By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 3

“Spence?  It’s me, Vince.”

“Howdy, neighbor.  How, the Hell, are ya.’ Swear to God, I’s just talking to the wife ‘bout you and Casey.  Ain’t seen much of you two lately.  I asked her to call and invite ya’ll to dinner one night soon.”

“Love to, Spence.  Name it and we’ll be there.  I got something I need to talk over with you anyway.”

“Yeah, what’s that, brother?”

“Spence, I know’d you been retired for a while and don’t do much doctor’n no more, but I got me a problem with my boy I thought you might give me a hand with, if’n I was to ask ya’ real nice.”    

“What the Hell you talk’n ‘bout, Vince,— ask’n me real nice?  All you done for us, the best damn neighbor we got, I don’t think so, bubba! I’d be pleased as Hell to do anything I can to help. Wrap that up and put a big, pretty bow on it, brother!”   Spence roared with laugher.  “What can I do for ya’?”

“Well,— as you know, we lost his momma ‘bout six months ago.  I can’t thank you and Donna enough for your support and kindness to us.  Ever’ damn time we turned around she’s left something wonderful for us on the table in the front hallway.  We shore’ nuff love ya’ll for it, too.”

“You and Francis would a’ done the same for us, Vince.  So, what’s the problem with your boy?”

“I don’t need to tell you its been hard on both of us, but the other night Casey come to me in the middle of the night all worried like.  Asked if he could sleep with me ‘cause he was afraid of what his body was doing to him.  Said he wakes up in the morning and his pillow and sheets around his head are soaking wet.  He didn’t wanna’ worry me none with it. Knowing him like I do, he was try’n to be strong for me.  He told me, at first, he was worried he might be wetting the bed, but he seemed doubtful ‘cause he said it was never wet around his waist.

I didn’t know about it ‘cause he never said nothing and would get up in the mornings, strip his bed, throw every thing in the wash, dry it and make his bed in the evenings.  He told me it was happening more and more often, and he was getting tired of having to change his bed every other night or so.  I went to his bedroom the next morning and helped him with his bed, and Spence, the boy weren’t kidding.  I mean his bed and pillows was soaked, but it weren’t a yellow stain like piss would make.”

“How many nights he been sleeping with you, now, Vince.?”

“Last night was the third night and it ain’t happened since he’s been sleeping with me.”   

Vince heard Spencer chuckle.

“I think I know what’s wrong with him.  Can ya’ll come for dinner this evening?”

“Sure, what time?”

“What time should Vince and Casey be here for dinner this evening, honey?” Spence yelled to his wife. “Okay, thanks!”  He hollered back.

“Six-thirty all right?”

“We’ll be there.  Thanks, Spence.”

“That’s what neighbors are for, brother.”

My dad hung up the phone and hollered to me to get cleaned up, put on a clean pair of Wranglers, my best boots and hat, we were going to the Winchester’s for dinner.  Great!  I loved Donna Winchester’s cooking. I also thought Spencer Winchester was one of the hottest older men I’d ever met.  I suspected my dad did, too.  They were all the time going off to talk by themselves with their arm around one another.  They’d talk real serious-like  to each other then slap each other on the back and roar with laugher. They seemed to really enjoy each other’s company.

“You ready, honcho?”  Dad hollered up the stairs to me.

“On my way, Dad.”

I finished checking myself out in my full length mirror and adjusted my hat just the way I like it.  I switched off the light and walked to the head of the stairs and stopped.  I looked down at my dad standing there looking up at me smiling,— and I couldn’t move.  My throat swelled and I couldn’t breath or swallow.  The sight of him standing there at the bottom of the stairs, fully dressed in his western cloths and hat, with his big, full, dark bushy moustache took my breath away.  He had on his best pair of legs with an expensive pair of cowboy boots mom bought him for his Birthday the year before she died.

‘Oh, God!’  I prayed, ‘Please don’t let him see how foolishly attracted to him I am.  Please, don’t let me get a hard-on walking down the stairs.  You can do this, Casey!  You’ve walked down these stairs a thousand times.  One boot in front of another is all you have to remember.  Act natural and he won’t notice anything unusual.’

“Stop!” Dad held up his hand to me and looked up. “Stay right there, Son!”

It wasn’t like an order, but I couldn’t figure out what he was doing.  He looked up at me, and I thought I was doomed.  Did he see my erection growing in my Wranglers?  Oh, gees,—

“Son of a bitch!”  He said softly to himself.

I thought I could see tears forming in his eyes. He looked down, shook his head, then looked up again to speak to me.

