No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
**This story takes place immediately after "Enemy Number One"**
"Hey, Matt? Can you come in here for a minute?" CJ was standing on the patio hollering down at her husband who was under his truck in front of the barn. The minute she yelled, his hand slipped on the ratchet he was using to remove the drain plug from the oil filter on his truck and he busted his knuckle. With a half-muted curse, he rolled out on the creeper.
"Yeah, babe, be right there." He grabbed the grease rag out of his back pocket and tried to clean off his hand as he walked up to the house.
"Sorry to bother you, hon, but we've kind of got a problem." She walked back toward the house.
"Did the washing machine blow up or something?" He couldn't figure out what the problem might be – other than the fact that his knuckle was now bleeding so much that it reminded him of a gushing oil well.
"No, although it got out of balance earlier and tried to walk out of the laundry room." CJ laughed. "It isn't really us that's got the problem – it's…" CJ's words were interrupted by a wail coming from the kitchen. When Matt opened the door, Chris – his secretary, flew into his arms.
"Hey, now. What in the world has got you so upset? Come on and sit down. Here." He pulled out a chair for her and sat down at the kitchen table with her. "What's the matter, darlin'?"
"I don't know what I'm gonna do, Houston…Murray…WHAAAAAHHH!" The rest was an incoherent stream of hysterical babble. Matt looked up at CJ, completely mystified.
"Well, the first thing you're gonna do is calm down." He went to the fridge and pulled out a couple of Fizzy Pops. He managed to get one open using his left hand and it was then that CJ saw his knuckles.
"The ratchet slipped again, huh?" She headed toward the master bathroom to get some first aid supplies. Every time Matt got to working on something with a ratchet he would bust his knuckles. She was seriously thinking of slipping out to the tool shed one night and removing all of them.
"Now take a drink. There ya go. Okay, big breath. Now what's the matter?" Matt had never really liked dealing with a hysterical woman and if it hadn't been Chris – who was normally very calm – he might well have headed back down to his truck.
"I'm sorry, Houston." Chris gave a big sniff and he handed her a paper towel. She honked her nose. "It's Murray. We had a fight and…" Her chin started to quiver.
Thinking quickly, Matt handed the drink back to her. "Take another sip. Alright now. Y'all had a disagreement and…"
"No! Not a disagreement. It wasn't near that civilized."
Matt was fighting the urge to laugh. "Oh, okay, so what did y'all get into about?"
"Well, he said he didn't care what kind of ceremony we have…" She started to bawl again.
Houston looked down at his knuckle and then back at his secretary. "And…?"
"Well, isn't that bad enough?" Now Chris was getting mad at him.
"Of course it is, but I mean did he say anything else? That's all I meant. Here, have another sip."
CJ walked back into the kitchen and began cleaning Matt's knuckle. He jumped. "Dang, CJ! How many times have I told you not to use that acid on me?!" He pulled back his hand.
"Quit being such a big baby." She grabbed his hand back and continued to torture him.
Matt, trying to ignore the searing pain being caused by his beautiful wife, looked back at Chris. "And what was the rest of it, Chris?"
"He said it didn't matter to him. And he doesn't seem to want to help with planning any part of the wedding. I mean after all, didn't you help CJ?"
First he heard a snort from his wife, then a peal of laughter. He looked up at her. "Sorry, I just uh, hee hee!" She burst into laughter again.
"Actually, Chris it was CJ and Mama who planned the wedding. I was a little busy with getting my knee fixed at the time."
"More like you were passed out on the balcony from the pain pills!" CJ was still laughing. Matt looked up and arched an eyebrow at her.
"That wasn't my fault, CJ, and you know it. I couldn't help that the doctor gave me something that would knock me on my…"
"So now I've got this whole wedding to plan, only I'm not sure I even want to marry him now!" Another wail and the water works started again.
Matt took a big breath. "Okay, Chris, if I was talking to a witness about a case, I would be asking for all of the facts. I need to know word for word what Murray said and what you said."
