By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 7

My alarm went off, I unwrapped myself from around my brother, he groaned, I gently kissed him on his forehead, and watched a smile cross his face brighter than a Texas sunrise.  I got up, pulled my clothes and boots on, went into my dad’s room to awaken him, get him up and give him a hand with his legs.  I stopped for a minute to look at him. He had the sheet pulled up to his waist and was laying on his side facing away from me.  He had my pillow with both arms wrapped tightly around it, and shoved into his crotch with his legs clamped around the bottom.  It was as if he reached for me in his sleep, didn’t find me and grabbed the first thing he could find with my scent on it.  I got a huge lump in my throat and a warm feeling in the bottom of my gut.  I was so proud that this man, who lay before me, was my father.  I silently said a prayer of thanks.  I gently put my hand on his back and started rubbing him.

“Wake up, old man!” I spoke in a normal tone of voice, “Sun’s up, Senator Klegghorn’s done crowed, the critters are hungry, I got my chores to do, and you got’s to get yore’ lazy butt in the kitchen.”  I kept rubbing his back.  He opened one eye and grimaced at me.

“We got time for an eyeopener, honcho?”  He grinned.

“Not this morning, cowboy, but I promise you a treat this evening what’ll make them store bought legs a’ yore’n tap dance their way to stardom.”

“Damned if you ain’t a chip off the old block, for sure,— you’s so full a’ shit, boy!” he laughed, “If’n you don’t stop rub’n my tired old back I’m gonna’ cancel today pretty damn quick!”  He chuckled.  “Grab me legs, Son.”

Dad pulled himself upright and turned to the edge of the bed.  I got his legs and helped him with them, then I helped him dress.  I noticed if I pulled him up from the bed in the mornings and held him for a couple of minutes, it helped him get his bearings a little better. It also gave me an excuse to steal a kiss or two. He gave me his hand and I pulled him up to me.  I stood there holding him in my arms inhaling his essence; pure, strong, healthy, clean, unadulterated, masculine male, cowboy sex pheromones.

“Ooooh, fuck!”  I muttered under my breath. I was roaring hard from his smell. Does it every damn time!  He could feel it through my wranglers, too.  He looked at me and grinned wickedly.

“That good, honcho?”  He asked wryly.

“You go near that damn bathroom for any other reason than to take a dump or piss today,— you’re a dead man when I get home!” I warned him. He threw back his head and roared with laugher.

“Ah, Case, I love ya,’ boy!”

“Ditto, old man, now lemme’ go.  I got chores to do.”

He laughed at me again, turned me around, patted me on my butt and sent me on my way.  I returned to my room to find Dwayne fully dressed and making up my bed.  I helped him finish, and we left the house to walk to the barn to feed and water the critters. On the way, Dwayne turned to me.

“After last night,— I ain’t afraid no more, Case.” he said quietly with conviction in his voice.

“‘At’s what I was a’ hoping for, bubba.  ‘At’s what we’re all praying for.”

“I know what I gotta’ do, now.”

“Nothing rash, I hope.”

“Naw, I wouldn’t do nothing without take’n it up with the three of you. Your dad and Mr. Winchester helped me realize this thing is a Hell of a lot bigger than I been think’n.  I guess the hardest part was admitting it was bigger’n I could handle by myself.  I just couldn’t see no way out, Case.  Hell, I need you, your dad, and Mr. Winchester, but I had a dream last night we was gonna’ need someone else, too.”

“Sidney?” I asked him, remembering Sidney was in one of my dreams last night as well.

“Yeah, brother, how’d ju’ know?”

“Remember our annual Fourth of July barbecue this year?”

“Yeah, ever’ body was here including Sidney, his trainer and his dad.”

“I dreamed about him, too, last night.   You remember what he told us that day, if’n we ever needed him for anything, we could count on him?”  I asked Dwayne.

“Yeah, I ‘member that, too.  He took us off to the side and we walked down here to the barn, like it was real important to him.  I told him he didn’t owe us nothing, we was just do’n what we thought was right.”

“We didn’t do nothing, really.  We just stood there.  We just made sure the five ‘em didn’t gang up on him and overpower him.”  I commented.

“Ole Gary Peacock was really pissed!  For some reason he got it in for Sidney and decided he and his goon squad was gonna’ rearrange his face; teach ole Sidney some respect; put him in his place.  He kept call’n Sidney a queer cocksucker, and a faggot.  God, Peacock’s got a garbage mouth on him.”

