is his planned twenty day trip has him driving into Fayetteville twelve days after leaving the ranch.

Pat does a lot of thinking on the drive north from New Orleans, due to concerns about his attitude to the crowds. He has no issues with the large crowds on market days in Eagle Pass, and he never had an issue with all the people on the bases he lived on. However, the large crowds in the cities disturbed him in some way he can’t understand, even when the crowds aren’t as big as the Eagle Pass market day crowds. It takes him a few days to work out it’s not the number of people he finds disturbing, it’s the frantic pace they move at while ignoring everyone around them.

While checking everything out at the markets people move around like a milling herd of stock, but often stop to speak with the others at the market. However, the people in the city crowds are going from one place to the next very fast while ignoring almost everyone near them. Even those travelling together talking ignore those around them.

For the first time in his life Pat understands a phrase he read a long time ago in a story where a character said everyone was in ‘a personal isolation in the overcrowded cities.’ It describes what Pat saw, and felt, in the crowded beaches and cities. The realisation of the isolation he feels also emphasises how much living out on the ranch away from people most of the time has affected how he views crowds and people. It also gives him a major insight into why some of the retired military people like to live away from the city crowds in places like the ranch. He soon realises he’s now more of a ‘Texan Cowboy’ than the ‘Aussie Townie’ he was when he first arrived at the ranch eight years ago.

Pat knew things would be different in Fayetteville, due to the college having twenty-six thousand students, which is the same as the whole of the Eagle Pass population. The City of Fayetteville has ninety thousand people, while the whole metropolitan area is half a million in about the same amount of land the fifty-five thousand people in Maverick County use. Of course, Maverick County has a lot more stock than the metro area of Fayetteville, but there’s going to be a lot more people in the area around Pat than he’s been used to. He settles for hoping the pace in the city won’t be as hectic as what he’s seen in the cities in the last few days, and the people are less isolated than he’s noticed while on holiday.

Unpacking

There’s not a lot of gear in the Yukon, so when Pat arrives at the Warren residence it doesn’t take him long to unpack everything. He has only three things not destined for the apartment: the motorcycle, his tool box, and the Yukon. Once everything is in the apartment he puts it all away before he opens the gift from his friends. It turns out to be large framed photos of them to hang on the walls. The photos of Sarge, Digger, and Hard Ball are in black frames instead of silver ones. He distributes the photos in the lounge room of the apartment. They rest against the walls until he gets what he needs to hang them up on the wall. Right now he has to do some grocery shopping, and he asks Mrs Warren to show him the stores he should go to. She’s very happy to help him.

An hour later Pat is bringing up box after box of supplies while Mrs Warren puts them away in the cupboards and refrigerator for him.

After putting the groceries away Pat asks Mr Warren to help him with hanging the pictures. Walking into the room from the front door the left wall has his family, his uncle’s family, Sarge, Digger, and Hard Ball. On the right are Bubba, Gunny with Angela, Erin with Billy, then all the new residents at the ranch. Some of the existing pictures on the wall are soon moved to other walls so these two walls are dedicated to Pat’s family.

Pat asks Mr Warren for permission to install a gun-safe, and is shown a nice secure cupboard suitable for storing guns is hidden in part of the built-in cupboard in the master bedroom. The unit is so big Pat simply places the gun-case he has with both of his rifles into the gun-safe before he resets the combination, then shuts and locks the cupboard.

The Apartment

The four bedroom apartment is built over a four car garage with a gym, workshop, and storeroom. The main stairway is on the outside of the garage to go up to a platform at the front corner of the lounge room, with the back stairs going from the verandah door in the middle of the rear wall of the lounge room down to the opposite corner of the building to the front stairs. Both stairways have rails at three and a half feet above the steps with boards from the rail to the steps. The front stairs have their own cover at eight feet above the steps, while the rear stairs are under the transparent extended roof over the pool and yard. Both the stairways are protected against the weather, and so is the pool area.

