It was a welcome
surprise, to find my dad was still awake and ready to go. I
secretly wondered if my memory played tricks on me. Was my old
man as really good in the sack as I remembered him to be? I had
several more sexual encounters with other men since I’d left
home. While I never consciously tried to compare them, there was
always one standard I set above all others. I know it’s vain to
compare, because each man brings his own knowledge and strength to the
experience, and it’s particularly unfair when you love the one you’re
comparing them with above all others. To answer my own question,— my
old man still had it! Master Waddie was so right, I belonged to
finished, I cleaned us and we lay together talking quietly. I decided
to let dad talk about whatever he wanted. I didn’t try to move
our conversation one way or the other. We talked a lot about how
we’d missed each other and the situation with Bart and Brent. We
decided to do whatever we could to help them. It was like Bart and
Brent was sent to run interference for me and dad. Their plight
seemed to re-bond and unite us without having to face the temporary
gulf that lay between us. Any problems we might have, paled in
comparison. Their problem was so much larger. I was
beginning to wonder who was sent to help whom. Thinking back on
my experiences, it was a no brainer,— Master Waddie and I was sent to
help each other; why not Bart to help me as well?
I guess dad saw
I wasn’t going to force him to talk about something that was
potentially uncomfortable for him. He began to talk about people
and things on the periphery of our Mount Everest. He seemed
comfortable talking about incidents he heard about without talking
directly about my granddad specifically. It was hard for him, but
I understood that. I was going to let him ask me about granddad,
and if he didn’t, I wasn’t going to push. I knew my dad so well,
I knew his curiosity and compassion would eventually cause him to talk
about it, but it had to be his time and his way. That was fine by
me. After a long pause in our conversation he spoke softly to me,
“No matter who
you’ve met or what’s occurred on your journey,— I will never stop
“I know that,
Dad. I wouldn’t have had the courage to go if’n I didn’t know
that. I’m made of the same stuff you are. You taught me to
be a man. You taught me the cowboy way and to be my own
man. My journey has been one of discovery and revelation.
I’ve come to see things for myself; however, I’ll tell you the
same. No matter who I’ve met, who I’ve loved, or what I’ve
experience on my journey,— you’re my dad,— you’re number one in my
life,— I will always love you,— I belong to you. You have Master
Waddie to thank for that bit of education.”
Waddie? You mean Waddie Claymore?” he asked.
same.” I replied gently.
“Humm,— I always
did like that man even if he did always beat us at rope’n.”
“Bet he cain’t
no more.” I smiled at him.
“Ya’ think,— ?”
he perked up a bit.
“I’d bet the
ranch on it.”
Dad laughed at
me. He got my double meaning without commenting.
make this hard on me,— ain’t chew?” he asked seriously.
contrary,— I plan to make it as easy on you as possible. Jes’
‘cause I ain’t doing my usual routine of spill’n my guts to you about
things, don’t mean I’m afraid to talk with you about it. I done learned
that about chu’ when us boys was going up against the Colonel; however,
since that time, I’ve jes’ learned to let a man set his own pace.
Even though it may be part of the ‘cowboy way,’ I didn’t learn that
from you. I learned it from a big red pony I love very much.”
“Then it’s true
what them men told me about chu’ developing gifts like yore’ little
Dwayne and I learned from him. I learned more from a giant man,—
half-man, half-Grizzly bear,— on a big ranch in Tucson. My first
impression was, he was the ugliest man I ever met in my life; however,
when I got to know him,— he was the most thoughtful, gentle, kind,
humble man I ever met. Suddenly, he wasn’t ugly no
more. I think on him now as one of the sexiest, finest looking
men I know. Other than you, he’s become my mentor, advisor,
confident and beloved friend. I’ve hear’d it said he has a direct
line to the Almighty.”
“He sounds like
a good man to know, Son”
Dad. I hope someday you get to meet him. I know you’d love
goodnight, and I turned my back to him so he could spoon me. I
don’t think he let me go all night until the wee hours of the morning
when I felt my plug being removed. The sweetest fucks are always
the early morning ones. It sets the tone for your entire day. I
knew tomorrow was going to be a good one.
* * * * * * *
Dad and I were
already up and fixing breakfast when Bart and Brent came
downstairs. Brent ran to dad and threw his arms around his
waist. Dad chuckled, stopped what he was doing to pick him up and
steal a kiss. Brent wasn’t shy with his affection either.
“Did ju’ sleep
well, cowboy?” Dad asked him.
It’s a bigger bed than we got at home, and daddy didn’t roll over
on me.” Brent giggled. We all laughed.
“That’s a great
bed, gentlemen. I slept like a baby.” allowed his
dad. “Can I do some’um to help?”
Dad sat some
bread in front of him and pointed to the toaster. Bart started
making toast and buttering it. It didn’t take long, and we sat
down to eat; however, first, we joined hands and dad said grace.
It made us feel like family. I know Bart and Brent appreciated
it. We heard a truck pull up out front. Dad looked at me and
little brother. I invited him to stop by for breakfast before he
started his day.” Dad said.
“Good, I need to
talk with him anyway.”
“You have a
“Yeah, you met
him last night,— Mr. Wainright’s son, Logan.”
Bart smiled and
nodded. He understood. Logan hollered as he came through
the screen door.
“Dad,— Casey,— ”
“In the kitchen,
Son.” Dad hollered back.
Logan came in,
gave dad a hugged and a kiss on the cheek. He did the same with
me; except I hugged him and made over him a little more than I usually
did. I got him laughing. He turned to Bart and offered his
hand. Bart took it and shook Longan’s hand.
“Good to see you
again, Mr. Conners.”
“Call me ‘Bart,’
“I will if’n you
call me ‘Logan,’ Sir.”
“It’s a deal,
Logan. I never see’d me no men what hugged each other like you
men do. My old man never touched me in my life. So where’s
“I never hug a
man on the first handshake, Bart; however, since I done shook your hand
last night, I suppose it’ud be all right.” Logan laughed and
“I wanna’ hug,
too.” said Brent as he came running to Logan. Logan picked
Brent up, hugged him and stole a kiss.
“Of course, you
can have a hug,— you’re the best look’n cowpoke in this
kitchen.” We all laughed and Brent giggled.
“You got a busy
day, little brother?” I asked Logan.
really. Today’s Sunday. I don’t have any more classes for
the holidays; however, I’ve got some research to do at the
library. I wanna’ get it out of the way, and after that I
have to get some lab work done for Chemistry. I should be through
by early afternoon, and then, I won’t have to worry about it over the
brother’s been staying with my dad while I’ve been away playing cowboy,
Bart. He’s going to med school in San Diego during the day and
assisting my dad in the evenings. He and my brother Dwayne are my
best buds. We done grew’d up together.” I laughed as I
knowingly butchered the King’s English.
“How was it,
staying in your old room last night?” I joked with Logan.
“Lord,— I never
remembered my room being so big or so empty. I thought I never
would get to sleep.” he laughed. “When ju’ say you was going
back, brother?” He asked laughing. Dad and I laughed at
him. We got his message.
Bart called the Children’s Hospital, and they told him not to bring
Brent until the next morning between nine and eleven; that was
their admission hours. Dad reassured him that was fine.
They could stay the night and we’d take him and Brent to the Hospital
early the following morning. He was so grateful. Maybe he
shouldn’t have been grateful so soon. My dad put us to work with
Bodey and Flynn, and we worked all day.
It was just what
Bart needed to get his mind off his problems for a while. Even he
admitted it felt good being back in the saddle and doing some
work. It went a long way to making him feel like he was making an
effort to pay his way and gave him an additional sense of
belonging. There was no doubt to any of us, Bart was a capable
hand and knew what he was doing. He even impressed ole hard-nose
cowboy was with my dad. My old man had a way with kids.
Brent rode in the saddle with dad almost all day; however, after lunch,
in the early afternoon he began to tire, and dad took him back to the
house to rest. Bart didn’t seem too worried. He acted like
he trusted dad completely. After we finished work and put the
ponies away, we said goodbye to Bodey and Flynn and walked to the house.
We walked into
the living room and there was Brent laying with his head in my dad’s
lap, and dad was reading him one of my old children’s books from years
ago. He put them away and kept about twenty of my
favorites. I was touched he did that. Now, here he was
reading “Horton Hears a Who” to our little buckaroo. He
must have read that book to me hundreds of times. It was one of
my favorites, and hearing him reading it to Brent, made me recall the
warmth and love he so patiently and unconditionally gave me all those
years. It made me think about giving him grandchildren, and a
sudden pain of emptiness hit me. I had to think about that.
