99: Where's My Sock?

99: Where's My Sock?
Prompt: Don't make me...

Emma loved this time of day; she'd always been an early riser so getting up before the sun to make the boys breakfast suited her just fine. She walked over to the bunkhouse to put the coffee on to brew knowing the aroma would wake the sleeping riders. She quietly opened the door and peered around in the dim light. Puff, Ike's dog picked her head up and looked at Emma with curiosity. Emma raised a finger to her lips and the dog put its head back down on its paws and blinked. Ike now slept with one hand hanging over the side of his bunk touching Puff. He slept like this almost every night. Ike had switched bunks with Cody so he could have the bottom bunk and be closer to his dog. Cody didn't mind having the top bunk; he claimed he had more head room. Emma smiled to herself thinking of Jimmy's swift commentary to Cody's announcement. He'd said "I always knew you had a big head, now you've finally admitted it." Cody had turned bright red while everyone else laughed.

Emma looked over at the others, Jimmy was lying on his side with his hands folded under his cheek, Cody was curled up facing the wall as was Lou, Kid slept on his stomach and Buck shared his bunk with his puppy Situpsa. Emma didn't exactly approve of the dogs sleeping in the bunkhouse but so far things had worked out. She shook her head as she looked down at Buck and the puppy, both were on their right sides with their heads on the pillow. The blanket covered both of them and it looked like Buck had his arm draped across the dog; they were both smiling. The puppy had only been with Buck for three weeks but the two were inseparable. Buck had devised a game for the puppy from an old sock. Buck had simply tied a knot in the middle of the sock and turned a rag into a treasured toy. The sock toy lay on the floor beside the bunk.

Emma fed some wood into the stove and coaxed the fire back to life. She put the coffee on to brew and left to go back over to her kitchen to prepare the rest of the morning meal. It wasn't long before the riders began opening their eyes, yawning and stretching. Before long they were all up engaged in their morning rituals of dressing, checking the weather, figuring out who had runs and, lately, searching for socks.

"I know I put both of my socks on the floor beside my boots now I can only find one." Cody said crawling on his hands and knees checking under the bunks for his missing sock.

"I left mine on and I'm still missing one." Lou exclaimed as she joined Cody on the floor looking for her sock as well.

"Is that it?" Jimmy asked pointing to the knotted sock beside Buck's bunk.

"Nah, that's the sock Situpsa plays with all the time. He's teething and he loves to bite it. See, it's a bit raggity." Buck pointed out when Cody gave him a questioning look.

The dogs had been sleeping in the bunkhouse for a little over a week now and all the riders enjoyed watching the puppy antics of Situpsa and were amazed at the maternal instincts of Puff. Puff had adopted the puppy the day Buck had brought it home and treated the little part wolf pup as if it were one of her own. Right now Puff was giving a struggling Situpsa a bath. Buck pulled his boots on and tossed Cody a pair of his socks. "Just make sure they get washed before you give 'em back!" Buck laughed and left to go do his morning chores. Situpsa wiggled away from Puff, grabbed his sock toy and ran after Buck. Seconds later Ike snapped his fingers and Puff followed him out to begin their chores as well.

Kid handed Lou a pair of his socks. "Don't loose these I only have two pairs now. I never did find the sock I lost last week."

"This is the second sock I've lost, maybe Emma's collectin' the washin' and she just hasn't washed the socks yet." Lou said pulling on the socks Kid had given her.

"Ain't wash day Monday?" Jimmy asked buttoning his shirt.

"Yeah, I don't know if I can wait that long. My feet sweat somethin' fierce!" Cody said.

"Then maybe you should ask her if you can do the washin' now." Jimmy teased placing his thumb and fore finger on his own nose pretending to pinch it closed to keep out the smell.

"Maybe I will…." Cody said sticking his tongue out at Jimmy.

"Why thank you Billy that would be really kind of you!" Emma said coming in the bunkhouse with some dishes. Cody's face went pale. "I'm a little behind on the washin', that rain last week threw me off schedule. How about after your regular chores are done you come on over and we'll get started. It looks like its going to be a good dryin' day."

"Yes Ma'am…." Cody said reluctantly as his mind raced looking for a way to get back at Jimmy.

