Sense of Adventure
JD Dunne excitedly bounced out of the 747. As he stepped onto the ground,
he took a deep breath and
turned to his roommate and friend Buck Wilmington. “You smell that Buck?”
Buck sniffed the air. “Pollution?”
“No.” JD said as he rolled his eyes beneath his sunglasses. “LA”
“Oh, that’s what I meant.” Buck replied teasingly.
JD sighed and ran his fingers through his long black hair. “Buck, you’re no fun. For once could you
“Fighting already?” Chris asked as he ambled up to his two friends, Vin, Josiah and Nathan not far
behind. “We’ve only been here five minutes.”
JD looked at his friends. They were all dressed casually in jean shorts or jeans and t-shirts; much like the
Phish concert shirt he was wearing. “Hey, where’s Ezra?” JD queried when he noticed the smooth, well
dressed agent wasn’t with them.
The six men turned to watch as their undercover agent departed the plane. In one hand he carried a
small overnight bag while in the other was a hand belonging to a five year old. They watched mesmerized
as Standish, dressed in khakis, a polo shirt and Armani sunglasses, helped a small boy in overalls walk
down the steep steps. Standish reached the ground first then turned and lifted the boy from the last
remaining steps and placed him on the ground. He took his hand again and walked toward the group
“We leave you alone for five minutes and you’re already making friends,” Nathan laughed as Ezra
brought the little boy to the group.
Ezra smiled. “This is Tommy. His grandparents are waiting in the terminal for him and I said he could
walk with us.” He then turned his attention back to the five year old. “Tommy, these are my associates.”
The little boy looked up with big blue eyes. “They’re police officers too?” he whispered.
“Yes they are.”
Ezra smiled. “Well, gentlemen. Shall we?”
The eclectic group walked to the terminal and Ezra dropped off his charge with a couple in their mid
fifties. The others watched amazed as the southerner said goodbye and then pulled a quarter from behind
Tommy’s ear. He shook hands with the couple and returned to the group.
Ezra noticed the looks his comrades were giving him. “What?”
Vin smiled. “Nothing Ez. Let’s get our bags and get outta here. I could use a drink.”
“I agree, brother.”
“Best thing you said all day Vin.”
“Bout the only thing too.”
“You making fun of me cowboy?”
“Mr. Larabee wouldn’t dare. You know the word ‘fun’ isn’t in his vocabulary.”
Everyone laughed and picked on each other while they moved toward the baggage claim area. JD
enthusiastically found all the luggage on the belt and grabbed it off, passing it to its various owners
chatting non stop the entire time. “I can’t believe that I am in California. First I’m going to the beach and
then I’ve got to find Casey a souvenir and...”
“And look at all the pretty ladies wearing practically nothing because its so hot.” Buck finished for him.
Chris looked at the two best friends with a disapproving gaze. “Don’t forget the reason we’re here. We
DO have a conference to go to.”
“Yeah but Chris, how long is that going to take?”
“It has been my experience that said conferences usually take up more of your time than previously
expected. However, there is always time for the quote unquote ‘nightlife.’”
Chris glared at Standish. “Don’t encourage the boy.”
Ezra smiled innocently. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”
After a few minutes of haggling at the rent-a-car center, the seven men were able to rent two vehicles.
Since every ATF office in the United States had sent agents to this particular conference, almost all the
nondescript cars were taken. Therefore, the men were forced to rent a bright yellow new VW bug and a
1990 black cherry Plymouth Acclaim with exhaust problems.
The seven men stood in front of the Volkswagen and stared at it.
“I am not riding in that garish excuse for a foreign vehicle.”
“Sorry Ez,” was Nathan’s response. “There aint no way Buck or Josiah is going to fit in there. They have
too much body mass. Chris’ legs are too long and I’m too tall. Looks like you, JD and Vin are going to
“Sweet! A new bug! Can I drive?”
“In LA traffic. I think not.”
“Hell, Ez. I ain’t driving. So looks like you will be driving the garish excuse for a foreign vehicle.”
Ezra sighed and took the keys Buck was dangling in front of him. “See you at the hotel Ez!” called Buck
as he and the four others walked toward the Plymouth.
