By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 40

Curtis noticed the blue sprite.  Before I could say anything, he jumped and started to sit up.  I held him tight.

“Don’t move.”  I whispered.

“What’s ‘zat blue light, Son?”  Curtis asked quietly. “O.C. told me about a small blue light.”

“It’s him, Dad.  It’s your youngest boy, Seth Quee.”

“Did ju’ plan this, Casey?”

“Naw, Sir.  Ain’t seen nor heard from him since he visited O.C.”

We set up in bed and watched the sprite slowly rise from the corner of the room to the foot of the bed.  It got brighter and cast an eerie bluish glow around the room.  The glow from Seth was brighter than the last time he visited. ‘He must be gaining strength.’ I thought to myself.  I lay back and pushed the comforter down to my waist.  I could hear my uncle in my head.

<<Hello, little brother.  It’s me again, and you’re right, I am gaining strength.  So,— you saved yore’ granddad’s life.  I’m proud of you and O.C.  God, how I love that man.  Well,— O.C. and God,— thanks to you,— they know.>>

“I had to save yore’ daddy’s life, brother, I needed me another family member.  I done got me O.C. for a brother.  H’it made sense to ask yore’ daddy to think on me as his boy.  He gimme’ the honor a’ call’n ‘em, ‘dad.’”  I spoke out loud so Curtis could hear what I was telling him.

<<Good cover, nephew.>> Seth Quee laughed and made me chuckle.  Thank God my granddad couldn’t hear him.

“You wanna’ use my body for a while, bother, to visit a spell with yore’ daddy like you done with O.C.?” I ask out loud.  The sprite jumped up and down.
“Casey, do you know what you’re doing?”  Curtis asked with concern.

“Yes, Sir. H’it’s all right, Dad.  Don’t chu’ wanna’ see your boy one last time, Sir?  You done told me you’d give anything to see him jes’ one more time; you’d like to set things right with him.  How many folks ever get the chance, Sir?”

“Yes,— yes, Son,— you’re right,— I said I’d give anything to speak with him and hold him again.  I meant it.”

“Only thing is, you won’t have much privacy since I’ll be here with ‘em.  He jes’ takes over my body for a while.  He feels, smells, breathes, the same things I do, but his words to you are his,— not mine.  You’ll be holding both of us, but you’ll be loving him.  H’it’s all right with me, Sir,— I all ready done got chore’ love in my gut, Dad.”  I winked at him and chuckled.  C’mon, cowboy, I’m ready.”  I spoke to Seth Quee.

The small blue sprite slowly move up the bed, past Curtis and came to rest on my chest.

“You’re gonna’ haf’ta take the palm of your hand, Dad, put it on top of him and gently press him into my body.”

“You sure, Son?”

“I’m sure, Dad.”

Curtis slowly took his hand and placed it over the glowing blue sprite.  He jerked back his hand and his eyes opened wide. Tears started to well in his eyes.

“I can feel it.  It’s him.   It’s my boy.”  He moved his hand back and pressed on the light until Seth Quee’s spirit entered my body.  Curtis watched my body take on a bluish aura and marveled at it.  Once again, Seth Quee took in a huge gulp of air into our lungs.  A sprite or spirit has no need to breath.

“Air!”  He said, “It’s so good to breathe again, Dad.”  

Seth opened my arms to his dad and smiled at him with all the love in his heart.   Curtis had tears streaming down his face as he embraced us.

“Seth,— oh, Seth,— my beautiful baby boy,— is it really you?”

“It’s me, Dad.  I come to O.C., and this fine young cowboy was kind enough to let me set things right with my brother.  I didn’t tell O.C. about your gift to his dad,— that he was my brother.  I shore’ nuff’ wanted to, but h’it  weren’t my place.  I directed Tom Harris to Casey and he got our young cowboy to tell his uncle the truth.

Oh, Dad,— I’m so ashamed of myself for what I done to you.  It’s hard for me to come to you,— even like this.  I jes’ wanna’ hide my face from you.  Can you ever forgive me?”  Tears were streaming down my face as well.

“Shuuu,— hesh up, boy,— I done forgive’d you a long time ago,  but maybe you wouldn’t know less’n you hear’d the words from me.  Listen to me! As there’s a God above, Son,— I forgive you.  If’n it hadn’t a’ been for that night with you, I would’ve never started to question the destructive hold my false religious beliefs had on me.  It was you what showed me the way, Son.  You told me one day you would come to me again, and I would love you as you loved me.  I never counted on it being quite so miraculous, but here you are.  How can I tell you how much you’n yore’ brother meant to me.  I guess the old say’n’s true, you don’t know what chu’ lost until it’s gone. I cain’t tell you how much I love you, boy.

“I love you, too, Dad.”  Seth kissed his dad in a passionate kiss.

“Oh, my God,— it is you.” Curtis exclaimed, “I can smell you and taste you, Seth.  No one has the same sweet odor you and your brother had for me. A parent never forgits the fragrance of his own child, but I’m worried about Casey, is this all right for him?”

“Not to worry, Dad.  He’s here with me, he’s jes’ allow’n me to take over his body for a spell.  He can take it back from me any time he wants, but he won’t. ‘At’s the kind of man he is. I come to know him while I’s with O.C.,  he’s a good cowboy and a fine man.  You couldn’t ask for a better man to call ‘son.’  I can only stay a little while, Dad.  I can’t take over Casey’s body.  H’it don’t work that way no ways.  I only have a little time with you.  You’re the last task I have to complete, then they may let me cross over, Dad.”

“Son, it should be me asking yore’ forgiveness,— not you.  You knew I enjoyed the hell out of what chu’ done.  I jes’ wouldn’t let myself give in and admit it.  I was so wrapped up in a false idea of religion, I couldn’t see the greater picture of love and compassion.  I couldn’t see the forest fer the trees, Son.  Something in my heart wanted you to stay, but h’it weren’t to punish or try’n change you none. I tried to git chu’ to stay. I done begged you to stay, Seth.

If’n I’d jes’ swallowed my pride and admitted to you how much I enjoyed it and how much I loved you for having the balls to go against my stupid, misplaced ideas to make love to me.  It’s no balm to my spirit, nor does it pay for the horrible wrongs I committed in the name of false piety, when I tell you, I’ve suffered greatly as a results of my religious fanaticism.  I, too, am so ashamed of what I done to you; but especially, to yore’ brother, Vince.”

“I forgive you, Dad,— of course, I forgive you.  I’ve watched your progress over the years, and you’ve come a long way.  I guess we’ve both reached a point where we need to forgive and let go.  When I was shot in Nam, I done something after I was dead I shouldn’t have.  I can’t tell you about it, but it will eventually be revealed to you.  Then, you’ll understand why I couldn’t pass over.

I was punished for the sin of pride and arrogance.  I thought what I done after I died would somehow change things, but it didn’t,— at least not until now. I walked the face of this Earth on a separate plane all these years. Time means nothing where I’ve been, and it’s like I’ve been living in a hell seeing the folks I love and cherish going about their lives and me not being able to touch them or tell them I love them.  I guess it serves me right.  I deserved what I had to endure.

I’ve watched over you, O.C., Bubba and his boys.  I appeared several times to Bubba and once to O.C. before I come to him through Casey, but they ain’t never told ju’ about ‘em.  They didn’t wanna’ upset chu.’  Get Bubba to tell you his story ‘bout how I save his youngest boy’s life.  I never could appear to you ‘cause, I was so ashamed and embarrassed.”

Seth was crying again in his dad’s big, cowboy arms. “I always dreamed of hold’n you like this, talk’n with you, and maybe making a little love.”

