Him Who Made The Seven Stars
By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 57

"It's worth noting that time really doesn't exist. There is no such thing as a second, minute, hour, day, year, and so on. We've invented these measurements to help orient our world and ourselves. As Einstein noted, the experience of time depends entirely on the perspective of the observer. For those of us who are older, time seems to fly by at blazing speed. But when you are young, it seems to stand still, as if the sun were suspended in the sky on a perfect summer day." ~ Mark Siegel

Harlen slept like a baby. It was one of the best night's sleep he had in years, but when he woke up it was still dark outside. He awoke with a jolt. Something of a good size jumped in bed with him. Before his mind cleared, and Harlen could take his bearings, he thought it might be one of his dogs, but as his memory came flooding back, he realized he wasn't at home. He heard a small male voice speak just above a whisper, "Master Harlen! Wake up, Buddy!" it said.

"Bossman?" he asked, sitting up looking at the boy in the middle of his bed, "What time is it? What's the matter, Son?" he asked.

"Yes, sir, it's me. It's a little past five. On weekends ever' body sleeps in 'til six, but we got trouble, Master Harlen. You need to get up. Master Billy, Boomer, and Captain Nick are on their way. Clyde's git'n dressed, and laying out my clothes for me. We got to go through the gate to your place. I got a tickle from Chloe. Daffy's unconscious. His hip went out again, and it hurt him so bad, he passed out on the back walkway. I told Chloe to go get Master Jessie, but she's afraid to leave him alone. I done told her to bark real loud to wake Jessie up," Randy said.

Harlen grabbed Randy, gave him a big hug, and kissed him on his forehead. "Thanks, Son, I'll get dressed. Run get your clothes on. I'll meet you and Clyde downstairs," Harlen said.

Randy jumped off the bed, headed for the door, stopped, turned, and stood for a minute, "Don't worry none, Brother Harlen, we won't let nothing bad happen to Daffy," he said.

"Thanks, Son. I trust you and your big brother," Harlen replied and smiled.

Harlen turned on the lamp by the bed, got up, and started dressing immediately. He knew Daffy was getting bad, but he didn't realize how far the big male dog's condition progressed. It's difficult to tell with a degenerative joint disease, especially when he seemed to be responding well to the cortisone injections. Did he wait too long? Jessie tried to talk with Harlen several times about the possibility of putting Daffy down, but he kept putting it off. He just didn't have the heart or the will to discuss the matter. He wasn't ready to deal with the reality of losing one of his beloved pets. He thought it was probably cowardice on his part. Humans more readily accept advancing age in their own kind, and when they've run their course, it only seems natural for them to pass-on; shed their mortal coil; no more suffering; the trials and travails of this life past; gone to a better place; to rejoined lost family and friends; resting upon the bosom of Christ; in the arms of God; dancing with the Holy Ghost; rest in peace; carousel; however, with a beloved pet, it's something we put off until there is absolutely no other option. Afterward, we torment ourselves with regret we didn't do it sooner wondering if we might have saved our beloved friend some pain or suffering. Harlen was dressed, took out his cell phone, and punched Jessie's number. It rang twice and Harlen heard his main man's voice, "I'm here, Boss. What's up?" Jessie said like he was just arousing from a deep sleep.

Harlen could hear Chloe barking in the background. "It's Daffy, Jess, he passed out on the way back from a visit to their dumping grounds. His hip went out. Chloe tickled Bossman Randy. He told her to get you, but she refused to leave Daffy. Randy told her to bark to get your attention. I can hear her," Harlen said.

"I didn't think about it. They often bark at a skunk, possums, or raccoons. When they get bored, or the critter goes away, they come back inside. I'll get dressed and go out there, but we're completely out of cortisone, Boss. I gave him the last shot a couple of days ago. One usually lasts him a couple of weeks. I didn't think we'd need more until after the weekend," Jessie said with remorse.

"T'ain't chore' fault, Jones. Don't do a number on yourself. Don't try to move him. Just give Chloe some encouragement, and tell her we'll be right there. See you in a few, Buddy," Harlen said and broke contact. By the time Harlen got downstairs, Randy, Clyde, and the large black man were waiting for him in the front hallway. Kate was there in her nightgown and robe. "What's going on, Gentlemen?" she asked.
Clyde gave the Bossman a gentle push with his hand to explain. "We done got us an emergency, Mistress Kate, ma'am, one of Master Harlen's big cow dog's hip went out and he's unconscious. Big Brother, Captain Nick, and Boomer are meeting us in the compound, and we's gate'n-it over to Master Harlen's place. We'll be back in a bit. We won't be long," Randy assured her.

"If you're going to be later than eight, give me a call," Kate said.

"Will do, Ms. Kate," Randy said and the men left to join the others waiting outside.

Billy waved to him from the entry to the newer barn. Captain Nick and Boomer were standing next to him. Boomer had the anti-grav gurney in front of him sitting in mid-air.

"What the hell is that, Bossman?" Harlen asked.

"An anti-gravity gurney for transporting people or dogs. It's a great tool to have. As big as you are, if you were down and couldn't get up, I could adjust it to the ground, roll you onto it, raise it about waist high, and take you anywhere, pushing it with one finger," Randy explained.

"Amazing," Harlen said.

As they were walking toward the men and Boomer, there was a great flash of light, and two cowboy-angels appeared next to Billy and his immediate family. It was Oatie Breedlove and Jethro Quince.

"My God, they called up the reserves," Harlen said quietly.

"Not really, sir, Master Billy just thought our family-veterinarian might be nice to have on-board with us. Oatie and Jethro don't mind. They'd do anything for an animal in distress, sir," Randy said.

"That tells me a lot about these men, Son," Harlen said.

Randy opened a gate to Harlen's place, and a blue wall of rippling free-electrons sprang up. Chloe barked and ran for the gate when she saw it. Randy was the first through. The big female dog was there to greet him, smothering him with love, and big, wet, doggie kisses. Chloe was so happy to see Randy. Her new friend came through for her. Somehow, she knew he would. << Master Randy, thank you for coming and bringing help. I'm so worried about my mate, >> she sent among the endless kisses.

"There, there! He'll be all right, Chloe. Master Billy and his cowboy-angels will fix him up like new. They'll do the same for you and make you feel young again," Randy said out-loud.

Jessie was just coming out of the house and walking down the back stairs when he saw the gate spring up and the men come through. He saw Chloe welcoming Randy, and the other men followed right behind him; two were cowboy-angels complete with their handsome wings. The larger cowboy had a ring through his nose. Jessie never saw a more beautiful sight, but there was more. Following Billy Daniels was another, older and a younger cowboy with a ring through their noses, and a huge black man with a ring through his nose as well. Following them, pushing some kind of flat device, was a Bigfoot monster; only, Jessie didn't think he looked like a monster at all. He was really quite handsome and his auburn to golden-red hair swirled around him in the early morning breeze. Jessie's heart leaped to his throat. He was stunned to say the least.

Billy and Oatie went to where Daffy was lying. Without a word, Billy ripped off his shirt, and motioned for Captain Nick and Balthazar to do the same. In a great flash of light they disappeared for a second then reappeared fully fledged with their resplendent wings. Jessie was even more impressed. The five cowboy-angels knelt around Daffy and raised their wings. Jessie came to Harlen's side and stood next to him. They watched in awe as the men gathered the life-essence of the ether onto their wings and began to channel it to Master Billy. A concentrated beam of blue light emanated from Billy's hands as he move them slowly back and forth over Daffy's body.

"What are they doing, Bossman?" Jessie asked quietly.

"They're drawing the particles of the living life-force plasma from the universe, and passing it on to give Daffy strength and take away his pain. He'll still be paralyzed when they stop, but it will be because my big brother wants him that way. We're gonna' put him on the gurney Boomer brought and take him back to our ranch so's my big brother and Doc Oatie can taste his blood, absorb his DNA information, and repair him. Billy don't want him moving about or trying to jump down off the gurney. It might hurt him worse than he is now, and it would just make their job more difficult. We'll take Chloe with us. Oatie and Billy will want to rejuvenate her, too. Mister Jones, you might as well come along and have breakfast with us. That way, we won't have to make another trip to gather you," Randy said.

"What do you think, Boss?" Jessie asked Harlen.

"I think the Bossman has a good idea. We can call Cookie and tell him to wake Handy. The two of them can take care of the place while we're gone. Are you ready?" Harlen asked.

"Yes, sir, I set these clothes out before I went to bed last night," Jessie said and tipped his big hat.

"You look fine to me. You make a damn good looking buckaroo when you git chore'self all gussied up, Jones. You'll fit right in at the Daniels' ranch," Harlen said and patted Jessie on the back.

The men powered down and relaxed their beautiful wings. Billy gently shook Daffy. "Daffy, it's your friend, Master Billy. Bossman Randy's here, too. Open your eyes, Daffy," Billy said out-loud. Daffy slowly opened his eyes and blinked a couple of times. "Don't try to move, Daffy. I shut down your body so you won't feel any pain. I don't want you moving about because we're gonna' put you on a gurney and take you, Chloe, and your two masters to our ranch where we can work on you and make you like new. Tickle my mind if you understand, Daffy," Billy said.

<< I hear you, Master Billy. I don't feel any pain. Thank you, >> Daffy sent.

Chloe barked and wagged her tail. She seemed happy. "She heard Daffy tell me he don't feel no pain," Billy explained to Harlen and Jessie, "Now, we're gonna' lift you onto our gurney," Billy said aloud to Daffy so everyone could hear.

Boomer pressed the 'down' button on the side of the gurney, and it lowered to the ground beside Daffy. They didn't pick Daffy up. The men slowly levitated the huge dog onto the gurney and allowed him to settle gently upon it. Boomer pressed the up button, and it instantly rose to waist high. They were ready.

"Should I contact Cookie before we leave, Boss?" Jessie asked Harlen.

"Naw, let him sleep. We're ready to go. The less Cookie and Handy see, the less we have to explain right now," Harlen said.

"I understand, and you're right, I'm ready. This is better than any of them sci-fi programs or books I read. I wouldn't miss this for the world," Jessie said.

Chloe was a little shy about going through the gate, but after she saw Boomer go through pushing the gurney with her mate on it, she looked up at Billy and Randy, and then to her master. "It's all right, Chloe! Go! We'll be right behind you," Harlen said pointing to the gate.

