By Waddie Greywolf

   Chapter 12

Sidney quickly whipped out his cell phone, and dialed his number.

“Hello.”  Sidney senior answered.

“Hey, Dad,— I’m home.  We’re in the front drive.  May I invite Mr. Longhorn and my brothers in for a minute?  Are ya’ll decent?”

Sidney heard his dad chuckle.

“After last night, I don’t know how decent we are, but at the moment, we’re fully clothed, if that’s what chu’ mean.  Sure, invite ‘em in.  We’d love to see ‘em.  I’ll meet cha’ll at front door.”

Sidney’s dad and Mr. Wiggins both met us at the front door. It was obvious they were in a rare mood and couldn’t wait to see their boy.  Sidney was bouncing from one’s arms to the other.  He was thrilled for them and they were laughing at his enthusiasm.  Sidney pulled Mr. Wiggins down to whisper something in his ear.  Mr. Wiggins laughed, winked at Dwayne and I, hugged and kissed Sidney again.  We didn’t have to ask what our little brother told him.  Mr. Wainright gave my dad a hug and a kiss only to be followed by Mr. Wiggins.  Dwayne and I weren’t disappointed, we got the same. We also got instantly hard when the big cowboy hugged and kissed us.

“Did my boy behave himself?”  Sidney asked dad with a concerned parental tone.

“Behave himself? What,— are you kidding?  That young man? That boy’s a good boy!  You couldn’t a’ made him no finer!  He’s a joy to have around. I’ll be honest with ya,’ breaks this old cowboy’s heart to bring him back to ya.’” Dad chuckled, “We’re probably the only ranch in the Western states that has a Frank Lloyd Wright style bird pen on our back lot.  You won’t find another like it in the state, I guaran-damn-tee ya.’  It should be written up in 'Architectural Digest.'  I think them three are quite pleased with themselves and well they should be. It ain’t jes’ no bird pen, it’s a fuck’n work of art. Don’t know where them damn boys expect to find any birds worthy enough to keep in that pen.”

Dad broke up laughing. He could always come up with the most outrageous bullshit. The men laughed together at my dad’s take on our project.

“By the way,— Sidney told us about your message to him,— congratulations, gentlemen.  It’s about Goddamn time!”  My dad added.

Sidney’s dad threw back his head and laughed with my dad agreeing with him.  He pointed a finger at my dad.
“See, cowboy,--- ya’ jes’ never know how your words are gonna’ effect somebody. I got to think’n all the way home about what you said, and I knew I had to do something about it.  I didn’t wanna’ lose one of the greatest treasures I ever found in my life simply because his contract might run out in a few years.  I jes’ ain’t about to let that happen.”

Sticker walked up beside Mr. Wainright, dropped a huge arm over his shoulder, pulled him close and kissed him behind his ear.  Sidney was smiling from ear to ear and Dwayne and I pissed in our Wranglers. I noticed my old man’s snake was moving in his pants.  He wasn’t immune to Sticker’s overt show of affection for his main man.

“I’d be a fool to let a prime piece of beef like this big cowboy get out of my corral, right men?”  Mr. Wainright spoke directly to Dwayne and I who were, by that time, glassy eyed and dumbstruck.  We could only nod our head in agreement.  We probably looked like two hula dolls in the back window of a ‘chee-vee’ low-rider with our heads bobbing up and down.
“Ya’ll come on in.  Let’s go to the kitchen.  We got us an honest to goodness New York cheesecake sent to us by a friend in the Big Apple yesterday.  I think Sticker and I can rustle up some hot chocolate or coffee.”

We followed Mr. Wainright and Mr. Wiggins into their huge kitchen. It was beautiful.  Everything was done in stainless steal. It was impressive.  We sat around a bar-like counter with recessed lights shining down on the counter. They served us a piece of wonderful cheesecake and made a pot of coffee.  Dwayne and I never had cheesecake before but it was delicious.  Our little brother was thrilled to have us in his world.  He sat between his two brothers and had one hand on me or Dwayne the whole time.  He was such a love.  His affections for us were not missed by his dad and Mr. Wiggins.

“Well, Son, did you treat your brother’s right?”  Mr. Wainright raised an eyebrow at his boy and smiled.  We watched as Sticker winked at our little brother.

“God, I hope so, Dad!  They sure as Hell treated me right.”

“Well, I have to say,— I don’t think this is the same kid we took over there a couple of days ago.  What da’ ya’ think, Sticker?”

“Hell, I knew’d that the minute he walked in the door.  He’d either grow’d six inches, he’s walk’n taller or he’s got new heels on his boots.”

The men were having a good time teasing Sidney.  Sidney was loving it.