“I’m sorry, Case,— I just realized my boy is no longer a boy.  He’s growing up.  He’s growing up to be a fine young man and one damn fine, good looking cowboy.  Son, you look so much like your Uncle Seth it almost stopped my heart when I saw you standing there.  I just wanted to remember him and you for a moment.  Somehow,— it was like seeing the two of you together in one body.  Come!”

He held out his arms to me, and I ain’t real sure how many steps I took to get to him;  however, I can only remember three.  He held me for a long while and shed a couple of tears.  I couldn’t help myself because I knew how he felt about his baby brother.  I felt like I knew Uncle Seth from his letter dad gave me.  I knew I would've loved him every bit as much as my dad did.

“You look handsome, Dad.  Smell pretty damn good, too.”   We shared a laugh.

“ Handsome enough to cause that boner in your Wranglers?”

“Daaaaad!” I pulled away from him turning beet red. “You weren’t suppose to see that!”  I chuckled.

“Too late, honcho,— busted!”  He roared with laughter, threw his arm around me and we headed for the door.

Six o’clock, in the summer, in California is sort of just a little past mid-afternoon.  There’s still a lot of light out and it doesn’t start to get dark until about eight-thirty or nine.  It seemed like everyone was out and about going somewhere.  We stopped in a small stop and go mart to buy a bottle of wine to take to the Winchester’s. We were in dad’s big four-wheel’n Bronco. It’s a gas guzzler, but he loves it, and he does look hot driving it.

I don’t care where we go around our small town,  men, women and even kids cruise him shamelessly.  He knows he’s damn good looking, too, and will look to see if I caught this man or that woman checking him out.  He’ll wink at me, I’ll chuckle and turn beet red. I get so embarrassed sometimes.  I want to yell at them,

“Hey, mister,— hey lady,— what, the fuck, you look’n at?  The man you think’s so hot is my dad!  What?  Are you blind?  Can’t  chu’ see he’s got a kid!  I know he’s hot! He looks like sex on a bun!  Prime, Grade-A, matured, cowboy beef on the hoof!  So, fuck’n what?  Eat your hungry, sex starved hearts out,— he’s mine, you son’s of bitches!”

I told him the other day I was going to stop going anywhere with him, because he embarrasses the shit out of me; all them people bumping into things and stepping on each other ‘cause they can’t take their damn eyes off him.  He just roared with laughter.  He knows I’m right, but he argues anyway.

“You really don’t know, do you?”  He asked pointing an accusing finger at me.

“Know what?  What’s to know? My dad’s a walking ad for sex? I should wear a sandwich board that reads: 'For a good hot time with my dad, the sex machine, dial this number, ask for Casey.'”  Dad roared with laughter at me. “Listen, Dad,  I’ve seen week old cow patties what didn’t collect as many flies as you get looks when we go out together.”  I pointed my finger at him and laughed.  He roared with laughter again, grabbed me, and got me in a neck lock. He leaned in close to my ear.

“It ain’t me they be look’n at, honcho. ‘Bout time you done woke up to that fact.”  He spoke directly into my ear in a low voice.

What was he trying to tell me?  Naw,— I ain’t buy’n that!  He’s try’n to put it all on ME?  I don’t think so.  Hell, I’m only a fourteen year old kid.  I got me a pretty good dick on me, but Hell, I ain’t no-where’s near the stud my old man is.

“Ain’t blow’n no smoke up yer’ ass, neither, buckwheat.  It be YOU they be looking at; not me!”

“Ahw, dad,— I don’t mean no disrespect, but chur’ full of it.”  I said disgustedly, waving him away with my hand.  He just hooted and continued to point his finger at me.

Dad bought a nice bottle of wine and we headed back to the truck. On the way, two ladies collided their shopping carts because they were looking at dad instead of paying attention to what they were doing.  Their carts turned over and everything was going all over the place.  I was running down oranges and onions and dad was helping them with their carts.  They were all a’ twitter at dad and me helping them, but I couldn’t help notice them staring at me.  Dad saw me start to blush and only made matters worse when he smiled, raised one eyebrow and winked at me; like, ‘I told ju’ so!’

“Young man,” one of the women said to me.  “I don’t mean to embarrass you by staring, but you have the most unusually, beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen on a man.”  The other woman agreed with her.  I just continued to get more red.

“Casey,— .”  Dad spoke softly to me; which, freely translated from the ‘mother tongue’ means, ‘Don’t forget your manners, Son.’