Without further encouragement, Chloe lowered her head and walked through the wall of excited electrons. She was amazed. She was in another part of the state, far away from her home, and the smells of nature, cattle, and a thousand other intoxicating new odors to investigate were exhilarating. She slowly walked toward the huge creature who was holding the gurney steady on which her mate rested. << Don't be afraid of me, little Sister. I will not harm you or your mate. I am Master Billy's bonded mate and husband, >> Boomer sent.

Chloe barked once like she understood his words and continued toward the gurney to be near her mate. The rest of the men followed them through the gate and Randy closed it behind them. Randy was carrying the shirts of his big brother, Captain Nick, Balthazar, and Clyde. They were home on the ranch and didn't need to morph back to their cowboy form. They proceeded directly to the slave processing room where most of their medical equipment was in place. The cowboy-angels gently transferred Daffy to the table and proceeded to work on him. Billy explained everything he and Doc Oatie were planning to do for Daffy.

Oatie handed Billy a small syringe. He spoke directly to the large dog, "Daffy, we have to take a few drops of your blood to taste. When Doc Oatie and I taste your and Chloe's blood, it will cause us to become brothers with you, we will understand what's wrong, and be able to correct it. We will be able to heal you and reverse your aging process. I have disconnected your pain receptors so you shouldn't feel me prick your skin to draw a small amount of blood," Billy carefully explained in a quiet reaffirming voice. He took a pair of battery operated clippers and quickly removed a square patch of Daffy's hair about the size of a postage stamp to expose a small area of skin on his leg. Oatie handed him a cotton swab saturated with alcohol and betadine. Billy swabbed the area, took the syringe and gently removed about one cc of Daffy's blood. He squirted a small amount on Oatie's finger and did the same to his finger. They simply tasted Daffy's blood and within seconds had his information stored within them. Harlen and Jessie were in awe.  
Oatie took over at that point and moved to Daffy's side. "Hello, Daffy. I'm Doctor Oatie Breedlove. I'm Master Billy's brother. I'm an animal doctor. Just relax and we'll view some pictures of you to see what we need to do," he said. Oatie waved his hand and a large flat three-dimensional screen appeared over the table. On the screen you could see the outline of Daffy's big body, but it was looking past the skin into the inner-workings. Oatie made a couple of adjustments, and they got a perfect view of Daffy's hip. The socket and ball joint were seriously degenerated and Billy commented it was a wonder the poor thing was able to get around at all. Harlen and Jessie could see the damage. It was massive.

"Cost is no problem. Can you help him, Master Billy?" Harlen said.

"Cost? What cost? Who said anything about costs? Have you done gone behind my back and created a billing department, Bossman?" Billy asked sternly.

Randy broke up. When Billy got silly, he reduced Randy to a quivering mass of giggles. "You know I'd never do nothing like that, Brother, without your permission," he replied

"Good. Just checking," Billy said, then turned his attention back to Harlen, "Now, you gotta' understand, Brother, we can refurbish Daffy and Chloe to about the age of three to five years old, but you being their master, must set what amounts to an expiration date for them. We can alter their DNA to give them extra added value. I won't give them wings, but oral communication can be a great plus for large animals," Billy said, "I can also give them a couple of extras I can't begin to explain to you, but it will make them even more valuable," Billy added.

"How do you set an expiration date for someone you love?" Harlen asked.

"There are limits. The most we can get out of them is approximately three hundred years. Will that be enough?" Billy asked.

"I think that should be sufficient," Harlen replied and grinned.

"Daffy ain't been neutered. Did you have Chloe fixed?" Billy asked.

"Yes, we had her fixed after her second heat, but I regretted never allowing them to have a litter," Harlen said.

"We can fix that, too. They can have a couple of litters, then we can turn off her fertility without invasive surgery. She will remain receptive for her mate, but she won't get pregnant," Billy said.

"Will the pups inherit any genetic changes?" Jessie asked.

"Absolutely," Billy replied and smiled.

"About the other enhancement –" Harlen said and looked at Jessie.

"Speech might be nice, Boss," Jessie said.

Chloe barked sharply. There was no mistaking she was confirming what Jessie said. Harlen laughed. "You have your answer, sir," he said and grinned at Billy.

As they stood around talking, more cowboy-angels appeared in flashes of light in the room. Elmer Breedlove and Vox; Hank and Buck; Will and Buster Tate with Everett and Miranda; Garth-el and Macker-el; Bubba Kirkendall and Jack McCormack; Etienne and Ray Escobar; Tron and Nathan; Moss and Enoch; Tom McMartin, and Grover Parsnip. Miranda made a bee-line to Master Harlen and looked Chloe up and down. "You're awful big to be a cow dog. Welcome to the family, Lady," Miranda said in perfect English. Harlen watched the look on Jessie's face and laughed. Chloe barked at Miranda and lowered herself to her stomach to make herself smaller. They became friends immediately. Miranda lay down next to Chloe in sympathy for her anxiety for her mate.

"No wings, Master Billy," Harlen said shaking his head. He remember the confusion the pups created flying around everyone's heads and could only imagine pups the size of small piglets flying around getting into trouble.

"No wings it is, sir," Billy agreed.

"The cowboy-angels led by Billy and Oatie banded together to draw as much energy as the men needed to repair and refurbish the big dog lying on the table. It took them about an hour and they moved him to a soft bed to recover. Billy didn't release Daffy from his suspended state. He wanted the big dog to have a chance for everything to come together. They got Chloe on the table and did the same rejuvenation procedure for her plus enhancements they did for Daffy. They reconnected Chloe's plumbing. Once again she was capable of going into heat, and she would be able to conceive. She was in better physical shape than Daffy, and it didn't take the men as long to complete their work on her. The animals were lying together awake and aware, but unable to move about. It was getting on toward breakfast time, and the men finished up just about the time Kate went to the porch to ring the triangle. Billy wanted to leave them alone to relax and give their bodies time to adjust. He put Daffy and Chloe into a deep sleep, and they were out like a light, breathing normally.

"We need someone to stay and watch over them," Billy said as Oatie checked each big dog's heart and respiration.

"I'll stay with them, Master Billy," Miranda spoke, "Brother Everett done already fed me this morning shortly before we transported over here," she said.

"Good Girl. You may tickle Everett, me, Doc Oatie, or Bossman Randy if you notice any difference in their breathing, or if they seem to be in distress. They should sleep just fine. By the way, who's taking care of your pups, little mother?" Billy asked.

"Catfish and Mouse. They were kind enough to let me come by myself to take a sanity break from my dear little angels," Miranda said sarcastically and laughed. She broke-up every man in the room.

"All right then, we shouldn't be gone more than an hour, and I'll bring you a plate of scraps if you like," Billy said.
"You spoil me, Master Billy," Miranda said shamelessly flirting with him.

"You deserve to be spoiled, little mother, after what I done put you through with the enhancements to them pups," Billy replied and laughed, "It seemed like a good idea at the time," he added.

"If you learned a lesson, it was worth it, sir," Miranda said wisely.

"I did, indeed, pretty lady – never give wings to rambunctious puppies," Billy said firmly and smiled.

"Do you really think I'm pretty, Master Billy?" Miranda asked and batted her eyes at him.

"Ain't no doubt in this cowboy's mind, ma'am, you're one of the prettiest cow dogs I done ever' seen," Billy replied, took off his big hat, made a sweeping gesture with it, and bowed to the small winged cow dog. There was a smile on every face in the room.    

Jessie was going to stay behind with Miranda, but Billy and Oatie assured him Miranda would be fine with them. Harlen encouraged Jessie to join them for breakfast. Boomer and Brute said they would go with them to the house, get their chow and biscuit, return to the processing room to eat, and keep watch over Daffy and Chloe with Ms. Miranda. That seemed to make everyone happy and resolved any lingering doubts about the big dog's safety. The men went into breakfast. Jessie was introduced to everyone and was surprised, the Redbone family, including Tom and Abigale, remembered him. Zelma Jane took him into her arms and kissed him on each cheek. "You look as handsome as ever, Jessie. I can see you're taking good care of yourself," she said and eyed him up and down.

"I have a simple routine I follow, Ms. Zelma, and I try to eat right," Jessie said, "I must say, you look wonderful. I'm glad to see the dreadful rumors I heard around Houston are not true," he added.

"No, they were true, Son, I just happened to be called to the Daniels' ranch and arrived at their front gate on a wing and a prayer with one foot already in the grave. The best doctors in the state of Texas gave up on me and wrote me off. The Baylor med center slammed and locked their doors when they saw me coming up the walkway. They gave me less that two months. That was three months ago. From what you witnessed this morning, I don't think I need to elaborate on my looking twenty years younger and in perfect health. Since my resurrection, or as Master Billy and his crew like to call it – refurbishing, I've only returned to my home in Houston a couple of times for brief periods, but not long enough to receive guests or entertain. I'm where I'm needed right now, and enjoying the 'hell' out of it. There's never a dull moment around this ranch. If you find yourself getting bored – wait ten minutes! All Hell will break loose," Zelma said and winked at Jessie.

"You look wonderful, happy, and relaxed. It's good to see you this way," Jessie complimented her.

"Welcome to our family, Jessie Jones. There's a place for you here, too," Zelma said sincerely.

"I hope so, Ms. Zelma. I've longed for something like this to happen to me, but never thought it might. It's like walking into another world, ma'am," Jessie said.

"And so you have. Enjoy the ride, Son," Zelma said, and they sat down to breakfast.

Talk was really lively around the table that morning. There was no holding back because there were new folks with them. Everyone accepted Jessie along with Harlen as one of them.

"How long will it take for Daffy and Chloe to speak, Master Billy?" Jessie asked.

"The sheriff would probably be better able to answer that question for you, Jessie," Billy replied.

"Miranda was trying to speak within twenty-four hours – bits and pieces. She worked really hard. She would get frustrated, but we would encourage her. I don't think she got really good until Billy refurbished ma' dad, and my little brother, Everett, come to live with us. I'd say within a week she was talking pidgin English. In two weeks she was carrying on conversations with us. In one month, she was correcting our English," Will Tate said and grinned. "As you heard this morning, she can be funny sometimes. She's developed a wicked sense of humor. She was the only companion I had for a good while, but now she's come to be more like a little sister to me than a pet," he added.  