“Since you were shot in Nam, I’ve often dreamed of that night and longed for another chance to make love to you; to make it up to you, and not for you to have to take it from me. I still want that chance, Son.  Do you have time?”

“Yes, Sir.  My strength has grown considerably since a number of folks have been interceding for me though their prayers. Because of all them folks prayers,  I think I’m being given another chance. Casey don’t care if I take a little time to be with you.  He shares ever’ thing with me anyways.  It’ud be as good for him as it would for me.  Please, Dad,— lay back and let me take you like I did that night.”

“You sure, Son?  I’ve come a long way since then.  I have no more qualms about making love to a man. I’ve allowed myself to accept that part of me as a part God himself put into me.  It comes as basic as the tides, as naturally as the rain falls from heaven.  It flows as regularly as the seasons though my humanity like a connection to all living things and not to just one narrow ideal to be packaged in a box and have a label slapped on it.  In short, I’m ready to make love to my boy; to you, Son.”

“Sounds good to me, Dad.  I’m so ready for you.”  Seth whispered to his dad.

Unknown to him, Curtis proceeded to make love to his son and grandson at the same time.  Seth Quee used my body to its maximum advantage to give his dad the best possible fuck he could.  I can only describe the experience like I was a pair of buckaroo boots, and had a hot cowboy wearing them.  Wherever he chose to walk, so we would go.  It was like I was riding a bucking bronc, and I didn’t have to do anything.  I was there, and I could feel every fine stroke of my granddad’s shaft. I was enjoying it to the max.  Although, I had a front row, center seat and could experience everything, I wasn’t involved with the actual act itself.  It was as good for me as my uncle’s experience with O.C.

Curtis wasn’t going to waste his last chance to show his boy his love for him.   He knew exactly what Seth Quee wanted and needed.  It was Curtis’ only chance, and he was going to make damn sure his boy got all of his love.  He fucked Seth Quee as good or better than he fucked me.  It didn’t matter to me, I was there for both.  I hoped I could talk him into another, but this was just as good.

I could feel my uncle building to climax.   Curtis’ relentless pounding tripped my uncle’s come switch, and he couldn’t hold it any longer.

“Dad,— I’m gonna’ shoot.”  He exclaimed in a soft voice.

“Git’ it, Son,— git it good!  Ahhh,— I can feel yore’ ass clamping down on my dick.  I’m gonna’ come, too, Son.  Yore’ daddy’s gonna’ empty his love into you.  Oh, sweet Jesus,— I’m coming!  Take it, boy,— take my love,— take my seed what made you!”

After a hard won climax, they finally wound down and lay together.  Curtis lost his erection and slipped out of my ass.  They lay there and made love to each other for a while, and once again, reaffirmed their love for one another.

“I have to depart now, Dad.  It’s time for me to leave and return Casey’s  body to him.  Thanks, Casey, for allowing me to be with my dad one last time.”

“I know you have to go, Son,— but at least we had a chance to heal some wounds. I only wish I had done so before I lost you and Vince, but I guess I’ll go to my grave with the horror and guilt of my shameful arrogance and hardheaded stupidity.”

“Maybe not, Dad,— pray for a miracle.  He does miracles for folks. ‘At’s His speciality.  Look what prayer did for us tonight.  There’s been a lot of folks praying for me’n you.   Trust me when I tell you this young man who was so generous and gracious is someone who will help bring you your miracle.  Love him as we have loved each other tonight and as you love O.C.  Casey’s  a good man.  He will never let you down.”

  They embraced and kissed one last time, a long lingering kiss, not of passion, but a father bidding farewell to his beloved son.  They knew this was the final goodbye.  They would never see each other again on this plane of existence.  I felt my body becoming lighter as Seth Quee rose out of me to become the small blue sprite he was before.  He flew around our heads a few times and bussed a kiss on our cheeks.  He moved to the edge of the bed, and  once again, began to coalesce into a amorphous shape which formed itself into the buckaroo in the mirror of my dream.  It was him,— Seth Quee,— in full buckaroo gear.  He spoke to us,

“Goodbye my loves,— love each other and know that God has forgiven us.  Thank all those who prayed for me, or I never would’ve made it.  They’re coming for me now.”

Suddenly, the room was awash in a bright, pure white light.  It was as if someone took a knife and made a huge slit in this realm of consciousness.  We were not alone. There were three other beings in the room with us.  Two were beings of light and another was a fine looking older cowboy like my granddad.  He winked at me, looked at my granddad with the greatest love and smiled, and I knew immediately who he was.  It was Tom Harris.  No wonder my granddad fell in love with him.  He reached out his hand to Seth Quee.

“You ready, Son?”  he spoke softly.

“I’m ready, Sir.”  Seth replied with pride and conviction.

“Come then,— take my hand and go with me.”

My Uncle Seth looked back at us for just a moment, smiled, took Tom Harris’ hand and they were gone.  The tear in the fabric of the cosmos came together like an invisible hand zipped it up like the fly on my Wranglers.  It was dark in the coach again, and all we could hear was the sound of the wind and rain blowing against the side of the coach.  Neither of us dared breathe for a moment.

My granddad was devastated.  We held each other and wept together for a few minutes.  They weren’t tears of grief.  They were tears of joy and relief for something that bothered two souls for three decades was resolved.  The strife was over.  My granddad could go on with his life carrying one less heavy burden with him.

“Thank you, Son.”  he whispered to me, “When O.C. told me about his experience with you and my boy, I knew he wouldn’t lie to me, but it all seemed beyond reason.  I thought he was enlarging or embellishing his story.  I owe him an apology.  I never thought it could be like that.”

“I think my brother understands, Dad.  You and yore’ boy Seth are certainly welcome.  To tell the truth, I didn’t know what to expect the night he came to O.C. and me, but I knew he wouldn’t hurt me.  As a result, he left a small spark of his soul with me.  A part of him will always reside within me, Sir.”

“All the more reason for me to think on you as my boy, Casey.  I love you, Son.”

We kissed, and I told him I loved him, too. I got another warm, damp towel  and cleaned us.  Without asking, he reinserted my plug.  I suggested we pull the spread down and get under the sheets.  He got into bed, and I turned the small night light off.   I excused myself and went to the bathroom for a minute.  I looked into the mirror.  I saw a blue eyed cowboy looking back at me.   I thought to myself there might never be a better time than this.  I removed my contacts and put them away.

I returned to bed and crawled in beside my granddad.  He was patiently waiting for me.  He took me into his arms and held me close.  We kissed goodnight, and I turned away from him so my back was to his front.  My granddad held me all night. It was like a dream come true having my granddad hold me. Somehow, it just felt right. I could feel myself drifting off to sleep in the comfort of his loving arms.  I thought to myself,  ‘I can find no fault with this man.’ As the last vestiges of consciousness left me for sleep, I wondered how he would react in the morning when he looked into my eyes.  

* * * * * * *

I heard the switch on my coffee maker go off.  It was still dark.  I reached up to turn on the light next to my side of the bed.  Curtis was still sound asleep.

“Dad,” I said softly to him and kissed him on his forehead, “mornings come early on the Claymore ranch.  We gotta’ git dressed and git up to the big house for breakfast.  I try’n  help Ma Claymore with breakfast when I’m home.”

He opened his eyes and looked into mine. The fog of sleep cleared from his mind, he saw my violet eyes and physically jumped in the bed.

“Seth?”  He pulled back to look at me. “Are you still here?”

“No, Dad,— it’s me, Casey.”

“But chore’ eyes?  They be the same color as my boy’s.  Did he change the color of your eyes?”