“Oh, Lord,” I
spoke softly to Bart, “I hope you weren’t real attached to yore’
boy?” I laughed. Bart laughed, too.
someone beside me to be with him a bit. I don’t think my dad
knows how to deal with him. Brent don’t really know what it’s
like to have a granddad. He’s tried to get close to my dad, but
he jes’ don’t seem to be interested. Of course, my ma is
always right there to keep him away from my dad. He’s a different
kid after he’s been around folks like you and your dad. He talks
about new things and interests, and he’s more loving to me. I
stop being the big, bad dad for a while and become his buddy.
I know there has
to be a separation for discipline purposes, but I hate it. I
ain’t never had me no buddy, and I wanna’ be his buddy.
This ‘daddy’ thing ain’t what I thought it was gonna’ be. Of
course, I didn’t count on having to raise him on my own. I
thought that’s what a wife and mother was for. I had this idea in my
head, she would take care of him, and I would be his buddy.
Since my wife,
Lillie, died, I have to be everything to him, and I’ll be honest with
ya,’ Casey, I run scared most of the time. I ain’t only big and
dumb, I don’t know nothing ‘bout being no parent. I’m fly’n blind
by the seat of my pants, cowboy. He didn’t come with no parts list,
maintenance schedule, or instruction manual. I make it up as I go
along, and I’m so afeard I’m a’ gonna’ fuck it up.”
as he gits older. The more you live the more you learn. You apply
one situation to another. You build a knowledge base of dealing
with him. You need to sit down and talk with my old man. He
found himself in the same position you’re in. We lost my mom when
I was fourteen, and he had to take over being everything for me. My dad
was always firm with me. He sat boundaries and limits. They
weren’t nothing unreasonable; however, I knew if I wanted my life to
run smoothly, I better not step over the line.
I only did it
once when I was about ten years old, but I never made that mistake
again. He didn’t physically punish me, but I didn’t see no T.V.
for six months, and I didn’t get no allowance for damn near three years
to pay back for what I done.” I laughed. “My dad became my
best friend and buddy about the time I went through puberty and he
still is. You can tell my old man the secrets of your soul, but he’ll
never turn you away or stop caring about you. I’m living proof of
“I admire the
relationship you’n your dad have, Casey. I wish’t my relationship
with my dad was as easy. I always thought I’s missing something
in my life. I wanted to love my dad, but I didn’t know how.
I sometimes think he’s disappointed with me because I weren’t smart
enough to do much else in life but be a cowboy. I tried hard in
school, but I jes’ couldn’t seem to learn much. I was great at sports
and football. I could rodeo purtty good. I didn’t think I’s
dumb, but I guess I was. I never made more’n “C’s” and “D’s” all
the way through school.”
relationship with your dad might change, Bart, as time goes on.”
“I hope so. I
know he loves me, but I jes’ get the feeling he’s ashamed of me.”
with him about it?”
“Naw, my old man
ain’t a man you kin talk to. He don’t talk much about
nothing. He’s real quiet, and jes’ keeps everything bottled up
inside. He’s a good man. He was a good husband to my mom, a
great dad to me and my little sister, and a decent provider for our
family. We jes’ never went to him for very much. Mom was
always the one what decided everything. She gave up on me early
on and decided I wouldn’t amount to much. She used to tell me
that all the time. She’d tell me I’s jes’ like my dad.
I guess dad
agreed with her. He’d hear her talking, and scolding me. He’d get
a sad look on his face, shake his head and walk away; but, he’d never
say nothing. He done taught me to be a cowboy. I guess he
thought I could do that purtty good. My little sister was the
smart one. She went on to college and become a teacher.
They kept me back a year. We was in the same grade. She used to
try’n help me with my homework, but finally,— she give up on me,
too. She told me I’s plumb dumb as a box a’ rocks.”
Bart laughed, but I could tell he felt a lot of pain.
perhaps, yore’ dad needed you as much or maybe even more than you
needed him all these years. Maybe yore’ mom wouldn’t let him get
close to you and yore’ sister. If she ran the house and made all
the rules, maybe she jes’ left him out of the picture so much, he jes’
of it that way, Casey. You jes’ might be right. Thanks,
I’ll think on ‘nat.”
We sat down to
listened to dad finish reading his story to Brent. The kid was
enraptured with the story and my dad. I noticed dad didn’t seem
to be turning the pages and pretty much left the looking to
Brent. I laughed and Bart looked at me questioningly. I
leaned over and whispered to him.
boy’s looking at the pictures, but he ain’t turning the pages.”
the story from memory. He’s read it to me so many times he knows
it by heart.”
Bart broke up
laughing, but we were both amazed at dad’s ability to remember the
complete book of “Horton Hears a Who.” Dad finished the story,
and we waited to see what Brent would say.
“Thank you, Mr.
Longhorn, for reading me that story.”
Son. It brought back a lot of memories from when I used to read
them stories to my boy.”
“You mean you
read this story to Casey?”
did. It was one of his favorites.”
is.” I interjected, and we all laughed.
around at all of us for a moment then looked back into my dad's eyes.
am I gonna’ die?”
I thought my
heart was going to come out of my body. I heard Bart sigh like he
was hit in the gut with a medicine ball. Only my dad could’ve
handled a question like that from a small child. Brent asked the
right man a question that was obviously weighing heavily on his young
mind. I don’t think it was unwitting either. I think Brent
sensed something deep within my dad, a foundation of strength he
needed to tap into to get him through his ordeal. Dad neither
registered shock nor dismay. He simply took the boy’s question in
stride like he was the strong voice of authority and Brent could rely
on his answer as if it were chiseled in granite.
“No, Son,— I
don’t think so. You have some powerful men surrounding you who
love you and will protect you. I know what you’re facing may seem
frightening to you, but jes’ remember,— when the time comes,— we’ll all
be right there with you. We won’t let nothing happen to
you. Why, you got four of the strongest men you could ever
imagine by your side. Three are right here in this room; yore’
daddy, Casey, and my other boy, Logan. The other one is my boy,
Dwayne. The doctors will put chu’ to sleep, and you’ll
dream beautiful dreams while the doctors repair yore’ heart. You
won’t know anything about it. You won’t feel no pain. When
you wake up, it’ll all be over. You’ll wake up and wonder when
they're gonna’ do it. You won’t even realize they already
done it. It’ll be over,— ” dad snapped his fingers, “jes’ like ‘at,—
before you know it, and you’ll be back here at the ranch with us riding
my pony with me like you done today.”
“Will you be
there with me, Mr. Longhorn?” he asked pleadingly.
“If you want me
to be,— I’ll be there, Son. I’d be right proud to be there with
you.” Dad said firmly.
“I’d really like
you to be there, Mr. Longhorn. I’d feel safer if’n you was there,
promise,— I’ll be there. Casey and I, both, will be there.”
satisfied and gave dad a big hug and a kiss. How could any man
say ‘no’ to the beautiful little boy. I was so damn proud of my
old man. That night as we all fixed dinner, Brent was right beside my
dad everywhere he went. It didn’t seem to bother dad a bit.
He just made sure he didn’t run over his little buddy. Bart tried
to pull Brent away a couple of times to give dad some space, but dad
told him the boy was all right. He needed to feel close to dad,
and dad wasn’t going to deny him that. He’d made Brent a promise
he would see him through.
We got an early
start to bed that night. We wanted to be up and gone in plenty of
time to get Bart and Brent to the hospital on time. Before we
went to sleep I asked dad how many of my children’s books he could
recall from memory.
“A goodly number
of ‘em. I find myself reciting them to the cows when I’m out
riding and get bored. My pony probably thinks I’m daft.
He’s heard everything from “A Cat In A Hat” to “In The Night
Kitchen.” His favorite is “Goodnight, Mr. Moon.” Dad
I laughed like I
didn’t believe him. Early in the morning, I felt my plug being
removed. You’ve never been properly fucked until you have to
listen to a complete recitation of “Where The Wild Things Are” while
you’re getting fucked. At first, I couldn’t stop giggling,
but as he went on, I began to let go. I got caught up in the story, the
fucking, and the wonderful sound of my dad’s voice. It
dredged up memories from long ago; wonderful, comfortable memories I’d
forgotten; however, they never really leave you. They’re there in the
recesses of your mind filed away in a sub folder labeled “comfort
zone.” As silly as it may sound, it was a wonderful fuck.
