Runaway Part 2
“Levi? You mean our Levi?”
“Yes Betsy, it’s from our Levi.”
“Why is he writing us now?” Sam griped. “Doesn’t he know he did enough damage already and . . .”
“Boy,” Ryan said. “That is enough. You don’t even know what he’s writing about.”
“But Pa! Not only did Levi run away, he didn’t write for years. Now he’s writing, and I wish he hadn’t.”
With that statement, Sam stomped out of the room.
“Sorry about that, dear,” Ryan said. “I’m not sure why he exploded like he did, but I’ll talk to him later. What does the letter say?”
Dear Mama and family,
I reck’n it was long time overdue I wrote to ya’ll, but I’ve not really felt like it till the present.
I’ll start right off by making it clear, I ain’t planning on coming back. I feel like I don’t fit into the family anymore. I want you to know that I am sorry for all the trouble I caused. I’m doing fine so don’t be worried sick.
Mama, I’m sorry for yelling at you. It was rude and really awful of me and I’m sorry. Mr.Cunnings, I’m sorry for undermining your authority so often. Tell the kids I love them, and sorry.
Levi walked along the train track, kicking at the stray weeds that ran along the rails. The thoughts that filled his head were of home and of the future. A train started coming into view. Soon the train was rushing past. The wind ruffled his hair. There were words written in gold paint on the side of the engine, Fresno Express.
“I reck’n I could give Fresno a try.
So Levi headed to Fresno. He looked forward to seeing his family there. Along the way he decided he would not use his real name in case his family there would send him home. After a couple days of walking he reached Fresno.
Fresno hadn’t changed much since Levi had been there last, which had been about three years ago. He had been visiting his grandmother, and his three uncles and two aunts. His Aunt Melinda, and Uncle Justin were all married. He wasn’t sure if his Aunt Andi or Uncle Chad or Uncle Mitch were married.
“Well, I reck’n I could try to get a job in town, but I would have to give my real name.” So Levi walked towards the livery where a ”help wanted” sign hung from the window. A man who seemed to be about twenty answered the door to the barn office when Levi knocked.
“Howdy, my name is … Troy Cunnings.” Levi used his pa’s first name and his step-pa’s last name.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Cunnings. I’m Cory Blake. How can I help you?”
“I was wondering if I could try as the help you needed here.”
“Sure, but have you had any experience around horses?”
“Yes, sir, when I was younger I was on a ranch for a little while and the last couple of years I have worked in other stables.”
“All right, you can have a two-week trial, and we’ll base it on your performance in those weeks if you can stay on permanently.”
“Thank you, Mr.Blake, I…”
“Just call me Cory. From the looks of it, you don’t look that much younger than I am. Anyways, if you want to you can sleep in the barn loft and eat your meals with the family.”
So arrangements were made and Levi had a job. Now only if he could keep from being recognized as Levi Swanson.
That evening Levi was having dinner with the Blakes, but it wasn’t just the Blakes. It was also the Carters from the Circle C ranch. Mrs. Carter, Mitch Carter, and Andi Carter. Also Justin and Lucy were there.
“Carters, I’d like ya’ll to meet Troy Cunnings. He is our new stable hand. Since Pa died with that heart attack I’ve had trouble keeping up with all the work at the livery, so I decided it was time to hire some help.”
“Well, I completely see why you need the help. You work from early in the morning to late at night,” Cory’s ma said.
“Oh, Ma, You don’t need to worry about that any longer. Troy came today.”
“So where did you come from, Troy?” asked Chad.
“Lately I’ve been all over the place.” Levi replied slowly. He was not too eager in front of the Blakes and Carters. The last thing he wanted was to be discovered once he had found a job. The rest of the meal went calmly. Nobody asked any personal questions.
After breakfast the next day Levi headed to the barn. He was eager to get to work. Not only did he need a job, but he was also excited to work around horses again. The last time he had really worked with western horses was when he was ten or eleven.
He had learned to ride at the Circle C ranch. “Uncle Mitch sure taught me quickly. That was my favourite time of my life. I loved being able to be on the ranch and getting to work with my uncles on the range.”
Levi opened the barn doors and headed down the aisle to the farthest stall, where Cory had told him to start. He put the halter on the head of a handsome brown mare and started to lead her down the aisle towards the gate to the coral, when the sound of a man’s voice and the sound of a gun hammer being pulled into place, stopped him in his tracks.
To be continued . . .