“No,— no, Dad.  My contacts lenses were bothering me last night so I took them out.  They have a blue tint to them what masks the natural color of my eyes.”

“Wait a minute, Son,— what’s going on here?   Why would you mask the natural color of yore’ eyes?”

“It’s simple, Dad,— I’m your grandson.  Yore’ boy Vincent didn’t die in Nam.  He’s very much alive and well.  He had his legs blown off over there, but he does pert-damn well without ‘em.  He taught me to rope and ride and be a cowboy.  I wore colored contact lenses so you wouldn’t put two and two together until I had a chance to get to know you.”

Curtis looked devastated, but he knew in his heart I wasn’t lying.  The proof was staring him right in the eye.  He burst into uncontrollable sobs and hugged me to him until I thought I wasn’t going to be able to breathe. I couldn’t help it, I shed a few tears as well.  He got himself together and held me away from him to look at me.

“I knew you resembled my boy Seth.  When you walked out of the bath without no clothes on last evening, I damn near passed out from how much yore’ entire body looks like Seth all the way down to yore’ dick.  You could almost be a double for him.  I didn’t wanna’ admit to myself you look so much like him, I jes’ chalked it up to coincidence.  After all, I believed my boy, Vince, died in Vietnam.  I searched and searched, but I couldn’t find nothing about him.  All I know is his name didn’t appear on the memorial.  Seeing you with them eyes, there’s no doubt in my mind you gotta’ be Vince’s boy.  Oh, dear God in heaven,— what have I done to deserve this miracle.  My boy told me last night to pray for a miracle, and I did before I went to sleep.”

“There’s a reason I look like my uncle, Granddad.  I like calling you ‘granddad,’ by the way.  I’ve wanted to call you that from the moment I met you; that, and I wanted to commit crimes against nature on your body.”  I laughed. Curtis grinned at me. “Seth told ju’ about his sin, but he didn’t tell you what he done.  After he died in Nam, he came back and found my mom.  She was pregnant with me at the time, and he gave me a third spark from his soul. He weren’t suppose to do that.  He broke the rules. I already had a spark from my mom and one from my dad, but he added his to the roux.  I think that’s why I have certain gifts today. I think that’s why I have violet eyes and look like him.”

“This is all too much, Casey.  Why didn’t I see this coming?  I should’ve know’d no ordinary cowboy would go to the lengths you did to save my life.  O.C. would have, but I figured you was someone special.  Indeed, you were.  How is my boy, Casey?”

“He’s doing jes’ fine, Granddad.  My little brother, Logan Wainright, is home with him and taking good care of him.  Him and my dad love each other very much.  Dad’s ride’n herd on my little brother while he’s going to med school to become a doctor.”

“Logan Wainright is the little brother you been talk’n about?  Sidney Wainright’s boy?  Then,— when I introduced you to Sticker Wiggins at the ranch, you two already know’d each other.”

“Yes, Sir.  I know’d Mr. Wiggins all my life. He’s been a good friend  to my dad and a mentor to me and my brothers. My other brother is yore’ nephew, Rance Harding’s boy, Dwayne.”

“Rance has a son?  I never knew that.  Of course, there’s lots a things I don’t know ‘cause, folks done cut me out of their lives.  I ain’t complaining none. I ain’t putting nobody down, Son,— they had good reason not to include me.  Rance done it to protect his cousin and you from me.  I would’ve done the same damn thing if’n I was him.  He always was devoted to your dad and uncle.  He loved my boys and they loved him.  Does my boy still hate me, Son?”

“‘Feared so, Granddad.  ‘At’s why I was so secretive about my identity. My daddy would shit his pants if’n he knew I came back here looking for you, but I wanted a chance to see for myself who you are.”

“Then,— it weren’t jes’ by chance you found me? You came looking for me?”

“Of course,— I wanted me a granddad.  I wanted to see if you were still the same man my dad told me about. If’n you was, h’it wouldn’t make much sense for me to reveal myself to you.  You would’ve never know’d and I would’ve jes’ gone on home.  My daddy,— he don’t know you’ve changed, Sir.  Sidney and Sticker never said nothing to him about chu’ work’n for ‘em on the Lazy 8.

My daddy done went and changed our name to ‘Longhorn’ before he went to Nam.  Sticker and Mr. Wainright didn’t know there was a family tie between us until after Sticker hired you and they got to know us.  They figured they had a valuable, trustworthy employee in you, and your son and his boy jes’ happen to be two of their closest friends.  They didn’t see no need to stir up shit what weren’t none a’ their business.”

“Then you knew about the Lazy 8 before you come to Chapel Creek?”  

“I know’d about the ranch most all my life, but I didn’t know you worked there.  Sticker and Mr. Wainright never told me nothing about you work’n for ‘em.  They figured if’n I came looking for you I’d find out.”

“Who knows about you being my grandson?”

“The sheriff’s family, Bubba and his boys, O.C., Waddie Claymore and his family;  Dan Yates, Cowboy and Gris at the ‘Broken Arrow.  Oh yes, and Will Shott knows.  He’s know’d for a number a’ years now.  Don’t never make the mistake of underestimate’n that old cowboy.”  I laughed and winked at my granddad.  A smile crossed his tear stained face.

“No wonder them folks kept yore’ secret.  They all love and think the world of you and Vince.  So do I, Casey,— so do I.  I’m so proud to know yore’ my grandson.”

We hugged again and I suggested we get dressed. I poured us a cup of coffee. The wind was still blowing hard and rain was coming down by the bucket full. We talked as we were getting dress and having coffee.

“You know, Son,— when I first saw you rodeo with Waddie Claymore there was something about chu’ what struck me. Then after I met you and rodeoed with you here at the sheriff’s ranch,  I thought to myself,— if’n I had a grandson, I’d want him to be jes’ like you.”

“See, Granddad,— you should be more careful what you wish for.”  I laughed.

“No,— no,— it’s a miracle, Son,— nothing short of a miracle.  I’m so damn proud to find out you’re my grandson, and my grandson saved my life. I love you so much, Casey.”

“I love you, too, Granddad.”

Curtis broke down again. I did my best to comfort him, but it was hard for me to hold back my tears.  We were a mess.  We’d been through some powerful emotional highs in the past twelve hours.  They were not the last tears we would shed with each other. A wise man once told me, you can see further through your tears than you can a telescope.  I think my granddad and I would agree with him.

We put on our long, waterproof, saddle dusters, put plastic, form fitting, rain protectors on our cowboy hats and headed for the big house.  It was bone chilling cold out, and the wind chill factor cut through us like a knife.  It made our bodies do the shiver dance on the way to the house. We cleaned our boots real good on the metal boot scrapers, wiped them on old burlap sacks Gip set at the back door,  and went inside to the kitchen.  Everyone in the Claymore family was all ready up.  I went and gave Cindy a morning hug and a kiss. Cindy saw my eyes when she hugged me. She looked at me quizzically, but she didn’t say anything.   She whispered a question to me as she hugged me.

“Is the cat out of the bag?”  she giggled.

“Yes’um, Ma Claymore,— he knows.”

“I figured he did.  Praise the Lord.”  She said under her breath as she put me to work cutting up potatoes.

Gip stomped into the kitchen like the bull of the North woods, looked around and smiled.  He came over to give me a big hug and saw I didn’t have my contacts in. He grinned real big.  He took one look at Cindy, she nodded to him and smiled.  Gip knew immediately Curtis knew everything.  Well,— almost everything.  Gip went to my granddad, gave him a big hug, held him, and gave Curtis a kiss on his cheek.