“After last night, I shore’ nuff love my brothers, all right, but my main man is Mr. Longhorn, here, Dad.  I ain’t ashamed to tell ya’ll, I love him.  He’s my personal hero.”

“Well, I don’t know’s you could a’ picked a better man to love, Son.” Mr. Wainright told Sidney.

My dad got the biggest shit eating grin on his face and blushed like a school boy.  He opened both his hands in a gesture of what-a’-ya’-gonna’-do?  

“I never seen no man be so calm and collected as he was in the face of potential danger from that mad man, Colonel Dunbar. I though for sure the Colonel was gonna’ hit ‘em. I stood there watching Mr. Longhorn stand his ground without so much as batting an eyebrow, and I told myself I’d be happy if I grow’d up to be half the man he is.”

“Com’mer, Son!” my dad barked at Sidney. Sidney got down from his stool, went to my dad who embraced him, held him for an minute, then bussed a kiss behind his ear.  “I love ya’ for them words, but your main men should always be them two sit’n right there beside each other.  Don’t mean there can’t be room in yore’ heart for this old cowboy, though.  I love you, too, Son!”  My old man actually got tears in his eyes.  I could see Sidney’s dad and Mr. Wiggins were moved, too.
“We’re you able to help your brother’s with Dwayne’s problem?”  Mr. Wiggins asked Sidney.

“I hope so, Mr. Wiggins.  I came up with a plan, but they’re gonna’ need me to implement it.  They can’t do it by themselves.  They need my help. That’s what they couldn’t see in their dream. It was the part I had to supply.”

“Since we’re all here, and tomorrow ain’t a school day, you wanna’ share it with us?”  Mr. Wainright asked his son.

“Yes, Sir.  We will, but before I tell you and Mr. Wiggins, Dad,— please, Sir,— hear me out before you make a decision; maybe, even sleep on it tonight.  I really wanna’ help my brothers, Dad.  I need to be a part of this for me as well as for them. They been s'damn good to me over the last several years.  I don’t wanna’ let ‘em down, Dad.”

Mr. Wainright nodded his agreement, and Sidney started in to tell him every detail.  It must have all come together in Sidney’s mind exactly the best way to present his plan to his dad and Mr. Wiggins.  I even saw my dad looking at him in awe a couple of times from the way Sidney was weighing all the options.  I could see his dad listening with a detached concern but his partner, Mr. Wiggins had a wry, proud smile on his face and placed his arm around Mr. Wainright to lightly rest on the back of his barstool.  It was in that moment Dwayne and I saw how deep his affection was for both men.  Sidney finally exhausted his presentation and sat there silent for a minute.

“Wow!” said his dad. “Sounds like something out of 'Mission Impossible'; except, I don’t see this plan as quite so impossible.  I promised you I wouldn’t make a decision right away, and I won’t.  I’ll even take your suggestion and sleep on it tonight. I need to talk it over with our head wrangler, here, anyway.  I wanna' get his input on what we just heard.  All in all, at first hearing, I have to say it’s a damn good plan and it just might work; however, I won’t lie to you; naturally, as a father, I have some concerns.  I won’t bring them up right now.  I wanna’ think about it tonight.

I think the part about involving your uncles is a good idea.  Sticker knows as well as I do, all three of us,— me, Sitcker and Curley will have to sit on Frank until he agrees to cooperate.  Frank never has liked the Colonel.  He treats him with respect and courtesy because he is, after all, his employer.  When Frank finds out what he’s been doing to Dwayne, he’ll wanna’ take matters into his own hands and that could spell disaster.  I think we can get him to see the larger picture and benefit of having a little more ‘permanent’ solution to the problem of the Colonel.

Frank thinks the world of Dwayne, partially because Dwayne is Rance Harding’s son and Frank was in love with Rance. He promised Rance he’d stay with Sadie and look out for you, Dwayne.  He’s tried to do just that. Bet cha’ didn’t know that, did ya,’ Son?”  Sidney Wainright looked at Dwayne.  Dwayne looked at me, then back to Mr. Wainright and shook his head.

“I done told him the other night, at Spencer Winchester’s, there’s several things he don’t know about his dad.  They ain’t bad things, it’s jes’ he don’t know about ‘em yet.”

“How much do you think we should tell him, Vince?  I don’t wanna’ overstep my bounds, here.”

“Well, I done me a lot a’ think’n on it, Sid, and I pretty well figured it was gonna’ come up summers with all of this what’s been going down between Dwayne and Dunbar.  Dwayne’s at an age now, I think he can handle it and sooner or later he needs to know.  He’s got his brothers to lean on, but I don’t think it’s gonna’ be that big a problem for Dwayne. For all the shit he’s been through lately, I’d say he’s a pretty strong young man.”

