Friday, November 7, 2014

Long Ride Home "Lost Scene" #8

I'm finding "lost scenes" everywhere I look in the old manuscript. Go HERE to begin at the beginning.

It's kind of fun to brush them off and publish them here. Almost like reading a new story or watching Star Wars after George Lucas put back the scenes he'd originally cut out in the original (like when Han Solo chats with Jabba the Hut).

This missing scene occurs the very next scene after Andi has her regrets and remembers that Chad gave her Taffy for her sixth birthday. Now she's really depressed, but she can't go home . . . not until she finds Taffy. The scene switches so don't see what happens to Andi and company next. Instead, it's "back to the ranch" to see how the rest of the Carters are mucking along in their attempt at finding their missing family member.

Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home
Lost Scene #8



"She's nowhere to be found. It's been two weeks and there's no clue to her whereabouts." Distraught, Elizabeth Carter sat down slowly on the settee and tried to stay calm.
It had been a long, stress-filled two weeks for the Carter family. Senator Farleyhad left early to allow them the freedom to devote all of their time and energy to finding Andi. The countryside had been scoured with every available man the sheriff could find the first two days, but they uncovered no clues to her whereabouts. 
Reluctantly, the searchers returned to their farms and shops. It seemed as though every resource had been drained, every idea had been pursued, every ranch and farmhouse in the area searched, but with no result. It appeared as though Andrea Carter had disappeared off the face of the earth.
The Carter brothers continued the search on their own, leaving the ranch in the capable hands of their foreman for as long as it took. Posters were printed, a large reward offered, yet no one came forward.
"I almost wish somebody would send a ransom note," Chad muttered. They had gathered in the great room to compare notes before taking off again in the morning, this time north toward Madera. "At least we'd know she's somewhere." He saw his mother's troubled look and wandered over. "Two weeks isn't so long, Mother," he said. "Don't worry so. Andi can take care of herself. She's---"
"She's not even twelve years old, Chad,"  Elizabeth replied. "She's a child. I'm beginning to think something serious has happened. Running off for two hours is something I’d expect from her, not two weeks. She knows we're worried about her. She'd come home if she could."
"Maybe she had an accident or---"
"Chad!" Justin warned. "That doesn't help."
"I know. I'm sorry."  Chad slapped his hat against his leg. He was convinced that somehow his sister's running off was his fault. He hadn't taken the time that evening two weeks ago to talk with her about that whole awful morning. Instead, he had found more things to complain about, not knowing she was overhearing his thoughtless comments. 
He closed his eyes in guilt. He wanted nothing more than to find Andi, hug her, and tell her he was sorry. "I can't believe I said those things!  If only---"
          "Oh, Chad, don't!" Melinda burst out. She was close to tears. "You know there's nothing you can do about it now."
"It wasn't you, Chad,"  Justin insisted. "It was just the timing of too many things. For all we know, it could have been me that set her off. This doesn't help matters at all." 
"Me and my big mouth," Chad berated himself, ignoring Justin. He didn't like to sit around and wait. He wanted to find Andi, and he wanted to find her now. Who knew what could have happened to her by now? There were people of questionable character roaming all over the West. A good number of them, in his opinion, were just waiting to lead his naive, trusting little sister into a life of crime---or worse. 
He looked up. "What about gypsies?" 
"What?" Justin turned to his brother with a confused look on his face. "What are you talking about?"
"Well, Justin, you know what gypsies are like. They could have snatched Andi up . . . could have her now." He pointed a tanned finger at Justin in accusation. "Remember those gypsies that worked our grape harvest last summer?" He grew more intense. "They're just the type to kidnap children for---"
"Oh, Chad!"  Elizabeth sighed. "Please, no more."
"Mother. I'm serious," Chad insisted. "Maybe it's not gypsies, then. It's a little early in the season, I know. But there are others. Somebody shows Andi a little friendliness and she'll get sucked right into whatever con game the person's up to. And another thing--"
A knock on the front door spared the family from having to endure more of Chad's rant. Luisa hurried to the door, her handkerchief dabbing her swollen eyes. The family knew that not a day went by when she didn’t pray for the safe return of the little señorita.