“He’d been on poor Sidney’s case for a couple of weeks embarrassing him, and in general,  making life miserable for him.  Gary Peacock don’t need no reason to go after anybody. He’s just an asshole! Pure and simple!  Heavy on the simple!” I added.  

“Yeah, he really thinks he’s hot shit! He’s got them four dimwits what ain’t got one complete brain between ‘em following him ever’ where he goes, just a’ kiss’n his ass.  They do ever’ damn thing he tells ‘em. I think they’d jump off a cliff if Gary told ‘em to.  Don’t know what for.  Fuck!  Gary Peacock couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel!”  Dwayne bellowed. We shared a big laugh at that one.   

“You have ta’ really admire Sidney for stand’n up to ‘em though.  ‘Member, he told us if we’d cover his back he’d take ‘em on one at a’ time?”  I reminded Dwayne.

“Yeah, and you noticed ole Gary weren’t the first to take him on.  He sent his biggest soldier to teach Sidney a lesson.  I couldn’t believe how fast that kid took Skipper Davis out.  Skipper never laid a hand on him. He was so slow and clumsy ever’ time he’d turned around he found Sidney’s fist or foot in his mouth.  Cold cocked ole Skipper, he did. Funnier’n shit!  Remember the look on Gary’s face?  We was laugh’n our ass’s off at Peacock and the rest of his goons.  They sure didn’t hang around long after that. I thought for sure they’d all try a piece of Sidney, but I guess he proved his point.  I think he could’ve whupped the lot of ‘em, including Peacock.”

“Ain’t no doubt in my mind.” I told Dwayne, “If he could take Davis out he sure as Hell could take a wimp like Peacock.  I don’t think Davis’s recovered from that yet.  He sure comes around Sidney with his hat in his hand now-a-days, don’t he?”   We roared with laughter.

“Case? Ya’ reckon Sidney and his trainer,— ?”

“You’n me talked about that before when we first met his trainer, but I don’t know.  Sweet Jesus, what a man!  I wouldn’t even venture a guess.  There’s something there, but I ain’t real sure what it is.  The guy works for Sidney’s dad.  I’s wonder’n if maybe his trainer and Sidney’s dad have some’um go’n on?”

“Yeah, there’s some sort of unspoken thing go’n on between the three of ‘em. It’s hard to define, but I don’t know’s a lot of folks notice it.  Ah, Hell, ain’t none of our business no ways.  I like Sidney for who he is.  He’s always been nice to me. I jes’ hope he’s happy.”

“God, who wouldn’t be,— get’n to be around that good looking hunk ever’ damn day.  His trainer be one fine look’n cowboy, right bubba?”

“Can’t gain say that, Case. Makes my ole dick hard.”  He winked and we laughed again.

“Say, brother?” I asked Dwayne as we were feeding and watering the stock, “Did ju’ know yore’ old cowboy ranch hand Frank you talked about get’n yore’ daddy in trouble was real tight with Sidney’s dad.”

“Yore’ shit’n me for sure, Case!”

“Ain’t blow’n no smoke up yore’ butt, honcho.  My dad told me all about it.  He done told ju’ he know’d Frank for as long as he know’d yore’ parents.  He also told us there’s some other things you don’t know. Dad told me, before he come to work for yore’ momma and daddy,  Frank worked on a big spread in Texas owned by Sidney’s dad’s family.  Sidney’s dad was a young man then and spent a lot of time out on the ranch with the cowboys just to get away from some powerful bad things in his family life.  Sidney’s dad sort a’ took a shine to old Frank; nothing sexual, you understand, and Frank liked the kid.  He sort a’ took Sidney senior under his wing, looked after him, taught him stuff, taught him about the cowboy way, and befriended him.”

“Did Sidney’s dad ever know about Frank’s hankerings?”

“Oh yeah!  Frank never tried to hide it from him, and he would answer any questions Sidney’s dad had about it. According to dad, Frank’s a good man and wouldn’t never take advantage of a kid.  In fact, dad said he thought if Frank knew what chore’ step-daddy was doing to you he’d have one Hell of a hissy-fit.  He’d personally take on the Colonel his-self.  Dad said he might get his ass whupped, but it didn’t matter none to him, old Frank would stand up for what he thought was right. According to dad, he taught that to Sidney’s dad, too. They been tight ever since, bubba.”  

