PLEASE DO NOT READ IF: You want sex. It's not here enough to interest you; if you are looking for a professionally edited work; or, if you do not like detail because this story gets very tedious at times. But if you just want to enjoy reading about how relationships can develop under the strangest of circumstances, I hope you will read and enjoy. There are occassional sexual moments but this is not about sex. The story is about people whose lives are changed in ways they would never have imagined.
My name is Scott Macland. I am 40 years old. I stand just a hair over 6'2". I tipped the scales at 189 lbs. the last time I stood on them. After twenty years of serving my country, I retired from the military two years ago, and I have worked at staying in shape since then. I served in a Special Forces unit in the U.S. Army for most of the years I was in uniform. I was a Lt. Colonel when I made my last salute. I served in several areas of conflict in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and a few places I cannot name. My parents were killed in an automobile accident when I was ten years old. I was bounced around from one uncle or aunt to another during my school years. Money from the legal settlement I received because of my parents’ death was invested. I had money but no home. I was aimless and without any real purpose in life. As a result of my troubled and scattered upbringing, I entered the army after high school.
While in uniform, I earned a college degree. I wound up attending OCS (Officer Candidate School) and receiving my commission. I was married for four years; however, my wife seemed to be unable to adjust to the life of a military wife. I can’t blame her. I went on missions I could not tell her about in places I could not identify. Going to work in the morning and not returning for two months was common for me. I was assigned to an overseas mission which she could not share. After three months, I received the divorce documents from her lawyer. I signed and returned them. I have only spoken to her one time since then, and that was right after I mailed the papers back to her. I am grateful we had no children. I’ve lived alone now for more than fifteen years.
I am from the south; however, my various assignments took me all over the country. I fell in love with the southwest and it was in these wide-opened spaces that I decided to settle following my separation from service. My investments give me financial freedom. I have a fairly good retirement check directly deposited into my bank account each month. I had saved a sizeable amount over the years. So, when an army buddy of mine contacted me about a piece of ranch property that was available in the southwest, I checked it out. The ranch was not large in comparison to many of those that cover this part of the country. But, being single and having a good income, I just wanted something that I could mostly handle myself. So, I bought the property. I hired an experienced Mexican who taught me the ropes of ranching. Over the last couple of years, I’ve picked up enough knowledge that I now have a small herd of cattle and several good horses. I am satisfied with my life. I enjoy early morning rides into the hills on the western side of my spread. My closest neighbor is two and a half miles. Valencia, the nearest town, is fourteen miles. Stoner, the nearest town of a size that provides a discount store, chain restaurants, medical care, and auto service is about sixty miles away.
Having no family and not interested in having one, I am what most folks would describe as a “loner.” It is not that I don’t like people or have friends. Most folks in town know me by name and occasionally I’ll sit down for coffee at a local diner with other ranchers and discuss the price of beef and feed. Occasionally politics will be to the topic of conversation. I usually leave that one alone. I spent too many years having to kowtow to politicians and cope with decisions they made without any knowledge or understanding of what was really needed to win a war or bring peace to a region in the world. When asked my thoughts on some matter currently on cable news, my usual comment is “no comment.” For me that is sufficient to express how I feel.
I was returning from town late on Friday afternoon of Labor Day weekend. It was raining, which is a welcomed event in this part of the country. The trip from town takes me along a state highway for about twelve miles. I then take a county road to the cut off to my place. If being in the “middle of nowhere” describes any place, it’s my ranch. The rain had washed most of the dirt from the windshield of my truck. The remainder of bug splatter only came off with a good glass cleaner. With the rain and the smear made by my wipers, I was having trouble seeing the road. I drove slowly to keep from hitting a deer or antelope that frequented the area. I topped a hill and barely saw a car that had pulled onto the shoulder of the highway. As I neared it, I noticed a woman standing next to it holding a piece of plastic over her head as an umbrella. As anyone in this part of the country would do, I slowed to a stop next to the car. I lowered the passenger side window.
“You need help,” I asked. The lady appeared to be in her thirty’s. Her clothes were soaked.
