The door to my room had been left open. My senses had returned almost to normal since the fight with whoever the nasty man in the backseat of the limo was. It was then I made the conscious decision not to physically fight with anyone anymore because every time I did I passed out. And even more on the forefront of my mind was, as I recall, getting out that open door, finding my dog, my Pink Cadillac, oh, and my money. Jeez Louise where was my money. I found my bag, showered in the most glamorous bathroom I had seen in my lifetime. Shower heads coming from every direction. I loved looking through Fancy home magazines but had never seen the likes of those nifty sprayers. I recall the imaginary sensation of me standing under a beautiful pale blue soft flowing waterfall somewhere in Hawaii. Or like a flower on a gentle rainy afternoon. And then it was back to my senses. I was not in Hawaii, rather I was not sure where I was.
I found the courage to make my way to the door where I entered the hallway. Holy Cows it was like a museum. Pillars, velvet wallpaper, paintings extraordinaire, and carpet so thick I was sinking like quicksand. I had everything with me including a couple ashtrays with the name J-Bar-J Oil and Cattle Company inscribed on each in gold no less. Oh, and a couple other little items. Sort of like when you leave a motel and you take the shampoo, little soaps, and maybe a washrag. I figured they wouldn't miss a couple items. It wasn't like I stole a painting or the TV. I passed room after room each decorated like what I would imagine the inside of a castle looked like. Those cows must be real money makers, I thought. I knew the oil was. I had watched the Beverly Hillbillies enough to know what bubbling black, Texas tea meant. But why me? What did they want with me? Just then a very pretty middle aged woman stepped out of one of the rooms as I passed.
She said, "May I help you, young lady?"
I said, "No thank you, I will be on my way as soon as I find my dog Duke and my Pink Cadillac. Do you happen to know where they are ma'am?"
She informed me she did know and told me to follow her downstairs where she got my keys and was about to show me where Duke was when in the door came a tall rather big man with a large white cowboy hat on. He also had a large band aide across his nose and some fading scratches on the side of his face. Guess there was no wondering who that was. Although I figured a name to go with that face and body might help me figure out the rest of the story. Or not. I just stood there like a deer facing headlights. That is when the man sauntered directly towards me and held out his hand to shake mine. I took a step back. He dropped his right hand and said in a deep southern drawl.
"My name is Joseph Benjamin Justice, and this is my wife Augusta Justice. Roger is my son. Please have a seat and allow me to explain why the past week has been a bit difficult for you."
I replied rather unkindly to Mr. J-Bar-J! In fact I said, "I really do not care what your name is or who you are married to and especially who your son is. Do forgive my boldness but you see sir, all I did was offer your son a ride to somewhere outside Tulsa. He wasn't with me but a half a day when he disappeared after stealing my boom box. Then some trucker named Becker offered to help me find him in a men's bathroom. Then I was subdued by a ghost somewhere north of Springfield, Illinois. Then the trucker Becker shows up again and offers to float me between he and another trucker for safety factors, imagine that Mr. J-Bar-J? That is when I saw Roger being held at what I thought was captive. Kidnapped by the truckers. So I went into save Roger mode which has caused me nothing but trouble. In the meantime I found a dog, got arrested, put in the pokey with a bunch of hookers, fell on a cement floor and sustained a concussion, spent the night in a hospital, stood before a Judge who informed me I had interfered with the transport of a Federal prisoner. Roger? My prize possession was towed away and my dog taken to a pound. I believe that is when I was kidnapped by you. Now where is my dog and my car and my money. I am so done with all of you. If I do have to go to prison at least you and Roger wont be there. And let me add, I do not know what those cows are about but they certainly have given you the right to take advantage of innocent people. I guess because you are rich you think this is all okay. Well it is not. I thank you for causing my concussion and then for nursing me back to health which you should have done. It is the least you owe me sir. "
"Are you finished young lady?"
I just stood there staring at he and his wife.