"Lord, I can't imagine them big dogs talking. I won't be able to get a word in edgewise," Harlen lamented.

"What do you mean? Between Daffy, Chloe, me, Cookie, and Handy, you don't anyway," Jessie joked.

"You got that right!" Harlen exclaimed, and everyone laughed.

Jessie was impressed by the family. Once they were in their human form, they were like any other large family. He was most impressed by several of Billy's immediate family. He thought Hank and Buck were two of the finest looking cowboys he'd seen in a while. There was no doubt in his mind the two young large cowboys, Enoch Redbone and Moss Garrett, were a bonded pair. It was so obvious they were very much in love with each other, Jessie almost expected them to start feeding each other like two love birds. Then there was Billy's Uncle Nathan and Mr. Garrett, Senior. While they were more mature and stoic in their roles as stalwart men of the West, they couldn't hide their admiration for each other. Jessie never had a relationship with anyone. He and Harlen developed a close working relationship without a physical component which seemed to work for both of them. They never pushed beyond their individual boundaries. Jessie thought about it, but he never let it consume him. He was an employee and Harlen was his boss; better to not muddy the water. That wasn't to say they weren't fond of each other – they were; however, it was more of a mutual admiration and respect they held sacred for one another which never allowed them to cross a finely undefined line. (think about it!)

After breakfast the men went out to check on Daffy and Chloe and good to his word, Billy carried out a goodly plate of scraps for Miranda to enjoy. He gave her a few minutes to enjoy her food before he woke the big dogs. They were probably hungry too, but Billy wanted them to eat only slave chow and a nutrient biscuit for several days. When Miranda was about finished with her breakfast, Billy woke Chloe first. It didn't take her anytime to become adjusted to her new rejuvenation and Billy allowed her to jump down from the bunk where she lay. She felt wonderful and proffered many kisses and a great happy dance for Master Billy and her pack leaders. Chloe was an equal opportunity lover. She not only offered kisses, she loved with her whole body. Daffy was a bit slower to come around, but Oatie was by his side when he did to make sure he didn't hurt himself. "Take it easy, big guy. It will be a while before you gain your total strength, but a good bowl of chow and a nutrient biscuit should help. Are you hungry?" Oatie asked.

<< Daffy always hungry, >> Oatie heard in his head and laughed.

"All right, we got some chow on the way. I'll let you get up when it gets here," Oatie said.

Hank and Buck brought in a full sack of slave chow and a box of nutrient biscuits, and gave it to Harlen and Jessie. "This bag and box is to start you off. Buy your own when you get home and keep them on it for about two weeks. Then you can add table scraps and of course their regular treats. Slave chow is better balanced and contains the extra nutrients they will need as they grow into their new enhancements," Billy explained.

Jethro brought two large dishes and Oatie used a tin measuring cup to place about four cups of chow into each. They placed two nutrient biscuits next to each dish and set them before the hungry hounds. Daffy and Chloe didn't need to be coaxed to eat. The big dogs went to it like it was their last meal. The cowboys set out two large pans of fresh water for them as well. They ate every bit of their meal, but Chloe didn't eat one of her biscuits. She took it in her mouth, turned, walked over to Miranda, and dropped it in front of her as an offering of friendship and thanks for watching them while the cowboys were away.

"Thank you so much for your kind offer, Chloe, but my master's fed me and my pups this morning before we transported over here, and Master Billy was kind enough to bring me a large plate of table scraps from their breakfast. I couldn't eat another bite. You go ahead. Trust me, you will need it. You will have a busy day today, and you'll need all the extra nutrition you can handle," Miranda said.

Chloe nodded she understood and quickly ate the other biscuit. The men were impressed with Chloe's consideration for her smaller sister. Harlen and Jessie were blown away. The dogs were acting like they were considerably younger and displayed more vim and vigor. When they were through with their meal they went to Billy and Oatie and showered them with their love and appreciation for making them feel so much better and younger. There was much happy dancing and stolen kisses. It was a heartwarming site for everyone to see the older dogs feeling better and relieved of worry brought about by aging. They went everywhere with the men that day and were perfect guests. They stayed close to Harlen and Jessie and made sure Miranda was near to let them know proper protocol about who not to chase or run to too aggressively. They were having a ball with the new sights, people, critters, smells, and sounds. Everyone fell in love with the big dogs; Billy's cowboy slaves in particular. They never saw other dogs before but Miranda and her pups. They loved the talking winged little imps with a passion.   

Daffy and Chloe adopted Bossman Randy as their own. Randy took time to communicate with them and fill them in on anything they wanted to know about. Mental communication can be much faster than verbal communication. Randy could pass pictures and words faster than he could speak them. The big dogs kept him busy. They wanted to know about everything. Daffy and Chloe herded him everywhere the men went. Randy loved the attention. He was in constant communication with them. He would burst out laughing and slap his knee at something funny one of them said or their response to a joke he made. Harlen and Jessie looked at each other in awe. There was no doubt in their minds there was a lot of gossip and insights Randy was sharing with his new buddies. Harlen said he was almost jealous of their closeness. Jessie laughed at him.

The men took Harlen, Jessie, and the dogs to visit Harley-Buck and introduced them and his bunk-mate Earl Hickson. Jessie almost got a terminal case of the vapors when he saw Orville, Harley-Buck, and Earl sitting together with Bubba Kirkendall and Jack McCormack. He flushed white as a sheet and then began to blush a deep red color. Harlen looked at him and laughed. "Them men are the only three punishment slaves what Master Billy has in training at the moment. He has another punishment slave what's been in prison for eight years he and his men rescued just before he almost died in the Huntsville prison infirmary, but they decided he'd seen and done enough. Master Billy determines what initiation or 'slave boot camp' a punishment slave will have and the time-period before he's allowed to join the rest of his brothers as just another slave. All them others are voluntary slaves from a hybrid race of humanoid aliens who morphed from them talking cows you see milling about out there. By the way, that harness them men are wearing has a strap which runs under their ass what holds a large butt plug tight inside them," Harlen said quietly to Jessie.

"Oh, Christ, Boss, why did you have to tell me that? I'm almost ready to pass out from just looking at them," Jessie said, "I done already got such a roaring hard-on it's stretching the skin on my face to gimme' a sardonic grin and make my eyes look like a Chinaman's," he said using cowboy hyperbole.

"I agree. It's gonna' be hard for me to go slow with my boy. He's like a cold dish of ice cream on a hot summer's day you want to dive into wiff' two spoons," Harlen said.

After introductions were made, Harlen and Harley-Buck went off to a table by themselves and Bubba and Orville went to the loft in the barn to share a little morning delight. They only had the morning for any last instructions Bubba might have for his old man. The rest of the afternoon would be taken up with the barnyard concert and other activities. After introductions, Master Billy and his posse took the dogs with them and went off to take care of some last minute business before their guests for the Saturday afternoon barbecue arrived. He took his right-hand cowboy brother with them to act as a host for the visiting pets. Daffy and Chloe were having a ball with all the new sights, smells, and sounds.

Jessie found himself sitting with Earl Hickson and his buddy Erin Mascaro. The morning was getting warmer by the minute. Erin got them each a tall glass of sweetened iced tea and set it before them. Jessie saw Earl watching Bubba and Orville slowly walk with their arms around each other, holding each other close, while Bubba stole kisses as he felt him up, gently slapped Orville's firm ass cheeks, and whispered nasty things he planned to do to his dad, then they would laugh together. Jessie saw a look of hurt mixed with jealousy on Earl Hickson's face. Erin caught Jessie looking at Earl and could read his mind without the ability of telepathy. It was obvious to Erin, the new man didn't understand what was happening.

"My buddy Earl and Bubba were bosom buddies most of their lives. The three of us were together in the Syria-Iranian war and different hot-spots in the middle east. There were four of us, but unfortunately our other buddy didn't make it back. He was my little fuck buddy. I never had sex with a man before joining the Marines but 'Buddy', that was his nickname, was so damn cute and had such a sweet ass, I couldn't resist. Once I took the plunge, so to speak, I never looked back. I had sex with women before and after the service, but it weren't nothing like the bond I experienced with my Buddy. When he got hit and died, I liked to have gone off the deep end. Earl can tell ya. I became a basket case for the rest of our hitch and did some crazy things trying to get over my grief for my friend. I went back to women, but I just used and abused them until they got tired of my shit and left me.
"Bubba came back to the hill country, but Earl got a decent job in Belton. He was making good money and bought himself a nice used car. I got drunk, pulled a gun on him and forced him to drive through one of them drive-through package liquor stores, and I robbed the place at gunpoint. I made him drive me to my girlfriend's place, and I let him go. He drove his car into lake Belton and hitchhiked home to the hill country to hide out. They never found the car or him. I never ratted on Earl and told them it was a stranger what gimme' a ride. During our time together in the middle east Bubba tried his best to get into Earl's ass, but Earl werent' having none of it. I told him time and again to just try it with Bubba. If he didn't like it or couldn't get into it, he could always apologize and move on. I strongly urged him to give the big man a chance. He could do a lot worse than a fine man like Bubba Kirkendall. Bubba's one of the four best men I ever done know'd. Earl and my Buddy are two; my cell mate at Huntsville for the first seven years, is the fourth. So, to shorten the story, the look you just seen on my brother's face is one of self-doubt and remorse he didn't take Bubba up on his offer earlier. Now Bubba's got his'self another fine looking man he's training to be a good slave and teaching him the finer points of giving himself to another man," Erin said, "Did I get that right, Brother? Is there anything I left out?" he asked Earl.

Earl got a sick grin on his face and looked at his ice tea. "Naw, you pretty well covered the bases, Bro, but for the life of me I don't know why I feel this way. Maybe it's because I always had Bubba's unconditional love, but I took it for granite. I know he still cares about me and loves me like a brother, but they's just something missing we had before what ain't there now. Now I see him giving that part of himself to Orville, and it makes me feel empty. I'm torn between my wish to see Bubba happy and how to deal with the hole in my heart. I got to stop think'n on it, or it's gonna' eat me up," Earl confessed.

"Naw it won't, Brother!" Erin exclaimed and slapped Earl on the back, "Trust me, you're on the right track sitting here as a new slave on the Daniels' ranch. You couldn't be in a better place to learn what you need to know about life and where you fit into everything," Erin assured him.

