by Winnie


Part 2


Buck floored the accelerator and took the curve at full speed. He felt the tracker next to him and knew the younger man understood the need for speed. They’d both read the note from Chris Larabee, the words written in the strong hand sent chills through both men.


“Easy, Buck, we won’t do him any good if we roll the car,” the sharpshooter said as they sped toward a dangerous bend in the road.


“Ain’t gonna roll it!” Wilmington snapped impatiently as they rounded the bend. His breath caught in his throat as he spotted the familiar turnoff to the spread Larabee had bought for his family, his dead family, his murdered family. The words tore at his heart as he remembered the soft laughter of Sarah and Adam Larabee, forever silenced to the real world, but always alive in his mind.


“Can you see him, Vin?”


“His truck’s there, but I can’t see him!” the tracker shouted as they turned onto the gravel drive. 


“Fuck!” the ladies’ man swore as he pulled the car to a grinding halt in front of the burned out shell of Larabee’s ruined home. Tanner was out of the Mustang before it came to a complete stop, shouting for their missing friend.


“Chris!” the tracker shouted, praying they’d find Larabee before it was too late.


“Larabee!” Wilmington’s call joined that of the younger man as they moved toward the remnants of the once beautiful home.


“Chris! Answer me or I’ll kick yer ass inta next week!” the Texan warned as he searched the broken pieces of what had once been his friend’s life.


“Vin, over there!” the scoundrel shouted as he spotted a tuft of blond hair peeking out from under a piece of blackened wood.


“Shit! I got him,” the tracker said, moving toward his friend. 


“Go easy!” Wilmington warned as he joined the younger man. He knew Tanner was completely recovered from the burns he’d received when he hauled Larabee from the warehouse, but he didn’t want to chance him being re-injured.


Tanner moved quickly as he removed piece after piece of debris until the lean form was uncovered. To say that Chris Larabee had lost weight since his family’s murder was an understatement and Vin knew it was partially due to the drinking. He didn’t blame his friend for that, but he knew it was time to put a stop to it.


“Help me get him out of here, Buck!” the tracker said as he reached for the nearly empty bottle of whiskey clutched tightly in the blond’s left hand, ignoring the growl that emanated from the lightly bearded face of his best friend.


Wilmington heard the growl and knew Larabee was starting to come round. He moved behind the fallen man and reached for his arms.


“” Larabee snarled, his breath was foul to the two men helping him.


“I got him, Vin,” the ladies man said as he pulled the blond from the rubble.


“Get yer fu...fuckin’ ‘ands off me!” the blond spat, his slurred words evident of his drunken state.


“Just shut the hell up, Larabee!” Tanner ordered.


“We’re gonna help you out!” Wilmington said sharply.


“D...don’t nee...yer....fuckin’ hep...jesh lemme be!”


“Ain’t gonna happen, Larabee. Me and Buck’s gonna take ya ta see Dr. James...”


“Don’t need to s...see her...gimme my whishky!”


“No!” his two friends shouted as one. They carried the blond out of the rubble and placed him on the ground as his stomach rebelled against the weeks of binge drinking. The fact that none of them had seen this happening to the blond didn’t escape their thoughts as the retching continued.


The tracker looked up as Larabee’s shoulders finally grew still. He placed a hand on the shivering form and knew the blond would need psychiatric help to get through this. He would need to admit to himself that he had a problem with alcohol before he could let it go.


“Buck, help me get him in the car...”


“A...ain’t leavin’!” Larabee spat and struggled to stand up. His body shook with the effort and he sank to his knees in front of his home.


“Chris, ya need help!” Tanner said softly as the blond tried to pull away from them.


Larabee turned maniacal eyes on the young man beside him as he struggled to his feet once more. Weeks of only a diet of whiskey and cigarettes combined to make the world spin around him. He fought against it as he shouted angrily, taking out his grief on the two men closest to him.


“I don’t need your help!”


“Chris, you’re drinking...”


“Shut the fuck up, Buck! I don’t need you! Don’t need anyone!”


“Chris, let us help...”


“Not fuckin’ likely Buck! Look where your help got me! If you hadn’t helped me Sarah and Adam might still be alive!” the blond snarled as angry tears came to his eyes. He didn’t see the pain flash across Wilmington’s face at his harsh words, didn’t see the tears in the blue eyes.


Vin didn’t miss either of those things and he knew Larabee was lashing out because of the booze in his system and that he would come to regret those words. He latched onto Larabee’s blue shirt as the drunken man tried to stagger away from them.


“Let me GO!” the blond screamed and tried to pull away so he could escape from the tight grip.




Chris lashed out with his left hand, missing the tracker’s face by a fraction of an inch before the smaller man’s arms wrapped tightly around his chest. “Let me go, Tanner or so help me I’ll kill you!”


Wilmington reached out to help restrain his long time friend, knowing it was the alcohol and grief talking.