“Why, thank ya,’ ma’am.” I poured it on, “My great aunt was Lillie Langtry and violet eyes runs in our family.”

“Lillie Langtry,— why, I do declare.  I remember her. She did have lovely violet eyes.”

“I remember her, too, and you’re right, she did have lovely dark violet eyes.” said the other lady and added. “Thank you, young man, and your brother, too, for helping us.”

“You’re welcome, Ma’am, but he’s,— .”

“My little brother and I were glad to help, ladies.” Dad cut me off in mid-sentence.

I giggled at my dad, thinking to myself he’s so full of it!  He is, after all, only seventeen years older than me. I suppose we might pass for brothers. On the way back to the truck he was about to burst at the seams from held back laughter.  We climbed into the Bronco and fell together laughing.

“See, honcho!  I done told ju’ it weren’t your dear old dad what them folks been a’ look’n at!”

“You’re right,” I smiled sweetly at him, “they be gawking at my big brother!”

That’s all it took for another round of uncontrolled laughter. For all our bullshit, me and my dad knew how to have a good time with each other.
* * * * * * *

We arrived at the Winchester’s ranch and big Spencer Winchester bounded down the front steps in his big cowboy boots.  I always liked to be around Mr. Winchester.  He was a big man and made big clomping sounds with his boots when he walked.  I was practicing at home teaching myself how to do that.  I thought that was the way a real man should sound when he walks in his boots.

Mr. Winchester was also a physical man.  He had lots of hugs, and kisses for everyone.  Men were no more exempt from his affections than women.  He grabbed dad’s hand in both his big ham hocks, and pumped it to welcome him. I could see in his eyes that wasn’t good enough.  He just had to hold my dad in his arms. He proceeded to give dad a bear hug and a big kiss on his cheek.  Dad didn’t hold back and returned his affections.  I thought for a minute I saw a tear run down my dad’s cheek.

Mr. Winchester held his big arms open for me.

“Casey!  Damn,— it’s good to see you, Son.  Gimme’ a big ole hug and a kiss, boy!”  I was in the arms of the biggest man in the county and loving every minute of it.  He planted a big one on my cheek and I returned his.

“Howdy, Mr. Winchester.  It’s really good to see you again, Sir.”

“Ya’ll come on in.”  He ushered us in the front door. “Lemme’ take your hats, gentlemen.”

We’d all ready taken our hats off when we went through the door.  My dad taught me that was the polite, respectful and mannerly thing to do when entering someone’s home.  We handed him our hats and he sat them on a table near the entry way.  I handed Mr. Winchester the bottle of wine we brought, he smiled real big, nodded his approval  and  thanked us.

“Vince!  Casey!”  Donna Winchester hollered as she wiped her hands on a dishtowel.  She threw it aside and walked into my Dad’s open arms.  They hugged and kissed.  Then it was my turn.

“Casey, Casey,— jes’ look at you!  My,— how you’ve grown! Spence,— our young friend, here, is no longer a boy.  He’s grown so much since we last saw him a month ago, he’s become a young man.  The bigger you get, Casey, the more handsome you become. With those eyes of yours,— why,  you’re gonna’ have your pick of the girls.”  Dad winked at me.

“Thanks, Mrs. Winchester, me’n dad sure appreciate ya’ll inviting us over for dinner.”

“Well, you’re welcome.  It’s been too long and I promise we won’t wait so long before having you over again.”

“How long before dinner, hon?”  Spence asked his wife.

“About half an hour.  I’ll holler at cha.’” Mrs. Winchester winked at her husband.

“Good!  Vince, would you like to go in my study where we can talk.”

“That would be nice, Spence.”

Dad looked at me, and I knew he didn’t want me to join them.

“If it’s all right with you, Dad, I think I’ll stay here and see if I can give Mrs. Winchester a hand.”

“Well, that’s real sweet of you, Casey.  I’d enjoy your company.  Haven’t had much of a chance to talk to you one on one in a long time.” said Donna Winchester.

I stayed and did a few minor things for Mrs. Winchester and helped her set the table while we talked.  Dad followed Mr. Winchester to his study.  Mr. Winchester closed the door behind them and poured himself a drink.  

“Scotch, Vince?”

“Naw, Sir, Mr. Winchester.  I don’t drink.  Might have a glass of wine with dinner.  I ain’t a teetotaler or nothing. I just never developed a taste for alcohol.”

“Can I get you something else?”

“Naw, Sir.  I’m fine.”

Spencer Winchester sat down in his large swivel chair behind his huge oak desk and sat his drink on a coaster.  He looked at his neighbor and smiled.