"Sometime recognizing there is a problem is the first step to finding a solution, Mr. Hickson," Jessie said quietly.

"Earl! Just call me Earl, sir. I been reduced to a slave, but I ain't ashamed. At least, on the Daniels' ranch, I'm treated like a human and not an animal. Nobody's made me do nothing degrading or humiliating what I didn't consent to before-hand. I don't think Master Billy had the same plan for us he did for Orville Higginbothem. It was Harley-Buck and me what asked him for the same treatment. I know I probably look ridiculous to you with these rings and this harness, but my bunk-mate, Harley-Buck and me, we decided we's gonna' wear our slave training attire as a badge of honor and pride. We done made up our minds to do this and make the best of it," Earl said and sat a little taller but winced a bit when it shifted his butt plug – then he smiled and blushed.

"Were the piercings painful?" Jessie asked wishing his cock would behave itself, but he just had to know.

"Not at all. The crunching sound the punch made for the hole in my nose was a bit scary, but I didn't feel a thing. I was sure the one through the head of my penis would be a bullet-bite'n-bastard, but it was the easiest one. Master Billy was through and done while I was still waiting for him to start. They laughed at me. I looked down, and I'll be damned if it weren't already done," Earl said.

"Would you like to see Earl's Prince Albert piercing, Master Jones?" Erin Mascaro asked.

"If it wouldn't be too much trouble, and if Earl don't mind," Jessie replied.

"Earl don't have no say in the matter, sir. I'm one of his keepers. Stand and hit parade rest, slave!" Erin ordered his friend.

Earl didn't hesitate and immediately jumped up and assumed parade rest. Erin reached under Earl's fully packed codpiece and popped it off with one swift movement. "Voilα!" he exclaimed and held his left hand to point out the masterpiece before him.
Jessie got a good look at Earl's fine piece of manhood confined in a cock-cage wearing a large ring though his penis. Jessie was sure his cock couldn't get any harder, but he was wrong. "That's amazing, Earl. I can understand how you might be proud. If it's any personal comfort to you, I must say, I'm almost envious of you right at this moment. Almost? Hell no! My daddy taught me never to lie or tell half-truths. Fuck it! I'm burning up with envy so bad my ears may start erupting steam or lava at any minute," Jessie said, slapped his leg, and fell out laughing. Erin and Earl joined him.

"I keep telling Earl he's a knock out, but I don't think he believes me, sir," Erin said, "Do you now, Brother?" he asked Earl

"Yes, I think it's becoming easier for me," Earl replied and blushed.

Erin quickly replaced Earl's codpiece and motioned for him to sit down.

"And were you given a choice when you came to be a slave for the Daniels' ranch?" Jessie asked Erin.

"Naw, sir. It was my master's decision. I was ready to go along with anything he planned for me. I was so happy to be alive and out of that dreadful prison, I would have done anything he asked of me to prove my gratefulness. Once I saw Orville, and now Earl and Harley-Buck, I wonder if I might have benefited from this form of basic training. It reduces a man to a common denominator and starts to slowly rebuild him into a good and compassionate man; which, is exactly what the Marine Corps does to new recruits, only they turn them into mindless warriors trained to follow orders whether they're good or bad," Erin said and paused as Harlen and Harley-Buck walked up to the patio table.

"May we join you, Gentlemen?" Harlen asked.

"Certainly, Boss!" Jessie replied, "Erin Mascaro, one of Earl and Harley-Buck's keepers, was beginning to tell us about his prison experience and his cell mate," Jessie said and the other two men encouraged them to join them.

Erin Mascaro's Story ~

"My story ain't no secret and anyone who might gain some insight or wisdom from my experience is welcome to listen. When I first arrived to the Daniels' ranch, I was awestruck by the difference from the life I was living in prison. It was like walking into paradise compared to the fear and continual imbalance you're forced to live with under those conditions. Despite his obvious youth, Master Billy is one of the most understanding and compassionate men I ever met in my life. We talked for hours one afternoon. He took me for a walk down by the river and wanted to know my story – my experiences in prison. You can't lie to Master Billy. He can get into your head and listen to your thoughts. He can tell in a cow-town minute if you's lying to him. I swear on the name of some unknown god, I assured my new master it was with the same confidence scientist have for the elegant truth of Euler's Theorem he could comfortably apply to my situation. I made him a promise, I would never lie to him. I did not lie to him, and I will not lie to you, sirs," Erin said and paused.

"I was about as green as they come when I went to Huntsville. I thought I was a tough guy. Hell, I was an ex-Marine. I'd been to hell and back in the Middle-east and survived. I was sure I could handle prison with no problems. I imagined I'd be able to keep to myself, keep a low profile, mind my own business, do my time, get out a little early for good behavior, and move on. The first five days I was there, I was put into a cell with a mean-spirited old man I had to fight several times to keep him from forcibly raping me. He was considerably older than me but not nearly as fit. I just got out of the Marine Corps, and I was in top condition. He arrogantly assumed because I was the new kid on the block, it was his right as his cell-mate to make me his bitch. I was able to hold him off and told him the next time he touched me without my permission, I would turn the tables on him and make him my bitch. It was only one of many incidents. The next major thing which happened, I was going to be gang raped by four Latino men in the shower one night when in walked one of the biggest men I ever saw in my life.  

"He was a giant Norwegian man by the name of Odin Asgard Bluetooth. I shit you not! That was his name. He was the most fearsome man in Huntsville and ever'body knew you didn't give no grief to Big Blue. His only hobby was working-out in the weightlifting area, and he built his body until he was massively proportioned. He weren't only big, he was a monster with bigger guns than many professional bodybuilder. At seven feet six inches he was a mountain on the move and everyone got out of his way when he passed. He saw what was going on and told the Chicanos they were past their allotted time in the shower, to get out, and leave the white boy alone to finish his shower in peace.  

"They grumbled and complained but quickly went their way and left me and Big Blue to ourselves. I thanked him for intervening and went about my shower. I noticed he was looking me over like a fresh piece of meat, but I didn't show him any interest. What I saw hanging between his legs wasn't your average sized penis. It looked like a weapon of mass destruction. I certainly didn't want to encourage him. He was quiet for a while as he went about his shower, but as I was finishing mine, he spoke, "You're a new fish here. You got a lot to learn, Son. Join the Aryan Brotherhood as fast as you can. They will provide you some protection; however, I won't kid you, everything in this joint comes at a price. To survive you got to learn how to game the system. You will need a mentor. Someone who will look out for you with enough scare power reputation no one will touch you without his permission," Blue said.

The next day at the evening meal, Blue came to the table where I was sitting with two other men, but we weren't together. He came and stood before me and asked if he could sit down. I motioned for him to do so. He glowered at the other two men, nodded his head for them to vamoose, they picked up their trays and quickly moved to another table. He sat down and started eating his supper. "Did you contact the Aryan Brotherhood?" he asked quietly.

"Yes, sir, I did, but I have to draw somebody's blood to become a member. I'm in here because booze makes me a crazy-angry-mean-assed-son-of-a-bitch – a regular Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. After a certain point, I can't control myself no more, but I ain't no murderer. At least not yet, and I don't wanna' be – not for no dumb religious reason neither. I couldn't live with myself anymore. I plan to do my time and get out of this place. I don't want no extra time added to my sentence. The brotherhood's motto is 'blood-in/blood-out.' I'll take my chances on my own, thank you," I told him, "By the way, Mr. Blue, I noticed in the shower last night you don't have none of them tribal tats on your body. In fact, you ain't got a one I could notice. I done checked on you, and you ain't a member of the 666," I added.

"I'm big, and I keep myself fit. I believe my body is a temple; always growing and evolving. Every living cell in your body is completely replaced once ever' seven years. You ain't the same person you were seven years ago. If you're lucky enough to live eighty years, there will be approximately eleven complete rebirths of your body. I don't believe in ritual scarification or tattoos which labels you for life. I don't choose to live my life that way. I coexist with the brotherhood, but I don't participate in their schemes. I stay to myself and don't get involved if I can help it. I can handle myself in most situations because of my size. They leave me alone, but they won't you," he growled.

"Cut to the chase, big man! I may be a fish, but I ain't no fool. I could feel you looking me over and sizing me up in the shower. What's it gonna' cost me for your protection, Mr. Blue?" I asked looking him right in the eye.

The man-mountain grinned, "Well at least you ain't naοve. That's one hurdle we don't have to jump," he replied and smiled.

"Lemme' guess. You're in the market for a wife, and you liked what you saw last night. Are you a gay man?" I asked.

"Not by choice. Look around you. Do you see any women in here? They don't even allow women in the hospital. I probably won't ever see another women up close and personal for the rest of my life – and yes, I'm looking for a mate, but I won't be so crass or insensitive to your masculine ego to ever refer to you as my 'wife,'" he said, "Cards on the table? You and me, we become a bonded pair. Not unlike marriages of convenience in the early days of our country, when men mostly went into the new lands to settle the frontier, then later, through letters and pictures, chooses a bride for himself. Like a Lyre bird performs for his mate his gathered array of copied sounds from chain saws to guitar riffs, I offer you my unblemished body to have and to hold, a promise of uncomplicated protection for the use of your ass and an occasional blowjob. That's it in a nutshell, Son. It ain't rocket science. It's distilled Darwinism. Survival of the fittest in an impossible situation. You got something I want and need, and I can provide you with protection. How about it?" he asked, "So much for long, protracted courtships," he added as an afterthought. He made me laugh. At least he had a sense of humor, and there was something about his use of words which made me think he was either well-read or an educated man.

I told him, "I got me a feel'n life moves at an accelerated rate in this place, and if you see something you like and don't throw your hat over it, you miss out completely. The train leaves the station, it's the last train to Clarksville, and you ain't on it. There ain't no second chances," I told him.

"At least the Dr. Hyde part of you's got some horse-sense about him," he replied, and we shared a laugh.

"Are you a gay man?" Blue asked.