“Yes. My car quit.” She stuck her head through the window out of the rain. “We were just riding down the road and it started jumping. It finally just stopped. I can’t get it started again.”
“I’m no mechanic, but I’ll take a look at it.” I had on a poncho with a hood. I took off my cowboy hat and pulled the hood over my head before getting out of the truck. I turned on my emergency blinkers, not that I expected anyone to come by. No more than a few cars a day traveled this highway. As I walked around my truck, I looked toward the car. I saw two heads through the window. The water on the glass prevented me from recognizing gender or age.
I told the lady to open the hood. She sat in the driver’s seat and pulled the latch under the dash, allowing the hood popped up. I raised it and looked at the engine. The car was a fairly beat up, older model Ford. The paint was in bad shape and a couple of the windows were cracked. I could smell coolant. I turned on the flashlight from my truck and looked around under the hood. What I saw was coolant dipping off the block. Not being a mechanic, I could only guess. But from past experience, I believed the lady had a blown engine.
“Ma’am,” I called to her. “I think your engine may be gone.”
She had a look of dismay on her face. “What am I gonna’ do?” she asked. “I’ve got my two girls here.” I glanced through the driver side window into the back seat. There were two young girls with blank stares on their faces.
“I really don’t know, ma’am,” I said. “You’re a long way from anyone who can work on your car.” I already had unpleasant thoughts running through my mind. Anyone would stop and help a stranded motorist. But usually it would be for a flat tire or a need for gas. But here was a lady and two girls stuck in the middle of nowhere with no way to get the help she needed. With it being Labor Day on Monday, there would be no way for this car to even be looked at until Tuesday.
“Ma’am,” I said to her. “I live a couple of miles that way.” I pointed in the direction I was going. “I reckon you and your girls better come with me. There’s nothing can be done now in the rain.” I paused, not really wanting to say the words, but the circumstances made them necessary. “You can’t stay here and my place is the closest. Once we get to the house and out of this rain, we’ll figure out what to do.”
She turned to the back seat. “Well, you heard the man. Get your stuff and let’s go.” Her voice was gruff and angry, but I attributed that to the situation she was in. I would have been a bit irritated myself. The back door opened and the first girl slid across the seat. She was wearing a short skirt and a tank top with calf-length red boots. She had long brown hair and several piercing in her ears. She clutched a bag in her arms. As she got out of the car, she spread her legs. I had a clear view of her panties which were pale blue. As she got to her feet, she looked at me. It was obvious she knew I had seen up her skirt. She appeared to be around sixteen years of age. I’m no judge of the age of teens. The second girl was younger. She had on shorts and a T-shirt. She was wearing thong sandals. She also had a bag. I opened the back door of my crew cab and the girls climbed into the truck. The mother opened the passenger’s door and got in as I walked around to the driver side.
“Will my car be okay?” the lady asked.
“Well, one thing for sure,” I replied. “Nobody’s gonna’ drive it off.”
“There’s nothin’ in it worth stealing,” said the older girl from the backseat. I noticed the sullen look on her face in my rearview mirror.
Nothing else was said for the next few minutes. “By the way, my name is Scott Macland,” I said. “Can I ask how you happened to be on this road?”
“I’m Judy. These are my two girls, Regina and Madison,” she said, motioning to the back seat. She did not identify her daughters by name. “Well, we’re heading west. It looked like a short cut on the map.”
“I see,” I said. I decided to accept her response. This road was a shortcut to nowhere as far as I was concerned. There was a major interstate about seventy miles south that went all the way to California. We were silent until we got to my house. I pulled as close to the house as I could rather than going into the garage.
“Okay, we’re here.” We all got out of the truck and went inside. “Make yourselves at home,” I said, motioning to the chairs and sofa. “There’s a bathroom down that hall to the left.” The younger girl headed in that direction. “Would you like something to eat or drink?” These three looked a bit travel-worn.
“Something would be nice, but we don’t want to be any trouble for you.” She looked around the kitchen. “You’ve done a lot already.” She looked at her clothes. “If you don’t mind, I think I”ll put something else on.” She followed the younger daughter.