“Vince, I think your boy has a minor problem that can be easily fixed.  As you know, my practice was in family medicine, but I’ve had an extensive background in psychiatric medicine as well.  Did Casey mention anything about crying himself to sleep sometimes?”

“Yes, Sir, he did.  In fact, I told him I’ve done it more’n a few times myself.”

“But, he didn’t connect his crying himself to sleep with his wet pillow and bedding?”  Spence mused.

“No, Sir.  He didn’t seem to think the two were related.”

“Well, it is and it isn’t.  Don’t mean that to sound like a riddle; however, I suspect what’s happening to Casey is while he’s crying himself to sleep he’s also aware of stopping his crying to actually go to sleep.  That’s normal.  I think you can relate to that yourself.  You know you have to stop grieving or crying to get to sleep.”

“Yes, Sir.  Crying yourself to sleep ain’t really what happens.  You become so exhausted from crying, you go from crying, to sleep.”

“Humm, couldn’t have put it better myself.  You been reading up on this?”  Spence smiled and raised an eyebrow at Vince.

“When your boy’s hurt’n, Mr. Winchester, you look for answers.”

“What do you think’s happening to him, Vince.”

“He’s entering a deep unconscious form of sleep where he’s grieving his little heart out and not aware of it.”

“Damn, Son!  That’s exactly what he’s doing.  It’s part of the mind’s way of working out his grief.  If he’s been suppressing his need to grieve for some reason, his subconscious is going to find a way.  Come Hell or highwater, it WILL find a way!”

“I know him like the back of my hand, Spence.  He can be as stubborn as a mule when he gets his head set about something.  He mentioned to me he didn’t wanna’ bother me about all this because he wanted to be strong for me. I don’t think he would’ve come to me unless he really began to be afraid.  He and I are so damn much alike, I can’t hide anything from him.  Don’t know’s I want to. Ain’t never had another relationship in my life like I have with my boy.  It’s open, honest and we ain’t afraid to love each other, neither.

He’s seen how hard its been on me since Francis passed away and he’s done everything in his power to be a good boy and help me out every way he can.  I just think he may be trying to be too grown up too soon.  I don’t want him growing up faster than he should, Spence.  I’m so damn afraid I’ll turn around twice, he’ll be all grown up and gone.”

“I can relate to that. You have a unique relationship with Casey I wish all men had with their sons. The world would be a much better place. I think we’ve found the reason behind his problem.  Basically,  he’s sublimating his need to grieve for his mother by being strong for you.  He’s taking on the role of parent to you.  He doesn’t want you to see him grieve because he wants you to be able to grieve without worrying about him.  He hopes by doing that, you’ll grieve for both of you. He’s trying to be the strong son his dad can lean on.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Let me talk with him after dinner. With your permission, I’m going to try something. I want to hypnotize him and give him a suggestion that the next time he goes to his secret place to grieve and cry for his mother, he’ll remember my suggestion, wake up and come to you for comfort.  I’ll let him know you understand and you'll help him. Then, your job, is to let him run with it.  Let him grieve if you have to hold him all night to let him get it out.  If he wants to talk about it, talk to him as long as it takes. Just let him know you’re there and you aren’t going away like his mother did.”

“Mr. Winchester,— there’s one other thing I didn’t tell you about.”

“What’s that, Son?”

“Well,— it’s kinda embarrassing;— not for me; Hell, it don’t bother me none, but for Casey.”

“Humm,— I have an idea, but I wanna’ hear it from you. Whatever you tell me won’t be shared with Casey unless you want me to.”

“The night he came to me he didn’t just wake me to tell me about his problem.”

“You woke up to find him looking at you or playing with himself.”

“Yes, Sir,— both.”

Spence smiled and winked at my dad.

“What’s wrong with that? If I was a fourteen year old kid, had a dad like you, came into your bedroom and found you laying there asleep in the all together,—  I’d sure as Hell wanna’ play with myself.” Spence chuckled, “Hell,— I’m sixty-two and I’d still wanna’ do it!”  Spence threw back his head and roared with laughter at the look on his friend’s face.

“Thanks for that, Spence.  There ain’t a’ thing wrong with him or you either for that matter.”  Dad chuckled winking at the big man. “Casey ran from the room, crying from embarrassment. I whistled for him and he knows to come to me when I do because I may need him in an emergency situation.  I held him tight and told him he paid his old man a great compliment by admiring him while he was pleasuring himself.  I also told him never be embarrassed by his feeling.”