When you enter the apartment from the front stairs you enter a large twenty-two foot by twenty foot lounge room. The door on the right goes to the verandah and downstairs, the door diagonally opposite the front door goes to the twelve foot by twelve foot kitchen while the door on the left goes to the hall to the bedroom area. Going to the bedrooms you enter a four foot wide hall ten feet long which takes you to another hall of the same size. Standing in the middle of the ‘T’ intersection of the halls places the door to a fifteen foot by ten foot bedroom on your left rear quarter plus a twelve foot by ten foot bedroom on your left and right hands. A toilet with its own sink is on your front left, the bathroom is on your front right, and on your right rear is a fifteen foot by twelve foot bedroom with a twelve by six foot en-suite between it and the kitchen.

Apartement Floor-map

The apartment is fully furnished with the lounge room set up as an open floor arrangement. The far corner between the kitchen and the back door has the dining table in a dining nook setting, with the corner on the other side of the rear door set up with the television and lounges for talking or watching video. The sound system is in the corner of the big bedroom and the kitchen, along the back wall of the en-suite. The place is well set out, and very spacious with an open traffic area in the middle.

Pat is soon set up in his new home for his years at the college.

Settling In

Pat arrived early enough in the day there’s still enough light to have a look around the area with a lot more care than he has before. Also, after the drive and unpacking he doesn’t feel like cooking, so he drives out to see where the nearest eateries are. Although the Warren house is in what looks to be one of Fayetteville’s older areas Pat isn’t sure if it’s an old area or not. Some houses look very old while some look very new. The lot the Warren house is on is large when compared to most of the other houses close to it, so he wonders if the original lots in the area were bigger, and many of them have been either sub-divided or had additional buildings erected. The area is residential with a few scattered small businesses in it, and a fair sized business district isn’t far away. There are several eateries he can choose from for his dinner, and he ends up having a nice big roast beef dinner in small family restaurant.

The college campus isn’t close enough for Pat to walk to college each day, and it’s also fairly large and spread out, so he has to drive. But it’s a short trip he can do on the motorcycle, in good weather.

After breakfast the next morning Pat’s first task is to visit the nearest Office of Motor Vehicles to have his license changed to a local one, and to change the motorcycle to a local registration since the Yukon is already registered in Arkansas. The change over is easy, because he took all the required paperwork, and rode the motorcycle so he can immediately change the plate. A bit of planning and checking their website made it very easy for Pat to be fully prepared for the tasks to be done right away.

His second morning stop is the college to confirm his registration is all done. He takes the opportunity to get the required identifications for himself and both his motor vehicles. When he finds his campus mailbox it has some college mail for him, including the official approval to live off campus. While there he stops at the bookshop to buy the text books he knows he’ll need for his first semester. The paperwork he has doesn’t list all the books he’ll need, but there are enough listed to make it worth the trouble to buy them now, so he can start reading ahead for his classes.

Pat returns to the apartment in time to cook a late lunch.

After eating a simple meal of sandwiches and hot soup Pat walks out onto the verandah while he finishes his cup of hot chocolate. He’s surprised to see a woman and two children in the pool area sunbathing. He stands there thinking about what to do for the rest of the day while he sips on his hot drink. When he finishes his drink he turns, and goes to the kitchen to clean up after himself.

For the next forty-five minutes he’s very busy cooking. The first task is the easiest to do when he places the large rump roast he bought in a glass oven dish, pours an inch and a half of water into the dish, and sets it in the oven to roast during the afternoon. Then he mixes condensed milk, gelatine, vanilla, sugar, and passion fruit seed in a blender before putting the bowl of mix into the fridge to set for tonight’s dessert. The vegetables are left to prepare and cook later in the day. Happy all is on track for a good meal he goes out the front to talk with his landlady.

When Mrs Warren answers the front door he says, “Good afternoon, Missus Warren. To celebrate my move I’m cooking a roast beef, and I’d like you all to join me for dinner tonight.”

She smiles, and says, “First, I’m Ann, and my husband is Bert! Have you got enough for six? Since you signed the lease my daughter, Betty, and her kids, Charlie and Curtis have come to live with us.”

Pat grins while saying, “Yes, there’s enough. I figured the group in the pool area were part of your family. But isn’t one a girl?”

Mrs Warren laughs while replying, “Charlie is short for Charlene.”

“The roast should be done by six thirty. Will Bert be home by then?”

“Yes! He gets home about five thirty. I notice you didn’t ask about the kids’ father. Why?”

