Seek Him What Made Them Seven Stars
By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 71

"Fiction is to the grown man what play is to the child; it is there that he changes the atmosphere and tenor of his life." ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

It was early Thursday morning. Wilbur opened his eyes and wondered if he could move his body. Every muscle and joint in his person hurt. He had three intense days of work on the building project. He was all over the place lending a hand or listening to the foreman of an area and making notes to take back with him to his master-in-charge of the yard or carrying messages to other areas. He climbed scaffolding, ran up stairs, walked into the darkest parts of the basement without lighting and generally was on the go from the minute he and Marcus hit the ground until noon with thirty minutes for a quick lunch and back to work again. At the end of the first day he was exhausted, but Marcus insisted they do a quick cleanup; the big man would insert Wilbur's butt plug to wear with his harness for the rest of the evening, and they would head for the weight room in the dungeon of the castle.

There, Wilbur was put through another grueling couple of hours of lifting weights until time to cleanup for supper. After supper, they returned to their room, showered, laid out their clothes for the next day, went to bed, but not to sleep. Wilbur felt it was his duty to take care of his husband. That was the best part of his day, his well earned dessert, but still it took his attention and effort. After three days of the same routine, he lay awake, afraid to move least some part of his body refused to comply, wondering if following his original dream of becoming a Navy Seal would have been less taxing. Probably, but he wouldn't have Marcus' sweet cock to suck or fill his ass or his boy-cunt when he morphed for his husband. If Marcus didn't complain, Wilbur was determined he wouldn't either. He felt his husband's huge, beefy arm being thrown over him pulling Wilbur close. Marcus began to rub Wilbur's body from his knotted neck and shoulder muscles to his well-rounded bottom -- not so much in a sexual manner, but more like he knew the young man was stiff, and his muscles probably ached. Marcus's simple act of charity made Wilbur relax and the young man allowed his mate to work his kinks out -- but not all of them.

"You won't be wearing your harness today or any day hereafter; except on weekends or when we're relaxing here in our room," Marcus said quietly.

"I haven't complained, Master," Wilbur replied.

"I know. I've come to learn a lot about you in the last several days, and I'm convinced you would do almost anything to please me. It has nothing to do with my need to train you. It has everything to with good common sense. In further conversations with Master Billy, he told me of his two remarkably well-built halfling slaves who failed to obey their masters on Retikki Prime. While they were not physically punished, they were made to wear chastity belts encasing their penises and were unable to have sex of any kind for several months. After their punishment time was up, they never disobeyed their masters again. Master Billy brought along their chastity belts as a reminder -- just in case. Since that time, they have been assigned to help take care of Master Billy's husband, Boomer, but they still are only allowed to ejaculate in the process of sharing sex with the great beast. I went along with Master Billy's idea of no-plug while working, but I've completely changed my opinion. Master Billy was right, and I was wrong; however, there's a couple of variables he pointed out I ain't been taking into consideration.

"One, we ain't in a prison situation where one must protect his property at all times; and two, I started with men who were not as dedicated as you, and in the beginning, they only went along with my nonsense because it was something different to do, and they came to enjoy being controlled by a large aggressive man. Both came to realize what we developed was more than they anticipated, and they became my faithful slaves. I don't have to do that with you, Wilbur. Since you have accepted me to become your husband, it's my job to see to your needs as well as my own, and if I do my job well enough, you will never have to worry about being satisfied. I will see to it you get your reward for allowing me to take my pleasure with your fine strong young body. In three days, you done proved to me you are more than willing, and will become my faithful companion, but in our current situation, it's not mine for the taking; it's yours for the giving, Son.

"My old ways formed in prison are robbing you of your right to give freely and feel good about yourself. There ain't no doubt in my mind you already are and will eventually become the slave and partner I need and have dreamed about for many years. Furthermore, according to my Blue Angel, we will find great happiness together. Everything else he told me has come true. I believe in him, and I believe in us. Even though it seems like we been keeping a tight schedule, and for all the work and confusion, these last three days have been like paradise for me. It won't always be like this, Son, but when we do have periods of heavy work loads, we can learn to lean on each other to make it through. I trust you not to play with yourself during our work day. Lord, I don't know when you would have time anyway. You took only one break for the 'john' yesterday and you couldn't have been in there more that five minutes. Another reason is, your harness is beginning to chafe your skin, and it will eventually create lesions. I don't want the boy I love to look like an overworked plow horse," Marcus said, and they shared a laugh.

"I will do as my master wishes, sir," Wilbur said.   

"I know you will, and that's only a part of why I'm falling so deeply in love with you, Wilbur," Marcus said.

"Could part of it be because I love and respect you just as much, sir?" Wilbur asked.

"Absolutely! Of course it is, Son, without a doubt," Marcus replied.

They started their new day with a loving, passionate kiss which placed the seal on a new beginning. They got up and readied themselves for another day. Marcus removed Wilbur's plug, cock cage, and harness, and hung it on a nail in the back of their closet.

