Him Who Made The Seven Stars
By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 68

"These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the Flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the Flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike." ~ F.D.R. 1936

The next morning was Saturday and everyone was busy getting their acts together to gate to Uncle Tom's cabin for an early morning rehearsal with the string chamber orchestra Billy requested, and Clara Mae Bastiaen rounded up for him. The complete flock of the musical Byrd family flew in and were in great spirits. The Byrd men brought their euphoniums. They gave Billy a choice of what he wanted. They could play a Vivaldi concerto originally written for two cellos, or they could do the famous duet by Bizet from the "Pearl Fishers," Fondu for two in the Temple. (Beautiful but a bit cheesy.) Billy wanted to hear the Vivaldi. He was adventurous enough of a musician he wanted to hear what the Byrd men could do with the piece.

The usual family accompanied Billy's posse through the gate and Clara Mae was busy chatting it up with Kate, Zelma Redbone, Daffy, and Chloe. The two big dogs were telling her about their new sisters, Pancake and Dolly, who are cow dogs of an old cowboy who came to work for Master Billy and their littlest new sister, Molly. They didn't elaborate but told her she would like her.

When the Daniels family came through the gate, Billy brought his musicians, Pard's Great-grandmother, Evangeline, and the rest of the dogs and pups. Billy told Randy to have Gog bring his bassoon and Zeke and Cloog to bring their coach horns (French Horns) they might have a use for them. He told Randy, Poly, Cass, Tommy, and Aeron to bring their violins to fill out the string section. He instructed Rory, Calhoun, and Pard to bring their oboes, just in case they needed them.

Clara Mae was stunned when she saw Molly, but she didn't pry into how the beautiful little spaniel came to live at the ranch. She was even more taken aback to find out all the dogs could talk and were conversing with everyone like they were old friends; laughing and joking. Randy introduce the three new dogs to Clara Mae as new members of the greater Daniels family, but two were Zeke's companions, Dolly and Pancake, whom he also introduced to her. They were shy but polite to everyone. Randy was prompted by Billy to tell Clara Mae, Molly was a member of the greater Daniels family, but was currently under the care of his brother Pard, and Pard's great-grandmother.

"You are so pretty, Molly," she said as she gently patted the smaller dog.

"Thank you, Miss Clara, you're very kind," Molly replied.

"How did you come to live with the Daniels?" she asked.

"My mistress passed away last week. I was left alone with her until a neighbor heard my barking and came to check on us. She took me to Mrs. Lima Bean at the local animal shelter. She could tell I was afraid and depressed, so Mrs. Bean took me to Doctor Oatie Breedlove to have me checked out. Doc Oatie took me to Master Billy and his family, and they were kind enough to offer me a home. They also gave me the gift of speech. I'm just getting to know everyone, but I really like it on the ranch," Molly said, "There's so much to do and see I don't have time to sit by myself and pine for my mistress. I miss her very much, but everyone has been so good to me. They include me in everything, like I'm one of the family," she added.

"That's wonderful, Molly. The Daniels are that way. I'm very fond of them. I have great faith in the Daniels family, and I'm sure you will do well with them," Clara Mae said and proceeded to share her Hosanna Cake with Molly and several others with the dogs. Clara Mae was one of their favorite musicians. She paid attention to them and slipped them goodies on the sly.

Everyone got into place for Poppa Wilbur Byrd and his son, Wilbur Junior, to play the Vivaldi. Billy set an even tempo, and the Byrds were spectacular. They played through the whole piece. Billy only stopped them once for a minor phrasing correction he wanted in the last movement. He kept grinning and chuckling to himself throughout the piece. If you didn't know the piece was written for two cellos, you would never know. The Byrd men were just that good. He definitely wanted to start the program with the Vivaldi followed by the Bizet piece. He noticed earlier there were several extra musicians with Clara Mae and the Byrds.

"The orchestration for the Bizet calls for a few wind players and a harp. Almost the same compliment you asked for your concerto and the the Stravinsky concerto. I invited the complete string section, sir. Several could sure use the work, Master Billy. I think they're really hurting. They were e-mailing me daily if I heard anything. You told me to use my judgment. I did, and said a prayer you would understand," she added nervously.

"I did tell you that, and I stand behind my word. Glad you brought them. Just make sure you send the names of the musicians who participated in an e-mail to my business office. I brought along our flute player, Clarice Wombat. I want her to get used to playing with an orchestra. She's an excellent sight reader and a fine performer under pressure," Billy said, "Also tell our concert master to assign seats for our younger players. They need to experience ensemble playing," he added.

They ran through the Duet by Bizet, and Billy was happy with the Byrds and the fine chamber orchestra. With the added talents of his crew, the Houston chamber orchestra was beginning to take on a full, rich quality sound usually only found in more mature groups.

Next it was Clara Mae's time to shine. She brought along her three horns. Billy wanted to give his audience a chance to hear and compare the sounds of the three instruments and asked Clara Mae to give a brief talk before she played each one. They started with the oboe d'amore and the Bach Concerto BWV1055. Clara Mae was stunning. She played the complete concerto without a bobble. Next she played the first half of the slow movement from Dvorák's Ninth Symphony with her English Horn. And lastly, she played the solo 'Gabriel's Oboe' from the movie score, 'The Mission' by Ennio Morricone. The chamber orchestra was in good tune and played flawlessly. That brought to an end the part the small orchestra would be playing and Billy told them they could take a seat in the audience for the rest of the show. He promised them they would not want to miss what was to follow.

Billy announced to the orchestra his family found some old baroque instruments, and various members of his family would be playing a couple of pieces he would announce before they began. He didn't want to give too much away. He wanted the older, seasoned musicians to be somewhat surprised, or as surprised and shocked as he certainly was. He also announced the following Saturday Barnyard Concert would be the fourth of July, the complete orchestra was invited, and they would be playing American Music or music about our country. They would start with Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man;" Charles Ives "The Unanswered Question;" Leonard Bernstein's "Overture to Candide;" Dvorák's Ninth Symphony 'From the New World;' and Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' with Jessie Jones at the piano. After a brief intermission they would begin the second half with Copland's 'Hoedown' from "Rodeo," followed by a number of rousing, blood stirring, Sousa Marches. He would have his staff post the program to the ranch's private web site so the cowboys and cowgirls could listen to the music before-hand on the Net if they wished.

The twins, Poly and Cass, brought their violins to play with the chamber orchestra, along with Randy, Pard, and Tommy Griffin. The boys and Kayla were on fire with their new musical abilities. They kept quiet and didn't tell anyone except their closest friends their experience with the star-people and their gracious gift of enhancements of their talents. Of course Kayla shared with Roz and Aunt Helen, and they were thrilled for her. She played her cello along with Aunt Helen. Mack and Clyde played double bass with a couple of other players Clara Mae brought along, just in case they were needed. Billy never said a word. He wanted a full sound. Clare Wombat was happy just to be included, but Billy told her he wanted her to start working on some solo works to play with the orchestra.

Everyone returned to the ranch and were having a great leisurely time. Billy announced for everyone to take their time, they would be starting the Barnyard Concert a little later than usual. Before they left for Uncle Tom's cabin for rehearsal with the orchestra, Billy asked Bubba to call the Griffins to see if they might like to join them for the day, and to invite Griff's older brother and his husband. The Griffins readily agreed and the four were there waiting for them when Billy's posse came back through the gate with all the musicians. They saw Tommy come through with his young cowboy brothers carrying a violin case. Tommy ran to his big cowboy uncles first. They made over him like he was their special little buckaroo and wanted to know why he was carrying a fiddle case.

"It's a violin, Uncle Tank, but I can use it like a fiddle. Ma' brothers Randy and Pard done taught me how. I'm playing in the orchestra today with them good folks from the Houston Philharmonic. I'm so glad ya'll come. You'll get to hear me play with my brothers. It's such a joy to make music with them folks. They's really good. I ain't quite as good as they are, but I'm catch'n up real fast-like," Tommy said.

"How could you learn to play so quickly, Son?" his Uncle Tree asked.

"'H'it ain't hard once't ya' know how, Uncle Tree. All I needed was somebody to show me, and I took it from there," Tommy explained, but his family was flabbergasted.

"Have you had a good time, Son?" Griff asked.

"There's never a dull moment around this place. There's always something interesting going on. We're getting ready to travel down to the river to feed the watchers and daddy long-legs. If you men wanna' go with us, I'm sure Master Billy will be grateful for the help," Tommy offered. Randy, and Pard backed him up and invited them, too.

"We'd be happy to, Son," replied Tank, "Run tell Master Billy we'll be glad to give him a hand," he said and sent the boys on their way.

Tommy took his mother's hand and led her away from the men to be with the other ladies and left his dad with his uncles. Tommy wasn't so young he didn't understand cowboys wouldn't open up much to other men when ladies were around. He knew his dad and uncles probably had a lot of questions for Master Billy and his men. Bubba, Jack, Clyde, Balthazar, and Mack chaperoned the Griffin men around the ranch. Griff's brother, Tree, and his husband, Tank, got Bubba off to one side to speak with him. The big cowboys got a good look at Master Billy's three punishment slaves and their eyes almost popped out of their heads. They thought the three men were the hottest looking cowboys they ever saw and commented as much to Bubba and Jack in private.

"Oh, you mean them three rough look'n hombres wear'n them harnesses? And the one what's got them horns on his head?" Bubba asked nonchalantly.  

"Yeah," they replied.

"They's Master Billy's punishment slaves. Them two younger men are just starting training and the big, older man is just finishing up his training this week. Next week he'll be given a leather kilt to wear around his waist to give him a bit more privacy. He's my first training slave, and I'm really proud of him. I been working wiff' him for several weeks now. He just done had his 'grand-opening' a couple weekends ago. I butt fucked him before a large audience of brothers. Wish't you men could a been here. You probably would have enjoyed it. We can show you a DVD of it later in the afternoon if we can get away in private," Bubba said.

About that time, from across the lot, someone called out, "Tree! Tank!" Harlen Johnson yelled and waved to get their attention.

"My God, it's Harlen Johnson and his partner, Jessie Jones," Tree said. The men shook hands and introduced them to Tree's family. Tree explained Harlen and Jessie live in The Woodlands, Harlen was an old biker buddy, and they came to know them over the years.

"We ain't seen you men in a good while. We been meaning to call, and visit, but we got caught up here at the ranch after my boy's trial about a month ago. Since then, we been coming here almost ever' damn weekend to visit and listen to some fine music. Jessie's been playing with the orchestra, and he'll be playing a couple of pieces this afternoon. I seen you two mangy pre-verts oogling my son over there -- he's the big 'un with them horns. He's Harlen Buckley Johnson Junior. I laughed and told Jessie you must be piss'n in yore' Wranglers about now," Harlen said as he shook the men's hands.
"Worse than that, you old hound dog, we wanna' know where we go to sign up for a tour of duty as Master Billy's ranch slaves," Tree Griffin said, and the men shared a laugh.

"I gotta' agree with you, they's pert-damn hot," Harlen said and told the men about never knowing he sired a son out of wedlock until he heard about a Harlen Buckley Johnson Junior being tried for murder in Mason, Texas and he come to see about it. He filled them in on the details, and they were amazed. Tommy returned about the time Harlen finished his story, with the dogs following him and his buddies.

"Speaking of old hound dogs, I was just about to ask how Daffy and Chloe was doing," Tank said.

"Why don't you asked them yourself? Here they come," Harlen said and winked at Jessie.

"Howdy, Mr. Griffin!  Howdy, Mr. Barger! How are you fine men today?" Daffy asked.

"My God, he can speak? Can Chloe talk, too?" Tree asked.

"Sure I can, Mr. Griffin. Good to see you again, sir," Chloe answered.  

The men broke up laughing, petted, and made-over the dogs like they were long lost friends. "Well, I'll be damn! We're just fine pretty lady. It's good to see you again, Chloe, and you too, Daffy. How did you come to talk?" Tank asked.