“Yore' daddy and Frank Mayhew met on the rodeo circuit, Son, years ago." Mr. Wainright continued, "They fell in love and rodeoed together for a number of years until your daddy got drunk one night and got blamed for a robbery he never committed.  He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  It was a small town judge, he was appointed a public defender who was a lousy attorney, and they sent him up for five to ten.  There was a lot of talk about the sheriff being involved with the robbery and framing your daddy. The sheriff was never brought to trial, but eventually he was kicked out of office.  It created enough doubt, another attorney who Frank paid to take your dad’s case, got his sentence reduced to probation.

He was released after three years.  All that time Frank was working for the ranch my family owned, the Lazy 8. I know all this because I worked right along side Frank as another hired hand for over six years.  Why I was work'n as a cowboy at a ranch my family owned is another story for another time. While your dad was in prison, he wrote to his old highschool sweetheart, your momma, Sadie, and she would go every visitor’s day to visit him.  They fell in love and got married when your daddy got out of prison.  His great aunt left him some money when she passed away and left it in trust for Rance.  When he got out of prison he used it to buy the ranch you live on, but not before he paid Frank back every penney plus interest he spent on your dad’s defense.  A year after I left the Lazy 8, Frank came to California to work for his friend.  After all, if it hadn’t a’ been for Frank Mayhew, your daddy, probably, would still be rotting away in prison for a crime he never committed. How could yore’ daddy help but love a man who would go to bat for him when he had no one else in the world who believed in him?

Frank Mayhew is a cowboy. He didn’t do what he done to claim yore’ daddy’s love.  He did it for no other reason than he loved yore' dad.  He would never consider your dad owed him a damn thing for doing what he done even if Rance Harding never made an effort to pay him back; however, your daddy’s a cowboy, too, Son, and a damn good one.  He paid Frank back and then some, but you don’t forget or leave behind someone who has meant as much to you as Frank Mayhew did to him.  Rance wanted Frank to come and share in the joy of his new life.  If they shared a little physical love on the side,— so, fuck’n, what?

There weren’t no doubt, your daddy loved yore’ momma, Son.  He still does, today.  She was the only woman for him and the only woman he’ll ever love;  however, there was enough love in your old man’s heart he carried on a relationship with Frank on the side for several years until Sadie caught ‘em in the barn one evening with Frank suck’n his dick.  Frank tried to warn your dad it might not be safe, but Rance was horny and didn’t wanna’ listen to Frank.  He had to have Frank’s love right that minute.  Frank tried to cover for him, but it didn’t do no good.  I don’t mean to judge your momma, Son, but I feel she might’ve handled it a little bit better’n she did.  

So you see,— there was more to it than your dad jes’ letting Frank suck his dick once.  Sadie never knew about the other. If she did she wouldn’t a’ kept Frank on as a hand.  As far as I know,— she don’t know to this day.  Rance never told her it was Frank who spent all his money for almost three years to get him out of prison.  It really wasn’t any of Sadie’s business.  It was something private between him and Frank.  When Rance lost everything and left to go back on the circuit again, he made Frank promise he’d stay with Sadie and look out for you.  Sadie hired Curley, and,— well,— you know the rest.”

I had my arm around Dwayne and Sidney had his around him, too.  I was proud of my brother. He seemed to take it all in stride and wasn’t overly affected by Mr. Wainright’s news.

“That don’t make me love my dad a whit less, Mr. Wainright. If anything, it makes me love him more.”

“'At ain’t the reason I told ju’ that, Son.  Of course you shouldn’t love your dad a whit less, and I was hope’n it would make you just a little more proud of him. There's been some awful things said about yore' daddy around this uptight, little community by folks who judged him without know'n all the facts or the truth.  Rance Harding is one of the finest men I ever did know and still is today. He’s welcome in my home anytime, and I’d trust that man with any thing I have;— except, maybe this big cowboy next to me. Then I’d have to do me some powerful think’n on it.” Mr. Wainright grinned and winked at Dwayne.

“I think I can understand that, Sir.”  Dwayne laughed with him.

“Well, gentlemen,—” said my dad, “I think it’s time for us to be head’n on home.  Sid,— Sticker,— we certainly do appreciate your hospitality and the talk.  We’ll keep in touch and have you men over for dinner soon.”

“We’d enjoy that, Vince, I’m sure.  Thanks for bringing our boy home.”