It wasn’t hard for Ezra to follow the other car. All he had to do was follow the cloud of exhaust. It was
amazing that his friends didn’t get pulled for polluting the environment. Hell, he thought there were laws in
California against that kind of vehicle. Vin, who was always used to riding with the windows down, had
to roll his up because of the coughing fit he lapsed into due to the cloud.
“Damn, you could make some really good smoke signals with that car.” Vin remarked after he rolled up
“Only you would think of such an appropriate use. I personally would’ve gone for redneck lawn
ornament.” Ezra replied as he swerved to stop from hitting another car. He hated to admit it but the little
car was holding its own. He was able to weave in and out of other traffic without needing too much
“Mr. Dunne, what do you think of LA so far?”
No response. Ezra adjusted the rear view mirror and found JD with his headphones on, eyes closed,
bopping along to some sort of music while mouthing the words. Ezra smiled. What he wouldn’t give to
be JD’s age again.
The hotel wasn’t far from the airport, fifteen minutes at best. When they arrived, the parking garage was
already teeming with ATF agents from various places around the country. Ezra noticed a few of them
smirking when they saw the exhaust problem car and the bright yellow bug. Oh well, not like he really
cared. He inwardly grimaced at the thought. What ever happened to his mother’s motto, “Appearances
are everything.” He guessed it went the way of the Dodo, just like almost everything else she had taught
The seven men grabbed bags and walked to the hotel’s front desk. Chris stared at the young man.
“Reservation for Larabee.”
The man, who’s name tag pronounced him as Rich Ricci, thumbed through the reservation book. “Ah
yes. Three rooms for Chris Larabee. Sign here please.”
Chris scribbled in the ledger and accepted the three keys. “By the way, are you part of the ATF
conference?” Chris nodded. “There is a schedule of events on the desks in the room. Thank you for
Chris just turned away from the man, already tired of his idle chatting. He handed out the keys and made
various room assignments. Not like they mattered anyway. Everyone was going to end up in the same
Ezra looked around at his belongings and noticed that his briefcase was absent. He sighed. He must have
left it in the parking garage. “Could you gentlemen be so kind as to take my belongings upstairs? I seem
to have forgotten my briefcase in the garish foreign vehicle.”
The others agreed and they picked up his bags. “Hey, Ez. I’ll come with ya. I am in the mood for a
walk.” JD said in an excited voice.
“To release some of that pent up energy I assume?” JD gave Ezra a puzzled look.
Buck slapped JD on the shoulder. “And how do you think you’re bags are going to get upstairs?”
JD gave Buck his best puppy dog face. The bigger man sighed. “Get going ‘fore I change my mind.”
JD took off after the undercover agent who had already begun his journey back to the car. The others
laughed as they saw the youngest member of their group, who was filled with unrelenting energy, bounce
off after the sarcastic southerner.
The other five men looked around for the nearest elevator. Vin stared at it in disbelief. “This is the
smallest elevator I’ve ever seen. We aren’t all going to fit in there.”
“You’re right Vin.”
“Well, I’m going up. I’ve got to get ready to go out and find me some nice looking ladies.”
Nathan rolled his eyes. “Fine. I’ll stay down here and wait for the next elevator.”
“I’ll stay too. Yall go on ahead.”
Josiah, Chris and Buck all boarded the elevator with a multitude of luggage. Buck pressed the button for
the fifteenth floor and waved at Nathan and Vin as the doors slid shut.
Ezra walked quickly back to the car. He had to. JD was so full of energy
from being in a new and
exciting place that he was literally bouncing off the walls. His chatter had been incessant ranging from the
conference to rollerblading down the boardwalk.
“I want to go bungee jumping. Don’t you think that would be cool Ez?”
“I don’t believe that hurling oneself over a bridge attached to nothing more than a giant rubber band is
sane, much less ‘cool.’”
“Ok. Well I heard about this thing where you can swim with sharks.” Ezra stopped in his tracks and
looked at JD like he had grown another head. “What?”
“Were you already this suicidal or has Mr. Wilmington had an adverse affect on your behavior?”
JD grinned. “Where’s your sense of adventure?”
Ezra was about to answer when he felt an imperceptible shift in the ground beneath him. He stopped
and grabbed JD’s arm. “Did you feel that?”