“Come in, señor sheriff.”  She sniffed quietly and dabbed at her eyes again. He walked in, followed by a young man.
"Good afternoon," Sheriff Russell Tate said in somber greeting. "How are you folks doing?"
"As well as can be expected." Elizabeth nodded politely at the stranger.
Russ took a deep breath and indicated the man. "I brought this young fella by your place. Thought you might be interested in what he has to say. His name’s Ethan Woods. Seems he found this picture and got real curious about it." Russ reached out and handed Elizabeth the small family photo. 
She clutched it tightly to her breast and closed her eyes to collect her emotions.
Ethan Woods stepped forward. "It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Carter. I---"
"Where'd you find this picture, mister?" Chad cut in. Anger tinged his voice. He took two steps forward, but Elizabeth waved him into back and into silence.
"Let him talk, Chad," Russ said. He turned to the stranger. “Go ahead, Mr. Woods.”
Ethan Woods nodded. "I found it down south aways. Livingston Flats, I think it was. I won a nice-looking horse in a card game a week or so ago from some poor drifter-fellow down on his luck. He was a lousy poker-player."   
Woods grinned. When six pairs of eyes bored into him, he cleared his throat and continued. "Anyway, when I was going through the saddlebags, I came across this photo. It sparked my interest. A real nice-looking family, I said to myself. Didn't think much more of it until I saw this." 
He pulled a  wrinkled poster from his pocket and held it out. It was the reward poster for Andi. "I was passing through Fresno this morning and it caught my eye. The girl on the poster looked mighty familiar, and you can imagine my surprise when I matched her to the photograph. I went and fetched the sheriff, and he brought me out here straightaway." 
"Was there no one with the drifter when you won the horse?" Justin asked, worried. Andi and Taffy could never be parted--so he assumed. This threw an unexpected complication to everything.
Woods shook his head. "Nope. No one. Later on, I sold the horse to a liveryman in Livingston Flats. I kept the saddlebags. Besides the photograph and some trinkets, I found twelve dollars. I'll return it. I'm no thief."
"No . . . no."  Elizabeth shook her head wearily. "Keep it. It's nothing."
Chad folded his arms across his chest and glared at the young man. "Describe the horse," he demanded, scowling. 
"Take it easy," Justin said, but Chad waved him away.
"No problem" Ethan said. "It was a golden palomino mare with one of your brand marks on her rump. The tack and saddle . . . " He whistled. "The finest I've ever seen. I sold it along with the horse. They seemed to go together." He looked ashamed. "Listen, folks. I had no idea the horse was stolen. I got $200 dollars for her. I’d be happy to return it if---"
"What was the drifter's name?" Chad broke in.
Ethan shrugged. "I never ask the name of folks I play cards with. And he didn't seem too mindful of giving me his name, anyway. You might find him in that little town down south I told you about. He didn't have much left in the way of resources when I took my leave of him. In fact, come to think of it, he ended up in jail for "drunk-and-disorderliness" when I left."
"Thank-you, Mr. Woods," Elizabeth said sincerely. "You've gone out of your way to tell us this, we appreciate it. Feel free to keep the money you made from the horse as a token of our thanks."
"Much obliged, ma'am." Woods tipped his hat and smiled. "Who knows? That pretty horse might still be there at the livery. Two weeks isn't such a long time. At least you could recover the mare. It'd be a start."
"Yes, yes, thank you," Justin said as Russ led the visitor out the door.
"It was a pleasure meeting you, ma'am," Ethan said. "I sure hope you find your daughter soon." 
The door closed. Chad let out a sigh. "I'll saddle the horses. I reckon we'll start in Livingston Flats and work our way north on the way back. We'll check every ranch, every house."
"Don't worry, Mother," Mitch added. "It doesn’t look like they disappeared too far from here. Perhaps Andi fell off Taffy and got a bump on her head. Maybe some farmer took her in and she's still mending. That's the only explanation for her being separated from her horse."
"I hope so, Mitchell,"  Elizabeth replied,  "I hope so."

Go here for Scene #9

 

3 comments:

  1. Awesome! I am loving this! By the way... FIRST COMMENT!

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  2. I love these!
    ~lulu

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  3. Like I said I LOVE geting to see some one else's side of the storie:-D

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