“No problem,— and as for you, young man,— !” Dad pointed a finger at Sidney, “Talk’s cheap! Git chore’ butt over here and show this old cowboy how much you really love him.”   Sidney was in my dad’s arms in a flash and wouldn’t be satisfied with a hug and a peck.  He kissed my dad full on the mouth, and dad didn’t hold back.  I saw wet spots form at the crotch on Mr. Wainright’s and Mr. Wiggins’ Wranglers.  They looked at each other and smiled.  Once again Dwayne and I simply pissed in ours.

“Damnation, Son,— you really do love this old man!”

“Don’t never have no doubts, Mr. Longhorn. I meant what I told my dad, Sir.”

We said our goodbyes all around, and it took us another thirty minutes to get out of there.  It was a good visit, and it solidified our bond with Sidney all the more.

* * * * * * *

We drove home in silence.  We were each in our own thoughts.  Dwayne leaned up against my chest.  I put both arms around his arms and locked them at his chest holding him tightly against me. I’d reach over and steal a kiss from time to time.  We were almost home. I was glad because my ole dick had been up and down so many times in the last several hours it was getting cramps.

“Is there more I don’t know about my daddy, Mr. Longhorn?”  Dwayne asked my dad.

“Jest' a bit, Son, but I promise it’s all good. It’s something he would wanna’ tell you his-self.”

* * * * * * *

We got home and I helped dad with his shower and got him into bed.  He told us it was all right if we wanted to stay up for a while, but he was tired and wanted to go to bed.  I kissed him goodnight and went to join my brother.

Dwayne didn’t feel like watching television and I wasn’t really interested in it either.  He wanted to take a shower.

“Ya’ want company, stud?  Might need someone to 'warsh' you’re back for ya.’”

“Sure,— you know where I could round me up a handsome cowpoke to help me?”

“I jes’ might.”  I grinned real big.

I showered again with him and he seemed to enjoy the closeness.  We held each other under the hot water for a good while making love.  We finished and returned to my junk room to the huge bed.  We took one look at it, he turned to me, I turned to him, and we both knew without a word being spoken, we couldn’t sleep in that big bed that night.  It was just too damn empty without our little brother.  We went back to my main bedroom and there we stayed the night.

* * * * * * *

The rest of the weekend Dwayne and I spent helping dad with some projects he wanted to get done around the place.  It was a wonderful two days even though we did work our butts off;  however, working with my dad wasn't like ordinary work.  He was always full of stories and could keep Dwayne and I entertained for hours.  Before we knew it, we''d accomplished a lot and wasn't even aware of the time going by.  We talked with our little brother on the phone a couple of times and exchanged a couple of e-mails.  His dad still hadn’t talked with him about his decision whether to let him help us, but Mr. Wiggins told him to hang tight.  That meant Mr. Wiggins was going to bat for him.  He felt good about it.  Sidney dropped us an e-mail around Sunday noon and told us his dad invited his two uncles for dinner that evening.  That was a good sign his dad might be thinking about talking to his Uncle Frank to convince him to go along with our plan.

Saturday night dad rented a couple of movies we watched and we got to bed early.  It was just as well.  My brother and I had a lot of loving to get in and Saturday night just seemed like the right time to do it. For all of my dad’s love and mine, I felt my brother slipping more and more into uncertainty. I was afraid he might go into severe depression. Things couldn’t have been more up in the air as far as his immediate future was concerned and he was rightfully worried.  Sunday afternoon dad got a call from Sadie.

“How are things going back there, Vince?  Is Dwayne all right?”

“He’s fine, Sadie.  He and his brother are out back putting some finishing touches on their bird pen.  It turned out really nice.”

“I haven’t bothered to call before now, but I got a call night before last from Brad.  He was ranting and raving about you refusing to bring the boys by to do the chores.  I told him I knew you well enough to know you wouldn’t do that sort of thing unless you had a pretty damn good reason. I asked him what he’d done and he told me he didn’t do anything.  I love Brad, Vince, but that’s just a little hard for me to believe.”

“Well, I hate to tell ya’ this, Sadie, but he was gonna’ make Dwayne stay home with him the rest of the weekend to punish him again, because he said Casey and him didn’t do the chores the night before to suit him. I talked to Casey after we got home the other night, and he assured me they did everything exactly according to Brad’s instructions.  I told Brad I was sorry,  you left Dwayne in my care, and he would be returning with me.  He got in my face, tried to intimidate me with a lot of verbal posturing and empty threats, try'n to get me to jes' give in and let him have his way, but I’m sorry, Sadie,--- I just couldn’t.  He yelled at Dwayne telling him he had to stay home with him, he was being punished and not to get into my truck.  I told Dwayne to get into my truck and we left.  I just didn’t feel like exposing the boys or their friend to his ranting and raving again, so I called him, told him to do his own chores until you got back and could iron it all out between him and Dwayne.”

