A Collector Series Story
Charles W. Bird
©2011 – 2014
Josiah Meister was a lonely, unhappy old man at age 65. His only child, Josiah Meister, Jr. had just been returned to him in a body bag from Iraq and he was returning to his West Texas ranch after burying his boy, Captain Josiah Meister, United States Army. He had lost the boy's Mother in childbirth and had raised his son on their 6,000 acre cattle and horse ranch. Josiah Meister, Jr., always known just as Jr., had gone away to college at Texas A & M and then joined the United States Army to "do his duty". As he had in college, Jr. excelled in the Army, winning early promotion and commanded a battle tank company. The two had been extremely close, more like brothers than Father and Son, the Father cringed every time the telephone rang, but it was the arrival of a black car and a tall Army Officer stepping out of it that nearly crumpled him to the floor. He knew, before the officer ever knocked on his door what the message was. Now, as he drove back to his empty home, it was as if he had died himself.
Life on the JM2
The day after Christmas, Joe and Juan were sitting in Mama Rosa's kitchen, drinking coffee. Joe was thinking and then asked Juan, "Juan, how many kids do we send to the county school from the JM2?"
Juan thought for a few minutes and then replied, "With Billy now, we send 15 boys and girls to Marfa each day."
Joe then asked him, "How much work would it take to fix up the old JM2 School House? That was where you and I went to school when we were kids."
Juan replied, "Oh, a couple of days with the carpenter, maybe a day for an electrician and, I guess, the old wood fired heater needs replacing, also. As I remember it from when I was a boy, it wasn't worth much in the winter!"
Joe told him to have the work started immediately and then left for his office.
Once, alone in his office, he got on the telephone to Chester Neumann, his lawyer, "Chet, I want you to notify the school board that we are going to reopen JM2 School House as soon as possible. Then, I want you to hire two male school teachers and get them here yesterday!"
He continued, "I don't give a damn, pay them whatever it takes to get them here! Don't hang up, I got more! Get in touch with Aggie, I want a young fellow to work as a Business Agent for the Ranch and NO I am NOT done yet! I want papers drawn up creating a JM2 Corporation and I want all the properties and businesses included in that corporation."
He completed his call and swiveled his chair around to hang up the telephone. He chuckled and, with a huge smile on his face, thought, "Billy, I'm not done with you just yet son, there is gonna be a whole lot more!"
The next day, Juan had the Ranch Carpenter and an electrician he called in from Marfa, busy fixing up the old 1890's school house. New windows were installed, new doors, and new toilets were put in. The electrician installed all new lighting and electric baseboard heating was also installed.
On New Year's Eve, Chester Neumann brought out two young men who had graduated from Sul Ross University, up in Alpine the previous summer, to be interviewed by Joe.
Joe sat them down and asked them why they didn't already have teaching jobs, they both looked down and then replied bitterly, "Nobody wants gay school teachers in Texas."
Joe said, "Are you child predators?" to which they both vigorously said they were NOT! He continued, "You two are together, aren't you?"
They both said that they were so Joe laid it out for them, "I need two school teachers who can live in a bungalow here on the ranch and teach 15 rowdy ranch kids."
They said, "You mean you would hire us?"
Joe just asked, "Do you have your bags with you?"
They nodded, yes and Joe told them to stow their stuff away in the Teacher's Bungalow and go help get the school house ready for the start of school next week. He told them they were on the "payroll" as of NOW!
Chester Neumann laughed at the two men, whose eyes were slightly glazed over and said, "Guys, get used to it, there will be MORE. Besides, he took pity on you, he usually says YESTERDAY!"
Joe wasn't done, not by a long shot!
As soon as the New Year's celebrations were over, he started calculating, he wanted to donate funds to Texas A & M, where Jr. had graduated and he thought that maybe he had better cover his bets at Sul Ross also.
He again called Chet Neumann and told him to set up a trust fund of $5 million to the Agriculture Department at Texas A & M, then do the same for Sul Ross in their Department of Education.
