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Paul Francis Mc Cann

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Books by Paul Francis Mc Cann
Ross The Ringer
By Paul Francis Mc Cann
Thursday, February 24, 2011

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The story of a kind man who had a vocation to work with horses

The cyclone arrived as predicted and had brought torrential rain and wild wind gusts . The city streets were flooded and evacuations all over the city had commenced . There was trouble in the city but even worse still in the country as people were cut off from help with roads in and out of the small townships underwater .

Behind the wheel of a Land cruiser sat Gary . Beside him was his very pregnant wife Jenna . He placed his hand on her tummy and said ,

“Don’t worry . We’ll make it to the hospital . “

She responded .

“How far have we to go now ?”
Once we cross over the Ross River bridge we’ll be half way there .”

“I’m going to try and get some sleep . Wake me when we’re nearly there .“
She looked at him blankly and grabbed a pillow from the back seat and placed it between the passenger window and her head then gently tilted her head to one side .

They had begun the long five hundred mile drive from their sheep station the night before and now it was early in the morning . The drive to the city hospital was long but Gary was used to long drives . He used to drive a truck for interstate horse transporters .

After an hour passed Gary pulled up and woke Jenna up . He said .

“I’m thinking we’ll have to reconsider what we’ll have to do “

‘What do you mean ?”

”Well I’ve been listening to the radio and the storm is a lot worse than they expected . The latest report had said there is a flood through the city and the bridge across the Ross River has been swept away “

“Oh God what will we do . This is the birth of our first child .“

“Don’t panic Jenna we’ll find a way out of this .“

“Listen to you , don’t panic . We can’t go back and we can’t go ahead ,
so what do you intend to do . Have the baby in the car ?”

“There has to be an alternative ok , just trust and things will be ok “
Gary said .

On the car radio more news broadcasts about areas threatened by the flood were being transmitted and the latest report stated that the Ross River which had burst it banks was now nine meters above its normal level which poised a threat to areas south of the river which is exactly where Gary and Jenna were situated .

Sometimes life can be cruel and how ironic it was as ten years ago in this very same area many people were forced off their land due to the drought that had gripped the land . Farmers lost crops and couldn’t feed their livestock .
Back then it was the drought that squeezed the farmers dry and now the flood threatened to drench the same fields that had lay barren for so long .

As the road was getting more difficult to drive on Gary decided to take a chance going off road in the four wheel drive .
As he drove over land Jenna was panic stricken and started screaming .
Gary took a look at Jenna and said ,

“Will you just calm down Jenna . Its our best option “

He began to head for high ground . After an hour or so they had found fortune when an old signpost indicated ten miles up ahead was a farm called Nazareth .

He looked at his wife and smiled ,
“At last . We have shelter and a place for our baby to be born .“;

Luck was on their side so it seemed .

As the young couple drove along they sat nervously looking out the windscreen as the rain pelted down and they both wondered what they were going to do as every few minutes her contraction pains were getting stronger .
The baby was on its way .
They finally reached the gate to the property and did not expect what they found .Their hearts sank in despair as the farm house stood in ruins . Their was no roof and no windows , the walls had collapsed in places and no sign of life . It looked as if they had came to one of the abandoned farms .
After looking around the property they found one of the old horse stables was still intact and dry . Although it was dirty and damp it was shelter from the elements . They had no choice and so in that stable their healthy baby boy was born . Fortunately their were no complications during the birth and they were able to get help on the other end of their mobile phone from a doctor in the city hospital .
The called their baby Ross after the river that had burst its banks .

After the flood was over the clean up began and the young couple returned to their sheep station . A year or two passed after they made some enquiries about the old farmhouse and through their solicitor they made an offer for the place .
They were now proud owners of their new home and began operations on their thoroughbred horse stud at Nazareth Lodge . The business was going well with happy clients and some realty good stock on board in regards to the bloodlines he had developed .

As Ross grew up he helped his father around the lodge . He watched his Dad who was a blacksmith by trade make horseshoes and learned a lot about horse sense as he watched him .

Ross was six years old when he had the important job of making sure the horses were watered and fed . He also had to wash and brush down the horses . Ross dearly wanted to ride around the property like his Dad on one of the horses .
His Dad promised that as soon as Ross could keep his balance for five minutes on an empty molasses barrel without falling off he could have some serious time in a saddle on a horse .
At seven years of age Ross was ease into the saddle by his Father .
He took to riding a horse with a passion and an understanding that he was in charge . The horses responded to Ross and soon a bond had developed with him and horses . This bond of friendship would never be broken and when Ross was old enough to manage his affairs he applied for a job in the big smoke as manager of one of the biggest studs in the state .

He was asked to attend an interview where the owner of the horse stud was very much impressed with the knowledge Ross had and also the innocence that Ross had as a person . The owner of the stud was convinced immediately when he saw Ross in the saddle . The display of horsemanship and the authority he commanded ensured Ross would be the new manager at the stud .

It didn’t take long for Ross to establish himself in the area . His friendly attitude was infectious . His horse sense was uncanny . All the mares that he purchased overseas produced champion horses who had won millions for their owners .
Ross had a gift all right and he was responsible for elevating the horse racing industry to new levels where locally bred horses were proving themselves on a world stage .
The popularity of the stud often had media crawling all over the place wanting to interview Ross who was always welcomed any interest to what he was doing . The stud accommodated horses from overseas with quarantine sections . Vets lived on the property and were given a house to live in free of charge . He encouraged school children during the holidays to get involved with some work on the stud and apart from earning extra pocket money he wanted them to get experience with horses .
Every August on the horses birthday Ross opened the stud to the public and put on a barbeque with free gifts handed out . These kind of events made Ross very popular with people ,

With the owners permission Ross opened a new section on the stud where he taught aspects of dressage and show . It was very popular with the local community and horse lovers flocked to the venue each time an event was on .

