Chapter II Part II Tales of the Dead Armadillo novel by Esteban Erik Stipnieks photos By Esteban Erik Stipnieks all rights Reserved


Amanda Cook was early,as traditional,"Stephen is a bit of a loose cannon".  Coach Bob responded, "Have you known anybody who was murdered?"  She said "No."  He said, "You can't imagine what he is going through then he's seen 2 classmates blow themselves away and one overdose I think that makes him an expert on the effects of suicide and murder."  Coach Noel Scott had walked up "How did it go last night?"  Coach Bob replied, "Stephen's not hell bent on wrecking the team if that's what you’re asking."  Coach Scott replied "Why would be destroy what he loves?"   Coach Bob saw that in Coach Scott,something he found nearly threatening.  Coach Bob then said Amanda meet my assistant Noel Scott he will be the soccer coach this year.  Aero was approaching along with Tom "Meet two of your players Coach."  Tom made an assessment.  Stephen was right.  Coach Scott introduced himself.  Tara arrived happy to see him.  Leisha Sweetman was surprised to meet the man her brother had told her about.  Coach Bob looked at Coach Scott can you mix up Exceed talk to Doc I got here a bit late.  Coach Scott responded sure thing in his slacks and nice shirt and disappeared.  Coach Bob made the assessment he was liking this guy. 

Doc Dean had heard the conversation.  He had read the papers.  He looked at Coach Scott, grabbed a large packet of Exceed, and pitched it at him.  "You are one of the anointed ones."  The tone was a bit hostile.  Doc looked making an assessment at the man 10 years his junior.  As the packet was caught and opened Doc liked what he saw.  Coach Noel Scott was humble and without pretense.  Tara's dad was old school Dallas football.  Doc had been put off a bit with martial artist whose daughter was a blackbelt.  The contrast in style was evident.  He then asked,"Why are you assisting?"  Coach Noel Scott looked at him "Stephen has a vision I agree with it I do not think he can carry it out without my help.  He was sent to Denton he learned in Denton he loves this town he loves this high school I am to help him carry it out and that means keeping him from doing stupid things that would hurt the team in the process.  Tara is learning to be her own person she is the sister of Stephen in one respect he is just far enough ahead to help her blossom into the woman her father wants her to be even if he may not know it."  Doc pointed to a hose and revealed something even Coach Bob did not know.  "I have known Stephen on and off since, 1979 loved boxing and hated the cowboys as a 4 year old with a learning disability."  Doc remembered New Braunfels without Schlitterbahn.  For some in the town the thought was inconceivable.  Coach Noel Scott  mixed it with warm water allowing a super saturation point and then he added a healthy amount of ice then some cooler water to make the mixture right temperature.   Dean had recently accepted Christ and something in him accepted the new Coach as something needed.  He then asked "What's holding Tara in check?"  Coach Noel replied "Probably she saw Stephen's crash arrival in Denton and has learned from his mistakes and is taking a cue of her now wiser brother."  Last night was not without its sparks Doc remarked.  Coach Noel smiled.  He suspected they were held in check  Ace (Stephen King) had made some comments.  Steven King made his points then reverted to allowing others to dominate.  Coach Noel Scott quickly described what he predicted what would happen.  Doc commented "You sounded like you were there."  Coach Noel Scott "I just know Stephen."  Doc realized quickly while Scott may not have had all the details on the background he knew more then expected.  The new Coach seemed to have a sense about New Braunfels that was uncanny of new Coaches.       

On the run Coach Bob heard some of the talk as Stephen and Tara took off one direction and the team went off another.  Stephen knew better.  He took it easy down Ohio and California around the house up a block and back again.  Stephen groaned darn it over trained.  It was a mile route.  Stephen putted right at his long range cruise pace.  He could feel the tightness of his legs.  He knew he would have to eat more he also knew that this season was just starting he would have to be a little more wise.  His knee had not hassled him for a while and that was reassuring for him.  He got back and waited for the team.  He passed on his congrats to the team and then went home.     

