Fandom: Magnificent Seven: ATF
Warnings: minor bit of cursing
Word Count: 2710
Author Note: This was inspired by the story I first found on Facebook of a guy that took his bull into Petco. Nuff said.
Summary: The store said all leashed pets welcome. Vin takes them up on the offer.
– – – –
“Ezra, get your overpriced ass out of that truck before you drop dead of heat stroke,” Vin yelled up from his seat on the side of the road. He didn’t dare lean against the rock wall, it was radiating heat. The trailer jostled as the bull moved around again.
“I refuse to sit on the ground.”
“Stop bein’ so stubborn.” Vin looked forward toward the source of the stubborn idiot’s anger and felt a bit of the same. The driver’s side front wheel was all smashed to bits from the hit and run driver. Vin was just glad it was Chris’ truck and not his jeep. Steam had stopped coming out of the engine about an hour ago and still no police for a report.
Another bout of cursing drew his attention to the cab, “What now?”
“The incompetents this locale jokingly refer to as law enforcement have advised us to drive to the station to file a report because they can’t spare an officer on scene for several hours. The nearest tow facility that can handle the truck won’t arrive until after sunset. And, there are no rentals nearby with a vehicle that can pull the trailer.” Ezra carefully lay his phone on the dash before kicking the interior of the truck. “Why did you have to haul me out to this godforsaken place?”
“Just hold your horses there, partner. I didn’t haul you anywhere. You volunteered. It was either safehouse or out of town until the bust went down and you chose out of town with me. Damn, Chris is gonna kill us when he sees his truck.”
“I believe it is you he will kill. We were supposed to be enjoying a cabin, not rescuing a prized bull from a wildfire.”
“It was a good cause. Miss Nettie said she could take in the bull and the Whittakers are giving her stud in payment.” Vin pointed out. “Do you have any idea what stud fees are on a bull of this quality?”
“My relaxation interrupted to serve as a pimp for a herd of cows.” Ezra slouched down in the seat.
Vin never really believed the man could slouch without being undercover. Gotta get a picture cause I win that bet with Buck. He casually checked his phone and got a picture. “That wildfire was moving in our direction anyway. They had already started evacuating people. It was logical.”
Ezra looked at him like he was smoking something, “No, the logical thing to do would have been to drive to the nearest resort and enjoy ourselves.”
Vin stood up to pull Ezra out of the seat of the cab. With the black cab and interior, the noon sun was turning this place into an oven. He glanced across the highway to the stores and decided enough was enough. Ezra really was supposed to be relaxing. He was recovering from the beating Donovan’s men gave him before Vin pulled him from the apartment they had shared while undercover. Luckily their cover wasn’t broken, Donovan was just a squirrely sob who read a horoscope telling him to watch out for the green-eyed snake and next thing you know they were in beating the crap out of Ez.
Deciding on a course of action, Vin reached in and pulled Ez out of the truck and then reached behind the seat to grab the bull’s lead. Damn thing was trained for show, time to use the training. He moved back to open the trailer and entered with the lead.
“Mr. Tanner, what do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m hot, your hot, Beau here is hot. We’re doin’ sumthin’ about it.”
“And what, pray tell, are you planning?”
“Well, right across this highway are stores that sell food and water. High time we get some.”
“I agree in theory, but you can’t take a bull into a shopping center.” Ezra tried to reason with him.
“Can too. That one over there is a Petco. Can take in a pet, long as it’s leashed.” Vin led the bull out of the trailer, and watching for traffic, crossed the highway.
Ezra paused a moment before running after him. “Are you sure the heat hasn’t gone to your head? You can’t take a bull in there.”
“Yes, I can.”
“Mr. Tanner…. Vin, those rules were made for dogs, maybe cats, for domestic animals. They did not have in mind a bull on a lead.” Ezra shook his head.
Vin kept walking, the bull following behind docilely.
Ezra kept up a stream of words that basically added up to you can’t do it, but Vin was beyond listening. He hit that parking lot and made a beeline for the front door of Petco. Funny how for all his complainin’, not once did Ez actually try to stop him.
Five feet from the door Ezra finally said, “They won’t let you stay in there with a bull.”
Vin turned and grinned, “Watch me.”
They walked into the Petco together, and Vin just sighed in pleasure at the blast of cold air. Beau didn’t seem to mind it either. He started down the main aisle toward the containers on the far wall as Ezra zipped in front of customers to grab two bottles of water and rejoined him as he grabbed a large dog bowl off the back shelf and headed for the drinking fountain.