I didn't take offense, because I was bold enough to asked the same of him. "Not by orientation," I replied,"but I'll admit, right now, it probably would make things easier. I've butt-fucked a number of my buddies who wanted it. I enjoyed it as much or more than the times I was with women; especially my little fuck buddy in the Marines what done went and got his'self killed. I was very much in love with him, but I would never admit it to him. I wish I hadn't a been such a got-damned hard-ass motherfucker and told him how much I loved and cared about him. It was the main reason I stayed drunk most of the time and fucked up my life. I'm still grieving for him. While I ain't never been on the receiving end, I noticed I was more considerate, loving, and gentle with my little buddy than I was with women. For what it's worth, I had several men tell me they thought I would make a great gay lover. It sort of torqued my tits the wrong way at the time, but the more I thought about it, it was kind of a nice back-door compliment – no pun intended. I'm afraid I'm a user and somewhat of an abuser of women. Maybe because I was rejected by my own mother when I was a kid, I never allowed myself to trust women. I come to look upon them as mostly conniving, manipulating baby factories sitting in wait like a Venus Fly-trap to snare and eat you alive if you push the wrong button. I was raised by two good and kind gay men; my great uncle and his partner – two old cowboys on a ranch in the big pine country of East Texas," I said, "I saw your penis last night in the shower, and it damn near scared the shit out of me," I added.

"Good, then you understand you will have to be completely clean before you can safely take me," Blue said and grinned, "but not to worry, I'm a patient lover. I have a graduated set of rubber husbands or wife-makers, depending on your point of view, to help you become comfortable before I attempt to take you," he explained. "Word in the yard has it, old Ben Foggle, your cell mate, already tried to rape you, and you beat the crap out of him – told him you were gonna' turn the tables on him if he didn't leave you alone," he commented, "You already got a reputation for being a scrapper," he added.   

"I did, but I ain't proud of myself. I just got out of the Marine Corps, and I was trained in hand-to-hand combat, plus I was state champion in the Golden Gloves three years in a row when I was in high school. Nobody will lay a hand on me if I don't want him to, but after them Chicanos tried to gang rape me last night, I can see it's going to be one got-damned fight after another. I never thought it was gonna' be easy, but I only been here a week. Jesus Christ! Did I miss the welcoming committee? I never got flowers or candy; not even a basket of fruit to wish me well. The least they could a' done was leave a mint on my pillow. What's wrong with this fuck'n place?" I asked and got the big man laughing.
"That's just it! There ain't nothing to do worth a damn but fuck the buddy you care about and try to bring you both some release and comfort, and I'm bet'n the man you end up with, no pun intended, won't get you by force. He'll have to win your trust, your confidence, and your heart," Blue said, "Besides, you's too damn good looking and unspoiled to be in prison. They never should of sent you to a place like this. Huntsville's like the seventh ring of Dante's Inferno," he added.

"Dante's Inferno? That did it! There was something about the way he said them words what struck a nerve in me like a resounding chord at the end of a great piece of music. At that moment, I understood Blue weren't out to dominate me so much as to conjoin with me physically and spiritually to become a team – to make a strong statement against the ravages and dehumanization of prison life," Erin said.

"Fuck it!" I told him, "If I'm gonna' have to take on a husband to get me a halfway decent life in this shit-hole, I'm willing to pay the price. I want the biggest, most intelligent, best looking, got-damned mother-fucker I can find to protect me, and if he's got the biggest cock in the joint, I'll work with him until we get it right and can both enjoy the talents we bring to each other," I said.

"Do I have your word?" he asked.

"You have my word, sir, and by the way, I fuck'n hate tattoos," I replied, and we shook hands to seal our troth.

That evening, I was moved to Blue's cell, and I began my new life as his mate. My cellmate's parting shot was, "You won't be able to say 'no' to that big man, Miss Priss, he'll break you in two," he hissed.

"Thanks for reminding me, Sadie. That's exactly why I agreed to become his cell mate. Blue's a real man. He can take what he wants from me. At least he's not a dried up impotent old crone like you. I done made him a promise I won't never say 'no' to him," I shot back and thumbed my nose at him. For a while afterward, I would catch Ben looking at us. I would kiss the palm of my hand, smile, and blow it at him. He would glower at me. Grudges die hard in prison.

"There was no guesswork about our relationship. Everyone in the prison knew we became a couple. Blue became my husband. I became his wife, but Blue never treated me that way. Together, we rose above the labels and snide comments any recognized subordinate partner must cope with in prison. Blue worked to stretch my sphincter and allowed me time to become comfortable with a large object up my ass. He open me up like Master Billy's training his punishment slaves, with slight differences; I weren't required to wear a butt plug until we finished our day's work and we were alone in our cell. He worked me good with his wife-makers until I could take the largest one with ease. When we were satisfied, I was finally ready for our nuptial bed, Blue took me gently, with patience, and strength. The big man wasn't an insensitive beast. He empathized and understood what I was giving up for him, and he took it from me with love, compassion, and understanding. I couldn't have asked for a better mate for my first time than Big Blue.

"After a month of his intensive training and stretching of my ass to accommodate the length and girth of his manhood, it would be wrong for me to refer to the first night my husband took me as 'anticlimactic' because Blue was more than I could have hoped for in a partner. He made sure we both reached gut wrenching climaxes, one after another, until we completed three marathon ejaculations. When we finished we were exhausted, and at least for a while, we were temporarily sated. That week began a routine. I worked in the laundry, and he worked in the license plate printing area. He didn't get back to our cell until an hour after I did. I would clean myself and insert my plug in case my husband needed me. He always did. We cleaned up after he got back and would go to dinner together. After we got back we would talk for a while, then have sex.

"Things went along fine for the first five years. We just became an accepted item. We were known to neither carry tales nor would we ever rat anyone out. We got the label of Mr. and Mrs. Bluetooth. There were several other names or cognomens by which we were known. Blue's first name was Odin and when we were alone, I affectionately called him Odie. He like to call me his 'baby' because he was beginning to remodel my body in his image. Others picked up on it and started calling me 'Baby Blue.' I didn't object. I was rather flattered being known as the big man's baby. We stood out in the yard because we were the only two without tattoos and Blue slowly, over the years, got me as jazzed about bodybuilding as he was. I became his Pygmalion and he created the perfect lover or sub-husband he wanted me to be. Other than the big man himself, there was no man in the prison more well-defined and pumped than me. We even looked alike – Big Frack and Frack Junior. Even though we tried, as best we could, to keep a low profile, there were those who became jealous and angry because anyone should find a modicum of happiness in a place so dreadful as prison. While they were raging against the machine, we built an ark to sail above the troubled waters.

"Alas, even the most perfect of relationships can not remain in situ forever. We hit several bumps our sixth year together. We were happy and content. Nothing could get to us. We laughed at the other prisoners' snide or funny remarks about us; until, one of the younger initiates to the Brotherhood felt like we should be members, if you ain't for us you're agin us, abide by their rules, and live as they live since the color of our skin was white. He was loud, mean-spirited, nasty, and aggressive. Blue put him in his place a couple of times and embarrassed him. He lost face for a while and kept his mouth shut, but he was like a smoldering ember ready to burst into flames at the least provocation. His name was Barney Pike, but everyone called him 'Rubble' after the cartoon character. He and I got into it one afternoon just when I was getting off work from the laundry. Some other guys pulled us apart. He pulled a shiv on me he made from a sharpened plastic toothbrush and punched a couple of holes in me. He was yelling accusations at me, but I kept my cool and remained quiet. I was more worried about what Blue might do to him.

"Shut the fuck up, you raving lunatic and listen to me for one Goddamn minute then you can go back to your stupid rant. My old man is gonna' be pissed big time when he sees these holes you punched in me. I ain't hiding behind his size none, neither. I ain't afraid of you, Rubble, or your foul mouth. I'm calling your cowardly ass out. What the fuck you think you're doing stabbing an unarmed man? If you want to settle this man to man we'll have it out in the yard bare fists with no weapons. The man left standing is the winner," I told him. My old man will be in touch with your man.

"To make a long story shorter, we had our rumble. It was controlled with the guards watching. They knew what was going to take place and were betting as heavy on the outcome as the cons. I went into the fight as the underdog. The bets were five to one, heavily in favor of Rubble winning the fight because he was bigger physically. Blue knew better. He knew my past and bet heavily on me. After the first few minutes, I realized Rubble was no fighter. He would spend his strength and energy coming after me and leave himself wide open. I would duck, weave, bob, and pop him a good one every time. I would taunt him. I knew if I could get him angry and maintained my cool, the fight was mine. He would go down, scurry to get up, and like a slobbering raging bull, he would come at me again. He was so clumsy and uncoordinated, it almost became funny to me.

"What a shame, Rubble, all that money your family paid for them ballet lessons, and you can't even chew gum and walk at the same time! You're pitiful. Come on you fuck'n coward. Show me what you got, asshole, 'cause when I put you down, I'm gonna' undo your pants, slick up my old hoss real good, and take me a ride like a pro-rodeo cowboy. I'm gonna' corn-hole yore' ass 'til it bleeds in front of your brothers," I said and the gathered crowed laughed at my bullshit. That really wound him up. I could swear I could see steam coming from his nares. Finally, he decided to go at me like a raging dervish to overpower me with crazy, but I was ready for him. He missed a step, I put my left foot in front of him to trip him, he fell to my right, and as he was going down, I popped him a good one with a strong uppercut as hard as I could against his jaw and broke it. It made a terrible crunching sound like stepping on a bag of potato chips. He was out like a light and didn't get up. The yard went crazy applauding, yelling, and hooting for me. His main man walked up to me, grabbed my hand, raised my arm as the winner, and the yard yelled some more. The head of the brotherhood came and embraced me, kissed me on my cheek, and shook my hand. It was a strong political statement as well as good sportsmanship on the part of the Brotherhood. I could see Blue grinning like a Cheshire cat at the back of the crowd, licking his thumb, acting like he was counting money. I laughed," Erin said.
"Others noticed me and Blue as well. One afternoon I was called to the Warden's office. I had no idea what they wanted because it had been some time since the rumble with Rubble. There was nothing wrong, the Warden and his head screw wanted to fuck me. One would fuck me in the butt, and the other would fuck my face; then they switched the next time. They wanted me completely naked when they did it. They made sure I got back to my cell at my usual time. I would quickly clean myself so Blue wouldn't suspect anything. It went on once a week for a couple of months, usually on a Friday afternoon. I did everything in my power to keep it from Blue but living in a prison is like living in a frick'n goldfish bowl. Sometimes the information becomes garbled when it's only bits and pieces of rumors; like the old game of whispering a secret and passing it from person to person until it's nothing like the original message. It became like an elephant in our cell between us. We still made love and shared sex, but there was something missing. I knew it, and Blue knew it, but we didn't talk about it. Finally, out of frustration and desperation Blue asked if I was having an affair with another inmate.

