By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 8

Sidney ~

The boy was doomed before his mother’s water broke.  Wednesday’s child of woe was not nearly descriptive enough for the implied possibilities from the boy’s name alone.  Sidney Percival Loganbotham Wainright, Junior.  It’s not recommended to read this name aloud; the very sound, of which, is guaranteed to send out a radar effect attracting any bullies within a fifty mile radius. They’re drawn to it like flies to shit. They raise their heads, turn slightly getting the scent of the fear pheromones produced by their favorite prey, the  shy, reclusive, yellow striped geek; found around libraries, museums, computer expos, science fairs, and Star Trek conventions. It acts much like a Sidewinder missile’s heat seeking targeting device; a red flag for their insatiable wrath. It renders them unable to control themselves with an unquenchable thirst for physical mayhem to be levied upon a person with such an unfortunate moniker.           

Sometimes it’s not the fates who are cruel.  Sometimes, it’s the people who claim to know so much about linage, heritage, birthright, status, and/or parental love, if any.  If you truly love your child why on God’s green Earth would you hang a sign around his neck reading: “Sidney Percival Loganbotham Wainright, Junior.”  It says to a bully, “Please, don’t bother to ask, just hit me.  Feel free to take advantage of this offer again at your next, earliest convenience. Thank you for your valuable time and sharing your wrath with me.”  And, so it was,— young Sidney set out upon his voyage into the world with a name that would surely spell out his doom.

Ah,— but as Shakespeare pointed out many times, the fates themselves are a fickle lot. Sometimes they’re humorous, but other times them bastards can be down right nasty. Look what happened to poor Titus Andronicus. The evil queen had his two sons baked in a pie and served up to him for dinner;— filial frittata?  Mostly, the fates  have a decided sense of the absurd;— for when the stage is set for the surest probability for eminent tragedy, they reverse the polarity of their giddiness, and after much grumbling from the more powerful pro-tragedy lobbyist contingent,— they get it right! It might be argued our government could learn a lot from them.  So, again it was with our young protagonist, Sidney.  The fates chose to give him intelligence greatly above and beyond the average child, and a father who, from the pratfalls and foibles of his own miserable youth, decided his son would not so suffer.

Sidney’s father, Sidney Percival Loganbotham Wainright, Senior suffered an untellable youth.  “Them wicked fates done seen him a’ come’n,” some were heard to say; however, somehow, he managed to survive on his own superior intellect and fundamentally sound wits to become an extremely well-to-do man. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he inherited the vast Wainright family fortune on top of his own accumulated wealth, thereby greatly increasing his power base.  The old saw, money begets money, was never more true than in Sidney senior’s case.  Money was no object for him, he could buy and sell most all but a very few of the names on the Fortune Five Hundred list. Metaphorically speaking, Daddy Warbucks was a veritable pauper compared to Sidney senior.

For all his money, Sidney was a man of modest ways.  He had no problem accepting the good life money could provide, but he wasn’t one to be extravagant or ostentatious.  While he wasn’t a religious man, and certainly had very little truck with the Morman faith, he decided, after a brief youthful bout with drugs and alcohol, their ideas of abstinence were something he admired and adopted into his own lifestyle; however, he was not an evangelical convert to these ideas, and within limits of moderation, he tolerated other’s individual choices.

When looking for a place to settle and raise a family he decided upon a rural ranching community Northeast of San Diego some thirty miles or so. There he built his mansion for his home and family.  It wasn’t a big mansion as mansions go; however, what it lacked in size it made up for in quality and sheer comfort.  It was all a reflection of Sidney’s understated lifestyle.  He saw his choices as a subtle put down against the crassness of the nouveau riche.  His personal fortune was new, but his inherited wealth was very old money.

When Sidney’s wife became pregnant, and gave birth to a male child, an heir for Sidney, he was overjoyed.  For once in his life, other than the accumulation of wealth, things seemed to be going right for him; until,— his wife died quite suddenly at a tragically young age. Young Sidney was only three years old.  Sidney, the elder, was now faced with raising young Sidney alone.  Since Sidney had no urge or immediate plans to remarry, he set about to raise young Sidney himself.  This shouldn’t have been a great problem for a man of such means.  On the contrary, Sidney found the lack of competence and personal dedication of hired employees a never ending battle in his efforts to see to his son’s comfort and well being.

Well meaning friends told him to find a new mom for young Sidney, remarry and his problems would be over.  Sidney lived most of his childhood under the abject domination of a wretched step-mother who would’ve made Cinderella’s mom seem down right charitable. He had no intentions of taking that chance for his son.  No matter the money he offered or paid, the people he hired to care for his son had little interest in young Sidney.  They were only interested in doing the least possible for the maximum amount of money.

Somehow, through several of the common folk of his community, who were not so interested in Sidney’s money as to be, themselves,  charitable of spirit, he found some quality help.  They took young Sidney into their home as one of their own and cared for him approximately two and a half years during brief periods when Sidney senior had to be away on business; however, both were elderly and it was becoming increasingly difficult for them to care for young Sidney.  So, once again, Sidney, the elder, had to find help.  Young Sidney was now almost six years old and would began school that year.  His father hit upon a radical plan.

He remembered from his troubled youth making his escape from his tyrannical, overbearing, fundamentally religious family by disappearing onto his own family's ranch.  His great-grandfather managed to secretly hire him on as a cowboy.  Only a couple of men knew of his whereabout for a little over six years.  It was a hard life to adjust to but Sidney had perseverance and determination.  Nothing, no matter how hard, could be as emotionally devastating as the life he left. Sidney grew up in those six years. He worked hard and his great-grandfather grew to respect his great-grandson.   

One of the few people Sidney could count on as a mentor or confidant was an older, common man, a man of the Earth, a cowboy, who befriended him, but asked little in return; however, he demanded three things of Sidney: respect; honesty; charity to those less fortunate than himself; and, moderation in all things; oh yes, and to always plumb kill a rattlesnake!  >From this man he also learned the meaning and power of unconditional love. Even today, he would seek the man’s counsel.  Sidney secretly thought of the old cowboy as the understanding, loving, caring dad he never had.  This man who Sidney held in such high esteem just happened to be a man who loved other men; however, he never made that a criterion for his friendship with Sidney. Neither did he try to hide his preference nor did he apologize for it.  He neither flaunted nor tried to proselytize his lifestyle; however, when he was asked directly, he would never lie to anyone.

