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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
“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.”
asked him, remembering Sidney was in one of my dreams last night as
how’d ju’ know?”
annual Fourth of July barbecue this year?”
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.
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
“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.
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?”
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.”
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
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
dad ever know about Frank’s hankerings?”
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.”
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.
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
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.
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!
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.”
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
with laughter and we started walking again.
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,
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.”
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.
‘At’s a fine looking buggy you arrived in.” Dwayne told him.
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.”
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.
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.
fact we was just talk’n ‘bout chu, bubba.’”
huh? I’d say that definitely was a new significant other thing to
talk about.” Sidney winked and chuckled.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.”
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
“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.
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.
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
at that. I did, too, but I wasn’t real sure I got it.
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.
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.”
his hand it was okay, but he couldn’t speak. I damn sure could and
would speak for my brother.
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?”
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
“Same old, same
old, Mr. Longhorn.”
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
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.”
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
Sidney one knows he can call me anytime, day or night.”
Dad?” I questioned him.
know,— Sidney one,— Sidney two,— ” he chuckled.
Hell,— it made
sense to me.
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
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.
right, Son. You want me to ask yore’ momma if you can stay the
night, since it ain’t a school night?”
appreciate it, Mr. Longhorn. She jes’ might if’n you ask her.”
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
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
anything I can do for you, Sadie?”
Vince, but I always carry your number with me just in case. I
appreciate knowing I can count on you.”
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.”
nice of ya,’ Vince. You sure it wouldn’t be too much of a bother for
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.”
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.
‘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.”
your offer’n to help, Vince. You’re a good friend and neighbor.”
Sadie. You know I feel the same about chu’ and Dwayne. ”
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.
talk and the tea, Sadie. I gotta’ run. See ya’ Wednesday
afternoon. I’ll bring Dwayne and Casey by here after school.”
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.
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.
get it together! Right now! Yore’ momma’s gonna’ wanna’ know what ju’
been crying about. You can do this, 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.”
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
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 ~
Copyright 2005 ~