We Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus

By E Walk

(Edited by E Walk)

Edited by Radio Rancher

Chapter 6 - Born Again Cowboys

Hank led us toward the kitchen. He directed us to the sink in the mud room, "Wash your hands with the antiseptic soap; we have work to do. The turkey smells like it is almost ready."

The four of us washed our hands and wiped them on the paper towels that were hanging there and when we walked into the kitchen and Hank had everyone busy doing something. It was as if he had programmed everything because everything was ready at almost the same time. The meal was fantastic and after we took care of the cleanup, we went back to the chateau or stable and Hank showed us how to saddle the horses.

Hank had us put bridles on the other four horses and we each took one as we went for a gallop around the ranch. We stopped near a ranch house that was on the adjacent property and Hank announced, "That is where Dusty and his family will be living if they stay in the local area. I have some more horses stabled there that Bill and his sons take care of. They are my breeding stock. Let's go see what's happening. I have some gifts to give Bill and his sons."

He reached down and opened a gate and we went galloping toward the buildings. As we were pulling up, an older man came out of the barn. He looked at us, "Well if it isn't the Lonesome Cowboy. Who do you have with you, Hank?"

Before Hank could answer, two teenagers about Kevin and Jacob's age came out of the barn or whatever and yelled, "Hey Uncle Hank, we didn't know you would be over today. You usually spend Christmas with Dusty and the boys. What's up?"

Hank dismounted so the rest of us followed suit. Hank introduced us as their replacements since they were going on a trip.

Bill's sons both looked bewildered and one of the sons asked, "Uncle Hank, where are we going?"

Hank looked at them, "You're going to Los Angeles to visit your sister and her family. They are expecting you and you have tickets to Disney Land and some of the other attractions in the area. Here are your airplane tickets and other tickets and some spending money. Go get dressed. Your plane leaves from the airport in four hours so you better get moving."

The three guys left and Hank led us into another great stable. This stable had ten beautiful palomino horses. Hank showed us the facility. He looked at the two guys, "Kevin and Jacob, I'm really going to need your help now that I have gotten rid of everyone for a well deserved vacation. Do you have a problem with that?"

Kevin looked at Hank, "Sir, I have a problem with the way everything has happened. Why didn't you check with us to see if we could help? We very well could have had basketball games over this period. You didn't even ask Tim and Tad if they wanted to go California. You just shoved the tickets in their faces and said they were going. I know for a fact that they have girl friends at school since they just happen to go to the same school we do."

Jake took over, "Mr. Rodgers, we truly appreciate what you are doing, but you really need think about what others might be thinking and feeling. We are not like some characters in your video games. We're human beings and we have emotions just like you do."

The guys' comments caused Hank to turn almost ashen and he left without saying anything. We heard the door slam. I turned to Kevin and Jake, "Guys, please lighten up. I agree with some of the things you said, but you could have been more diplomatic. I'm going to go find Hank. We may be leaving for home very soon."

I walked outside the deluxe stable and the four dogs were sitting around Hank who sitting against a tree with tears streaming down his face. I put my arms around him and pulled him close and just held him. We must have been sitting there for fifteen or more minutes when both Jacob and Kevin approached us and they had obviously been crying, too.

Kevin spoke for the two of them, "Mr. Rodgers, we apologize for our comments, but we are not going to retract them. If you will take us and our Dad to your house we will give you back everything you bought us and go home."

That shook me. Hank pulled away from me, "Kevin and Jake, you have been brutal and I guess I need to be honest with you. I'm a lonely old man and my world is falling apart. Danny has been diagnosed with leukemia and may not live for another year. Bill, who has been with me since I bought the ranches, has been diagnosed with a kidney disease that is incurable and this is probably the last time he will see his daughter and his grandchildren."

Hank took a deep breath, "Tim and Tad don't even know how close the end is. I'd give up all of my money if I could cure the two of them. Bill has been our mentor since our parents were killed and Danny is my nephew."

Hank stood up, "Let's get the horses back to the stable and you can leave. You can take the Hummer back to the house and get your three vehicles. I'm sorry that you find me so overbearing that you can't like me."

Nothing was said as we rode the horses back to the ranch, we took the saddles off of the horses and Hank mumbled, "I'll take care of the horses. Get your things and go." He turned away and wouldn't even look at us.