“Congratulations, cowboy.”  the sheriff said to him softly with all the love in his big heart.

To my surprise, Curtis broke down in the sheriff’s arms and the kitchen came to a halt.  They all knew why he was crying and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.  They were so moved, they all gathered around him in a group hug.  Gip motioned for me to join them.  I even shed a few more tears. It was another powerfully emotional moment.

“Shuu,— h’it’s all right, cowboy.  Lord knows we understand.  Forgive us, we didn’t mean to deceive you, Curtis.”  Gip spoke softly to my granddad trying to comfort him.

“I know you didn’t, Gip.  You and yore’ family ain’t like that.  You done what was right.  I’m jes’ so touched and thrilled beyond words to learn I have a grandson, and he’s such a fine young man, folks love him enough to protect him.  I done fell in love with him before he told me he was my grandson. He done risked his life to save mine.  I ain’t blaming you good folks none.  You done what was in Casey’s best interest, and I gotta’ admire you for that. I have nothing but love in my heart for yore’ family.  You’ve all been s’damn good to me.”

“Good,— you know you’re welcome here any time, Curtis. We think the world of you, but we’uns don’t give a shit if’n he is yore’ grandson, we ain’t give’n up our claim to ‘em.  We done see’d him first!”  Gip roared with laugher.  My granddad laughed with him.

“I wouldn’t expect you to.  I jes’ hope there’s room in yore’ family for one more.”

“What’da ya’ mean, cowboy?  You all ready ‘is’ a member of our family.  You have been for some time.  We love you, Curtis.  You’n Casey are a part of us.”

I thought my granddad was going to cry again, but he didn’t, he pulled himself together. We finished getting breakfast together, and joined hands around the table while Gip said grace,

“Our gracious heavenly Father, we thank you for friends and family.  We thank you for our love ones gathered around this table. Thank you for bringing these two members of our family together.  Let them grow in love and goodness for each other.  We pray for Curtis’ departed son, Seth Quee.  Take him to your heart, Lord, and forgive him his sins. Forgive us of our sins, Father, as we ask you to forgive Seth.  Bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies, our minds, hearts and spirits that we may live our lives in love, honesty and compassion to glorify thy name.  We ask in Jesus name, Amen.”

“Amen!”  said everyone at the table.

We had a great breakfast and talk was lively around the table.  Curtis kept his leg and knee pressed up tight against mine all through breakfast like he was afraid I was going to get away.  Gip winked at me,

“Does he know everything, Casey?”

“Not quite, Sheriff.  I want to continue working for him.”

The sheriff laughed.  That was enough for Gip to get the message I hadn’t told Curtis about my interest in the Lazy 8.  I didn’t know if it might make a difference in our working relationship.  If I continued working there, I didn’t want to usurp his authority.

“I think you could tell him, Son.  Curtis ain’t a man what would hold sume’um like ‘at against you.”  

Gip laughed and the rest of the family joined him. They all knew what Gip was getting at. My granddad didn’t have a clue. He was thoroughly confused, but being a cowboy, he didn’t ask. He figured if we wanted him to know, we’d tell him.

“I’m satisfied  jes’ know’n he’s my grandson.” Curtis stated looking at me, “What more could there possibly be?”

Gip roared with laugher.

“You might be surprised, Curtis.”  Gip winked at him.

“No disrespect, Sheriff, but I don’t think I could be more surprised.”  he smiled.

It was going to be a slow morning at the ranch.  I helped Cindy with clean up.  Gip didn’t seem to be in any hurry to get his day started and he sat around drinking coffee with his boys.  They talked with Curtis about the ranch and all that happened.  They hadn’t heard Curtis’ side of the story of his getting shot and being rescued by O.C. and me.  I finished helping Ma Claymore, she gave me another hug and a quick kiss for my help.  I turned and spoke to Gip,

“Why don’t you let granddad and me feed the livestock for you this morning, Sheriff?  We’re going back to the coach to spend the day.  Don’t look like the weather’s gonna’ let up.  We can stop by the barn, and you men don’t have to get out in this slop.”

“Bet that sounds like music to yore’ ears to hear that cowboy call you ‘granddad,’— don’‘nit, Curtis?”

“Shore’ does, Sheriff,— it shore’ does.”

I walked over and put my arm around my granddad and pulled him close.  I bussed a kiss behind his ear and he blushed.  Everyone laughed, including me.  The sheriff agreed to let us take care of the stock.  He thanked us and left it to my granddad and me. I helped out so many times, I knew the drill.  Curtis was no stranger to feeding stock either, and we made quick work of it.  It took us about an hour to get everything done.  It was warm in the barn so we didn’t get too chilled.  Rocky was in great spirits and happy for me for telling my ‘grandsire’ who I really was.

The rain let up for a bit, we took advantage of it and walked back to the double ‘R.’  I was looking forward to a day of doing nothing but being with my granddad, one on one.  I think Curtis felt the same way. We got to my coach and took off our dusters and heavy, lined jackets.  I hung our dusters in the bathroom to dry, and returned to the living room.

“Can I get you anything, grandpa?”  I smiled at him.

“ ‘Grandpa,’— I like the sound of that, Son.  Like Gip said, it’s music to my ears.  Since we ain’t got to be no wheres or do much of anything today; how’s about another one a’ them toddies you made up for us last night.  That ought a’ warm us up a bit.”

“Sounds good to me, Sir.”

I got busy and made us one.  We sat at in the booths at my small built in table.  I unlocked a drawer in my desk next to the couch and got out a picture album from home.  The pictures were of me, my mom and dad, my brothers, Cousin Rance, Sadie and many others.  I sat down next to Curtis and smiled at him.

“I thought you might like to see some photos of my life.”

“I would very much like to see them, Son.”

I started to show him the pictures and every other page he would break down and cry.  When he saw a picture of my dad in his wheelchair without his legs I though my granddad was going to pass out he sobbed so hard.  It was emotionally tiring and draining on both of us.  However, I had other pictures of my dad wearing his legs and looking for all the world like any other buckaroo on the rodeo circuit.  My granddad marveled at his boy’s ability to overcome his handicap.

There was pictures of me, Dwayne and Logan.  There was pictures of me and Dwayne rodeoing and playing all kinds of sports. I showed him all my football pictures.  He was mesmerized looking at the story of my life told in pictures.  I told him story after story to go along with the photos.  We spent hour after hour looking at pictures until my cell phone rang.

“Casey.”  I announced.

“Ya’ll coming up for lunch, Casey.  I fixed grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and have a big pot of hot, homemade, vegetable beef soup.”

“‘At shore’ sounds good right about now, Ma’am. We’re sorry, Ma Claymore, I got to show’n my granddad some pictures, and we lost all track of the time.  We’ll be right there.”

The rain let up for the moment and we walked to the big house for lunch.  The family was all gathered in the kitchen.  Gip thanked us for taking care of the livestock.  We told him is was no problem, we were glad to do it. We joined hands again, Gip said grace and we sat down to a wonderful, hot meal.

After lunch we returned to the double ‘R.’  I thought my granddad would be tired of looking at pictures, but he insisted on seeing the rest. We had another toddy and spent several more hours looking and talking. If there was the least lingering doubt in his mind, it vanished seeing the pictures of his son Vince.  My cell phone buzzed.

“Casey.” I announced.

“Hey, little brother,— it’s O.C.”

“We’s jes’ talk’n ‘bout chu’ a few minutes ago, brother. How’s it going?”