It couldn’t have been his imagination. He waited for a minute and again felt the reverberations in the
JD shrugged his shoulders. “I didn’t feel anything.”
Ezra was about to chalk up the feelings to his overactive imagination when the ground lurched and shifted
violently. He saw JD’s face drain of all color and turn a ghastly pale. Ezra was about to suggest that they
run when he heard the walls of the parking garage begin to moan and crumble.
In an instant, the fun vacation JD had been jabbering about was turning into a nightmare as Ezra watched
big chunks of ceiling fall and the walls begin to cave in. He grabbed the younger man and literally threw
him to the ground. Ezra threw himself on top of JD to shield him just as the wall they were standing by
“Can’t this elevator go any faster,” Buck complained as he watched the
numbers slowly light up to
denote the floors.
“Good things come to those who wait.” Josiah quoted.
Suddenly, the three men felt the elevator shift. The overhead light went out and the elevator stopped. A
small emergency light came on near the panel but just enough to light up the buttons.
“You were saying, Josiah?” Chris asked as he reached for the emergency button.
“It just looks like we might be waiting for a while.”
Buck slammed his fist into the wall. “What the hell happened?”
“Well, a power outage or just a random problem with the elevator,” Chris suggested in a calming tone.
Josiah shook his head slowly. “Chris, you’ve forgotten where we are. I think it could’ve been an
At this Buck straightened from his place of leaning against the wall. “Earthquake? Oh Shit! The kid!”
“Buck, calm down. Ezra is with him.” Chris tried to reason with the tall mustached agent.
Buck began to pace around the tiny elevator, which was quite a feat being that Chris and Josiah were
both in there with him. “He could be hurt. He could be seriously hurt. And I know Ezra is trying really
hard to fit in with us but you have to admit he is a self serving kind of guy.”
Josiah put a hand on Buck’s shoulder to stop him from pacing. “Do you honestly believe that Ezra would
let anything happen to that boy?”
Buck hung his head and stopped pacing. “No.” He admitted as he slid down the wall to rest on the floor.
He looked up at Chris. “We’ve got to get out of here.”
Vin and Nathan decided to wander around the lobby for a minute before
retiring up to their rooms. They
looked around and were able to point out the other ATF agents. It was obvious. They were the men and
women who were looking around much the same way Vin and Nathan were, scanning the crowd,
looking for potential threats and never quite completely relaxed.
Vin and Nathan sat down in the overstuffed chairs that had their backs to the window. With a sigh,
Nathan stretched out his long legs and laid back into the cushions. “Bout time we had a break.” He
remarked to Vin who was about in the same position.
“Yep. Been needing one.”
“I wonder how Chris persuaded the upper levels to let us come to the conference.”
Vin smiled. “Hell Nathan. You know Chris didn’t have to persuade anyone. With all the racket JD and
Buck make, they probably were wanting to get rid of us.”
Nathan smiled but it quickly turned to a frown when he felt the earth move under his feet. He didn’t have
to ask Vin if he felt it because he watched as the sharpshooter’s went from one of puzzlement to fear.
They didn’t have much time to do anything. In fact, all they managed to accomplish was to stand up from
their chairs. Then the earthquake really hit. The glass behind them broke and covered them both in small
shards. The building swayed and groaned as the ground shifted and broke beneath it.
Lamps, vases and tables fell over while people screamed and tried to scramble for doorways. The lights
blinked out for a few moments causing even more panic. But as quickly as it came, it was over.
Nathan gingerly picked himself up from the floor where he landed and immediately looked around for
Vin. The sharpshooter had also taken refuge on the floor. Nathan was immediately assessing the man’s
injuries. Blood spilled from a deep cut on Vin’s arm and another one in his hairline. He was also holding
“You alright Vin?”
“Just banged up is all. You?”
Nathan looked himself over. There was a slight amount of pain from a nick on his neck from a piece of
glass but other than that he was fine. “Fine. Here let me look at that wrist.” Nathan gently went through
the range of motion tests and watched Vin grimace from time to time. “It’s just sprained. And those cuts
are going to need stitches.” Nathan went to his luggage and pulled out some bandages and quickly
bandaged Vin’s two cuts.