Next, he called the bank and set up an account for Billy and deposited $50,000 in it. He also did the same for Antonio. They told him he would have to come up and sign for the accounts and both boys would also.
After school the next day, he loaded both boys up in the truck and headed to Marfa. The boys couldn't understand why Joe was doing this, but when they asked him, all he did was smile.
While they were in Marfa, they stopped at Lawyer Neumann's office to sign the corporation papers, the boys were also asked to sign and when they again asked why, Joe smiled and said, "Because you both are directors of the JM2 Corporation!"
They didn't comprehend what that was, yet.
On the way back to the ranch, Joe decided to take the unpaved back road, as it was a little shorter and it was a change of scenery. They came up over a rise and noticed smoke coming from a clump of trees.
Always worried about fire on the rangeland, Joe stopped the truck and headed towards the trees on foot, with both boys following him.
As they got near, they heard boy's voices, so Joe motioned for quiet and they approached what appeared to be two boys camping. Joe motioned for Antonio and Billy to go around the opposite side, to cut off the boys if they decided to run. Both boys wondered why he was worried about the boys running away.
Joe came into the clearing and found two boys sitting on the ground, one looked to be about 16 and the other looked about 10 years old. Both jumped up and started to run, but Antonio and Billy blocked their way.
Joe said, "Guys, we aren't going to hurt you, we are just worried about fire! You are not in trouble from us."
The older boy said, "Sir, we are just resting here, my little brother couldn't walk any further and we are out of food."
Joe replied, "How about you come with us, our ranch is just over the next hill and I am sure our cook can find something for you guys to eat."
The little boy started to cry and said, "Please Davy, I am so tired and so hungry, I just can't go any further."
At that, Joe scooped up the little boy and put his arm around the older brother, telling them that a hot bath, supper and a clean bed waited for them at the Ranch House.
The older boy reluctantly agreed, so they all trooped back to the truck, Joe put the two brothers on the back seat and made sure they had their seat belts latched, the three of them hopped into the front seat and continued towards the house.
Joe was thinking, "Something isn't right here?"
As soon as they pulled up to the house, Joe jumped out and guided his two visitors into the warm kitchen, where Mama Rosa sized the situation in seconds. She stirred up some hot coco and set it in front of the two boys.
Joe, wisely, went into the living room, leaving Billy and Antonio to talk with the visitors.
Mama Rosa busied herself in the pantry, where she could hear but not be seen.
As soon as the two had finished the coco, the older boy jumped and told his brother it was time to go, the little boy started to cry and said, "But Davy, I am so tired and so hungry, can't we just stay for a little while?"
At that, Billy, with his own problems still fresh in his own mind, put his arm around the little boy and looked at the older brother, "Guys, I know my new Dad will let you stay, he rescued me only a few months ago."
He continued, "I don't know what your problems are, but I KNOW my Dad can help you both, please stay with us."
Immediately, Mama Rosa stepped out of the pantry with a cured ham to be put in the oven and two pies for dessert. She looked at the two boys and said, "Mister Joe doesn't allow hungry boys here, they gotta eat their fill before he will let them go!"
The older brother broke down and started crying; Antonio and Billy held him and told him that nothing was more important than their safety. They just had to at least stay the night.
Antonio led the older boy to the bathroom, where he could wash his face and compose himself.
When he returned, Joe was seated in the kitchen and motioned for the boy to come talk with him. Joe led him into the office and closed the door.
He started, "Now, what has happened that you boys are running?"
The boy replied, "How, How did you know?"
Joe said, "I just know boys, I want to help you but you need to tell me the truth, OK?"
At that, the boy completely lost it, sobbing as Joe held him.
When he had cried himself out, he started, "I am David Metzger and my brother is Liam. Our parents were killed in a car accident a little more than a year ago and we had no relatives so I was put with a family and Liam was put with another family. Mine wasn't so bad, but the family that had Liam used him as a slave. Look how skinny he is, they fed him almost nothing. He finally ran away and I was lucky to find him. Come with me, I will show you what they did to him."