Kevin, Jacob and I walked to the house without saying a word. I went to the master bedroom to get my things and was waiting for the guys to come down. It seemed to be taking them an inordinately long time to get their things. I was beginning to get concerned and started up the steps just as the boys were starting down. I looked at them and they were dressed in their old clothes.

Kevin announced, "Dad, we're going to go help Mr. Rodgers. Why don't you fix a snack for when we get finished taking care of the horses and making sure Mr. Rodgers is okay?"

I followed the guys to the stable. I watched as they went up to Hank who still had tears in his eyes. Jacob spoke for the two guys, "The Michaels twins reporting for duty, sir. You're gonna hafta be showing us how to do everythin' since we ain't nevah had to do lick of work in our lives. What do we do first?"

Hank looked at the two guys, "The first thing you need to do is get some mucking boots on. They're in the changing room over there. We shouldn't have too much more to do. Ross must have cleaned out everything this morning."

I followed Kevin and Jacob to the changing room which turned out to be like a small locker room with two shower stalls at the far end of the room. The boots were sitting on the shelf and the guys each got a pair and pulled them on over their running shoes. I watched as they went back and Hank started to show them what to do. I figured that everything would work out, so I went to fix something with the left over turkey for the evening meal.

The three of them finally came into the house with the four dogs just before six o'clock. The dogs had been following Kevin and Jacob everywhere today. I looked at the guys, "Go get ready for dinner. We will eat in 15 minutes."

Kevin looked at me, "Dad, you're beginning to sound like Mr. Rodgers. You could have said, Guys, dinner will be ready in 15 minutes. Would you please get ready?"

I looked at Hank and he was laughing so I guess he and the twins are going to be okay. As we were eating, the guys had all kinds of questions about what they had done. Jacob asked, "Will we need to do the same thing at the other ranch too, now that Tim, Tad and their Dad are gone? Do we need to do anything over there tonight?"

Hank shook his head no, "Bill told me that everything had been taken care of for today. I'll go over and check the horses and things in the morning."

Leave it to Kevin, "Mr. Rodgers, since we're going to be spending a lot of time with you, what do you want us to call you? Mr. Rodgers sounds so formal, and please don't say Hank because Dad would have a fit if we called you by your first name."

Hank started to laugh, "Guys, please call me whatever you feel comfortable with."

Jacob started to giggle, "Okay Dad and Whatever You Feel Comfortable With, go relax while Kevin and I take care of the mess that Dad hath wrought."

I went in and sat on the sofa in the family room and looked at the Christmas tree. Hank joined me on the sofa, "Steve, what did you say to the guys that made them come back to the stable to help me?"

I shook my head, "Hank, you probably won't believe this, but I said nothing. I had packed my things and was waiting for them to come down with their things. I figured that everyone needed to cool off and that the best thing was for me to take the guys home for the time being. I was thinking that if we were meant for us to be together things would work out.
In fact my things are still by the front door."

Kevin stuck his head in the door, "Dad, Tom Blake is on the phone. The coach called and wants to have Basketball Practice tomorrow afternoon. Mr. R. can we use one of the vehicles to go to the school? We can bring one of our vehicles back here when we return."

Hank nodded, "Why don't you plan to take the truck? That way the dogs won't think they are supposed to go too. You can check the three houses while you are in town."

Kevin smiled, "Thanks Mr. R. Good thinking, that way we can kill three birds with one stone, so to speak."

Hank stood and pulled me up, "Let's get your things put away since it looks like you will be staying at least two more nights anyway."

We took my things back to his bedroom. As soon as everything was put away again, He put his arms around me, "Steve, I feel like I have been on an emotional roller coaster. Is it always like this with the twins?"

I had to think how to answer, "Hank, Kevin and Jacob are usually very laid back. I think even you will have to admit that you have been coming on a little strong. They have always had most everything that they have wanted, but I have tried to be very careful to not spoil them. When they turned sixteen, they wanted to get jobs, but I forbid them to do so. I felt like they would become consumed with making money and miss the fun things that should happen when you are in high school and college. I know from personal experience that you miss out on a lot of things when you are working and going to school."

Our discussion was interrupted by a knock on the door. Hank pulled away from me and opened the door. Kevin and Jacob were standing there. Jacob started, "Dads, can we come in and talk?"