"When Master Billy and his cowboy-angels healed Daffy and extended our lives, he give us the gift of speech at the same time. It took us a while to learn, but everyone was patient and encouraged us," Chloe said, "Oh, look! Here comes the sheriff with his dad and little brother. They always bring Miranda with them. Get ready, 'cause Miranda and her pups can fly," Chloe added.

"No!" Tree Griffin barely got out when a pack of winged pups flew out from the back of the Tate family ranch van. Naturally, the pups and Miranda came to where the other dogs were gathered. It was mass confusion for a few minutes, but the new men were taking it all in. Griff was enjoying seeing his big brother and his mate experience the joy and wonder of the Daniels ranch. "You see what I mean, Brother? You wouldn't have believed me if'n I told you," Griff said to his big brother.

"I ain't real sure I believe it now. Is there more?" Tree asked with a robust little male dog in his arms giving him big, sloppy-wet doggie kisses.

"You barely scratched the surface, Cowboy," Griff replied and grinned.     

"C'moan! You men walk over with us, and I'll introduce you to my boy and his mates," Harlen said, and the men followed him with the barrage of cowboys and critters. Harley-Buck, Earl, and Orville saw the men coming and stood to meet them. Harlen shook hands with Earl and Orville, but embraced his son like he was a lover and kissed him passionately on the mouth. The other men developed wet spots in their Wranglers.

"Sadist!" Harley-Buck said to his dad when they broke their kiss and several of the men laughed including Earl and Orville.

"Well, you are a punishment slave, Son, and I'm just try'n to do my part," Harlen said with a big grin. The other men laughed, but the Griffins didn't get the joke.

Bubba explained, "Underneath them codpieces, they got metal cock-cages for chastity devices to keep them from playing with themselves. We don't deprive them of sex, but we control when and how they get release. It's part of their training as punishment slaves. Just like old dairy cows, they come to depend on us to milk them from time to time, but when they get an erections there ain't much room to grow in them cages," Bubba motioned for the men to gather around so the ladies couldn't see what they were doing; however, most of the women already went into the house to visit. Bubba barked at Orville to hit parade rest, and the big slave complied immediately to his young master's command. Bubba reached under Orville's cod piece, undid one snap, and with one swift motion removed it and set it on a table. Several of the other cowboy slaves gathered around to watch. Bubba took his key and unlocked Orville's chastity cage and removed it.

"I been working wiff' my slave almost ever' day for the last couple of weeks teaching him some new tricks. I taught him a new one I think you men might find amusing. You ready to make your master proud, Slave?" Bubba asked Orville.

"I'm ready to please you, Master," Orville replied proudly and thrust his hips forward to display his proud erection.  

"Do you love me, Slave?" Bubba growled at Orville.

"I love you with all my heart, Master," Orville replied.

"On the count of three, I want you to show me and these men gathered just how much you love your master. Do you understand, Slave?" Bubba barked at him.

"I understand, sir, and I'm ready," Orville replied.

"Do you need me to prime you a little, Slave?" Bubba asked.

"Thank you, Master, but your slave is ready, sir," Orville replied sincerely.

"One!" Bubba paused for a moment, "Two!" he paused for another moment, "Three! Now, Slave! Show these men how much you love me," Bubba growled at Orville like a seasoned drill Sargent and Orville erupted into the air a huge stream of hot come which made the men in the front jump back a little. Bubba quickly thrust his hand in front of the stream and like a catcher in the outfield, he caught every drop of his slave's gizz. The big man didn't stop until he shot two more loads not as big as the first but impressive none-the-less. Bubba caught those too, and held his hand up for Orville to lick his own come from his master's hand. Orville ate every drop, licked his master's hand clean, and thanked Bubba for his treat.

"Greedy Slave. I thought you might leave me a taste. I guess I'll just have to get it from yore' mouth," Bubba grabbed Orville into his big arms and kissed him passionately. It was obvious to the men he was exploring Orville's mouth to taste the flavor of his slave's gizz. Bubba didn't stop until his shot his load. Fortunately, Bubba realized how much Orville turned him on and started wearing a heavy-duty condom over his cock when he knew he was going to be around his surrogate pa. He quickly unzipped his Wranglers and shoved them down to his boot tops and winked at Orville. The big slave dropped to his knees and methodically removed Bubba's condom. "May I please have it, Master?" Orville asked.

"You earned it, Slave. Take your prize," Bubba said.

Orville threw back his head and allowed the contents to slowly drain into his waiting mouth. Orville was playing the game of showing off for his master, and he took his time to enjoy the moment. He pinched his fingers round the tip and squeezed the last drops onto his tongue and swallowed again. Then he took his master's cock into his mouth and sucked off any remaining gizz and cleaned under Bubba's ample foreskin to get the last of his master's goodness. Bubba handed him his bandanna. Orville carefully and lovingly dried Bubba's awesome cock, skinned back his foreskin to expose the head to gently dry it, kissed it, and returned it to his master's Wranglers. Bubba zipped them up and reattached his belt buckle.   

"Well done, my good Slave!" Bubba complimented Orville, and the big man was in tears his master was proud of him.

"Thank you for the release, Master, and my prize. It was one of our best ever. I'm happy and proud I could please you, sir," Orville replied.

The men went crazy applauding for Orville and Bubba. Unknown to Bubba, Billy and his posse including the Breedloves and Tates walked up to see why the men were gathered. They watched the whole thing and Billy was amazed at the progress Bubba was making with Orville. There was no doubt in his mind they formed a relationship based on trust, respect, and mutual admiration. It was just what Billy wanted to happen.

"Don't chu' feel a bit humiliated being used publicly that way, sir?" Griff asked.

Orville looked at Bubba for a clue. "You have my permission to answer the man's question, Slave. You won't be punished for your honesty," Bubba said firmly.

"I suppose I might feel humiliated if my master was a cold, sadistic, mean spirited man, who delighted in debasing or demeaning a slave, but my master understands I'm on the bottom of the social totem-pole. What would he accomplish by degrading me further? As a punishment slave, I have been stripped of my humanity and reduced to the level of an animal what must be retrained before I'm ever to be allowed to rejoin the society of men again on any basis. Master Kirkendall is one of the most giving and compassionate men I ever been fortunate enough to meet. He came along when I most needed someone to work with me and show me the way. He has become my master and my trainer, but he has worked as hard as I have to earn my trust and affection. There is no doubt in my mind he loves me, and I will do anything to prove my love for him. A well trained show horse will do his best for his master if he is spiritually conjoined with his rider and they become as one. What little is required of me on this ranch is far less damaging to a man's soul than to be caged in a prison to rot year after year. I think there are several ex-cons on this ranch who will validate my claim. While it may seem complicated to you, sir, we understand each other. Master Bubba has certain expectations he demands of me, but he gives me so much in return, what little he requires of me, and what little I do to please him is inconsequential," Orville said.    

"Do you think I could teach you to do that, Son?" Harlen teased his boy.

"You wouldn't find me uncooperative, sir. I'd do as much or more to please you, Dad," Harley-Buck replied.

And that's the way the day went. The Griffin men were discovering something new around every corner, and they were loving it. Next they got into the old wagon or walked behind to take food and goodies to the watchers to enjoy during the concert. There were more than enough men, but Billy allowed the extras to follow if they stood back and didn't disturb their distribution of food to the watchers and daddy long-legs. On the way down, Randy asked Billy if he had an opening act.

"Naw, I's just gonna' let them Byrd men do their thing. You think we need an opening act, Pod'na?" Billy asked.

"We'll, I ain't say'n them Byrd men ain't a boffo act, but it's my decided opinion you need a 'grabber.' Some'um what will grab your audience's attention and set the tone and mood of the day," Randy said and grinned.

"Your decided opinion, huh?" Billy asked and laughed.

"Yes, sir, it is," Randy replied.

"I couldn't agree wiff' you more, Cowboy, and somehow, I just got me a feel'n you's got just the thing in mind to make the kickoff deep into end-zone of our audience hearts; something close to home," Billy speculated.

"I can't surprise you no more, Brother," Randy lamented like he was frustrated.

"Like Hell you c'ain't! You liked to done blow'd ma' socks off with them Brandenburg concertos," Billy said and laughed, "How many you planing on playing?" Billy asked.

"The first three this time, and the last three the next concert after the fourth of July," Randy replied, "But that ain't got nothing to do with the first act. It's more simple, down to Earth, but a real ball grabber and tear jerker," Randy bragged.  
"I noticed you rounded up yore' posse early this morning after breakfast and disappeared to the ship. Would it have anything to do with that?" Billy asked.

"See, I done told ju' I c'ain't surprise or fool you no more," Randy wailed again.

"You keep me on my toes, Buckaroo. Don't never go underestimate'n yore'self, 'cause I shore' don't!" Billy exclaimed and got Randy's giggle box turned upside down.  

"Then you trust me to provide a first act?" Randy asked.

"I'd trust you wiff' my life, Buckaroo. We's brothers, you and me, birth to Earth, womb to tomb!" Billy replied dramatically taking his big hat off and holding it over his heart.

He got Randy laughing again, "You's so full of shit, Big Brother, but that's only a small part of why I love you," he added and fell into another round of giggles.

* * * * * * *
Ludo, Randy's personal watcher, brought his buddy Leather-face along with him, and as always, positioned him before him to make sure his human buddy got his food. Leather-face looked much better and healthier than they remembered him, and his eyes sparkled with pleasure and happiness getting to see Billy and Randy again. Randy told him how good he looked, and it was always a pleasure to see him again. He gently took Randy's hand, kissed the back of it, and spoke, "It's a real pleasure for me to come with your devoted watcher and visit with you, if only for a moment, Young Master," he said.

"You're always welcome on either ranch, sir, and you may join us anytime you feel the need. We would be honored to count you among us," Randy said, and his voice began to choke before he got the words out.

"The ancients have blessed you, my son, and may they continue to bless you. Stay close and cling to your good master," he said softly, turned, and left.

Randy looked up at Billy with watery eyes, "You're making progress, Cowboy. I'm proud of you, Scamp," Billy said and handed Randy his bandanna.

"One day soon, I'm going with him -- one day soon," Randy said quietly the words from an old cowboy song he heard on the radio.

Billy didn't need an explanation. He understood Randy's meaning. "You will know the day when it comes, Pod'na," Billy said softly.
After they finished distributing food, goodies, and bottled water to the watchers, they returned to the compound and ate a wonderful dinner. Once again Billy invited the village people and those living on the ship in apartments in the castle to join them. Other than the Griffins, there were no new folks to be surprised by an amazing new world of people and critters. As always the Sun Bears were the hit of the afternoon and the Griffins couldn't believe the variety and wonder of some of the new creatures they were meeting.

Pete Breedlove and Leon were sitting at a table with Billy's immediate family and were comparing the new folks to their full immersion into the Daniels family experience and laughed at their naivety. "How is your relationship going?" Billy asked quietly so's not to bring a great deal of attention to their conversation.

"Tolerable, sir. Downright tolerable," Leon replied, "I think Pete and me have been most surprised by my dad and his adjustment. Now he's up and around and getting things done, he treats Pete like his other son. He spoils our watchers rotten," Leon laughed, "He never did much in the kitchen before, but now he gets in there and makes brownies and cookies for them. He's slowly getting the ranch together. He's interested in your offer, and talks a lot about it. He asks me and Pete what we think, but we decided it should be his decision. If he agrees to take your generous offer, it will mean more time for Pete and me to be together," Leon said.

"I take it you're waiting for the right time to form the beast wiff' two backs," Billy said quietly.

"We get the day off next Friday and plan to spend the day and night together," Pete said.

"Come to the ranch anytime Friday. Come for breakfast, spend the day wiff' us, and spend the night in one of our new honeymoon apartments. We'll tank you up on Texas Tea and have our grooms prepare you. All you have to do is relax and enjoy the evening," Billy said.

"We was think'n on ask'n, but we didn't want to impose, sir," Leon said.

"No, imposition. My grooms need the experience. We got some new trainees who are assigned to assist until they's ready to fly solo, but that won't be until after they groom their masters several times," Billy replied.

"We'll talk it over, and let you know our schedule, but we'll definitely take you up on your kind offer, sir," Pete said.