The story t’weren’t bad neither.
* * * * * * *
I walked out to
the hen house the next morning to collect eggs. I couldn’t tell
whether the ladies were happy to see me or not. I wasn’t about to
try to get into their heads. Logan tried one time and told me
they thought in sights and smells only. If it looked good or
smelled good,— eat it. Chickens can be so non-committal; however,
if they don’t like something you’re doing, they have strong opinions
and don’t mind letting you know about it. I was glad to see
Oreida Sue Orpington was still holding court.
girlfriends laid a bumper crop of proto-chicks that evening as we had
guest for breakfast the next morning. Dad invited Rance, Dwayne
and Lamar for breakfast and unbeknownst to me, he also invited Sid,
Sticker and my little brother. Dad got me up early to help him
with breakfast and told me to let our guest sleep a little
longer. We were about halfway through fixing breakfast when our
family arrived,— all at the same time. Six big men clomping up
the front porch steps in cowboy boots onto a wooden porch was enough to
wake the dead.
They came in and
greetings were exchanged. Everyone got coffee and my brothers
were put to work helping. Pretty soon Bart and Brent came
downstairs to find our kitchen looking like a cowboy convention.
Brent was wowed when he saw his black buddy looking for all the world
like another buckaroo. He ran to Lamar who picked him up, hugged
him and stole a kiss. Bart was amazed to find these men here.
“Aww, we jes’
come to see you off and wish you and Brent well. As it turns out,
Vince invited us to go along so we’re all gonna’ travel up with ya’ll
to L.A. I jes’ think it was a sneaky way to git me to drive the
wagon.” Sticker boomed good heartedly.
“Great,— we can
certainly use the support. I appreciate you men caring enough to
think about us.”
Logan did some
investigation on the Internet and contacted several of his friends who
provided him with some valuable information about the Children’s
Hospital. They provide small rooms for parents who need to stay
over to be near their children during their treatment or operations.
enough chairs around the table for all of us. We needed one more;
however, that problem was quickly solved when Brent crawled up in dad’s
lap. Bart started to protest, but dad stopped him.
Son. He can eat off my plate. There’s plenty food.
When we cook for this crew we have to kill the fatted calf.”
as they began to pass the plates. Brent ended up eating more than
he probably would have eating alone. He just felt comfortable
with my dad and neither Logan nor I was opposed to sharing our dad with
the little cowboy. Talk was lively around the table, but the men
purposely stayed away from talking about the hospital. It was
like they didn’t want to face the inevitable, so they just didn’t talk
about it. Then, too, it was because of their respect for Bart and
breakfast and quickly cleaned the kitchen. Everyone was ready to
go. Bart packed only a few things for Brent and a couple of
things for himself in a smaller overnight bag I loaned him. He
was going to leave the rest with us. I assured him we would pick
him and Brent up when the boy was released. I jokingly
asked him if he really thought my dad would desert his little buddy he
made a promise to? He agreed with me, he didn’t think he
We traveled to
Los Angeles in Sticker’s ‘Canyonero’ and it was like a bobsled on
wheels. It may be the scariest monster of an
eco-conservationalist’s worst nightmare, but it was smooth. Brent
sat in dad’s lap all the way to L.A. Bart offered to take him
several time, but dad wouldn’t hear of it. Brent would get a
scared look on his face, throw his little arms around dad’s neck and
hold on for dear life. I felt so sorry for him. He was
obviously afraid of what might happen to him, but he had found a rock
in my dad to anchor him. My old man affected a lot of folks that
Logan was riding
navigator for Sticker. He printed out maps on his computer and
knew every freeway and off-ramp to take to get us to the
hospital. We arrived at eight-thirty in the morning and
went in with them. Imagine the scene of nine big cowboys, and one
little cowboy entering a prestigious place like the Children’s Hospital
of Los Angeles. We certainly turned a number of heads. Kids
were being moved in wheelchairs and some walked about in the
lobby. The all stopped to look. They were fascinated by the
Brent in and a nurse took him by the hand to take him away. Bart
was going with him, but Brent was afraid and turned to look at dad with
a pleading look on his face. Bart picked up on it and spoke to
granddad come with us, Ma’am?”
Sir.” she replied.
hesitate. He smiled, winked at me and went to take Brent’s other
We waited in the
lobby for further word. Bart came back in about thirty minutes,
and told us we could visit for a while before we went back to the
ranch. We followed him into the room, and dad was sitting next to
Brent’s bed talking quietly to him. He was happy to see us all
again. He was in a nightgown and sitting up in bed.
“They told us
they were going to run tests today and tomorrow. The doctor’s
will operate Wednesday morning at nine. They said it will be
about a four hour operation, but we should see some improvement in him
We didn’t stay
long. Everyone had to have a hug and a kiss goodbye from the
little cowboy. I pulled Bart aside.
take this envelope and put it in yore’ pocket. It has our address
if you need it for any purpose. It has my cell phone number, my
little brother’s cell phone number, and our home number at the
ranch. There’s also a little note I wrote for you in there.
Just remember, you ain’t alone. You and Brent have all our love
and good thoughts with you. You didn’t run into me by chance,
cowboy. Have faith and trust me,— it’ll all come out okay. If you
need us we’re only a couple of hours away. We’ll be here as soon
as we can. Dad and I will be here for sure Wednesday morning early.”
me. He opened his big arms to me, and I hugged him. I
thought he was going to cry, but he didn’t. He also hugged every
man there and thanked them for their kindness. I was last to say
goodbye to Brent. I gently hugged and kissed him. The
others were talking among themselves and weren’t paying attention to us.
“Are you and Mr.
Longhorn gonna’ be here for my operation, Casey?”
“Of course, we
are, cowboy. My dad don’t make no promises to a buckaroo he don’t
keep. You can count on it. Beside I have to be here for my
little brother, don’t I?”
He smiled real
“I’d like to be
yore’ brother, Casey.” he said quietly.
“You are my
little brother, cowboy. Don’t never doubt it. Listen to
me,— if’n you git really scared or frightened, you can think on me real
hard, and I’ll come to you. Now,— this has to be our
secret. You can’t tell your old man about it.”
“Be quite for a
minute, watch my face and listen for my voice.”
I touched him
and asked in a small voice if I could enter his mind.
“Is that you,
Casey?” he spoke out loud. I nodded. “Sure,— ”
<< Can you
hear me, cowboy? >> I smiled and winked at him. His eyes
got real big.
yore’ lips ain’t moving, but I can hear you jes’ fine. Can you hear me?
and clear, buckaroo. Now,— not a word of this to yore’ daddy,—
secret,— huh, big brother? >>
secret, sweetheart. All ya’ gotta’ do is reach out for me, and
I’ll hear you. >>
Tears started to
well up in his eyes, and he started crying. He held me tightly to
him and whispered.
Casey,— oh, thank you. I won’t be so afraid, now. I’m proud
to be yore’ little brother, Casey. I already think on yore’ dad
as my grampa.”
“He thinks on
you as his grandson, cowboy.” I whispered back.
Bart told Brent
he was going to walk us out, but he’d be back in a minute. We
waved goodbye and left. Bart walked us out to the truck. He
couldn’t thank us enough. We all promised him we wouldn’t desert
him and Brent. We would see him through this. I told him to
call me later in the day to let us know how things were going. He
promised he would. We took off and drove back to the ranch.
Their was a little conversation, but not a lot. I think everyman
in the truck was genuinely concerned for the little cowboy.
back I felt someone touch me. I knew it was my new little brother.
here, cowboy. You testing me? >>
of. Daddy left to take his things to his room and said he’d be
back in a while. I jes’ wanted to thank you for your gift.
I won’t feel so alone now. Where are you? >>
yore’ eyes, lay back, and I’ll let chu’ see through my eyes,— okay?
I looked around
the truck at everyone and came to my dad. I felt a deep sigh from
Brent. E’aup,— he was a cowboy in love. I looked out the
window to show him the beautiful scenery of the mountains below
Temecula on Interstate 15 headed South toward the “Rainbow
Bridge. It really looks like a giant concrete rainbow spanning
the divide, over the Interstate, between two mountains. I read in
one of Dad's Triple A magazines it was designed by a woman. It
has to be one of the most beautiful pieces of freeway construction
around. They should have let her design a lot more. As the
bridge came into sight, I showed it to Brent.