* * * * * * *
Ludo thought he died and went to heaven; although, there was a small price he had to pay to get there. He held both his bairns, one in each huge arm, in a big soft bed, in a large, comfortable room in the castle on Captain Nick's ship. Billy insisted Ludo be groomed by his staff before he was allowed to fulfill his position as watcher-protector for Douglas and Randy. Randy was working with him and the giant beast was getting better at taking care of himself, but not good enough for Master Billy to allow him access to their living quarters. While Billy wasn't a stickler for making a distinction between a more domesticated watcher or one in the wild, he felt to become a part of his family there should be a more conscientious intent on the part of the beast. Billy also took into consideration, like the smallest dog will unwittingly gather and track into one's home detritus debris and unwelcome insect vermin proportionate to its size, the volume of the same becomes logarithmic with a beast the size of Ludo. Unfortunately, while Ludo possessed a big heart and was loyal to the core, he held onto a tendency to be somewhat slovenly in his personal hygiene.  

Ludo became Randy's slave, and as such was required by Grigori laws and customs to adjust and conform to his master's world. Fortunately, Randy's efforts to keep him groomed began to pay off, and Ludo decided his love for his young bairn was greater than his wild-calling and made the final leap of faith; he willingly submitted to the grooms in the castle. Love, and a deep need to belong, is a universal catalyst to bring about change in all critters. After the grooms released him, Ludo thought he just might get used to being pampered by two remarkably handsome halflings, but being blow-dried, powdered, fluffed-up, and made to smell like a baby's butt would take a while longer. Nevertheless, here he was, lying in a comfortable bed with neither fleas nor ticks to bother him; feeding his wonderful young master and his ex-daddy long-legged brother his warm sweet milk from his full breast.

Ludo wondered if there was a correlation between cleanliness and happiness, but he didn't dwell on the question for long. Ludo was not a beast for deep introspection. His concept of the universe was simple: The Sun comes up, the moon goes down, and the silly Earth spins 'round and 'round -- let's eat! On the other hand, he couldn't remember a time when his body responded so greatly. Ludo's teats were swollen and actually ached for relief, but along with the discomfort, came the euphoria of belonging -- something he lived too long without. The great beast became one of the Daniels best milk producing watcher-cows. He was always one of the first in line to be milked, and while he was relieved for a while, his body quickly replenished that which was taken from him; certainly enough to satisfy his sweet bairn masters, Randy and his brother, Douglas.

Ludo was considered a hero for contacting his young master when the long-leggedy beastie found his daddy long-legged brother lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood. His quick thinking saved Doug's life. Ludo became the watcher-hero du jour around the Daniels ranch, and he wallowed in his moment of fame. Ludo dutifully saw his two bairns through the long night of fledging for Douglas and loved every minute of it. As they were getting ready to go down to the great dining hall for breakfast, Douglas stood naked before the great mirror in the bedroom to admire his new body and wings. Randy already explained he must wear his wings for, at least, twelve full hours to acclimate his heart to be able to pump blood to them before he could be taught how to de-wing. Randy walked up and stood naked next to his uncle and slipped his small hand into Doug's. "You look wonderful, Uncle Doug," Randy said.

"My penis was never so large or full, and my daddy insisted his boys be circumcised shortly after we were born. Your daddy and I never fully forgave our dad for that. To whom do I owe thanks for my new magnificent unmutilated cock, Son?" Doug asked.

"Uh, that would be me, Uncle Doug. You's just a mite larger than my big brother Jethro. I decided if you're gonna' be the foreman of the Rutherford ranch you should have the biggest cock," Randy said and giggled like a school boy.

Doug couldn't help being charmed by his little buckaroo nephew, and he smiled. "Ain't we getting a little ahead of ourselves, Cowboy?" he asked.

"No! I don't think so. Absolutely not!" Randy exclaimed, "It's me and my big brother's plan for you. While you might not be ready right at this moment, the quicker you get used to the idea, the quicker you're gonna' see the method in our madness, and change yore' way a think'n about it until you come to see it just makes common sense for everyone involved. Don't try to 'over-think' the situation, Uncle Doug; just take it one step at a time, and you'll come to understand it was meant to be. You can have your family back, but you won't have to go through the blunt trauma of revealing your past. You'll be my very own Batman, and I'll be your boy wonder, Cowboy Randy. Don't never make the mistake of calling me 'Robin'!" Randy said firmly, and they shared a laugh. "However, there is one person, with whom, I must share your real identity, Uncle," Randy added.

"Your sister?" Douglas asked.

"Yes, sir. Since I was healed by Master Billy and have been free to live my life, Kayla has become my lineman, guard, and full-back to check our mother's fear and misgivings about me grow'n up too fast and not allowing me to go and do with ma' brothers and Master Billy. We come closer together with our music. Since we both been enhanced by the Essengurda, we no longer are in competition. She's become as fine a musician in her own right as I ever imagined myself to be, and we make beautiful music together. I owe her the favor, but I know Kayla well enough to know she will take your secret to her grave if you don't want our mother or our grandmother to know your real identity," Randy said firmly.