“Oh, dear Lord, Vince.  I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I done figured it was something like that. You done the right thing. I can’t blame you for not want’n to go back over there.  Look, Vince,--- I need your help. I ain’t gonna’ be able to git back before Wednesday at the earliest.  Would you mind taking care of Dwayne for me? I don’t want him back over there with Brad until I get back.  I don’t know what bug he’s got up his butt, but I just can’t deal with it right now.”

“I done told ju,’ Sadie, I’ll be happy to take care of Dwayne as long as you need me to.  He’s happy over here and he’s calmed down a lot since he’s been here with Casey and me.  He’s got a second home here, Sadie, anytime he needs it.”

“Thanks, Vince, I knew without asking I could count on you. I really appreciate it.”

“No problem, Sadie.  Do you wanna’ talk to your boy?”

“I don’t have the time right now, Vince.  Tell him I love him and to stay close to you and Casey until I get back.”

“I will, Sadie, and if you need to leave him here longer, that’s fine, too.  Hope everything works out for you.”

“Thanks, Vince, you’re a good friend.”

“Bye, Sadie.”
* * * * * * *

Dad was cooking.  He hollered to Dwayne and I in to come in,  clean up and help with dinner.  We were working in the kitchen, Dwayne was fixing a salad and I was working on fixing a vegetable for us.  I put it on the stove and got out the ice to make tea.

“Dwayne,  yore’ momma called a while ago." Dad said, "She was in a rush and didn’t have time for me to holler to you to come to the phone.  She said she ain't gonna’ get back before Wednesday and for you to stay here with Casey and me.”  Dwayne had his back to dad and I, but we could see his shoulders slump and he breathed a deep sigh. “Her exact words, Son,--- was for you stick close to me and Casey.”

“Did she say anything about the Colonel calling her, Mr. Longhorn?”

“Yeah, she said he called and ranted and raved.  He told her, after Thursday  I simply refused to bring you boys back over there to do the chores.  He told her he didn’t do nothing.  Yore’ momma’s ain’t a dumb woman, Son, she knew I wouldn’t a’ done something like that unless I had me a pretty damn good reason.  I told her how he acted, and I think Sadie believed me.  Whether she did or not she wasn’t about to risk leaving you with him when she couldn’t be around to control him.  She’s try’n to look out for you, Dwayne.”

“I know, Mr. Longhorn, but it’s like I told you and Mr. Winchester the other night, I wouldn’t be in this position if’n she hadn’t a’ married him.  I asked her not to. I begged her not to, but she assured me it would be all right.  I never did like the son of a bitch. That don’t mean I didn’t find him a good looking man and hot as hell; however, even back then, when they was date’n, I felt there was jes’ some’um not quite right about him. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew he made me uncomfortable the way he looked at me sometimes. He tried too hard to be my buddy.  I guess that, combined with the fact I don’t think she should a’ ever kicked my dad out in the first place makes me feel bad about her. I’m convinced she only married the Colonel to spite my dad so's she could make him think she replaced him as her husband and my daddy.  All that makes me feel pretty bad towards her. It’s confusing to me, too, because like Mr. Winchester said, it makes me feel all the more alone in the world.”

“Look around ju,’ Son.  Are you alone now?  You got two brothers who couldn’t love you more and one old, has-been cowboy who’s more than jes' pretty damn fond of ya.’  You got the Winchesters, Sid Wainright, and Sticker Wiggins who love and think the world of you. Hold on to what chu’ got, boy,--- it jes’ may save yore’ life.”

Dad walked over to my brother and took him into his arms. Dwayne hadn’t broke down in a couple of days, but he let it out that night.  My dad held him and comforted him as I went about getting the rest of dinner ready for us.  Dwayne recovered and was better for letting out his anger and frustration.  He had a lot on his mind.  Neither dad nor I held it against him.  He had every right to be upset.  He didn’t know if or when his world might come crashing down around him.

We ate dinner and we were all feeling better afterwards.  We cleaned up the kitchen and Dwayne and I went off into my junk room to do our homework for school the next day.  It took us a couple of hours, and then, it was time for bed.  I helped dad again and Dwayne got into the shower by himself.   It was the end of a wonderful four days.  It was hectic, but it had moments of joy.  After we made a little love to each other and satisfied ourselves, we lay there holding each other.

“You’re old man’s right, Casey.  Before last week I didn’t have any of you.  Now, I have some pretty wonderful folks who are behind me and believe in me.  I have a lot of love coming my way.  With yours and Sidney’s love I can make it though. I love your old man, too, Case.”  