“You always come prepared,” Vin joked.
Nathan smiled. “Have to when I hang out with yall.”
Nathan looked around the lobby. “No one else seems to be hurt.”
“What about the others?”
Nathan and Vin quickly ran to the elevator and pushed the buttons. Nothing happened. “Nate, find me
something to pry these doors open with.”
Nathan left and quickly came back with a crowbar.
“Where the hell did you find this?”
“Janitorial closet. The door came unhinged during the quake. We’ll have to thank them later.”
Vin shrugged his shoulders and squeezed the metal end between the doors. With a few minutes of
pushing and pulling he managed to get the doors open. He looked into the shaft. “Look, they’re stuck
“At least they’re up and not down.”
Vin managed a small smile. “Let’s get on up the stairs and get them out of there.” Nathan and Vin turned
to the stairwell and opened the door. As Nathan was about to enter he heard the hysteric cry of a
woman. He turned his attention to the front of the lobby. She was covered from head to toe in dust and
was screaming for help. “Please, someone! The parking garage has caved in!”
Nathan’s heart leapt into his throat. He turned to Vin and could see his own concerned mirrored in the
younger man’s face. “JD and Ez,” he whispered.
“Shit! Alright, you go find them. I’ll get them out and come help ya.”
Nathan nodded and took off out the doors and to the parking garage.
JD sat up in the small cavern of rubble he found himself in. Somehow,
Ezra had managed to push
themselves into a small doorway of a closet or something. And somehow fate had let some steel
crossbeams fall at angles and keep the concrete debris from completely crushing them. JD took a breath
and immediately started coughing from the amount of dust in the air.
He heard the settling of the concrete and steel above him and hoped to God someone would come soon
before it completely collapsed and killed him and Ezra. Ez! Where was he? JD could hardly see anything
through the dust and the sun was totally blocked out.
“Ez!” he called. “Ez! Where are ya?”
Fear gripped the young agent and he frantically began to crawl around the small space hoping to bump
into the southerner. Finally, after a minute of searching, JD found what he was looking for. Well, half of
what he was looking for.
Ezra’s upper half of his body was visible but his legs were completely covered in rubble. JD gulped and
put his ear to his friend’s chest. He was rewarded with a strong heartbeat. JD sighed. At least Ez was
JD gingerly ran his hands over Ezra to see if the undercover agent had sustained any life threatening
injuries. JD’s fingers felt the warm stickiness of blood on Ezra’s temple and knew that he had some kind
of head injury.
He then began to worry. JD had heard Nathan talk about head injuries before. Some people woke up
from them and some didn’t. He also heard Nathan talk about swelling. If the brain began to swell and the
pressure wasn’t released permanent damage could occur.
JD pulled his shaking hand’s away from his friend. “This isn’t the time to freak out.” He took several
deep breaths, not caring about the dust. He had to remain calm. What would Chris do? Or Buck? Or
Josiah? How the hell was he supposed to know? They’d probably never even been in a situation like this
before. JD wiped his eyes on his T-shirt. He didn’t know what to do. He just hoped someone would
find them soon and that Ezra would wake up.
Nathan raced to the parking garage, dodging various fire trucks and
ambulances. A yellow police line
was already up around the garage as firemen and paramedics were helping people out of the rubble.
Nathan went under the line and was stopped by a local police officer.
“You can’t come in here.”
Nathan frowned and fumbled around for his wallet. He flashed his badge. “ATF agent Nathan Jackson.
Two of my agents are in there and I plan on finding them.” The cop stepped out of his way. “Thank you,
Vin ran up the stairs, taking two at a time and carrying the crowbar.
His worry increasing with each
passing minute. He got up to the tenth floor and stopped. He flung open the door and went to the
elevator. Again, he pried the doors open with the crowbar, wincing when the effort pulled on his cut and
put pressure on his sprained wrist.
The guys were right below him. “Can yall here me?”
“Vin, that you?”
Vin smiled. “Sure is cowboy. I’ve come to rescue you.”
He heard Chris laugh and then he heard Buck’s voice. “Bout damn time! Where’s the kid?”
Vin was afraid he was going to ask that. “Still in the parking garage.”