"You four better get movin' on your chores or you won't be done before breakfast is ready….." Emma said trying not to laugh at Cody.


By the end of the week each rider was lucky if they had a single mismatched pair of socks each. The grumbling was getting louder and everyone looked at everyone else's feet searching for their missing socks. The only sock that didn't go missing was Situpsa's play sock. He carried it everywhere and constantly dropped it on Buck's feet so Buck would toss it for him to fetch. Buck was coming back from a short run and anticipating a warm welcome home from Situpsa as he rode into the station. As Buck dismounted he spotted the pup running with his beloved sock around the side of the barn. Buck led his horse toward the barn and whistled for the puppy to come. Situpsa ran around the back of the barn and met Buck as the horse entered her stall. "You know the routine Situpsa, I have to take care of the horse first then you and I can play. Awe that's my good boy, I love you too!" Buck said kneeling down for Situpsa's wet kisses. The puppy sat chewing on a stick and watching every move Buck made as he cooled down the horse. Buck was filling the feed bag with fresh oats when Situpsa began to get restless. "I'm almost done, just a minute more…." Buck poured water into the house's trough. "There you go girl, rest up, you've earned it." Buck said patting the horse's neck and nose. She whinnied softly as if to say thanks.

"Your turn, come on boy!" Buck said to Situpsa who didn't need any more encouragement. The puppy jumped up and ran out of the barn ahead of Buck. Buck walked toward the bunkhouse and the other riders who sat on the stairs.

"How was the run, Buck?" Kid asked as Emma came out of the house and stood on her porch.

"Not bad thanks, Hi Emma, is Ike on a run?" Buck asked looking around not seeing his friend.

"Yeah, Puff will be happy to see you she's sleeping on his bunk." Jimmy said as Ike's dog poked her head out of the bunkhouse at the sound of Buck's voice. She spotted him, bounded across the porch and met him before he reached the bunkhouse.

Both dogs yipped and vied for Buck's attention. "Alright go get your sock." Buck said to Situpsa expecting the pup to run back to the barn. Instead the dogs both ran into the bunkhouse. To everyone's surprise to both dogs emerged with socks in their mouths.

"Buck, did you make a sock toy for Puff too?" Lou asked eyeing the dogs suspiciously.

"No….maybe Ike did…I could have sworn I saw Situpsa with his sock go around the barn. Come here boy." Buck said slapping his thigh. The dogs ran to Buck and Situpsa dropped his sock at Buck's feet as he'd been trained to do. Puff sat at Buck's feet with the sock in her mouth. Buck could see that the sock Situpsa had dropped was her play sock but the one in Puff's mouth wasn't knotted. Buck picked up the knotted sock and tossed it toward the barn. Both dogs ran after it but Puff got to it first. She picked up the sock toy and ran back to Buck. Situpsa yipped at the larger dog and tried to get the sock but Puff wasn't giving it up. Suddenly Situpsa turned and ran into the barn, returning only moments later with a sock in his mouth.

"Buck, what does your dog have?" Jimmy asked standing up.

Situpsa dropped an unknotted sock at Buck's feet. "Uh oh!" Buck said scooping up the sock.

"Buck, did you teach the puppy to steal socks?" Lou asked sarcastically walking toward the barn followed by the others.

"Of course not…Find your sock" Buck said to the puppy waving his hand in the direction of the barn. Situpsa raced off into the barn.

Lou raced in after the puppy and emerged a few moments later with an arm load of muddy hay covered socks. "Look what YOUR dog had stashed near the chicken coops…." Lou dropped the mass of dirty socks at Buck's feet.

"Seems to me someone will be doing a sock wash today, I'll put the water on….I don't need to tell you who that will be do I, Buck?" Emma said with a smirk. "Just remember, all of you, if these socks had been put away like I told you to Situpsa and Puff wouldn't have taken them."

Buck bent over to pick up the pile of socks as Situpsa grabbed one and began running. Buck lunged for the puppy and grabbed the sock. "Gimme that, you little thief!" Situpsa yipped and wagged his whole body. Puff pranced happily just out of Buck's reach as both dogs anticipated a fun game of Sock! "Not funny you two!" Buck groaned.

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