“Lord, between you and Sidney you’re gonna’ give my old man a complex. I’m jes’ kidding, brother.  If anyone has enough love to go around for all of us, it’s my dad.  I’m pretty damn fond of that old, has-been cowboy myself."  We shared a laugh about my dad calling himself a 'has-been.'  My old man was far from being a 'has-been.'

We drifted off into a deep sleep.  I don’t think either of us woke up once until I heard Senator Klegghorn start to crow.  I raised up to see the first rays of light come through the window.  It was the start of a brand new day. The days were getting longer and warmer.  It was late spring and we would be out of school in a couple of months for summer vacation.  Summer vacation, Hell!  Sometimes Dwayne and I would work harder during the summers than we did all during the school year; except, in the fall when we had football practice every afternoon.  Then the last couple of weeks of summer we had football camp. When you live on a ranch the summers are a time to get things done you can’t in the winter when you don’t have as much time.

* * * * * * *
Sunday evening at the Wainright home, Sidney and Sticker were alone in Sticker’s bedroom getting ready for bed.

“Well,--- it went about like you thought it would with Frank.”  Sticker commented to his mate.

“Yeah, but thank God we got him simmered down and managed to talk some sense into his head.  That Curley is a marvel with Frank.  I wonder sometimes if Frank realizes the prize he has in that man.  I never fail, ever’ damn chance I get, to tell him how much I think of Curley and how good for Frank I think he is.  You know Frank, he just sort a’ stoically agrees. He never says anything, but I've known that old cowboy too many damn years, I know he loves Curley.  I’m still uneasy about all this, cowboy.  I know I have to give Logan an answer soon.”

“Birds gotta’ fly, fish gotta’ swim,—” Sticker started singing under his breath.  Sid laughed at him.  Sticker could hammer home a point with an economy of means.

“All right, wise guy, I know you’re right, but damn it, cowboy,— !”

“Look! What chu' worried about? I’m gonna’ be right there by his side.  Jes'  'cause you be sharing my bed don’t mean I’ve stopped think’n 'bout doing my job; not jes’ because you pay me, neither.  I love that boy.  You think I’d let anything happen to that kid?  Not on this old cowboy’s watch!  As Vince would say, I guaran-damn-tee ya’ nothing’s gonna’ happen. That kid’s got it figured out down to the nat’s ass, Sid.  I believe in him.  I have faith in him.  I know what he’s capable of.  So do you, buckaroo! We’ve brought him along and raised him up for this moment.  We’re the ones who taught him to accept responsibility for helping his fellow man.  Are we gonna' send him a mixed message now, and tell him,  ‘Kings-X, Honcho! All this crap we been feed'n ya' only applies when there ain’t no personal risk involved?’  Sidney, I’ve personally seen you risk yore' own life for someone you didn’t care nearly as much about as Logan does them two men; to say nothing of Vince Longhorn.  That kid's plumb crazy about that man. C'ain't say's I blame him none. I'm pretty damn fond of that old cowboy myself.  No doubt our boy loves Casey and Dwayne, but I think he's got a major adolescent crush on Vince Longhorn.”

“Well,— if’n he does,--- all I can say is, my boy’s got damn good taste in men.  I wouldn’t have the slightest problem with my boy sharing a little physical love with that cowboy.  The way he treats his own boy and Dwayne is enough for me.  Besides, I know him well enough to know he’d never initiate anything between him and Logan.  I’m more afraid of our boy raping poor Vince.” The men shared a laugh. “I still can’t believe what Logan told us about Vince, can you?”

“Well, I can honestly say, in all the years we've known him, I never noticed nothing.” Sticker told him,  “He’s never said a word about having artificial limbs, and if you weren’t told about it,— how the Hell would ju’ know?  He sits as good a horse as any man I ever seen.  He’s made my old dick hard more’n once watch’n him’n his boy rodeo.”

“Sticker?”  Sidney sounded abashed and smiled at his mate, “Yeah,— me, too.”  He reluctantly admitted.  Sticker pointed a finger at him and laughed.  “Logan told me he lost his legs in Vietnam and Vince has several medals including a Bronze Star.  Casey and Dwayne told him.  He wondered why Casey showered with his dad, but he just thought maybe it was a tradition with them.  Dwayne told him that wasn’t it.  Vince needs minimal help in the shower, and since his wife died a couple of years ago, Casey took over helping him.  You gotta’ admire a man like Vince and even more, his boy, Casey.” allowed Sidney.  

“Yeah, well,— there you go.  You think for a minute Vince is gonna’ let his boy be involved with something he wasn’t pretty damn sure would turn out all right?  I don’t think so.”  Sticker allowed.