He got up and went back to the kitchen, with Joe right behind him. David lifted up his little brother and pulled up his shirt, there were whip marks on his back, deep red welts! When David lowered his brother's pants, there were deep red, oozing sores from repeated beatings.
Before anyone could move, Mama Rosa screamed and gathered up the little boy and held him to her bosom, daring anyone to interfere!
Joe stood there, dumbfounded, and then he rushed to the telephone to call Dr. Bob and Johnny Jeans, telling them to get their butts down to the JM2 yesterday!
Mama Rosa cuddled the little boy and soothed his cries.
Billy and Antonio were side by side with David, telling him that he did the right thing and that Papa Joe would make things right for them both. The two boys walked David to the couch and held him as he cried in relief, letting his fears wash away with the tears.
Dr. Bob arrived with Sheriff Jeans tailing him. Mama Rosa wasn't going to let loose of Liam anytime soon, so she accompanied Dr. Bob to the bedroom where he could examine the boy in privacy.
As they peeled the boy's clothing off, Mama Rosa gasped and literally flew into the living room. She grabbed Johnny Jeans and told him if he didn't take care of whoever hurt that boy, SHE WOULD!
Dr. Bob took Liam to the bathroom and gently washed him in a tub of warm water, then dried him carefully before plastering his back and buttocks with a soothing, medicated salve.
Mama Rosa brought a bowl of her own hurt boy medicine, chicken soup, and fed Liam. As soon as he finished the soup, he promptly fell asleep, so they took him into the spare bedroom and covered him before they turned out the lights, leaving the door cracked open in case he woke and became frightened.
Josiah again asked David to come into his office and speak with Sheriff Jeans. David was reluctant, but he did as he was asked. He told them that they had both been living in San Juan and they were just running. They had no destination except to get away from Liam's abusive foster parents.
Johnny Jeans then made a decision, "David, as Sheriff, I am also the Chief Child Protective Services Officer for this county. I am going to place you both with Josiah Meister, here at the JM2 Ranch. If you don't think you can stay here, let me know and I will find another place for the two of you. There is no way I am going to allow you to go back to San Juan."
David stood up and went to Joe looking deeply into Joe's eyes, "Sir, will you take care of us and not hurt Liam any further?"
Joe just hugged the boy and told him that whatever happened, he AND his brother would be taken care of and loved here at the JM2 Ranch.
Joe picked the boy up and carried him to the bathroom, showing him where the soap and towels were kept, telling him that he would lay out some clothes for him and then it would be time for lunch.
As soon as he had bathed, David peeked out of the bathroom, he spotted a shirt, trousers and clean socks and underwear neatly piled on the floor. He pulled them on, doing without shoes, and followed the delicious smells that were coming from the kitchen.
Mama Rosa had the table set for all of them and steaming bowls of soup were at each place, along with a plate stacked high of fresh baked bread, fresh churned butter and glasses of milk for each boy. They all sat to the table and David attacked the food like he had not eaten in a week, which he probably had not.
He shyly asked Mama Rosa if he could have more soup and she placed the whole kettle in front of him so he could help himself!
In the meantime, Sheriff Jeans had departed back to his office. He called his counterpart in San Juan to start legal action to separate the two boys from their foster parents and have them charged with child abuse of young Liam.
Johnny Jeans sat at his desk, thinking, then picked up the telephone and called Chester Neumann, the lawyer. When Chet answered, Johnny said, "Chet, why don't you file papers with the county and state making the JM2 a foster home for boys?"
Chet replied, "Johnny, what has Joe gotten into now?"
Johnny explained what had happened and said, "I suspect Joe is going to make a habit of collecting hurt boys, let's make it legal and official!"
The next day was the first day of school at the JM2 Schoolhouse. The two new teachers, Andrew Long and Jerry Baxter, were nervously standing by the door. Andrew would teach the junior grades 1 – 4 and Jerry would teach 5 – 8.
It would be fairly simple as the school house had two class rooms. All 16 of the school children, now that David Metzger had joined them, were standing in front of the schoolhouse.
Liam Metzger was still on the sick list, but would join then in a couple of days.