“It’s wet down here and getting wetter.  I went out to feed Socks a while ago, and she had a down look in her eyes.  I stood there and talked to her while she ate to keep her company.  She seemed to be better by the time I left.  The wind is blow’n some’um fierce down here.  How is it up there.  How ya’ll doing?”

“Unbelievable, brother,— jes’ unbelievable.  The weather is even worse up here, but me’n granddad,— hell, we don’t give a shit,— we got each other.  We be snug as two bears in a rug.”

“So you told him.  Anything else happen?”

“The works, brother.  Almost a repeat of Seth’s visit with you. Except this time it was a little different.  After Seth made his peace with his dad and left my body, yore’ old man and two shining angels come for him. They took my uncle by the hand and he crossed over.  Our prayers worked and he’s been forgiven.”

“Thank the Lord,— our brother’s finally found peace.”  O.C. said with his voice shaking like he was on the verge of tears.

“Amen to that, brother.  You wanna’ speak to yore’ dad, Uncle Ocie.”  I laughed.

“Uncle Ocie?  Damn,— I kinda’ like that.  Yeah, I’d love to talk with him.”

I handed the phone to Curtis who was grinning from ear to ear.

“Howdy, Son.”  he spoke with conviction and love in his heart.

“Hey, Dad.  I was bored and jes’ wanted to check in with you guys.  Ever’ thing okay up there?”

“Couldn’t be better, Son.  I can’t believe what’s happened to me in the last twenty-four hours.  I’ve learned so much last night and today.  I’ve been the recipient of two miracles.  I got to make love with my youngest son and make my peace with him through my grandson.   This morning Casey revealed to my his other identity, and I’ve been floating on a cloud ever since.  I’m emotionally drained and exhausted, but I keep wanting to learn more;  more about this young man who has eyes like mine and his uncle’s.  I’m so overwhelmed by it all, but at the same time, I feel so humble and grateful for what I’ve been given.  A lot of things are coming together that make perfect sense.”

“Glad to hear it, Dad.  Now you know why I love Casey so much.  I didn’t mean to keep no secrets from you, Dad.  Casey never swore me to secrecy, but I reckoned I’d let Casey handle telling you about him. It jes’ seemed the right thing to do.  I’m jes’ glad it’s come about.  I’m so happy for the three of us to be family.  So,— are you happy with your new grandson, Dad?”

“I don’t even have words for how I feel, Son.  It’s unbelievable.  We’ve been sit’n here for hours and Casey’s been showing me pictures of his life.  Ever’ time he shows me a picture of his dad it moves me to tears.  It’s tough going sometime, but I don’t wanna’ stop.”

“I guess I don’t have to ask if’n you’re enjoying yourself, huh?”

“No, Son, you don’t.  I ain’t enjoyed myself this much since I was with yore’ daddy.”

“Well,— I’m glad and happy for you both.  I’ll let chu’ go, I jes’ wanted to call and see how ya’ll was doing.”

“Glad you did, Son,— I’ll look forward to seeing you Sunday.”

“We’ll be there, Dad.  Have a good weekend.”

“Bye, Son,— we love you.”

“Ya’ll gotta’ know I love you, too.  Goodnight, Dad.”
Curtis handed me my cell phone and grabbed his bandanna to wipe away another tear.  I looked at the clock, and it was getting near supper time.  I wanted to go to the big house a little early to see if I could help.  We got ready and arrived about an hour before dinner.  Curtis sat and talked with Gip, and little Gip.  Waddie Buck was helping in the kitchen, too.

During dinner, Ma Claymore told us they were having some friends and kids in for a Halloween party later in the evening and we were invited to join them.  Curtis looked at me, and in an instant, I could tell he didn’t want to go to a party.  He wanted to be alone with me.  It made me feel good.

“Under the circumstances, Ma Claymore, less’n you need my help, I think we’d like to stay in the double ‘R’ this evening.  H’it don’t look like this storm front is leaving anytime soon, and we’re comfortable out there.  I got more pictures to show my granddad and things to talk with him about.”

“We can fully understand, Casey.  I figured you’d probably want to spend the evening by yourselves and that’s fine.  We jes’ didn’t want you to think we left ya’ll out.”

“Thanks, Ma Claymore.”  

I think Gip, little Gip and Waddie Buck were hoping we’d come so they’d have somebody to talk with.  We had another wonderful dinner, thanked the Claymore’s for their hospitality, and returned to the double ‘R.’  I made us another toddy and we sat down to talk.

“I have five or six videos from home with dad and friends we could watch tomorrow if you like, Dad.”

“I’d like that, Son.  We haven’t finished your photo album yet.  I’d like to see more of that.”

I was amazed and pleased he wanted to look at more photos.  I got the album and sat on the couch with him this time.  He slowly turned page after page asking questions, or I would volunteer some bit of information about a certain picture.  Toward the back he came across a photo of Master Waddie taken at one of our  hometown rodeos where he and his partner always took first prize in team roping.  Dad and I took second most years.  For all the other rodeos we won, we always lost to Waddie Claymore and his partner.

“That yore’ Master, Son?”

“Yes, Sir.  That’s Master Waddie.”

“He from your hometown, too?”

“Yes, Sir, he lives on a ranch about five miles down the road from us.”

“I know’d him for years.  He’s a good man, and a fine cowboy. Him and his brother, Gip Justin, beat me and my boys at rope’n all the time.  The sheriff is named after Waddie’s brother who died in his arms in Vietnam.  That man’s been through a lot.  It was good to see him again the Fourth of July.  I’m glad you ran into him on your journey to Texas.  He’s taught you some good things.  You’re right, a part of you will always belong to him.

I hear’d tell from Gip he’s taken on a new slave named Titus. Gip said they was together on their way back through to California and they seemed happy. I knew Titus years ago when he had a hard charging ex-marine D.I. for a Master.  His Master was all business on the outside, but had a heart that was solid gold.  For all his gruff demeanor and bravado, he could be one of the most understanding and generous men I ever met.

“I was the one what got ‘em together.” I told my granddad, “Master Waddie was still so deep in grief over the death of his last slave, he couldn’t see the love in Titus’ eyes ever’ time he look at him.  The brief time we were together I told him Mr. Titus was in love with him; all he had to do was ask him to be his slave.  I visited them on the night of their bonding.  They were in a motel outside of Baton Rouge.”

“You visited them?  Oh,— I understand, you knocked on their door.”

“Yes, Sir.  I never would eavesdrop on anyone; especially, Master Waddie and Titus.  I love them too much.  I jes’ wanted to tell them how pleased and proud I was they were bonding.  I wished them well.”

“You really mean that, — don’chew’?”

“Of course I do, Granddad.  I ain’t losing Master Waddie to Titus.  I’m gaining me a slave brother.”

“Good way a’ looking at it.  Do you think you wanna’ be a man’s slave?”

“Not unless my daddy asks me to become his slave, then I would in a heartbeat.  Otherwise, I’m perfectly happy to continue our relationship like it was before I left.  Master Waddie helped me understand my dad owns me, I’m my dad’s slave whether we calls it that or not.  I agree with him.”

“You love your dad that much, Son?”

“With all my heart, Granddad.  He’s a wonderful man, and I love him very much.”

It was my turn to tear up, and I cried in my granddad’s arms.  He comforted me and stole a kiss or two.

“Shuuu,— you miss him, boy.  Ain’t no shame in miss’n somebody you love; especially, yore’ daddy.  ‘Sides, I’s the one who should be cry’n. Lord knows, I done shed more’n a few tears over my loss of him and his brother. You have something with yore’ dad I can only dream about.  I missed out on so much with my boys.  I could’ve been the father they needed, but I was afraid of my own natural feelings.  That ain’t no excuse.  I was a rotten, no good bastard to them boys, and I allowed my narrow minded religious beliefs to build a wall between us.