He said, "Now sit down and let me finish explaining."
And so I reluctantly sat back down. I figured he wasn't going to give me any keys or dog if I didn't. And so he sat down at the kitchen table across from me while Augusta made us some iced tea.
Joseph told me I would not be going to prison. He knew the Judge and wanted to get that off my mind before he went any further in his explanation. The way the story went is that Roger, being from a very well to do Southern family had the means and time to take a road trip to Minnesota with a couple college buddies. The trip was supposed to last a couple weeks but extended out to a few months. Joseph then quoted me a Bible verse, "Idle hands are the devil's workshop." And he added the boys had been idle in Minnesota too dang long. As his story went on I realized he meant their idle time with no productive job or life had gotten them into some trouble. And I was right as the story continued, apparently one evening while out and about at a local bar, one of the boys put a drug of some sort in a girls drink. They left the bar and she was found dead the following week after an intense search and then investigation. Roger and the other fellow were implicated due to simply knowing the guilty party. After a few months the Judge gave Roger permission to leave the state. But only with family. But Roger, being spoiled, (notice the word oil in spoiled) left anyway of his own accord going against the Judges orders, not waiting for family to retrieve him. That is when I came across Roger hitchhiking and picked him up. In the meantime Mr. J-Bar-J had hired a private investigator to track Roger which they did due to following his use of credit cards. At that point in the story I found out Daddy Justice sent out Uncle Judd Biggs and his half -brother Jarrett Becker to follow the trail the investigators were pursuing. That is when Becker found me at the rest area. A Pink Cadillac isn't the hardest to find or easiest to hide. As well as the team of investigators had pinpointed where I had last cashed a travelers check for gas and such.
Suddenly Daddy Justice interrupted his Roger tale with, "Oh by the way, Augusta, would you get Julianna's money from the safe please."
One down, one to go....was my immediate thought. Just my dog left and I shall flee the scene. I really didn't want to hear the rest of the story. Now that I knew I wouldn't be going to a desert prison, I wanted to hit the road. Even though an immense fear of it had entered my emotions and brain. I was really scared. I suppose that was normal from all I had been through in a mere week or so. I had actually lost track of what day it was. Somewhere near Sunday as I recalled Roger rat fink watching Bonanza in my room at the ranch the day before or maybe it was the day before that. It didn't matter, it was almost over.
Regardless of my disinterest Mr. J-Bar-J oilman continued his story anyway. He recognized my impassivity and stopped his excusing Roger story by asking me if I had ever been to Oklahoma before. I responded that I had. That I was raised in Austin, Texas and my Grandfather still had a ranch there. He was the first to ever own a Buffalo ranch outside Austin. And he married his second wife who was previously engaged to Gene Autry. I think I stunned Mr. fancy Justice. I had some money blood pulsing through my southern bred veins too. I didn't have to tell him Granddaddy was originally from the north. I could tell he was a confederate through and through and Yankee's gave him an bad itch. In the end I told him I also knew Oklahoma to be the sooner state. And the sooner he was finished the sooner I could get back on the road around nice people for a change. People that don't tie up their kinfolk.
Mr. Justice responded with, "I guess I had that coming young lady."
My name is Julianna Rowe, not young lady. I feel like you consider me nothing more than a young heifer at a rodeo for your family to hog tie, hold your hands in the air as the winner, and walk away.
Good rodeo's are hard to find. And this one you call family I hope to never come into contact with again. Pardon me if that sounds disrespectful but you hold the card on that. Not I.
And once again he said, "Allow me to finish please." And the saga continued. Roger had refused to come back with Uncle Biggs. Possibly it was his upbringing in a wealthy family that caused him disrespect toward the law where as he believed he could just walk away from a Judges orders. Daddy J-Bar-J actually told me he thought they may have spoiled him. That is when my ice tea nearly slipped from my hand onto the pretty fancy floor. Roger, spoiled? Joke of the year. Of course those were my private hidden thoughts.