Andrew and Jerry introduced themselves and then sorted out the grade groups before entering the classrooms. They had agreed to give everyone an orientation test to make sure each child was correctly placed at grade level before beginning formal classroom teaching.
They were pleasantly surprised at the level of education all the children showed and the eagerness to learn.
At recess, the older boys took charge and organized games that included the younger children, kickball seemed to be the favorite. Both men were a bit concerned about the condition of clothing on some of the boys and they determined to speak with Josiah about this at first opportunity.
The new facilities in the old schoolhouse worked well, each room was pleasantly warm and well lighted. At lunch time, all the children trooped to their homes and all were back, ready for afternoon studies by 1 pm.
The school hours were 9 am to 12 noon and 1 pm to 4 pm. There was recess at 10:30 and 2:30 for 30 minutes each. Both men were delighted at landing such a good position and were determined that their students would all excel.
They both quickly became favorites by all the students and soon their concerns about being gay teachers were forgotten!
By mid-January, Chet Neumann called Josiah and told him he had located a candidate for Business Manager and he would bring him out for an interview the next morning.
About 9 am the next morning, Chet arrived with Jordan Knowles, a December graduate from Texas A & M University. Jordan was a lean, almost skinny young man with a prominent Adam's apple and flaming red hair that defied all attempts at combing!
He had just turned 22 years old and had no family, both his parents had been killed in a small plane crash two years earlier. Their insurance had barely covered burial costs, with enough left over to pay his tuition until graduation.
He was neatly, if slightly threadbare, attired and very anxious to land this job. He knew that, as a gay man, jobs were going to be difficult to find especially in Texas and he really did not want to leave his home state and all he knew for another place that would be strange to him. He was a fourth generation Texan and proud of his heritage.
Josiah greeted them at the door and welcomed them to the JM2. He told Chet to go in the kitchen and get a cup of coffee while he spoke with the young man.
He led Jordan to his office and shut the door, saying, "Well, tell me about yourself."
Jordan told him about his schooling, his grades and the fact that he had been orphaned while in school. Josiah listened intently, not only to what Jordan said, but how he said it.
When Jordan had finished, he asked him, "Is there anything that would prevent you from working here?"
Jordan hesitated, then felt he had to be honest with this man and replied, "Sir, I am gay, will that be a problem?"
Josiah laughed and said, "Well, I have at least one son who may be gay, two gay school teachers and now a gay business manager. When can you start?"
Jordan shook his head, making his unruly hair go every direction and replied, "As soon as I can get my suitcase from the motel in Marfa!"
Josiah handed him a set of keys to a ranch truck and told him to go get his belongings. By the time he got back, a bungalow would be opened up for him and he could start work the next morning.
Still shaking his head in wonder and his own good fortune, Jordan drove off to get his belongings and start a career that would last him his entire working life! He would retire from the job of Business Manager and remain living in his little bungalow until his own death.
After Jordan had left, Chet Neumann strolled into Josiah's office and sat down. "Joe", he began, "It's time we made official some of the crazy stunts you are doing. On Johnny's suggestion, I have here some paperwork for you to sign, making the JM2 a state sanctioned Home for Boys. Next, you need to sign the final papers for the JM2 Holding Corporation."
Joe started signing a stack of documents and Chet continued, "I have a report here from Blackstone Drilling and Exploration that you need to read. That piece of property you bought over at Junction shows promise for both oil and gas. They are asking permission to perform some seismic studies to make sure before they drill a sample bore."
Joe looked the report over and thought for a few moments, "Maybe you had best look for a geologist for me, too?"
Chet replied, "I already thought of that and I will have one for you to interview next week."
Just as he said that, the radio burst to life, "Ranch 1, this is Picket 1 calling, over."
Joe replied, "This is Ranch 1, go ahead."
The radio squawked again, "Ranch 1, this is Picket 1 – I have a boy here who appears to have fallen and broken his leg. We are at County Road 2 and Willow Springs Road, Over."
Joe replied, "Picket 1, I am leaving now with the truck, I should be there in 20 minutes. Cover the boy and keep him warm until I get there. Ranch 1, out!"