They tried ever’ which way they could  to get over or around that wall, but they never succeeded. I’d give anything to have my boys say something like that about me.  I wasted and squandered the greatest gift of love God could give a man because of my selfishness.  If’n it weren’t for Bubba and O.C., I never would’ve made it after I thought they both died in Nam.

Just to find out Vince is alive would’ve been enough for me, but to git to meet, come to know and love my grandson is beyond belief. To me,— h’it’s simply a miracle.  A miracle I may never have experienced if’n I’d held on to my old ways.  H’it’s jes’ like you said,— if’n you’d come and found me like yore’ daddy told ju’ I was,— you’d a’ walked away and I’d a’ never know’d.  I guess it’s God’s way of show’n me I done made the right decision.  My heart is more full than it’s been in years, Son.  You can’t know what chu’ done for me.”

“I’ve watched you, grandpa.  I know you’ve been burdened with guilt and depression over your loss.  You’ve suffered as much as Seth Quee did.  God forgave him.  I cain’t speak for the Almighty, but maybe he’s forgiving you.  Tom Harris told me something, and I agree with him.  He done told me you was a good man, and he ain’t never loved another man like he loved you. He said you have to learn to forgive yourself; otherwise, how can you expect others to forgive you? ”

My granddad sat there for a minute in silence and slowly shook his head.

“Don’t know’s I can forgive myself, Son.”  he said quietly without hope.

“Not to worry, Grandpa,— ‘at’s why I’m here.  I ain’t jes’ no cowpoke with a purtty face.  I’m here to help you learn to forgive yourself.  How’my gonna’ do that?  Ain’t real shore’ jes’ yet, but it’ll come to me.”

“Now that you’ve revealed yourself to me, what are your plans?”

“I’m gonna’ keep on working at the ranch for you if’n you’ll have me.  I’ve been invited to spend Thanksgiving with the Claymores, and I’m hope’n to do that. I was a hope’n you and O.C. could spent it with us, too.  I know the sheriff’s gonna’ invite the two of you and Bubba and his boys.  I have to go home for two weeks at Christmas, but I ain’t gonna’ drive back, I’m gonna’ fly.”

“I usually stay on the ranch for the holidays so the other men can have the holidays off.  I’m never alone.  There’s always several hands who don’t care nothing about the holidays.  They get paid extra for working the holidays anyway.  Gabe and Jamie always work the holidays.  Wade works most of the time.  Preacher,— he don’t never go no wheres for the holiday.  Most times, Sam don’t either.  Brett and Curt are so wrapped up in each other they celebrate the holidays just as well on the ranch as they do in town.  Gip’s invited ‘em in a couple of times at Christmas. It’s quiet on the ranch that time of year anyways.  There’s almost a feeling of the spirit of Christmas when yore’ out under the stars on your pony.  The cowboys sing carols to the cattle to keep them quiet. There’s something magic about the ranch at Christmas time.”

* * * * * * *

We looked at more photos until late.  I wondered if my revelations to my granddad would change things between us.

“Grandpa, is knowing I’m your grandson gonna’ change things between us?”

“How do you mean, Son?  You mean will I still wanna’ share love with you?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“H’it ain’t gonna’ change nothing for me, if’n it don’t change your feelings.  I’ll share love with you as much as you need or want.  I gave up on women after your grandma died. ‘Sides, weren’t no decent woman what would have nothing to do with me no ways. I loved yore’ grandma, in my own way,— certainly not the way she wanted or needed. I weren’t no better to her than I was to my boys.  In some ways, I guess I was worse.

She tried to stand up for the boys, but I’d put her down as bad as I did them.  I weren’t never satisfied with anything she tried to do.  I’d find fault in the least little thing.  Truth was, I felt so bad about myself,  I tried to make her look worse than me. Truth is, I was so busy judging other folks I didn’t take  time to love ‘em.  I guess I killed her. She got sick and wouldn’t take care of herself.  She refused to go to a doctor.  Think’n back on it, she knew if she didn’t git help, she was gonna’ die.  I think living with me was so bad for her, she jes’ give up,— she jes’ didn’t wanna’ live no more.”      

“I’m sorry, Granddad.”

“Ain’t chore’ fault, Casey. H’it’s my fault.  H’it’s jes’ some’um else I gotta’ live with every day.  I jes’ hope God and her can forgive me.  I hope I’m a different man today.  I still have my faults, but being a crazed, religious zealot ain’t one of ‘em.  I’ll love you as much or as little as you want, Son.  I won’t never say ‘no’ to you.  If’n the good Lord’s given me a second chance, Casey,— I ain’t a’ gonna’ fuck it up.  I’ll give you all the love’n you can handle.  I’ll always be here for you if’n you need me. Hell, I’ll always be here for you even if you don’t need me.”

“I love you, Grandpa.”

“Oh, God, Casey,— you can’t know how much I love you.”

We hugged and kissed a passionate kiss that told me he would climb into my saddle anytime I needed him to ride the range with me.  That’s all I needed to know.

“You wanna’ git an early start to bed this evening, ramrod?”  I winked at him.

“Shore’ sounds good to this old cowboy, Son.  You gonna’ let me use your shower tonight?”

“You can use it anytime you wish, Sir, but I don’t won’t chu’ to.  I like the way you smell right now.  Sometimes, when I been close to you, after a hard day in the saddle, I can smell you and my old dick gits so hard h’it stretches the skin on my face so tight my eyes are reduced to two tiny slits.  I can barely see.  Then, h’it’s all I can do to keep from tackle’n you and take’n a big ole bite out a’ yore’ butt.”  I threw back my head and laughed.

“You’re yore’ daddy’s boy, all right.  He could come up with the most outrageous bullshit chu’ ever did hear.”

“He still can. I probably shouldn’t tell you this,” I started laughing, “but in one of his rants about you he told me, ‘My old man’s got his head so far up Jesus’s butt, he couldn’t see the light of God Almighty if’n he was stand’n in two buckets full of holy shit up to his boot tops and Jesus took a fart!’” I broke up laughing. My granddad laughed, too.

“E’aup,— sounds like my boy Vince.” he said still laughing, “The not so funny side a’ that is,— he’s right, Son,— I was that way. I’m so ashamed of it today, but my boy has every right to feel that way about me.  I know he probably blames me for his little brother’s death, and in a way, he’s right about that, too. A man couldn’t sink no lower or fail more miserably than I did as a husband and a father, Casey.  I been trying to be a different man. I had to, Son,— I got to where’s I couldn’t stand myself.  I had to become a better, more compassionate man for me, or I didn’t wanna’ go on living no more. Riding with Waddie Claymore’s family helped me a lot.  I hope I ain’t the man I used to be.”

“You ain’t, Grandad.  I’ve thought to myself several times, I can find no fault in you.  I don’t know what the future holds, but we’ll see it though together.  Y’ain’t alone no more.  Ya’ got me and ya’ got O.C.  Ain’t nothing we cain’t handle together.  If’n my old man don’t never come around, I ain’t gonna’ stop loving you.  I’ll never desert you.”

“Yore’ daddy couldn’t a raised you no finer, Son.  I’m gonna’ tell you something about chore’ daddy I ain’t never told nobody.  I was hardest on him all those years ago, because Vince had a strength inside him, no matter what I done to him or his little brother, I know’d beyond a doubt, for all my religious piety,— yore’ daddy was a better man than me.