* * * * * * *
It turned out to be a much warmer day than Billy anticipated, so he decide to start the Barnyard Concert a little later to give people a bit more time to visit. Randy and his posse already got the stage ready for their opening act. With Billy's permission, Randy announced to the orchestra members to sit on the first two rows in the audience, and when they were through with their act and the small setting on the stage, they would remove the hay bales, horse blankets, and several instruments what might be lying about, while the orchestra members took their place on the stage.

Everyone saw them working and were fascinated by the activity and fuss going on getting everything just right. They wondered what Randy and his crew were going to do. He already cleared it with Billy, it wouldn't be anything near what they would perform after the orchestra cleared the stage for the second part of the concert. It was primarily to showcase a couple of their unexpected enhancements and a couple of new members to their group. They were very thorough and made mike checks so everyone could be heard.  

When everyone was seated and Billy gave the nod for the show to begin, Randy led his crew onto the stage, and they took their places. The two legged critters were dressed in their best Western clothes, boots, and hats. The four legged creatures weren't wearing anything but their fur. They arranged the bails of hay so everyone would be approximately the same height like they were going to take a family portrait. Gog sat on one bale and the others took seats on corresponding bales so they were somewhat even.

The two big dogs, Daffy and Chloe, sat on either end on two bales of hay which raised them higher than the others like two great lions protecting their flock. Zeke sat next to Chloe on a couple of bales of hay and his two dogs were on either side of him. Master-protectors Cloog, Clyde, and Mack were sitting on a bales of hay next to Zeke and his dogs, and on their other side sat Gog the giant.

Behind them was another two bales of hay stacked up like a great wall enclosing the group in a canyon. On the bottom row of hay bales sat Tommy Griffin, Poly, Rory, Aeron, Randy, Pard, Cal, Cass, and Kayla. There was an old cast-iron bean pot sitting on some logs to make it look like they were gathered around a campfire.

Randy stood, walked to the edge of the stage, looked out at the audience and grimaced. "Can everyone hear me okay?" he asked and everyone roared back they could including the watchers and daddy long-legs. "Good, glad to see you're paying attention. We got more of my posse coming, but their flight must have been delayed due to clear weather," he said and giggled. He got a big laugh. Randy put his hand up over his eyes to shield them from the bright afternoon sun and looked from horizon to horizon.

"Ah, here they come, Squadron K-9-Seven. They's a mite late, but a couple are still earn'n their wings," Randy said and everyone turned to look back over their shoulders to see an Aussie cattle dog with her six pups flying in a 'V' formation with the lady pups on her right and the male pups on her left. Everyone applauded as Miranda and her pups flew around the audience in a large circle, headed for the stage, and landed on the highest bales of hay behind everyone else. The audience went crazy applauding.

"Glad you could join us, Mother Miranda, and your family, too," Randy said, and the crowd laughed.

"We'd been here sooner, but Gracie got a flat tire," Miranda said, and everyone laughed.

"Everyone okay?" Randy asked the pups.

"We're fine, Master Randy," Gracie replied.

"Good, then let's start the show. We still have one member to bring out, and the purpose of this act is to welcome her to our family and to introduce her to those of you who haven't met her yet. She is a lovely little lady, and let's give her a warm welcome when she comes out. C'moan out, Miss Molly! Come say 'hello' to the good folks of the Daniels ranch," Randy said and Billy sent her onto the stage to run to Randy.

There were 'oohs' and 'aahs' as the pretty little dog ran to Randy. He took her into his arms, gave her a big kiss, and she returned his love in kind. He sat down on the edge of the stage with Molly in his lap.

"Molly came to us last week. She had a terrible bad time. Her mistress passed away, and she couldn't arouse nobody. Molly was alone for two days and nights before anyone came to investigate. She barked and barked until a neighbor lady came and let herself in the house. They took her mistress away, and took Molly to the local animal shelter. The officer in charge of the shelter, Mrs. Lima Bean..." everyone laughed, ".... no, really, that's her real name. Miss Lima married Bubba Bean and became Mrs. Lima Bean," he explained, "Anyway, Lima took Molly to Doc Oatie Breedlove to be checked out and asked him to find a home for her, because she didn't want to put such a sweet lady in with them rough and rowdy cow dogs. Doc Oatie agreed and brought Molly to the ranch. Did I leave anything out, Sweetheart?" he asked Molly.

"No, Master Randy, you told my story good," she said, and everyone sighed like she was the cutest thing they every saw.

"You ready to sing with your new family, Molly?" Randy asked.

"I'm ready, Master Randy," she said, and they walked together to join the others.
Tommy was sitting on the end and took up his fiddle and smiled at his family. Clyde had his big guitar slung around his neck, and old Zeke had a French harp he pulled out of his pocket.

"To start the show we're going to sing some old Cowboy songs and one Irish ballad. This probably would have gone down better before the second half of the Barnyard Concert, but on the other hand, the songs we're gonna' sing are 'classic,' so they ain't too far from being 'classical' music. Besides that, there is method in my madness by starting the show this way which will remain a mystery to everyone but my posse here on the stage. Brother Clyde, Brother Tommy, and Grand-bro Zeke, if you will be so kind, start us up a tune," Randy said, and the three musicians began to play a rousing introduction to "The Old Chisholm Trail."

The Griffin family's jaws dropped, and they were grinning ear to ear when their little Tommy sounded like a professional fiddle player who played in a country band for years and this was just another gig. The song is about a cowboy telling about his life riding the Chisholm Trail for the U-2 brand cattle company when cattle were herded north to meet the railroads. The railroads eventually made it into the rest of the country by the turn of the century and the actual time of the cattle drives was a scant twenty to thirty years of history depending on whose story you believe. Almost everyone in the group got to sing a verse by themselves. The dogs joined in on the chorus. The audience went bananas at the end of the song and Randy urged Tommy, Clyde, and Zeke to take a bow. The Griffins were going crazy applauding for their boy.

Their next song was a sad song about a dying cowboy, "The Streets of Laredo." Gog sang the solo part, and the others joined in on the chorus. Kayla played her wooden flute and made it wail mournfully in the right places. Tommy played the fiddle obbligato while Clyde played his guitar. The audience was blown away by Gog's deep bass voice and the professional way he sang the song. He had just the right cowboy twang to his voice. He took a solo bow with Kayla, Tommy, and Clyde.

Then, Randy's posse sang "The Yellow Rose of Texas," "Red River Valley," and finally came down to their last song: an old Irish ballad. "You ready to sing for the people, Sweetheart?" he asked Molly.

"I'm ready, Master Randy, will the rest of my family join me on the second verse?" Molly asked.

"We'll be happy to, Little Lady," Randy replied.

Tommy and Clyde played a brief intro, Molly threw back her pretty little head and began to sing "Danny Boy" in crystal clear tones. The audience became so quiet you could have heard a ghost fart. No one wanted to miss a sound of the beautiful small voice coming forth from the pretty little dog. Molly did a 'Susan Boyle' number on them. She shocked everyone. She captured their imagination, and they were in awe. They were stunned by the beauty of the small dog's voice and the purity of her singing. She was like an angel who came to Earth just to sing her song.

Tom McMartin turned to Billy, "If I got something I really wanna' sell, I know who I'm contacting to do the job," he said sucking in air and trying not to laugh, "I'm convinced that damn kid could sell snow to Eskimos and make them think they got a bargain," Tom declared and broke up laughing.

"I hear that, Brother. I wondered what the little scamp was up to, and now it comes clear. He wanted to showcase his newest brother, Tommy, for the Griffin family, and is championing Miss Molly. Look at Clara Mae sitting on the front row with them tears in her eyes. I hope she recovers quick enough to be able to play," Billy said and joined his posse in a good laugh.

"At least you're leading him in the right direction," Tom said.

"I ain't real sure who's leading whom, Brother," Billy said.

"I can relate to that. I was sure we'd get the door slammed in our face when he stood up to the Warden to buy Erin Mascaro at his price and wouldn't back down," Tom said.

"It was a moment of truth for a number of us, but I'm glad we done it his way," Billy said.

"I agree," Tom said.

When Randy and his posse finished the song, the audience went crazy and shouted for more. They wouldn't let them leave the stage. Randy looked at Billy for a cue. Billy held up his forefinger and mouthed the words: one more. Randy nodded and raised his arms for the audience to quiet down.

"Okay, we'll do one more song, but you gotta' help us on this one. The words will be on the screen over the barn, and you can sing along," Randy said and the people settled down. They struck up a rousing chorus of "Deep In The Heart of Texas." Everyone sang along and clapped their hands together after each phrase. When you have a group of young men and women with good, strong voices, even an old hackneyed song can become great fun, and the audience thoroughly enjoyed themselves. After another round of applause and the instrumentalist taking bows, Randy and his posse left the stage. The orchestra personnel began to walk up the stairs to the stage to take their places, and a number of cowboys made quick work of removing the bales of hay from the small area used by Randy and his crew.

The Griffins were even more impressed to see the young men in Randy's posse, including their boy, Tommy, take their places within the orchestra; so did the young woman who sang with them and played the wood flute so well. They wondered to each other how these kids could learn to play difficult musical instruments in such a short period of time. The two cowboys, Tree, and Tank, didn't know what the Hell to think except Griff warned them it would be like walking into another world, complete with strange beings they never experienced before.

* * * * * * *
Randy was right. When Billy walked onto the stage after everyone took their places, the audience gave him a standing ovation. He turned, grinned real big, and bowed to the audience, blew them a kiss, and waved for them to sit down. He explained the program, and the pieces they would play. The Byrd men, Wilbur and Wilbur Junior, took their places standing at the front of the orchestra next to Billy on the conductor's stand. They didn't use music. They memorized the Vivaldi concerto, and from the downbeat to the last note, they played flawlessly.

Billy could tell the father-son duo were becoming icons to his family. They could do no wrong, and they jumped up to give them a standing ovation. There was yelling, clapping, stomping of boots, hats flying through the air, whistling, and whoops of joy. Billy was proud of his family. They didn't just show mild satisfaction. If they really liked something, they pulled out all the stops. The Byrd men never received such adulation since they premiered Billy's concerto, but they were loving it.

Billy got the stampeding herd to quiet down and grab their hats. He promised there was much more to come.

The Bizet piece isn't a long piece but it's terribly dramatic and has some beautiful harmonies which lends itself well to the euphonium. Once again, the Byrd-men could do no wrong. When they finished, Wilbur Junior, hugged his dad and gave him a kiss. That only added fuel to the already inflamed audience. They loved themselves some Byrd men. The Byrd family couldn't have been happier. The Griffins were in awe of the music and their boy was playing right along with the best of them like he was a seasoned musician. They couldn't have been more pleased and proud.

* * * * * * *
After the cowboy hats were returned to the audience, and they settled down, Clara Mae came forward with her oboe d'amore and gave a brief talk about the three double reed instruments she brought along with her. Clara Mae didn't use music either. She had her concerto in her meat-computer. She played it so many times, she found herself playing it in her sleep. Billy gave the downbeat and marveled at the experience of conducting with a musician as technically perfect and concentrated as Clara Mae.

She reminded Billy as being the Glenn Gould of the double reeds. Her phrasing and trills were the icing on the cake of her performance. She played the complete Bach concerto without a flaw, and she won the minds and hearts of her audience. They were with her every note of the way and couldn't have shown her more love when she finished. Somehow, the cowboys didn't throw their hats at her. They decided it was a man thing, and a lady should be more respected. They just tossed them up in the air several times. Clara was pleased with their response.

She retrieved her English Horn and played a couple of notes for her audience to hear the difference between the the two instruments. Clara announced she would be playing the first half of the second movement of Dvorák's ninth symphony, which the orchestra would be playing in-full the following Saturday for the fourth of July celebration. The orchestra began and Clara Mae came in with the wonderful melody. You could feel the people in the audience as they took a collective sigh at the beauty of the piece. It was over too soon to suit them and again they gave Clara Mae a rousing round of applause.