Buck’s voice was full of fear. “Why is that?”
Vin swallowed. Ah hell. He had to tell him sooner or later. Better sooner he guessed. “Cuz it collapsed.
Nathan went to find JD and Ez.”
He heard the string of curses that came from the elevator shaft and waited a minute to continue. “Can
yall get that hatch above ya open?”
Josiah answered. “Yep. If I had a crowbar.”
Vin smiled. “That can be arranged.” The lithe agent jumped down and landed softly on top of the
elevator. Using his trusty crowbar, he pried open the hatch.
Chris wasn’t surprised to see the head of his best friend pop down through the hatch. “Howdy pards.
Yall bout ready to come out.”
Ezra moaned softly as he slowly pushed himself out of the swirling darkness.
What the hell happened?
Memories of the events flooded his mind and he became fully awake. “JD!” he called while his head
exploded from the exertion.
“Right here, Ez! Damn you had me worried.”
Ezra pried open his green eyes and stared at the young man puzzled. “I had you worried.” he said softly
trying not to increase the pounding in his head.
“You’ve been out for around ten minutes. I tried to wake you but...”
Ezra looked into the worried and tear stained face of his friend. “I’m fine,” he lied. Ezra inspected his
surroundings and was very much afraid to find he was half buried under rubble. He tried to pull his legs
from underneath the rubble but couldn’t move them. He sighed. “JD,” he breathed, “I can’t move my
“It’s because there is a lot of rubble on them.” JD answered trying to make light of the situation. The fact
that Ezra used JD’s first name frightened him, that and he wasn’t using his five dollar words.
“Oh. That’s why my legs hurt.” Ezra closed his eyes and fought off the wave of pain that assaulted him.
He gingerly reached up and touched his temple and felt the warm blood.
“Here Ez,” JD said quietly as he tied a ripped piece of his shirt around Ezra’s head. “Maybe that will
help stop the blood.”
“Ez,” JD’s voice was soft and full of fear. Ezra forced his eyes open. He couldn’t scare the boy or let on
that he was just as scared. “The others are going to find us, right?”
Ezra cleared his throat. “They will JD. Who else will they have to pick on if you’re not around?”
JD smiled. “Yeah, you’re right.”
The younger agent failed to notice that Ezra didn’t mention himself in that scenario. Ezra could feel
himself growing weaker and the pain traveling up his legs was excruciating. He knew something had to
be broken, dislocated or both. He pushed the darkness away from his vision trying to remain conscious.
However, it was too much and he succumbed to oblivion.
Nathan half ran half stumbled to where they had parked the yellow VW
bug. Those two couldn’t have
gotten far from there. “JD! Ezra!” No answer. Oh please God let them be alive. “Ez! JD!” Nathan
frantically climbed over the rubble looking for any sign of the ‘garish foreign vehicle.’ Despair grabbed a
hold of Nathan. If he couldn’t find a car in this mess how in the hell was he to find his friends?
Nathan walked around the rubble more, looking, searching for anything. “Yes!” he whispered as
something caught his eyes. He bent down and pulled off a cement block and underneath lay a piece of
bright yellow metal. He continued to pull off block looking for any sign of his two friends.
“What in the hell do you mean the parking garage collapsed? Don’t they
have regulations for buildings
“Buck, now calm down. Let’s work on getting ourselves out of this elevator shaft before we start
worrying about them.” Those were the calm words Chris doled out to his friend. Rational yes, but
possible, not likely. He too was worried about Ezra and JD. But worrying wasn’t going to help them
“I didn’t realize it was such a far drop til I looked back up,” was Vin’s only thought. When he had
jumped down with his trusty crowbar to get his friends out of the elevator he failed to think of a way to
get out of the shaft itself.
“Well, only one of us has to get up,” Josiah added. “Then he could drop down something and the rest of
us could climb.”
“I’ll go,” Vin volunteered right away.
“Slow down cowboy. Don’t think I didn’t notice the way you been grimacing. You’ve got a hurt wrist
and a cut on your arm. I’ll go.”