He tried his best to give his little brother the love I was afraid to give ‘em.  He protected his little brother against me.  He would lie to me to take a whipping for something his little brother done.  I knew Vince didn’t do it, but I done whupped him anyways for lying to me. He would make excuses for my behavior to his little brother.  He would console his mother when I mentally abused her.  I knew, if’n he ever had a kid, he would be a better dad than me, and I was right.”

Curtis broke down again.  I held him close, comforted him, stole a couple of kisses, and shed a few more tears.

“Let’s us forgit all that for now, Grandpa.  I’ll fix us another toddy. One more for the day ought a’ do it.  I’ll get cleaned up and come help you undress.  We can get an early start to bed.”

“I’d like that, Son.”

I got cleaned up and returned to help granddad with his boots and clothes. He seemed to get joy out of the boot ritual Master Waddie taught me.  It seemed to bond us even closer.  We finished our drinks and retired to the bedroom.  We were looking forward to a long evening of satisfying love making.  The weather seemed to cooperate. I provided a fitting backdrop for Hallowed ‘een  before All Saints day; when the souls of departed spirits roam the Earth;  when the bones of demons dance on the fresh graves of the wicked.

It was colder than a witches tit or a grave diggers butt.  The wind was howling, the cold rain and sleet was pounding on the roof of the coach, lightening flashed and thunder roared to make our climax together seem like something out of a gothic romance novel.  My granddad became my growling beastie, and I his drooling goulie.  Together, we went bump in the night.  As a matter of record, we bumped several times that night.

This was my night with my granddad.  The night before had been somewhat eclipsed by our visit from Seth Quee.  I didn’t mind.  What it did for my granddad was like the boost he needed to take him from a more than adequate sex partner to the man-stallion my beloved ponies told me he could be.  If he had any reservations about his new lease on life, he certainly cast them aside that evening.  He was a man determined to be good to his word and give his grandson all the love he wanted and could possibly need.  We were both drained by the end of our third haunting session.

I rubbed his back for him until he drifted off to sleep.  When I lay down beside him, he threw his arms about me to pull me to him and steal a kiss.  He didn’t let me go all night.  It was like he was a kid who got a new toy for Christmas, took it to bed with him to hold tightly, so he could be sure it would be there for him in the morning.

* * * * * * *

The next morning we got up shortly after my coffee maker clicked on.  I got him into my shower to bathe and pamper him.  I don’t think he’d ever had anyone do that for him before.   He reveled in the attention and erotic stimulation my touch brought him.  His big cock got harder than a rock, and I damn near dislocated my jaw sucking him off.  Now I knew how Dwayne and Logan must have felt sucking me off.

At breakfast, Gip invite Curtis and I to attend church with them.  I knew granddad would probably want to, so I left it up to him.  Whatever he wanted to do was fine with me.

“With the weather and all, it would be tempting to just stay home with my boy, Sheriff; howsomever, consider’n the kindness the good Lord’s show’d me this last month and especially the last twenty-four hours, h’it would seem down right ungrateful of me not to go.  Me’n my grandson would be pleased and honored to join you and your family for church this morning.”

“Good,— glad to have you men join us.”

The weather offered no break.  We all went in the ranch station wagon that Cindy used most of the time.  It was still cold, raining and the wind was creating a chill factor that made it twenty degrees colder than it really was.  I bet my granddad there wouldn’t be many folks at church due to the inclement  weather.   I was wrong, it was packed.  If we hadn’t been with the sheriff who had his pews reserved, we would’ve had to stand. As a result, the church was overly warm and we were packed together like sardines to make room for a couple more folks to sit with in the sheriff’s pews.

I was right up against my granddad with my hand to my side. I folded my waterproof duster and had it draped across my lap with my hat sitting on top.  Granddad did the same.  About half way though the service I felt my granddad take my hand in his and hold it.  No one could see under our dusters and I smiled.  I didn’t look over at him, but I could see him smiling with my peripheral vision.  I saw Gip look over at us and get the biggest grin on his face.  He knew what the hell we were doing.

The church was overcrowded, they overcompensated for the cold weather, and the heat was turned up too high.  It was all I could do to keep from nodding off.  I wasn’t the only one.  I noticed Cindy elbowing Gip a couple of times just before he started to snore.  After the service, which was too long and boring, I hurried to hide my erection by putting on my duster.  I noticed granddad did the same. We returned to the ranch and had a wonderful Sunday dinner.  

Afterward, granddad and I retired to my trailer to wait for O.C. and Bubba to arrive.  Bubba was bringing his boys back in to meet the truck for the ranch, and I would be leaving with them. I managed to get a couple of loads of laundry done over the weekend so I was ready; however, I wasn’t looking forward to riding the range in this weather.

We watched a short video Logan took of me and dad at a local rodeo where we won first place.  Curtis couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw my dad on horseback roping as good as any buckaroo.  He had tears running down his face.  Part of the video was of my extra ‘junk’ room where I studied and had all my personal trinkets.  One wall had all my 4H ribbons and awards.  It also had all my trophies and belt buckles for rodeos dad and I won.  After that we just sat and talked.

“When is the doctor going to release you to return to the ranch, Grandpa?”

“I ain’t sure.  Soon, I hope.  The Army doctor’s sent all my records to a local doc in our town.  I cain’t git much out of him.  He’s kind of a know it all little cuss you can’t ask too many questions.   He won’t accept my insurance from the ranch so I have to pay him cash.”

“What?  You’re paying him cash?  Wait a minute!  Sticker told me the company would be responsible for all your medical bills.  How much have you paid him so far, Granddad?”

“Several hundred dollars.  I have the receipts at Ocie’s.”

“That ain’t right, Granddad.  You shouldn’t be have’n to pay nothing out a’ yore’ pocket.  He’s suppose to be billing your insurance.  Let me see what I can do. In the meantime, if’n you can, get them receipts to me. I’ll see Siod’s secretary, Kevin, gits ‘em.  I’ll have an account set up in your name from the company, I’ll deposit as much as you need, and Sticker will reimburse me.  You can just draw from it what you need for medical expenses until we can git this straightened out with yore’ doctor.  Jes’ be sure’n save all your receipts. The Army’s already done been paid for their services for you and Socks.  Sid’s secretary can work all that out with yore’ doctor and do the paperwork to get the company reimbursed as long as you keep the receipts and give ‘em to me.”

“You deposit money for me?  How—?  Why would you do that?  You talk like you’re a member of the company, Son.  How do you know so much about how it works?”

“Humm,— you sure you wanna’ know, Grandpa?”

“I think so.  Was that what Gip was talk’n about when he said I wouldn’t hold something against you? Do you have criminal record, Son?”

I laughed thinking that’s what it sounded like.

“Really, Grandpa.”  I looked indignant, “I ain’t got no record of any kind. I guess you know,  another company owns one-third interest in the Lazy 8.”

“Yeah, it’s a company named ‘Hensly Agrocon.’ Nobody knows much about ‘em. They seem to be a silent partner.  Sid and Sticker can’t find out nothing about the company.  Sticker done told me at the beginning of the roundup they still don’t know nothing.”

“Well,— I’ll tell you a secret.  If’n you’s to take the name of the company and rearrange the letters, it’ll spell out the name of the man what owns it.”

“Really?  How would ju’ know that, Son?”

I got a pen, a piece of paper and sat down beside him.  I wrote out the name “Hensly Agrocon.”  I circled the “C” in “con” and drew a line with an arrow pointing to a space below the name and printed a big “C”  I did it with every letter until it spelled out “Casey Longhorn” beneath “Hensley Agrocon.”

