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Grand Poobah of Sarcasm
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Copyright 2009
Cowboy Up!
Chapter 3

Spoils of War​
Tiger’s wife and girls spent the rest of the day getting the three healthy newcomers cleaned and dressed. Grace and Liberty fell into the task with enthusiasm. Sometimes Tiger forgot what his kids had missed growing up on the ranch. He could see that Grace was craving someone to talk to, that was not a family member. She had never had girlfriends before. She had a few friends at the neighbors that she wrote letters too. Tiger or the boys would try and deliver them when they had a chance. Otherwise, she was limited to the few social occasions, a year, that the community held or the rare trip to town.

Libby took over as their personal physician. Tiger and Jessie were still taken aback at how proficient their little girl was at taking care of the girl’s ailments. She supervised the removal of several ticks that the girls had picked up on their journey. Then she carefully examined their feet, and bandaged their blisters, and made sure there were no other problems. Jessie watched her but couldn’t see where she could do any better herself. The girls had some heat rash from the constant walking and Libby gave them some Vaseline to help with the irritation. She carefully cleaned and disinfected the cuts and scratches they had.

Finally Doctor Libby decided that they were ready to rejoin society. Then she reverted back into the ten year old she was and started treating them as her own personal Barbies. She spent time combing their hair and beautifying them. Jessie allowed Libby to dig into her makeup supply and use some on the girls. She figured that making them look better would make them feel better.

Grace chatted with them. Much as girls always had, saying nothing in particular, but keeping up an unending stream up of it.

Tiger decided it was time to empty out the pickup and see just what he had acquired. He pulled the pickup into his shop and pulled his welding table over, to pile things on. The 4x8 table would work good to sort things out. Bradley and Stryker saw him pull the pickup into the shop and came running over. They were curious about the new pickup.
“Dad, is this ours now, or is it the girls?” Bradley asked.

“It is ours I guess, but I think we will have to get rid of it.” Tiger started relating the story of the morning to his sons. Tiger emphasized the exciting parts, while the boys pestered him with questions about the action. When he was finished with the story, the boys were both excited.
“Geeze, Dad why didn’t you take us with you?” Stryker asked

“Yah, we always miss the excitement!” added Bradley

“I did ask you. You didn’t want to get up that early.” Tiger told them in a reproachful tone. “Wusses.” After properly embarrassing them, he went on to say, “The girls told me these guys had friends that will come looking for them so I don’t think we will want this around here. I am thinking of how to get rid of it so it won’t come back to haunt us. In the meantime, let’s get it cleaned out and see what we can use. Let’s start with the cab and then the bed and tool box.” The boys tied into the cab quickly emptying the contents out. There was another pair of binoculars and several knives. In the glove box they found a nice stainless steel Bersa .380 auto with a holster and most of a box of ammo. The boys were excited with the find and both wanted to claim the small pistol for their selves. The cab had the usual accumulation of odds and ends that come to reside in a pickup, knife sharpeners, pliers, boxes of ammo, empty brass, change on the floorboards and lots of screwdrivers. There was some spare clothing behind the seat and some cans of food.

“That’s it Dad, the cab is all empty.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.” Answered both boys.

“Are you really sure?” Tiger asked again emphasizing “really.”

The boys just looked at him.
“Did you look under the dash and feel under the seat? How about the headliner, is it loose anywhere? These were not honest people, and dishonest people tend to hide things, especially from one another.”

The two teens dove back into the pickup. Bradley was the first to make a find.

“Dad the headliner has a hole in it and I can feel something just at the tip of my fingers. I can’t quite reach it.”

“Don’t worry about ripping the headliner; we aren’t worried about the trade-in value.” Tiger joked.

Bradley gave the headliner a good pull and brought it down. He pulled a baggie out triumphantly. He looked it over and gave his Dad a questioning look. Tiger looked at it and laughed.

“It’s just some dried up pot, and some sort of drugs. I’ll file these appropriately.” Tiger pretended to shoot a basketball and arched the baggie into the trash bin. The boys returned to their task with a little less enthusiasm. “Don’t forget to look for any little compartments that Ford shoehorned into it, and check under the mats.” Tiger added enjoying the spectacle.

Stryker was looking under the dash and had pulled out a small LED flash light to peer up into the wiring. “I got something Dad!” He pulled out a second baggie. This one had a lot of misc. items in it. Stryker handed it to his Dad.

Tiger eyed it over and dumped it out on the table. He scooped up a gold ring that was rolling off the table and eyed it closely. “I think you did pretty well. Let’s see, there are a few gold rings, some necklaces and bracelets. Hmmm, someone must have hit a jewelry store by the odds and ends here.” Tiger opened up a small black velvet bag and poured it into his hands. “Look at these boys.” Both boys peered closely at the sparkling diamonds in his hand.
“Wow” said one.