She got her oboe and played a couple of scales, so they could hear it was the most bright of the three double-reed instruments. The orchestra began to play the music from "Gabriel's Oboe" and Clara Mae joined in with the solo part. She played it with all her heart and while it was a short piece the audience loved it. They applauded and called for her to play it again. During the applause somebody tickled Billy's mind. << Is 'zat chew, Cowboy? >> he asked, thinking it was Randy.

<< No, young master. Turn and look to the clouds just above the cliff where your watchers and daddy long-legs are sitting, >> the deep mature voice said.

Billy turned and looked, and sitting on four white winged horses were four angels with white wings. << I'm the one holding the trumpet. I am Gabriel. Next to me is Michael, then Samael, and the angel next to him is Raphael. We have been listening and enjoying your music. By now you must know music is the key to heaven and the universe, and a form of communication that spans the void. Tell your talented lady to play the piece again. I will join in as an echo and play a descant above the melody of the lovely piece she just played. Gabriel's oboe, indeed, >> the archangel sent.

"Miss Clara Mae, Honey,..." Billy turned to get her attention, "Can you see them four angels on them winged white horses in the clouds above the cliffs?" Billy asked.

"My God, I see them, Maestro Billy, and the one carrying the long silver trumpet, is he -- ?" she asked.

"Yes, Dear-heart, he's the real Gabriel. He just done told me to tell you to play the piece again, and he would provide an echo and a descant. Play it like you did the first time, and let him do his thing. Can you do that?" Billy asked.

"Of course I can! Music is my life, and I own this audience, they are my family," Clara Mae said boldly and got Billy laughing.

"I never doubted for a moment, Dear Lady. You do, indeed, own their hearts, and may I include mine? Now tell them we'll play it again," Billy said.

Clara Mae told the audience they would repeat the piece. She knew they didn't see the angels in the clouds sitting on the white horses. Billy gave the downbeat, and the orchestra began to play. Clara Mae played the first passage and watched the angel put the seven-foot bright-silver trumpet to his lips and played the exact notes she played, but softly like it was an echo from heaven. Every head in the audience turned to see where the echo was coming from. It came time for Clara to play the next phrase and the winged trumpeter played the exact notes when she paused. Clara Mae was undaunted and continued to play the piece. Gabriel played the most awesome counterpoint and pseudo-descant to the melody; it was stunning. It was so beautiful it brought tears to Clara Mae's eyes, but she wasn't alone. When they finally played the final note, Gabriel played the same note an octave higher, and it was perfect. The crowd burst into applause. Everyone was in awe except one older angel.

Ezekiel snorted to himself and muttered under his breath, "Dang showoff! I'll show that pompous clown a thing or two about how to play a trumpet," he mused.

Randy heard him, laughed, and put his arm around Zeke's shoulder. "I know'd you can play better'n 'nat, Daddy Zeke. I done heard you last e'nin. Take that rank amateur to school, sir. Teach him a note or two. Show him what chu' got, Pod'na! They's a new sheriff in town what's got his'self a better horn, and is quicker on the draw with them fancy trills," Randy said like an old time gunslinger giving advice to a greenhorn. Zeke laughed and gave Randy a hug.

The audience didn't forget Clara Mae and continued to applaud for her in appreciation of her talents. They gave her a standing ovation. She was moved to tears they didn't just ignore her when their attention was averted. Most of the audience thought the arrival of the angels was another contrived surprise Randy and Billy dreamed up for a boffo finish to the first section of the Barnyard Concert. They just thought it was part of the act, and in a way, it was.

As the orchestra was putting their instruments away and heading for their reserved seats, Billy called for a brief intermission to greet their new guests. It was only then they figured out the arrival of the angels might be an unscheduled event. Depending on their rank, angels have been known to overdo the melodramatic content of any given moment; however, with Billy, there was no such thing as rank. The young cowboy made up his mind there would be no intimidation or power struggle between them. The archangels were of no more import to him than his own accumulated band of left-behind angels which came to him from hither and yon, and that included Zeke. Still, he thought to himself, them fine looking winged horses they were riding could easily worm their way into his cowboy heart.

The four horses flew down into the pasture behind the gathered herd of Irin-cattle who were standing enjoying the concert. The angels dismounted, dropped their reins, and allowed their steeds to graze in the sweet grasses of the meadow. They turned and walked together through the cattle to the back of the audience. Everyone made room for them as they walked down the center isle toward the stage. Billy and his gathered posse stood waiting for them.

Billy was going to to go to them, but his dad put the kibosh on that thought quick enough. << Let them come to you, Son. For what they put their brothers through, unwitting or not, demands they show humility to the new sheriff, no matter how mighty they might assess themselves. They were created to be nothing more than tools for a greater entity in the universe who failed and deserted them. 'Hindsight-remorse' or 'egg-on-face' don't do justice to their cowardice when they turned their backs on their brothers for their own personal safety or sanctity; take your pick. A simple act of reservation on your part will be enough to re-balance the equilibrium of our current cosmos. Be warm and welcoming, but remember 'thy will be done' in all things in the heavens and on Earth. You may be as gracious as you like, but leave no doubt in their minds, you demand their total dedication; no ifs, ands, or comely butts about it; nor small print at the bottom of a contract neither. For once in their prolonged miserable lives, force them to be responsible, and make the right decision, >> Nick sent to his young master.   

<< If I remember nothing else about what you just said, the part about their comely butts will live in my brain forever, Tonto. Thanks for your vote of confidence, Pa, >> Billy returned his message.

<< You Kemosabe! Me, Tonto! Just do'n my job, Boss, >> Nick replied.

The angels approached. Each was wearing a great sword. They were not wearing white linen robes, but rather suits of armor made of similar, if not the same, lightweight bluish-silver color as the star-people when they revealed themselves to Randy and his posse whose image he shared with his big brother. They stood looking at each other for a moment, sizing each other up. The other three angels looked to Gabriel for a cue, and saw he was looking directly into Billy's eyes. They watched as a big grin spread across the archangel's face and he spoke, "Fuck Galahad! He was never so comely, Master Billy. You, on the other hand, are a strikingly handsome young man," Gabriel said, unbuckling his sword, falling to his knees, and offered up his weapon to Billy with his head bowed, "No matter what you've heard about us archangels, Sire, take my sword and make me one of your own, Master. Your ability to make such sweet music, alone, qualifies you to claim me, sir. I will be your most humble servant for as long as you have need of me, Sire," he added.

The other archangels followed Gabriel's lead, dropped to their knees before Billy, and offered up their swords as well.

<< Is he serious or is he gaming me, pa? >> Billy flashed to his dad.

<< Wow! One 'Master;' one 'sir;' and two 'Sires'? You done hit the jackpot, Kemosabe. He's dead serious, Son. It ain't no test or jest. I ain't never seen him bow down to no man. H'it t'weren't me what refused to bow to mankind, it was him. He's yours to command, >> Nick replied, << I'll tell you more in private, >> he added.
"Rise, Sir Gabriel, Sir Michael, Sir Raphael, and Sir Samael. Keep you swords for the moment and show me your love," Billy said opening his arms to Gabriel. The huge angel embraced Billy, raised and spread his wings over them, and they kissed a kiss of great passion like Gabriel was either pouring himself into Billy or he was taking from him a treasure he dreamed and hoped for so many centuries he lost count. Actually, he was doing both, taking and giving, and Billy was receiving as much as he was giving. There was no need for doubt, with their kiss, the big angel was telling the young cowboy he would follow Billy to the gates of Hell itself and beyond without fear and knew no power in heaven or Earth could defeat them in any quest they undertook.

Billy went down the line and each angel conveyed their love and Billy gave them as much in return as they could handle. Samael seemed to be the hungriest and the most eager to give in return. He seemed to Billy to be the youngest brother of the four, but he knew they were most likely created at the same time. Billy could feel a deep remorse and sadness within him like a heavy weight was holding his heart captive just as Prometheus was bound unto a giant rock. << Let it go, my bright angel. Whatever's eating at your heart. I release you. You are forgiven. The heavy burden of your sorrow shall be no more, >> Billy sent and the smallest of the four angels released a gush of emotions onto Billy, but the young cowboy stood strong and held Samael tight until he got himself together.

Everyone witnessing the exchange between them were stunned beyond belief. The humans heard of angels and knew a few of their names but never knew they were real entities. Most chalked it up to mythology.

Billy stood before them. "Will you angels swear your allegiance to me and no other?" he asked.

"We so swear, Master Billy," they replied in unison.

"Good! Then you are no longer the sons of 'El.' You are free agents who have chosen to follow me and my family. Therefore from this day forth, you belong to no higher being than the brown-dirt cowboy you see before you, but you will belong and swear allegiance to the greater Daniels family. I will hold you to the trust I offer to become a part of my greater family," Billy said firmly.

"We have waited a long while for you, Master Billy," Michael said, "To become a part of your family, is the first step toward our salvation, Sire, for having sinned against our brothers," he added.

"Then come with me and my men, you former son's of El, and we will re-brand you as our own. Then we will return for the second half of the classical portion of our Barnyard Concert," Billy announced, and they consented. Billy told the crowd they would return in a few minutes, for them to relax, take a break, and they would start the music again as soon as possible. Billy and his posse welcomed the archangels and there was more tears and words of contrition and forgiveness.

Billy and his posse took them to store their wings, armor, and swords in the 'cloakroom.' Billy ordered them to undress and stand naked before him and his angels. They didn't hesitate to remove their armor and clothing. Billy told Clyde to outfit them to look just like any of the other cowboys on the Daniels ranch. When they were done, they seemed pleased and proud to be dressed like their brothers and commented their new clothes were much more comfortable than the suits of armor. While they were in the cloakroom area, Gabriel spied Billy's sword the Grigori gave him.

"Is that Excalibur, Master Billy?" Ralph asked.

"It is indeed! I ain't had an occasion to use it, but I think it might come in handy one of these days," Billy replied.

"My God, with that, we would be defenseless against you," Mike said.

"Good thing you decided to join our family," Billy said, and everyone laughed.

Billy returned with his group and smiled to see Clara Mae sitting with the Daniels ladies. At her feet were Daffy and Chloe, and Molly was sitting in her lap enjoying being petted and made over. Everyone applauded the returning men and complemented the angels on looking comfortable and more at home. They agreed and admitted they felt at home among the good folks of the Daniels ranch. Billy went on stage and announced their artist in part-time residence, Jessie Jones, would play a couple of pieces for them which he would announce.

There was great applause as Jessie walked onto the stage. He announced he would only be playing one work, since there was a lot more music to be heard, and he didn't want to take up too much of their time. "I would like to play for you another piece by the great composer of the symphony the orchestra played the first time they came to the ranch and played the Rachmaninoff Rhapsody with me: Ludwig Von Beethoven's sonata number 24 in F-sharp major," he said and sat down at the piano to play. He paused for a moment and turned on his bench, "Where are my mentors?" he asked looking directly at Daffy and Chloe. They jumped up and ran to the stairs and up onto the stage and took their places on either side of Jessie. The audience laughed and applauded for him.

He took the time to pat and make over each huge dog. He returned his attention to the piano and began to play. Jessie never ceased to amaze Billy, and those for whom he played. He could easily move from one style of music to another without any difficulty, and his playing of the early Beethoven sonata was masterful and a fully mature performance of the piece down to the last note. It was crystal clear and beautifully realized. While Jessie was playing, Zelma, who was sitting next to Billy on his left, leaned over and asked quietly, "Have you made him an angel yet?"
"No, but I think he's overdue, don't you?" Billy asked in return.

"I couldn't agree more, Maestro," Zelma replied and gently pinched him on his arm. Billy laughed at her.

"Is you try'n to tell me if a man plays like an angel, he should be one?" Billy asked.

"I am," Zelma replied and grinned.

"Consider it done, Pretty Lady," Billy said.

When Jessie finished, the audience demanded an encore and wouldn't let him leave the stage without one. Billy nodded to him to take his time. He returned and nimbly ripped off another Scarlatti sonata Billy never heard before, but it was lovely and delicately executed. It was clear when he finish, Jessie had become family to the Daniels audience, and they displayed their love for him and his talent. They wanted another, but Jessie explained there was much more music to come. He would play for them again the following weekend at the great fourth of July Barnyard Concert when he would be playing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. They applauded as he waved and walked off the stage.  

