Book Excerpt

Ralph’s Place II
By C. Michael Bennis

Chapter XIII: Carl Cody

Jake and Ralph parked the red truck at the side of the Victorian mansion while Carl, Cassidy, and Montana pulled their truck alongside and parked as well. The five of them entered into an exuberant, rambunctious scene in the mansion living room. Juan and Daniel were singing at the top of their lungs in Spanish, and Sam was howling (Juan’s singing hurt his ears). Melissa was sneaking around looking for mischievous ghosts while holding a spray bottle of ammonia. Tiger was emitting low-throated growls at Fazzula, who was juggling coffee cups. Jeanne was tipsy and swinging back and forth from one chandelier to another. Meme was following below Jeanne, yelling at her to stop her foolishness. Carla was watching the chaos and yelled, “Incoming!” when she noticed their guests had arrived, whereupon Jeanne let go of the chandelier and dropped into her mother’s arms.

Upon entering the room and seeing the chaos, Carl, Cassidy, and Montana stopped dead in their tracks and stared with eyes and mouths wide open in astonishment.

Jake walked nonchalantly through the chaos into the kitchen, where he grabbed three Leinenkugel beers for him, Carl, and Cassidy. Returning to the living room, Jake handed Carl and Cassidy their beers. Then, turning to face the chaos, Jake put two fingers in his mouth and gave a very loud, shrill whistle. The boisterous activity immediately stopped, and everyone turned to face Jake.

“I’d like to introduce my friend Carl Cody, an award-winning bullfighter, and his lovely bride, Cassidy. You folks from England may not know that rodeo bullfighters are brave men and they are essential to bull-riding competition. When a rider is thrown, they step between the bull and the thrown rider, distracting the bull, so the rider can get away safely. They willingly expose themselves to great danger to save a rider. That’s no small feat, since the bull weighs nearly one ton. The bullfighters also double as clowns and provide comic relief. I’d also like to introduce their daughter, Montana. She and Ralph caught seven beautiful rainbow trout today.”

“Hooray! Viva! Bienvenida! Welcome!”

Carl smiled and said, “Thanks, Jake, for the introduction. I have something very important to say. Montana, my daughter, is asthmatic, and Ralph saved her life today. Montana purposely left her bronchodilator behind when she and Ralph went trout fishing. Montana suffered a severe asthma attack a long way from our home. Thankfully, Ralph did not panic and recalled seeing Cassidy slip the inhaler into the side pocket of Montana’s backpack. My daughter owes her life to Ralph’s quick thinking. Jake, your son is a hero.”

Jake smiled. “Ralph, you did that?”

Montana answered for him, “He sure did!”

Jake smiled at Montana. “I’m proud of Ralph, always have been, and I’m sure I always will be. However, Montana, I believe you might be Ralph’s number one fan!”

Juan smiled. “He saved me when I collapsed in the Tiffany Wilderness.”

Jake ruffled Ralph’s hair and grinned. “You didn’t want me to know the danger you and Bucky faced from the beaver trappers. However, Juan and Carla talked my ears off with praise for your quick thinking and aggressive action.”

Ralph turned crimson.

Montana walked over and stood beside Ralph with wide-eyed wonder. “Would you introduce Mom and me to your mom and grandmother? And then to the tiger and the bear?”