“Since you didn’t give me his name when you listed the family I felt he wasn’t in residence. You’ll tell me about him when you want to, if you want to. It’s none of my business, so I leave it up to you and Betty to tell me what you want me to know about him.”

“That’s a very refreshing attitude. Most people want all the details the moment you meet them. He died of cancer in January, and Betty is back with us while she finally works on her Master’s. We’ll see you at a little after six. Also, you can come to the back door when you want to talk to us. Just knock and walk in, all our friends and neighbours do.”

“You sure this is a city? That’s country folk behaviour!”

“Bert and I come from a small rural town, so it’s our way. We moved here about ten years ago. It’s taken almost that long to train our friends and neighbours how to come calling.” Pat laughs, and slowly shakes his head while he takes his leave to go back to the apartment.

For the next few hours Pat reads ahead in the text books he has, with frequent breaks to check on the roast, turning it as required. When it’s time to do the vegetables he puts the book away, and starts cooking the vegetables in the pots. After getting them started he sets the table, puts some of his favourite country music on low, and checks on the dessert.

At six fifteen his guests arrive, so Pat is introduced to Betty, Charlie, and Curtis Rogers. They talk for a few minutes while Pat serves drinks, then he’s busy getting the meal out to serve while his guests look at his photos. They ask about the people, and he replies from the kitchen.

When he has it all on the table he calls them over to sit down, and says, while looking at the two children, “I believe in letting everyone get what they want to eat. However, what you put on your plate you will eat. There’s roast beef, with gravy in the little boat like jug for those who want it. There’s boiled potatoes in their jackets, with butter and the other condiments on the table so you can fix it how you like. Erin likes butter and sour cream on hers, but I like them plain, so I leave it to you to decide how you do them. The same with the beans, carrot, corn, and the Brussels Sprouts. If you’ll all take your seats, please, and, Bert, will you please bless the food for us.” They sit down with the men at the table ends, the ladies on one side, and the children on the other.

The meal is enjoyed by all, and the children like the new dessert he serves. None of them had heard of passion fruit flummery before, let alone eaten it. They all like the simple dessert.

The dinner conversation covers many topics while they get to know each other better, which is why Pat arranged the meal. Just before she leaves Mrs Warren hands Pat a note with a phone number on it while saying, “This is the phone number for the apartment. It’s in my name, but has it’s own bill with the apartment address. I had them activate it and the Internet when you said you were on your way here. I don’t know how he did it, but Bill has it set up if you push the ‘star’ button on the phone it calls our house without getting charged for it. So we can call each other for free There’s a phone on the wall in the kitchen, and one in the big bedroom, as well as the cordless phone in the corner of this room. They all work off the same box in the apartment’s garage.” Pat thanks her, and puts the note with the number in his pocket.

After they leave Pat cleans up by rinsing everything, and putting it in the dishwasher. He turns it on before returning to read ahead in the text book he’s reading. After an hour of reading he puts the book aside to consider, once again, if he’s made the right choices about how to get the training and qualifications he wants.

Pat wants to learn the knowledge he needs to run a business, due to having money and the ranch he has to manage, but he’s also interested in being a teacher. After going over the college information he stopped thinking about doing a Master’s Degree at any stage, and mapped out a Bachelor Degree course path in multiple majors. In the Fall Semester he’ll start on the degree course as an English teacher. In the coming five years he’ll do a number of January and May Intersession Semesters as well as the usual Fall and Spring Semesters. He wants to have most of the summer off, so he doesn’t plan on attending college in the summer. The Intersession Semester courses are concentrated two week courses. During the Fall and Spring Semesters he’ll do an extra subject or two for his other courses, where he can fit them in. He’ll also do some as on-line courses, because he can do them when he has the time to do so. After the review he confirms the current plan is the best for him to learn what he wants to learn, but it also includes additional information. He’ll be able to teach English, History, Business Studies - including basic computer classes, as well as having the knowledge and skills to run all of his own business affairs. Part of the problem with doing them revolves around the class scheduling, and getting from place to place on campus.

By the time he goes through everything again he decides it’s time to have a shower and go to bed. While packing the papers away his last thought on the subject is, I’ll have a wide range of skills when I’m ready to look for a job. So I should be able to do something with my life when I finish college.