The story continued.... "Even you realized you might go to prison for leaving the area after the Judge ordered you not to. But Roger did not. If Uncle Biggs had not hogtied Roger he could have been implicated further in the murder of that poor young woman and gone to prison for most of his life. I couldn't allow that to happen. That is when you helped him escape from his family. Becker and Biggs were told not to follow you but there was an unmarked private investigator on your tail the entire time."
It was at that moment I realized Duke was not my dog afterall. That Duke belonged to Becker. I started to cry. Daddy Justice went all soft and asked me what was the matter? I told him I had just realized Duke really belonged to Becker. I had gotten so attached to him and he to me. But that I realized a big dog isn't the best fit for the big city and a single working woman. I wiped my face and asked if I could go now. He said not quite yet. I let out a boring sigh and snatched another pecan praline.
And so the tall man with the extreme southern drawl went on. He informed me the investigative service he hired also worked with the police on occasion and this was one of those occasions. That is why I had gotten stopped and arrested. He then apologized after hearing the officer wasn't one of the most gentle towards me.
I piped up. "Gentle? The damn pig was a downright skuzz ball. That was the worst thing that has ever happened to me Daddy Justice and I wont forgive you for a long long time."
He asked me what my Dad was like. I rolled my eyes and replied I did not wish to go to Psyche class 101 with him. My Dad was dead. Enough said. And any further discussion regarding it was set aside.
Daddy Justice told me if it made any difference and he hoped it would, that he had hired Bambi to watch over me while I spent that night in jail.
Once again all respect went out the kitchen window. I informed him that is where I received the concussion that caused two or three more fainting spells which needed more medical treatment.
I added vehemently, "So Miss Bambi didn't do her job very well sir. Are we done yet? And why do you feel it so important to tell me how I got ambushed by a rich Oklahoma Rancher whose kid is spoiled and doesn't respect the law."
Before he could answer my thoughts took over and went to: Seemed to me like I got the ass end of this deal which reminded me of the old Julianna saying, "I must have eyes in my ass, cause I cant see anything until its passed."
And so he continued. And I sighed.
He told me I hadn't done anything wrong. The judge was an old friend from College who played along until we could get Roger's case resolved and keep me safe and from any involvement in the Minnesota case. That is when he picked me up in the limo and that is why he had Duke and Roger with him. He added the comment I was quite a feisty little thing. I noticed Augusta snickering after that statement. I wondered how many times she might have wanted to jump on the old fellow like a duck on a june bug and mess him up some.
Then, when I thought he was finally done. He hesitated just long enough to give my mouth permission to start again.
I was not thinking as fast as my mouth was going so I slowed it down some. I told him I sensed he felt I owed him an apology for being so harsh on he and Roger. And how that was not going to happen. Somehow I believed there was an easier was to handle this than had been done. I informed him I felt he was not the greatest Father figure. That money couldn't solve everything although I agreed it did help. And if I had my druthers I would chose to have it verses not. I informed he and his wife that during the short time I had spent with Roger it seemed very hard for Roger to communicate. I suspected that was because he was never told he did anything well enough. I noticed Mr. Justice's eyebrows raise in distaste but that didn't stop me from the truth. I told them Roger couldn't even tell me what was going on. He would turn his face from me and stare out the opposite side window. It was like Roger wasn't full growed yet he was.
Mr. Daddy J-Bar-J interrupted me. He said, "I would like to give you a million dollars Julianna Rowe." And just then Becker and Duke walked through the door. Duke was all over me licking my face and crying like a baby that just found his lost Mama. And tears were rolling down my face I was so happy to see my best friend ever. I was also about to faint again, but this time from shock not a concussion.
Becker said, "Miss Julianna, Duke is yours if you'll have him. He hasn't been the same since he got back here. He loves you and he needs you. I aint never seen him this happy.
I stood up, I thanked Becker, told both men I needed some air and walked out the door with Duke, my money, and my keys.