In ten years what used to be a horse stud was now the centre attraction for horse lovers world wide .
There were swimming pools for horses in training ,
Horse and carriage rides for visitors around the beautiful property .
A small movie theatre where various horse movies were shown daily .
There was a large area where horse riding lessons for the young and old
were available seven days a week .

On another section on the property there was a boarding house where people could stay and work with horses for as weekend or a week or even a month or more .
Many new buildings on the property were developed .
Museums , art galleries , libraries and a souvenir shop all to do with horses were among the new buildings .
Inside a large round house on the stud , a restaurant was built . It had an inner circled area for entertainment by horses would be provided for patrons . Everything from dancing horses to trick riding would be on show .

With all the enterprises Ross had both hands on the reins and kept everything running smooth .
Ross was given the go ahead to put on an expo where everything relating to horses and would be promoted for an entire week .
It was a huge undertaking but one that he knew would be good for horses .

As soon as the project made initial enquiries a great international interest in the Expo kicked in . Within days organizations came on board and things started to move .

The site was set up and opening day was 1st August .
On the opening day people crammed into the Expo .
Among the stalls were horse whisperers and vets , book publishers , people from pony clubs , there were horse auctions , feed merchants and farriers , manufacturers of boots , hats , clothes , saddlers and whip makers , you name it was there .

Ross was so happy with the response and the takings were far beyond expectations . When the first day at the Expo had come to an end the clean up began .
He had hired a large number of cleaners from a local agency to help with getting rid of all the rubbish but never expected the evil in his midst .

The cleaners had emerged from trucks and jeeps holding weapons and one of them approached Ross and grabbed him around the neck .

A friend of Ross who had worked with him for years produced a knife and made a lunge at the attacker but in the process was shot in the leg by one of the gangsters .

“Anybody else want to be a hero ?”
He said .
Nobody replied .

The leader of the gang emerged from a black four wheel drive . He was wearing a balaclava over his face . Holding a small whip in his hand he approached Ross and landed a few strokes of the whip on his back saying in a harsh voice .

“So I’m told you’re the boss then ?”

“That’s right .”
Ross replied .

”So what’s your name boss man ?”
The gangster said

“Ross .“

So you’re Ross the boss well Eh ,tell me Ross , what else are you good at ?”

“I’m known as a ringer where I come from .”

“Are you now , well Ross the ringer , I’ll tell you what you’ll be a dead ringer in a minute if I don’t get what I want .““

“What is it you’re after ?”
Ross asked .

“We were told all about you and your little horse show . How nice , you and your big ideas , but you should have known that sometimes in this life there is a price to pay and today is that time . All the money you took today we want put into these bags .“

He raised his whip in the air and from the back one of the trucks a number of large canvas bags were thrown onto the ground .

Ross stood his ground and never said a word .

The gangster called over two of his men and said .

“They shoot horses don’t they ?

“Yes boss ”
Came the reply .

“Then go and bring me three , just for starters . “

Ross spoke up .

“I’ve banked everything already . There’s nothing here . You’ll have too wait until the banks open tomorrow .“

The gangster started to whip Ross and with every stroke of the whip he said ,

“Smart that’s real smart ,“
One of the gangsters said ,
“What will we do now boss ? :

“Tie him up . He’s coming with us ‘

He walked around some of the stud employees and insulted one or two and told them .

“You can tell who ever you work for you’ll get your boss back when we get two million dollars . Have the money packed into these bags for us to collect on the last day of the Expo . Any tricks and you’ll never see your boss again . “

Ross was tied up and the vehicles all took off at speed from the grounds of the Expo .

For the rest of that week the expo was a great success .
It was agreed to pay the ransom and not try anything that would endanger Ross .

At the close of the Expo the ransom money was waiting to be collected , It was all packed into bags and the owner of the stud sat and waited for the gangsters to arrive .

Late that evening there was a phone call from the gangsters stating that they would be there for the money in ten minutes .
When they arrived Ross was not with them .
The owner asked .

“The money you asked for is here , so where is Ross?”

“He’ll be delivered as soon as we’re in the clear “
They took all the bags and left .

The next morning Ross’s dead body was found in the stables at the stud . There was a note hanging from a piece of cardboard tied around his neck .

“Here is Ross the boss . We had nothing to do with his death , the doctor said it was horse flu that killed him . “

Beside his body were the bags with the ransom money still inside .
Ross was buried in a small cemetery near Nazareth Lodge .
Two horses pulled a carriage with see through glass sides showing the coffin
Slowly made its way from the little church to the small cemetery near Nazareth Lodge where Ross was placed in the ground .

For the next thirty days every property with horses on it was put into lock down . No one was allowed in or out of the properties until the horse flu virus had been cleared .

The memory of Ross is kept alive by the annual horse Expo named after him and every August the Ross The Ringer Expo is held .

Even in death Ross had the last laugh as all of the gangsters who had kidnapped him also had contracted the horse flu virus and all of them too had consequently died .

By Paul McCann

The End

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