Remember me pointing out the “Rainbow Bridge” on the way up, cowboy?
Sir. I see it, Casey. It’s beautiful from this view.
<< It sure
is, honcho. Jes’ think on your operation as that beautiful
bridge. You can see both sides of the bridge. You’re on one
side, but you can see the other side, too, from this distance.
The doctors will put you to sleep on one side of the bridge and carry
you to the other side. When you wake up you’ll be across on the
other side of that beautiful bridge. I always know when we come
down through 'Rainbow Valley,' and I catch sight of the bridge, we’re
about thirty minutes from home. We’ll be to the ranch in a little
Casey,— that was beautiful. Thanks for showing and telling
me about the “Rainbow Bridge.” I’ll go now and let chu’ git on
home. I love you, Casey. >>
<< I love
you, too, little brother. Bye for now. >>
I gave him a
mental hug and withdrew. Logan looked at me and smiled. He
knew what I was up to, and I chuckled.
time solo, brother?” Logan asked quietly. I laughed.
the ponies,— I guess it is.”
“Proud of you,
brother. Ya’ done the right thing.” Logan put his hand on
mine and squeezed it.
Dad looked at us
and grinned. I think he had some notion we were up to no
good. He was right. There wasn’t much got by our old man.
* * * * * * *
The nurse showed
Bart to his small room. It was smaller than and average hospital
room, but it was all he needed. It had a single bed, a small
dresser, a desk and a color T.V. on the wall. It had it’s
own bath with a shower. He was pleased and grateful. The nurse
left him alone. He told her he could find his way back to his
son’s room. He sat his bag down on the small dresser and withdrew
the envelope from his pocket Casey gave him.
He sat on the
bed, and tore the envelope open to read the note. As he
unfolded the letter he found five one hundred dollar bills
inside. He hung his head and cried. He let out all of his
pent up emotions he couldn’t let loose in front of his boy. He
didn’t want Brent to know he was almost as afraid as he was. He
got himself together and wondered at how good he felt having let go and
had a good cry. He opened Casey’s note and read;
this ain’t no loan. This is a Christmas gift what done come
early. You need this right now, and God has been generous with
me. It’s meet and right, I should share a little of my good
fortune with my brother. Christmas is right around the corner and you
need a little something to play Santa for our little cowboy
buddy. Don’t you dare spend a penny of this on me or my
dad. What we do for you is because we want to, and because, it’s
our gift to you and Brent. Don’t take the joy of giving away from
us think’n you have to get us gifts. A simple handshake and
‘thanks’ will be sufficient. May God’s love and his angels be
with you and Brent. Your cowboy brother, Casey.”
down again, but this time he didn’t try to get himself together. His
tears were tears of release, joy and gratitude to God for the goodness
of his fellow man. 'Surely God must send his angels to us
in human form sometimes,' he thought to himself. How could he
feel so close to these men in only a couple of days. He’d never
met anyone like them before. He thought of Casey as his brother,
and the way Brent responded to Mr. Longhorn, Bart couldn’t help think
of him as his dad. He secretly wished his dad was more like Vince
Longhorn. While Bart was made to feel dumb and worthless most of
his life, he knew in his big heart he had good horse sense about
people. These were men he could trust and not be afraid to love.
He worried a
little about why his dick dripped when he got a good look at Casey’s
backside, but he didn’t dwell on it. He quickly put those
thoughts aside. ‘A man ain’t suppose to have thoughts like that.
Them thoughts was just plumb wrong.’ he told himself, ‘They was
disrespectful of his new brother who he knew would never consider doing
nothing like that. Casey was a cowboy for crying out loud,— his
It only happened
to him one time in high school with his football teammate and buddy
Nickel Chambers. Nick had such a sweet ass Bart would have to
keep a towel around him in the locker room to keep Nick from seeing his
dick getting hard. One summer night, before their senior year,
they got drunk together and ended up down by Windmill Creek in the back
of Nick’s dad’s pickup truck. Bart fucked his buddy until the
cows came home.
seem to get enough of Bart’s big, cowboy dick and Bart couldn’t seem to
give him enough. Damn, he marveled how good his dick felt up
Nick’s hot, tight cowboy ass. When he came he shot the biggest
load he could ever remember deep within Nick’s gut. The next
morning, as the sun woke them, Nick claimed to have been so drunk he
couldn’t remember a thing. Bart was afraid to tell him or admit
he remembered and enjoyed it. Nick might think he was queer. He
claimed he couldn’t remember anything either. Nothing more was
ever said, but Bart carried a longing for Nick in his heart for
years. He asked Nick to be his best man at his wedding, and he
was Nick’s best man at his. Unbeknownst to him, Nick secretly
carried a crush for Bart in his heart for as many years.
Maybe Casey was
right. Maybe God was watching over him and Brent. He
stopped his crying, got down on his knees and thanked God for sending
him men, who seemed like angels, as friends. He prayed for the
good Lord to be with him and his son in their hour of need. He prayed
for forgiveness for his sinfully lustful thoughts about his good
hearted and generous brother. How could he have such base
thoughts about a man who had been so good to him? Bart felt like
a huge hand was placed on his shoulder, and a weight was lifted from
him he’d been carrying around for a good while. He didn’t know
how he knew, but he knew God forgave him and everything would be all
* * * * * * *
Dad and I
returned to the ranch and the other men went home. We spent the
afternoon working around the ranch. Dad wanted to get a couple of
things done around the house in the late afternoon; he didn’t want to
have to ask Bodey or Flynn to help him with. It was our first
evening alone since I got home. I was really enjoying being with
my old man again. He had a glow about him I hadn’t seen in a
while. I knew the experience with Bart and Brent was bringing out
the best in him. I saw it happen to him when me and my brothers
were going through bad times with the Colonel.
We fixed dinner
together and talked about many things, but I never brought up my
granddad; he didn’t either. He would talk about everything else,
but not his dad. I brought granddad’s letter to give to him, but
I thought I’d wait for the right time. I wondered how I would
recognize the ‘right’ time. I knew I wasn’t going to give it to
him right away, because I didn’t want it to possibly cast a cloud over
what was turning out to be a joyous reunion at Christmas.
We were eating
dinner when my cell phone vibrated in my pocket. It didn’t turn the
ring on often ‘cause I got kidded a lot. I had it programed to
play the theme from “Bonanza.”
yore’self, brother.” I said to Bart, “How’s our little buckaroo buddy
here in bed being a good boy. He misses you and Mr. Longhorn.”
“We been talk’n
about you and him a lot this evening.”
I read yore’ note and all I can say is, ‘Thanks, brother,— thanks for
everything. You, yore’ dad, and your family of friends have
renewed my faith in the world and people. Brent and I can’t thank
“You jes’ did,
cowboy. What chu’ jes’ said was enough.”
asking me if I’m sure ya’ll plan on being here Wednesday?”
“We ain’t jes’
planning on it, we’ll be there. I done told him we’d be there
bright and early Wednesday morning.”
“I know, but he
worries a lot. He done told me you told him something before you
left today that helped him a lot. He said he ain’t so afraid no
“Yeah, I gave
him a little pep talk; my standard, ‘cowboys ain’t never afeard as long
as they got a good buddy, and I reminded him he’s got a number of good
buddies watch’n over him.”
“He does at
that. Here, I’ll let chu’ talk with him for a minute.”
buckaroo. How’s my little brother?”
They poked me, X-rayed me, drew a lot of blood and run all kinds of
test. I remembered what you told me, and I wasn’t afraid.
How’s Mr. Longhorn?”
fine. You wanna’ talk with him a minute?”
wanna’ bother him, Casey.”
“You ain’t no
bother, cowboy. We jes’ finished supper. He’s sit’n right
here listen to me talk to you. Here,— tell him ‘hi.’”
I smile and
handed the phone to dad.
Son. You okay?”
“I’m fine, Mr.
Longhorn. Are you all right, Sir?”
“Fit as a
fiddle, cowboy, and you don’t worry yore’self none, we’ll be
there Wednesday morning.”
“I won’t worry,
Mr. Longhorn, I trust you and Casey.”
“You been in
touch with my boy?” Dad grinned and winked at me.
“Only once, Mr.