“Damn, Vince!  Wanna’ be my daddy, Son?”  The two men shared another laugh. “That’s exactly what you should’ve told him.  Good for you. I think you know you did the right thing, but I have a feeling there’s something more, right?”

“Spence,— what if my boy wants to share physical love with me?”

“You have a problem with that?”

“No, none; however, he’s so damn young.”

“Yes, he is, but I know you.  You ain’t gonna’ let him go further than you think is right for him at his age.  There’s a lot of research been done about sexuality and when it forms in humans.  No one’s really sure what causes one person to develop one way and someone else, another. There’s a lot of talk about genetics and a lot of research is leaning in that direction;  however, it’s a pretty well accepted fact sexual preferences or tendencies develop somewhere between the ages of three and five.  I’m saying if Casey wants to share some intimacy with you, use your own best judgement.  Knowing the two of you like I do and how close you are,— it just might be the best damn thing for both of you right now. I don’t think I’d get into anything where physical size would be questionable.”

“No, I don’t plan to let it go that far if anything does happen. You know me well enough to know I’d never initiate anything.  It will have to be his choice.  He’s too damn young to make a decision like that for himself; so, I accept the responsibility to make it for him, and my decision would be not until he’s at least eighteen. That don’t mean I’d reject him for other intimate things if he needs it.”

“Sure glad that boy has you for a dad, Vince. In a way I envy Casey. Wish my old man had been more understanding.”

“Yeah, Spence, mine, too.”

* * * * * * *

Donna Winchester was a wonderful cook.  Her meals were not just filling, they tasted damn good, too.  She wasn’t a fancy cook but her mother taught her well.  You’d think for a woman who loved to cook as much as Mrs. Winchester, she would be overweight; not Donna Winchester.  She kept herself trim and attractive well into her later years.  She and Spencer were like two teenagers with their affections for each other.  I could see in my dad’s eyes he was happy for them, but I also could see he felt his loss even deeper from observing their joy in each other.  That’s when he would turn to me, grab my hand under the table and gently squeeze it.  He didn’t have to say anything,  I knew.

After dinner I helped Mrs. Winchester clear the table while dad and Mr. Winchester talked quietly.  After we sat back down to join them Mr. Winchester looked at me.

“How ‘bout joining me in my study for a few minutes, Casey?”

“Sure, Mr. Winchester.”  I glanced at dad and he nodded his okay.

He led me down the hall to his study and motioned for me to enter.  He closed the door behind us.  I was never in his study before and was taken by his memorabilia of his life placed around like holy icons at the crossroads of his life. One wall held nothing but diplomas from various medical schools.  He motioned for me to have a seat in one of his large, comfortable leather chairs.

“Your dad asked me to talk to you, Son, about some problems you’ve been having.  Now,— your dad is one, pretty smart hombre.  He told me what he thought was going on with you, and he was exactly right; but, he wanted my opinion.”

“So what’s wrong with me, Mr. Winchester?”

“Well, there really ain’t nothing wrong with your body. It’s doing what it’s suppose to; however, you’re having some problems in your head.”

“Ya’ think I’m crazy, Doc?”

Mr. Winchester threw back his head and roared with laughter.

“No, Casey. Not at all.  You’re as normal as they come. To explain better let me ask you a couple of questions.  I know its been hard for you and your dad since you lost your mom.”

“Yes, Sir, it has.”

“How do you feel about it now?”

“Sometimes, I miss her something awful , Mr. Winchester.  I told dad, I cry myself to sleep many nights.  He told me he does, too.  We ain’t talked much about it ‘cause I think we’re afraid to.  I think we both wanna’ be strong for the other so we just don’t talk about it.  I know it’s as hard for him as it is for me, but— .”

“But, you don’t wanna’ bother him and make it any harder for him.”

“Yes, Sir.  I wouldn’t a’ told him about any of this if I hadn’t gotten kinda scared from waking up with my pillow and bed sheets soaking wet.”

“Well, I’ll tell you why that’s happening.  There’s a deep sleep we sometime go to during the night where we work out our problems we can’t seem to deal with when we’re awake.  You’re trying to control your grieving for you mom so you won’t upset your dad, but your subconscious mind is telling you, “Hey, Casey,— you ain’t grieving for your mom like you should, so I’m gonna’ take care of it for you.”

“I don’t know, Mr. Winchester, I sometimes break down and bawl my heart out at the least little thing that reminds me of my ma.”

“Yeah, but chu’ been doing it by yourself, right?”

“Yes, Sir.  You saying dad and I should be sharing our grief?”