The following day Stephen did 20minutes on the bike in the morning.  He worked a half day at Schlitterbahn at Surf Pizza, which he still remembered as Camp Warnacke.  He had a hard time processing the change.  Coach Noel Scott wound up being his boss.  Scott told him "You were right about many things."  They served Pizza Scott ran the place and Stephen was on the cash register.  There were girls in bikinis that Stephen averted his eyes from them quickly as he made change.  Scott had walked from the employee lot to food base without leaving park property that day.  He finally said, "Now I know a whole lot about you."  Stephen replied, "A guy can get used to being here."   The response from Scott came "To some degree you never left."  Stephen nodded knowing the great amount of truth his coach and brother had spoken.  Then Scott hit him.  “Ellen was a thorn in your side last year her with Allen."  Stephen winced a bit Scott continued calmly knowing he had surprised Stephen.  "Do me a favor," Scott continued.  Stephen asked "What?"  "Treat Amanda to the greatest extent possible like you did Ellen" came the answer to the question.  Stephen asked, "How does the town acknowledge the year?”  Scott without missing a beat "You need to model it."  He continued "You did not act like your mom was a big deal you did not Lord of your status in the same here. Serve your team serve your staff model the want.  That in this town will raise more eyebrows than any act of defiance."  Coach Noel Scott then said "You love Coach Bob but you do not respect him."  Stephen replied "You got the right he wants district glory he whined about the male squad under performing."  Coach Noel Scott "You want to give it to him."  Stephen nodded. "Good plan," Coach Noel Scott said.  The time went quickly Stephen had just banked enough money for an hour of flight time.  The 5 hours passed smoothly the two worked well together.

Tara had gotten a job as a life Guard at Schlitterbahn she had worked the old section half a shift like Stephen Kings.  She could feel an organic feel to the park unlike Six Flags Wet and Wild.  The place had an attitude it was orderly. Its Germanic roots shone through in the lay out.  She was stuck by architecture features were distinctly Germanic in the grill area.  The wood panel had white paint with Green Trim.  The floor had green carpet.  It looked like photos of Wurstfest.  The area of the lifeguard lockers was a house straight out of the 1970s a bit of a rural style: wood was a heavy theme.  The employee parking with the river was stunning.  She asked a long slender Amy Marbach a farm girl whose parents owned a place she was a Canyon Cougar who attended St. Peter and Paul about what she saw. The word "Rio Grande Perch" rolled out as she responded to the question.  She pointed out a school of Black Crappie, a Largemouth Bass, a couple carp
(photo of carp taken Landa Park)

a red-eared slider, and a mud turtle.  She asked, "Aren't you the daughter of the new coach at New Braunfels high?"  Tara yes.  The response came "Where has Stephen been I know he works here I had not seen him at church."  Tara responded bluntly, to the college freshman "He attends Fellowship Bible San Antonio."  Amy was surprised.  Tara put on her southern manners and apologized for her bluntness.

Tara had joined a health club,went to tanning bed that night. This was followed by a toned down upper body workout realizing that she was going to be running not cheering and yeah she wanted to lose some muscle weight for speed’s sake. Push ups would do instead of weights.  The gym was in the old Winn’s near downtown.  The beauty of the town that Stephen had grown up in struck her.  First Baptist was not Denton Bible but her father sure liked it.  He got a long with Amanda Cook's father.  He was busy trying to get a team together that would be at least do well.  He later told her that day "I don't want you going out with any of these boys."  She was surprised as she watched TV and her father blurted it out.  It was an early dinner so she would not see her food twice for the run. 

The evening came Stephen was early.  Coach Bob and Coach Noel Scott were waiting. Julie had arrived at about the time they did. Julie had asked Coach Noel Scott about Denton.  May 1 1991 Coach Bob and Tom were irritated by an early departure Julie found out was an answer whose significance that would only be made crystal clear in the heat of trial.  Coach Bob was a perturbed as a different language was shared before Stephen arrived.  Amanda Cook caught the tail end of it.  She understood half of what she heard.  Coach Bob was getting visibly annoyed the conversation ended as Stephen had pulled into the parking lot. 

Coach Bob had his interest aroused "You never told us much why skipped early out on my record attempt."  Coach Noel Scott had a smile. Coach Scott had heard the story.   Stephen knew it was time to testify.  Stephen explained and as he did, the grief he had known his freshman year was exposed as it was the year that he faced his hypocrisy.  Julie listened. As Stephen was talking Kimber arrived.  She was processing what she had heard.  Kimber saw innocence lost.  Stephen was new in many ways she was putting the pieces together.  Kimber realized Noel Scott, and Stephen had a relationship beyond Coach and athlete.  Noel Scott had identified himself as a Christian subtly.  She was now aware a vision was going to be played out.  She identified Stephen as a Christian.  This new force on her team Julie saw the edge yet as he spoke, she could here echoes of KuK Keith.  Coach Bob was trying to understand.  Coach Noel Scott then said "Stop beating yourself up about Rodd."  Leisha arrived, Brandy did to Michael and Thomas joined in.  Tom and Special showed up next.  Bo, Raul and Linda came without ceremony.  Anna was hurrying a bit with Lezlee.  It was a bit of large turnout.  Tom led the stretch.  “We are doing Encino today.” Coach Bob announced. The group stood and started the run.