“Well, I’ll be damned!  Old Frank, huh?  He did stand up for my daddy and told the judge and children’s services workers he was the one what talked my dad into letting him suck his dick.  It weren’t my dad’s fault, but they didn’t see it that way. My mom’s lawyer told ‘em if dad let the man suck his dick he was as much a pervert as Frank was; end a’ story!  You know, Case, it don’t matter none to me one way or another.  If my daddy found a little comfort with another man,— that’s more’n all right with me.  It just gives me all the more hope, one day, I might be able to lay down with him, take him in my arms and tell him how much I love him.”  

Dwayne wiped away a couple of tears.  I put my arm around him, and pulled him close as we headed for the chicken coop to gather my girlfriend’s eggs. They’re use to me and don’t get too upset if I take their eggs from under them, but I should’ve warned Dwayne about Orida Sue Orpington.  Chickens form matriarchal societies. J’ever heard the term pecking order?  That’s where it comes from.  They all compete until one is the recognized leader and they all fall into place under her. Usually it’s the biggest hen but not always.  We had a little Seabright Bantam hen for a number of years, no bigger than a minute,  who was the terror of the yard. She ruled the roost.

Anyway, Orida Sue was our biggest hen and top girlfriend at the time. Dad and I fed them table scraps to supplement their scratch and laying mash.  Chickens will eat anything, including you if you sit still long enough. Ever see a chicken go after a mouse or a rat?  They’ll kill it and eat it faster than a cat.  A rat’s a lot bigger than a mouse, but a flock will make short work of one.  He won’t be nothing but a pile of bones after twenty-four hours. Anyone who has kept chickens or observed their social behavior can’t help but see the possibility they might be the direct descendants of the fearsome Raptors of prehistoric times.

Dad and I noticed every time we cooked Orida potatoes or Tater Tots,  and had some left for my girlfriends, the big Buff Orpington would fight the rest of the hens off to keep them for herself.  She really liked her Orida potatoes. Come to think on it, most big girls do. So we named her Orida Sue.  She was a mean bitch and would hurt when she pecked you.  If she was setting a clutch of eggs you had to be pretty damn quick or she’d get you every time. She was so damn mean,  sometimes I swear I could see blood in her eye.

“Ouch!  You lousy bitch!”  I heard Dwayne holler at the big Buff Orpington hen.  She must have got him a good one. “Get off there, girlfriend, I want them damn eggs!”  Dwayne quickly slipped his hand under her and gently tossed her over his head to much ruckus and indignant clucking from Orida Sue. Boy, was she was pissed and letting the world know about it. How dare him!

“Sorry, bubba,” I chuckled as I put my arm around him again, “I should a’ warned you about Orida Sue.  She don’t take too kindly to folks steal’n her eggs. You think that’s bad, you should see her when she gets broody.”

“No thanks!  I’m real fond of my hand; especially my right one.  That be my love pump, bubba.”  Dwayne laughed. I stopped, turned to Dwayne, grabbed his shoulder and looked him square in the eye.  Dwayne looked at me puzzled.

“You want I should go back and wring her damn neck for hurt’n my little darlin’?”  I drawled, and poured on the overprotective cowboy suitor bullshit.

Dwayne roared with laughter and we started walking again.

“Damn, Case, you’s bad as yore’ old man.”  He allowed.
* * * * * * *

We were laughing when we came back into the house and set the eggs on the kitchen counter.  The smell of breakfast cooking was wonderful. I was hungry and after last night’s performance I suspected my brother might be, too.  We washed our hands in the kitchen sink and dad handed us each a cup of coffee.  He had a grin on his face like a possum feasting on feces.

“Okay, let’s get this over with, bubba!” I barked at Dwayne, “My brother was wonderful, Dad!”

Dwayne picked up on where I was coming from and jumped right in.

“Other than a dislocated jaw, Mr. Longhorn, I’d say last night was an E-ticket ride.”

That did it. Dad couldn’t stop laughing at Dwayne.  I went to my brother and planted a big one on his cheek.

“You gonna’ fit right in, here, bubba.”  I grinned at him

“Well, I’m happy for you men. Glad ju’ had a good time.  Ain’t no two finer men nowhere’s.  You two deserve each other, and that ain’t no bad thing, neither. I mean it.”

“Thanks, Mr. Longhorn.”  Dwayne told my dad.  That’s all dad needed.

* * * * * * *

When dad dropped Dwayne and I off in front, we noticed Sidney’s trainer was dropping him off in his big, shiney new, black Humvee.  It was big and ostentatious, but it was just like its owner, a handsome Devil. We waved to Sidney and he walked over to greet us.

“Damn, Sid! ‘At’s a fine looking buggy you arrived in.” Dwayne told him.

