Steve was already home by the time Miss Bessie, Arf and Annie got back to the ranch. A policeman had picked him up at the airport and taken him to get his truck. It was unbelievable to him that a young kid had picked up the keys he had dropped and decided to take the old truck for a spin.
“Miss Bessie,” Steve said. “Thanks for saving my truck. It sounds like that kid was determined to abscond with it. I guess it’s hard to give up the truck of your dreams once you’ve found it.”
(Steve and his 1971 chevy C10 Cheyenne)
“Now Steve, I believed Clark when he said he got carried away and just wanted to take it for a spin. He was about to turn around and take it back where he found it, when I caught him.” Miss Bessie put on her apron and proceeded to start supper. “I feel sorry for him. He’ll be spending the night in jail, you know. Do you intend to press charges, Steve?”
“I probably should, don’t you think? We’re not sure that was his intentions at all. By the way…how do you know his name is Clark?”
“I don’t. He just looks like a Clark to me. Why don’t we go pay him a visit after supper. We can take him some meatloaf and a piece of Helen’s apple pie. He’s in the county jail in town which isn’t that far. I just don’t like driving at night.”
Arf to Annie: Well, it looks like we’ll be taking another one to raise. That Miss B. is something else. Here we just finished tackling the guy so we could grab the keys from him and lock him inside the truck, and now they’re going to take him apple pie.
Annie: I’ll bet you scraps to bones that they bring him home with them.
Annie won the bet because when Steve and Miss Bessie got home, they had Clark with them. We’ll probably never know what his real name is, and he won’t hear it as long as he lives in this house.
Arf: I can’t wait to find out what his story is. He can’t be older than about sixteen or seventeen. I wonder where he’s been living.
Annie: I wonder if he has a mom and dad and brothers and sisters that are wondering where he is.
Brad and Jamie had gotten to the ranch just before supper. (At the last minute, Brad had decided not to make the trip to Ireland with Barbie and Tom…for several reasons.) When they heard the story of Clark’s caper, neither was surprised that Steve had dropped the charges and brought him home.
“We just couldn’t leave him in that cold, nasty, place,” Miss Bessie said. “I’ll fix up a nice room for you after you’ve had a chance to relax a little. Would you like another piece of apple pie, Clark?”
“Thank you Miss Bessie,” Clark said. “I couldn’t eat another bite. I’m not used to having such good food to eat. I don’t believe I’ve ever had such tasty food, before.”
“Don’t you have a mom and dad?” Katie asked. “They usually cook for their kids.”
“I used to, but it got a little crowded around there, and me being the oldest, they thought it was time for me to move out.”
“When did you move out?” Katie was asking the questions while everyone curiously waited for Clark’s answers.
“Day before yesterday,” he said. “They gave me $200.00 and I took it to the airport and bought a one-way ticket. I told them I wanted to go as far away as a two hundred dollar ticket would take me. I landed at the airport where Mr. Steve’s truck was and I still have $25.00 in my pocket. I guess they couldn’t make it come out even.”
Arf: Look Annie… Brad has been sitting in his chair with his finger to his chin which usually means he’s thinking hard. Watch…he’ll get up in a minute and have a plan for young Mr. Clark.
Annie: Don’t you like Clark, Arf? I think he just did something stupid because he wasn’t thinking straight. He just had to move out of the only home he has ever known and fly to a new town far, far away.
Arf: You’re talking to a dog who lost his frisbee in a moving van and got stuck in there for fifteen hundred miles. I had no idea where I was when I got out. It was only through smart moves and perseverance that I found Miss Bessie.
What’s your story, Annie? I know you lived at the vet clinic where Jamie works, but you must have lived somewhere else first.
Annie: Oh, there’s a story all right. Someday I’ll tell you all about it. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to make friends with Clark.
Sure enough, Brad got up and walked over to where Clark was sitting. He pulled up a chair and sat down in front of him.
“Have you ever been in trouble before, Clark? It’s really important that you tell me the truth.”
“I ain’t never been to jail before if that’s what you mean,” Clark answered.
“Do you go to school?” Brad asked
“No Sir, I should be in tenth grade, but I barely got through the ninth. I had to go to work.”
“What kind of work did you do?”
“I was the assistant janitor at the school. Sometimes I helped clean the courthouse, too.”
When Brad asked if he had to clean the school he was supposed to be attending, Clark nodded his head.
“Boy that had to be uncomfortable.” Brad was suddenly a little more sympathetic.
“I have one more question for you, Clark. If I was to call that school and ask them what kind of worker you are, what do you think they would tell me?”
Clark looked Brad straight in the eye and said, “Well Sir…I think they would say, ‘That boy is a mighty fine worker, but that’s as close to a school as he should ever get.’ I don’t have an aptitude, I guess.”
Brad shook Clark’s hand. “You’re welcome to stay here if you want, but I’m putting you to work in the morning. Then we’ll figure out a way to get you some aptitude. How does that sound?”
“I’d like that very much, Sir.”
When Clark grinned, we could see he was missing a couple of teeth, but he had a sweet smile.