The smooth purr of an auto-engine growing from a whisper, and the popping of grit under tires went almost unnoticed. But at the sound of the doors slamming Dan asked Hettie if they were expecting visitors. Apparently they were not.
There was no knock. The door swung in and there stood Mike. Mike and another guy maybe a year or two older and looking remarkably like Johnny. Mike and the other guy were standing close, and Johnny noticed something in the way the backs of their hands touched.
It seemed everybody at once greeted Mike and bid him come in. Then Johnny stepped forward and extended his hand towards the stranger. 'I reckon you must be Scottie,' he said as they shook. He saw Nathan approaching from the corner of his eye. 'You Kiowa too?' said Johnny. Scott couldn't help but notice Johnny's big theatrical wink, and cottoning on quick he confirmed that he was indeed of the Kiowa tribe.
Nathan leaned over and whispered into Johnny's ear. 'You think I floated down the Snake River on a pancake, don't ya? Him an' Mike's got as much Kiowa in 'em as I've got Chinaman.' Nathan turned on Scott and they shook hands. 'Got an eye for faces, Scott. We've met before,' said Nathan trying to get a fix on the time and the place.
'Yes, me too,' answered Scott remembering both. 'You turned a motorcycle for me once. Out in the desert.'
The penny dropped, and he snapped his fingers. 'Got it! An' there was this other guy, didn't like cops, who ran head-long and hid in the brush.'
Scott chucked his eyes towards Mike. And for Nathan, a second penny slid down the ramp. 'That was...?'
'Mike! Yes, it was.'
'That'll be two more for dinner, Hettie,' laughed Dan.
Mike held up a hand, then disappeared outside. He darted back in, to be followed by yet another stranger, this one wearing a gray uniform. 'This here's Joe,' said Mike.
'I, er, drive,' said Joe weakly.
'That's three more for dinner,' said Dan.
Later, around the dinner table, Mike sat back and took himself out of the loop, so he could see it all as an observer. He looked at the faces about him, all glad to see him, all glad to be with each other. Big Dan, his laughter loud and unbridled and his turn of phrase as salty as ever. Nathan, quiet unassuming but still a powerful part of this family. Johnny, the life-saver, passing food, and sharing jokes. Hettie, who was undoubtedly the source of all this, or at least the main channel for the source.
Sharing sorrow too, but ultimately each one caring about each of the others. Even Joe the driver slid right into the space made for him as snug as you like. And each time Mike turned his head and caught a glimpse of Scottie across the table, Scottie would be looking at him and smiling with his eyes.
This had to be pretty near the happy ending. Turn up the soundtrack. Fade to black.