“I don’t know how many times I’ve told your dad, you’re a sharp kid, Casey.  That’s exactly right, Son.  Now,— have you ever been hypnotized?”

“Naw, Sir. You mean like when they make people think they’s a chicken?”

“Yes,— that’s a form of it, but that’s not what a doctor would do; unless, of course he has a slow day, is bored out of his skull, and figures he can use the eggs.”

Mr. Winchester looked at me seriously, then grinned from ear to ear. I though for a moment about what he said, then realized he was blow’n smoke up my butt.  I fell over in the chair laughing.  He started laughing at me.
“Tell, ya’ what I’m gonna’ do.  I have your dad’s permission to hypnotize you and give you a couple of suggestion that will help you.  You won’t remember what I’ve told you, but when you wake up you’ll feel great.  Now, close your eyes and listen to my voice.”

“How do you feel, Son?”

“Okay, Sir.  No, not just okay. I feel great.  When you gonna’ hypnotize me, Sir.”

“I all ready did, Casey.”

“Meaning no disrespect, Sir, but I don’t think you did.”

“I told you, you wouldn’t remember.  Trust me, Son, I did.”

I didn’t believe him, but he was up and about, ready to take me back to my dad.

“Can I get you another piece of cake and some milk, Casey?”

“I’d sure appreciate that, Mrs. Winchester.  That was darn good cake we had for dessert, ma’am.”

“Can I see you in my office for a minute, Vince.”

Dad followed Mr. Winchester to his office again.

“Okay, I put two suggestions in his head.  To make sure their active I told him about halfway home on Ball Road to ask you to pull over to the side and stop the truck for a minute, he has something he wants to tell you.  Pull over and he should throw his arms around your neck and whisper to you he loves you. You be damn sure you hold him tight, tell him how much you love him, and don’t let him go until you’re sure he understands you love him and won’t ever leave him.

After you get home and decide to go to bed, make sure he’s sleeping with you. You don’t need to stay awake, ‘cause when his subconscious starts unloading, believe you me, you’ll wake up muy pronto.  Don’t try to wake him.  He’ll come around on his own.  That’s the second suggestion I gave him.  When he does, be prepared for the second Johnstown flood.  Hold him, comfort him, tell him again how much you love him, what he means to you, and you will never leave him.

If you can, get him to talk to you about how he feels. Then I want the two of you to start sharing more with each other about how you feel; every day; maybe, in the evening before you go to bed. Oh, and by the way, I told him he wouldn’t remember any of what I told him.  He’s convinced I didn’t hypnotize him.  He may tell you I said I was gonna’ hypnotize him, but I didn’t.  When he has you stop the truck on Ball Road, you’ll know.  Then gimme’ a call when you get home to let me know if he did what I told him.  Then we’ll know the other suggestion is set to work, too.”

Spence stuck out his big hand to my dad.  Dad took his hand and pulled him into a hug.  He held Spence a few minutes and shed a couple of tears.  Mr. Winchester comforted him.

“Any time you need a daddy, Spence,  I’m available.”  He kissed Mr. Winchester on the cheek and he returned it trying not to fall out with laughter.

“Listen, neighbor,— as much as I love you and as wonderful a sentiment as that is,— you got more’n enough on you hands with that cowboy.  He’s one of the brightest kids I’ve ever met, and I can tell you one thing,— he worships the ground you walk on. You can’t know how much Donna and I love the two of you.  We’ll have you over again this weekend.  I want a full report, Son.  I wanna’ hear how it goes.  I think after tonight you two will have a little smoother go of it, but you can’t cut him out of your grieving and you can’t allow him to cut you out of his, understand?  It’s important!”

“I understand, Spence, and thanks again.”

“That’s what neighbor’s are for, Vince.”  

We said our goodbyes to the Winchesters and carried several containers of food with us out to the truck.  Donna Winchester gave us several care packages.  Dad and I were glad to have them.  It meant one less dinner we had to scrape together.  We weren’t real great cooks, but we were getting better. We left and dad turned onto Ball Road, the main road to our place.  It’s mostly a farm access road and very few travel on it, especially this time of night.  

“What did you and Spence talk about, honcho?”

“Not much.  He told me we had to start sharing our feelings about mom.  Said he was gonna’ hypnotize me, but I don’t think he did.”

“Yeah, he told me the same thing about sharing our feelings. Guess he’s right, Case.  He’s a doctor, you know?”

“Yes, Sir.  I seen all his medical degrees on the wall in his office.  He must’ve gone to school all his life to get that many.”