Saturday

After getting dressed and having breakfast Pat goes to the shops to get some business cards made up with his contact details, and to buy two new computers - a desktop and a laptop, along with a good chair, and desk for the desktop computer. They’re the only furniture he needs.

His purchases fit in the back of the Yukon with ease, and he soon has them back at the apartment. Part of the morning is spent in putting the flat-pack furniture together, and placing it in a corner of his bedroom, the big master bedroom with the en-suite. Once it’s all set up he uses the information Ann Warren gave him to log onto their Internet Service Provider, and is soon connected.

By late morning Pat has everything set up in the apartment, and is at the table making an early lunch of sandwiches while also reading more of his text book. The only things he has to do before school starts is to get to know the area, the people, and get ahead in his studies. The afternoon is spent reading while sunbathing beside the pool. Pat is now all settled in, and marking time until the first day of college.

The days of the rest of summer pass without any issues or significant events for Pat while he meets his neighbours, and learns more about the local area as well as the city itself. But there is one incident which involves Pat in mid July.

Friday Night Entertainment

On a hot Friday in mid July Pat has a booking for dinner at one of the better restaurants in the area. The place is so popular he had to make the booking two weeks earlier. He arrives a little after seven in the evening for his seven-fifteen dinner booking by himself. He arrives on his bike.

The entry area has a podium where the hostess greets people, and there’s a short line of people without bookings waiting to be listed for an open table. On one side of the podium is sign saying ‘Reservations Here, ‘ so Pat walks up to the sign, and says, “Nolan, seven-fifteen.”

The lady checks the book, and says, “Yes, Mister Nolan. Table ten. I’m sorry, but the current diners are running a little late. Please wait in the bar until I come for you,” and points to the bar area to the side.

Pat smiles while saying, “Certainly. I’m in no hurry, so take your time, and get me when all is ready.” She smiles at him, and turns to the young woman who just walked up behind Pat.

While he walks away he hears the new arrival say, “Seven-thirty for Rawlings.” He misses the rest of the conversation due to entering the bar area, and the soft background music cuts out the exterior sound.

Pat sits on an open stool at the bar, and the barman asks, “What do you want to drink, Sir?”

Sporting a big grin Pat says, “I want a large brandy, but you best get me a bitter lemon.” The barman frowns, “I’m only eighteen.”

“I see, Sir. You seemed older when you came in.” He turns, moves along the bar, bends, opens a door behind the bar, and soon returns with a glass and a small bottle of bitter lemon. He pours the drink into the glass, and says, “There you are, Sir. Enjoy.”

A young woman in her mid-twenties walks into the bar, and takes the seat beside Pat. She pulls out her cell phone, hits a speed dial, waits, and says, “Mel, I’m at the restaurant. There’s no booking in your name. What name did you make it in? Call me back when you can.”

The woman orders a cocktail, and sits there sipping it. A little later two men in their late twenties or early thirties enter the bar, and take the next two seats beside the woman. Both are large men, and look fairly fit.

The men order beers, then the larger one turns to the woman, and says something Pat can’t quite hear. But he does hear her say, “No, thank you. I’m waiting for my friends. Please talk to your friend, and leave me alone.” The man speaks again, and Pat hears her say, “I said no. Leave me alone! Get lost.” The man speaks again, so she stands, picks up her drink, and moves to the seat on the other side of Pat.

Pat looks at the barman, catches his eye, motions to the man with his eyes, and mouths, ‘Get the manager.’ The barman nods agreement, and moves down the bar to the phone on the back counter.

The large man gets up from his barstool, and moves after the young woman while saying, “No one tells me to get lost.”

Pat swings his barstool around, and slides off it to be between the man and the young woman. The man stops because of Pat being in the way. The man goes to speak, and Pat says, “The lady said ‘no.’ I suggest you leave it at that, and not bother her again.”

The man looks down at Pat, he’s several inches taller and wider than Pat is. He grins, and says, “Think you can fight me and my friend.” The other man is now standing, he’s very close to the same dimensions as the first man. Both are tall and wide, and both look formidable.

Just then a voice says, “What’s the problem Dave?”