"God no, Odie! And don't chu' never think that again! You're the only man for me. There's no one in this prison who even runs a close second to you. I swear to you on all the gods that man has worshiped or will ever worship and any unknown gods out there in the universe, I love you to the breadth and height my soul can reach. You are my god, Odie! I would bow down to you and worship at your feet if you asked me to. I put you above all others and the day I can't have you put your body inside mine to make us one, I will stop living," I told him. "Leave this be, Odie. Let it go for both our sakes. You're right to be suspicious, but it's better you not know. It might cause repercussions which might break us apart. Once you made me a promise you would offer me your protection if I gave you what you needed. Have I failed to live up to my end of our bargain?" I asked.

"No, you exceeded my expectations a hundred fold. I couldn't love you more, Baby Blue," Blue replied.

"Nothing has changed between us, I promise," I said.

"You know I never would, but I could beat it out of you, Son," Blue said.

"I would rather die by your hand, my love, than to betray you or tell you something which might change our happiness. Just make damn sure you do it after you emptied your final load in me and made me come for my last time. Then I'll die a happy and contented man in the arms of the man I love," I said firmly.

The big man looked at me and tears began to run down his cheeks. "You love me that much, Baby?" he asked.

"No, no – much more than that, Odie. I have no way to express the measure of my love for you," I replied.

That was the last of our conversations about the elephant in our cell. Weeks afterward Blue was in the yard talking with the head of the Brotherhood and he was really down. "Why so glum, big 'un?" Marcus asked.

"I can't get nothing from nobody about my boy and what's going on. It's like it's the best kept secret since the false flag operation of 9/11. I feel like I'm being cuckold and Baby Blue's being unfaithful to me," Blue said.

"Leave it alone, Blue. Trust me. You don't wanna' know. Take my word for it, the boy ain't doing nothing to cheat on you. They don't come no better'n 'nat boy and his love for you is his strength. You make his sun come up in the East and go down in the West. You set the moon and stars out at night for him. He would give his life for you in a heartbeat. Why do you think everyone in this damn prison is jealous of you and him? You two got something the rest of us can only dream about, but the worse part is, it reminds us of what we might have had," he said firmly, "We watched you create him in your image to become the son and lover you always wanted and know you could never have on the outside. Think about it, Blue. Next to you, he's got the second best body in this prison. He's a young god in the eyes of many men, and not just the inmates either," Marcus added. He paused for a while waiting to see if Blue picked up on his last few words.

"Son of a bitch!" Blue exclaimed in a whisper, "How fuck'n blind can I be? Why ain't you said nothing before now?" he asked.

"Same reason your boy don't want you to know. We may not agree with your politics, but we have to admire you and him and what you men built for yourselves. We'll stand up for you and Baby Blue when you need us; just like you backed us any number of times. This is one you can't fight, Blue. You can't fight the powers what be and maintain your life with Erin. You mess with this, I promise you, it will explode in your face and come tumbling down around you. Better to let it be, and let them think you're none the wiser. Like any other toy, they'll become bored with him in time, and you'll have him to yourself again. It's their way of letting you and us know they can take anything away from us if they want to. Granted it's the worst form of psychological intimidation bordering on mental torture. It's rough, Brother, ain't no doubt about it, but you gotta' trust your boy and be strong for him. Think about Baby Blue. This cain't be no Gollywog's Cakewalk for him neither. He lives in fear ever' damn day hoping the only man he truly loves won't find out and reject him 'cause he's being forcibly raped by two other men," Marcus said, "He ain't got no say in the matter, Blue. They told him they wouldn't allow you two to be together no more if he didn't cooperate and keep his mouth shut. You should look upon how he's handling the situation as one of the greatest statements of love he could possibly pay you, Son. That boy ain't ready to give you up; not by a long shot. He's fighting with all his strength to hold onto you," Marcus added.

"Marcus was right. The Warden and his head screw got tired of me and would only call me to the office once every other month or so. Things almost got back to normal between Blue and me, but our seventh year together all hell broke loose with the brotherhood. The old blood was labeled conservative and the new blood were more aggressive and radical. They insisted every white man in the prison become one of them or face being murdered. One of the younger soldiers tried to take me out with a homemade shiv. I took some cuts but Blue found us fighting and put the kid in the hospital. The brotherhood put out a contract on Blue, but the screws got wind of it, told the Warden, and he slapped my husband in solitary confinement. I got a new cell-mate. Well, he weren't new. It was old Ben Foggle. We made up over the years and became pretty good friends. Not enough to make the beast with two backs but buddies. Things went along pretty well for a while. The guards who liked me and Blue would allow us conjugal visits once a week. We only had a couple of hours, and we would fuck our brains out. Then it went from once a week to once a month; every other month; every six months, and I could see the life and light slowly going out of Blue's eyes.

"Our last visit we knew we'd never see each other again in this life. We said our goodbyes and made the sweetest love we ever did. I will always remember that night. It was only another six months, and I got in the middle of an inter-racial knife fight between a Brotherhood member and Chicano gang member. I got cut up pretty bad, and they refused to patch me up. They claimed it would take too much money. They were going to let me die. That's when Master Billy and his men rescued me," Erin finished his story.

The men around the table sat in silence. There was a cool breeze blowing through the patio, and the ends of the umbrella were flapping. It was the only sound for a few seconds. A couple of the men were deeply moved by Erin's story. "You never told me about your time in prison, Brother," Earl said.

"I didn't see no need and have you think bad of me because I jumped the fence from women to men," Erin replied.

"Have you had feelings or thoughts about women since you been on the Daniels' ranch, Master Erin?" Harley-Buck asked.

"Ain't thought about it much either way. I thought a hell a lot about my husband. Last I heard he refused to eat and was trying to starve himself to death; however, it didn't sound like the man I knew and loved. You can't never tell about rumors in prison," Erin replied.

"If you could be with him again under better circumstances would you still want him?" Jessie asked.

"Oh, God, yes! In a heartbeat. Blue was my husband for seven years. Seven god-awful years. Blue turned it into seven wonderful years – seven of the greatest years of my life, I will cherish 'til the day I die. If he were to walk onto this patio this very minute, I would fall on my knees before him, kiss his feet, and beg Odie Bluetooth to claim me as his spouse and marry me in a cow-town minute and insist Master Billy ring us together as his slaves – with my husband's approval, of course," Erin said, laughed, and blushed.

"Thanks for sharing your story with us, Son," Harlen said, "I had no idea our prisons were so poorly run today. I can understand why Master Billy didn't think you needed further adjustments, but it makes me wonder if you weren't robbed of a choice about your sexuality by being forced into a situation you might not have chosen for yourself," he added.

"I been out of prison for several weeks now and never once thought about one of them pretty lady cowgirls. I'm friendly with 'um and chat 'um up from time to time, but I come to realize I prefer the company of men. I finally realized my momma done killed any urges to take a woman for a mate. It wouldn't be fair to the woman, because I couldn't return her love the way she needs. In my case, I'd venture to say, prison and becoming Odin Asgard Bluetooth's wife made me understand my own sexuality and need better than any psychiatrist might accomplish. You men undergoing Master Billy's training may never totally switch, but I promise, it will make you much better husbands and lovers for your wives if you decided to take a woman for a mate. You'll get to experience what it's like to become a good partner for another man and hopefully, if you're sensitive enough, you can extrapolate that wisdom to your straight relationships. We don't have classes in sex education to teach kids about them birds and bees and what to expect from physical relationships. It's been a hit and miss type thing from the beginning of time. Some primitive tribes are much better at it than our so-called enlightened society," Erin said.
"Cain't gainsay that, Son," Harlen agreed, "I'm still trying to figure it out. I can understand them other men's envy of you and your husband. I found your story most evocative," he added.

"I second that comment, Mr. Mascaro, and not because he's my boss, neither," Jessie said and grinned.

"One thing I can assure you, Son, is my man don't hold back. He speaks his mind," Harlen said, and the men shared a laugh.

* * * * * * *
Guests began to arrive at the ranch. Billy and his posse were there to greet everyone. The last couple of barbecue barnyard concert afternoons were more laid-back but impressive affairs. Today Billy was pulling out all the stops and planned a full day of good food and entertainment. He also invited most of the villagers except those tending the great bulls and making preparation for later in the evening. Billy planned a late evening bull party in the dungeon steam baths with gentle herb teas and brotherly camaraderie. He found he got more ideas from his family when they were in a totally relaxed mood sharing a good time with each other.  

Both sets of Sun Bears were invited to the day's festivities. Billy had Edith and Archie make sure the satellite feed-loop was active so no one would see anything suspicious from space. They found someone already took care of it, but Billy didn't have to ask who. He knew his little brother arranged it. Randy was just a young boy, but he was growing in mental abilities faster than anyone but Billy could keep up with. The boy took care of some delicate matters for Billy under the supervision of Clyde and Balthazar as a matter of course. With his two favorite and bestest cowboy-angel buddies to counsel and guide him, Billy didn't figure Randy could get himself into any trouble from which they couldn't easily rescue him. To Randy, his manipulations and insights into the workings of the Shedu and their fund of near magic abilities was a stroll in the park. His abilities to 'see' into the deeper inner-workings of their talents became second nature to him. He didn't see it as anything to get excited about. He could do it, and he got the job done with little or no effort. The little Bossman never worked up a sweat.   

With Master Billy's permission, Jack and Bubba invited Hoss and his cousin Doug Dewberry for another Saturday afternoon and evening with his family. They were thrilled to get another invitation. They never had such a wonderful time as their previous visit to the ranch. Once again they drove to Bubba's ranch, met him and Jack, and they drove to the Daniels' ranch in Hoss's big truck. Hoss didn't have any problems with the guard bulls. They recognized him immediately, wished him well, and parted for the men to continue up to the compound. There were many more vehicles than their last visit. Billy invited everyone in the local area. Hoss and Doug were anxious to see the two new punishment slaves they heard so much about from Bubba and Jack. They marveled at Orville the last time they visited the ranch, but to see two more men in their slave contraptions made an even bigger impression on them.