* * * * * *
Randy's home-brew chamber orchestra took the stage and patiently waited for their leader. Randy looked at Tom and Abigale McMartin who seemed to be in a quandary wondering why their two boys were sitting with the orchestra holding two very old looking oboes along with Randy's new brother, Pard. Randy looked at them, and Rory gave Randy a big wink. Apparently the boys made a pact not to say anything to their parents about their new enhanced talents. Randy started laughing and Rory joined him. He nudged his little brother, pointed to Randy shaking his head, and Cal started laughing with them.

Kate decided she didn't want to play the harpsichord. She didn't feel comfortable, and during their performance the night before, she thought she might be holding some of the better players back. Billy volunteered to play and direct from the harpsichord, and their problem was solved. Billy also wanted more violas. While Roz and Clyde did an excellent job the night before, Billy wanted Clyde to play another bass fiddle with Mack to add to the overall sonority of the music. Clyde was happy to play the bass. He admitted to Billy, while he was fine on the viola he wasn't comfortable with it. Clyde felt his fingers were too big to cleanly play some of the the faster passages. He told Billy, if he was going to ride the range with Johann Sebastian, he wanted the biggest fiddle he could mount.

Billy secretly contracted with Baby Byrd and her cousin to play the viola parts with Roz. When Billy told them what his family home-brew chamber orchestra would be playing, they rolled their eyes and laughed. The first three Brandenburgs were a major undertaking for seasoned professional musicians, and the ladies were in awe Billy and his crew would attempt them; however, by that time, they came to expect the unexpected from their maestro. They said they played the six concertos many times, and would be pleased to sit in as part of Billy's family musicians.

Billy also promised them a hefty bonus to sweeten the deal. They were thrilled to be included in the mini-conspiracy Billy and his family were planning. The other Byrds cajoled and pumped them mercilessly for information to find out what Billy's family planned, but they were true to their 'Maestro.' They explained, if they told, and it got back to Master Billy, they might not get the extra bonus he promised. Billy never made the threat, but they found it a useful ploy to escape their family's interrogation.

It was getting late in the afternoon and the sun was starting to sink in the west. It was a lovely afternoon and the temperature was perfect for music to ring out over the crowd, down into the valley, and answer from the limestone cliffs. Billy walked onto the stage. Everyone stood and applauded for him. Billy stood before the grand harpsichord and spoke, "Family, friends, and neighbors, I take great pleasure in presenting the beginnings of our very own chamber orchestra here at the Shire. And since the Byrds are here practically every weekend, we cheated a mite to ask Baby Byrd and Cousin Byrd to help with the violas.

"I know our small chamber orchestra looks like a rag-tag group, but looks can be deceiving. I think you know everyone one the stage, but for those who don't I will introduced you to everyone," Billy said. He went from person to person and urged them stand, but he told Gog he didn't have to stand, everybody could see him. He had Gog hold up his hand and everyone laughed. "Without further ado we will now play for you Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concerto number one," Billy said and sat down at the harpsichord. He beat three bars to show them the tempo he wanted, and the next downbeat they began. And what a glorious sound they made.

Cloog and Zekes's coach horns were spot on and they were perfectly aligned with each others playing. Billy could see Uncle Tom about to jump out of his chair hearing his two sons playing two ancient oboes perfectly together. Abigail laughed and held him in his seat as Tom settled for pointing his finger on his outstretched arm toward his boys like he wanted the world to know 'them two' was the fruit of his loins. The Griffin family was stunned their boy was playing his violin as well as the others. Poly was the concert master for the group, and the rest of the violin players followed him.

The new angels to join the family sat with their mouths open. They knew Zeke from many years ago, but they never knew he had such talent. The most amazing player in the group was the giant Gog and his bassoon. He was flawless and played with the purity of an angel. Billy thought if he played the bass line with the pedal harpsichord, the group would achieve the full rounded sound he wanted. It worked, and he was pleased with the results. Randy's merry band of music makers didn't hold back. They started at a breathtaking pace and trudged on to the very finish.     
When they finished the first concerto, the audience went nuts. Billy was sure there were more cowboy hats thrown at the stage than any other time in their short history. He thought it was an amusing but wonderful way of judging how well they played and how much they communicated with their audience. Even the watchers and daddy long-legs were jumping up and down waving their arms and shouting their approval. The audience was beginning to shout they wanted more. Billy raised his hand to speak, and they quieted down.

"Sit down, relax, and we'll play the second Brandenburg Concerto for you, featuring our very on ex-archangel and now full-time buckaroo, Master Zeke. Zeke will be our soloist playing the exceptionally difficult baroque trumpet. Our younger brother, Rory McMartin will be the oboe soloist, and the lovely and talented Kayla Rutherford will be the wood-flute soloist. Her younger brother, Bossman Ramrod Randy Rutherford will be the fiddle soloist. Ready? Fasten your seat-belts 'cause here we go," he said and gave a downbeat. Billy was going to let his musicians set the pace. Zeke was so stoved-up about his chance to do a one-up-man-ship number on his brother, ex-archangel Gabriel, he wouldn't miss the opportunity. He now thought of him as Gabe. 'My how the mighty have fallen,' he thought to himself, and 'Did he really want to kick his brother when he was down?'

The answer came to him from some unknown source, << Hell, yes! Go for it, Brother Zeke, >> and he saw Randy grin. Zeke started out like a thoroughbred race horse out of the paddocks, perfectly timed and straining at the bit. He set the pace, and it was dazzling. Zeke was even more brilliant than he was the night before, and good to his word, he got off by himself and practiced most of the morning on his trills until he was confident he could do them perfectly.

It seemed like the first movement went by so fast is was coming to an end too soon, but Zeke marked his territory. For trumpet playing, he owned the day. The final chord played and the well trained audience was having none of Billy's concert manners stand in their way of showing their love and appreciation for their home team of musicians. They jumped up together as one body and let out a roar you could have heard in the next county. The four soloist took a bow and Billy didn't try to discourage them. He was bathing in the moment. The looks on the faces of the symphony members were one of pure adulation and joy for the young musicians and their Maestro. Billy finally got them settled down, and made them promise to wait to the end of the piece, then they could tear the barn down.

The slow movement was a trio between the wood-flute, the violin, and the oboe. It was Randy's chance to shine, and he was excellent. He put his young cowboy heart into the music. Everyone was touched with the three soloist playing off of each other and listening to each others musical contribution as well as their own. It was a great and intimate exchange of musical ideas which can only be achieved in a chamber setting.

At the start of the the last movement, Zeke launched out of the gate at such a wicked pace, Billy thought the others might not be able to keep up with him. It was almost like he was challenging the rest of the players. They dug deep and made a good showing of themselves. Zeke was calling them to play their very best, not only for him, but for them as well. The old angel was even more brilliant than he was in the first movement, and people began standing to get a better look at his playing until everyone was on their feet halfway though the last movement.

It was one of the most other worldly experiences anyone could remember in a long time. When music becomes so sublime and well-played, it opens something inside which connects directly with your soul. Randy's band of misfit musicians was just that good. When they played the last note, Billy was afraid the audience just might burn the barn down, but they settled on throwing their hats, stomping boots, clapping, whistling, and shouting their appreciation. They were in love with the new chamber orchestra.

Many of the other orchestra members sitting in the front rows were stunned. They wouldn't let the players off the stage. They were so taken with the four soloist they insisted on a repeat of the last movement. They were a hungry lot, but Billy thought when the music was as sweet as his group played, it only helped to fatten the fires of the soul.

Billy calmed them down and conferred with his soloists if they were up to another go of the last movement. They agreed, but Kayla asked if she could swap her alto wood-flute for a soprano. She thought the higher pitch with the bright trumpet might be more appealing. Billy and Randy agreed and she got her other flute and was ready to go. Kayla was right. It even heightened the effect, and it was much easier to hear the back and forth play between the oboe, the trumpet, and Kayla's flute.

Billy never heard it played before with a soprano recorder, but he had to admit it brought a brilliance to the piece he never considered, and Kayla's playing was crisp and masterful. The four soloist were even better than the first go-round and played it at an even faster speed. It was breathtaking, and the members of the audience were sitting on the edge of their seats. It was a once in a lifetime moment when everything came together and jelled to become a perfect jewel of an experience which, under the best of conditions, could rarely be duplicated again. The audience was once again on their feet and Kayla, Randy, Zeke, and Rory took bow after bow until they folks were exhausted from showing their love.

* * * * * * *
It was beginning to get dark. Billy wondered if they should just skip the third Brandenburg. "We can't," Randy said.

"When you say some'um like 'at, you make shivers run up me old back, Cowboy. You done promised somebody you would perform it, right?" Billy asked.

"See, I done told ju' I can't fool you no more, my good Master," Randy replied and grinned.

"And, by 'my good Master' you's telling me I would understand?" Billy asked.

"We should stop talk'n about it and take you to Vegas, Brother," Randy replied and got Billy and his posse laughing.

"Tell me about it, little Brother," Billy demanded.

"I left a channel open like I promised for some folks to sweeten their dreams," Randy replied.

"Nothing wrong with that. They's expecting the third Brandenburg, right?" Billy asked.

"Yes, sir, it's one of their favorites," Randy replied.

"Then, let's do it," Billy said.

The third concerto is for strings and continuo only. After the wind players left the stage, Billy and the string players were alone. Billy conducted from the harpsichord. They started in and began at a goodly but not frantic pace. The string players were surrounding the harpsichord and were standing except for the cellos who were sitting. The sun set and it was dark but the stage lights were adequate to see the music. The harpsichord was aligned parallel to the front of the stage and Billy could not only see his musicians, he could also see most of the audience.

They were well into the first movement when beautiful four pointed stars began to appear around in the sky. At first they were unnoticeable to most in the audience, but the watchers and daddy long-legs could see them forming above their heads and in front of them. They didn't make a sound but looked on in wonder. Billy smiled while playing and caught Randy's eye and winked at him. Randy grinned and nodded he saw them and never missed a note. By the time they finished the first movement, the star-people were fully present and made a beautiful sight in the sky. They were giving off a soft light and it fell on everyone like it was a blessing. There was some apprehension in the audience but once again they were used to unusual things around the ranch. They didn't let the phenomenon get the better of them.

When Billy's musicians finished the first movement, he stood and announced to the audience not to fear or have any apprehensions. They were experiencing a visit from the star-people who have been gracious enough to come listen to their music making. Billy bowed deeply to the star-people and bid them welcome. "It is a great honor to have you among us this evening. We hope you find our music making to your liking," he said and returned to the harpsichord.

Between the first and third movement is a brief harpsichord cadenza with bass continuo accompaniment. Billy couldn't pass up the opportunity to gussy it up a bit and improvise just enough to be tasteful but not too showy. Finally, when he came to final cadence of the bridge, he gave another nod and the fiddles took off like a rocket sled and started the gigue of the final movement.

It was one of the first pieces Poly and Cass learned from Mistress Kate when they first arrived at the ranch with their Strads, and they were spectacular. Poly gave a pass of the jig solo to each of the individual fiddle players until they each enjoyed their moment to shine. When Tommy took one step forward and played his jig his family was in tears. Tommy could see his two big cowboy uncles with an arm around each other with their bandannas wiping their eyes.

The visitors responded by glowing brighter every time one of the young men they enhanced showed off his talent for them. It was a glow of love and a sign of great approval the young humans were finding such joy and release through their passion to create something more beautiful and wonderful than themselves as individuals. They were a part of the whole who became a part of the creation of something rare and transcendent. Even the audience could feel it as the lovely light fell upon them, and they were bathed in the joy and love the Essengurda were bestowing upon them.

"Unbelievable. It can only be the Essene guards and their families," Gabriel said to Michael.

"Whoever is behind this gathering has good taste. I'm more sure by the minute we made the right decision," he told his brother.

"I couldn't agree more, Brother. The Essene guards haven't been heard from in centuries. There's been rumors, but no confirmations. There must be hundreds of them. They weren't fabricants like us. They were an advanced race who developed on Earth and settled in the north countries. They were mostly peaceful and hospitable to the early humans, but they could also be fearless and ruthless warriors when it came to protecting their own," Ralphael said.