"Well, he said he didn't care what kind of ceremony it was, and that whatever I decided would be fine with him." Chris sat and thought about it for a minute. "Oh, maybe he didn't mean it the way I thought."
"Chris, you know how Murray is – he worships the ground you walk on. Of course he meant it in the best way possible. He's absolutely crazy about you." Matt was starting to feel a little better about the situation.
"Oh, what have I done? WHAAAAHHH!" She let out another wail and Matt was reminded of one of the old air raid sirens. He shook his head.
"Would you like for me to call him – kinda help you two work this out?" He was fumbling for his phone but couldn't find it.
"Didja lose your phone again?" CJ was now the one with the arched brow.
"Uh, I think it's in the truck. Would you just hand me the house phone…please?" He was racking his brain trying to remember where he had left the darn thing again – he had a bad habit of setting them down when he got busy with something. CJ walked back over and handed him the phone. "I'll just go out here and give you ladies some time to talk." He hot footed it out to the patio and called Murray.
"Come on; pick up the phone, Murray. Pick it up, pick it up…Murray, Chris is out here at the ranch and …Murray, listen bud, no just listen…MURRAY!" Matt was close to losing his cool. "Look, I think I've got this deal worked out for you here, but I'm gonna need you to come out here and put on the charm big time, okay? What do I mean by big time?" Matt took off his baseball cap and swatted at his leg in lieu of cussing a blue streak. "Flowers would be great, candy wouldn't hurt. What? No, Murray, not Skootles, chocolate - you know how women like chocolate." He listened to the CEO ramble on for a minute. "Murray, are you drunk? Oh God, not again." He closed his eyes. So much for going fishing this afternoon. "Look, where are you? Okay, stay there. I'll be there as quick as I can. And don't drink any more booze, make a pot of coffee, you hear me?" He hung up the phone. "CJ, can you come out here for just a minute, sweetie?" Oh dear God he wanted to cuss a blue streak.
She came out of the kitchen preceded by her quickly expanding baby bump and he handed the phone back to her. "Look, I've gotta go get Murray. Evidently he was upset by their fight and started drinking – and you know him, he can sniff the cork and get a buzz." He was still fumbling around in his pockets looking for his phone. CJ handed him another one. "Thanks, babe. Be back as soon as I can. Love you." He kissed her on the cheek and headed back down to the truck.
"Matt, you forgot something."
He turned back around. CJ was holding up a bandage. Matt looked back down at his knuckle and walked back up to his wife. She put the bandage on and kissed him on the cheek. "Be careful. And don't lose that phone." He nodded and took off for the truck. When he got back down to the barn, he got back on the creeper, picked up the ratchet and made sure that the oil filter plug wasn't loose, then shot out from under the truck on the other side, threw the ratchet on the creeper and kicked it into the barn.
As he started the truck he heard a phone ring and pulled out the one that CJ had just given him. That wasn't the one that was ringing. He looked around the cab of the truck but didn't see it anywhere. Then the phone that CJ gave him started ringing. He looked at the caller ID: CJ. "Yeah babe."
"Can you pick up some milk while you're out? Oh, and some of those cookies, you know the ones in the white bag? I can't think of the name of them right now."
He laid his head on the steering wheel. "See if you can remember the name and I'll call you from the store, okay?"
"Alright, see you in a little while." She hung up. Matt looked at the phone. How could a Harvard-trained lawyer be so scatter brained at times? He pondered that for a second and then gave up, choosing instead to put the truck in gear and go to Murray's house to try to sober him up and bring him out to the ranch to make up with Chris.
As he started up the road, he wondered how in the world he ever managed to get into some of the situations that he did. The more he thought about it, the more it seemed like most of the predicaments that he had the misfortune of winding up in had been brought about by friends. That was something that he really needed to think about, but not now. Now he had to get Murray and bring back some kind of peace offering to Chris. And get CJ the milk and cookies that she was craving.