Miracle Working McKennas
By Janet Brayden
Murray Bozinsky's doctor, John "Jack" Holmes was beaming. For once the extremely slender computer whiz had gained weight! He'd been on him time and again about his habit of eating junk food while sitting in front of his computer.
"Murray, you've simply got to eat regular meals!" he had said in exasperation as far back as two years ago. "You ought tto weight about one hundred and fifty pounds or so. You're not some tiny little teenager - you're a grown man of six feet in your thirties! You need to gain some weight!"
"I just don't seem to be able to," Murray had said time and again.
"As for you two," Dr. Holmes turned his wrath on Murray's partners, Cody Allen and Nick Ryder, "you need to make sure he eats better. Drag him away from that computer. Take him to Straightaway's for a decent meal at least every couple of days!" Looking directly at Nick who was known to be pretty good at a barbecue grill he said, "Or cook something up on that grill of yours!"
The two older men had tried but it wasn't until they were reunited with their former commanding office, Colonel Brian McKenna and his niece, Cayce, that it had started to happen.
The two had visited with Cayce when she was on the run between horse shows and rodeos or on buying trips but never at her ranch, the Lazy M, which was located up in the Lake Tahoe region of the state.
A case involving sabotage and an apparent kidnapping attempt - with Cayce as the would be victim - had changed all that. They had all three gone undercover at the ranch and on the road with her that summer until the case was finally solved. Now, whenever they weren't working on a case, they spent almost as much time in Sunny Acres as they did in King Harbor and the results were what was behind Dr. Holmes's jubiliant response to Murray's latest physical.
"Tell me, Murray, what have you been eating lately?"
"The usual," Boz said. "Pizza, spaghetti...'
"Well, yes, I suppose a certain amount of junk food as well," Bozinsky admitted.
"That doesn't account for the weight you've put on," Holmes told his patient. "You've actually gained fifteen pounds! I'm very happy!"
The doctor went to the door and called Cody and Nick in to give them the good news. He knew they were anxious because they'd been reamed out on more than one occasion for not paying more attention to Murray's eating, and sleeping habits. The two partners looked at each other nervously not knowing what to expect.
"I'm happy to tell you, gentlemen, that Murray is in better shape today than he was six months ago. How did you manager to get him to gain fifteen pounds? He only weighed one hundred and thirty the last time I saw him. Now he's one hundred and forty-five - a lot closer to what I'd like to see him weigh."
"It wasn't us, doctor," Cody told him. "We try to keep an eye on him but it's hard."
'"Yeah, what Cody's saying is that we tell Murray to turn his light out by a certain time but when we get up in the morning we'll find him asleep at his desk - again."
"His lunch, or dinner, will go untouched unless we stand over him some days," Cody added.
"Then how do you account for this miraculous weight gain?" Holmes wanted to know.
"The McKennas - and Josefina," Cody said.
"Who are these McKennas? And who is Josefina?"
"Cayce McKenna, and her uncle, Brian. We served under the colonel when we were in the MPs," Cody explained. "We took a case for Cayce about a year ago and, since she had adopted Nick and me, as brothers, some years ago - she's an only child - she's adopted Murray, too."
"Cayce owns a ranch in the Lake Tahoe region," Nick explained. "Whenever we're not on a case we have a standing invitation to visit."
"I see," the gray haired physician said. "What does this have to do with Murray's weight gain?"
"Doc, have you ever visited a working ranch? The meals they put out are incredible!" Nick told him. "Steak and eggs, ham, bacon and eggs, biscuits, waffles and sausage and the like for breakfast."
"Yeah, and steak and potatoes, corn, beets, salads. Sometimes spaghetti, lasagna, macaroni and cheese and such like for dinner," Cody added. "Lunch is usually just sandwiches but Cayce doesn't keep a lot of junk food around and her housekeeper, Josefina Morales - she's kind of a surrogate mother to Cayce - wouldn't let her anyway. She does a lot of the cooking and she's always fussing over all of us."
"Breakfast usually includes oatmeal or Cream of Wheat - sometimes grits - as well as the steak and eggs and such like."
"Hmm," the doctor nodded his head. "And what about exercise and fresh air?"
"Trust me, doctor," Cody said, "Murray is not allowed to sit in front of Cayce's computer all day. She's even taken to locking the office so he can't get in unless she's with him."
"If the colonel's around he's got Murray helping him with some project or other that he's started - and they're usually outside. Colonel McKenna says he gets tired of being in an office all day so he spends as much time outside on his visits to the Lazy M as possible
"Cody and I help out around the ranch and Murray does try to help with the feeding of the horses," Nick told Dr. Holmes. "Lugging buckets of water and grain must be helping him build up some muscle. He's even trying to help with the loading of the hay into the hay loft. So far he's only managed to turn the hay that's drying in the fields."
The physician sat at his desk and wrote some notes, then he looked up at the men again. Murray was looking slightly embarassed at being the subject of this conversation but pleased, all the same, that the doctor was happy with his progress.
"Some day I'd like to meet these McKennas," he said. "In the meantime I'm putting positive notes in Murray's records and I have a recommendation for you."
"What would that be?" Cody asked the question on all their minds.
"If you find that Murray is spending too much time at the computer when you're not on a case, and he's not trying to meet a deadline for some magazine, I want you to get him out of the city and up to the Lazy M. Whatever they're feeding him and allowing him to do are working wonders. I want to see another ten pounds on him within the next six months."
"Cayce will be more than happy to oblige, doctor, and it just so happens that one of her cousins is a nurse. I'm sure Erika will be more than happy to ensure that he eats right and gets enough fresh aiar and exercise. She's at the Lazy M quite often."
"It's all settled then. I'll see you in six months, Murray and you'd better have gained another ten pounds. You'll still be sliightly underweight but you'll be a lot healthier."
With that he dismissed his patient, and his patient's partners and sent them on their way. When they were out the door he turned to his receptionist/nurse and said, "Kit, I'd like you to get the address for a Cayce McKenna at the Lazy M ranch. It's somewhere in the Lake Tahoe region. I'm going to want to send Miss McKenna a letter..."