Longhorn,— I don’t wanna’ bother him none. You know about,— ?”
“Yes, Son,— he’s
my boy. I know everything about him. He didn’t say nothing, but I
done figured you two had yore’ heads together on our way back.
You won’t bother him, cowboy. I’m sure he told you to give him a
holler if’n you’s scared or feel alone.”
Casey done told me that. It helped a lot. He’s my brother, Mr.
“That’s what he
tells me, Son.”
“Daddy jes’ told
me to give him the phone back. I love you’n Casey, Mr. Longhorn.”
“We love you,
too, Son. See you Wednesday morning.”
Dad handed me
the phone, I chatted with Bart a bit more, we said our ‘goodbyes’ and
* * * * * * *
“That was a nice
thing you done for the boy, Son. Was that what yore’ little
brother was talk’n about yore first time ‘solo’?” He grinned at
I jes’ figured he might need some reassurance, and h’it might comfort
him to know someone’s right there if’n he needs ‘em.”
“You’d make one
hell of a dad, Son.” he said to me seriously. “You don’t realize
it, but you done taught me how to be a dad. I couldn’t a’ had me
no better teacher, boy.”
Dad. That’s about the nicest damn thing you’ve said to me in a
while. I really appreciate it. Bart and Brent have opened
my eyes to some new ideas. I ain’t thought ‘em through yet, but
when I do, I’d like to talk with you about ‘em.”
“You know you
can talk with me about anything, Casey.”
I wasn't about
to say nothing about not being able to talk to him about my
granddad, I just looked at him and grinned. He realized
what he’d say and added, “Maybe even that,— jes,’— jes’ gimme’ some
I didn’t say a
word. I'd scored my point. I certainly knew better that to
push the subject. We sat there in silence for a moment,— then, he
“I jes’ never
considered,— ” He paused like he was trying to make up his mind
if he wanted to finish his sentence, “I never expected he might
change.” he said quietly.
I knew that was
all he had to say about the matter. I knew better than to pursue
it. If dad wanted to talk more about it, he would, but I wasn’t
about to drag it out of him. I wasn’t trying to make it hard for
him. I was letting him take the news about my granddad at his own
pace. So far, it hadn’t seemed to do any damage to our
relationship; it was still as sound as ever. I would know in a
minute if he was disappointed or upset with me. At the very
least, his statement opened the door just a crack; not enough for me to
get my foot into, but just enough to see light coming through and give
me a bit of hope.
* * * * * * *
That night I
wanted him, and only him. I didn’t want him fucking me. Well,--- not
for the first part of the evening, anyway. I could always count
on getting fucked sometime during the night. I wanted to swallow
as much of my dad’s essence as I could. It was another one of
those times when he knew what his boy needed, and he was damn sure
going to see to it he got it. I couldn’t get my old man’s cock
down my throat far enough. I fucked my face with his stiff penis
for over half an hour until he threatened me with my young life if I
didn’t get him off.
When he finally
came he gushered so much cowboy spunk, I think some squirted out my
ears. It was running out the sides of my mouth and my nose.
Every time I took a deep breath I would breathe his male essence and it
caused me to shoot my load again and again. Fortunately, I
put a towel under me to catch my come so I wouldn’t have to change the
sheets. I walked around with a fatuous grin on my face all
morning the next day. Bodey and Flynn laughed their cowboy ass’s
off at me.
* * * * * * *
Dad and I got up
early Wednesday morning. We were on the road to L.A. by
five-thirty. I poured us a thermos of coffee and we drank some on
the way. We pulled into the parking lot of the Children’s
Hospital at seven thirty-five. We walked into Brent’s room and
were surprised to find him still asleep. Bart was sound asleep
with his head resting on Brent’s bed. Brent’s little arm was
thrown around his daddy’s neck. We weren’t there for a minute
when Bart woke up.
“Hey,— you guys
He was groggy,
but he stood to give us a hug. Brent woke up about that time and
got a big smile on his face. He opened his arms to me, I hugged
and kissed him. Dad was next. He held my dad a bit longer
than he did me. He was so glad to see us. I poured Bart a cup of coffee
from our thermos.
appreciate you coming. I know h’it’s a long drive and all.”
that far.” said dad, “‘Side’s I didn’t have to drive.” He
winked at Bart and got a laugh. “They still taking Brent in at nine?”
“Yes, Sir, Mr.
Longhorn. They only let him have liquids last night for his
dinner; some broth, juice and milk. They said he cain’t have no
breakfast. They don’t want nothing on his stomach in case he
might throw up. They say it ain’t too likely to happen, but they
don’t wanna’ take no chances.”
“How you hold’n
up, cowboy?” Dad spoke to Brent.
“I’m doing okay,
Mr. Longhorn. I’m a little nervous about it, but I’m better since
you got here. With you and Casey here, I know I’ll be all right.”
Bart looked at
me and smiled. He couldn’t believe the influence my dad had on
his boy’s attitude. He told me after they came to get Brent how
happy he was Brent formed a bond with my dad. Brent wanted dad to
go into the operating room with him and hold his hand until they put
him to sleep. When my old man walked out he had tears running
down his face. My dad,— for all his cowboy gruff and masculine
bravado was reduced to a bowl of Jello. I almost laughed at him,
but I knew better. That would’ve been really insensitive of me at that
moment. I settled for rolling my eyes and winking at
Bart. I held him until he got it out of his system.
“I begged them
to let me stay with him, but they wouldn’t. I probably would’ve
fainted at the first site of blood. I saw a lot of men’s blood in
Nam, but I don’t know’s I could a’ watched ‘um do that to my little
Dad. We got us about four hours to wait. Let’s us take Bart
down to the cafeteria for breakfast and come back to the waiting room.”
We went to the
cafeteria and had breakfast. It wasn’t great, but it was
filling. We went back to the waiting room, and I got comfortable
in a large overstuffed chair. Dad and Bart were talking when I
heard a small signal touch my mind. Could it be?
‘zat you, cowboy? >> I asked.
me, Casey. It’s dark, and I’m scared. >>
wanna’ stay with me for a while? >>
I? You won’t mind? >>
I tell you, honcho? >> I heard a little giggle.
sorry, Casey. I jes’ didn’t wanna’ be no bother.
Where am I? >>
Remember the ‘Rainbow Bridge’? >>
it’s beautiful. >>
that’s where you are right now. You’re asleep and they got chu’
on that bridge, and they’s carry’n you across. You’ll be done in
no time and good as new. >>
I wasn’t aware
dad and Bart stopped talking and were looking at me. Dad told me
later my eyes were glazed over, and I had a funny smile on my face. He
knew immediately were I was and what I was doing. I guess he
figured if Bart and Brent were going to be family he’d learn soon
enough about me.
alarmed, Son. Ain’t nothing wrong with him. He’ll come
around in a bit. Casey’s got a gift. He didn’t discover it
until his little brother taught him and his other brother how to use
their gifts. He’s with yore’ boy right now.”
mean, Mr. Longhorn.”
“He taught Brent
how to reach out with his mind and talk to him if’n he’s scared
or afraid. Brent talked to him some on our way back to the ranch
the other day. H’it’s Casey’s first time help’n somebody like
that. He only done it between his brothers and a big giant man in
Tucson; oh, yes, and the ponies at the ranch.”
minute. You’re tell’n me Casey can talk mind to mind with my boy
and ponies?” He grinned like he thought my dad was blowing smoke
up his butt.
had the same reaction when Sticker and Sid told me about them
boys. They kept it secret from us adults for a number of
years. Then some pert-damn miraculous shit started to happen we
didn’t have no answers for. Sid was the first to know about it,
because his boy developed his gift early on in life. From the
time he was Brent’s age or younger, Logan was hear’n voices from ever’
wheres. He was so confused most of the time, he thought he was
going crazy. Then, Sid found Sticker Wiggins to ride herd on
Logan and be his trainer. Sticker knew about Logan’s gift and
helped him develop it. Sid had no idea for many years just how
powerful a gift his boy had.”
“Why ain’t no
one said nothing to me about it?”
“I didn’t know
until day before yesterday Casey taught Brent how to holler at
him. Casey ain’t never tried to touch anybody’s mind on his own
before. I know my boy. He jes’ didn’t want to frighten
you. I can guaran-damn-tee-ya’ yore’ boy is curled up safe in my
boy’s arms inside his brain right now.”