It seemed like the compound came to life in about thirty minutes time. Billy gathered his guests, but the cowboy-slaves along with Earl, Harley-Buck, and Orville went with their keepers to have their lunch and get ready for the barnyard concert. When they parted, Bubba told Orville he would come for him just before the concert, and they would sit together. They spent an exceptionally fine morning in the hayloft, and the men were psyched up for the coming day. The compound was quickly filling up with the village people including the musicians. Several of the guest never met the three giants and their friends Thor and Zeus. They worked and lived in the castle on Captain Nick's ship and rarely came to the ranch functions. Everyone was impressed by Gog, Joe, and Willie, and the kids loved them. They were being carried around like young princes by their family giant. Actually, it looked like a picture out of a children's story book. The flying Sun Bears and their acrobatic brothers and sisters were the hit of the day. Billy grabbed Erin Mascaro, threw his arm around his shoulder, and pulled him close, "Come with me, Brother, I have some rather large men I want you to meet. You come in handy being a surrogate host and my representative showing folks around on several occasions. These men are special people, so chaperon them, see to their comfort, and answer any questions they might have," Billy said.

"Thanks for your trust in me, Master Billy. I'm your man," Erin said eagerly.

When Erin caught sight of the giants with Thor and Zeus being much larger than normal human males, he swooned and almost went weak in his knees. Billy held his arm around him tight. "Easy there, Hoss! Steady, big fellow. Remind you of anyone?" he asked mischievously.

"Of course, but I couldn't love you more for this assignment, Boss. I thought my heart might stop for a minute, but it continues to beat with a little more remembered joy. I don't know if you're an angel or a demon and I don't care, but you knew I would come in my Wranglers when I looked upon them men. A part of you is deliciously wicked," Erin said and laughed.

"I was kinda hoping for that reaction," Billy said and patted Erin on his fine butt, "I'm proud of the way you're fitting in here at the ranch and couldn't be more pleased with your work with our new slaves. For the moment, I think we found your place in the sun," Billy allowed.

"I never had a job I felt more relaxed and comfortable than I do being a keeper. It parallels my past to a remarkable degree. I can understand and thoroughly approve you methods, sir," Erin said.

The giants seemed to be as interested in Erin Mascaro as he was in them. Having to contend with men for eight years in prison made Erin the perfect social ambassador for his master. The giants with Thor and Zeus seemed to welcome him among them as one of them. One or the other had their arm around him all afternoon, and they listened intently to every word he said. Erin was in his cups.

Once again Billy asked for volunteers to ride down to the river with his staff to take food, drink, and treats to their local stomping of Bigfoot and their ubiquitous companions, the daddy long-legs. The giants and their company wanted to help and Billy nodded his approval to Erin and grinned. Erin knew to see the giants joined them and took over for his Boss. Harlen and Jessie volunteered. They wanted to see how many Bigfoot there were around the area. Randy was ready and told Daffy and Chloe to not be afraid of the big beast. The were just like Boomer and Brute, and they would not harm them or their masters. He told them they were not to be barked at or challenged. To Billy's surprise there were considerably more of the large beasts and daddy long-legs that day.

<< Do you know anything about this, little Brother? >> Billy sent to Randy.

<< Yes, big Brother, I invited them, >> Randy sent back and giggled, << They's from the woodlands around Master Harlen's place. I sent a blanket invitation telling them where to gather for transportation. Clyde and Balthazar went with me, and we brought them through a gate. They understand we'll take them back after the concert is over. They's eighteen of them. Ten Daddy Long-legs and eight Bigfoot, >> Randy explained.

Billy couldn't help laugh. He couldn't be angry with the boy. He was the one teaching him to be humanistic and to think outside the box. "Next time, at least warn me, little Brother," Billy pleaded, "I think we'll have enough food to go around, but we may have to cut the others a little short," Billy explained, "I need to know how many you invited to the party so we'll have ample," he added.

"I promise, Master Billy," Randy said contritely.

"My God would you look at the number of them beasts and them half-clothed naked homeless men," Harlen said to his man, Jessie.

"Wow, and wow again, Boss. Who'd a thunk it!" Jessie exclaimed,"Where did they come from, Master Billy?" Jessie asked.

"Well, that group of eighteen standing by themselves over to the left is from your neck of the woods. Our young genius here sent a blanket invitation to them, told his Shedu friends to open a gate, and with Clyde and Balthazar's help, they brought them here for food and the concert," Billy said and fell out laughing, "Bossman Randy wanted you to meet your neighbors you never knew you had," he added, and they shared a laugh.

The men set to work handing out the food. Once again there was no pushing or shoving. Everyone was well-mannered and the new men and critters were allowed to go first by the others. They were shy and overwhelmed by the different people and strange animals. Billy was impressed by his resident stomping of Bigfoot and Daddy Long-legs manners and consideration for their unknown brothers. Randy took the biggest beast by his huge paw, led him to the food, and helped him. When he left, he held an arm full of food and treats. Harlen and Jessie only thought they'd seen it all. They were awestruck by the meeting of two very different worlds.

"This is the way it's suppose to be, Jess," Harlen said quietly.

"No argument here, Boss. I have to become a part of this, Master," Jessie replied.

"I share your feelings, Brother. I think we found another home," Harlen said, "We may never get Daffy and Chloe away from this place. I ain't seen them so happy and active in a long time. It's good to see," he added, "Are you ready to play midwife?" Harlen asked and grinned.

"Might as well. I wear every other damn hat around our place. One more won't matter," Jessie replied and laughed.

"Yes, and you're so good at changing hats, Friendly," Harlen complimented his man.

The usual stomping of Bigfoot and Daddy Long-legs were there including Randy's protector Ludo with his buddy Leather Face. The big Daddy Long-leg was wearing a pair of overalls with no shirt and a decent pair of canvas running shoes with no socks. He looked like he was in better spirits.

<< Nice outfit, little Brother, >> Billy sent to Randy.

<< They were my uncles. I found them stored away in the loft of the barn along with my dad's clothes. I gave them to Ludo, and he took them to Leather Face. Ludo said he cried when he gave them to him, and said he would thank me at the next Saturday feed and barnyard concert, >> Randy replied.

<< You done a good thing, Scout. I'm downright proud of you, youngster. Sometimes it's the most simple gesture what will endear a man to you for life. You made an imprint on that poor man's soul, Cowboy. His heart will be yours forever. You done bought and paid for it with them two simple gifts what ain't worth nothing to nobody else, >> Billy sent.

<< I hope so. He needs someone to love him and care about him. I done got me some extra spare change, >> Randy replied, looked up at Billy, and grinned.

<< Spare change? I'd say you's on the gold standard, Bossman, >> Billy sent, and they shared a laugh.

* * * * * * *
The giants could communicate mentally with the great beasts and were having a good time. The Bigfoot were noticeably easy and comfortable with the huge humanoids; one blue giant and one green half-Ork. Erin was having a ball working side by side with the giants. His heart was melancholy with the remembrance of his husband, but propped up by his joy in being around such huge male figures; especially, Joe the blue giant. Joe made him feel like he was Baby Blue again. He even shared with them his story and told them of the seven wonderful years with his husband Odin Asgard Bluetooth. For such large creatures, they had big hearts as well, and empathized with his loss.

"Will you be joining us for the barbecue?" Gog asked Erin.

"I'm to be your chaperon and ranch guide for the afternoon, and Master Billy gave me permission to break bread with you," Erin replied.

"Good, we will have you to ourselves for the day. Master Billy couldn't have assigned us a better looking human. With Master Billy's permission, would you like to share an evening with us?" Gog asked.

"I would like that very much, sir," Erin replied.

"Have you had relations with another male since your husband, Son?" Thor asked.

"Naw, sir, Mr. Thor. I just ain't been interested in nobody – male or female," Erin replied.

"Maybe we're just what you need, Son," Thor said quietly.

"I won't gainsay that, sir. Being around you men has been non-stop stimulation for me. My old cock ain't stayed this hard since I was with my husband," Erin agreed.

* * * * * * *
After the stomping of Bigfoot and the Daddy Long-legs were taken care of, Billy and his men returned to clean up to get ready for Sunday dinner. Everyone went through the lines and found a comfortable place to eat. Billy and his men made a point to sit with his guests from the Castle. Erin was with them. "Where do these large handsome men live?" Erin asked his master.

"They live in an enormous medieval castle on a great space ship hidden on the ranch. My pa, Captain Nick, is the captain of the ship. You ain't been here long enough to know about it, but since you were so gracious and willing to chaperon my special guests for the day, we'll take you with us tonight when we transport to spend the evening in the hot baths of the dungeon area. There you will get to see them in all their naked glory," Billy said mischievously.

"I can't imagine such a wonderful thing, but I've learned never to doubt you, Master Billy. I don't think you would offer something so appealing, and it not be true. This ain't no job. It's a slave's holiday. It's a real treat for me, sir," Erin said.

"I like to keep my slaves happy, Brother Mascaro. It keeps them loyal, dedicated, and hard working," Billy said and Randy giggled.

"You's so full of it, big Brother!" Randy leveled Billy, and everyone at the table broke up laughing.    

"Too pompous for you, little Brother?" Billy asked laughing.

"By a wagon load," Randy replied, and they laughed again.

"Thanks for keep'n me real, Bossman," Billy said.

"Anytime, Brother," Randy replied.

* * * * * * *
Everyone pitched in to help clean up afterward so no one had to miss the evening's entertainment. It also became a custom to serve dessert after the concert as opposed to another meal. That way, everyone had a better share of the time to enjoy the barnyard concerts. When Kate was satisfied everything was under control she allowed everyone to mosey on down to the stage area back of the big barn to find seats.

"You ready, Brother Jessie?" Billy asked on the way down.

"I think so, sir," Jessie replied.

"Good, 'cause you're our opening act for this afternoon. Do you have several things worked up you can play as encores?" he asked.

"Why, yes, a couple. How many do you want?" Jessie asked.

"Play it by ear," Billy said and laughed, "I ain't kidding. You judge, but always leave them wanting more," he added and winked.

"I understand," Jessie said.

"I'll announce the Bartok Etudes, but I'll let you explain your encores," Billy allowed.

"What if they don't like my playing?" Jessie asked and smiled.