“I’ve got some sandwich stuff in the fridge,” I said as I walked toward the kitchen. “I’ll let you help yourself. I’m not much of a cook.” The older daughter said nothing.
The mother returned wearing a sweatshirt. “Regie, come in here and make yourself a sandwich,” she called out. Within a minute the older of the two girls came in. “Where’s Madie?” the mother asked. At least I now knew which girl went by which name.
“I don’t know,” was the reply with something of a surly voice. The one named Regie began to make a sandwich.
“There are Cokes in the pantry there and ice you can get from the fridge door,” I said, motioning toward the pantry door. I took several glasses down from the cabinet and placed them on the counter. “You’ll have to excuse the place. I live here alone and I’m not much of an entertainer.” Regie seemed to ignore me. Judy seemed to be concentrating on something else. Again, I assumed she was upset about her car.
The younger daughter, Madie, came in. “You have a nice house, Mr. Macland,” she said. “There’s an animal head above your fireplace.”
I laughed. “Yes, ma’am, there sure is. It took me a week to find that fellow.” I shot the elk on a hunting trip my first fall here.
“You shot it,” she asked with some degree of skepticism in her voice.
“Yep.” I looked at her. “You can fix something to eat if you want.” While my guests were eating, I went to the room I used as an office to make a phone call to a mechanic from town. I apologized for calling on a Friday evening. When I explained the situation, he said he could look at the car on Tuesday. He also said he could tow the car on Tuesday but it would cost extra. I hung up the phone trying to figure out what to do about the weekend. Having guests had not been in my plans. Having three females in the house was as far from anything I could even imagine. I made my way back to the kitchen. I replayed the conversation to Judy and her daughters.
“Well, Mr. Macland, I’m sorry.” Judy seemed nervous to the point of almost shaking. Again, I assumed she was just upset and embarrassed about all that had happened.
“Not much you can do about it; or me for that matter.” All three were staring at me. “I reckon you need to sleep here tonight. We’ll decide what to do tomorrow morning.” One factor that had to be considered was there was no motel in Valencia. There were no rooms for rent. As to what could be done until Tuesday, I was hesitant to admit. For the moment, my thoughts were that I had three strangers, all females, in my house. I asked them to follow me. I took them down the hallway and pointed out the two guest rooms. The house had been built by a family with several children. There were four bedrooms and three full baths. I used one bedroom as my office. I had the master suite for my personal area. The two guest rooms each had a queen-sized bed. There was a bath between then with access from the hallway. “I’ll allow you to decide your own sleeping arrangements.” I started to walk away but turned and said, “There are towels in the bathroom. If you need anything else, let me know.”
There was little discussion as I walked toward the kitchen. I heard Judy announce she would take one room and the girls would share the bed in the other. I could hear them respond but could not make out what was said. I went into the kitchen and cleaned up from the preparations of their sandwiches. I was trying to put in perspective that these ladies might be with me through the weekend. I was also trying to come up with some alternative. Judy walked back into the kitchen. She sat at the table.
“I want to thank you for doing this,” she said. Her voice seemed strained. I glanced at her. Her eyes were hollow looking. Her hands shook to the point that she clasped them and placed them in her lap
“Judy, maybe you all would be more comfortable at a motel. There is not one in Valencia but there are several about an hour’s drive from here.”
“I don’t know how we would get there,” she stated.
“Well, there is a bus that passes out on the highway every day between seven and seven-thirty each morning.” I was trying not to sound too anxious for them to take the bus the next morning. “I suppose it will still run tomorrow.”
“Mr. Macland, I only have four-hundred and twenty-seven dollars to my name. “I can hardly afford a motel for the three of us.” She looked away, trying to avoid eye contact.
“I understand. Then, I reckon you will stay here. We’ll see what happens on Tuesday.” Judy got up and left the kitchen. I continued cleaning when I realized that I had not eaten anything. I quickly made me a sandwich. I was eating it when Madison walked into the kitchen. Her hair was wet and she was wearing a nightgown. I assumed she had taken a shower. She was barefooted. Her gown was pink with animals on it and the fabric was fairly thin.
