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JACKSON STUDDER — “I was a pass-around kid my entire time growing up. I never knew my dad and had no real memory of my mother. Various aunts and uncles took me in, until they couldn’t stand me any longer. Then they’d pass me on to someone else. Everybody was certain I was on a path leading straight to prison.”

SHERFF JIM STUDDER — “I caught Jack breaking into a store in the middle of the night. While sitting in the patrol car I explained to Jack that he is actually sitting at a major crossroads in his life.

Then I  locked Jack in a cell for the remainder of the night. Only instead of going home, I stayed behind in the lockup and kept watch over him.

Next morning I took Jack down to the local café and bought him the Big Burrito and Eggs breakfast, followed by a full stack of pancakes. The kid was hungry.”

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During breakfast they share a few laughs about some of the goofier individuals and regular characters about town. Somewhere between the Big Burrito and the pancakes Jack begins to open up.

The two of them had their run-ins in the past, but Sheriff Jim always thought young Jack had a good head on his shoulders. The lack of guidance in his life was a shame.

So right there Sheriff Jim lays it out for him: “Only way you’re gonna avoid a long stretch in the penitentiary at Deer Lodge, son, is if you move in with me. Live in my house and allow me to show you a few things. And I can help you get back into school.”

Jack looks at Sheriff Jim in disbelief. Now here is somebody asking Jack to move into his house.

“You’d do that for me? Why the hell would ya?”

“ ‘Cause you remind me of myself long ago. Back then someone cut me a major break. No good reason for it, other than they had the ability to do so. Blew my mind, as you’d likely put it. So I’ve always thought that a young person who shows some promise deserves a break in life . . . when it matters most. And right this very second, Jack, is when it matters most for you. Otherwise, you are surely headin’ into a world of serious hurt. It’s one you’ll never survive. You’ll be dead ‘fore you see eighteen.”

“You tryin’ to scare me?”

“No way. It’s just the God’s honest truth, Jack. Choose wrong here and you’re fucked flat. I can’t put it any plainer than that. Yunno. I ain’t the kind to hold back. I call it the way I see it. And most times, I call it right on the money. Yunno, Jack, I’m a long ways from bein’ a genius, but I do the best I can with what I got. I try to give folks a fair shake. I know this here part of the country, ain’t easy on a young feller. But when you get out there, see the rest of this world, then you’re gonna find out what hard times are really all about. Ain’t nobody out there is gonna give a flyin’ fuck neither.”

Jack nibbles his pancakes in silence. A quarter of the way through the big stack, his pace picks up. Nearing the end, he scoops some huckleberry jam and more maple syrup onto his plate. When everything is gone and Jack seems about ready to lick the plate, he looks up at Sheriff Jim and says, “Okay, sir. You’re on. Ya got me. And I sure as hell will give it my best shot. I can promise you that much.”

“Can’t ask for more than that, Jack. You got clothes, belongings and stuff you need to fetch?”

“No, sir. Not really,” Jack says. “I’d like to start fresh, if you don’t mind.”

On their way home they stop by the western store, where Jack picks out some new jeans, shirts, underwear, boots, a warm coat and a hat. When they reach Sheriff Jim’s abode on the edge of town, Jack thinks the place must be the most bedraggled-looking wreck of a house he’s ever seen. “Looks like you could use a little help yourself,” Jack says.

“Yeah, she’s really somethin’, huh? And, yunno, there’s horses and dogs out back, too.”

“Sweet,” says Jack.

And that was that.

More to come! Stay tuned!

* * * *

will be available as a
FREE eBook.

* * * *


Cheers and Happy Reading!
Adam James

Blackdog Publishing

Copyright 2020
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in ANY form.


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