Chris ripped off two parts of his shirt and tied them around his palms. He then proceeded to slowly and
carefully pull himself up the shaft on the elevator wire. A few times, the others could hear him curse from
the biting pain the wire inflicted when it dug into his unprotected skin. After what seemed like an eternity
to Buck, Chris reached the top and disappeared. A few minutes later, a fire hose was thrown down for
the other men to climb up on.
“Very resourceful, Chris.” Josiah called up to him.
“Only thing I could find. Just climb up.”
Buck was the first to jump on the hose and start climbing. As soon as he hit the ground, he was down
the stairs toward the parking garage. Chris waited for Josiah and the injured Vin to make it up the hose
before they too went to look for their missing teammates.
Buck sprinted down the stairs. Jumping down entire flights when possible.
Once he hit the lobby he was
out he door to the parking garage. A million different thoughts were running through his head. What if JD
wasn’t ok? He didn’t know what he would do without his best friend, his brother.
Buck stopped in utter horror when he saw what the parking garage had been reduced to. Piles and piles
of steel and concrete were everywhere. He pushed down a lump in his throat. How could anyone
survive being underneath that? He ducked under the police tape, flashing his badge when necessary.
“Buck!” Buck whirled around. That wasn’t JD’s voice but someone was calling him. His eyes lighted
upon Nathan, standing on top a pile of rubble waving his arms. Buck ran over to his friend.
“What did you find?” he asked breathless.
Nathan pointed to the bright yellow piece of metal that was showing from underneath some concrete.
“JD!” Buck yelled. “JD! Where are ya son?” He cried as he frantically began throwing pieces of rubble
off the pile. Nathan followed suit, calling for JD and Ezra while digging through rubble. Nathan flinched at
the desperation that was creeping into Buck’s voice as he searched.
“Please God,” Nathan whispered, “Let them be alive.”
JD was tired. He had managed to remove almost all of the debris from
Ezra’s legs and he even pulled
the undercover agent out from under the pile a little ways. JD didn’t know the extent of Ezra’s leg
injuries but knew they were bad. Ezra hadn’t stirred much while he was removing the bits of concrete
and steel. And that scared JD even more than the mangled state of his friend’s legs. But the fact that he
was able to remove the pieces by himself gave him a little hope.
And after a few minutes of sitting still, he was still tired. He was also still very scared. It had been almost
an hour since the earthquake and no one had found them. Hell, he didn’t know if anyone was alive to
look. JD tried to quell the rising emotions as he thought of his friends dead. No that wouldn’t happen.
He wiped the tears from his eyes. What if they weren’t alright? What would he do? Well, he would most
likely die down here. He gulped. No, he would live. It was Ezra he wasn’t so sure about. The
undercover agent had been drifting in and out of consciousness the entire time. One minute he would be
awake and alert and the next he would be out again.
JD had taken up a position beside Ezra and had been chatting away trying to keep them both calm. But
now he had stopped. Once his throat had taken on a raspy quality he had decided that talking would
have to be limited. He sighed and put a hand on Ezra’s chest to make sure he was still breathing.
“JD?” the southern voice, that didn’t sound much better than his own, asked.
“Yeah, Ez. I’m right here.”
“We still stuck?”
“Oh.” Then after a long pause. “You alright?”
JD smiled despite himself. “Yeah Ez. I’m fine.”
“Good. I wouldn’t want.....Buck to..... kill me.” was the response followed by a slight chuckle. Ezra
tried to lighten the situation for the sake of JD but he was having a hard time. A wave of pain washed
over him and he instinctively grabbed JD’s arm.
JD almost jumped, the sudden grip of the southerner’s hand on his arm wasn’t expected. He let Ezra
hold on and didn’t mind the pain and discomfort that Ezra was causing him. After a few moments, the
grip went slack and JD knew that Ezra had passed out again.
It took a minute to comprehend just what he was hearing. JD almost thought he heard his name being
called. Wait, he knew that voice.
Buck stopped moving. Did he really hear that? “JD!” “Buck!” came the
It was him! Thank God!
“JD! Where are ya son?” He yelled as he quickly tried to follow the voice.
“Over here, under some stuff. Ez is here too!”
“Keep talking so I can find ya.” he answered. Buck motioned for Nathan to come over and help him pull
up blocks of cement.