Joe said to Chet, "Call Dr. Bob and tell him to get his butt out here ASAP! I will meet him here with the boy!"
Without waiting for a reply, Joe ran out the door and left in the truck, heading for Willow Springs Road like all Hell's Furies were on his tail.
It was a wild ride, the weather was still bad and visibility was poor. It was close to a half hour before Joe spotted a horse tied to the fence and a man waving his hat at him.
Joe jumped out of the cab and ran to where his picket rider was standing. He had wrapped the boy in his blanket roll and was standing over him to keep the boy from going into total panic.
Joe knelt down to pick the boy up when the boy spoke, "Are you Mr. Joe?" and Joe told him he was.
The boy then said, "Oh, thank God" and he passed out.
Puzzled, but needing to care for the boy, Joe picked him up and gently laid him on the back seat of the cab. After arranging a seat belt over the boy, he thanked the picket rider and headed back to the JM2.
When he arrived, Dr. Bob's car was already in the drive and the truck that Jordan had used to go get his belongings followed him up to the house.
Jordan got out at the same time as Joe and when Jordan saw that Joe was carrying a child, he helped carry the boy up the stairs and into the house, where Dr. Bob was waiting.
They took the injured boy into the bedroom and laid him down so that they could treat his injuries. As they were removing the boy's trousers, the boy started to come around. He looked frightened, rapidly looking at the three men.
He said, "You are really Mr. Joe?" Joe said yes and the boy heaved a great sigh, "You are real, you are REAL. Thank God now I am safe!"
Dr. Bob told him not to try and talk right now, they needed to stabilize him and get him to the hospital to set that broken leg. Mama Rosa brought in some dry sweat pants and a sweat shirt for the boy, and Joe and Dr. Bob lifted him and carried him back out to the truck and put him on the back seat.
Dr. Bob rode with them and they headed to the hospital in Marfa. Jordan remained at the house where Mama Rosa made sure he wouldn't starve to death!
At the hospital, after studying the x-rays, Dr. Bob determined that it was a simple fracture and proceeded to put the boy's leg in a cast.
While they were waiting for the plaster to harden, Joe talked with the boy and asked him his name and where he was from. The boy replied, "I am Donnie Phelps and I was living on the streets of Austin."
Joe then asked him, "What are you doing here, so far from Austin?"
Donny said, "In Austin some boys told me that a Mr. Joe would help me if I could get to him, are you REALLY MR. JOE, the man who helps boys?"
The Man Who Helps Boys
As they were wheeling Donnie Phelps out the door of the hospital to the waiting truck, Dr, Bob was shaking his head and thinking, "What is Joe getting himself into?"
Then he said to Joe, "If you are going to keep this up, maybe you ought to think about a corpsman or a medic at the JM2!"
Joe laughed and started the truck towards home. As he drove down the road, he began thinking, "Bob meant that as a joke, but maybe having a medic at the ranch is not such a bad idea"
When they arrived at the JM2, Juan was waiting, he picked up the boy and delivered him to Mama Rosa, who was ready with an age old remedy for hurt boys, a Mother's Love and Chicken Soup!
After Donnie had rested, Joe sat down beside him and asked him what he meant about finding Mr. Joe. Donnie was hesitant to talk, but Joe assured him that nothing he could say would make him angry.
Donnie said, "Mr. Joe, all the boys living on the streets in Austin know of a place of refuge called Mr. Joe. If you can get to Mr. Joe, you will be safe." He continued, "Please Sir, can I stay here with you, if I have to go back to the streets I ain't gonna survive!"
Joe told him, "Son, you can stay here or somewhere else if you want, but you are NOT going to go back to the streets! NO WAY!"
He continued, "Now you get some rest and mend that broken leg. I will leave the door open and if you need something, you just call out. The boys will be home from school shortly and they will keep you company."
Chet Neumann was waiting in the living room when Joe came out of the bedroom. He laughed and said, "Joe, you might want to put a sign out front, "BOY'S REFUGE!"