“All right, cowboy! I know you’re right, and thank you for not using the ‘overprotective’ card.  I know you have it in your back pocket ready to whip it out at a moment’s notice; however, I have a sneaky feeling you’re counting on me coming around to your way of thinking without having to play your trump card.  I’ll tell him in the morning he can do it.”

“No, you won’t! You march your cowboy butt into his room this evening and tell him.  Don’t make that kid wait another minute, Sid.  If you’ve made up your mind, tell him so’s he can get a good night’s sleep.  You were a kid once. You know how important things like that are to someone his age.”

“Damn it, you’re right, again.  Now I know why I pay you the big bucks, cowboy. It certainly ain’t because of your pretty face.”  Sidney laughed at his mate.

“Oh, by the way, straw boss, I bet old Sticker knows something you don’t.”

“You gonna’ share it with me, cowboy?”

“Remember you talking to Dwayne the other evening and telling him about his dad.”


“I didn’t wanna’ say nothing,--- didn't know if it was my place,--- but he ain’t riding the circuit no more.”

“How do you know?”

“Remember that Rodeo Stock Company you told me to buy about three years ago?  Told me you thought it had promise?”

“Yeah.  Last you told me it was doing really good and making you some money.”

“Can’t complain, brother.  Half a mil every quarter is a little better pay than punching cows for a living.  Well,— guess who I hired on to be my main stockman and ramrod of the outfit?”

“No,— you’re shit’n me?”

“No, I ain’t.  Rance Harding’s been working for me for almost two years now.  I got rid of that other no good son of a bitch, and immediately after hiring Rance our profits started going through the roof.  I think the other guy was siphoning off most of the funds, but I can’t prove it. I’ve been rewarding Rance accordingly.  If he makes me money,— he makes more money!  He’s making better than he ever did rodeoing, and it shore' is a Hell of a lot more steady for him. He asks me every now and then about you and your boy, and how you’re doing.  Tells me to send you his love.  Now, I can tell him I don’t have to send it no more,--- I can give it to you, up close and personal.”  Sticker grinned wickedly at his mate. “Now, go do your fatherly duty and tell that boy he can help his friends.”

“On my way, head wrangler. You be here when I get back?”  Sidney asked with a grin on his face.

“With a fresh batch of cowboy love for you, buckaroo.  Got a good scald on this one, too. You gonna’ love it.”  Sticker winked and grinned at Sidney.

“Humm,— wonder what wine would go with cowboy spunk?” Sidney mused as he left the room.

“For that big, hearty, beefy flavor of the Old West?" Sticker shot back in his booming bass voice, "An eighty-nine Cakebread Merlot, of course,--- what else?” 

* * * * * * *

Dad dropped us off at school the next morning.  We watched as Mr. Wiggins pulled up in his new Humvee to drop off Sidney. He smiled and waved to us.  We walked to the curb as he rolled down his window.  Sidney was getting out on the other side and came walking around.

“How you men doing this morning?”

“Fine, Mr. Wiggins.  Good to see you again, Sir.”  I said to him.

“Who you kidding, brother?  It’s always good to see this man!”  Dwayne laughed and punched me in the back.  Sticker roared with laugher.

“You’re brother’s got good news for ya.’ See you men later.  Ya’ll have a good day, now, ya’ hear!  See ya’ll this afternoon.”  He smiled, tipped his hat, and drove off.

We turned our attention to our little brother.  We each put an arm around him and walked him to the stairs where we sat every morning waiting for the bell to ring.  We did it because we genuinely loved Sidney, but it was also a big social thing for him to be seen in close company with the two biggest men on campus.  Dwayne and I began to notice there was a big change in the other student’s attitudes toward our little brother.  More and more were coming around to talk with us and him.

“What’s the good word, little brother?” Dwayne asked Sidney.

“My dad gave me the go ahead last night before he went to bed. There’s one stipulation though,  Mr. Wiggins has to be a part of our commando crew.”

“You KNOW we ain’t gonna’ have no problem with that, little brother.” I laughed.

“Didn’t figure you would.” he shot back. “I got everything together and threw it into a bag.  I left it in the back of Mr. Wiggins’ truck so it’s immediately available when I need it.  What’s going on with Dwayne’s mother?”

“She called dad late yesterday and asked him to take care of Dwayne until she gets back. She said the Colonel called her and told her,  dad just refused to bring us over to do Dwayne’s chores for no reason at all.  Dad told her the truth and she said she figured it was something like that.  She said she won’t be able to get back until Wednesday at the earliest.  That gives us today and tomorrow to get set up. I got the stuff you asked me about in a bag I left with dad to bring if I called him. He said since the Colonel won’t be there until later on in the evening we could go over to do the chores, help you get set up and be out of there. Dad said he’d have Frank tell him we came to do the chores.”