The barman says, “The young lady told the tall gentleman ‘no’ a few times when he spoke to her. When she moved to a seat further away the tall gentleman stood to follow. Then the shorter gentleman stood up between the two, and suggested the man leave the lady alone. Then you arrived, Mister Williams.”

The new arrival, obviously the manager, looks at the four people, turns to the front tall man, and says, “You can either leave the young lady alone or leave the restaurant, Mister Wright.” Thus making it clear the manager knows the tall man.

The tall man says, “You don’t tell me what to do Williams!” He moves sideways to step around Pat while he talks.

Pat says, “Wright, Leave it. I think you need to sit down, and cool off before you have to do your cooling off in the police lock-up.”

Wright turns to Pat, and sneers, “You think you can stop me and my friend, boy?”

A grinning Pat replies, “I don’t know about that. But I do know I can kill you before your friend can get to me. Are you ready to die?”

The other big man looks closely at Pat. He goes a little white, puts a hand out to take Wright’s arm, and says, “Benny, I’m too hungry to wait here for a table. Let’s go somewhere less busy!”

Wright turns his head to look at him, thinks for a moment, nods ‘yes, ‘ turns, and walks out the door. Williams shakes his head, and says, “I’ve not seen Jacks walk away from a fight before. I wonder why?”

Dave glances at the manager, turns to Pat, and asks, “How does an eighteen year old get to be a combat vet?” All within hearing turn to look at Dave.

Pat sighs, turns to Dave, and says, “By being in the middle of battle when only ten years old. After the cartel’s gang of killers murdered my friend driving me home from school I took his carbine to kill the other twenty of them there. Living on a ranch beside the border meant we had a few run-ins with drug smugglers. I soon learnt to stay alive by being better at killing them than they were at killing us. My grandfather also taught me the unarmed combat skills he learned in the Army.”

Dave nods, turns to Williams, and says, “Like me, Jacks is a combat vet, when we looked into this man’s eyes we could see he’s trained to kill, he’s killed before, and he’s ready to kill again. Jacks decided this wasn’t worth the trouble tonight, and cut it off.”

Williams looks from Dave to Pat, and back again, shakes his head, and says, “Thanks for not letting Wright annoy Miss Jenkins.” He nods to the young lady, turns to Dave, and says, “Their drinks are on the house tonight.” Dave nods ‘yes, ‘ and Williams leaves the bar area.

Miss Jenkins is thanking Pat when a woman in her late thirties walks into the bar area, and says, “Gin, I just got told our table for two got changed to a table for four in the name of Davidson. Want to cut out before the scumbag arrives?”

The first young woman replies, “Mel, we always celebrate birthdays here. I don’t want to eat with Dumbo. Can we sit here, and wait for a free table? Even if it means eating late!”

Pat sighs, and says, “I’m dining by myself. Would you ladies do me the honour of dining with me tonight?”

The new arrival turns to look at Pat while saying, “I don’t... , “ and breaks off what she’s saying, before adding, “You’re Pat Nolan!” It’s more a statement than a question, so Pat simply nods ‘yes.’ “We’ll be delighted to dine with you, Mister Nolan.” The other young woman is staring at her friend in shock. “I’m Melanie Rawlings, and this is my friend Ginnie Jenkins. Please call me Mel, and she’s Gin.” she turns to Gin, “This is the infamous Pat Nolan. Our latest important client, but yet to visit the office.” She turns back to Pat, “I’m a lawyer, and your people in Boston contacted us to act for you while you’re living in the area. We’ve not got your local address, yet.”

While handing over some of his new business cards Pat says, “Here you go. All the details in one spot. With a couple of extras.” Mel takes his cards, grins, puts them away, and hands him one of hers. They sit, and talk while they wait for their table.

A little later the hostess walks in, and says, “Mister Nolan, your table is now ready for you and your friends.” She turns, and leads the way to their table, hands them the menus, and adds, “Anna is your waitress tonight. She’ll be with you in a moment,” and leaves them.

Pat is a little bemused how she knew of a table for one becoming a table for three. Gin says, “I don’t know how he did it, but Dave let Lacy know we’re now your guests. I’ve seen this happen before, and still don’t know how they communicate.”

He asks, “Is Lacy ex-military, too?”

Mel responds, “I think they served together in the Eighty-second, why does that matter?”