Sidney sat down and created an employment opportunity advertizement for  the internet.  He also planned to send it to all major newspaper’s of English speaking countries around the world. It was clear and concise; however, it left enough wiggle room for a creative mind to read between the lines.  Although he didn’t realize it at the time, Sidney was subconsciously looking to ‘buy’ an additional family member.  Could it be done?  Would he be successful?  Sometime, when you’re desperate, you take a big gamble.

Sidney’s ad read: “Wanted: the male equivalent of a nanny for a young, grade school, male child, age six years, to act as a caretaker, personal butler, physical trainer, mentor, and friend.  Experience and education preferred but may be waved for other, similar experience, education or personal recommendations. References essential. This is not a part time job.  After a probationary period,  the job will last until the boy is twenty-one.  If service is acceptable the terms of the employment contract may be renegotiated at that time. A generous salary will be offered depending on, education, experience, qualifications, recommendations, and interviews.  For further information, write or send resume to the following address for a more detailed job description and necessary qualifications.”

Sidney included the address of a screening agency he hired which was run by a close personal friend.  His agency was to weed out all but the most qualified with the best credentials. The ad didn’t generate quite the response Sidney hoped for. While the screening agency received numerous inquires, resumes, and a number of actual applications the quality of the applicants seemed marginal at best and some so outrageously cheeky with exaggerated claims of their experience and knowledge on the subject of child care, they were immediately dismissed. It provided Sidney’s friend at the screening agency and his staff grounds for much amusement; however, after processing all the more promising applicants, it came down to a choice of twenty possibilities.

All twenty were screened, re-screened, submitted to thorough background checks, psychological profiles, and education and  recommendations checked for authenticity. They were also required to have a polygraph examination. Three dropped out because of personal beliefs against such practices.  Of course, one is never quite sure if it was because of their personal convictions or because of their possible other convictions being found out. Nevertheless, it was one of Sidney’s requirements for all serious applicants.  Ten were eliminated for relatively minor indiscretions in favor of the remaining ten who had all but faultless background checks and met most, if not all of Sidney’s qualifications.

Sidney had a conference with his friend and told him to have the ten remaining applicants be interviewed by his best interviewer and have the sessions video taped.  From the tapes, Sidney would pick five to personally interview.  The final five were to be the cream of the applicants.  This was the results of almost six months of searching and labor.  It cost Sidney over fifty thousand dollars for the newspaper ads alone to say nothing of agency cost.  Sidney was not concerned.  If he found the right person for the position to care for his son like he wanted, and could be comfortable with, it was worth every penny to him.      
Sidney sat down with his close friend and mentor, Frank Mayhew, to watch the interviews.  Five were eliminated rather quickly because of personal preference or character traits the two men found objectionable.  Of the final five, there was only two who Sidney felt he might feel comfortable with, and one his friend felt would be okay.  Frank had serious and grave reservations about who would be caring for his nephew.  Sidney loved his old friend all the more for his honest concern.  All applicants were asked their sexual orientation and had it confirmed by polygraph.  Half of the twenty were more than a little surprised they were chosen for further processing because they were either gay or bisexual.  Of the final ten,  four were confirmed straight; four were homosexuals, and two were true bisexuals.  Of the final five, Sidney picked for personal interviews two were gay, two were straight and one was a bisexual.

Since all claimed to be personal physical trainers, as a final test, Sidney didn’t see anything wrong with asking the applicants to remove his clothing down to his briefs.  He didn’t bother to explain, but he would if asked. He would tell them, if they were physical trainers he wanted to see the results of their training as it showed on themselves.  One straight man refused as did one gay man. They were thanked, handed an envelope with a generous gratuity for their time and patience in the interview process. The final three had no objection and removed their clothing for Sidney to see their bodies. The gay and the bisexual were by far more personally developed than the remaining straight man and he was eliminated.  Sidney was down to two choices.  He really wasn’t comfortable with either. It had nothing to do with their sexuality; after all, he was the one who eliminated the remaining straight men.

He called them both back for another interview with him and his mentor. Frank liked the bisexual.  He had been Frank’s number one pick from viewing the ten tapes with Sidney. He seemed like a man Frank could be comfortable with taking care of his nephew. Sidney, on the other hand, had a better feeling about the gay man.  It became a difficult choice for Sidney. He told them he would notify them within two weeks of his decision.  He wanted time to consider. Secretly, in the back of Sidney’s mind he was praying for a miracle. As the deadline neared, he found himself actively praying for help. To whom or for what he was praying, he couldn’t clearly define.

That evening, after reviewing the tapes, he drove Frank back to his bunkhouse on the Harding ranch. (soon to become the Dunbar ranch) He returned to his home to be greeted by his exuberant six year old son at the door. Glory hallelujah, saint’s be praised, blow up the trumpets,  his daddy was home! Sidney senior and junior drove the wonderful neighbor lady home and graciously thanked her for caring for Sidney junior.  Sidney handed her an envelope with a thank you note and a sizable check for her kindness and help.

They returned home and Sidney went into his study to open his mail. Among the mirid excess of junk mail and a couple of bills was an envelope written in a childlike hand addressed to him.  He immediately recognized the name and return address. It was from one of his close buddies he used to ride with on his families ranch along with Frank.  In the envelope there was a brief note attached to a brochure for a boy’s correctional ranch in Southwest Texas.  It was a ranch for boys whose families considered them to be incorrigible; however, they were not considered delinquents and had no police record. Basically, the ranch was the Western equivalent of the Eastern boys military school.

About three-quarters of the boys at the ranch were there because their families just didn’t want to cope with the trauma of dealing with an adolescent day in and day out. They were all from upper middle class or wealthy families who had the money to pay for their care and handling during their trying years of hormonal see-sawing. The family’s attitude was, “Here,— you deal with him, we’ve had it!  We have the money to pay you to deal with him. Don’t call us, we’ll call you, but under no circumstances bring him home before his eighteenth birthday.”  

 Today, there are alternatives for the more monied of our society that are a bit  more socially acceptable, but of questionable success;— drugs.  Some boys were there because of a state or federal decision. Several were brilliant computer hackers who hacked into the wrong computer on the wrong day. They were much to young to be incarcerated and essentially no good would’ve come of it.  The camp was not considered incarceration, but it may as well have been.

The boys were worked on a working ranch from sunup to sundown.  There was school classes in the mornings and evenings. By the end of their day they were too damn tired to even contemplate running away.  It was a hard life, but many learned sound lessons and formed solid friendships that lasted a lifetime.  The lessons learned would stand them in good stead against the pratfalls of later life, and the quality and strength of the friendships they made might never have been found in regular society. Sidney was fascinated by the brochure. The note explaining the brochure was in a child like print with misspelled words and incomplete sentences, but Sidney understood every word.  