The group went through slight angle through the open gate of Unicorn Stadium.  They angled down to Kentucky with its big dip that Stephen extended his long stride on and accelerated.  Raul and Aero along with Bo gave chase.  Stephen almost chuckled he had them up the other side then 15 yards on Canyon where the topography favored his strong legs with all the biking the panic Coach Bob could sense was the panic that panic was needless.  Stephen knew it the grin on his face resembled that of a Cheershire cat.  He kept the speed up a little bit knowing this was about 2 mile run and he could get away with.  Coach Bob sensed something up and he surged a bit trying to run faster.  He could see a grin still on Stephens face.  Canyon drive became Ohio with a slight left turn that Tara took tight and Stephen took wide Amanda Cook had joined the race to replace Coach Bob who knew he could not keep up at the pace and was just beyond Lactic Acid Threshold.  The Leg of the run Ohio from Canyon Drive to Walnut was a steady long incline about 200 yards in length.  Raul, Bo, and Aero were pulling ahead.  Michael and Thomas made the pass their muscles warmed up.  Dennis had passed Stephen as Coach Bob had surged just to see what was going on.  Walnut was always a pain runners had to make their crossing decision.  Stephen had eyed it and he had a narrow window he surged.  Coach Bob saw the pattern not stupid aggressive yet as he saw the surge and the line across the street it was smooth timed and precise.  Tara waited for a bigger opening she darted a straight line into the Coastal station.  As Stephen ran across a near the gas pumps he made it across a 3 foot section of a path he remembered since 1980.  He turned onto Encino as he crossed Kerlick.  This was Stephen's neighborhood.  It was hard not to run and not count memories.  He focused on the run.  He had gone a little beyond the Lactic Acid Threshold but that was not a big deal.  Tara and Amanda were just behind him.  His knee was holding up surprisingly well.  He recognized neighbors houses.  He told dogs he knew by to shut up and they did.  The dogs recognized a familar voice.  Encino had Laurel Lane then Balcones pass off of it.  The German who was a spy his house was passed by they were making a steep downhill run then past a house whose drama was manifesting itself in a small town scandal.  Life on the hill had become Peyton Place.  Parents who had never grown up had left damage.  The parents who not grown up had power which complicated things at the school level.  His mom had ironically been given the task to sort some of the mess out or at least return Test scores to former glory.  He understood why he been bullied by the two brothers years before.  He went passed a couple houses of people he knew.  As he made the turn onto Laurel he waved at a team mother who was watering the yard.  2 minutes later Anna Vencoussins ran by her house.  Her mother figured about half an hour she would be home.  Up the hill then a brief plateau.  You could not run any real length in New Braunfels without topography.  The majority runs Stephen knew in Denton were remarkably flat and as exciting as watching paint dry.  Tara was surprised at the dip turn and the ease her teamates dealth with it.   Stephen greeted the run like an old girlfriend he had missed.  The steep sweeping downhill

 left accompanied by huge rise and another dip of Encino as it fed into Laurel Lane was daunting for her. 

(actual photo Encino Laurel lane gravel not where we had to deal with it 1991)

The terrain at North lakes park in Denton was by comparison rather flat.  She felt herself having to control momentum then huff up a steep then back down again then up another cruelly steep hill only to see an 80 yard stretch another hill dip hill as Laurel Lane fed back into Enncio and the right turn was made as they headed back to NBHS.  Stephen found himself enjoying the terrain.  He was back on Encino Micheal and Thomas were ahead not slowly drifting away he could possibly catch them on Canyon Drive and the dip.  He want past another very shallow dip another Canyon made then to Kerlick he crossed the service station and he just enough time to make the crossing that Thomas and Mike had made he was on the backside of the window they were a front of.  He surged down Ohio longer stride closing in he continued to make progress.  As his footsteps were heard the two accelerated a hair.  He ran a bit out of leg the two were fast.  He accelerated hard down Ohio and surged up the other side of the dip that was Panther Canyon.  The race was open an open 200 yards between their location and Unicorn Stadium.