The final chord was played to the concerto, and the audience, once again, erupted in applause and many other various means of showing their appreciation. Randy marveled at them. He never realized just how far a cowboy could sail his hat to get it onto the stage. He thought maybe it should become a new Olympic sport: Cowboy hat tossing. He imagined himself working hard to win a gold medal for his county with the perfect toss. Billy and his chamber orchestra took several bows, and afterward, they took an intermission before the second half of the Barnyard Concert.

Billy told Randy to send a message to his friends they were welcome to let themselves be seen and join them to enjoy the last half of lighter music making.

"I did, Brother, but they prefer to wait and meet with you and Captain Nick at your convenience. They suggested perhaps an evening this week of more music making in the chapel we discovered. Besides, there's about three hundred of them, and it might be a bit crowded around here. They can observe and listen just fine in the their star form," Randy said.

"That will be fine. Maybe even tomorrow evening. I'd like a chance to try out the organ you were telling me about and maybe we can talk grandma Kate, Roxanne, and Vox to play for us," Billy said.

"They'd love that," Randy assured him.

During the break period, Randy accompanied his posse to the picnic tables for some Texas Tea and and a couple of Hosanna cakes. Molly and the other canines joined the boys. Since their adventure together, they considered themselves part of Master Randy's group. Molly was sitting in Randy's lap and everyone was talking, but the pretty little dog was quiet. "Are you having a good time, Molly, or are you quiet in memory of your mistress?" Randy asked petting her gently and sharing a bite of his Hosanna cake with her.

"A little of both, Master Randy," she said licking her lips.

"I noticed you were sitting with Miss Clara. Do you like her?" Randy asked.

"Oh, yes, she loves our kind and is good and thoughtful. She is also very talented and plays her instruments like an angel. I've grown quite fond of her today, and I'm very flattered she likes me," Molly said in a reserved manner like she was hedging about something.

"But...?" Randy prompted her like he was expecting more.

"I know it might sound terrible of me, Master Randy, but she smells bad," Molly said.

"You mean like she's unclean?" Randy asked concerned.

"No, she's very clean and wears a nice scent which is neither too strong nor too pungent, but there's another scent to her that's deeper than clean. I think it might be an unhealthy odor her body is creating," Molly said.

"Can you describe it for me, Sweetheart?" Randy asked.

"Remember when I first came to the ranch, and you introduced me to the Griffins? Tommy's mother smelled the same way, only it was much stronger. It was overpowering. My mistress I lost smelled the same way, and as she got sicker the stronger the smell became. I came to associate it with her death. When I met Mrs. Griffin, I wondered if she was dying, too. Now, today, I smelled the same scent on Miss Clara, and while it's not so strong with her, I fear she also has the scent of death. If something isn't done for her, I think it might grow stronger. Master Billy and his men used their powers to stop Mrs. Griffin's bad smell almost completely, but there's still a small, lingering amount," Molly replied.

"Our master will have another healing session with Mrs. Griffin. In fact, he will have several before he has completely healed her," Randy assured, "I'm only sorry we didn't know about your mistress," he added.

"It wasn't you or Master Billy's fault, sir. It was my mistress's choice. She knew she was dying and talked to me about it. I don't think she knew I could understand her words, but I couldn't reply. She grew tired of living. It became too much for her, and she gave up. Unfortunately, my love wasn't enough to make her seek help. She was a very modest woman and didn't care to expose herself to the personal embarrassment of examinations and hospitals. I feel like I failed her, Master Randy," Molly said.    

"I can understand and empathize with you, Molly, but I'm certain you didn't fail your mistress. I'm sure you loved her as much as she could wish. You were probably the only reason she lasted as long as she did," Randy said and stroked the pretty little dog lovingly, "May I relate our conversation to Master Billy, Dear-heart?" Randy asked softly.

"I think, perhaps, you should, Master Randy," Molly said.

Nothing more was said about it, and Randy shared another bite of his Hosanna cake with her. Randy wasted no time telling his big brother what the little dog told him. He knew Billy was fond of Miss Clara Mae. Billy never doubted Randy's word nor did he talk with Molly about it. He figured the poor little creature went through enough with the loss of her beloved mistress. As they were walking and talking together when they returned to the concert, Billy stopped. Clara Mae stopped with him and looked at him questioningly. "Do you have major plans for tomorrow, Miss Clara?" Billy asked.

"No, I planned to visit an old aunt of mine tomorrow and send some e-mails to the other orchestra members to keep them updated," Clara replied.

"If you can postpone your visit to your aunt and e-mails until later in the day, I'd very much like for you to stay the night in our lady's guest room up to the big house, and tomorrow morning I will personally give you a brief tour of the place and show you a few things which might be of interest you," Billy invited graciously.

"I'm deeply flattered, Maestro Billy. I would be pleased to stay. I can relax and enjoy the rest of the concert knowing I won't have to drive home right after returning," Clara said, "Lately, I've noticed I become easily fatigued and seem to run out of steam quicker than I used to. After the excitement of performing today, it pretty much sapped me of my strength," she added.

"And one other small matter, when you return, please alert the orchestra I want a full morning of rehearsals Friday morning. They will be paid for both. Then Saturday morning, they only have to drive to Uncle Tom's cabin and gate to the ranch," Billy said.

"They will kiss your boots for the extra work, Maestro," Clara said and smiled.

"That won't be necessary. I think we've formed a good working relationship, and I'm satisfied with their enthusiasm and playing. They certainly seem to put more of their heart into their music," Billy commented.

"You have won their hearts, Maestro. They speak your name with reverence. I've heard several say they've played more good music since they come to know you than they have in the last several years," Clara said.

* * * * * * *
The second half of the concert was the time Billy and his family used to share their love and nonsense with his people. It was never rushed and was filled with joy and happiness with a surprise from time to time. The star-people seemed to enjoy the down to Earth quality of the musicians. The country and western music with the addition of Cajun music with Etienne Boudreaux, David Breedlove, and Cletus Abernathy was always the pinnacle of the down-home music making.

Added to that were the up and coming new musicians were learning other instruments and quickly picking up licks of the music. Tommy Griffin, Pard, the McMartin brothers, and even Kayla found new and interesting things they could add to the mix. After several hours of nonstop music making including audience participation with their usual sing-along at the end of the evening, everyone seemed to be in great spirits and emotionally recharged for the coming week.

After many bows and rounds of applause for the musicians, the crowd began to break up. The star-people left, and guests began to depart. There was still a good crowd who Billy invited to stay behind and join him and his immediate family for supper. He made sure he had enough cowboy-angels to do a complete healing on Clara Mae Bastiaen.

After dinner the ladies took Clara Mae aside and explained the real reason Billy wanted her to stay behind and stay the night with them. She was stunned and said she had no idea she had cancer, but she was planning a visit with her doctor later on in the month. With the ladies help they located the lump in Clara's right breast. She was devastated, but quickly recovered when Zelma told her she was much worse than Clara. The doctors gave up on her and sent her home to die. Billy and his cowboys brought her back from death's door, and her last check up, Zelma said she was free of cancer.

"How did he know?" Clara asked.

"Your little friend Molly told Randy you had the same smell as Mrs. Griffin before Master Billy and his cowboys healed her. It was the same smell she associated with her mistress's death. Dogs can sniff out cancer in people, and Molly just might have saved your breast and your life," Kate said.

"But the first day we joined the others on the roof of the McMartin building, didn't that take care of any problems I might have?" she asked.

"You weren't in the center circle of the actual healing. You were in one of the inner rings acting as a conduit for the life-force energy we were channeling through you to Billy and his cowboys in the center circle. You received a minor emotional and physical tune-up, but no major healing occurred," Kate said, "I assure you, if Billy knew at the time, you would have been included in the inner circle. No problem, we caught it before it became much more than a minor nuisance," she added.
Clara broke down and cried some more, but the ladies were supportive and told her they would be with her the whole time. It was their job to see to her modesty and prepare her for Billy and his posse to come in and do their thing. They explained they created the the three rooms for the purpose of taking care of women's health problems and hoped she would be comfortable. Clara was amazed the ladies were so attentive and caring for her. They truly made her feel like part of their family. She mentioned it to them and they smiled. "Of course you're a member of our family. With your talent and abilities you have captured everyone's heart on the ranch," Kate said and made her weep a bit more.  

When they got Clara ready, Roz walked to the kitchen to gather Billy and his cowboy-angel posse. Billy even included, Zeke, Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael in his healing group. They expressed a desire to help, and he included them. They were already winged up and ready to go. When they came into the room, Clara was in awe of how handsome they were. She shed a few more tears when Billy took her hand and gently kissed the back of it like a gentleman.

"Sorry I didn't tell you the complete truth about wanting you to stay the night, Miss Clara, but I still plan to take you on a tour and show you some things the others ain't been privy to yet. We may even get to introduce you to the star-people when we meet them for the first time tomorrow," Billy said.

"How can I ever thank you for caring enough about me to go out of your way like this?" she asked.

"Hell, Miss Clara, you's one of our family. You're one of us and a major part of our communication with the Houston Philharmonic. We can't do without you, and we don't want you get'n sick so you can't do your job. Families take care of their own and see to their well-being. It's the least we can do to make sure you're healthy and feeling good," Billy said.

After taking and tasting a small sample of her blood, Billy and his angel raised their wings and began to work on Clara Mae. Kate placed a small, folded hand towel over her face so the light gathered wouldn't harm her eyes. It took them about thirty minutes of concentrated healing rays to completely remove the tumor and residual cancer. Billy asked his men to power down and they left to wait in the kitchen. Soon the ladies brought in Clara fully dressed to have dessert and coffee. They checked her out and the lump was gone. Billy opened his big arms to Clara, and she went to him and cried again. "Thank you, Maestro, for everything," she said.

"You're very welcome. I'm looking forward to your solo in Dvorák's ninth," Billy said.

"It will be my thanks and my gift to you and your wonderful cowboy-angels, Maestro," Clara said. The ladies insisted Clara have some of their Texas Tea, and if she found it to her liking they would send her home with a small bag so she could make her own. That night Clara went to bed and slept the best she could remember. Early in the morning she felt something jump upon her bed but it was light enough in the room she could see Molly looking at her. She held out her arms for the beautiful little dog and gently pulled her close to cuddle and pet her.

"How nice to see you, Dear," Clara said.

"I thought I'd come check on you and see how you're doing, Miss Clara," Molly said.

"I'm so glad you did. Thank you for alerting Randy and Master Billy about my condition," Clara said. "Do I still smell of cancer?" she asked.

"No, ma'am, it's all gone. All I can smell is the expensive bath salt you use and the light fragrance you wear. The smell I've come to associate with death is no longer with you. Mrs. Griffin has lingering amounts, but they will be gone after several more visits with Master Billy and his men. Yours is completely gone with no traces," Molly assured her, "Would you like for me to stay and keep you company, Miss Clara," she asked.

"I would be honored and thrilled to have you stay, Molly," Clara replied. She soon went to sleep again and Molly was there by her side when she awoke to wish her a good morning.

* * * * * * *  
The evening was not over for Billy and his men. They still had to get the winged horses out of sight and get the new angels billeted. Since Zeke was staying with Odin Bluetooth, Erin Mascaro, Marcus Obbligatto, and Wilbur Peterson, he decided he might put a couple in with Slipweasel and Rumdum; however, the three angels got Billy aside and told him they didn't care to share a space with any of the four last angels to arrive at the ranch. They didn't elaborate. They didn't have to. Clyde, Mack, Garth, and Cowboy Andy shared their feelings. They explained they still held bad feelings for the four angel's part in betraying the rest of the fallen angels.

Nick backed up his rebel brothers and suggested to Billy, to avoid conflict he probably should consider their wishes and be sensitive to their feelings. Only those fallen angels already with Billy, Uriel, the swamp-rat angels, and the enhanced human Sandalphon refused to be kowtowed to cooperate and go along with the four archangel's and Metatron's nonsense (their words) and managed to escape and get away. There was still some animosity between them. They assured Billy there wouldn't be any fighting, but they couldn't promise there might be a few sharp words exchanged. As it turned out, Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and Samael were pretty much ready to eat a wagon load of humble pie; Samael in particular was haunted with terrible visions and remorse for what he did to his brothers.