Bart spoke to
me, and I heard him like a distant voice calling. I held my hand
up for him to wait for a minute.
daddy’s talk’n to me, sweet baby. You stay right here.
Don’t chu’ go nowheres,— I’ll be right back,— okay? >>
“Sorry, Bart, I
hear’d what dad told ju’ and he’s right. My little buddy got
frightened, and he’s here with me. I’m keeping him company while
he’s on the bridge.”
“He’ll tell you
about it when he comes to. Right now,— I gotta’ get back to him.”
Dad said Bart
looked amazed and bemused, but watched as my face glazed over
again. I remembered watching my little brother when he was with
Dwayne while the Colonel was beating and abusing him. I must have
looked every bit as strange as Logan did that day; except, I wasn’t
about to come in my Waranglers. I stayed with Brent until I heard
a doctor come to the waiting room to tell Bart the operation was a
compete success. He told Bart he wouldn’t recognize his boy, because
Brent looks so good, and they would be bringing him back to his room in
<< Did ju’
hear that, pod’na’? >>
<< Yeah, I
did. Am I on the other side of the bridge now, Casey? >>
<< All the
way on the other side. They’s bring’n you back to your room right
now. I’ll stay with you ‘til they wake you up, then I’ll come see
you. Most likely you’re gonna’ feel some pain in yore’ chest, but
they’ll give you something for that to make it go away. Then
they’ll probably let chu’ go back to sleep for a while to rest.
You can gimme’ a holler then if’n you like. >>
Brent started to
<< You all
right, cowboy? >>
Casey. I’m jes’ so happy you and Mr. Longhorn are with me. I
love you, Casey. >>
I shore’ ‘nuff love you, too, little brother. See you in yore’
I shook my head
like I’d been asleep for hours. In a way, I guess I had.
They had Brent back in his bed bringing him around by the time we got
there. Bart went to him, held him and cried. After he
recovered a bit, Brent’s first words were,
Casey? Where’s Casey, Daddy?”
I went to him,
he put his arms around me and hugged my neck.
“Am I on the
other side of the bridge now, Casey?”
“All the way,
help’n me, brother.” he said weakly. He was drifting off to
welcome, pod’na.” I let him lay back, looked at Bart and
winked. He smiled, but I could tell he was concerned. The
doctor was right. Brent looked completely different. His cheeks
were rosey and his lips were a bright red color. He looked
beautiful. Bart started crying and turned into my dad’s arms.
cowboy. H’it’s all over now. Look at him,— he’s gonna’ be
Bart got himself
together and we stayed with them for several hours. Bart looked
at me and grinned.
“He knew about
the bridge.” was all he said.
“Yeah,— I’ll let
him tell you about it.”
brother. You done come through for us again. I don’t have
no more doubts about our meeting.”
“‘At was my
first time out, as my brother called it. Ain’t never tried
nothing like ‘at before, Bart. I hope I didn’t scare ya’
none. I jes’ wanted to be there for him if’n he needed me.”
We stayed until
Brent woke up again. I was going out to get food for us as they
brought a tray for Brent. I saw a hamburger joint down the street
and bought three cheeseburgers with the works and fries. While I
was waiting I heard a small voice in my head.
here, cowboy. >>
cain’t eat what they brung me. >>
da’ ya’ won’t, little brother? >>
<< A big
‘nilla milk shake. >>
<< You got
it, tiger. One large ‘nilla milk shake come’n right up! Be back
in a minute. >>
“Son, ya’ gotta’
eat some’um to get stronger.” Bart pleaded with his son.
“I will, daddy,
I jes’ cain’t eat none a’ this. Casey’s bringing me some’um back
Dad looked at
Bart, smiled and shook his head.
bringing you, Son?”
“A big ‘nilla
milk shake.” he smiled
A few minutes
later I arrived and passed out the food. Lastly, I gave my cowboy buddy
his big ‘nilla shake. Bart’s mouth dropped open, and it wasn’t
from taking a bite of his burger.
damned.” he said softly. Dad patted him on the back and laughed.
almost all of his shake. The nurse came in to get his tray and
saw him drinking it. She smiled, raised an eyebrow, but she
didn’t say anything. I took the rap, I apologize for giving it to
“If he drinks
the shake, ‘at’s all we care about. It’s food. That’s what
he needs right now. I had a feeling he wouldn’t eat fried chicken
and mashed potatoes. Those hospital food people don’t know squat
about kids; what they will eat and what they won’t. I could
a’ told ‘em he wouldn’t eat this. You did the right thing. He’ll feel
better enough by this evening, he’ll eat a bit of his dinner. If
not, dad,— you march your cowboy butt to the corner and buy that boy
another shake.” She winked at Bart. We all laughed. She was
smart and funny.
We stayed around
for a while longer, said our goodbyes and told them we’d be in
touch. I told Brent since our secret wasn’t a secret any longer
for him to give me a holler if he needed me. He promised he
would. While we were there he told his daddy about the ‘Rainbow
Bridge’ and how his buddy Casey helped him from one side of the bridge
to the other. Bart had tears running down his cheeks before Brent
finished his story. He was so happy his boy was better and going
to be all right. Bart thanked us and thanked us again as he
walked us out to dad’s truck. We told him if he needed anything to
call. I told him to call anyway to let us know how things were
going and how Brent was progressing.
Bart called his parents. His mother answered the phone.
“Hi, Ma,— H’it’s
Son,— it’s so good to hear from you. Hank!” she hollered, “Bart’s
on the phone! How’s my baby grandson?” she asked.
over and he’s doing fine, Ma. The doctor’s say he came though
without a hitch, and they should only have to keep him here for about
five more days. He looks great, Ma. You wouldn’t recognize
him, he looks like a new cowboy.”
Lord!” His mother exclaimed, “How are you hold’n up, Bart?”
“I couldn’t be
better or happier. I feel like I’ve had a great weight lifted off
my shoulders. I didn’t git though it alone, Ma. God sent us
a couple of angels to help us. One was with Brent the whole time
he was being operated on. He done told me all about it.”
“I didn’t think
you were a believer, Son.”
“I never was
very much, but I am now. I’ve seen ‘um with my own eyes and
talked with ‘um, Ma, but they ain’t like what you might think.
They don't have no wings. Well,— maybe they do, but I didn’t see
none. They looked jes’ like they’s jes’ ordinary cowboys to me,
There was a
pause on the other end of the line. Bart knew his mother was a
believer, but for her ‘dumb’ son to see angels when she never had was
too much for her to wrap her hypocritical, fundamentalist mind around.
Son,— I’m glad you had that experience. We’ll talk more about it
when you git home.” she said coldly. Which, to Bart, freely
translated from the mother tongue meant, she’d straighten him out later.
with dad, Ma?” Bart demanded somewhat exasperated with her.
“You wanna’ talk
with your dad?” Helen Conners didn’t try to hide her
surprise. Thanks to her, Bart always went out of his way to
ignore his dad.
“Yeah, Ma,— I
wanna’ talk with dad.” he stated flatly.
wants to talk with you.” Bart hear his mother holler to his dad
rather coldly. Pretty soon he heard his dad’s voice.
Dad. I had to tell you, Dad,— I done had an angel what visited
me, and he told me to talk with you. He told me to tell you, my
boy, yore’ grandson, is gonna’ be jes’ fine.” Bart paused for a
moment and could swear he heard his old man crying softly on the other
end. “He also done told me to tell you what a fool I’ve been all these
years for not coming to you about things what I needed to talk
about. I always let ma push you out of the way. He told me
you needed me as much as I needed you all them years, but I guess ma
was right, I’s jes’ too damn dumb to realize it.
Ain’t gonna’ be
that a’ way no more between us when we gits home, Dad. I been
need’n me a dad for a long time now and my boy needs his granddad, but
h’it never occurred to me you been need’n us, Dad. What I’m try’n
to say is, I love you, Dad. You’re my old man, and I wanna’ thank
you for being there for me all these years. I wouldn’t a made it
if’n it had’na been for you.” Bart paused for a moment and then
he was sure he could hear his dad quietly weeping. In a choked
voice he heard him say,
Son. You never was dumb. I love you, too, boy. You’re right
about me need’n ya’ll. I do need you and Brent. Thank yore’ angel
for me, Son,— he’s a good’un.”
Daddy. We’ll be home before you know it. Then you and yore’
boys is gonna’ go fish’n without no women folk.”
forward to that, Bart,— I surely will. Come home safe to us, Son.”