“You like it?  It’s my trainer’s new all terrain vehicle.  You wouldn’t believe the extras inside that damn thing.  It’s so plush you can’t hear the engine running when you’re on the road.”

“Really?”  I asked amazed. “I’d like to take a gander inside one a’ these days.”

“No problem, Mr. Wiggins is a good man.  He won’t mind if I show off his new truck. He really likes you guys.  Asks me about you sometimes.  He never misses one of your games. I come with him a lot of times. I might even talk him into giving us a ride.”

Dwayne and I wondered why Sidney always referred to his trainer as Mister Wiggins.  Even when Sidney, his dad, and Sidney’s trainer came to our Fourth of July barbecue he introduced him as Mr. Wiggins and never spoke to the man without showing him that respect.  We thought it was so odd because we knew Mr. Wiggins was an employee of Sidney’s dad.  

“Great, little buddy, we’ll take you up on it.”  Dwayne told him.

School was the same endless routine;— however, when I went to the cafeteria for lunch I noticed Dwayne was sitting with Sidney talking with him. I got my tray, Dwayne stood up and motioned to me he’d saved me a seat. I went over and joined them.

“Okay, guys, I’m here.  Ya’ll can stop talk’n ‘bout me.”  I laughed.

“What, the Hell, else is there to talk about around this dump.”  Sidney motioned to the school with his head and laughed. If we didn’t have you to talk about we wouldn’t have nothing.”  He smiled wickedly at me.

“S’matter of fact we was just talk’n ‘bout chu, bubba.’”

“Bubba, huh?  I’d say that definitely was a new significant other thing to talk about.”  Sidney winked and chuckled.

Sidney just nailed us to the barn door and it went right over Dwayne and my heads.  Zoom! Crash, spin, and burn! Poor Sidney looked at our faces and knew we’d drawn blanks. We’d never heard the term, ‘significant other.’  We had no Earthly idea what he was talking about; but, that was Sidney.

“Never mind, guys.  Bad joke.”  He laughed.
* * * * * * *

A word about Sidney: the boy was so intelligent there was no test capable of testing his I.Q.  He scored a perfect score on the SAT test for college students in the sixth grade. As a freshman in high school he became a fully accredited member of American Mensa and has a question mark beside his name for his I.Q.  They just don’t know how high his intelligence quotient is. He was, however, a recognized genius. The federal government and the Pentagon had files on him.  They were keeping a close watch on his progress.

His intelligence was only slightly eclipsed by his painfully funny, biting wit. He could put words together backwards faster than Dwayne or I could say them forward.  So what was this gifted young man doing in high school in a small, rural, backwater California ranching community?  Simple! His dad wanted it that way.  He refused to let Sidney be pushed too far, too fast, too soon and negotiated with his son to wait until he graduated high school to spread his wings. He wanted Sidney to have as normal or certainly a more normal childhood than he did.  Sidney’s dad thought it was important for the development of his son’s own set of personal values and sense of humanity to spend this time of his life with ordinary folk.  That didn’t mean he didn’t provide Sidney with every opportunity to advance his knowledge or expand his mind.  Sidney was far from being caught in a stagnant intellectual pool.  He had the internet. He had all sorts of references and state of the art audio/visual equipment us two cowboys could only dream about;  but, by the time we got around to dreaming about it, it was no longer state of the art.  

 * * * * * * *

We made small talk during lunch.  When Dwayne and I talked with Sidney it was very small talk to his greater comprehension.  We noticed we were being glared at and talked about by Gary Peacock and his merry band of hoodlums. Sidney noticed, too. He didn’t miss much.

“Oh, dear,” he said, “I do so hope they’ve fed recently so they won’t be stalking me this afternoon.”  

Dwayne and I fell together laughing at Sidney’s take on their animal-like behavior. We were laughing so hard we saw Gary Peacock throw down his lunch sack thinking we were laughing at him and stomp out of the cafeteria; soon to be followed by his wolf pack.

“Look, Sidney, we know you can take care of yourself.  Y’ain’t fool’n us a bit.  You can take any one of those damn assholes and we know it; however, all you have to do is say the word and we’ll have a little talk with Mr. Legume-prick on your behalf. Since he was dumb enough to pick a fight with my brother, here, and Dwayne beat the crap out of him, he’s been scared to death of us ever since.  We’ll lie to him and tell him you hired us to protect you and we aim to stay on the payroll.”  I winked and laughed.  Sidney was all ready in hysterics.

“Legume-prick? That has a nice ring to it, Casey.  Good one! I always knew there was more to you than just eye candy.”