He was filling the bowl with water when an older man in a Petco polo shirt arrived. “Um, sir. You can’t bring a bull into the store.”
“Yes, I can,” Vin said as Beau tried to move around him to lick at the water.
“No sir, for the safety of our guests, I’m going to have to ask you to remove the bull.”
“Sign says all leashed pets are welcome. He’s leashed.” Vin set the bowl down on the floor and let Beau go to town.
“Now, sir, let’s be reasonable. A bull is not exactly a pet.”
“Ahem, now my good sir, you aren’t judging my friend here based on his choice of pet? Are you? It seems to me that posting a sign saying that all leashed pets are welcome and then discriminating against someone would be bad for business.” Ezra took a drink of his water.
A couple of dogs started pulling on leashes and barking. Their owners were jerking back hard and began to curse.
“Sir, you’re becoming a disruption to this business.”
“Actually, sir, I believe they are becoming a distraction to your business.” Ezra motioned in the direction of the yapping dogs. “Young Beauregard here has been a perfect gentleman.”
A couple of officers entered the store and Vin could see them being pointed in their direction.
“What’s going on here?” The officer with the badge, Perkins, asked. His partner quickly stepped back upon seeing Beau in all his glory.
“Officer, can you please tell these men they can’t bring that animal into the store?” The manager moved over next to the officer.
“Can so.” Vin picked up the now empty bowl. “Sign on the door says all pets welcomed when leashed. Look at him, he’s leashed. And he’s better behaved than those things. Should be asking them to leave. Beau ain’t even looked at one of them, and they’re acting up.”
He put the bowl under his arm and started walking down the aisle, Beau following him easy as could be. He stopped at one of the displays and picked up a bag. “Hey, Ez, they gots snack bags of alfalfa hay. Think Beau would like that?”
“I’m certain he would,” Ezra smirked at the store manager and the officers.
“Look, fellas. I’m not saying you’re doing anything wrong. But we do have to take the public welfare into account. There were calls made from here by concerned citizens.”
Ezra tapped his finger on his lips “Exactly how did you fine gentlemen get over here so quickly?”
“What do you mean?”
“We’ve only been in the store a few minutes. Fifteen at the most. How did you get here so quickly?”
“Station is only a few miles away. It doesn’t take long to get here.” Perkins replied, confused.
“As I understand it, there is some big emergency in town that is preventing officers from responding to automobile accident sites, and yet you can come running to a minor disturbance. How interesting.” Ez started getting that tight look in his eyes that said someone was going to feel pain.
“Don’t know who told you there was an emergency in town, but it’s a pretty slow day around here. Trust me if we had an accident, you would probably have ten cars responding just to have something to do. Bull in the Petco, we drew straws and then I had to pull rank to see this.”
Vin stood petting Beau while listening and tried to calm himself down.
The manager tried to speak again, and Ezra just cut him off with a wave of his hand while pulling out his cell phone. “Clear County Sheriff, how may I help you?”
“Yes, ma’am. This is Mr. Standish again. Are you certain there is no one that can come to the scene of our accident?” Ezra asked with the slight whine that meant he was tired and exasperated.
“Sir, I do apologize. But, as I said before, there is no one available to dispatch to your location. Since you are all fine, you are welcome to submit information for a report online. You do not need to stay for an officer.” The line was disconnected, and Ezra calmly changed screens.
Perkins and his partner came closer as the call was playing. “Why in the world would she say that?” The partner, Lewis, asked.
“Sir, what accident were you talking about?” Perkins asked.
Ezra pointed toward the highway. “My partner and I were hauling our friend there home when a red Porsche Boxter came speeding down the highway while weaving. He struck us on the driver’s front, disabling our truck. He screeched to a brief halt, leaving tire marks on the highway, before taking off again.”
“Can you describe the driver or get the license plate?” Perkins asked, tight jawed. Lewis was looking decidedly green, so Vin just leaned against a pole in the aisle to watch the show.
“Oh, I can do so much better than that, my good man.” Ezra tapped a few times on his phone, “I can provide video.”
A video began to play on the phone with the audio clear. Ezra was taking video of Vin in the car.
“Put that dang thing away.”
“No, Mr. Tanner, I want proof that I was in no way associated with your decision to circumvent Mr. Larabee’s direct orders and return to Denver before the case is complete. As we speak, they are laying in wait to bust our friendly neighborhood gunrunner, and we were ordered to remain out of town until the bust was complete. I want proof that it was not my idea to circumvent the directives of a team leader in the ATF.”
“Ez, we’re not gonna get in trouble. Shoot, all we’re doin’ is drivin’ a bull to Miss Nettie’s. Ain’t no way we could get into trouble doin’…shit.”
There was jostling on the screen as an impact was heard, and Vin got control of the vehicle to stop. The camera immediately latched onto the red car that was damaged along the passenger side. The car screeched to a halt, and the driver looked right at the screen through the windshield of his convertible. Suddenly the driver reached down, put the car into gear and took off, the camera zooming in on the license plate as the vehicle moved away.”
“Damn, that’s mayor Bullard!” Lewis identified the driver.
Perkins flexed his fingers and stopped himself from taking the phone. “That sorry SOB has paid his way out of more trouble. This time I’ve got him.” He looked around. “Pete, I’m sorry, but we need to use your store a little longer. Would you gentlemen be inclined to making a statement for a report? I would love nothing more than to nail his hide to the wall.”
Vin came back over to them, “What about Beau?” Vin opened one of the bags and offered Beau a snack.
The manager, Pete, sighed then motioned toward the back corner. “How would Beau feel about staying in our dog training center.” He opened the door, and Beau followed Vin into the 20×12 space.
– – – –
Twelve hours later, they pulled into Miss Nettie’s drive. They quietly bedded Beau down, and Nettie took possession of the trailer as Vin drove them to Ezra’s place to crash for the night. It was 10am when the ringing of Vin’s phone woke him up.
“Yup.” Vin tried to pull the pillow back under his head.
“Why do I have messages from the Clear County Sheriff’s department notifying me that my truck is in impound?”
“Cause they have to tell you when they have your truck?”
“What the hell is my truck doing in Clear County?”
“It’s sittin’ in the impound.”
“Is that all you want to say?”
“Yup.” Vin hung up the phone and put the pillow over his head to block out the light. He could still hear the phone ring in the next room. After five or six rings it was answered with muffled sounds and then silence.
Vin’s phone rang again, “yup.”
“I’ll yup you. What the hell happened to my truck, Tanner.”
“What did Ez tell you?”
An exasperated sigh, “It was hit by a bull.”
“Well, there ya go cowboy.”
A very long moment of silence was followed by, “Where are you?”
“And where is the bed?”
“Why are you? No, never mind. Stay where you are.” The click of a phone hanging up ended in silence, which was good cause Vin was still sleeping and it wasn’t like he planned to go anywhere.
He was woken once again by pounding on the front door. Well, hell. How do they expect a man to sleep through that racket?
He pulled on his jeans and walked to the front door with no shirt and bare feet. He unlocked the door and stepped back to let Chris and the guys in.
“Don’t get all pissy. Ez is still sleeping.”
“I was. Is there a reason my domicile was raided at this ungodly hour?” Ezra said as he headed straight to the coffee maker.
“It’s after 10 am, Ez,” JD stated.
“Hey, Ez. I saved your paper off your front step.”
“Thank you, Mr. Dunne.”
JD sat down on the couch and opened the paper as Chris continued a stare down with Vin. Vin just kept the smirk in place and put his feet up on the coffee table. He watched as that little line in Chris’ forehead start to throb.
“Holy Shit! Is that your truck, Chris?” JD pointed to a picture in the paper.
The guys gathered round as Vin watched as they leaned over to see the story. Vin reached up to take the coffee cup from Ezra as Ez moved to sit in the armchair. The headline over the story read, “NO BULL IN CLEAR COUNTY.” A large picture of Beauregard looking over the door in Petco was on one side and Mayor Bullard in cuffs as he was pulled out of his home, drunk, was on the other side. The story went on to describe how the Sheriff and two of the dispatchers were implicated in covering up a string of hit and run accidents in the county. Special thanks to a team of unnamed ATF agents and their well-trained Bull for uncovering the conspiracy.
“You can’t even go into hiding for a week? Just one week. That was all I asked for, and you had to find trouble anyway.” Chris sat down and looked at the article with the picture of his truck about two thirds down the story. “Why is it always my truck?”
“I think it’s the black, Chris. There’s just something not right about an all black truck. Ain’t natural.” Vin leaned back with his coffee cup as everyone started in again and just traded a silent toast with Ezra.