“Can I get me something to drink?” She walked toward the refrigerator before I could answer.
“Sure, there’s water and ice from the door. I’ve got soft drinks and sweet tea, too.” She opened the door and leaned down to examine the contents. She reached for a soft drink can. This did two things. It caused her gown to ride up a bit and stretch across her adolescent ass. It also caused the armhole to fall open. With the light from the fridge shining through the thin fabric, I could tell she was wearing no panties. I also got a clear profile of her left breast. It was small, about the size of half an orange. But the areola was very pink and very puffy. The nipple was just a small bump atop the areola. She retrieved the drink and closed the door. I quickly focused my attention on my food.
Within a few minutes, Regie walked into the kitchen. She was wearing a T-shirt that was just long enough to cover her ass. It was obvious she was not wearing a bra. As to whether she had on panties, I could not tell at that moment. I had some bananas in a basket on the counter. She picked one out and held it up.
“May I have this?” Before I could answer, she began peeling it.
“Help yourself,” I said. I finished my sandwich and cleaned off the counter.
“Can we watch tv?” Madie asked.
“Sure.” I walked out of the kitchen and toward the seating area. The house was very open. The den and dining area were together. The kitchen opened into the den. There was an eating bar that separated the two areas. The fireplace was built in a corner between one exterior wall and the kitchen. The LCD wide-screen was on the top shelf of an entertainment center. I had a satellite system to receive tv channels. Madie plopped down on the sofa, grabbed the remote, and touched the power button. She began to surf through the channels.
Regie walked in eating the banana. She sat in one of the overstuffed chair. She pulled her feet into the chair over to one side of her hips. I sat in my recliner out of habit. It happened to be on the opposite side of the sofa from the chair Regie sat in. When she sat and pulled her legs into the chair, the T-shirt rode up. Her legs parted just enough for me to see that she did not have panties on either. I could see the slit between her thighs. From what I could see, she was shaved. I did my best to keep my attention on the tv although I had no interest at all in watching what Madie finally decided on as a program. After enduring this program for a bit, I rose.
“Well, I have some work to do. You girls enjoy. If you need anything, let me know.” I went into the office and began looking through some bills that needed paying. As I worked, the image of that teenage pussy popped into my mind from time to time. After a few minutes, I heard Judy speaking to her girls. She sounded angry but I was not about to interfere. I was writing a check when there was a knock on the door.
“Sorry, Mr. Macland.” It was Judy. Like her daughter, she was wearing a T-shirt. There was a sports team logo on the front. It was longer that the one her oldest daughter was wearing. I felt a sense of relief over that.
“Yes, Judy, it’s okay. Come in.” I turned in my desk chair as she walked into the room. “Again, I want to thank you for what you are doing.” She seemed to be a bit calmer. I thought maybe the shower had eased whatever tension or anxiety she was feeling.
“You’re welcome. People around here try to help each other. I’m sorry you are having problems but I feel sure we can get things worked out.” I spoke with more confidence than I felt. If the car engine was blown, there is no way it would be repaired for four-hundred dollars.
“I think I’m going to bed. The girls want to stay up for a while if that’s okay. I hope you don’t mind if they watch tv.”
“No, it’s fine. I’ll be finished here in a while.” I paused. “I’m sure they will go to bed soon.” I was hoping they would go to bed soon. Judy left and I heard the door to the bedroom close. I finished my catch up work and walked back into the den. Madie was stretched out on the sofa asleep. Regie had the remote in her hand.
“Anything good on?” I asked, not really expecting an answer. It was obvious that Regie had an attitude. I attributed that to her being a teenager. I was surprised when she actually spoke.
“I guess it depends on what you like.” She flipped through the channels as I sat in my recliner and raised the footrest. She stopped on one of the movie channels. I recognized the movie as a crime drama that had been showing the last several weeks. It was rated R because of language, nudity, and sexual content. I sensed that this young girl was trying to figure out what pushed my button. A nude scene came on the screen. The woman had more than ample breasts with large nipples. Some man was ravaging them. I glanced toward Regie. She was looking at me.