“Hurry Buck. Ez is hurt.”
Buck smiled. He was working as fast as he could. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Nathan stop for a
moment and wipe sweat from his brow.
The gentle healer’s voice boomed across the garage. “Guys, over here!”
Buck looked up from his task and looked to where Nathan was pointing. Vin, Chris and Josiah were
making their way over.
“What ya got boys?”
Buck looked at his friends with a lopsided grin. “JD and Ez are under this. You mind lendin’ a hand?
“Not at all brother.”
JD sat in the darkness of the little cavern. He could hear his friends
working above him and knew that
everything would be ok. They would get him and Ez out. He shot a look at the undercover agent’s pale
face, the blood masking half of it a striking contrast. He swallowed a lump in his throat. Ezra hadn’t
woken up in a while and that was beginning to frighten him.
“Hey guys, hurry up. Ez ain’t doing so good.”
“Trying our best JD,” Chris’ voice responded.
Suddenly sunlight lit up the small space and JD was forced to shield his eyes.
“JD!” Buck’s anxious voice called down while the others were still removing debris. Soon a hole big
enough for JD to squeeze through was opened.
“Can you squeeze through son?” Chris asked.
JD gaged the hole. “Yeah, but I ain’t leaving Ez.”
The other men exchanged worried glances. “What’s wrong with him?” Nathan’s concerned voice drifted
down into the hole.
“Well, he’s got a head wound and he was half buried under cement. I managed to get him out but his
legs are pretty messed up.”
“Ok JD. Don’t worry.” Chris turned his attention to his coworkers. “We’ll just have to make the hole
bigger and somehow lift Ez out.”
JD watched as the hole grew bigger by the second. He smiled. They would
be getting out of there soon.
“JD,” came the accented whisper.
“Am I correct in assuming that our associates are going to emancipate us sometime soon?”
Even though it took JD a minute to fully grasp what Ezra was asking, he smiled nonetheless. “Yep Ez.”
Ezra kept his sagging eyelids open a few seconds longer to give JD a weak grin. “Thanks JD,” he said
Soon the hole was big enough to be able for the five men on top to get
their hands in the cavern and lift
“Ok JD. We’re ready.”
JD pulled the unconscious Ezra underneath the whole and then managed to get him sitting upright.
Several hands, which JD noticed belonged to Josiah, Buck and Nathan, reached down into the cavern
and grasped Ezra’s arms. As the lifted, JD used his shoulder to steady the limp figure.
To say the men were surprised at Ezra’s appearance would be an understatement. Vin visibly paled
when he saw his friend and Chris yelled for paramedics. Nathan and Chris gently laid the younger man
down as Nathan assessed his injuries.
“He’s got a concussion and several breaks in his legs. His right ankle has been shattered and his right
knee is dislocated. I’m sure there is more but I don’t want to move him, Chris.”
Chris nodded and gulped. His anger and fear could be directed at no
one. It wasn’t anyone’s fault that
this happened. It was a freak accident.
“Ok JD. You’re turn,” Buck called down. JD stood and lifted his hands up to the light. He felt them
firmly grasped as he was half lifted and half climbed out of the cavern of debris. As he reached the
surface, he saw that the paramedics already had Ezra on a backboard and were maneuvering him
toward the ambulance under the watchful eye of Nathan.
“You ok JD?” Buck asked as JD worriedly gazed toward the still figure on the stretcher.
“He pushed me out of the way, Buck.” JD said softly.
Buck followed the kid’s gaze and mentally berated himself for what he had said in the elevator an hour
earlier. But now the small shadow of a doubt that lurked in the back of Buck’s mind was erased
The hospital in LA wasn’t used to the eclectic group of men that now
occupied their waiting room. It had
finally come down to the point where the head nurse told them to sit down and shut up and to stop
bothering every nurse that walked into the waiting room. And she had made the message especially clear
to Buck, who not only bothered them for information about Ezra but for their phone numbers.
“Sit down Buck before you get us thrown out,” JD angrily said to his best friend.
Buck reluctantly left the nurses station and sat down next to the kid. “Calm down JD. I was just trying to
coax them into giving me some information.”
“Yeah like phone numbers. Aren’t you in the least bit worried about Ez?”
