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    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
Submitted by Dave Free on 4 May 2007 - 11:35am.

Slowly Jeremy peeked around the edge of the doorframe. Bull was still there watching Stutts drive away in the Hummer. When it pulled onto the main road he turned and walked back to the house.

Jeremy thought quickly. There were two of them and they had guns and probably radios they could use to call for help. He desperately wanted to help his family, but getting caught right now wouldn’t help any of them. He couldn’t stay in the shed. It would be the first place they’d look. For a minute he thought about starting up his four-wheeler and making a run for town and the sheriff but he was sure the thugs would hear him and it would be easy for them to radio Stutts to cut him off.

He looked around. There were no guns or obvious weapons in the shed. Dad kept them locked in a safe in his closet. There were rakes, shovels, a compressor, and various tools. Jeremy looked back to the house door. No movement yet. He had to do something quick or he would be trapped.

He scanned the shelves on the opposite wall of the shed. There was an old lacrosse bag stuffed with his brothers’ used gear. It was on the top shelf. He ran over, turned a bucket upside down, stepped up on it and pulled the bag down. It landed with a crash. Unzipping it, he pulled out most of the gear. Then he ran to the Rhino and grabbed a half full water bottle and a few granola bars left over from this morning. He threw them in the lacrosse bag. He unzipped the bag of snorkeling gear and grabbed his mask, snorkel, fins and a flashlight and put them in the lacrosse bag. Zipping the bag, he pulled the strap over his shoulder and was about to go out the door when he noticed a lacrosse defense stick standing in the corner. Jeremy preferred the shorter attack sticks when he played but he figured the longer stick might come in handy. He grabbed it, peaked around the corner to make sure it was still clear and then ran out the door toward the desert.

Blue barked madly when he saw Jeremy running, but Jeremy didn’t look back. He bent low and tried to keep the shed between himself and the ranch house as he ran. Dirt and sand filled his sandals. Small rocks worked their way under his feet causing pain with every step. His bare shins and legs scraped on the sagebrush and cactus as he ran but he didn’t stop. He couldn’t. He had to get to the bowl before Stutts and his crew, or Fuji would be a goner and any chance of rescuing his family would go with him. The lacrosse bag grew heavier and heavier as he ran. It bounced against his side and the strap cut into his neck and shoulder but he kept on. He’d never been to the bowl on foot but he figured if he ran in the general direction sooner or later he would run into the wall, which he could then follow to the bowl.

He ran and ran. Despite the pain of his feet and the weight of the bag, he didn’t seem to tire. He didn’t know if that was because he was so scared or if it was another effect of the water. At this point he didn’t really care, as long as he got to the bowl first. The wall finally came into view. He ran up to it and rested for a moment in the shade. Which way to go now? He looked both directions. There was no sign of the bowl. He decided he needed to go north and set off again at a jog.

The thoughts continued to jumble and crash through his mind as he ran. Should he have stayed with his family? What exactly was Stutts after? How was he going to rescue his family? Could he get to the bowl before Stutts and his goons? He looked out to the horizon and thought he saw dust rising. He picked up his pace. It couldn’t be far.

The dust grew and was definitely getting closer. Jeremy looked up at the wall again and could finally see the scar left by the waterfall. He looked back at the column of dust. It was going to be close. Jeremy sprinted the last hundred yards to the lip of the bowl and didn’t slow down as he jumped over the edge and raced down the side toward the pool. Fuji was curled up near the hay resting. Jeremy yelled at him to wake up.

The dinosaur woke with a start and jumped to its feet. Jeremy tore the lacrosse bag strap off his shoulder and dropped the bag. He ran to the boulder where he had tied off the end of the rope and quickly worked the knot loose.

Fuji sniffed at the lacrosse bag then picked it up and tossed it at Jeremy. It hit Jeremy just as he stood up and knocked him flat on his back. Fuji snorted and bobbed. Jeremy jumped up angrily.

“Not now!” he yelled. “We don’t have time to play!”