“Do you think this is appropriate for you to watch?” I asked her. I think she was trying to embarrass me. She failed at that. I was going to call her bluff if that is what she was doing.
“I’m seventeen,” she said. “And I already know about sex.” She shifted in the chair, allowing me a clearer view between her legs and under her T-shirt. At that point I knew it was deliberate.
“So, you think this is hot, do you?” I wanted to challenge her arrogance and show her she could not shock me. I would not allow her to test me in this way.
“I’ve seen hotter,” she said. She laid down the remote.
“So have I,” I responded. “But this is all fake. This is just a movie.” I was not sure why I said what I said. I was thinking that I would make less of it than it was. There is not much about real life in some movies.
I watched the movie as the scenes changed and the drama continued toward solving a murder. I ignored the teen sitting across from me until I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked over at Regie. Her left hand was massaging her right breast through the fabric of the T-shirt. Her right hand was between her legs, which were spread far enough for her to be touching herself. She looked at me.
“Is this real enough for you?” She had a defiant look on her face. She was determined to rattle my cage. It seemed as though she needed to test me, to see what kind of man I am.
“If you say so,” I said. Although my cock stirred a bit, I was not about to let her see that she could turn me on this way. If she was trying to seduce me or manipulate me, I would not allow her to take control. “But I still think it’s fake.” I turned my attention to the tv. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that she removed her hands from between her legs and her breast.
Madie stirred. Regie got up and went to her. She helped her sister stand. “We’ll go to bed now,” Regie said coldly. They walked down the hall. I heard the door close.
“Whew, that was close,” I said to myself as I adjusted my semi-hard cock in my jeans. “I think I’ll go to bed, too.” I showered and crawled between the sheets, nude as usual. I went to sleep pondering what the next days might hold.
I never set an alarm. The years in the military trained my brain to have a wake-up clock of its own. There was just a bit of light in the sky, at least forty-five minutes before the sun was completely over the horizon. I relieved my bladder and slipped into my boxers. I pulled on sweat pants and a T-shirt after washing my face and shaving. I was thinking that my day would be a routine Saturday when it came to me that I had three female guests asleep in my guest rooms. I made my way to the kitchen and made coffee. While it brewed, I drank my usual glass of grape juice. I decided I would wait until Judy and her girls were up before I prepared breakfast. I sat down with my coffee and turned on my favorite cable news show. As it grew lighter outside, I got up and looked out the window. The rain had stopped and most of it had soaked into the ground. I knew there would be mud in places, but I needed to tend to the horses later.
“Good morning, Mr. Macland,” I heard a young voice say. I turned to see Madie walking into the room. She was holding a stuffed rabbit with floppy ears. “That sure is a good bed,” She said as she yawned. She plopped down on the sofa and stretched. When she raised her arms, she pushed her legs out. Her gown rose up. I really wasn’t making an effort to look up legs but she opened them wide enough that I saw the innocent slit between two slightly puffy lips. She finished her stretch and pulled down her gown. There was complete innocence and naivete in her movements. The last thing on her mind was being a sexual tease, much unlike her sister the night before.
“I’m glad you slept well.” I looked at her as she cuddled her bunny into her body. “Would you like some juice?” She nodded as she pulled herself off the sofa. She plodded barefoot across the tiled floor of the kitchen. “I only have grape juice. Is that okay?” Again she nodded, yawning again.
“Maybe you need to go back to bed?” I said. She was cute, not old enough to be beautiful yet, but I could tell she had potential. Her hair was light brown. Her skin was smooth and fair. I had the thought that she looked nothing like her mother or sister.
“No, I’m okay. I always have trouble waking up.” She sat at the table and sipped her juice. When she finished, she went back to the sofa and laid down with her bunny. I began thinking about what to prepare for breakfast. I had no idea what girls ate.
I looked over the bar. “Madie, what do you eat for breakfast?”
She looked over her shoulder. “I don’t know. We usually don’t eat breakfast.” I was surprised at that.
“I’ve got some cereal but it’s not kids’ cereal. I can make toast. I’ve got some frozen waffles.”