“Hello Sid. long time no hear from you or me. Sorrie, you no I not good at writin.  Heer you be lookn for top waddie fer ur boy.  Frank dun toll me.  Chek out man i send pic in thang I send to you. He be man for you Sid. he name Sticker Wiggins. fine cowboy. fine man. good man Sid. Him nos kids good.  He best with em I ever did see.  he be good to ur boy an good for ur boy, Sid.  Ole Sticker he need famly Sid.  He need loven. His hart need to find a home.  never ever forgit what u done for me, Sid. You good man.  you save my life, buddy.  mabe this save urs.   Love you, an ur son, your buddy, Will Shott."

Sidney clutched Will’s letter to his heart and was wracked with uncontrollable sobs for the memory and this simple gesture of love from his  friend. He was touched to the bottom of his soul. He knew, at that moment, beyond a shadow of a doubt, this man his friend recommended, Sticker Wiggins would be his man. His prayer was answered, and not a moment too soon. He slowly opened the brochure again to look through it when he saw a red circle around a picture of a tall, handsome, cowboy who was broad at he shoulders and narrow at the hips.

Sidney knew he wouldn’t have to ask this man to take his clothes off.  He could see the man’s body was in top physical condition. He had huge biceps, a big thick, bull-like neck, and his massive pectoral muscles were easily seen through his western shirt. He had a big grin on his face with his arm around three boys on his right and three on his left.  They were all looking up at him and were obviously awe struck by the big man.  Sidney had to admit he could understand their awe. Sticker was, indeed, an imposing figure of a man.
Sidney junior came running into the room in his jammies and crawled up into his daddy’s lap.  He immediately saw the brochure and began to look at the pictures with his dad.  He pointed to the circled picture of Sticker. He carefully ran his small finger over the image of the man, like he was trying to feel him through the print in the brochure.

“I know him, Dad?” he said softly.

“What do you mean, Sidney?  How could you know him?”

To say young Sidney was an intelligent child was like saying Mozart was smart. Sometimes, being exceptionally bright can have its drawbacks. His inventive mind and vivid imagination worked overtime to create his own personal fears and horrors for himself. He became as gifted at that as any of his other pursuits.  He would tell his dad about dreaming of a horrible dark place in which he found himself alone and frightened.  To add to his horror he would call out to his dad or anyone who might come to him to offer him comfort or ease his fear.  No one would come.  It had become a frequently reoccurring dream and small Sidney would wake in the night screaming and crying for his father. Sidney’s dad was becoming concerned for his child and considered seeking professional help. Then, to his dad’s amazement, one morning over breakfast,  young Sidney announced to his dad the problem had been solved.  He told his dad the particulars, but like many parents Sidney passed his son’s explanation off as more of his inventiveness to solve his own crisis and his father promptly forgot the matter.   

“Don’t you remember, Dad,  I told you about a big cowboy who comes to me in that dark place when I’m scared and tells me he loves me and not to be afraid,  he won’t let anything hurt me? It’s him, Dad. He even told me his name.”

“What’s his name, sweet heart.”

“He’s got a funny name. I didn’t believe him at first. He told me his name is Sticky or Stickler, something like that,  but he told me to call him Mr. Wiggins.  I’m not allowed to call him by his first name until I’m a man like him.”

This was almost too much for Sidney to handle. The memory of the conversation came flooding into his mind.  He held his boy to him and once again was wracked with sobs.  How could his child know the name of the man in the brochure? Was this a sign? Was it possible to reach across time and space within your dreams and contact someone you’ve never met before?  He knew his son was gifted, but this,— ?

Little Sidney was reading before his second birthday.  He was writing his own small stories before the age of three. By four he was reading comic books and kid’s books. Recently, his dad caught him in a corner of his library curled up with Charles Darwin’s “Voyage of the Beagle.” He wouldn’t start the first grade for another six months. What other gifts might little Sidney have? Sidney, could only wonder.

“Don’t cry, Dad.  It’s all right. Did I do something wrong?”

“No, no, Son.  I was just wondering how you knew the man’s name is all.  I didn’t tell you his name and it’s not written on the brochure.”

“You don’t believe me, Dad?”

“No, uuh,— yes!  Yes, I believe you, Son.”

“He looks better in my dreams, Dad.  He smells good, too.  He smells like lilacs.”

Sidney sat there looking at his son and was bemused by his revelations. Who could he ask about this?  Perhaps the doctor who owns a ranch not far from his?  He looked into his boy’s eyes and saw the deepest trust.  How could he not do everything in his power to see this unique, loving little man had not only the best of everything he might provide, but also, a healthy, normal childhood.

With the help of several good people in his life, Sidney overcame his own unfortunate childhood and became his own man. Sidney was, indeed, a self-made man. Sidney was a respected mover and shaker in the world. He went out on his own and made his fortune.  He made his own destiny.  He didn’t rely on family money; in fact, he rejected it. Sidney neither counted on nor imagined, one day, it might come down to the last, and he would be the one to inherit the family fortune.

Sidney had little time for organized religion or spiritual hocus-pocus. Because Frank taught him the cowboy way, Sidney was respectful and accepted the notion of an intelligent design in the universe; however, he just couldn’t believe such an intelligence would ever be ‘up close and personal.’ Did he really believe in miracles?  If he prayed for one, would he understand it as such when it happened?  This unexplainable experience with his own flesh and blood certainly caused him to pause and reconsider.

No matter his beliefs on the subject, Sidney was not one to look a gift opportunity in the mouth.  Hell, it was worth looking into,— why not?  He’d all ready spent well over a hundred thousand for his search.  Researching this man would be jump change.  He would start tomorrow to find out who and what this man, Sticker Wiggins, was all about.  Sidney had to agree with his son, it was a funny name. He didn’t give a damn if the man’s was named Catfish Von Pumpernickel, if he was the man for his boy, he had to know.  He turned on his lap top as Sidney junior curled up in his daddy’s lap and promptly went to sleep.  At six, Sidney junior, was still small and didn’t weigh very much. Sidney enjoyed having his boy close to him.  He felt warm and secure.  He felt loved, and he radiated his love back to his boy.