The dinosaur spun and ran up the side of the bowl ready to play. “No!” Jeremy shouted but Fuji didn’t pay any attention and continued to run up and down the walls of the bowl. Jeremy picked up the loose end of the rope and tied it through the handles of the lacrosse bag, and then he tossed the whole thing as far as he could out into the middle of the pool.

He looked around. It would be obvious if anyone came down into the bowl that something was going on here. There were still three bails of uneaten hay. The grass was all matted down. If they looked close they could probably even find dinosaur prints in the dirt surrounding the grass. But there was no time to do anything about that. He could now hear and feel the rumble of heavy equipment approaching. Fuji sensed it too and trotted over to where Jeremy was standing.

“C’mon boy, we’ve got to hide for a while,” Jeremy said. He patted Fuji’s neck, picked up the lacrosse stick and then ran and jumped into the pool hoping that Fuji would follow. He wasn’t disappointed, a few seconds later he felt Fuji splash after him. Jeremy swam to the now half submerged lacrosse bag. He grabbed it with both hands and pushed it all the way under. Fuji swam up next to him.

“Want to help boy?” Jeremy asked. He wrapped the rope around Fuji’s neck a couple of times and then said, “Okay, let’s go!” and dove for the tunnel still holding the lacrosse stick.

Fuji followed, towing the bag behind him. Jeremy felt Fuji brush by him as he passed. He reached out and grabbed hold of the lacrosse bag and let Fuji pull him through the tunnel.

Fuji dragged the bag and Jeremy all the way to the beach and then stood still waiting for Jeremy to unwrap the rope.

“Thanks boy!” Jeremy said, suddenly dead tired from getting up so early and from all the excitement of the day’s events. He unwrapped the rope, unzipped the lacrosse bag and tipped it upside down so the water could run out. He dug through the contents and found the granola bars still dry in their wrappers. He tore one open, ate half of it and tossed the other half of it to Fuji who swallowed it with a gulp.

Jeremy lay back on the half–empty bag. He didn’t have time to sleep but he would rest for just a minute. He closed his eyes and was soon fast asleep.

He woke with a start, not sure where he was he was. He heard Fuji snort and looked up to see the dinosaur standing over him. The nightmare slowly came back. How long had he slept? There was light streaming in from above so it wasn’t dark yet. He sat up with a groan. What was he supposed to do now?

Fuji lowered his head and rested his snout on Jeremy’s shoulder. Jeremy rubbed it.

“Thanks boy,” he said. “You have no idea what kind of trouble we’re in, do you?” Fuji just snorted.

“I didn’t think so,” Jeremy replied as he stood up. “How would you feel about letting me ride you?”

Fuji snorted again. Jeremy walked to the lacrosse bag and started digging through all the little pockets.

“Hah! Got it!” he held up a multi-tooled pocketknife. “Jake used to keep these in his bag in case he had to swap a head or something.”

Jeremy walked to the pile of rope and cut off two pieces. Both were about four feet in length. He tossed the pocketknife back in the bag and walked over to Fuji.

“Okay boy, this isn’t going to hurt at all. I just need something that I can hang on to.” He placed the first piece of rope over Fuji’s beak and pulled it until the same amount of rope was hanging down both sides. He positioned the rope as far back on the beak as he could then he took the two ends, crossed them under the beak and brought them around behind Fuji’s neck. He made sure it wasn’t too tight and then tied them off. Retrieving the pocketknife he cut off the excess.

“That’s not too bad is it boy?” Jeremy asked as he rubbed Fuji’s snout hoping that the rope wouldn’t bother him too much. Fuji reached up with his claws and pulled at the rope but it held.

“Don’t worry about it boy. We’ll take it off in a minute,” Jeremy tried to console him.

Fuji snorted and shook his head from side to side.

“Easy boy, easy. Let me tie the reins on and then lets see how it works.” Jeremy reached up and put his hand on Fuji’s snout. The dinosaur calmed down. Jeremy tied one end of the remaining rope to the left side of the loop over Fuji’s snout. He tied the other end to the right side so that it formed reins.