Pat grins, “If they served together they’d know combat hand sign, and can use that to communicate silently.” Mel and Gin both look a little shocked by the idea. Pat looks over, catches Lacy’s eye, and signs. She frowns, and comes over to him. Pat says, “Dave used combat hand signs to let you know of the party changes, didn’t he?”

Lacy grins, nods, and asks, “How do you know it?”

“My Grandfather taught me. He was a career soldier who age retired as Master Sergeant Daniel Riley of the Five Oh Fourth.”

“How is Sarge Riley? Both Dave and I served with him, a few times.”

“Some drug cartel killers murdered him last year. Several years ago they also murdered Master Sergeant Eric ‘Digger’ Goldsmith, and Staff Sergeant Harvey ‘Hard Ball’ Walton. Master Sergeant Bubba Wilson looks after my ranch for me, now.”

“It’s a shame about the murders. Did the authorities get the killers?”

Pat grins, “No, but I did. Also, I was there when they killed Hard Ball and Digger. They all had their ferry fees well paid for them.”

“Good. Do you know Bubba’s real name? That’s all he’s ever called.”

“I’ve seen his birth certificate, and that’s his legal name. It comes from an old Scots nickname for the eldest son in a family, and has degenerated into a name in it’s own right, in some areas.” Lacy laughs, turns, and goes back to her work.

Gin asks, “Pat, how many men have you killed?”

Pat sighs, and replies, “Actually, I’ve never killed a man. But I have eliminated a number of rabid two legged dogs who look a lot like men. I’ve no idea how many of them I’ve killed, because I never took a body count. However, the Maverick County Sheriff has my official proven count as being twenty-five they can link to me.” Both ladies are shocked at both the number, and the casual way he talks about it.

Dinner is Served

In due course they order their meals, and they’re served. The three chat about many things while they eat. The only interruption is just after their meals are delivered two men walk in, spot them, and walk over. One of them says, “Evening, Melanie, Ginnie. Peter told me you were having dinner with us tonight. What’s going on?”

Mel looks up, and says, “Sorry, John, your scumbag cousin heard me asking a secretary to book a table for Gin and me to have dinner here tonight. It seems he got the secretary to move the booking into his name for a little later than we planned, but failed to either clear it with me or tell me about it. When I got here I found my friends in the bar, and Pat here had a table, so he asked us to join him when the problem became known. I have to deal with Peter at work, and be civil to him there, but I don’t have to associate with him away from work. I’m sorry you got caught up in his attempt at controlling other people’s lives.”

The other man goes to speak, but the first one puts a hand up to stop him, and says, “I see. I didn’t know he was being that manipulative. I’m sorry to have disturbed your meal.” He turns to head for his table Lacy is standing beside to seat them, and adds, “Peter, not everyone likes you to organise their lives for them. Let’s go eat.”

Mel sighs, and says, “I wish I knew why Peter is always trying to set me up with his cousin. John is a nice guy, and I like him as a friend, but Peter is a total scumbag.”

Pat says, “Want to bet you stand in Peter’s promotional path.”

Gin laughs, “Oh, she does stand in his way. If she got married, and left to have a kid, he’d be a lot closer to being a partner. But that’s not going to happen any time soon.”

Pat gets serious, and says, “Mel, please tell your senior management I do not want Peter to have anything to do with my files, or my work in any way at all. They’re to ensure he’s kept well away from it.” Both Mel and Gin look at him, and he adds, “The whole table was between us, yet I could feel the oil oozing out of him. He’s sneaky and underhanded as well as the type to sell client information for his personal profit.”

Mel replies, “Shit. I always felt he was a scumbag, but that was all. I’ll pass on your concerns on Monday. I don’t know what they’ll do.”

“I suggest you have someone quietly watch him while you check his phone and time records against what he’s actually done. He’s the type to cheat on his time sheets, so you should be able to get him that way.”

Mel laughs, agrees, and the conversation moves on to other topics. The meal is soon finished, along with a light dessert, and coffee.

There’s a short discussion about the bill, which Pat eventually wins, and pays, before they leave the restaurant. Pat opens the door to let the ladies out, follows, and lets it close behind himself. Walking away from the door he gets his gloves out of his pants pockets, one in each, and puts them on.