‘What, the Hell, was this kid talking about?  Eye candy?  Candy for the eye?  Humm!  He’s more off the wall than my dad!’ I thought.  Dumb me, he was complementing me, and I missed it completely.

“Hey, look, Sidney.  We know you’re much smarter’n us, but maybe if you hung with us a little more they’d get the message you’re our buddy and we ain’t gonna’ tolerate their nonsense; you mess with my buddy, you be mess’n with me;— strength in numbers; that sort of thing.”

“Base or prime?”  Sidney shot back.  We got that one and laughed with him.  “I appreciate that, gentlemen.  I certainly wouldn’t mind hanging with you guys a little more, but I don’t need protection; however, you make a good point, Casey, about strength in numbers.  As far as not being as smart as I am, that’s nonsense.  I’ve seen what you two can do in sports and rodeo.  We all have different talents.  I feel the same way about your talents.  Sometimes, I think I would trade all my so called smarts to have your talents.”  

We talked about other things for a while, but Dwayne was quiet. He didn’t have much to say.  He kept looking at me out of the corner of his eye, then he would blush like the school boy he was. I could read his mind.  He wanted so badly to tell Sidney about our dream, but he didn’t know how to go about it without laying all our cards on the table.  I knew him well enough to know he would never do something like that without taking me into consideration, or he’d wait for me to take the lead. I noticed Sidney had been studying us for a while as we were talking.  I saw a flash in his eyes and just knew to the bottom of my soul, in that moment, he sensed , understood, and knew about Dwayne and I.

“So,—” he said quietly.  He wanted to be sure he wasn't overheard. He paused for a moment until he was certain he had both our attention.

“When,— ?” was all he asked.

It was all he had to ask, and he knew I knew it. There was no condemnation, only honest curiosity and genuine concern in his voice.  I felt like an animal caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck.  There was no time to run.  There was nowhere to run. I didn’t have time to panic. I had to make a decision, right then and there. I figured, what the Hell, if we were going to elicit his help, whatever it might be, he needed to know the truth.  Something flooded my spirit with peace at that moment, and I had no fear about sharing our bond with Sidney. In fact, I felt a bit smug and proud about it. I made my decision.

“Last night.”  I said quietly glancing sideways to look at Dwayne.   Dwayne was closely following our exchange.  I knew he understood Sidney’s one word question which asked volumes.  He looked at me in bemused amazement and blushed again. Sidney slowly nodded his head looking back and forth at us like he was watching a tennis game.  I watched his pupils begin to dilate and realized he was blushing, too.

“Gentlemen,— ” he spoke even softer with commitment in his voice, “I hope I’m the very first to offer my congratulations. I’m so happy for you and only wish wonderful things for your future. I prayed you two would come together. Oh, God how I’ve prayed you would notice the love you have for each other and not deny it. I’ve watched you two for years and couldn’t imagine a better pair to bond. I may be smart, at least people tell me I am, but I believe there’s an intelligent design behind the universe and that intelligence brought you together. If I was anymore happy, I’d be twins.”

Dwayne laughed at that. I did, too, but I wasn’t real sure I got it.

“I sincerely wish you had been the first to congratulate us, Sidney; however, that honor went to my dad this morning.”  Dwayne looked at me shook his head, smiled and blushed again.

“That’s as it should be, Casey!  But, oh my God, I knew it!  I just knew it!  You do live in an enlightened home, Casey.  I told my Uncle Frank I was sure you did, but he assured me otherwise.  Uncle Frank doesn’t tell lies but sometimes he’s just misinformed.  I’ve seen you and your dad rodeo together too many time not to know there’s an unspoken communication, a bond  between you.  By the way, Dwayne, Uncle Frank thinks the world of you.  He loves you like you were his own kid.  He can’t say enough nice things about you.  He’s so damn proud of you. Uncle Frank gets some things right.”  Sidney smiled at Dwayne.

Dwayne shot a glance at me and smiled. Now he knew for sure what we talked about that morning must be true.  I think we were both a little flabbergasted to have it confirmed by Sidney.
“Does he visit your place often, Sidney?”  Dwayne asked.

“Oh, yeah!  Him and Uncle Curley always spend the holidays with us and dad takes them with us when they can get away from the ranch and travel.  It’s hard for them to both get away because your mom depends on having at least one good hand there at all times.  However, when your mom’s asks Casey and his dad to help, they can get away together.  For some reason, Mr. Dunbar surprised ‘em and gave ‘em the whole weekend off last weekend.  Dad took us all to Palm Springs to the Three Bunch Palms.  We had a great time.”