I was surprised at the use of the word Dads and I think Hank was too. Hank motioned for them to come in. He led us to a little room that was like an office that was off to the side of the bedroom. I hadn't seen this room before. "Guys, this is where I create most of the games. This computer is hooked up to the ones in my office at work and at the other house, so I can work from all three locations. I just find that ranch has always been the quietest place. Now what can we do for you?"

Kevin looked at Jacob, who just nodded his head, and Kevin started, "Mr. Rodgers, we apologize for slam dunking you the way we did, but if we are going to be a family, we need to sit down and make decisions together. We recognize that you two are the adults, but we are old enough and intelligent enough to have an input in the decision making process. None of us has the right to make decisions for everyone else."

Jacob continued, "We would be pleased if the two of you could become involved in a meaningful relationship, because you are both going to be alone in a few years if you don't. Kevin and I are eventually going to get married and you said that Dusty and his family are probably going to be leaving. We were talked after we got back from the other ranch and while we were doing the dishes."

"Mr. Rodgers, we would really be proud to call you Dad, but will do so only when there are no other people around. If others are present, then you are going to be Mr. R. if that is acceptable to you. We have a question. What is going to happen to Tim and Tad when their father dies? We know that they don't have a mother."

Hank stood and started to pace. He finally started to talk, "For two sixteen year olds, you sure do a lot of thinking and talking. First, Bill and his daughter knew what I was planning. We didn't get the clearance for Bill to go until last Friday and so we decided to keep it a secret from Tim and Tad. One of the reasons for the trip is to see if the boys would want to live with their sister and her husband and children when Bill dies. I have to be honest with you; I already have the power of attorney and guardianship papers for the two boys, so they could very well become your brothers."

"As far as Dusty and the family's trip, Danny's doctor had to okay the trip. The family knew that the trip was their Christmas present, but they didn't know all of the goodies that I had included."

"Second, I think you did more than slam dunk me several times the last several days. I think you blasted me into space unfairly without knowing all of the details. I agree that I may have been a little overbearing as your Dad suggested, but we could have sat down and discussed it nicely."

"Thirdly, I would be proud if you would call me Dad. As I said at dinner, you can call me whatever you feel comfortable with. I agree that if we are to be a family, we need to sit down and discuss things. Guys, you need to be patient with me. This is all new to me. Your Dad has had you for 16 plus years and I have only known you for three days."

Hank looked at me, "Steve, do you have anything you want to add?"

I didn't know what I could add, so I just shook my head no.

Kevin and Jacob stood, "Thanks for talking to us. We're going to run in the morning and then we'll fix breakfast and we can take care of the horses before we go to practice. Dads, when do you have to go back to work?"

I answered first, "Our offices are closed until Wednesday. I'll go back then."

Hank answered, "I'll probably go in on Wednesday and see if there is anything that needs to be taken care of. I usually work from home, since I own the company. Why do you ask?"

Kevin snickered, "We were just checking to see when we could sneak our friends out here to see the horses and the ranch."

Hank looked at the guys and pointed his finger, "Kev and Jake, you never have to sneak your friends to my house as long as you act responsibly and make sure they do also. If we are ever going to be a family, we need to learn to trust each other. Now, how about you guys get out of here so I can molest your Dad?"

The two guys hugged us and started to back out of the room. "Yes master, we understand master, but please don't hurt our poor feeble daddy. We'll see you at breakfast if not before."

Author's Note: If you would like to read more of this story and other interesting stories, you might wish to visit www.tickiestories.us.

Editor's Notes: What a good man Hank is. It looks like, one way or another; he has set things up so that everyone has a chance to be happy. He can be a bit overbearing at times, but he has the proverbial heart of gold. He does need a few lessons in personal interaction. He as a very loving person but he likes to be in charge and he goes about giving orders to everyone instead of asking people what they might want to do.

I notice that the boys are warming up to him now, and they can see that both men are starting to fall for each other. Given enough time and patience on everyone's part, I think there can be a family formed. I really love this story, big surprise there, but I can see this becoming quite an interesting saga and I can hardly wait to see what happens next. I am ready for another chapter right now, but hey, I know it will take at least another day or two to write the next three or four chapters, so I guess I can wait that long. Thank E Walk.


Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher