Chapter 4: Trouble
The next day after school, Balto got the day off work, and went to Burlington Cranston's field, for an unknown reason, and Ren was in the gym practicing gymnastics and talking to Willard. Balto knew a lot of things about Ren, but that was something she would never understand. She thinks he uses it as an excuse to get away from her. He was telling Willard what Ariel said the previous day.
"So she tells me…that I pissed Chuck off right?" Ren began.
"So he wants to see me…then she walks away."
"He figured you were gonna chicken and never—impressive!" Willard said, when Ren did a trick. Ren stood up and tried to catch his breath.
"Kinda out of it. I had to go to work last year."
"You still move it?" Willard asked, referring to Ren's dancing. Ren did a quick move, and Willard said that he better watch it, or Ariel will tell the Reverend and he's gonna burn.
"Yeah, what's her story? Is she really tough or what?" Ren asked when he got back up on the bar.
"Nah, she's just trying to make people forget she's the preacher's kid"
"That why she hangs out with Chuck?"
"Maybe. People think she's a hell-raiser."
"Is she?" Ren knew what a hell-raiser was, having lived seventeen years of his life with one, but Ariel gave no implications of being quite as much of a hell-raiser as his own sister.
"I think she's been kissed a lot." Ren scoffed at that comment.
Five-thirty came quickly, and Ren and Willard went out to Chuck's field and met up with Woody, Rusty, and everyone else. Ren had no idea how to operate a tractor, and Balto hadn't the slightest idea, either. Ren knew he would have to keep his sister on a leash…literally…because Balto would probably sabotage Chuck's tractor to make sure Ren would win. And Ren, being the evil big brother he is, had a large dog collar in one of his pockets, which he didn't hesitate to put on Balto and tie to a tree. It was kind of cruel, he knew, but he didn't want her to risk death via Chuck by sabotaging his tractor. But he was a little too late for that matter…
Flashback to Earlier that Day…
"Ain't ya going to work today, Balto? Or did Charlie give ya the day off?" Ren asked when Balto wasn't in her work shirt that day.
"Got the day off. Goin' cow-tipping tonight with the guys." Balto replied. She had only gotten to go cow-tipping two or three times back in Chicago, and there were farms and pastures everywhere in Bomont.
"The guys?" Ren was unaware of who "the guys" were.
"Jack, Garth, maybe Burt," Balto replied. "You know them."
Balto did get the day off, that was true, but she wasn't going cow-tipping. She was going to Burlington Cranston's field, where she knew Chuck and his buddies would be waiting for Ren. She knew that Chuck was planning a chicken race, because she had her own experiences with the activity and knew when somebody was arranging one. She could see Chuck, Ariel, Rich, and a few others she didn't recognize hanging out down by one of the tractors on one side of a narrow dirt road. Balto knew absolutely nothing about tractors, having grown up in an urban environment, but she knew how to loosen a tire and that was good enough.
She managed to sneak across the large field unseen, and crept up behind the tractor that Chuck and everyone else was sitting by. Balto removed a wrench from her jacket pocket and started to loosen the lugnuts on one of the tires, and poured some oil on it to ensure that the tire would eventually come loose. She also knew that the results of her sabotage could very well kill him, but that was a chance she was willing to take. It's not like nobody ever died in a chicken race before.
Chuck and everybody got distracted by Woody walking up to the field, and went up to go intimidate him saying that there was no way in hell that Ren would win this. Balto, of course, got steamed and decided to do further damage to the tractor. She popped up the hood and took a look at all the parts. It was like Chinese writing to her, so she would just have to guess which parts to sabotage. She then finished screwing up the gears and stuff inside the tractor and shut the hood. Chuck looked like he was almost done talking to Woody, so she ran out of there quickly.
Back to the Present…
Balto snickered at the memory of what she did to that tractor, and pulled a pocketknife from her pocket. She cut the rope and unfastened the collar from her neck, then ran up with the others. Ren and Chuck were driving their tractors toward one another, and everybody else was running and cheering. Chuck had also brought a tape player and had one of his cassettes playing, when Balto noticed that the tire started to move, and some smoke was coming out from under the hood. Show time.
The tire was really loose, and the tractor started to turn involuntarily and Chuck couldn't control it very well. Ren was still on his tractor, driving towards the malfunctioning tractor, and was having second thoughts. He would've jumped off, had his shoelace not gotten caught on something. He looked back and saw Balto…missing the collar. He looked toward the tree and saw the collar and the rope on the ground. That sly dog…
Chuck knew he had no choice but to jump, so he did…into the creek. The tractor kept going out of control, and then finally toppled over on its side. Ren won the chicken race, but that was the last thing on his mind. What was first and foremost in that brain of his, was kicking Balto's ass for messing with the tractor, because now, Chuck was going to kill them both. However, he still celebrated.
"Son of a bitch tried to kill me!" Chuck repeated as his cronies helped get him out of the creek.
Everyone on Ren's side of the field was walking away, but Chuck stayed and called Charlie Wolff to come over and see what was wrong with the tractor.
"Well, it looks like your tire's loose, and the interior's all messed up. Looks like somebody tried to beat it with a hammer or something," said Charlie as he inspected everything. "It'd take a real mastermind to pull off somethin' like this on one of your guys' tractors; and it looks like whoever did it knew what they were doin'."
"Well can ya fix it?" Chuck was getting impatient.
"Shouldn't be that hard to fix, but it's gonna take a while to get this thing upright. Go get your pop to come and help, while I get the tire on right." Chuck ran off, and Charlie was fixing the tire when he saw a discarded wrench on the ground. Balto's wrench.
"That kid is gonna get her face kicked in if Burlington finds this." Charlie said to himself.
Meanwhile, back in the small, small world of Ren and Balto…
Balto was running all around the house, with Ren pursuing her.
"I'm gonna kill you!" He yelled.
"No you won't! You're just saying that because you're angry and full of rage!" Balto yelled back, dodging the furniture, and trying not to get caught, literally.
They eventually wound up in the backyard, and Balto didn't hesitate to scramble up the tree, leaving Ren down below.
"Balto! Come down here so I can kill you!" Ren called. Balto didn't answer. "You can either come down and let me kill you, or stay up there and let me kill you!"
"Is there a third option?" Balto asked. Ren began to climb the tree, and grabbed Balto by the collar.
"Yes! The third option is: get killed or thrown in jail by the Cranstons!" He shook her back and forth, causing them to lose their balance. Both fell on the ground and started wrestling. They were interrupted some minutes later by their aunt's voice coming from inside.
"Balto! Ren! Come inside, I want to talk to you!" She yelled.
"Are we in trouble?" They yelled back, simultaneously.
"Just get in here!" This either meant she was annoyed with that answer, or they were in big trouble.
They went inside and found her in the living room by the phone. They could tell by her facial expression that it was Balto that was in trouble. Balto gets a deeper scowl when she's in trouble than Ren does.
"Balto," Lulu began. "Burlington Cranston just called."