The night is really too warm to wear gloves, but he never rides the bike without having a pair of gloves on. This pair are black leather which look like good dress gloves, but like all his bike gloves they’ve two layers all over with three layers on the outside of the hand. The outer layer is waterproof, next is a layer of woven Kevlar with some stiff Kevlar plastic strips on the outer side to protect his hand when hit - the strips run between the joints for protection, and the inside outer layer is some mild padding to help protect the hand when hit. The inside of the glove hand is just the waterproof cover and the woven Kevlar. He has three pairs in each of the two colours of black and camouflage pattern. They go to just behind his wrists, thus they aren’t a proper gauntlet length.

Pat is escorting the ladies to their car first, but they’re only half-way across the carpark when three large men move out from between two cars near Mel’s car. One of them says, “Now you pay the piper!”

Recognising Wright’s voice while seeing his right hand go inside his coat has Pat reacting fast and hard. He takes a quick step toward the men before he plants his left foot, and swings his right foot up while he leans to the side. Pat’s right foot slams into the left side of Wright’s chest as hard as Pat can kick him. All can hear some cracks at the same time as Wright grunts and staggers to a halt. Pat swings his right foot back to the ground while the other two men start to move. Pat’s right foot hits the ground, and his left foot swings forward and up as fast as he can. He connects with Wright’s groin, and is rewarded with a screech from Wright at the same time as he starts to bend forward. The two men with Wright are now moving around Wright to close in on Pat. When his left foot returns to the ground Pat leans forward to deliver five fast blows; one to each of Wright’s eyes, both sides of his mouth, and the last is to the nose, breaking it. Pat moves back a little before one last kick to bust Wright’s left knee into many parts to make him topple to the ground.

One of the other men continues to move in on Pat while the other looks down at Wright. Just as Pat and the other man square off the third man says, “Jim, Jacks was right. This is one kid we don’t want to mess with. Help me get Benny into the car and out of here.” The other man turns, looks down, swears, and bends to help lift Wright.

Pat says, “Anyone who reaches for the gun dies. Leave it be. I’ll deal with it after you leave. I don’t care what you tell the doctors or the cops, as long as no one comes to talk to us about what happened.”

The other man says, “OK! Jim, grab his other arm, and let’s get him out of here.” Pat, Mel, and Gin watch while they drag the smashed man to a car, open the back door, and drag him into it. They drive off.

Pat escorts the girls to their car, sees them on their way, goes to his bike to put his gloves away in one of the panniers on it, gets out his cell phone, and calls the police. They answer, and he gives his location as well as saying, “I’ve found a gun in the carpark, you should collect it.”

A few minutes later a police car with a sergeant driving it pulls into the carpark, sees Pat, and comes to a halt beside him. The cop takes a photo of the gun on the ground, puts on gloves to pick up the gun to put it in a bag, and takes a statement from Pat. The cop is sitting in his car writing while he watches Pat go to his bike, open the rear lock-box with the helmet in it, put the helmet and gloves on, then ride away.


Flow on Events

The police sergeant takes the gun back to the station, hands it to the Property Officer, and goes back out on his patrol. The Property Officer takes a note of the serial number, and starts a trace before he puts it aside to have it checked for finger prints in the morning.

The next day the trace is back saying it’s registered to Wright, and the only finger prints on it are Wright’s. So the cops arrange to have it returned to him, along with a lecture about proper care of the gun. It’s in the afternoon when the sergeant who brought it in is given the gun to take it back to hand over to Wright. No one is at home, so he leaves a note, and takes the gun back to the station.

Business Talk

Wright’s boss visits him in the hospital. They’ve a long talk, and his boss isn’t happy about Wright’s attitude, because Wright insists on going after the kid when he gets out of the hospital.

Jacks is with their boss for the visit. After they leave the hospital the boss asks Jacks for his opinion, and is told, “Benny is becoming a liability. If he goes after this kid again it’ll come back to really hurt us. The kid will take him out, and the kid is likely to think we sanctioned it. So he’ll then come after us.” The boss, nods his agreement, and looks at Jacks with a raised eyebrow. Jacks adds, “I’ll clean it up, tonight.” The boss smiles. Later that night Wright dies in the hospital, official cause unknown.

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