Billy asked Randy to open a gate to transport the four winged horses to the pasture-land on board Captain Nick's ship. He knew the time was coming soon when he would have to make some explanations to the media about what was going on at the ranch, but until that time, he didn't care to risk more controversy than necessary.

The men took the new arrivals to the tower in the castle on board Captain Nick's ship and showed them to their apartments. The apartment Billy assigned them contained a huge living area, a den, a large kitchen with a fully stocked pantry; with four separate bedrooms, two on either side of the living area. There was a shared bath between the two rooms. Billy was a bit surprised by their reaction. They acted like it was the finest accommodations they were offered in a long time, and they couldn't thank him enough. It made Billy wonder how the four angels were living before coming to the ranch.

Billy announced the men of his family would be relaxing in the baths in the steam rooms of the dungeon in the basement of the tower, and if they wished to join them, he would have Slipweasel and Rumdum gather them to show them the way. They graciously accepted and Billy and his posse left to go down to the dungeon and get comfortable. When the four angels arrived, they had no problem joining the rest of the men in the nude. Billy marveled at their physiques and male tackle. He was convinced whoever made them was either a nymphomaniac or the gayest Anunnaki in the history of the universe. Each of them was stunning to behold. He didn't know why he was so surprised. His own band of angels from his pa, Clyde, Balthazar, Mack, Garth, Cowboy Andy, to Zeke, Rumdum, and Slipweasel were equally as handsome and impressive. Still, the only angel for Billy was his surrogate pa.

Billy watched their reactions to the number of men in the tubs. Almost everyone in Billy's immediate family was there including the boys and the twins. The young boys were allowed to stay until their bedtime and Clyde and Tom McMartin would accompany them to the big house and turn them over to the ladies for the night. Then they would return for a while longer. The Breedloves were there, including Perry Reed and Mick Flynn. Elmer and Vox always made an interesting pair, but Oatie and Jethro never looked better. They were in love, and they glowed. They were a delight to be around. The three Tate men stayed for a soak. Bubba, Jack, Grover, Coo-zones Da-veed and Cleet were there as well. David and Cletus were looking particularly satisfied and happy with their new lives. Harlen and Jessie were there.  

The castle dwellers, Odin, Erin, Marcus, Wilbur, Hank, Buck, and the three giants, were there. The Griffin family decided to stay the night on the ranch, but Griff and Doris stayed in the big house for the night; however, they allowed Tommy to come with his uncles to be with the men. He was thrilled to get to be with the two big cowboys and do man things; however, Billy told him he would have to return with Clyde and Tom when it was time for bed.    
Talk was casual, with Billy catching-up everyone on what was happening with the discovery of the stowaway race of people who were in stasis most of the time and only aroused from their slumber if they sensed danger, or they heard music in the chapel. Billy said they didn't know much about them and wouldn't until they meet face to face with each other, at which time he would invite them to arise and settle around the castle or village if they liked until they decided what they wanted to do. It would seem they saved the ship and crew more than a few times and deserved what help or assistance Billy and his family could offer them. The four new angels remained quiet listening to the conversation. Billy heard from talk they knew about the Essengurda, but they weren't joining in to freely comment.

Billy decided to prime the pump, "I know the Grigori and the Irin put out calls for fallen angels to come forth and join us in our endeavor to rescue the remaining angels in stasis, but I must say, me and my brothers were a bit surprised you men answered the call," Billy said.

Michael and Raphael looked to Gabriel to answer, but Samael hung his head like it was too much for him. "It came as somewhat of a surprise for us as well, sir. It's the first time we've been offered a chance to redeem ourselves. We are not proud of ourselves for our part in our brother's forced incarceration, Master Billy. Since that dreadful time we have lived as nomads without much purpose. For the last couple of centuries we've been living as hired hands for the Grigori and Irin as cleanup crews for messy races who are making the first steps at becoming space-faring societies. We're a bit rusty dealing with evolved humans so I suppose our entry might best be described as showboating harking back in our minds to a time when we were both feared and revered on Earth," Gabriel said, and Billy watched old Zeke almost slip under the water and started to choke. He was sitting next to Wilbur who grabbed him and slapped his back to make him spit out the water lodged in his throat and did his best to comfort him. Zeke's reaction didn't go unnoticed by the others.

Gabriel shook his head and continued, "We find ourselves coming back to a planet who retains faint memories of us as glorious and wonderful creatures, but it wasn't us archangels who gained the trust and respect of the re-manufactured natives. We were the enforcers. The strong armed, terrible swift swords of retribution, and I won't try to whitewash our participation. We meted out punishment as ordered by our owners, to whom we pledged to honor and obey. You have seen it in your people over the centuries time and again, where many have been punished or terminated by the whim of the few by committing atrocious crimes without conscience because the perpetrators never stopped long enough to examine their own sense of self-worth in correlation to the actions they were ordered to carry out and later claim they were only doing their jobs. In our defense, we were neither taught compassion nor restraint by our makers. Our brothers, the so called fallen-angels, learned compassion from the humans they came to love and admire; however, hindsight and remorse don't make up for the hubris of unexamined power on our part. For what seems like eons, we have lived trying to make up for what we did, but we were never given a chance to make amends for our sins until now," Gabriel paused for a moment.

He continued,"Hell, we can't even make a decent entrance no more. Only a few minutes later, my brother Zeke, plays a trumpet better than I could ever hope to, and left me sitting in the dust with his brilliance. I could sit at his feet and take lessons every day for a century and never be able to play like that. I know my praise probably don't mean much to him, but it don't stop with Zeke. The music we heard from your family this evening was the stuff of angels; stuff we should have been made of but weren't. Hell, them winged horses ain't even ours no more. They're a gift to you from the Grigori and Irin; three mares and a stallion to start your own family. I weren't kidding when I told you our coming to Earth to offer our help is our last chance for salvation, Master Billy," Gabriel said.

A great silence came over the men gathered. They were waiting for Billy to say something. He didn't know what to say. The look on Billy's face was unreadable by most. Beneath the hot, steaming water he felt Nick take his hand in his, and on his other side, Randy took his other hand in solidarity. "What can you tell us about the Icelander Essengurda?" Billy said brushing aside Gabriel's explanation for the moment.

"They are a peaceful race of refugees from a system whose main star went nova thousands of years ago. While they achieved great things and were able to overcome their previous warrior-like tendencies, they learned to live in peace, but would defend themselves if threatened strongly enough. They settled in the northern countries to keep away from what was going on in the warmer climes of the lands later known as the cradle of civilization. They interbred with the proto-humans you know as Neanderthals to create a race of highly intelligent but savage warriors. They also taught the early humans compassion for their kind and gave them new ideas they integrated with their own primitive beliefs. They got their name from protecting those who practiced the proto-religion started in one of the earliest sects known as the Essene. The Egyptians learned from the Essenes and later their beliefs were adopted by the sheep herders of the fertile crescent known today as the son's of Ishmael and Issac. The Muslins of today are the son's of Ishmael by Abram and a slave woman named Hagar. His name was later changed to Abraham and in their later years, his wife Sara gave birth to Issac the father of the Jewish nation. It's all very biblical," Gabriel said and shrugged his shoulders.

"Since you have chosen to join us, perhaps we can begin to plan an assault on the fortress of despair and rescue those still in stasis," Billy said.

"Even with our help, there's no way of knowing how to get into the vault where they were hidden. The coordinates have long since been lost and there is no one alive today who could even point you in the right direction," Gabriel said.

Billy saw Marcus was about to speak up but caught his eye, and ever so slightly, shook his head not to give himself away. "We have the technology of a couple of advanced races at our disposal. We also found out recently there are others in the universe who have an interest in our succeeding with our endeavor. To be brutally honest, I'm less concerned about bridging the entry gap than I am your sense of loyalty," Billy slammed his fears into the four men like a well armed torpedo. Nick squeezed his hand in approval.

"And you have every right to be, Master Billy," Samael said firmly, "The truth is we're here for a specific reason. The four of us, plus Ezekiel, maybe Uriel, but certainly Sandalphon are the only ones who might be able to convince Metatron centuries have gone by, and things have changed since he was placed in stasis. Metatron has great powers and could wipe us all out thinking he was still required to follow his last orders which just might be to destroy anyone who tried to revive the others. Sandalphon was Metatron's bonded mate which they managed to keep secret from the overlords. That's how Sandalphon came to be enhanced and made immortal. He was the only human ever granted such a gift, but we don't have him, Uriel, or the rest of the escaped fallen-angels," Samael lamented.

"They will have, soon enough," Zeke spoke up.

"Who's left?" Billy asked Zeke.

"Let's see..." Zeke mused, "We already done talked about Uriel and Sandalphon. There's Ipos Kokabiel, Zagan Vine, Orobas Gamagyn, Eligor Bathin, and last but not least Gator Gap," he rattled off.
"Gator Gap from Louisiana?" Cletus Abernathy asked.

"Don't know of no other Gator Gap," Zeke replied.

"That old swamp rat and his buddies are angels?" Cletus asked like he was stunned by the news.
"Do you know them?" Billy asked.

"Know them? Old Gator married me and David. He was like a second dad to me. All them men was at our wedding deep in the swamp. I liked to scared poor David to death. I'm sure he thought I was taking him into the swamp to feed him to the gators. I'm one of only a handful of Cajun men what can find his way through the swamp to Gator's place. David and me, we done talked about transport'n to pay a visit with old Gator, but we was worried if we showed up as two angels, he might die of a heart attack thinking we done come to take him to heaven -- and here, all this time, that old reprobate, gator-wrestling, medicine-man was an angel," Cletus said shaking his head and grinning from ear to ear at his mate.

"We even met Yippy Kokabiel. He lives in Arizona with the Yavapie Indians," David said.

"When can we go visit with him?" Billy asked.

"Anytime you like. Veed and me, we done got pretty good at transport'n. We been back to the cabin a couple of times to get away for a while and breathe the mountain air," Cletus replied, "Can you open a gate to Gator's place?" he asked.

"No, you would have to go there first, give us a call, and we can triangulate your position. Or you could take one of our Geo-positioners and text us the coordinates; however, it might be traced, and it would be safer just to go there and call us," Billy said.

"We'll go tomorrow. If he ain't home, we can leave him a note to call us," Cletus said with growing enthusiasm.

"Sweet Jesus, I will always remember the time we visited with Cletus's childhood friend and mentor what taught him about life in the swamp, but I definitely was not prepared for the experience," David lamented.

"Why not?" Billy asked naively.

"My Dear, do you have any idea what swamp water will do to a Vera Wang wedding dress?" David asked indignantly. His timing was perfect. He nailed it, and he and Cletus almost drowned laughing. They got the rest of the cowboys laughing at his joke.

"Good one, Coo-zone Veed!" Billy exclaimed.

Elmer Breedlove laughed the hardest.

"You mean you didn't save your old wedding dress for me, Little Brother?" Oatie asked.

"It wouldn't a' fit you noways, Brother, yore' tits are too big," David shot back, and the men in the pool laughed. The boys thought it was pretty damn funny too. It was a good thing. They needed some levity at the moment.

Clyde, Tom, and Tree Griffin took the boys back to the big house. They returned and rejoined the men. They talked a while longer and were more open with the new men. They were surprised to learn the new angels were not conservative prudes and were well aware of the strengths of male bonding experiences. Like any of the other newcomers to the group, the angels and Tree Griffin and his husband were interested in Erin and Buck having a vagina instead of a penis. They were even more curious and surprised by Vox Humana morphing before them to become his sister Roxanne.  

"So next weekend is the fourth of July: Independence Day. Don't you think it's a mite early to be celebrating independence?" Elmer asked, raised an eyebrow, and grinned. The big cowboy got a laugh from a few; however, since the Jesuits together with the fundamental dominionist and corporations took over, it seemed like a valid question. Many parts of the country were swiftly moving back into the dark ages. Surprisingly, the rural areas were still pretty much unaffected. The current regime knew rural people kept guns and while they beefed up the National Guard and state troopers, the smaller towns were pretty much left alone for the time being.