“We will, Dad.
We got us some purtty powerful angels watch’n over us. Best news
is,— I done got me a job. I’m gonna’ be work’n for the Lazy 8.”
Son? ‘At’s a fine outfit to work for. You’ll make a good
hand for ‘um.”
Dad. See ya’ soon. Bye for now,— love you, Dad.”
“Love you and
Brent, Son. Bye.” He hung up the phone.
Bart set back
and let out a sigh. He knew in his heart Casey was right.
All these years his dad needed Bart as much as Bart needed him.
He made up his mind, he wasn’t going to let his ma come between them
again. He got a smug smile on his face and thought to himself,
‘I didn’t lie
none about them angels, neither.’
* * * * * * *
We returned to
the ranch in good time and spent the rest of the day picking out a
Christmas tree for the living room. Dad always insisted on having
a tree every year. As I got older it seemed to become a nuisance
and a lot of trouble for just him and I; however, this year, for
some reason, I got into the mood, and I became a little boy
again. Dad allowed his little boy to come out to play, and we had
a great time picking out just the right tree and pulling out all the
decorations. Sid and Sticker had their tree up all ready, and it
was professionally decorated. It was stunning but my little
brother declared it was a bit sterile for his taste. He always
got into the mood with me and dad and helped us decorate our tree.
It was only two
days ‘til Christmas and I hadn’t bought a present. Dwayne, Logan
and I always went shopping together every year and this year was no
exception. It had become a Christmas tradition. We planned on
going the next day.
Dad decided we’d
invite everyone over that evening to trim the tree. Our family
decided it would be potluck. Everyone brought something and dad
and I provided the meat. We decided we’d barbeque chicken as the
weather was warmer and we could be outdoors for a while in the evenings
without freezing our hinders off. That’s what I loved about
California. There never seems to be seasons like they have in the
Midwest or Texas. In California you go from cool to warm to hot,
then back to cool. It’s never a bone chilling cold and the
hottest afternoons usually cool down by five or six o’clock at the
latest. There can be a twenty degree drop in temperature
between day and night.
We invited Bodey
and Flynn to join us. Frank Mayhew, and Curtis came. The
Winchester’s were there. The sheriff and his family came.
Of course, Rance, Dwayne and Lamar were there. Finally, my little
brother, Sid and Sticker arrived and they had all kinds of food and
drink. It was a mishmash of taste treats. Donna and Lee
Bard’s wife brought desserts and they were wonderful. Donna made
an eggnog cake made with bourbon that was unbelievably
With all the
help, our tree was decorated in no time, and with a giant in your
family, there’s no problem getting the angel to the highest point on
the tree. Our ceilings were twelve feet in our old house and the
top of the tree stopped short about a foot. Lamar didn’t even
have to stretch getting the angel on top. We all laughed with
him. He was such a joy to have around. Of course, he was
easy to look at, too. He had become my black angel who came to my
rescue with a terribly swift sword. His bonded mate, my brother
became more handsome by the year. They made a fine couple and no one
who was ever around them could doubt their love for each other.
“Now that’s a
Christmas tree.” declared my little brother obviously proud of our
implying ours ain’t, Son?” grinned Sidney.
Jesus!” Sticker exclaimed, slapped his knee, and laughed.
“No dad, ours is
jes’ fine. It’s the very best money can buy.”
Logan rolled his
eyes at Dwayne and I. We broke up laughing at him. Our
little brother’s tongue was lethal up to fifty paces. He could
kill with a glance. Sticker pointed a finger at Sid and hooted
“When will you
learn, brother? You know better’n ‘nat! You never give that boy
an opening like that. He done set chu’ up and shot chu’ down
Sticker had us
all laughing. Even Sid started laughing. He had no comeback for
the truth. Logan went to his dad, hugged and kissed him on the
cheek. Sid blushed and caused everyone to laugh again.
Secretly, he was proud of his boy for seeing the beauty in things
of the heart and not the false beauty money might provide. He was
a lot more attentive to his son the rest of the evening.
I wanted to get
dad a new saddle for Christmas. His rodeo saddle was on its last
legs. I remember he bought it from a saddle maker in the next
town and he loved it. He had it for as long as I could
remember. I called the man to ask if he might happen to have a
saddle for sale. He said he had one he custom made for a man who
paid him a deposit for it, but he never came to pick it up or pay him
the rest of his money. He tried to contact the man to no avail
and told me he’d sell it to me for the same price. He needed the money
for Christmas. I jumped at it, and my brothers drove me over to
pick it up. It was a handsome saddle, finely tooled but not too
fancy. I knew dad would love it.
Dwayne and I
spent the next two days shopping for gifts for folks we loved.
Sometimes we went in together to get a large gift for someone. We
always bought the Winchester’s a gift from the three of us. Most times
we tried to get what we thought would be practical gifts.
Sometimes the simplest of gifts will become the most meaningful to
someone if they use it a lot. While shopping we walked into a toy
store where all the toys were other than mass manufactured.
Everything in the store was handmade by artisans and craftsmen.
They were wonderful toys, but one caught my eye above all the others.
It was an
unusual teddy bear dressed in an authentic old time cowboy Western
costume complete with small, handmade, tall buckaroo boots, chinks and
gun belt with a six-shooter. He wasn’t short and squat like most
teddy bears you see. This bear was tall, lean and mean looking;
broad at the shoulders and narrow at the hips. In a way, he
reminded me of my dad or Bart. He almost reminded me of Griz, but he
wasn’t quite ugly enough. He was wearing a full length black
duster and had an outrageously large black felt hat that made him look
meaner than a cornered bobcat.
He was authentic
from his large bandanna to a tiny Skol can in the hip pocket of his
Wranglers. Yes, they were genuine Wranglers and had the trademark
in them. He had one cheek a little puffed out like he had a pinch
of snuff or tobacco in his mouth. It was a masterpiece of parody and
wit; however, the very best part was,— he had deep violet eyes. Dwayne
and Logan saw me staring in awe at it and walked up next to me to
look. They were as awestruck as I was.
incredible!” exclaimed Dwayne softly “For yore’ cowboy buddy,
Case?” he asked.
allowed my little brother.
It was all
handmade by a lady who was a Western artist. I had to buy it for my
buddy. I didn’t know when I’d get to see Brent again, but when I
did I was going to take it to him. I was surprised when Dwayne
and Logan picked out a gift for him. I wondered how we would get
all the stuff back to Texas, but Sid told me he was flying us back,
right into Chapel Creek this time. He was going to make
arrangements with Gip to pick us up without a lot of fanfare.
Yeah, right! Everything with Gip Claymore was brass bands and
fireworks. Thank, God!! I loved every inch of his
* * * * * * *
I was in contact
with my granddad several times during the holidays. I bought him
his own cell phone. At first, he didn’t see any need for it, but
as time passed he began to see it as a useful tool.
told me later, “it’s always nice during a boring day of punching cattle
to get a call from your grandson to make your day a little brighter.”
I told him what
was going on in my life, with Bart and Brent. He told me if I
thought Bart was a good buckaroo, that was enough for him; he’d hire
him immediately. I told my granddad about what dad and I was
doing and what I bought him for Christmas; I hadn’t given his
letter to him yet, but I planned to before I came back to the
ranch; I was looking for the right time. I told him I
missed him and O.C. and I loved him. He assured me he felt the
same. He wished me a Merry Christmas.
I sent long
e-mails back to little Gip and Waddie Buck telling them about all that
happened, and we had a new cowboy for the Lazy 8. I knew they’d
print it out and let the rest of the family read it. I sent
almost the same to Vince and Seth Quee. I knew they’d let their
dad read it. Finally, I sent a separate e-mail to O.C. that was a
bit more personal. I wanted him to know I missed him and hadn’t
forgotten about him. He told me to give his love to his brother
for him. I let dad read his e-mail, and he got tears in his eyes
when he read that part.
