CHAPTER TWO HUNDRED and FIVE
Wednesday afternoon — 1:25 p.m.
There was a solid “Whump” and Jeraine screamed.
Bumpy sprinted across the open plain in the direction of the sound. Turning the corner, he saw Jeraine on his hands and knees. Blood poured from his mouth.
“What happened? What happened? What happened?” he yelled as he ran. Jeraine shook his head. As he neared, he heard a braying and a donkey’s head peered from behind a tall Cottonwood tree nearby.
By the time he reached Jeraine, his son was sitting up and holding a handkerchief to his mouth.
“What happened?” Bumpy dropped down to Jeraine.
“That thing kicked me,” Jeraine said.
“What were you doing? Trying to mount it?” Bumpy asked.
Even in pain, the absurdity of the question made Jeraine laugh.
“Yeah, Dad, I got so horny out here in the middle of nowhere. Since you were over there by the house, I thought I’d get me some donkey,” Jeraine laughed. “Don’t tell Tanesha, okay?”
Sitting back, Bumpy laughed, and then he saw Jeraine’s mouth.
“Oh lord, your mother is going to kill me,” Bumpy said.
“Why?” Jeraine asked.
“Your girlfriend broke some of your teeth,” Bumpy said.
“Oh,” Jeraine put his hand to his mouth. Two of his incisors had broken off near the gum. “Shit.”
He spit out a glob of blood from his mouth.
“Shit?” Bumpy asked. “You don’t seem so upset about it.”
“You remember when I had gold teeth and a diamond right there?” Jeraine asked.
“I remember when you looked a fool,” Bumpy said.
“Turns out all that gold weakens your teeth. This one on the right broke when they took the diamond out,” Jeraine said. “They capped the teeth. I guess I’m going to have to spring for implants now. Wanna loan me the money?”
“Sure,” Bumpy said. “How’d it happen?”
“I must have I startled the donkey-beast,” Jeraine said. “It was lying in the shade under this tree when I came around from the river. It hopped up and gave a little kick.”
“And caught your mouth,” Bumpy put his head back and laughed.
“That donkey was fast,” Jeraine said.
“Let me take a look at you,” Bumpy said.
Jeraine let Bumpy look at his mouth and lips.
“You’re mouth is going to swell up. You’ll be pretty bruised; nothing looks broken though,” Bumpy said. “Jeez, you’re filthy. How did you get so dirty?”
“Hanging out with you?”
Bumpy looked down at his own clothing.
“We’re a match,” Bumpy said. “I have some ice in the truck. We’d better get back.”
“You want to stay out here?” Jeraine asked. “I don’t want to spoil the day.”
Bumpy turned to look at him.
“I’m enjoying spending time with you,” Jeraine said.
“Me too,” Bumpy said.
“If you want to stay for more…”
“No, it’s all right, son,” Bumpy said. “There isn’t much more to see here.”
“I like it,” Jeraine said. “I tell you sometimes I wish I could move out to a little cabin in a place like this – only dirt roads in, no way out in the winter, not press, no phones, no Internet, no cops, no drugs, no noise. In the middle of the noise and people and press and… this would have been paradise to me.”
Bumpy put his hand on Jeraine’s shoulder and nodded. He got up and held out a hand. Jeraine took it and hopped up. They started walking back to the truck.
“You going to do it, Dad?” Jeraine asked. “You going to let the oil people have the mineral rights?”
“We’re in the middle of this part of the Niobrara oil field,” Bumpy said. “If we don’t, the other’s won’t be able to either.”
“We don’t need the money,” Jeraine said.
“I thought you were broke,” Bumpy said. “Needed to borrow money for your teeth.”
“I am, but…” Jeraine pulled a wad of money out of his pocket. “I have this.”
“What are you doing with all that money?” Bumpy scowled.
“I thought you were in trouble,” Jeraine shrugged. “I didn’t know what, but I figured I’d get as much as I had in case you needed it. If we needed more, I’d sign a loan or call Schmidty.”
Bumpy’s eyes became moist. He nodded to Jeraine and cleared his throat. They were silent for a moment to let the emotion pass.
“Itth not enoutth for teeth,” Jeraine’s mouth had started to swell.
Shaking his head, Bumpy chuckled. They walked in silence.
“This land belongs to your Grandmother,” Bumpy said when they neared the truck. “She’d get the proceeds from anything they pulled out of the ground here. Outside of buying her a house, she’s never let me… help. Maybe with this…”
He shook his head and got into the driver’s side of the truck. When Jeraine got in, Bumpy held an ice pack out to him. Jeraine pressed it against his mouth and grimaced.
“You ever owe someone everything and have no way to repay it?” Bumpy asked.
“Yeth,” Jeraine nodded and looked into his father’s eyes. Bumpy started the truck.
“There sure is a whole lot of nothin’ out here,” Bumpy said.
Denver Cereal continues on Monday…