Dwayne hung his head.  I thought he was going to lose it.  I put my arm around him like a buddy and clasp my hand tightly on his shoulder.  Dwayne spoke to Sidney without looking up.

“I didn’t know until yesterday, Frank and Curley was a couple, Sid.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Dwayne, I just thought you knew. I apologize, buddy.”

Dwayne raised his hand it was okay, but he couldn’t speak. I damn sure could and would speak for my brother.

“Sidney,— we have to meet with you and talk about something very private but also very personal to Dwayne and I.  You ain’t gonna’ believe this, but we both had dreams about you last night and both dreams were the same.  You was helping us with something, but we don’t know what.  Maybe if we tell you why Colonel Dunbar gave Frank and Curley the weekend off you can help us better understand.”

“Sure, I wasn’t kidding, guys, when I told you I’d do anything I can to give you a hand if you ever need me, and not just because you backed me up against the Peacock mafia.  When do you want to meet?”

“Dwayne’s mom won’t let him get away for another full night tonight,and I got something planned with my dad anyway. What about Wednesday night? We got a short week this week due to the president’s birthdays and it wouldn’t be a school night. Would your dad let you come home with me, have dinner with Dwayne, me, and my dad?  We can drop you off by your place afterward.  He’s welcome to call my dad to confirm that’s where you’ll be.”

“Let me talk with my dad, Case. I’m sure he won’t mind. He thinks the world of you and Dwayne; same for your dad.  He tells me there isn’t a finer man in our community than your dad, Case.  He’s quite fond of Dr. Winchester, too. Knowing him like I do, he’ll think it’s great he can call your dad to make sure everything’s okay.  He trusts me and knows I’ll never lie to him, but sometimes, I guess because of his childhood, he has a tendency to be a bit overprotective.  To be honest, I don’t think I find that an undesirable trait in a male parent.” Sidney mused.

The rest of the day was a blur.  I loved my brother, but all I could think of was getting home to my dad.  I guess I wasn’t ready to spread my wings and fly quite yet.  It felt good and comforting to know that.  Dad came to pick me up and told Dwayne to jump in, too.  His mom called and asked if he would give Dwayne a ride home.  We headed out to the ranch road and I could tell, for some reason, dad was in a good mood.

“You men have a good day?”

“Same old, same old, Mr. Longhorn.”

“Nothing much new, Dad, except my brother and I had lunch with Sidney. Remember the small, buffed out little guy who came with his personal trainer and dad?”

“Yeah, Son,  I know’d his dad and ole Sticker for a good while. Good men. They’s done some nice things for me and other folks in the community, and I’ve tried to be his friend over the years. We don’t see each other much, but they know I’m here if they needs me; same with them.  Sidney’s got his-self a fine, intelligent boy.  I was impressed by Sidney junior.  He’s a fine looking young man.”

“Would you mind if we invited Sidney to our place after school Wednesday for the afternoon and dinner. We may get out early as Wednesday’s our last day before the long weekend.”

“Sure.  Be glad to have him. You want me to call his dad?”

“No, Sir, I told Sidney he could have his dad call you if he wants to be sure about everything.”

“That’s fine, Sidney one knows he can call me anytime, day or night.”

“Sidney one, Dad?” I questioned him.

“Yeah, you know,— Sidney one,— Sidney two,— ” he chuckled.

Hell,— it made sense to me.

I never remembered dad saying anything like that about anyone else. I wondered how well he knew Sidney’s dad and Mr. Wiggins.  Hardly a week went by I didn’t learn something new about my old man.  He wasn’t secretive, he just didn’t talk much about his business. He’d answer any question I asked him about anything, openly or honestly, but if you don’t know the questions to ask, you won’t know about the answers either.

“You coming, too, Son?”  Dad looked into his rearview mirror at Dwayne.

“If’n it’s all right, Mr. Longhorn. I’d really like to.”  Dwayne politely replied.

“More’n all right, Son.  You want me to ask yore’ momma if you can stay the night, since it ain’t a school night?”

“I’d shore’ appreciate it, Mr. Longhorn.  She jes’ might if’n you ask her.”

“Sadie planning on going to her sister’s again this weekend, Son?”

“Don’t know, Mr. Longhorn, ain’t been around her enough to find out what her plans are.  I find myself avoiding her as much as possible. I sure hope not. I don’t want a repeat of last weekend; especially, if he’s got four days to have at me.”  Dad frowned, but didn’t comment.  I could feel the anger coming from him all the way to the back seat.