“Yeah, that sounds good. I would like some waffles.” She seemed to perk up a bit. I got the box of waffles out of the freezer and laid some out on a plate.
“Will your sister want some?”
“I don’t know. She never eats.” She scanned channels with the remote as I got out plates and syrup. I glanced at her from time to time. She was laying with her legs toward me. They were bent at the knees, swinging back and forth. Again, her gown was high enough for me to see all the way between her thighs. I wasn’t really turned on, but the sight was mesmerizing.
“I’ll put some waffles in the oven to heat, okay?”
“Okay,” she said. She slid off the sofa. “I’ll go get dressed.” She headed toward her bedroom.
I arranged the waffles on a cookie sheet according to the directions for oven heating. I placed them in the oven and poured syrup in a coffee cup and placed it in the microwave. I poured myself more coffee and put forks on the table. Madie returned in a few minutes wearing the same clothes she had on the night before. I wondered if that was all she had. Within a few minutes, Regie walked down the hallway. Her hair was messed up. She actually looked attractive without the makeup she had worn when she arrived. She still wore her T-shirt. I assumed she was naked underneath.
“Good morning,” I said to her. She rubbed her hands over her face without speaking. “Typical teen,” I thought to myself. “Why don’t you wash up and I’ll have some waffles ready in a few minutes?” She turned and walked back down the hall. I heard a door close. The waffles and syrup heated. I called Madie to the table. She came in, still carrying her bunny. She was eating when Regie walked in. She was also wearing the same short skirt and tank top from the day before. She was without the boots.
“Did you sleep well?” I asked her, placing a plate of waffles on the table. “What would you like to drink?” She sat down.
“Milk I guess,” she said sleepily. “What time is it anyway?” She groaned.
“It’s almost nine a.m.” I somewhat laughed. “The day is half gone.”
“Yeah, right,” was the only response I got. Regie tore off part of her waffle, dipped it in the syrup, and put it in her mouth. She licked her fingers and tore off another piece, doing the same with it. I wanted to say something about eating with a fork but decided that was a battle not worth fighting.
“Does your mom sleep late?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Madie answered as she chewed. “We usually get up on our own.” Regie said nothing but continued to eat.
The girls finished and I asked them to put their dishes in the sink. They did as I asked. “It looks like you’ve been traveling for a while. Do you have any clothes that need washing?” The girls looked at me as though they had never heard anyone take any interest in their needs before.
“I guess I have some stuff,” Madie replied. “Regie does, too.” They left the room, returning in a few minutes carrying clothing. I showed them where the washing machine and dryer were located and showed them the cabinet with the washing supplies. They busied themselves separating clothes. I put the dishes in the dishwasher.
“I’ll go check mama’s stuff,” Regie said. She walked out. She returned within a few moments. “Mama’s not in there.” I looked at her.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that she’s not in the bedroom.” There was sarcasm in her voice.
“Maybe she’s in the bathroom.”
“I looked. She is not in there. Her bag is gone.”
I rushed down the hall and entered the bedroom. The bed had been laid on but it did not seem to have been slept in. I walked around the room. What caught my attention was the top of the chest of drawers. There was a white powdery residue scattered over an area. I looked at it. I licked my finger and touched it to the powder. I smelled it. I put it to my tongue.
“Oh no,” I said in a whisper. Years in the military educated me about drugs. I saw many soldiers strung out on it. It was cocaine. I turned toward the door. Madie and Regie were standing there.
“Mama’s sick, Mr. Macland,” Madie said.
“She’s not sick, stupid. She’s a druggy,” Regie stated harshly. They both looked at me. I am sure my anger showed on my face.
“Where would she go? How would she get there?” At that moment it dawned on me that I had three vehicles–a heavy duty truck used for hauling trailer loads of cattle and horses; a mid-sized pickup that I used for lighter duty; and, a mid-sized SUV I drove when I was tired of the other two. I rushed passed the girls. When I got to the den, I opened the door. My pickup was where I left it. I had a bowl sitting on a table by the front door. I checked it. The truck keys were there. The SUV keys were gone. I ran though the kitchen and the laundry and storage rooms to the attached garage. I kept the heavy duty truck in an outbuilding. My pickup and SUV were usually parked in the garage. I turned on the light. The garage was empty.