He started typing notes to himself and his assistant.  He had a male assistant rather than a secretary.  He found the man more efficient, better organized, worked harder, was faithful and more loyal than most of the women secretaries he had in the past.  He knew Kevin was gloriously gay, but Kevin left his lifestyle at home.  At work, he was all business and wouldn’t tolerate listening to a foul joke that demeaned anyone.  Sidney admired him for that. He admired Kevin for many of his other qualities as well. (don’t go there, that’s not what I meant.)

He took Sidney junior and laid him on the leather couch in his office. He grabbed a heavy throw and put it over his boy.  He got a pillow from underneath a cabinet he kept handy for just such a purpose.  He liked to have his son sleeping where he could see him while he worked.  He worked way into the wee hours of the morning. He had note after note of instructions about what information to secure.  He wanted to know everything there was to know about Mr. Sticker Wiggins before he even attempted to approach him.  All his ideas about interviews, contracts, proper hiring procedures were tossed aside. This was one situation he knew instinctively he was going to have to handle personally, on his feet, one step at a time.

If anyone could get information about another person, Sidney knew how to go about it.  He had contacts all over the world and some in very high places.  Sidney contributed heavily to politicians who would go to bat for him if he needed them.  It is, after all, unfortunately, the American way. Money may or may not buy happiness, but it goes a long way to grease the cogs of cooperation. (corruption, too!  Can you say, ‘Theo-cons?’)  Sidney even had close ties with several of the highest ranking men in the Pentagon.  One phone call from him would get him files few other men could even imagine having access to.  It would only take him a couple of days to gather information on Wiggins. He wasn’t going to stop there. He wanted to know who this man was and why his boy dreamed of him.          

* * * * * * *

By the end of the first week, Sidney knew a lot about Mr. Sticker Wiggins.  Short of contacting and interviewing close personal friends, Sidney had amassed a considerable amount of information about him. What he discovered about the man amazed even him.  Sidney had a tendency to be somewhat skeptical about many things. When it came to people, he looked for the best, but always expected the worst.  When he was wrong, he was pleasantly surprised.  Frank told him, that way, he was rarely disappointed.

He approached this investigation the same way and was more than pleasantly surprised. There was no record of Mr. Wiggins birth.  The closest thing found was a sworn affidavit he was born on a ranch in West Texas in 1972.  He graduated high school forth in a class of twelve in 1990.  He immediately joined the Army and was sent to Iraq in Operation Desert Storm.  He suffered a shoulder wound and a wound to his left leg.  He received two purple hearts and a Bronze Star for heroism under fire. He was honorably discharged from the Army and went to University of Texas on the G.I. bill. He got a degree in psychology.  He attended two years of graduate school and got a Masters of Social Welfare.  He became a licensed psychotherapist after a year’s apprenticeship under a psychiatrist. His graduate work and therapy was with adolescents and young adults.

He had a lot of problems with Gulf War syndrome and couldn’t seem to adjust to a routine lifestyle.  He couldn’t handle sitting behind a desk and listening to kids problems day in and day out.  He gave up his practice and took a job with the boy’s correctional ranch. He’d been there for two years. He was well liked and well thought of. He was one of the best councilors at the camp. Sticker liked the work because he wasn’t doing one on one counseling.  He was, however, constantly working with the boys, acting as a role model and mentor.  Just what Sidney was looking for.  The icing on the cake for Sidney he never shared with anyone.  Sticker was a cowboy just like Frank and he, himself, had been.  Do you think Frank Mayhew might have figured that one out for himself?

Of all the information gathered on Mr. Sticker Wiggins, Sidney found one, almost insignificant tidbit interesting.  Sticker once applied for a security clearance for an unspecified federal government position. They did a thorough investigation including any record of sexual preference. One small notation in the file indicated Mr. Wiggins had never been known to have a close physical relationship with anyone, female or male. His sexual orientation and/or preference was unknown.  

* * * * * * *

The time to notify the two final applicants for the job was near.  Sidney had Kevin call and tell them Mr. Wainright would be out of town for the next couple of weeks and would contact them immediately upon his return.  From years as a successful business man, Sidney learned to hedge his options.  He contacted his buddy Will Shott and asked if he could come visit? He wanted to meet this man, Sticker Wiggins.

“I’m glad to hear you wanna’ meet him, Mister Wainright.”

“What the Hell’s with this ‘Mister Wainright’ crap, cowboy?  I’m Sid, Will, just plain Sid, buddy.  We’ve been friends too many years and mean too much to each other for you to call me mister.  You’re letter with the brochure was the nicest damn thing anyone’s done for me in a long time, my friend.  You damn near ripped my guts out with that gesture. I sat there crying like a damn baby reading your letter.  Stuck it to me again, you old bastard!”  Sidney laughed and heard his friend laugh with him, “You very well may have saved my life, Will.  If I like him, do you think I might be able to talk him into it?

“I ain’t real sure, Sid.  I talk to him often.  He comes by here to see me once or twice a week on his days off.  He knows about you and my friendship, but he don’t know nothin’ ‘bout no job. I know’d from Frank you’s look’n for someone.  I don’t know’s he put together just who you are. I think he’s pretty happy at the boy’s ranch, but I know’d he had to take a big cut in income from being a therapist in the city to wrangling kids on a ranch.  He complains about not having a lot a’ free time. I can’t really say, but I got a feel’n, he might just go fer’ it.  I never know with him.  He’s one of the nicest men I know, but he pretty quite most of the time. Don’t say a lot to let chu’ know what he’s a’ think’n on.  I sure know he won’t put up with no foolishness.”

“He sounds about like what I need, Will. If I fly into San Antonio can I come out and stay with you a day or two to meet him?”

“Oh, Hell, Sid,— you know better’n to ask.  You don’t never have to ask to come see me.  Jes’ come on!  My door’s always open to you. You know that.  Why, jes’ the thought of see’n you again started my tail a’ wag’n.  Won’t me to meet chu’ at the airport, Son?”

“No, Will.  I’ll just rent a car.  There’s a couple of places I want to see while I’m back there.”

“You going back to the old ranch, Sid?”

“You know me pretty well, partner.”  Sid heard the man chuckle on the other end.

“I’d say we know each other pretty damn well, Sid.”

“Yes, Will, and I thank God for that and you every day.”

“Ah, git yore’ butt out here.  I can’t wait to see ya.’”

“Can’t wait to see you either, buddy.  See ya’ day after tomorrow sometime around noon.”

“I’ll be here. Thanks for call’n, Sid.”

“See ya,’ soon, partner.  Bye.”

Sidney hung up the phone and felt tears falling from his eyes.  Kevin walked in and caught him.

“Oh,— I’m so sorry, Mr. Wainright,— I’ll come back later.”