Amanda and Linda were a good fifty yards behind in the setting sun.  Stephen was greeting the girls Special and Jason was behind him.  Jason was a quiet freshman that Stephen felt the need to take in like a stray puppy.  He was encouraging the young freshman.  They did some strides to end the workout.  They drank more Exceed.  Tara was embarrassed a bit. She knew how clunky her performance had been.   Stephen did feel guilty for enjoying her predicament.  They had been used to some hills in Denton but a lot of territory was indeed boring.  Stephen smiled and said "You will get used to running humiliation is a great teacher for aviators and runners."  Tara herself had just faced something radical she struggled with what had been a normal run that Stephen took to like an old friend.  Stephen's smile was wistful.  He in the moment displayed his typical mentor and gentle side of an older brother. Coach Bob was adamant about the pushups and crunches after the run.  The team was kind surprised he saw the talent he also knew that he would get the most out of the team. Tom chimed in backing the coach up.  Stephen with his look backed up Coach Bob to a couple people surprised.  The call "Come on guys will it hurt us to win district for once in addition to the girls."  Coach Noel Scott grinned.  Coach Bob laughed.  The battle cry had surprised him.  Stephen King had just said a line he had long wanted to say.     

When Stephen got home, it was Bull on the phone.  The two agreed to take out some bass from a stock tank of his uncle east of town.  Stephen was tired and crashed for the night.  The next day was cashiering at a Barbeque pit.  Stephen ran across Tara visibly sore from the workout the night before.  At the old house that had been bought out and turned to an employee café, he explained the tricks of constant terrain running.  Amanda Cook had attended a camp and you crested a hill maintaining a bit of power.  He also explained technique and style came with time.  They both waddled back slowly to their workstations.  The legs were right near a strain.  The muscles in both their legs were sore and tight.  Coach Bob caught them both in the employee lot he noticed their walk "Go ahead I will tell Coach Bob you two needed a night off you two have been racing hard I know you are in shape you can run on Friday give your muscles time to heal." 

That night Stephen's mom asked him why he was not with the team.  He looked at her strain.  Stephen looked at his mom in a moment of understanding he told her "Coach Scott told me I needed a night off."  Stephen was bracing for a fight.  He could see the scowl.  Stephen's mom had come from Agua Dulce her father ran a small restaurant. She was one of eight kids her and her sister who was a guidance counselor at the high school were the first to obtain a college degree in the family.  Ambition and drive her hallmarks of Stephen's mother her temper when set off was violent normally her tongue could cut loose a remark as if samurai would use a Katana.  She beat Stephen on a couple of occasions.  Stephen looked at her with sympathy but there were times where.  She asked, "Did you call Coach Bob?"  Stephen said no.  His mom was angry.  The phone was ringing it was Coach Bob.  His mom answered it and recognized the voice.   Coach Scott and noticed Stephen had been pushing hard even though he had run steadily  and biking was hard.  Coach Bob was respectful to his mom.  "Coach Noel did me a good service when he saw your son at Schlitterbahn today.  Early on over training is a real hazard your son will push things hard.  Trust his judgment Dr. King.”  Coach Bob was upset at his boss she was so stupid.  Stephen had a pair bigger then two other runners his mother could not comprehend it.  She hung up the phone confused.  What Dr King did not know were the dynamics of a muscle strain. 

 For Tara all it took was a Coach Noel calling her dad. Her Dad looked at her "You are not going to practice today."  That statement was made when she arrived. 

The practice that night ended with Coach Bob and Coach Noel sitting.  "Thanks for calling Stephen's mom."  Coach Noel said.  "No problem I almost liked yanking her chain she needs to learn to trust her son besides."  Coach Bob replied, "It’s my team I have to deal with the more annoying parents even if they are my boss."  Coach Bob replied, "Tara is the one who scares me she is used to the spot light."  Coach Noel chuckled then commented, "Stephen made contact with her as a mentor.  Her family kind of makes him uneasy."  Coach Bob seemed surprised "They seem like your average southern bible thumpers."  The sarcasm was expected. It did though irritate Coach Noel at his core yet maturity allowed him not to show it. Coach Noel replied, "There is real love and real tenderness in that family freaks Stephen out.  He likes the feeling but it is new to him."  Coach Noel had noticed the force on the team and its potential toxic internal discipline. What he saw explained a lot about Stephen’s first season with his team. He did not like how Coach Bob manipulated it sparing him many duties.  Coach Noel kept his mouth shut.  Stephen had made the point for him earlier.  Stephen may have been harsh the first night but he declared some truth as only he could.  He could see that Coach Bob was surprised at his take on Stephen's reaction to Tara's family.  He elaborated "tension is normal for Stephen real love is not, Stephen feels comfortable with dysfunction.  It is function that can be a bit scary to him he likes it but it scares him."  Coach Bob then commented, "Last night it was if you were happy when he shared what happened when be bailed early on the record attempt."  Coach Noel said, "It will help team Chemistry later particularly on the girl’s side everybody now knows where he is coming from." 

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