“I’ll be damned! Yore’ tell’n me you own a third interest in the Lazy 8, Son?”

“Yes, Sir, Grandpa,— me and my brothers.  I’m president,  Dwayne is vice-president, and our little brother is secretary.  Together we formed a corporation and bought all the stock when Sid and Sticker decided to go public with the Lazy 8.”

“Is ‘zat what Gip was talk’n about?”

“Yes, Sir,— he thought you might be able to handle it and still let me work for you.  We might wanna’ consider keeping it to ourselves. Me and my brothers was gonna’ keep it secret.  Logan figured out the name using an anagram generator program on his computer;  however, Sid’s male secretary, Kevin, done figured it out and blew our cover.  Sticker didn’t know until I told Will he could tell Sticker before he left the ranch.”

“Sid, Sitcker and Will know about it?”

“Yes, Sir.  ‘At’s why I told ju,’ don’t never underestimate that old man.”  I laughed, and my granddad just shook his head.

“Who else knows about it, Son?”

“Pretty much the same men what knew about me being yore’ grandson; Gip, Bubba, Waddie Claymore, his family and the men at the ‘Broken Arrow.’   I don’t think little Gip, Waddie Buck, Vince or Seth knows about it.”

“Does Ocie know?”

“Naw, Sir.  I jes’ ain’t never got around to tell’n him.  It jes’ never came up. You can tell ‘em if’n you want to.  H’it’s all right.  He’s family. We shouldn’t be have’n no secrets from each other.”
Curtis paused for a moment like he was thinking.

“I believe that, too, Casey; but,— that means, I work for you,— don’t it, Son?”

“I don’t look on it that way, Grandpa.  I’m jes’ a silent partner who reaps the dividends from the profits on the stocks our corporation holds.  On the ranch, I’m jes’ another buckaroo what’s drawing a cowboy’s pay for a days work.  I work for you.  You’re my boss.  You’re my ramrod.  I’d never question anything you tell me to do.  I trust you, Grandpa.”  I smiled at him.

“Who owns the majority of the stock in your corporation?”

“I own it all, Grandpa.  I give my brothers annual salaries for their help running the company. It helps out come tax time.”

“Where’d ju’ git money like that, Casey?”

“I saved ever’ penny from my share of rodeo winning for five years.  Dad’s always given me a percentage of his profits from our ranch ever’ year.  He figures if I work along side him, I should be reaping the benefits as well as him.  In the last several years we’ve doubled and quadrupled our profits.  We had to hire two extra hands just to keep up with the work load. We’ve raised their salaries twice since we done hired ‘em.

I worked for Cousin Rance a couple of summers on a big ranch in Montana and made good money.   I invested heavily in a couple of Sid’s ventures; doubled and triple my money.  My little brother got a tip on some up and coming computer company.  We invested in it and it tripled our money again.  We got our fingers in several pies.”

“Does yore’ daddy know you own a third of the Lazy 8.”

“Naw, Sir.  He didn’t seem too interested when I told ‘em me and my brothers was gonna’ invest in some ranch stock.  He has his own money, and I asked if’n he wanted to go in with us.  He said he wasn’t interested.  He didn’t try’n stop me. ‘S’matter of fact, he never said another word about it.  Logan and I don’t think dad has any idea how much money I’ve made in the last several years.”

“What else am I gonna’ find out about chu,’ Son?”

“‘At’s about it, Granddad.  I ain’t much more’n a cowboy who can toss a rope purtty good.”

“You’re a hell of a lot more’n that, Son.  You’ve blow’d this old man away.  Ocie told me to prepare myself, I would probably discover some things this weekend what would shake me to my foundation, but this,— and all that’s happened,— this is beyond anything I expected.  Truth is, you don’t have to be work’n for the ranch if’n you don’t want to.”

“Naw, Sir,— what I’d make in a year as a cowboy, I make in a month off’n my ranch stocks.  I’s jes’ doing it to be near you, Grandpa, and to git to know you.”

“God not only brought me a grandson.  He’s a handsome young cowboy who’s humble and smart.  A man couldn’t wish for more’n ‘nat in a grandson, Casey.”

Curtis opened his arms to me and we embraced.  He held me for a long time.

“Thanks for opening up to me, Son, and being honest.  Like the sheriff said, I think I can overlook you owning the company I work for.  I don’t think I’ll have no problem shift’n gears and think’n on you as one a’ my hands.  I agree with you, we should be selective who we tell.  The rest of the men are gonna’ know there’s something between us when they catch sight of yore’ eyes.”

“‘At’s all right, I’ll jes’ tell ‘em the truth.  Yore’ my granddad.  I’m proud to be your grandson, Grandpa.  I want the world to know I got me a granddad.”

“I reckon I’m pert-damn proud to have me a grandson, too.  Shouldn’t be no problem.  Several of ‘em know anyways.”

* * * * * * *

O.C. and Bubba arrived and headed straight to the double ‘R’ with Gip.  Bubba’s boys, Vincent and Seth Quee, were right behind them.  O.C. told them on the way about Curtis and our experience with his boy; also,  I let Curtis know I was his grandson.  They came into the coach like a herd of water buffalo to congratulate us.  Granddad was reduced to tears again in Bubba’s and O.C.’s arms.  Vince and Seth were so moved they shed a few as they hugged each of us.  It was another powerful moment.  These men had become family to me.

It was almost time for Gip to drive us into town to meet the truck to the ranch.  I didn’t bother to pack my contact lenses.  I wouldn’t need them anymore.  I wrote out a check to cash for five thousand dollars and gave it to O.C. to open an account for my granddad’s medical expenses until I had a chance to sort it out with Sticker.  I told O.C. I had a feeling if I gave it to granddad he wouldn’t do it.  He agreed with me and promised he’d take care of it.

All the men drove into town with the cowboys who were returning to the ranch; Gip’s boys, Bubba’s boys and me.  The inclement weather let up a bit, but it was still bitterly cold.  We were all bundled up and huddled together in the truck for warmth.  There was more hugs and tears as we said goodbye to our relatives and loved ones.  It felt so damn good to be able to say that.  Curtis pulled me aside.

“I don’t have the words to tell you what’s in my heart, Son.  If the good Lord was to take me this minute, I’d die a happy man.  This weekend with you was surely one of the highlights of my life.  It went by far to quickly; and yet, I feel like we lived a lifetime in two days.  I won’t never forgit the unconditional love you shared with me, and what you done for me this weekend.  I can only hope we’ll have more good times together. I’m gonna’ git Ocie to pinch me all the way back to his ranch jes’ to make sure I ain’t dreamed all this.”

“I know how you feel, Granddad.  I feel the same way.  We’ll have lots of time to be together and love each other. Now that I found you, I ain’t a’ gonna’ let go, and I’m gonna’ be hard to git rid of. You’ll haf’ta’ git yore’self a pert-damn big stick to beat me off.”  I paused because I realized how that sounded.  Curtis winked at me and we both broke up, “Aww, hell,— you know what I mean.  Let’s take one day at a time.  I ain’t gonna’ go nowheres. We’ll have a lot of time together and the rest,— well, it’ll work itself out.  As long as we got each other and O.C.,  we can take on the world.”

“I love you, Casey.”

“I love you, too, Grandpa.”

After a weekend of such emotional highs, the ride back to the ranch was almost calming.  To hell with the weather, I was a cowboy.  I’d proved my mettle with the roundup and saving my granddad’s life.  I could handle anything.

End of Chapter 40 ~ Texas Longhorns
Copyright 2005 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All rights reserved ~
Mail to: waddiebear@yahoo.com