“Stop this shit, Chris!”


“Fuck you, Buck! Get off me!” Larabee snarled as the two men pinned him to the door of the car.


“Get the door open, Buck!” Tanner hissed as he fought to keep his friend in place.


“Can you hold him if I let go?” Wilmington shouted above the raging tiger known as Chris Larabee.


“Get yer cuffs!” the sharpshooter ordered and waited for the ladies man to reach into the glove compartment of his car.


“Get his arms behind his back!” the ladies’ man snapped.


“Don’t you fuckin’ try it, Tanner!”


“Get them on him, Buck!” the sharpshooter ordered as he shoved Larabee’s face onto the top of the car.


“Fuckin’!” Larabee warned as the cuffs clicked into place.


“Yeah, I’m sure you will,” Wilmington said as they turned the blond to face them. He was shocked as he got his first real look at Larabee’s face. The eyes were sunken deep in his skull, the skin held a gray pallor, and a week's growth of whiskers covered the lower half of his friend’s face. The lips and teeth were stained and the rank odor of stale booze and cigarettes turned his stomach.


“Jesus!” the ladies’ man swayed as he realized just how far his friend had sunk over the last few weeks.


“Easy, Buck, help me get him inta the back seat!” Tanner ordered.


“Get these fuckin’ things off me!” Larabee screamed as the door was opened and he was forced into the back seat. 


The two men ignored the irate blond as Buck climbed into the driver’s seat and Vin climbed in beside Larabee.


“You’d better call the hospital and let them know we’re on the way in, Vin. Tell them it’s suspected alcohol poisoning!” Wilmington shouted over Larabee’s screams of rage.


Tanner took out his cell phone and dialed the number for Saint Vincents. He spoke rapidly to the ER desk and explained what was going on as Wilmington started the car and drove away from the ruined homestead.


They drove steadily, both men trying to ignore the cuffed man who fought against them. Buck drove well above the speed limit until he reached the edge of the city. Once there he slowed down and drove along the streets until he reached the emergency room doors leading into the hospital.


Two orderlies stood on either side of a gurney and the two men were relieved to see Stacey Midland and Susan James standing there as well. Buck was out of the door first and calling the doctors over as Vin tried to hold the raging bull down.


“Doc, it’s Chris!” the ladies’ man shouted.


“What’s wrong with him, Buck?” Midland asked, knowing this was one of only two men who could read Larabee easily.


“Pretty sure it’s alcohol. He’s been binging for weeks, but none of us saw this coming,” the ladies’ man explained. 


Susan James watched as the irate man was pulled from the car. She was shocked by his appearance, but held it in check. Larabee had been doing so well, but she knew he was in trouble once more.  She watched as Tanner and Wilmington helped the orderlies force Chris onto the gurney and strap him down.


“Let’s get him into number one!” Midland said as she listened to the angered cries from the blond.


Vin and Buck ran alongside the stretcher, wincing at the vile language and obscenities that left their leader’s mouth. Larabee struggled against the bonds holding him down as the words were screamed from his ravaged throat.


“Do you have any idea how much he’s had to drink?” Midland asked as the orderlies pushed the gurney into the room.


“He had a bottle of whiskey with him when we found him. The damn thing was nearly empty. There’s no telling what else he’s had since he left the office last week,” Wilmington answered.


“Alright, you two wait here!” the doctor ordered as a second doctor and a nurse rushed into the room.


“Doc is he...”


“Vin, I’ll let you know as soon as we know anything!” Midland said as she closed the door behind her, they heard the sound of retching and knew the blond was sick once more. 


The two men stood on either side of the door listening as the doctor gave orders for blood tests and an NG tube to be inserted. The door opened and Midland stepped out.


“Who has the keys to the cuffs?” she asked.


“I do,” the ladies man answered and pulled the key from his pocket. He handed it to the doctor and she hurried back inside as the door began to close. Wilmington placed his hand on it to stop it from closing completely and watched as his friend received the treatment he needed. 


Vin watched as Larabee continued to struggle against the people helping him. As soon as his arms were released he tried to come off the bed only to be stopped by the two orderlies who held him down while Midland and James wrapped the leather straps around his wrists and ankles. He swallowed the painful lump in his throat as he listened to his best friend. Chris Larabee was an enraged animal under the control of alcohol and until it was out of his system he’d need to be restrained. Somehow he knew the fight to get the blond back would not be an easy one. He looked up just in time to meet Wilmington’s glance and knew he wasn’t alone in his worry for the blond.




The flashback ended as abruptly as it began and Vin shuddered as if the night air had suddenly turned cold. He took a long drink from the beer in his hand as he looked at the ladies’ man.


“I remember how he reacted to the restraints when Dr. Midland ordered them.”


“Me too, Buck. He hated them and he hated us for bringin' him in and havin’ him committed. Jesus, he was like that old tale about the doctor...