Buck sighed and put a hand on JD’s shoulder. “Of course I’m worried. But...” He stopped when he
noticed a young doctor walking into the waiting room. He wasn’t much taller than JD, with dark brown
hair and green eyes but he carried himself with an air of authority.
“Mr. Larabee?” the doctor asked taking in the group of men.
Chris stood from the fake leather waiting room chair. “I’m Larabee.”
The doctor stuck his hand out. “I’m Dr. Jarr. Mason Jarr.”
Nathan and Josiah exchanged looks while Buck snickered. Chris sent his friend a deadly look before
turning back to the doctor.
“How is he?”
Dr. Jarr sighed. “Well, he does have a concussion. But it’s not that bad. And as you know, you’re friend
sustained massive amounts of trauma to his legs. His right ankle was shattered, and his right knee was
dislocated. His left tibia and fibula were both broken in two places. Now we managed to reconstruct his
ankle and we’ve set all the other bones. I’m sure with plenty of rest and with substantial physical therapy
he will be fine.”
The doctor couldn’t help but smile when the six men broke out into grins and laughter.
“Can we see him?” JD asked.
“Sure, we’re moving him into a room now. But don’t expect him to be a great conversationalist. He’s
“When will we be able to move him back to Denver?” Chris asked before Dr. Jarr turned to leave.
The young doctor smiled again. “Give him a few days, Mr. Larabee.” Chris nodded. “I’ll send a nurse
for you once we get him settled.”
A few minutes later, the six men were escorted down the hall to Ezra’s
room. The nurse opened up the
door and eyed the men suspiciously.
“Now if ya make any loud noises, I’m a gonna throw you out.” she said in a deep irish accent. The men
nodded and Buck gave her one of his patented smiles. She sighed. “I don’t understand these doctors,
letting all sort of people in hospitals...” she mumbled as she walked back to the nurses station.
The six men crowded into the small room where Ezra lay peacefully on a hospital bed. His left leg had a
plaster cast from below the knee down, while his right leg had a soft cast on his knee and a small plaster
one around his ankle.
“Well he certainly looks better than when we unearthed him.” Buck said cheerfully.
“It’s hard not too,” Nathan laughed.
“Would you be so kind as to not yell. My head hurts enough as it is.” The soft southern drawl floated
across the room and was music to the men’s ears.
“Ez! You’re awake!” JD excitedly yelled.
“Shhh Boy! Don’t you ever listen. The man asked ya to be quiet!” Buck admonished back in a slightly
louder tone. Suddenly the door flew open and the nurse from before stood in the doorway.
She pointed at Wilmington. “You! Out!”
Buck looked around confused then pointed a finger at himself. “Me?”
“Yes, you. Out!”
“But it was the kid...”
“I don’t care if it was the Ghost of Christmas Past. Out!”
Buck glared at JD but made his way to the door. Josiah let out a low laugh and the nurse turned and
glowered at him. “You think its funny big man? Ok, you out too.”
Josiah’s jaw hit the floor. The others quickly suppressed their laughter, not wanting to be thrown out. He
followed Buck and slapped the tall man on the shoulder. “Come on Buck. We’ll go to the cafeteria.”
After the two left the nurse glared around the room then closed the door.
Ezra let out at small chuckle. “They certainly aren’t used to us here.”
Vin smiled. “We are a lot to get used to.”
Ezra lay back and closed his eyes. The others could tell he was tired and needed rest.
“Hey Ez, we better go make sure that Josiah and Buck aren’t getting into trouble.”
Ezra nodded his head and yawned. “That’s a good idea, Nathan.” The men began to file out of the
room. “JD, wait. I want to talk to you.”
JD stopped in mid stride and went back to Ezra’s bedside. Ezra pried his eyes back open. “Thanks,” he
JD’s eyes widened. “No, I should be thanking you. You pushed me out of the way.”
Ezra smiled. “True, but you kept calm and you got us out of there. So I am deeply appreciative.”
“You would’ve done the same for me.”
“That I would have.” Ezra said softly while being pulled back into the quiet depths of sleep.
JD smiled down at the sleeping figure. “Well, I’ve had enough adventure to last me a while. At least, until