“What are they worth Dad?” asked the other.

“Well, in the old days, these were probably a small fortune. I’m not sure though because I never cared for diamonds much. I always thought that it was too easy to get overcharged for one if you didn’t know what you were looking at. I certainly wasn’t and am not a diamond expert. Heck these could be glass for all I know. They probably are not, if someone took the time to hide them. What their worth now? Probably not much, I suppose someone out there would take diamonds in trade, but I don’t think that guy is in central Montana. Someday, these will be enough to buy a ranch, but not today.” The boys looked disappointed. “Some of this might be the girls stuff. We will know more when they tell us their story. They may be owed some in compensation for whatever they have endured. Finish checking out that cab, look around the seat good.

They both started feeling around under the seat, finding more garbage than you would think could fit under a seat. There were lots of fast food wrappers from restaurants that hadn’t served a burger or taco in half a decade. Just as Stryker had given up, Bradley smiled and pulled out a big wad of bills from under the seat. He stared at it and then threw the rolled up wad of bills at his brother.

“Tag you’re it!” he hollered. Stryker dodged and picked up the bank roll and threw it back. The roll wouldn’t take the abuse and flew apart scattering money across the shop. Even after five years the sight of all the money made Tiger’s heart skip a beat.

“Pick it up, let’s see how much there is, just for kicks and giggles.” Tiger said.
The boys quickly gathered it up and started counting the money. It was mostly hundred dollar bills, with some fifties and twenties. It came to just over $12,000. Tiger made a mental note to himself that maybe he could use the worthless money in the future in a deal. Most intelligent people would laugh at him, but the fact that the men had kept the wad of cash said something for the greenback’s power over men.

“Let’s see what is in the toolbox. We’ve got cash, guns, and drugs so far, what’s left?”

They opened the long box and peered in side. There was a diverse collection of stuff. Stryker crawled into the back of the pickup, carefully avoiding the still wrapped body. He started taking out the five daypacks in the back. They took up most of the space. Underneath was the usual collection of oil, antifreeze, brake fluid and the like, but there were two ammo cans full of 7.62x39 ammo, and .223 as well as several loaded magazines. Both the boys were hooting with delight and Tiger was excited to see it too. They quickly emptied the tool box out and turned their attention to the items that Tiger had thrown in the back. There was an AK with a folding stock, an AR-15, two SKS’s and an old lever action Savage model 99 in .300 savage. There was also the girls .22 Ruger rifle. For pistols there was the Beretta 9mm, a .44 magnum Smith and Wesson, and a Colt 1911. Stryker threw out several sleeping bags and the odds and ends that were left. He handed the wallets and pouches to his Dad. Finally, everything useful had been removed from the pickup.

Tiger had piled the guns neatly on the table. He handed each of the boys a pack and instructed them to see what was in them. They quickly emptied them out. Most of the clothes they threw in the grease rag pile. There wasn’t much of value in the packs. A little bit of food was in each one.
Bradley remarked, “Not much food, either they didn’t intend to be gone long or were on short rations.”

“Yah, I noticed that too.” Replied Tiger. “I don’t think they are operating that far from their home territory, their fuel tank was pretty full too.”

Tiger got a nice surprise when he opened up their wallets, they had varying amount of gold and silver coins in each one. When he was done, they had a tidy pile of gold and silver coins. “These guys have been doing pretty well. Look at these; you won’t see one of those very often.” He held up two coins. One said Stillwater palladium and the other Stillwater Platinum. Both featured pictures of Lewis and Clark on them. “This is really cool. These coins were mined by the Stillwater Mining Company down around Big Timber. These are the first ones I have ever seen, other than in pictures.” It wasn’t that unusual these days to find some weird silver and gold coins in circulation. Almost every family seemed to have some sort of coin collection. After the crash, they had come out of hiding and used for daily living. Tiger often received silver dollars in payment for beef, occasionally even gold eagles. Canadian silver money was in circulation too. Tiger knew his generation would have to be dead and gone before banks ever came back into their previous prominence and the fiat currency of printed money would ever be accepted again.

Tiger scooped all the jewelry, gold, and silver together and put it all in a cloth bag. He would put it in the gun safe until he figured out how or if the girls should get it. “Boys, take the guns and ammo to the reloading room. We can clean the guns and sort it all out when we get time.” The boys gathered up the guns and headed towards the house.
 

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Who knew,

A cranky OLD farmer had talent as a writer, LOL. Keep it up Cranky, you have a good story working. Good read. :thumb:
 
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