Dad laughed, “I wouldn’t be surprised.”

We got about halfway home and something came over me.  I don’t know what happened.  I looked over at dad, and suddenly,  I had an uncontrollable urge to tell my dad I loved him. I don’t know why, but I knew at that moment, that place in time, I had to tell him. It was very important to me.

“What’s a’ matter, Case?  You look like you seen a ghost.”

“Dad would you mind pulling the Bronco over for a minute?”

“You gonna’ be sick, Son?”  Dad asked as he slowed and pulled the Bronco over to the shoulder of the road. I watched as he put the truck in park and turned off the ignition.  We sat there in the dark for a few minutes.  I couldn’t hold back a moment longer.

“Oh, Daddy,— .”  I softly cried out to him as I got upon my knees and threw my arms around his neck and held him tight.  “I love you so much, Dad.”  I spoke quietly to him. Dad sort of chuckled to himself.

“Damn!  What an unexpected treat!  I never get tired of hearing my boy tell me he loves me.  Com’on, cowboy,— lemme’ hear it again.”  He teased softly.

“I do! I do love you, Dad! I love you so damn much.”

That started my waterworks.  Dad surprised me, he started crying, too.

“I love you, too, Case, more’n stars in the sky; more’n sand in the desert; more’n all the fleas on all the hound dogs in the world.”

“Damn, dad, that’s a lot!” I started laughing through my tears at his colorful analogy.  “You sure you love me that much?”

“Ever’ bit!  And, I don’t ever want you to be afraid.  I ain’t never gonna’ leave you, honcho.  Your dad is gonna’ be right here for you,--- you understand?”

I couldn’t speak, but I nodded my head I understood him.  I don’t know what happened, but his words hit something deep inside me that made me cry even harder.  The thought of my dad leaving me was too much for me to even contemplate.  He let me get it out until I got myself together.

“You promise, Dad?”

“With all my heart, cowboy.”

I sat back in my seat, dad started the Bronco and we drove on. He gently reached over and took my smaller hand in his and held it the rest of the way home.  He didn’t have to say more, I knew in my heart everything was going to be all right.

* * * * * * *

“Spence?   Can’t thank you enough, partner. The Eagle has landed.” Dad heard a big, booming, bass voice laughing on the other end.

“Glad to hear it, Son.  Well, now you know, he’s locked and loaded for the second suggestion.  You have any problems or think you’re in over your head,— you gimme’ a call immediately, ya’ hear?”

“Thanks, Spence, I will, but I have a feeling things are gonna’ be just fine.”

“I do, too, Vince.  It was great to have ya’ll over and see you again. I’ll have Donna give you a call the end of the week to have ya’ll over this weekend.  Best of luck, Son.”

“That’ll be great.  Casey can’t do nothing but rave ‘bout Donna’s cooking.  Thanks, Spence, you’re a good neighbor; the best!  Goodnight.”

* * * * * * *

I don’t remember a lot about the rest of that night; however, dad’s told me the story many times.  He was so amazed how everything happened just the way Mr. Winchester told him it would.  Dad told me he woke up with the entire bed shaking like we were having a small California quake.  He looked over and saw me in convulsions.  He said he’d never seen anything like it before in his life. I was heaving, shaking and expelling water from my mouth as well as my eyes.  Dad said,  the weirdest damn thing about it was, I didn’t seem to be crying like a person normally would.  He described it more like a seizure an epileptic might have.  He said it scared him out of his wits. He wanted to wake me, but remembered what Mr. Winchester told him.

I do remember waking up when I almost choked on my own fluids. I remember a voice calling me from the darkness of my despair.  I was drowning in a deep, dark pool of heavy, liquid sorrow.  It was like my soul was wringing itself out while trying to swim through or gain footing in black-strap molasses. There seemed to be no way out and the more I struggled, the more I seemed to be drowning in this pit of emptiness.  As far as I could see there was no way out other than to follow a voice that was sweetly calling to me; calling my name, “Casey,—  Casey,— .”  And then,— I saw her.

It was my mother standing on a shore in long, flowing white dress, holding her arms open for me to come to her. She looked radiantly beautiful with her soft pale skin, her light blue eyes, and long blond hair falling about her face and shoulders.  There was a soft glow about her like a light was shining behind her and radiating out from her.  Suddenly, I became free of the weight of the pool and physically flew to her waiting arms like they were a giant, soul magnet. She held me in her arms kissing me and telling me how wonderful it was to see and touch me again.