“Jekyll and Hyde?”


“Yeah, it was like two people in one body only Chris never seemed to be there. I swore I’d never see him like that again.”


“We both did, Vin, but it’s Chris’ decision.”


“What if he remembers, Buck?”


“We’ll deal with it if that happens, Vin.”


“We will, but what about Chris. Will he be able to handle threatenin’ both of us or the fact that he blamed Sarah and Adam’s deaths on you?”


“I...Vin...I knew Chris didn’t mean those things...”


“Don’t matter. At the time it was real and I saw the look on yer face. If Chris ever remembers half the things he said and did durin’ that time he’s gonna have a hard time forgivin’ himself,” the tracker said before finishing the last of his beer.


“There’s nothing we can do about it until it happens,” the ladies man said as he handed over the empty bottle.


“Want another?” the tracker asked.


“Yeah,” Wilmington mumbled as he looked out over the land. Larabee’s ranch bordered on Tanner’s and he sometimes felt jealous of their closeness. Buck knew the two men had a destiny together, one that surpassed his own friendship with Chris Larabee, yet there would always be a place for him in Larabee’s life. That was something he would hold on to for the rest of his life. For now he needed to put his worries and fears behind him and pray that Larabee could handle the trials ahead of him.


Vin returned with two more beers and the silence stretched out between them as the sun dipped below the horizon, leaving in it’s wake a bleak twilight that mirrored the thoughts running through both their minds.


Tomorrow was a long way off, yet it would arrive too soon for both of them.




Carl Sheppard studied the file before him. Ezra Jacobson and Susan James had come to see him about Jacobson’s brother. Susan James was a well-established psychiatrist and she’d laid the ground work that would see Chris Jacobson become an inmate at Shady Acres. He flipped one of the papers, revealing a photo of a blond haired man whose green eyes seemed glacial in spite of the smile on his face. He quickly read the bio on the new patient.


Chris Jacobson, male, age 42. Parents, Martin and Erica Jacobson, deceased. Patient is prone to violent behavior and extreme rage. Arrested three times in the last four months for brawling in a public bar and destruction of property. Has problem with alcohol abuse, but refused treatment.


One brother, Ezra Jacobson, age 37, has Business Degree from Harvard.  CEO of Jacobson Enterprises since the board voted Chris Jacobson out of the job.


Sheppard picked up a second document on Jacobson Enterprises. The corporation was a multi-national conglomerate with offices in New York, England, France, Canada, and many smaller countries. The company’s assets ran in the billions and Sheppard rubbed his hands briskly at the thought of all that money so close. He looked at his watch, closed the folder and stood up. The new patient would be there shortly and he needed to make sure everything was set.




“Chris, are you sure you’re ready for this?” Susan James asked, as she placed her briefcase on the seat beside her.


“There’s not much choice now, Doc, besides I’ve got plenty of backup.”


“I know, but you’re going into a dangerous situation. There’ll be times when you won’t have backup. Vin and Nathan won’t be there at night. Buck’s on night duty, but he may not be in your area. JD will only be there during the day.”


“I know, Doc. I can handle myself.”


“I know you can, but we know little or nothing about Shady Acres. The staff members are not all they seem to be either.”


“I’ll be careful,” Larabee assured her and turned to see Ezra join them. “Well, dear brother, shall we get this over with?”


“Mr. Larabee...”


“Ah, Ez, I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to call your brother that,” the blond said with a grin.


“Oh,” Standish said, smiling sheepishly. “Sorry, Chris.”


“It’s okay, just thought we’d better start playing the roles we’re taking on…can’t chance slipping up once we’re inside.”


“Indubitably, Chris,” Standish said, the smile quickly leaving his face as the limousine pulled out into the traffic.


“It’s okay, Ezra,” Larabee said softly.


“Is it, Chris? I’m signing you into Shady Acres and we both know what will transpire when you have your little episode.”


“There’s nothing we can do about that,” the blond told him.


“I know, but I still don’t like it,” the conman said.


“None of us do, Ezra, but it’s the only way. If we go in there and I act nice and calm when you spring your little surprise on me it’ll look suspicious. I’m supposed to be prone to violence and this is the only way to avoid attention.”


“I know you’re right, Chris, but...”


“Ezra, we both have a job to do and I know it’s gonna be harder on you than the rest of us, but I need you to put on the performance of a lifetime.”


“I won’t let you down, Chris.”


“You never have,” Larabee said and turned his head to gaze out the window. The truth was his stomach was queasy at the thought of entering an institution where his freedom would be greatly curtailed. He wanted to believe they’d be able to handle any situation, but the term ‘deceptive control’ kept running through his mind. He closed his eyes, hoping to keep his agitation from the other passengers.



PART 1 / PART 3 / PART 4 / PART 5 / PART 6 / PART 7 / PART 8 / PART 9 / PART 10 / PART 11




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Winnie  2011