“Nonsense, Kevin,— come,— what do you have for me?”

“Is there anything I can do for you, Mr. Wainright?” Kevin asked with genuine concern in his voice as he approached.

“No, but thanks for asking, Kevin.  I appreciate that, but I’m fine. I’m going to visit a dear old friend of mine for a couple of days, and I just got off the phone with him. I haven’t seen him since his boy died, and I went back for the funeral.  He’s all alone now, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again.  The tears were for joy and anticipation of seeing him, Kevin.”

“Ahww, I’m glad to hear that, Sir.”  Then Kevin was back to business.

* * * * * * *

The trip into San Antonio was non-eventful. Sidney rented a car and drove the hundred and fifty miles to Will’s ranch. True to his word he pulled into the gravel road leading to the ranch at ten ‘til noon.  There was a newer Ford F250 pickup truck sitting next to Will’s.  Sidney wondered.  Sure enough, out of the house comes Will followed by a big, handsome cowboy, the man in the brochure, Sticker Wiggins. Sidney looked at the brochure a hundred times or more like he was trying to send a mental message to the man; a message he needed him and had a little six year old boy who needed him more.  Will got to Sidney first and wasn’t going to settle for a handshake. He wanted full body contact. Sidney didn’t hold back his genuine affections for his old friend either.

“Sid! Oh, Sidney!  Damnation, boy, it’s good to see ya’ again.”

“It’s awful good to see you again, too, old friend. Look, my tail’s jes’ a’ wag’n.”  Sidney partially turned his rump to show his friend. The three men laughed. Sid continued, “Hell, you haven’t aged a bit since I last saw ya.’  You must be living good.  Something’s agreeing with ya.”

“Sid, I want you to meet another good friend of mine, Mr. Sticker Wiggins.  Sticker, this here’s, one of the finest men I ever did have the pleasure and honor to know. I want you to meet my friend and buddy, Mr. Sidney Wainright.”

“Call me Sid or Sidney, Mr. Wiggins,— please.  It’s a pleasure to meet you, Sir.”

“Call me Sticker, Sid.  Pleasure’s mine, Sir.”  The huge man said with a decided Texas drawl.  Sidney hadn’t been back to Texas in a while, but he knew within the hour his tongue would start to thicken and he, too, would be lapsing back into the same speech patterns he unconsciously used years ago. ‘Must be the water,’ he laughed to himself.

“Come, Sid. Come on in.  Make yer’self to home.  I jest’ about got lunch ready for us.  I bought us some of the Benson’s barbecue down to the town yesterday. I remembered how much you used to like their stuff.  Sticker stopped by, I told him you was a’ coming,— you’d be here ‘round noon,— I invited him to stay; told him I want him to meet chu.’  Don’t think he was gonna’ ‘cause he thunk I might be a’ cook’n.  When I told him I was serving up some Benson’s barbecue he accepted real quick like.”  Will laughed.  Sticker and Sid had a good laugh, too.

“Ain’t  a’ damn thing wrong with yore’ cook’n, old man. Ever now and then you get a pretty good scald on som’um. I ain’t never pushed away from your table hungry.”  Will grinned real big at his friend’s compliment.

Sidney was immediately overwhelmed by the big cowboy’s genuineness and self-confident ease around people.  ‘Here was a man to be reckoned with,’ Sidney thought to himself.  Will told the two men to take a place at the table, he’d bring the iced tea.  He brought quart mason jars filled with sweetened  iced tea with lemon and a sprig of spearmint.  Sidney almost lost it in front of the two men. He didn’t get his napkin to his face in time and one damn tear rolled down his cheek.  Sticker saw the tear and immediately reacted.  He gently reached his big ham of a hand over and grabbed Sidney’s arm in a gesture of empathy.

“You okay, Sid?” he asked softly in a concerned voice. Sidney laughed.

“I’m sorry, Sticker.  I’m fine. I haven’t been back in a while and to have iced tea served to me in a mason jar, well — it brings back a flood of wonderful memories Will and I shared together.  It was one of the happiest times of my life. I almost lost it, big time, there, for a minute.”  He laughed a little embarrassed.  Sticker released his grip on Sidney’s arm and smiled.

“You’re a sensitive man, Sid.  I like that in a man.  I think it’s a good quality to have.  I try’n hammer that home to them kids I work with ever’ day. Some days I think I get through, other days, I ain’t so sure.”
Will smiled as he sat down to join them.  Will reached out a hand to both men and they instinctively took his.  He bowed his head and the other men followed suit.

“Dear Lord, bless this food we are about to partake.  May it nourish our hearts and soul as well as our bodies.  Thank you for your many blessings and small miracles we see around us every day. Thank you, Lord, for good friends and loved ones. Bless my beloved friend, Sidney. Please answer his prayer, Father.  We ask in Jesus  name, Sir.  Amen.”  The other two men echoed Will’s ‘amen.’
The men sat about to eat the good food Will set before them.  Sidney noticed with some amusement Sticker wasn’t shy about eating.  He was a big man and probably required a lot of food.  Will caught Sidney watching Sticker pack it away.  Will grinned at Sidney and motioned to Sticker with his fork. Sidney saw a twinkle in Will’s eye and knew the flow of bullshit was soon to follow.

“Most times, Sid,  when I have ole Sticker over to dinner,  I don’t even bother to kill the damn cow. I jes’ bring it in the house and hand ole Sticker the salt and pepper.  It ain’t pur-tie, Sid,— you wouldn’t wanna’ watch!”  Will roared with laugher at his own joke.  Sidney thought it was pretty damn funny, too.  Sticker just grinned real big, but it didn’t slow him down a bit, he just kept packing it away.

“Would you mind telling me a little bit about your work, Sticker?”  Sidney asked.

“Naw, Sir, I don’t mind a bit.  I’m head wrangler over to the ranch where I work.  Now that don’t mean what it does on other ranches.  How many other ranches you know where a cowboy has to have a degree in psychology and some experience wrangling incorrigible kids?” he asked rhetorically, “Head wrangle at the ranch ain’t a real great title to have,  neither.  It just means I get all the shit when I can’t get them damn kids to act like normal folk and behave themselves.”  He roared with laughter as he took another bite of potato salad.  Sidney and Will laughed, too.

“Do you enjoy your work?”  Sidney asked.