“That’s a good cover.” allowed Sidney. “How about letting Mr. Wiggins drive us over to your place, Case? We put everything in your dad’s Bronco and go from there.  Mr. Wiggins can go with us.  We’ll leave his truck at your place so’s not to attract any undue attention.  Then, if by some unforseen chance the Colonel should come home early, we’re just there to do the chores and be out of there. He won’t be any the wiser about our real purpose.”   
The bell rang for first period.

“Hope to see you guys at lunch?”  Sidney said.

“Count on it, little brother.”  Dwayne said to him.  I nodded my agreement and we were off to class.

* * * * * * *

The bell for lunch rang and I got there before Dwayne and Sidney.  I found a place over in the corner by the large windows that looked out onto the outside picnic table dinning area.  I was a grey, cool, overcast day, and I noticed Gary Peacock was sitting at a table by himself eating a sandwich from a brown paper bag.  He had a coke he bought from the machine he was drinking with it.  I wondered if he had fallen out of favor with his buddies.  I kinda felt bad for him.

I saw Sidney and Dwayne enter the cafeteria at the same time and waved to them.  They went through the line and brought their trays over to the table where I was sitting.  They looked out and saw Gary sitting alone.  They both looked at me and I shrugged like I didn’t know anymore than they did.

“Humm,” said Sidney, “makes ya’ wonder don’t it?”

“Yeah.” agreed Dwayne.

“Well, I guess this is one of those times you told me to feel bad,— then, jes' let it go.”

“Exactly.” confirmed Sidney. “Just consider,— without his goon squad he’s a pretty pathetic figure.  Someone like him needs an audience for his cruelty.  Take away his audience he’s little more than the rest of us; a little man, unsure of himself and his future.”

“Damn, Sidney,” said Dwayne, "sometimes you say things that make a Hell of a lot of sense.”

“That’s not because I’m trying to be cruel to Gary, it’s because I’ve been where he is.  I’ve never required an audience, and I certainly pray I don’t have a deliberate cruel streak; however, all of us need the love and support from people around us who care.”

“‘At’s fer damn sure, little buddy.”  Agreed Dwayne. “I don’t know where I’d be if’n it wasn’t for a few good men, including you two, who love and care about me.”

“As long as you and Case have good hearts, you’ll never have to worry about that sort of thing.  The old saying, ‘you can attract more flies with honey than you can vinegar’ was never more true than in Gary Peacock’s case. He’s not a bad looking kid.  If he just tired to be a bit more pleasant he’d have all the friends he could want.  Sometimes I get the feeling he must think it’s just not cool to be nice to people.”

“You say you been where he is, I can’t imagine you being that alone, Sidney.”  I stated. “If it’s true how have you managed to cope all this time? We’ve known you since the first grade and while we’ve always been friendly with each other, we just always figured you were pretty much self-sufficient.”

“I guess I do put on a pretty good front, Case, but it wasn’t the truth.  I’ve always felt like a freak; like an outsider looking in.  I told your dad sometimes the only thing that ever made my day worth a damn was being able to see you guys and say ‘hello.’  I always prayed for more, but never in my wildest dreams entertained the idea of being your buddy.  You don’t know how much the last few days has meant to me.”

“Well, Sidney,— look at me and our brother, here.  We been friends since the first grade, played sports together, rodeoed together, but it ain’t been until all this shit with his step-dad that we bonded as brothers.  That was little more than,— what, brother,— a couple of days before we brought you on board as our little brother?  So you’re getting in on the ground floor just like us.  We weren’t kidding about you belonging to us, and don’t have no fear, when this is all over with the Colonel, we ain’t gonna’ let chu’ get away from us.  You be stuck with us, bubba!”

A big grin spread across Sidney’s face.

“I could imagine a lot worse fates than belonging to you two men, Case.  Now, let’s change the subject before I get all blubbery and make a damn fool of myself.”

“Why break with tradition at this point?”  Dwayne shot at Sidney as a tear rolled down his face. “Sure,— thanks a lot, guys,— leave the biggest one to do the dirty work.”  

Sidney and I broke up with laughter at poor Dwayne.  His tender heart only endeared him to us all the more.  We sat there eating in silence for a few minutes looking out at the lonely figure of Gary Peacock staring off into the distance as he silently consumed his sandwich.

“Do you think I should reach out to him?”  I asked my brothers.

“Do you think he’d offer you comfort if he destroyed you?”  Sidney asked and Dwayne agreed.

“Maybe not, little brother, but that ain't no test for compassion.”

End Chapter 12 ~ Texas Longhorns
Copyright 2005 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All rights reserved ~
Mail to: waddiebear@yahoo.com