"We be celebrate'n the first independence with hope for a second. It's to remind folks, if we did it once't as a nation, we can do it again," Billy replied, and he got several 'hear' 'hears.'

Will you invite the neighbors?" Elmer asked Billy.

"We's planning on it," Billy replied, "We're also planning the second homecoming for the year. All the ranches will be left with skeleton crews but provided with short wave video. We'll rotate those what came the last time and so on," Billy said, "We're expecting several hundred folks so if the Essengurda decide to attend, they won't be out of place," he added.

"We're not sure about our future, Master Billy," Michael said with some anxiety.

"I told you not to press him on such matters," Gabriel scolded the big handsome angel.

"I'd like to know, too," Raphael said.

"I'm just happy to be here, even if it's only for a brief time. I will get to enjoy the company of these fine men, and I will go my way with a full heart being the better for having known them," Samael said.

There was a brief silence and Billy's family watched him closely. They knew him so well; he wouldn't tolerate any bullshit, but on the other hand, he would sometimes surprise them by being unexpectedly understanding and compassionate.

"No angel is better than any other I have been given, chosen, bartered for, or those who have come to me of their own volition. My first slave I married and made him my husband. We're expecting a son, Billy Junior, in about seven months. One angel actually fell out of the sky into my lap. I saved his life. How did he repay me? First, he very cleverly wormed his way into my heart; then, he took advantage of me; an innocent, young, virgin cowboy and proceeded to commit all manner of vile and odious crimes against nature upon my firm ripe young body. He was such a convincing lover, he proved to me I needed to accept him as my slave and surrogate pa. Two of the best damn decisions I ever made in my life. I'm probably the only cowboy in the universe what's got a watcher for a husband and a fallen-angel who can morph into a Kagoli warrior and become my demon dad. Talk about a hot fuck! Woah! I keep a fire extinguisher by my bed at all times should my ass catch on fire," Billy hyperbolized. (Okay, so I just made up 'hyperbolized.' Trust me, it's the cowboy way.) Billy got his family laughing, but he could see the four new angels didn't know what the fuck to think. The only one smiling was Sammy. Billy made a note of it. He could work with him.

"I ain't never asked no fallen-angel nor any of the cowboy-angels what were once human to give themselves unto me. Every fabricated angel and them hybrids I create have willingly given themselves to me of their own free will. It was their decision. Balthazar come to me already ringed by his previous owner who is now under my protection. I found his rings to be an integral part of his beauty and a strong-hard-on reflection of his personality. He decided to keep them out of respect for his former mistress and my delight in seeing him wear them every day. I ring all my punishment slaves, but we only have three for the time being. After I ringed my first slave, it was like a domino effect among my family. Those closest to me begged to be ringed as a sign of their love for me. That's why you see several men in this pool with a full set of rings. I do not require it of anyone in my family. Master Harlen's son Harley-Buck Johnson you saw today with a handsome set of horns asked me for them after he done a heroic deed to save a horse at the risk of his own life.

"I am creating and becoming my family and my family is creating and becoming me. It ain't clearly defined, but it's a fascinating work-in-progress. Sometimes it can be total chaos around here; but it's flexible, and it works for us. A little love and a lot of laughter can easily overcome the worst problem. We work together, take pride in our accomplishments, encourage each other, and offer a helping hand if someone is down and needs a boost. We are growing together. You four are new here. I will ask nothing of you what you ain't willing to give to me, and in turn, my family. No one will stiff-arm you or try to talk you into anything. Get settled in your new apartment and take several days; Hell, take a week to get to know everyone. Look, listen, and learn. There is a place and a job here for everyone depending on his talents and motivation. We ain't no blood suck'n corporation looking for nine-to-five slaves. We are family. When it's time to work, we work. When it's time to relax and play, we give it our best shot as you observed earlier today. The future for you three angels, Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael will depend on you, and it starts with your attitude. Samael has already won a place in my family if he wants it. It's only a matter of time for him to find his place," Billy explained.

It was so quiet around the dungeon you could hear a mouse fart. Billy was sure the tiny varmints were holding their breath. "Hosanna!" shouted Tron Garrett and raise his arm with a tightly closed fist.

"Hosanna, in the highest!" the rest of the men in the pool replied and saluted Billy with their fists.
After a bit more conversation, everyone decided to go their own way. Tree and Tank were staying the night in the extra bedroom in the giant's apartment. They immediately took to the giants and wanted to spend some time with them. Billy wished his new angels well and told them if they needed anything to let Slipweasel or Rumdum know. They knew the lay of the land and could probably help them. They thanked him for his graciousness and understanding. Samael thanked him for his kind words and told Billy he would work hard to find his place.

"Around here, there ain't nothing to it. My best advice is not to over-think. You don't have to beat the bushes looking for your place; it will come to you, Sammy. Trust me," Billy said

Billy and his smaller family transported to the line-cabin and went through their evening rituals. They drank some left over Texas Tea and it made them mellow. Everyone pitched in to groom Boomer which was a little different. Usually, Nick let Billy and the twins groom their husband, but he was taking part. Billy noticed when Nick was more horny than usual, which was all the time, he helped so he could get into Billy's ass quicker. Billy went to the shower to clean himself and as he was finishing up he vowed to himself he would allow himself one luxury in life. They were drawing up plans for a new line-cabin which was to be built by the end of summer. He would have them alter it to add an apartment for two grooms and a grooming room so he could relax and have them prepare him for his husband or pa. He didn't think it would be too ostentatious to afford himself such a luxury.

After one of their very finest fucks, Billy complimented his pa. "Don't know what got into you tonight, Pa, but I like it. You didn't even have to morph. I could smell the fire and brimstone by proxy," Billy said and grinned.

"I was envious. I felt I had to live up to the hyperbolic metaphor you created earlier this evening. Take advantage of you, my foot!" he exclaimed and smiled, "You were ripe for the pick'n, Son. All I had to do was pick the fruit and eat it," he added and broke up laughing, "I was so proud of you, I could a' taken you right then and there in front of all them men and angels. Them four angels didn't know whether to shit or go crazy trying," Nick added and laughed harder, "In the name of some unknown god, Boy, I love you," Nick said.

"This cowboy done loved him some demon-dad tonight. Woah dogies! That fuck should last me for a while," Billy allowed and stole a kiss.

* * * * * * *
"What's that, Dad?" Wilbur asked looking at the canvas bag Marcus was carrying.

"Some equipment for us to use to help break you into man sex. Since we got his blessing, Master Billy told his slave-grooms to make me up a grab-bag of goodies. Would you like to see what we got?" Marcus asked.

The two men were already used to spending time with each other in the raw and were both naked as the day they were born.

"Of course I'd like to see it," Wilbur replied.

Wilbur was so sexy to Marcus, the huge man walked around like a horny bull in a pasture of fresh heifers with a big-old hard-on with his cock constantly dripping. He was big, no doubt, but he told Wilbur he would never try to mount him until they both felt certain Wilbur could take him comfortably. Marcus dumped out the contents of the canvas sea-bag and there was all sorts of wonderful sexual apparatus. Wilbur was like a kid in a candy store and wanted his new dad to explain each device. There were several sizes of butt plugs and several soft leather dildos of various sizes and lengths, but the piece that most titillated and frightened Wilbur was the heavy-duty leather slave-harness he saw Master Billy's punishment slaves wearing. He thought they were hot as Hell, but he never considered wearing one.

"Do you plan to make a slave of me, Dad?" Wilbur asked quietly.

"Remember, I promised I would never lie to you, Son?" Marcus asked.

"I remember, sir," Wilbur replied.

"Yes, if you will have me for your master, I will slowly, but surely, make you into my love slave," Marcus replied, "I was honest with Master Billy and laid my cards on the table. I thought he would tell me absolutely not, but he didn't. He surprised me. He said he thought it would be the best thing what could happen to us. He said you need control, direction, and to be carefully taught the pleasures of male sex. He also said you need life experience, and he thought I would be the perfect teacher for you. I will neither play games with you, Wilbur, nor will I beat around the bush. Blatant honesty is always the best policy because you can't come back later with an argument I tricked you or mislead you into doing something you never wanted.

"I have a strong need to control you, Son. I want to be your unquestioned master to train and take care of you while I teach you how best to take care of my needs. Part of my passion will be to rebuild your body to be a slave of great beauty and desire. I'm vain enough, when I walk down a street with you on my arm, I want to be able to hear the hearts break of those who look upon you with great envy for me. When you watched Orville Higginbothem perform for his master today, what did you think? How did it make you feel?" Marcus asked.

"I felt envious, like I was jealous of him. As embarrassing as it might have been for Orville, I wanted to be him at that moment," Wilbur replied.

"I can train you to do that, Son. It ain't difficult," Marcus said.     

"And the cock cage? You would have me wear it?" Wilbur asked.

"Always, Son, when we ain't in bed together, and until I get you trained up pretty good, it will be every night. You must wear it so I can be sure you ain't sneaking off some-wheres and pleasuring yourself without me. I will determine when and where you get release. A young healthy man like yourself squanders almost a third of his youth pounding his pud for a momentary release. I will control when and how you find release. You will come to depend on me for your pleasure and you will come to associate me with your sexual release. It will cause a bond between us like nothing you ever experienced before," Marcus said.

"Would you be offended if I asked to talk with Master Billy and his dad about it before I give you a firm answer, sir?" Wilbur asked.

"No, I won't be offended at all. I would urge you to talk with them. I would also urge you to talk with Master Billy's three slaves. Just make sure you get Bubba's permission before you talk with Orville," Marcus said.

"In the meantime, could we play with this stuff tonight?" Wilbur asked.

"Certainly. We'll take it slow and easy," Marcus said.

The big ex-con gave Wilbur the equipment for the young man to clean his lower tract for the evening and told him how to do it. After Wilbur returned from the shower, Marcus gently and carefully inserted the smallest butt plug and helped him into his slave harness. It was so sensual for Wilbur, his cock was straining to get out of the cage. There was a funny feeling of light-headedness when Marcus used the key to lock Wilbur into his harness for the night. Marcus snapped on the cod piece and Wilbur was transported to another world. He walked over to the large mirror and looked at himself. He liked what he saw, but he wasn't sure. He wanted to talk with several people and get different opinions. Marcus went off to the shower and Wilbur lay down on their huge bed. He thought it would take some getting used to, but he thought he could do it.

Wilbur was almost asleep when Marcus returned and turned off the lights except for a small blue night-light they kept on all night so they wouldn't stumble in the dark should they have to go to the bathroom. Wilbur wondered how he would piss with the cage on, but imagined he would learn. Wilbur felt Marcus's take him into his big arms and gently kiss him on his lips. Wilbur returned his kiss in kind. He could feel Marcus's huge cock pressed up against his butt-crack. He reached down, raised one leg and guided Marcus penis between his legs to keep it warm.

Marcus bussed a kiss behind Wilbur's ear. "That was thoughtful of you, Son. It will keep me warm through the night. Are you comfortable?" Marcus asked.

"As comfortable as a man can be with a plug up his butt, his cock in a cage, and he's got a roaring hard-on he can't do nothing about," Wilbur said and laughed quietly.

"You'll get used to it. After a couple of weeks, you'll feel naked without it. You won't be able to get to sleep unless you got your pacifier in your butt," Marcus assured him. "Don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask them punishment slaves about it. They'll tell you the truth," he added.

Wilbur managed to drift off to a peaceful sleep, but before he did, he said a prayer of thanks for life, for meeting the Daniels family, and having a big warm handsome man to hold him tight. He never felt more like he belonged in his life. Maybe Master Billy was right, but he wanted to hear the words from him. Wilbur hoped Marcus was telling him the truth. He thought he just might like to become the big man's slave.

End of Chapter 68 ~ Him What Made Them Seven Starsf
Copyright ~ ~ 2014 ~ 2016 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All Rights Reserved~
Mail to: waddiebear@yahoo.com
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