"Then you turn your back to them, drop your Wranglers, and show them your ass," Billy said, and they fell together laughing. Harlen was listening and damn near choked to death laughing.

"I've actually wanted to do that a couple of times," Jessie said laughing.

"Who hasn't?" Billy asked in reply, and they laughed harder.

The laughter and the easy camaraderie of Billy Daniels made any stage fright vanish from Jessie's mind. He never felt more sure of himself or his talent.

Billy went on stage and welcomed everyone. He cracked a few jokes and the audience laughed dutifully or groaned when one was a stinker. "This afternoon we are fortunate to have a new talent me and my little brother discovered a couple of days ago. We begged and pleaded, got down on our knees and shed many tears to convince him to come and break in our brand new Yamaha Concert Grand we bought for our concert stage. Fortunately, for all of us here this afternoon, he graciously consented to come and play for us. He will play for us Three Etudes Opus 18 by Bela Bartok. A word about Bartok's music: you will not go away humming a catchy tune, but you will hear music what's got muscles on its body and hair on its balls," Billy said and grinned. He waited for the audience to stop laughing, "Furthermore, the technical expertise required to play these pieces is overwhelmingly staggering. These three pieces ain't for no beginners. Sun Bears, pay special attention to the cross-rhythms of these pieces and the dance-like meters which inspired them. I've heard similar dissonant melodies and cross-rhythms in your folk dances. The same applies for our village musicians and folk dancers. It would seem these traits just might be universal. Without anymore of my nonsense, I give you Master Jessie Jones," Billy said loudly and began to applaud for Jessie.

The audience broke into applause and welcomed Jessie on stage. Jessie wore his cowboy clothes including his hat. He was a bit shocked by the crowd and the cows lined up behind them. There were hundreds of people and critters to say nothing of the stomping of Bigfoot and Daddy Long-legs in the balcony limestone seats on the other side of the river. Rather than being overwhelmed, Jessie saw it as a perfect setting. He would have no problem. He took off his big hat and set it on the piano. He sat down, adjusted the seat, and began to play. The audience was stunned by the shear virtuosity of Jessie's playing. They knew their own musicians were good, but this man was a powerhouse of undiscovered talent. Jessie finished the first Etude and went into the second without much pause. Billy's audience was getting more sophisticated and didn't just jump up applauding at the end of every movement. They waited for their master to begin applauding and then jumped on the bandwagon. When Jessie finished the last movement there was a stunned silence came over the audience. Billy was so stunned he forgot to applaud. Zelma Jane jumped up, lifted her fist over her head and yelled at the top of her voice, "Hosanna!"

Everyone jumped from their seats, raised their fist over their heads and answered, "Hosanna, in the highest!" Then, they broke into a standing ovation and wouldn't let Jessie leave the stage. "More! Encore! More!" they yelled among their applause. Harlen nodded to his man, grinned from ear to ear, and winked. Jessie never experienced such a reaction from his playing. The 'hosanna' bit damn near dislocated his soul from its socket, and coming from none other than the Grand Dame of Houston's highest social upper crust A-list, was overwhelming for the tall, well-proportioned cowboy. Jessie walked over to the stage mike and thanked everyone. "I will be happy and proud to play another piece for you. The next piece will be by the same composer, Bela Bartok, and it is his Sonata for Piano. While the Etude's are flashy technical pieces meant to test a pianist mettle, Bartok's Sonata is more of a concert piece. It is even more indicative of his use of folk dance melodies and cross-rhythms. It is in three movements," Jessie said and returned to the piano.

Jessie was right. While the Etudes captured the audience's need for technical bravado, the Sonata captured their hearts as a lyric and never ending change of tempos and cross-rhythms. The Sun Bears were captivated. So were the village people. It was as if the music was speaking directly to their feet. There was no pause when Jessie finished the last movement. The entire place was on their feet cheering and shouting 'hosannas,' applauding, whistling, stomping boots and hooves, hats being tossed in the air. Jessie never played for such a receptive audience. He expected only a polite applause but this crowd of mixed critters and humans were going bananas yelling for him to play another piece. They wanted to hear more and weren't going to take 'no' for an answer.

Billy nodded to him and Jessie went to the stage mike again. "Gees, ain't never got such an ovation for my playing. Thank you very much," he said and they cheered again for him, "I'll play one more piece and then I should give way to other performers Master Billy has scheduled for this afternoon. The last piece is something altogether different written by a composer in Spain almost six hundred years ago, Domenico Scarlatti, his Sonata K. 1," Jessie said and walked back to the piano. Jessie ripped off the piece like it was a walk in the park, and it was his ice cream cone on a warm afternoon. It was just the right chaser, a dessert or aperitif from the Bartok. It was perfect and the crowd when crazy again. After several bows, Jessie left the stage.

"Thanks, Brother. Now! How in the Hell do you expect us to follow your act!" Billy said as a compliment and laughed. "That was nothing short of phenomenal, Jess," he added.

"Thanks. Coming from you, it means a lot," Jessie said.

"Next time – you play Rachmaninoff's Theme and Variations," Billy said.

"You got an orchestra?" Jessie asked.

"No, but my little brother's got one in his back pocket. I shit chu' not, Brother. I'll conduct," Billy said and laughed.

"I never played it with an orchestra, but I'd love to. You're on, Cowboy!" Jessie said, and they shook hands.

Jessie walked out front to take a seat and was met by the Grand Dame Redbone herself. She offered her hand and escorted Jessie to a seat on the front row next to her. Harlen was sitting on her other side. The audience applauded for him again, Jessie took another bow, and sat down. "I'm looking forward to your Rachmaninoff, young man," Zelma said and grinned.

"When?" Harlen asked.

"Next weekend. Here! Don't be late!" Zelma replied like the voice of authority.

Harlen grinned and winked at Jessie.

There were four more classical pieces performed. Aunt Helen, Roz, and Kayla worked up a Haydn trio for piano, cello, and viola. It was originally for violin but Roz transposed it, and it worked fine. It was a lovely piece very well suited for the occasion. They got a standing ovation. Vox Humana played a couple of Debussy preludes, and Billy played the Stravinsky Etudes again.

The next acts were the Village Musicians and dancers including the Sun Bears and their folk dances. They were received with much enthusiasm. On and on the afternoon went with dance after dance and ancient pieces by the musicians themselves. Everyone was in a great mood. It was one of the most fondly discussed Barnyard Concert anyone could remember. After the Village Musicians and the wonderful Sun Bears, Billy called for a brief intermission before they started the final country Cajun music part of the concert. Everyone was milling about talking about the performances. Those who needed to take a restroom break did so. Then everyone gathered and the music began again. It was the part of the program which seemed to unite them into a grand family unit.

Billy installed a huge video screen over the stage, they would play old favorite songs, and the words would flash across the screen. Everyone would be encouraged to sing along. When you had hundreds of people, creatures, and cows singing along it became an overwhelmingly moving sound. Even the Bigfoot and Daddy Long-legs were joining in the fun. The giants had deep bass voices and so did many of the Bigfoot. It gave a ground to the total sound which seemed to touch everyone's soul at their deepest point. It was a most remarkable experience for everyone. The highlight of the country portion of every concert was the dancing cows. Everyone stood and looked back as the musicians joined to play the Virgina Reel and several other Reels they worked up. It was a joyful sight to behold and Harlen and Jessie couldn't believe their eyes. It was yet another experience on the Daniels' ranch for which they were totally unprepared.

* * * * * *   
The Barnyard Concert came to an end and everyone left to return to their quarters or Captain Nick's ship. Billy said his goodbye to the giants and promised he would bring young Erin Mascaro with him and his men, and 'yes' the young well-built slave could stay the night with them if he wanted. Billy and his immediate family and Erin, retired to the patio next to the big house to have dessert and refreshments. Billy made an announcement the men would be leaving shortly after dessert for Captain Nick's ship. He didn't have to say 'what for.' They knew what an invitation to the ship after hours meant: herb laced tea and long languid soaks in the steam and hot waters of the dungeon baths. The men wasted no time going through the gate Randy produced and arrived in the dungeon. The red light motif was on and it gave the place and eerie look. It looked like Hell. Erin Mascaro took one look and grinned at Billy. "This is where them demons brought Harley-Buck, ain't it?" he asked as a rhetorical question for which he already knew the answer.

"Smart man," Billy said and winked at him, as he shucked off his Wranglers.

"Can we get comfortable or do we have to follow good manners protocol, Master Billy?" Jethro asked.

"Naw, we's just family tonight, Project Manager. Besides, Kagoli form is protocol on this ship. Look where it got you," Billy said and everyone laughed.

Erin watched in awe as Jethro and Oatie morphed into their Kagoli demon forms. "Holy shit!" he said, "They were the demons. Where's the big daddy Devil Harley-Buck told me about?" Erin asked.

"You was with him all afternoon. I done caught you holding his hand and swap'n a little spit with him," Billy accused, slapped his naked knee, and fell out laughing.

"Gog! My handsome friendly giant?" Erin said and started blushing a deep red color. Everyone was laughing at him and Billy.

"That's right. When they get here, I'll have him morph for you, if you like," Billy said,"He makes an impressive Satan," he added.

"I'd love to see that," Erin said. The more clothes Erin took off the other men stopped undressing to look at him. His body was flawless. He was perfect and he regained much of his muscle mass in the short time he was on the ranch. That's why Billy assigned him to the slave keeper unit. He could get the most out of them to get their bodies in top shape. The men looked at Erin and shook their heads. They swore to each other to start using their home gyms again. Everyone was naked as the day they were born and headed for the large pools of hot water when a great knocking sound came from one of the entry doors across the steaming hot water.

"That must be the giants. They came down the back stairway from their apartments. Usually that door is left open. Erin, walk around the pool, throw back that arm-drop locking the door shut, and open it for them," Billy said.

Erin didn't hesitate and walked around the outside of the pool to the door, raised the heavy metal bar, and moved it on its pivot to the unlocked position. He grabbed the latch, pushed down, and felt the door latch open. The naked young man pulled the heavy door open and standing on the other side was another completely naked man – Odin Asgard Bluetooth, his husband.

End of Chapter 57 ~ Seek Him Who Maketh The Seven Stars
Copyright ~ © ~ 2013 ~ 2014 ~Waddie Greywolf
All Rights Reserved ~
WC = 17981

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