I cried in her arms, kissed her, told her how much I loved her and I how  much I missed her.  I told her how much dad missed her, and I was worried about him.  I could actually smell and feel her all around me. I could feel her joy within me as well.  She filled my empty heart, my soul, my being with her unconditional love. I heaved more, I felt my body shaking and wracked with the pain of my loss. I could feel her loss, not  just for me, but for my dad as well, and I cried my guts out.

“Casey,— I love you so much, but you must go to your father.  You must give him all your love, now.  It’s important, Son.  He loves you so much.  He’s waiting for you, and he needs you.”

“I can’t leave you here, Mom,— in this dark place.”

“Casey, you must.  You have to,— not only for your dad, but for me. I can’t leave this place until you let me go.  You’re keeping me here, Darling.  You’re keeping me here in this place you come to night after night. I can’t go to the light until you set me free, Case. You have to live for your dad now, sweet heart.  He needs you more than you know.  He won’t begin to let me go, either, until he’s sure you’re all right. I can’t leave this place until you both let me go. You must help him, Casey.”

She kept telling me to go to my father. It was important!  He was waiting for me. I didn’t want to leave her.  I never wanted her to leave me.  She told me I had to.  I had to for her.  She told me she had to say goodbye, and I must say goodbye to her; but, she would always love me.  She told me dad wouldn’t let her go until I did. I must let her go and live for my dad.  She kissed me and asked me to let her go, to tell her, goodbye.  Dad said he heard me say though my sobbing,

“Mom, I can’t tell you goodbye, I love you too much.”  He said he waited and finally I said, “Okay, I understand. I don’t want to, but for you, I will. Goodbye, Mom,— I’ll always love you.”  

Dad told me I woke up and in one quick movement I was in his arms, awake, crying my heart out, telling him about seeing mom and telling her goodbye.  I remember my dad crying as hard or harder than I was at that point.  We were a mess, but a good mess. Dad’s bed was soaking wet. I apologized to him over and over, but he just laughed at me.  

“Oh, God! It was worth it, Case.  We can change the damn sheets, Son; however, I don’t think we’re gonna’ have that problem any more after tonight.”

“I don’t think so either, Dad.” I agreed with him, “I don’t know why I feel that way, but I do. I’m not afraid any more, Dad.”

“Neither am I, tiger,— neither am I.”

We held each other for the longest time.  Then, we got up, changed the sheets and got two clean, dry pillows from my bed.  It was about five in the morning before we finally got settled into bed again.  We were laying there, together, buck-ass naked, and my dad was holding me tight.  I had both my arms thrown around him, too.  We were exhausted.  He was stealing a kiss or two.  As we were laying there, drifting in and out of fitful sleep, I felt his big dick growing hard against my stomach.  He stopped dead still for a few seconds and I did, too. It was a pregnant moment. Neither one of us wanted to breathe or move. Finally, my warped sense of humor got the better of me.

“Bussss-ted!”  I spoke mockingly to him.  Then, we both fell out laughing. At that moment, a laugh was exactly what we needed.  We talked more and decided Spencer Winchester was a very wise and wonderful man. I told dad I found him easy to look at.  He didn’t elaborate, but quietly agreed as he let out a big sigh.

That night launched a new era in our relationship. Mom was right. He was waiting for me to come to him, and he didn’t really start to heal or let mom go until he was sure I’d be all right. I said my goodbyes, I set her free, and I knew in my heart I would never return to that awful place; didn’t mean I wouldn’t ever shed another tear for my mom and did many times; however, I was over the hump; the worst part of my grieving was behind me. I now knew how to grieve, to allow myself to grieve without being embarrassed I wasn’t being strong, and how important it was not to deny myself the right to grieve. It’s all part of the greater human process of living. It’s neither life’s way of casting love aside nor forgetting those we’ve loved, but storing love away, to make room in our fragile hearts for new love. The more love stored away in your heart, the bigger it grows, and the greater your capacity for love becomes.

Mr. Winchester told me to tell myself every time I started to feel down and missed my mother, ‘I lost my mom, I damn well have a right to feel sad about that!  And, as bad as it may seem at the time, always remember,  he who has never known the pain of grief, has never truly loved.’  God and my mom know I loved her; however, I love my dad, too. I had to store away my love for mom to help my dad let go.  Now I could and would be strong for him. I could show my dad the way. That night, by wanting to help my dad, being there for him, knowing he needed me, I realized for the first time, I was growing up; I would be okay.

End Chapter 3 ~ Texas Longhorns
Copyright 2004/2005 ~ Waddie Greywolf
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