We drove down the long gravel drive to the Dunbar ranch.  I could see Dwayne anxiously looking for his step-dad’s pickup truck.  Usually, the Colonel didn’t get away from the base until somewhere around six in the evening; then, if he hit traffic he could be another hour and a half; however, sometimes he would get off early and would be home when Dwayne and I got there.  I felt Dwayne relax and let out a sigh when he realize the Colonel’s truck wasn’t there.  We parked and Sadie Dunbar came out of the house to greet us.

“Vince, I shore’ nuff appreciate you bringing Dwayne home.  I been going all day trying to get things done so’s I can get back to my sister.  She’s got ‘the cancer’ and I don’t know how long she’s got to live.  Come on in for a minute, Vince, I’ll fix ya’ a glass a’ iced tea.”

Dad turned to Dwayne and I.

“Son,— go help Dwayne with his chores, and I’ll whistle at you when Sadie and I finish talking.”  

“Okay, Dad.  C’mon, brother.”  I put my hand on Dwayne’s back and we walked away.  Dad followed Dwayne’s mom into the house.

“I’m so sorry to hear about your sister, Sadie. I remember meeting her several times.  Ellen’s her name?” Dad asked and Sadie nodded, “I know it must be hard on ya.’”

“It is, Vince, it is,— but when people need us we need to be strong for them.”

Sadie Dunbar got busy fixing my dad a glass of iced tea.

“When do you have to be there, Sadie?” Dad asked concerned.

“I’m planning on leaving here Wednesday evening and won’t be back until probably Monday morning.”

“Is there anything I can do for you, Sadie?”

“No thanks, Vince, but I always carry your number with me just in case. I appreciate knowing I can count on you.”

“No problem, Sadie.  You know you can call me anytime. I was gonna’ asked you to let Dwayne stay the night with us Wednesday. It ain’t a school night since it’s the long holiday weekend.  Casey and he are having a couple of their school buddies over to sort of hang out and camp at our place for the long weekend.  Casey and Dwayne wanna’ try their hand at raising birds for pet shops or some such nonsense.  They wanna’ try’n build a pen over the weekend to keep ‘em in.  Since you’re gonna’ be gone, why don’t you let me help you out by taking care of Dwayne until you get back.  I’ll bring ‘em over here every evening so he and Casey can do Dwayne’s chores.”

“That’s mighty nice of ya,’ Vince. You sure it wouldn’t be too much of a bother for you?”

“Naw, Sadie.  I’ve come to think on Dwayne as Casey’s brother.  Hell, he ain’t no trouble at all.  He’s a good boy, Sadie. He’s a joy to have around, and I know Casey would appreciate having him there to be with him and their friends.”

“You know, Vince, I just don’t understand.  Brad complains about Dwayne all the damn time. He’s forever got some bug up his butt  he’s pissed at him about. To hear Brad talk about him you’d think Dwayne was a juvenile delinquent.  You and I both know Dwayne ain’t a bad boy.  He’s done all right considering what he’s been through.  I didn’t know Brad called Dwayne home that night I gave him permission to stay over to your place.  I asked Brad about it, but he wouldn’t talk to me.  I told him if I give Dwayne permission to stay with you and Casey he can get his own damn dinner.  He didn’t have to be have’n my boy drop what he was doing to come home and play nurse maid to him.  I think he’s got it in his head he’s running a military operation here and Dwayne’s just another one of his recruits.  He tried that with me a couple of times, and I just showed him the door.  Calmed him right down.”

Dad grinned at Sadie, but he didn’t comment.  He knew better than to comment.  He sat there playing with his glass of iced tea. Sadie knew he didn’t want to get involved; however, dad just couldn’t resist sticking up for Dwayne.

“Sadie, you know how I feel about you and Dwayne.  Take my word for it Dwayne ain’t a bad kid.  He’s a damn good kid! As a matter of fact, he’s one of the best damn kids in this community, and he’s liked by everyone.”

“I know that, Vince, but it’s good to hear you say it. Other people tell me the same thing. I’m all the time getting a phone call from someone Dwayne’s done something nice for. I just know in my heart he ain’t a bad boy.  I know you don’t wanna’ say anything bad about Brad, and I respect you for that.  I ain’t never know’d you to talk bad about nobody,  anyway.” Sadie paused for a moment to wipe her hands on her apron.  Dad could tell she was thinking hard about letting Dwayne stay with us, “Well,— if you don’t think it’ud be too much trouble for ya’ I’d shore’ appreciate you look’n after my boy, Vince,  ‘til I get back. I’m kinda afraid if I leave him here, Brad will harangue his ass all weekend. I get the feeling, Dwayne might be a little afraid of Brad. If’n it weren’t for Casey, I don’t think Dwayne would’ve told me Brad made him come home.  He never said nothing to me about it; said he just forgot.