* * * * * * *
arrived. Dad and I felt bad for Bart and Brent being in the
hospital for Christmas; however, the greatest gift Bart could give his
son was to save his life and insure Brent has a good, normal, long
life. They would have many more happy Christmas’ together.
got together early for a light supper at our place. We were
getting together for Christmas dinner at Sid and Sticker’s
place. For several years Sidney threw a big Christmas
dinner party. He had the best chefs and a staff of people to cook
and see to his guest. Everything was taken care of, and all his
guest had to do was eat and make merry.
there were presents exchanged at our place and more exchanged the next
day at Sid and Sticker’s. Everyone had a drink and stood around
talking. There didn’t seem to be much enthusiasm for moving to
the living room to open presents. In fact, there seemed to be a
damper on everyone there. Logan commented on it, and Rance
backed him up.
simple.” stated Sticker, “Here we are without a care in the world and
two men we’ve all come to care about are spending Christmas eve
by themselves in a hospital.”
the difference where we are as long as we’re together this
evening?” Sidney backed Sticker up.
“What chu’ got
in mind, Dad?” Logan asked.
“We got a plane
sitting at the airport on standby. One call from me, and they can
pick us up at our local landing strip. We fly to Burbank, I’ll rent a
limo. We can be there and back in a couple of hours.”
game.” said my dad.
“Me, too,— count
me in.” said Cousin Rance.
Everyone ran to
grab their presents for Brent and a couple for Bart.
my dad hollered, “We’re gonna’ be overdoing. One present for
each. The rest they can open when Brent gits out of the
hospital. We’ll keep our tree up through New Years any how. We’ll
all git together and have a second Christmas. I think Casey has a
purtty good present for the boy, and Sticker’s got a nice present for
and we all climbed in the ‘Canyonero’ and headed for our local
airstrip. The plane was waiting for us. Twelve
cowboys boarded Sidney’s jet, he gave instructions to the pilot.
We strapped ourselves in and we were airborne in minutes. It was
about a thirty minute flight to Burbank and my friend Jeremy served us
drinks. He was wearing a Santa hat that drooped over and had a
white plastic ball on the end that flashed different colors. It
was a nice touch and his enthusiasm got us all in the Christmas
mood. I told him what we were doing and where we were
going. He knew Bart and Brent, and asked Sidney if he could tag
along with us to the hospital. Sidney told him it would be
fine, we’d be glad to have him come along. The pilots got wind
Jeremy was going along and they wanted to come, too.
We landed, and
the stretch limo was waiting. The driver drove us to the
hospital. We were there within an hour of leaving home. I
joked with Sidney about the expense for a momentary whim.
“It’s more’n a
whim. We’re spreading a bit of Christmas cheer. Besides
it’s a business deduction. I had to fly to L.A. for a board
meeting with stock holders. Since you three boy’s corporation and
Sticker are the major holders of stock in the Lazy 8, we had our
meeting on the way,— right?”
Sir. Nice meeting, Mr. Wainright.” I laughed and
everyone laughed with us.
We got to the
hospital. Logan called ahead before we decided to leave to make
sure we would be still within visiting hours. They told him they
extended the visiting hours due to Christmas eve. Bart and Brent
were in awe when twelve cowboy, two pilots , and our steward, Jeremy,
came into Brent’s room. Bart was in tears and Brent was beside
himself with joy.
“See dad,— I
told ju’ they would come.” Brent told his dad.
tell’n me all day you guys were coming this evening, and I told him I
didn’t think so. I owe my boy an apology. We’re so grateful
you thought enough to come.”
“We can’t stay
too long. We jes’ flew up to wish you two a Merry
Christmas. We have to get back, but we didn’t want you to
think we forgot about you” said Sticker as he handed Bart a present
from him and Sidney. It was a pair of hand tooled buckaroo spurs that
had an authentic antique look to them. They looked like they
should be worn by an old time cowpoke on a big cattle drive. Bart
was speechless. He hugged each man and thanked them for their
kindness. I took a picture of our Christmans tree on my cell
phone before we left, and I showed it to Brent.
done stopped off at our ranch for you, little brother. We’re
gonna’ keep our tree up ‘til you git out of here and can come open your
presents. In the meantime, I brought you a present from yore’ big
I handed him the
finely wrapped box. His eyes got big as saucers. Every eye
in the room was on him as he ripped the paper from the box. Brent
slowly opened the box, and a big smile crossed his face. I took a
picture of him smiling and holding up his cowboy bear for everyone to
see. Everyone applauded quietly.
he’s wonderful. Look, daddy,— he’s got eyes jes’ like
Casey’s. Same color and ever’ thing.” I laughed.
“Since Casey’s ma’brother, I knows what I’m gonna’ name ‘em. I’m
a’ gonna’ call him, ‘Bubba Longhorn.’” Brent declared.
and declared it looked just like me. We visited for about an
hour, said our goodbyes and left. Bart saw us out to the limo and
thanked us again and again. I told him to keep in touch.
Let us know when Brent can come home and for him not to worry, Sid was
going to fly us back to Chapel Creek the day after New Years. He
broke down and cried in my arms.
We got home
within three hours of having left the house. It was a great trip
and everyone had a good time. We had drinks on the way back so
everyone was a bit mellow by the time we arrived back at the
ranch. We were in much greater spirits than earlier in the
evening and everyone was more in the mood to open presents. I
nominated Lamar to play Santa Clause and pass out the presents.
It was a unanimous vote and Lamar smiled real big.
He came to the
biggest present under the tree and read out my dad’s name. Dad looked
at me suspiciously, but I don’t think he had a clue what was in the
box. When he opened it, his face lit up almost as bright at the
Christmas tree. He smiled from ear to ear. He pulled his
new saddle out of the box to everyone’s ooohs and awwhs. Then
everyone applauded for him. He turned a bright red color. I
laughed at him. He came to me, hugged and kissed me right on the
mouth in front of our friends. I didn’t hold back, I figured it
“‘At’s a fine
saddle, boy. I know jes’ from look’n at it who made it.
I’ll ride in it with pride, Son.”
After a while
everyone left. Some wanted to go to midnight services at our
small, local Episcopal church. Dad decided he wanted to go.
He felt like he had a lot to be thankful for, and he wanted to
pray for the well being of our new little buddy and his dad. I
drove through the clear crisp evening on our blacktop farm road into
our small town. There was hardly a car or truck to be seen on the
road. Everyone was home with their families and friends on
Christmas eve, except those, like us, who went to late services.
There wasn’t a
lot of folks. We sat with the rest of our cowboy family which was
about a third of the folks there. The little church was decorated
for the season and there were no electric lights used. The church
was lit by candles. The soft glow and the smell from the tallow
as the candles burned was comforting and hypnotic. It was a
lovely service and the pastor gave an interesting sermon on the
unconditional love God expressed to man by giving his son for our
sins. I wondered if God, being almighty and everything,
couldn’t have found a bit more loving and less violent way to have
expressed his love than to let his beloved son be nailed to a
cross. I know I sure wouldn’t want that done to no son of mine.
But what does a
cowboy know about the working of God and the mysteries of the
universe? I felt ashamed, because God had been good to me and
given me a gift that could potentially help or harm others depending on
how I choose to use it. It was a big responsibility; one which I
didn’t take lightly. He had also been good to give me an uncle, a
granddad and another family of people and friends in Texas; folks I had
come to love and cherish over the last year. I prayed for
forgiveness and thanked God for my blessings, health and family; and
asked him to watch over and protect those I loved.
We exited the
church and the night was clear, crisp, and still. It’s many stars
were like pinpoints of light in a sky that were designed for the birth
of a king. Dad was quite on the way home. I asked him what
he was thinking about.
“They told me my
little brother came to you and O.C. and Seth set things right between
Seth came to you again with your granddad, and they made their peace?”
setting things right with yore’ granddaddy,— Tom Harris and two angels
came for him.”
“Humm,— ” Dad
mused to himself.
ask. I figured he’d tell me if he wanted me to know what he was
thinking about. We drove along in silence for a while. I was
driving and Dad had his face turned away from me looking out the window
of the truck. I glanced in his direction once. Was that a
tear I saw on his cheek? In a voice filled with emotion he spoke
“I was the one
what watched out for Seth and loved him. I was the one what
protected him from our dad’s wrath. I loved my little brother
more’n life itself. I adored him. In my heart, I still
do. I thought God gave me you, an almost perfect image of my
little brother, for loving Seth so much. Why couldn’t he have come to
me for help?”
A small voice
told me not to answer his question. I thought, perhaps the answer
I had for him, he might not want to hear. Was it a sign all this
information was slowly taking effect? Was his self-imposed shell
beginning to crack? I acted like his question was
rhetorical, and drove on steadily through the magic of the silent night.
End of Chapter
42 ~ Texas Longhorns
Copyright 2005 ~