“Sometimes I do,— and sometimes I don’t.  I don’t mean that to sound like a dichotomy, Sid.  It jes’ seems like a never ending struggle with them damn kids.  Their families don’t want ‘em no more and essentially we have to become their surrogate family.  They got more emotional baggage they bring with ‘em than any adult ought a’ ever have ta’ deal with, let alone a pre or post-pubescent teen full of raging hormones and conflicting thoughts.  Hell, if we kin jes’ keep them little buggers out a’ each other’s bunks at night, it feels like a major accomplishment to us.  Most times we try’n work ‘em so hard ‘til they’re almost dead on their feet so’s we can get a decent night’s sleep as well.  If’n we don’t we’re up ever’ damn fifteen minutes chasing one of ‘em out of the other’s bunk.  They can have their dicks in another kid, fuck ‘em and get their rocks off faster’n a’ damn jack rabbit.  God bless me, I swear, I ain’t never seen nothing like it, Sid.”  Sticker shook his head and laughed.

Sidney was impressed by Sticker’s humor in the face of what would seem to be great concerns to him.  Sidney laughed to himself about Sticker’s take on ‘head wrangler.’  ‘Yeah, and how many head wrangles would you find use words like ‘dichotomy’ and ‘prepubescent.’ he thought to himself.  For all of Sticker’s good ole boy West Texas Speak use of language, many of his words betrayed his education and intellect.  That’s the way it is with folks in Texas.  Many sound like dumb hicks; however, never make the foolish mistake of  underestimating them. A lot of them are better educated than you or I and know how to use good English when they need to.  Texas Speak has become a dialect of southern comfort and hospitality.

“You any kin to the Wainright family who owns the Lazy 8 ranch about a hunnert miles from here, Sid?”

Sidney shot a look to Will for help.  He didn’t want to lie to Sticker, but he didn’t know if now was the right time for him to learn Sidney was the last of the Wainright family. Sidney was the sole owner of  the Lazy Eight ranch.  He planned to go there tomorrow as a surprise visit to check everything out.

“Yeah, he’s distantly related to ‘em.  Hell, ‘at’s how we got to know each other.  He was a buckaroo on the ranch same’s me. We ate them beans and cornbread from the same wagon.  I don’t think old cookie knew how to fix nothing else but beans.  We rode together for five or six years, was it, Sid?  Didn’t yore’ second cousin git chu’ the job?”  Will winked at Sidney when Sticker wasn’t looking.

“Yeah, as I recall. I ain’t real sure, pardner.  We rode together for a little over six years, to be exact.  Best damn years of my life, too! Wouldn’t trade those memories for all the gold in that family.” Sidney didn’t have to, he had all the gold in the family.

“Sidney didn’t have too much to do with ‘em for years, Sticker.  He was sort of an outcast by choice, ya’ might say.  He jes’ didn’t see eye-to-eye to their way a’ think’n ‘bout things.  When I first met him, I thought he was family-tight with ‘em and a poor little rich boy snob.  I done me some awful things to him I ain’t real proud of today; however, when I found out he didn’t hold no grudges, and was a genuine cowboy at heart, I made me one a’ the best damn friends I ever did have.”

“Ah, you made up for all that shit over the years, partner.  ‘Sides, I got my fair share in with you.  I was just a little more subtle at it than you were.” Sidney chuckled.

“Damn it all to Hell!” Will slapped his hand on the table, “I done know’d it was you what put that damn dead skunk in my bedroll that time!”  Will slapped his leg and roared with laughter, “Rode around on my pony all damn day with my bedroll on the back smelling a skunk summers and I couldn’t figure out where the Hell it was coming from.  Damn, it was strong. I’d try to ride away from it, but I jes’ couldn’t seem to git fer enough not to smell it no more. Then I noticed ever’ time I rode close to one a’ them other cowboys, they’d turn and ride away from me.  You’s the only one what would let me git close enough to talk to ‘em and then you kept your distance.  I remember you ask’n me when was the last time I jumped in the tank. You sorry son of a bitch!”  Will exploded in laughter. He had tears running down his face he was laughing so hard. Sidney and Sticker were about to roll on the floor laughing at their friend.  “I never found it until I went to bed that night, Sticker. God Almighty, was it an awful stink?!  I had to burn that damn bedroll on the campfire.  I always wondered how it was, you jes’ happened to have a spare bedroll in old man Wainright’s truck?”  Will couldn’t stop laughing. “Got me good, he did, Sticker!  God, I love you, Sid!”  He wiped the tears from his eyes from laughing so much.

“No more’n I love you, pod’na’?”  Sidney told Will.

Sidney smiled to himself. Yep,— it was beginning to happen he could feel his tongue was almost twice its normal size.  ‘That’s it!  It’s the damn ice tea; might be the spearmint?  Ah, who the Hell am my kid’n?  I’m home!’  He laughed to himself.  Only in Texas can you hear the two words ‘iced tea’ and it will contain five syllables.

Things quieted down and normal talk resumed.  Will told Sidney what new projects he had going around the place, and Sticker was helping him with a couple.

“Ya’ know it always helps to have another set of hands around.” Will allowed.

“If you can put up with me for a couple of days, Will, maybe I can give you a hand doing some things.  Be good for me to get some real exercise. I try to git to the local gym (his own complete workout area in the basement of his mansion) two to three times a week when I can, but it sure wouldn’t hurt me none to git a little bit of exercise here.”  ‘Git?  Hurt me none?’ he laughed to himself, ‘I ain’t used language like that in years!  Feels pretty damn good, though!’  Sidney was beginning to relax and enjoy himself. He didn’t realize how much he missed this kind of association with down home folks.

“Sticker?”  Sidney began a question, “Is it hard not to get attached emotionally to the kids?  Do you have favorites you particularly like?”
“Sidney,— it’s the hardest part of my job. Do I have favorites?  There’s only a couple who ain’t my favorites and we got damn near a hunnert kids on that ranch.  We’re told and warned over and over again, don’t get emotionally attached to ‘em; don’t show favoritism; don’t do favors for ‘em; don’t allow them to do favors for us; however, I’d be lying like a railroad track if’n I was to say I didn’t have my favorites.  Emotionally attached?  How the Hell could any caring man not get emotionally attached to ‘em? Sometimes I think I’m way in over my head.  They’s a handful of ‘em I’d love to bring home with me to give ‘em the love they need. The frustration is, I know I can’t.  Don’t take that the wrong way, Sid, I ain’t no pederast.  I ain’t no damn prude, neither. I figure if two men wanna’ rodeo together it ain’t none of my business as long as they’re of legal age to be considered consenting adults. Them boys is jes’ too damn young to be butt fuck’n one another.”

