Pack Hunters : Chapter Two

Bobby woke with a start in the pitch black of his room. The creaks and groans were the only sounds reaching his ears and those were just the usual sounds of the pastoral ranch house settling. His alarm clock had not even sounded yet. Bobby’s excitement of the upcoming day and the adrenaline that accompanied it were enough to get him up and going early. It had, in fact, almost made sleep the night before impossible. Bobby hated to lie to his mom, but he knew she would never agree to let him go with his friends if she knew what they were doing. Ever since his dad died last year, it seemed she was even more overprotective than before, if that was possible. It was that and the little fact that they were skipping school in order to conquer their latest feat. Bobby felt that since he was such a good student, missing one day of school wasn’t going to hurt anything. He just didn’t feel he needed to tell his mom.

His plan was to meet up with friends at school and leave his truck parked there in case his mom drove by later in the day. He already had a friend’s older sister planning on calling the school for him to get him excused, although that was one thing good that had happened since his dad died. The teachers at his school were so worried about his “mental health” that they hardly ever questioned anything he did. He could have set the gym on fire and they would have said it was no big deal. Bobby figured taking advantage of the situation just a little wouldn’t make him burn in hell.

Plus, he didn’t have the heart to make his mom worry any more than she already did. He felt so bad for her, trying to keep the ranch going without any extra help. He tried to offer to do home schooling so he could help her but mom was having no part of that. She had said to him, “Bobby, you are only young once. Something really bad happened to us, but I’m not going to let your dad’s death completely end your childhood. You’re growing up faster than I’m ready for as it is. Don’t worry about me or the ranch, I’ll make it work.” With that said, the subject was closed.

Bobby’s dark brown hair fell forward toward his piercing green eyes. His thick black eye lashes framed the unusual color, which drew unwanted compliments when he was younger, but was something he was quickly learning was an asset. He ignored the girls, or least attempted to look like he was whenever they drew around to laugh and coo about how pretty his eyes were. His crooked grin gave him away, however he hadn’t figured that out yet. His frame was quickly maturing into one of a man, however the lankiness of his size still betrayed him once in a while, a reminder to those around him that he was still a kid. It infuriated him because he wanted to grow up so quickly. He was tired of answering to those around him and was ready to take on the world. Little did he know what worries and frustrations came with the responsibility of being an adult. Instead of the freedom kids expected to receive, the worries and everyday jobs were many times daunting to the freedom one expected. Sooner than he knew, Bobby would be experiencing that himself, long before his childhood was expected to be over.

Wanting to show his maturity, Bobby did try to do what he could to help him mom out. That was why he had planned to get up extra early this morning before meeting his buddies at the school so he could break the ice on the animal’s water for his mom and feed the other animals. He didn’t want to feed the cattle because that would have meant starting up the old Case tractor and his mom never would have slept through that. He could lie to her on paper but having to do it to her face was more than he could handle. Bobby just couldn’t miss out on what his friends had planned for today.

He quietly threw his worn, patchwork quilt back over his bed and left the note for his mom on his pillow. He knew she would see it when she came to wake him up. Since he told her in the note that he was making up a test, he was sure his mom would never question it because she would be too busy this morning with chores. Quietly, he tiptoed down the ranch house’s wooden stairs, being careful to skip the second one to the end to avoid the loud squeak. Sneaking out the back door to the barn, Bobby carefully closed the worn, screen door behind him and quietly said a prayer his mom wouldn’t wake up.

The cattle were on edge, Bobby noticed, as he walked to the barn. “Wonder what their problem is,” he thought as he waded through the murkiness of predawn and into the light of the barn. Without another thought toward the livestock, Bobby took care of his chores, taking an extra minute to give his buckskin team roping horse and his gray calf roping horse an extra little cup of grain and a pat on the neck. “I’ll get you out of here soon for a ride, guys,” he mumbled to the horses, to ease some of his guilt for ignoring the geldings the last few weeks. “See you tonight,” he called over his shoulder, heading toward his old ’58 Ford truck.

It had been his dad’s old work truck but when he died, Bobby claimed it as his own. His mom never questioned the acquisition and seemed to rather relish seeing the old truck still being utilized. Bobby knew that it make him feel a little closer to his dad whenever he was sitting on the old bench seat in the cab of the truck. For months after his death, Bobby could have sworn the truck still smelled like his dad. He never would have told anyone that though, for fear of being called a weirdo or sissy. It had kept him from changing anything in the old Ford, though, except for the oil when it needed it.

Climbing into the cab to sit on the saddle-blanket seat covers, the anticipation for the day hit and Bobby could hardly keep the giant grin from consuming his face. His snowboard was snuggly hid behind his seat, wrapped in an old blanket to protect it from being scratched. Bobby felt exhilarated as he drove down the dirt driveway. His day was going to be awesome!