“Oh my lord,” I said out loud. I returned to the kitchen. The girls were just standing there, hands at their sides. Madie had tears in her eyes. “Do you know where she might go?” I asked as calmly as I could.
“We were headed for California,” Regie answered. “We don’t know anyone around here.” She paused. “We don’t know anyone in California either.” I thought for a minute.
“You know I need to call the sheriff, don’t you?” Madie nodded. Regie showed no response. I walked to the phone and looked for the number on the magnetic list on the refrigerator door. I dialed the number of the Valencia police. The one and only deputy of a two-man force answered.
“Johnny, this is Scott. I’ve got a problem.” I quickly explained the events of the afternoon before. Then, I told him that the mother had taken my SUV and that her daughters had no idea of where she might go. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they were telling the truth. He took the tag number and description of the vehicle. He assured me he would contact the county sheriff’s department and put a bulletin on a website used by law enforcement agencies at every level.
After I hung up, I looked at the girls. They were looking at me. We stood staring at each other for a few moments.
“What are we gonna’ do?” Madie asked. She was obviously scared and worried.
“We’ll do what we always do,” Regie said. “We’ll get by.”
“You mean she’s done this before?” I asked with surprise.
“She has left home for several days before,” Regie stated. “But she never stole a car before.”
“And what did you do?” I was genuinely concerned about these girls. “How did you get by?”
“We ate what food we had. We stayed at home. She came back.”
“Well, maybe she will this time, too,” I said. “But there is a problem. If the law catches her in my car, they will arrest her. If she’s on drugs, they’ll really arrest her.” The girls were obviously worried. I felt I needed to say something. “Look. Maybe she’ll come back. Until she does, you will stay here.” That seemed to offer some relief. “Now, why don’t you finish doing your clothes.” They went into the laundry room. The clothes had washed and they put them in the dryer. I busied myself in the kitchen, trying to think through what was happening.
We were sitting in the living room when the phone rang. We all jumped. I quickly answered it.
“Hey, Scott. This is Franklin.” I recognized the voice of a friend whois a state trooper. “I hear you had your SUV stolen.”
“Yeah, it was taken out of my garage last night sometime.”
“I see.” He paused. “Let me ask you. Have you been out your road to the highway this morning?”
“No. I’ve been here all morning.” I wondered where this was going.
“We located your vehicle. It’s parked on the side of your road at the state highway.” One of my boys spotted it. It looks to be in okay shape. No damage.” He laughed. “You sure you didn’t drive it out that way and forget it? You know you’re not as young as you used to be.”
“Really funny, Officer. Can I go get it or is it a crime scene?” He laughed again and told me I could get it anytime I wanted.
“Hey, next time try to remember where you parked it.” I hung up and turned to the girls.
“The SUV is at the highway. She left it at the highway.”
“What?” Regie almost shouted.
“Then where is she?” Madie asked, almost crying again.
“I don’t know.” Then it came to me. “I think she may have taken the bus.” The girls looked at each other. I could see the worry on their faces. “Regie, can you drive?”
“Yeah, but I don’t have a license,” she said.
“You won’t need one. Let’s go get my car.” We got into the truck and headed for the highway. There it was, parked on the shoulder. It was unlocked and the key was in the ignition. We got out of the truck. I directed Regie to get behind the wheel. “Just follow me back to the house, okay?” She nodded. I turned the truck around. She turned around in the road and followed me to the house. We parked in the driveway.
After we were in the house, we sat in the den. I told the girls we would wait for their mom.
“What about our car?” Madie asked. I told them we would go for their car and take it to the mechanic explaining that he would look at it after the holiday. Madie acknowledged that they did not have money. I told her we would only get an estimate and go from there. The rest of the morning they watched tv and I did some work in the barn. As I worked, I thought about the girls. I decided that I would sit down and talk to them. There was information I needed. I had planned and conducted a number of military operations. Nothing that I had experienced in my life prepared me for what was about to take place. My world was about to change in ways I could never have imagined.