“I couldn’t agree with you more, Sticker, and I certainly never meant to imply that by my question.  I was more interested in how you handled your feelings to nurture them.  Wait,— is ‘nurture’ the word I’m looking for?”

“Yes, Sir, I understand; nurture; educate; train; foster.  I didn’t take your question that way, Sir.  Dealing with my emotions and need to nurture them, is a constant conflict.  It rips my damn guts out sometimes it’s so strong, but I know if I’m gonna’ survive there I have to realize I ain’t never gonna’ have much say in what goes on or how they’re treated.  I can have some influence in the way I conduct myself and how I relate to them.  I’ve learned one damn thing though,  they sure as Hell don’t respond to a hard ass.  They can smell a  hard ass counselor a mile away, and I’ve watched ‘em gather to circle their prey jes’get’n ready for the kill.  They’ll eat ‘em alive!  The harder they are, the more uptight they are,  the greater challenge it is to ‘em.  I’ve seen big, stout, stalwart, rugged men who thought they was jes’ gonna’ waltz right in there and put the fear of God Almighty in them boys be brought to their knees.  Once they figure they got him down, they move in for the kill.  I’ve seem ‘em reduce a man to a pile of quivering, whimpering mass of jello in a matter of days.”  Sticker couldn’t help but laugh as he was colorfully describing how lethal his wards could be.

“On the other hand,” he continued, “you cut ‘em a little slack, look the other way now and then, and be fair and equal to ‘em, they’ll fall all over themselves to do for you and protect you against the higher powers.  They’re like wolf packs.  They work in independent groups, together.  The way that sounds, it don’t make much sense, but it’s how they operate.  They form small family groups, but when it comes to a united front, watch out.  They learn very early on, when they git there, you can’t be a rugged individualist. They might have been on the outside, and it’s probably what got ‘em in trouble with their folks in the first place; however, at the ranch, it’s united we stand or divided we fall. Nobody wants to stand alone so they join a family group. They have to, to survive.  Now,— that ain’t all bad. They learn to cooperate within a group, they learn to share, they learn to cover their buddy’s back,  they learn,—  to get a solid,  they have to do a solid,—  and they learn the benefit of trust.”

The more Sidney listened to Sticker the more sure he was Sticker was the man for his job. He was reasonable, and he seemed painfully honest and direct.  He was funny, charming, and he had a good grip on reality. Sidney was beginning to think Sticker was a man he could work with and feel good about.    

“What line of work are you in, Sidney?”

“I’m head of a small corporation that produces custom software for industrial applications. Other than make a lot of decisions and signing checks all day, I don’t do much of anything but stand in my office behind my antique ship’s wheel my wife gave me years ago, look out my window,  and imagine I’m sailing our company into profitable waters.” Sidney chuckled at his metaphor.  Sidney told the truth. His thriving software venture was paying off handsomely, but he was also the major stock holder in another three-hundred companies or so. Sticker just nodded his approval.

“Tell Sidney about yore’ dream you been a’ havin,’ Son .”  Will spoke to Sticker quietly.  Sticker turned white and Sidney almost choked on his iced tea.  

“Damn, Will,— I jes' met the man.  I don’t wanna’ make him think I’m a rave’n lunatic. ‘Sides he ain’t the right Sidney, no how.  I just know’d it. I could tell the minute I shook hands with him.”

“Sticker,— Son,— Sidney’s a cowboy.  He’s a’ wearing boots jes’ like you an me; he puts ‘em on one foot at a time, same’s you’n me.  Ever’ tub’s gotta’ sit on it’s own bottom, boy.  Granted, the bigger the bottom the heavier it sits.” Will winked at Sidney and laughed at his aside, “I know’d this man like I know my own soul. He’d never think you was crazy. Might shy away from you for a couple of days until he was sure, though.”  Will slapped his leg and roared with laugher at the look on Sticker’s face.  Sidney didn’t say anything but finished up the last bite of his meal. He braced himself knowing what he was going to hear before Sticker even said the words.

“Sidney,— Mr. Wainright,— Sir,— you asked me a while ago about how I’m handling my emotions and I told ju’ sometimes it really gets to me on the ranch; not so much I’m gonna’ quit my job or go look’n for something else; however, lately, I told Will, it must be getting to me worse than I think.  I keep having this same dream where a small boy, a good look’n little boy, is calling to me ‘cause he’s all alone and afraid.  The dream’s always the same. I go to him, hold him, comfort him and tell him I won’t let any harm come to him; not to be afraid, I’ll take care of him.  He asks me my name and I tell him. I ask him his and he tells me his name is Sidney.”  

There was a silence around the table you could cut with a knife. Sticker was looking in his plate and toying with his food like he was embarrassed.

“See?  What’d I tell ya’?”  Will spoke to Sidney, breaking the silence.

“Yeah, Will,— but what chu’ don’t know, and the most amazing thing is, Sidney’s have’n the same damn dream.  Now how can that be?”

Everything was quiet again.

“You’re having the same dream as me, Sir?”  Sticker asked, raising an eyebrow.

“I’m sorry, Sticker,— we’re talking about Sidney junior, my son, who’s six years old next month. He’ll start school this fall. He’s having the same dream. He took one look at your picture in the brochure about the boy’s ranch Will sent me and told me your name; except, he said your first name was Stickly or Stickler, but it didn’t matter anyway because you told him he had to call you Mr. Wiggins until he grew up and became a man.  He told me the same story about him being alone and afraid in a dark place and a big cowboy comes to him, holds him, tells him not to be afraid, and he’ll protect him.  He told me the man told him his name.  I had to come meet you for myself.  Will never told me you were having the same dream, he just told me he wanted me to meet you. So the kindly, well meaning old bastard set us both up.  Way to go, Will!  Ya’ still got it, pod-na.’”  Will laughed with Sid, but poor Sticker still looked like he saw a ghost.
“I did tell him that.”  Sticker said slightly above a whisper, “I did tell him he had to call me Mr. Wiggins until he becomes a man.  It’s the same thing we tell the kids out to the ranch why they can’t call us by our first names. Jew have a picture of him, Mr. Wainright?”

“What father don’t carry a picture of his boy, Sticker?”  Sidney walked over to his brief case, snapped it open, remove a glossy photo of his son and handed it to Sticker.  Sidney and Will watched all the color drain from the big man’s face.  He just sat there staring at the picture of Sidney junior.”

“He’s the boy, ain’t he, Son?”  Will asked.

“Yes, Sir, he is.  How can this be? What does it mean?”

“We think we know, Son.”  Will opened the way for Sidney.