“There, see that’s not so bad is it?” Jeremy asked as he examined his work. He looked up at Fuji’s back and tried to figure out the best way to get on.

“Let’s go for a swim boy,” he said and began leading Fuji out to the water using the reins. Fuji jerked a little on the rope but followed. “Good boy!” Jeremy encouraged him and led him out to deep water. When it was deep enough, Jeremy swam back around to Fuji’s side and lifted the reins over the dinosaur’s head then he wrapped his arms around Fuji’s neck and pulled himself up onto Fuji’s back.

Fuji thought that meant it was time to dive. He put his head down, nearly pulling the reins out of Jeremy’s hands and headed for the middle of the lake where it was deepest. Jeremy just had time to take a big breath before Fuji dove. Jeremy held tight to the reins and tried to use his legs to grip the dinosaur’s sides. Initially he was worried about pulling too hard on the reins but after two or three jumps, it was obvious that the reins didn’t bother Fuji and they were very helpful in keeping Jeremy on the dinosaur’s back.

After the third jump, Fuji was ready to dive again but Jeremy pulled the reins toward the beach and said, “No more, we’ve got work to do.” He pulled again toward the beach and Fuji seemed to get the idea and started that direction.

Rather than crawling off as they reached shallow water Jeremy stayed on Fuji’s back and let him carry him right out of the water. Fuji didn’t seem to notice or mind. Jeremy couldn’t help but smile. He was riding a dinosaur! Once they got out of the water, Jeremy pulled the reins to the right. Fuji stopped, turned his head, and looked back at Jeremy with one of his great yellow eyes as if to say, “What does that mean?”

Jeremy smiled, “C’mon boy, if we’re going to help the girls we have to work together.” He leaned to the right and pulled on the reins again. Fuji didn’t move. Jeremy tapped him on the sides with his bare feet and jiggled the reins. “C’mon Fuji, go!”

The dinosaur snorted and then turned to the right and started walking. “Good boy!” Jeremy enthused and patted Fuji’s neck.

For the next hour they practiced in the sand. Jeremy learned where to sit and how to grip better with the inside of his legs. Fuji learned what Jeremy wanted when he moved the reins in different directions. Remembering how powerful Fuji’s whipping tail could be, Jeremy got down and stood the lacrosse stick up in the middle of beach by stabbing the end down into the sand. Then he put a lacrosse helmet on the top of the stick.

“Okay Fuji, this is the bad guy. We need to take him out with your tail.” He walked back over to Fuji and took the reins. Jumping, he tried to get his belly up onto Fuji’s back and then spin his leg over but he wasn’t tall enough. Fuji turned his head and looked back at him.

“A little help here?” Jeremy asked, slightly frustrated. Fuji bent his knees and squatted so Jeremy could climb on.

He smiled. “You are one smart bird!” he said, “Now lets take that guy’s head off!” He walked Fuji around the beach a few times and then directed him right at the stick. Just as they got to the stick, he pulled Fuji to the left and the dinosaur’s tail came around and hit the stick making it wobble.

“That’s it!” Jeremy said, “Only next time hit it hard!” He coaxed Fuji into a trot around the beach and then directed him to the stick man again. This time Fuji knew what was coming. As soon as Jeremy pulled to the left, Fuji spun so hard and so fast Jeremy flew off and watched from the sand as the lacrosse helmet smashed into the cave wall.

“Yes!” Jeremy jumped to his feet and wrapped his arms around Fuji’s neck. “That was perfect. Next time I’ll stay on.” He ran and retrieved the helmet, stood the stick back up and put the helmet on it.

A half hour later, Fuji could spin and smash the helmet into the cave wall with the tip of his tail spinning to the left or the right. The little light they had in the cave was fading as the sun set outside. Jeremy climbed down off of Fuji, reached up and loosened the knot in the rope at the back of his neck and pulled off the halter and reins.

“It’s almost time boy. Let’s rest for a few hours. Then when they’re all asleep we’ll go get my family.” Fuji snorted and shook his head.

“Good boy!” Jeremy rubbed his snout then turned to the lacrosse bag to find the last granola bar.

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