Joe replied, "Chet, it isn't funny, that boy got hurt trying to find ME! What are we going to do to help these kids?"
Then he turned and faced Chet, "Find me a medic or corpsman right away! LIKE NOW!"
Chet grumbled and headed back to town to file the documents Joe had signed. He wondered where he was going to find a medic and then he remembered that his deceased wife's nephew was in the Navy Reserve Unit in El Paso, maybe he would have an idea.
As soon as he got to the office, he called Marge's nephew and asked him. He was told to call the Reserve Unit as they keep a list of members who were looking for jobs. After making a few calls, he told one young man to come down to Marfa, he would guarantee his expenses. The young man said he would come down the next day.
When Chet arrived at his office the next morning, there was a nicely dressed young man waiting at his door. He said he was Carl Traminer and that he had an appointment with Mr. Neumann this morning. Chet said, "I am Chet Neumann, come on in and I will take you to see Joe Meister and his Boy Farm at The JM2.
Carl asked, "Is he the Mr. Joe the street boys in El Paso are talking about?
Startled, Chet replied, "Yeah, maybe."
After Chet had looked at his messages, he told his secretary that he was going to the JM2 and suggested that Carl follow him. When Carl asked him why not ride together, Chet told him that the last two people he brought down to the JM2 stayed there, EMPLOYED!
Carl said, "Well, at least I have my suitcase with me!" and went for his car.
When the two arrived at the JM2, Joe was waiting for them, Chet's secretary had called ahead to warn him.
While Mama Rosa was plying Chet with coffee and a fresh sticky bun, Joe took Carl into his office to talk. Joe was impressed with the young man's manner and knowledge. He had done a tour as a Navy Corpsman in Afghanistan and wanted to continue the same type of work. He wanted to get married, but needed a steady job before he felt he could ask his girlfriend to marry him.
Joe then said, "Can you work with boys, some of whom are gay and around other gay men?"
Carl replied, "It is none of my business what a person's preferences are. They are people and deserve my respect and trust. Yes, I can be around gay people with no problem." He was thinking of his best friend, who had been killed in ‘Stan, Georgie had been forced to hide the fact that he was gay. Nobody would suspect a six foot, four inch Marine of being gay, but Georgie had lived in fear that someone might find out. Carl was the only one who knew.
Joe continued, "How soon can you come to work?"
Carl's reply was a simple, "Now."
Joe then told him he would have a bungalow opened up for him that day and that housing was included in the job. Carl was delighted at that, he wouldn't have to find an apartment in Marfa and commute.
Joe led him into the bedroom and introduced him to Donnie Phelps then left them to get acquainted.
Joe had told Carl that he could order any instruments, medicines and equipment he needed in order to open a First Aid Room and any other needs that he felt would benefit the folks and boys at the JM2.
Carl walked around, looking at what and who were there. He met Antonio, who showed him where the First Aid Room was.
Carl sat down and made a list of things he needed. When he showed the list to Joe, he merely shook his head and pointed to the telephone. When he called a medical supply house in El Paso, they knew immediately who the JM2 was. Carl read off his list to the order taker and was told it would be delivered the next day!
Carl wondered just what and how big an organization the JM2 was! Little did he know that more than 50 years later, he would be still wondering that same question!
After ordering his supplies, he sat there pondering the question, WHO is MR. Joe and why do the street boys know about him. He had done volunteer work among the homeless boys in El Paso and Mr. Joe was the principal subject of their talk. He knew that Donnie had been a street boy and that he knew the story about Mr. Joe that was going around, so he sat down beside the boy and started to talk with him, gaining his confidence.
In a bit, he asked Donnie what he knew about Mr. Joe.
Donnie told him, "It's like a legend, if a street boy can get to Mr. Joe, he is gonna be safe, not be hungry or cold or scared anymore and nobody is gonna hurt him. It's like a dream come true, magic like!"
Carl wondered if he had slipped into a dream or something, it was like a fairytale.
The next day, after spending the night in his bungalow, that was more like a house than an apartment, Carl met the medical supply truck and together, they unloaded his supplies.