“What’da’ you think’s happening, cowboy?” I asked Will.

“I done, done me some powerful think’n on it.  You know’d ‘bout me and my ‘powerful think’n,’ Sid. It’s sort a’ like a rusty windmill in a tornado. It makes a lot a’ noise, but it don’t do much.” Will winked and grinned at Sidney. “Frank told me how he thought you was still uncertain ‘bout them two men you’s try’n to decide on. That kid of yours is bright, Sid. Real bright.  Frank done told me all about him. If you don’t think kids can pick up on their parent’s troubles and frustrations you better think on that one again. Yore’ kid’s been worried about chu,’ Sid.  You spent a lot a time and money on trying to find someone for him. He knows you still ain’t happy with the results of your search.  He don’t won’t his daddy to be unhappy about him.  He can’t pick up a phone like you and me. So what’s he do?  I think yore’ boy done dialed his-self up some higher form of information and they give him a dee-rect line to Sticker’s heart.  Ole Sticker, here,— he may look like the meanest bull in the pasture, but he’s got a soft spot in his heart for kids what’re alone and afeared. Sidney junior,— he done put his-self in a ‘collect’ emergency, long distance, person-to-person, heart-to-heart, call to ole Sticker,— and Sticker,— well, he done answered the phone and accepted the charges.  ‘At’s all it took, brother!  Them two’s zall ready bonded.  All you gotta’ do is make the pitch.  Slow’n easy, inside curve ball ought a’ do it, Sid,— right across the plate.  This ball game’s all but over.”

Will slapped his leg again and broke up laughing. He was so smug and pleased with himself for his explanation.  Sidney had to agree, for all of Will’s down home spin on the situation,  it sounded logical to him.  He didn’t have anything better.  Poor Sticker was still sitting there in a state of shock.  He didn’t have a clue what Will and Sidney were talking about. Sticker started to get a smile on his face. He looked first at Sidney and then Will. His smile turned into a smirk.

“I get it,— you guys are settin' me up. This is all a big joke on ole Sticker, right?  You’re in cahots, ain’t cha’?”

“Gees, Sticker, I wish it was true. I wish this was all a big joke; not necessarily on you but in general.  Believe me, I’d never risk something as sacred as my boy’s trust on a practical joke at a good man’s expense; a man whom he speaks of in such admiring, respectful, loving terms and describes him as smelling faintly of lilacs.”

“‘At’s the aftershave Sticker uses, Sidney,— Lilac Vegetal.”  Will added.

“I can see how you might think we’re setting you up, Sticker, but let me assure you, we’re not.  I came here to meet you because of my boy.  I came here to offer you a job similar to the one you have now without the headaches and frustrations. I came here to offer you a position as head wrangler, top waddie, to ride herd on my boy.  He needs you, but just as important,—  I need you. We need a man of your experience and qualifications we can trust.  Will wrote me a letter he included with the brochure he sent me about the ranch where you work. He wanted me to meet you because he thought you were the man for the job.  Now that I’ve met you and talked with you,— I agree with him. You are the man for the job.”

Sidney got up from the table, went to his briefcase, brought back a thick manilla envelope and handed it to Sticker.

“I had my assistant prepare a proposal for your consideration.  It outlines all the particulars including salary, full benefits package including full medical and dental plans at a hundred percent coverage; a generous retirement plan; and bonuses. You’ll find two contracts inside. The first a probationary, six month contract, which will be superceded by the second long term contract to be renewable every three years.”

Sticker looked up into Sidney’s smiling face, looked down at the envelope again and started to remove its contents. He looked up at his friend who nodded his encouragement to open the package. He opened the cover page to the brief, one page outline.  Sidney looked at Will who had a smile on his face as wide as Texas.  He was really enjoying this because he thought it was a wonderful opportunity for both his friends. Sticker’s mouth dropped open when he saw the annual salary figure to be matched by an equal amount deposited into a secure retirement account in his name. He would only be able to access the account on his sixty-second birthday; or, it would be willed to his designated heir upon the occasion of his unforseen early demise.

“You guys,— are really pulling out all the stops.  You be joking me, for sure.”

“What? Ain’t it enough money,— ” Sidney asked sort of dejected.

“Not enough money?  Are you kidding?  My salary at the ranch is one tenth this amount?  You’re offering this tax free?  You’re willing to pay the taxes on it?  That’s an additional twenty-eight percent, maybe more.”

“Not with my tax lawyers, Sticker.”  Sidney grinned.

“Where’s the camera?  I’ve always wanted to meet Allen Funt.  This is Candid Camera, ain’t it?”

“Sticker, you know how I feel about chu,’ boy.  You mean too damn much to me to pull some crazy shit on ya.’ These last few years, you been like a second son to me.  You saved me from grieving myself into an early grave. Trust me, Son, he ain’t joking wictha.’  This is too damn important to him.” Will spoke quietly to Sticker.

“What’s this cashier’s check for a thousand dollars for?” Sticker had the check in his hand.

“It’s a retainer fee to take this package to any attorney of your choice to have him review it and explain it in detail, if you wish.  If not, and you don’t chose to accept my offer, you may keep it for your time and consideration.”

“You’re giving me a thousand dollars just to consider your proposal?”

“If you don’t want a lawyer advising you, but I recommend it for your own peace of mind.”  Sidney urged him.

“How long would I have to consider it?”

“I believe it’s there on the next page at the bottom.  I asked my assistant,  Kevin, to give you two weeks from today when the proposal expires and becomes null and void.”

“May I take this with me, Sid, to look over tonight?  I’m off tomorrow, may I return to ask any questions I might have, Sir?”

“Of course, Sticker, but I have a trip planned for tomorrow to make a surprise visit to one of my holdings; however, why don’t chu’ come over early in the morning and ride along.  We can discuss the particulars on the way. I’m gonna’ try’n talk Will, here, into going with us.”

“May I ask where we’ll be going, Sir?”  Sticker asked suspiciously.

Sidney looked at Will. Will smiled and nodded to Sidney to tell Sticker.

“To my ranch,— the Lazy 8.”

Because of his innate goodness, his strength of character, his sense of humanity, and his untapped love, the fates,— remember them,— decided the big, handsome cowboy, Sticker Wiggins, should fall into a deep bucket of very wealthy shit and come out smelling more like lilacs than he ever had before.  Once again,— them bastards got it right!

End Chapter 8 ~ Texas Longhorns
Copyright 2005 ~ Waddie Greywolf
Mail to: waddiebear@yahoo.com