 Just bring ‘em by Wednesday evening to do his chores and then take him on over to your place.  If you bring him and Casey over every day to do his chores, I can’t see what Brad would have to get upset about. He goes out ever’ damn evening to check to make sure Dwayne did everything just the way he wants it.  Brad gets all jacked out of shape if Dwayne misses one tiny little thing doing his chores.  Dwayne’ll drop what he’s doing, run right out there and correct his mistake, but then we have to listen for hours about how irresponsible Dwayne is.  Sometimes I just have to tell him, that’s enough,—  shut up. If Brad pulls that shit again, you just tell him to call me, okay?”

“Fine with me, Sadie. Dwayne and Casey will have a good time this weekend.”

“I appreciate your offer’n to help, Vince.  You’re a good friend and neighbor.”

“Thanks, Sadie.  You know I feel the same about chu’ and Dwayne. ”

Sadie wasn’t dumb. She noticed my dad said nothing about her husband being a good neighbor.  He didn’t include Brad in any of their conversation.  Thoughts ran through Sadie’s mind, she wondered if Vince was trying to tell her something.

“Appreciate the talk and the tea, Sadie.  I gotta’ run.  See ya’ Wednesday afternoon.  I’ll bring Dwayne and Casey by here after school.”

“Thanks, Vince, for everything.”

“No problem, Sadie.”

Dad walked out the front door, put his hat back on and hollered to me.  We were through with Dwayne’s chores, and he walked back up to the house with me.  Dad spoke quietly to us.

“Whatever you do, don’t jump about or be overly joyful, but Sadie gave me permission to keep you for the weekend, honcho.”  Dad spoke to Dwayne. He didn’t expect my brother to burst into tears.  He took Dwayne in his big arms and spoke quietly but firmly.

“Dwayne,— Son,— get it together! Right now! Yore’ momma’s gonna’ wanna’ know what ju’ been crying about.  You can do this, Dwayne.”

Dwayne immediately pulled himself together and thanked dad.  He handed Dwayne his bandana and he wiped his tears away.  He thanked dad again and handed it back to him.  We got into the Bronco and headed home.  We almost got to the ranch road when Colonel Dunbar was pulling into the gravel road to the ranch.  Dad didn’t slow down. He waved real big and smiled, but through his teeth he was calling Brad Dunbar every foul name he could think of. We pulled onto the ranch road and dad allowed the Bronco to slowly wind through its gears.  We rode along in silence until we were about halfway home.

“It ain’t too often I wish I could read minds, but I’d damn sure like to be eavesdropping  on them gears what be grind’n inside that head a’ yours right now.”

He grinned real big at me.  I smiled back at him and wondered how he could always know the right thing to say when I most needed him to.

“Think you know me pretty damn well, don’cha’ old man?” I feigned indignation.  He easily saw through my facade.

“Well enough to know when my boy’s troubled and when he’s hurt’n.”

‘Damned old lovable cowboy.’ I thought to myself. I turned my face away from him so he wouldn’t see my tears.

“I love you, old man.” I spoke softly in a cracked and broken voice looking out the window.

I continued to look out the window for some time as we rode along.  Dad didn’t respond.  It wasn’t necessary.   He knew I didn’t want him to.  I knew what he was feeling.  He knew what I was feeling. Sometimes there’s  things that pass between two men who love each other that are best left uncomplicated or sullied by words. It’s a time when you know your souls have joined hands in perfect sync and stepped outside the boundaries of time and space for a brief while, standing in silence, looking down on a still, frozen frame of your small microcosm. It’s like someone pressed the pause button on your lives. You can look at it. You can examine it.  You can feel it.  You can almost reach out and touch it.  It’s a sacred place, which has no definition; where words don’t exist; they have no meaning; they have no purpose; and yet, it’s infused with all the wonder of a rich, pure goodness, a gentle kindness, a healing, and sustaining power that may only be found within the shared confines of your conjoined hearts. This moment,— was one of those times.

End Chapter 7 ~ Texas Longhorns
Copyright 2005 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All rights reserved~
Mail to: waddiebear@yahoo.com