One of the first things unloaded was a wheelchair, which Carl pushed immediately into the bedroom where Donnie was laying. He said, "Hey, kid, wanna bust outta here?"
Donnie saw the wheel chair and tried to get up by himself, Carl said, "No way, I gotta protect MY job, I'll help you." He was laughing as hard as he could! He got Donnie into the wheelchair and showed him how to get around in it.
As he was walking back to the First Aid Room, he heard Donnie telling Mama Rosa, "I'M FREE! I'M FREE!"
He smiled and hoped that all his patients would be as easy to please!
The phone started to ring and when nobody seemed to answer it, Carl picked up in the First Aid Room. He answered as "JM2 First Aid Room, how can I help you?"
He heard, "This is Sheriff Jeans, I got a couple of customers for you, tell Joe I am bringing him 3 boys and one is kinda bad off."
Carl asked, "What do you mean, bad off, I'm Carl Traminer, the new JM2 Medic."
Joe replied, "Glad to meet you, I got a boy who has been beat pretty bad and Dr. Bob is not in the office."
Carl replied, "Get him here fast, I'll be waiting at the door for you – RED LIGHT!"
Carl knew that was the universal code for coming in under flashing lights – FAST!
Carl ran into the main part of the house and found only Mama Rosa, he told her that the Sheriff was coming in with hurt boys and he needed assistance.
Mama Rosa ran out on the porch and began to beat the living daylights out of the steel triangle – The Ranch's emergency alarm!
Just as Carl got the double door open to the First Aid Room, Johnny Jeans came screeching in under full lights and siren. Men came from all directions to help.
The brand new gurney got baptized in blood as Johnny carried in a bleeding boy. He told Carl that his deputies were bringing Dr. Bob, but it would be a while before they could get him there as he was at the other end of the county.
The two other boys were only slightly less hurt than the first! Carl had no choice, he had to use his battlefield experience or lose the boy.
He cut off the boy's trousers and probed for the bleeders, tying them off as he cut. Mama Rosa was holding a compress on another boy to slow the bleeding and Jordan Knowles, who had responded to the alarm, was doing the same on the third boy.
Finally, Carl got the bleeding down to a slow dribble, so he changed places with Mama Rosa and went to work on Boy #2. Unexpectedly, the boy began to bleed profusely. Carl knew the femoral artery was cut.
There was not a second to lose. He cut into the boy to locate both ends of the severed artery and, finding them, he clamped both ends off before he began to suture the two ends together. What seemed like only seconds, when he looked at the clock, 2 hours had passed!
As he moved to the third boy, he looked up and saw Dr. Bob standing there. He invited Dr. Bob to continue.
Bob said, "You are doing just fine, son. Go right ahead!"
After nearly 5 hours of work, all three boys were stabilized.
Carl was concerned. He was only a Medical Technician, NOT a doctor. Was Dr. Bob going to report him or get him in trouble? After he washed up and cleaned the First Aid Room and with the boys resting comfortably in the small ward adjacent, he went to see the doctor.
Dr. Bob held up his hand and said, "Son, if you had waited for me, those boys would have been dead. You did mighty fine work there. They will be thanking you for their lives!"
Joe and the sheriff were waiting in the living room, Carl was still a bit shaky, so Joe had him sit down and Mama Rosa brought him a cup of coffee. Joe said, "This is exactly why we needed YOU. Those three boys in there are alive because YOU acted as YOU had been trained to act! We all can rest easier knowing that YOU are here to take care of our hurts and injuries."
That made Carl feel better, but he was still uneasy until Dr. Bob reminded him of the "Emergency Responder Act" that protected those who respond to emergency situations just like that one.
Since he had not had time to supply his new bungalow, Carl was invited to join them for supper. Mama Rosa and fixed Prime Rib, Mexican style with strips of mild chilies layered on the top. Apple pie and ice cream finished the meal and he was stuffed.
Billy and Antonio served light meals to the boys in the infirmary and David pushed Donnie in his wheelchair out to eat with everyone else. Carl's impression was one big happy family!