"I think I can understand. Sharing a secret might form an even stronger bond between you," Douglas mused.

"My think'n exactly, Uncle," Randy agreed.    

"Your big brother you modeled me after has rings through his nose, his tits, and his cock. Will I be ringed, too?" Doug asked and Randy watched his uncle's cock swell and began to extend down and peek-out from his handsome foreskin.

"Shame on you, Uncle Doug. You shouldn't think nasty thoughts like that or the head of your new cock might get cold and drop off," Randy said and roared with laughter.

"I just thought if anyone might know the answer to my question, it probably would be you," his uncle said and blushed.

"You won't be ringed unless you asked to be. It's a great honor to be ringed by Master Billy. Some of his closest cowboy brothers and angels have asked to be ringed, but so are his punishment slaves. He even gave one of his punishment slaves a handsome set of horns to wear on his head as a reward because he was a hero and saved the life of a frightened mare while risking his own. Master Billy only did it because it's what his slave asked for, and I have to say, old Harley-Buck looks mighty-damn good when he wears his horns. He ringed Jethro because he's the slave and husband of Doc Oatie, and Jethro asked Master Billy for them. I think he looks hot in them rings. I'm sure if you wanted a set, my big brother would be happy to give them to you. After all, he saved your life. He not only saved your life, he done give you the opportunity for a new life. Throughout the universe, it's a common law, if a man saves your life, it's your obligation and duty to sincerely offer him your life as his slave. Whether he agrees to accept you as his slave or not, is up to him," Randy explained.

"How do you know so much about these things at your age, Randy?" Doug asked like he was stunned by Randy's knowledge.

"I been to two other worlds besides Earth, Uncle Doug. I been enhanced a couple of times by my big brother, once on Retikki Prime by Master Billy's Uncles-in-laws, once't on Fort Adam Lear, by Ramrod Mathew Quigley, and once't near the castle here by another race of Star-people, called the Essengurda," Randy said as fact.   

"He ain't lying to you, Brother. I was with him on Retikki Prime when I was given to him as his watcher-protector-slave, and I seen what them big blue Star-people done for Randy and his musical posse," Ludo reinforced Randy's explanation.

"How would I go about offering myself to Master Billy, Son?" Doug asked.

"It's simple, Uncle. Fall on you knees before him; ask to pay homage to his boots; if he gives his permission, kiss each of his big buckaroo boots; sit up and explain you understand it's a universal law or protocol for a man to offer his life to another man who saved his life and would he please accept you for his slave?" Randy explained.

"Do you think I should, Randy?" Doug asked his nephew sincerely.

"It's up to you, Uncle Doug. You must do what your heart tells you," Randy replied.  

"Do you consider yourself his slave?" Doug asked.

"Yes, Uncle, absolutely. I'm proud to say, Billy Daniels is my Master. I owe him my life. The words have never been spoken between us, but we know. I often refer to him as Master Billy when I wanna' show him my respect, and in addition, I'm his little brother, his saddle-buddy, and his wing-man. I would do anything in the world for that Cowboy Angel, and I know he would do the same for me without hesitation," Randy replied.

They got dressed. Randy told Doug not to worry about a shirt, everyone was used to seeing new fledglings. They left their suite and joined the gathering of giants, Gog, Joe, Joe's little brother, Willie, Thor, Zeus, Marcus, and Wilbur, in the main room to go down to the dining hall for breakfast. Each gave Doug a hug and a congratulation kiss. Marcus was the last to fledge, and he took great pleasure welcoming a new Cowboy-Angel into their midst. Marcus noticed Doug didn't seem too steady on his feet, and told him it took some time to get used to the extra weight. Randy wondered if his uncle could navigate the stairs. He decided he didn't want to take the chance, and with the wave of his hand, Randy opened a gate from the giant's common room to the dining hall three stories down. Douglas watched Randy and was stunned by his nephew's powers. The giants weren't. They laughed and applauded for Randy. They were used to Randy and thanked him for the lift. Gog couldn't resist, grabbed Randy up into his huge arms, and carried him through the gate with him.

Billy and his posse were already there waiting for them. He decided to come to the ship for breakfast to check on Doug and Randy, and plan his day. Billy knew the minute the gate sprang up, it would be Randy and the giants arriving. Billy thought it was a good idea since his uncle's wings were still heavy and awkward for him. The help came from the kitchen to see the new Cowboy-Angel, and they weren't disappointed. He looked like a twin to their beloved Jethro and they were as much in awe with Douglas as they were their demon project manager. They welcomed Doug and complimented him on his appearance and his handsome wings. He looked a little unstable and his face was white as a bleached sheet on a sunny day. Billy went to him, took Doug into his big arms, and held him. He gently kissed him on his forehead, placed his hand to the back of his head and gently pulled his head to rest on his shoulder. "Not to fear, Cowboy, we all been where you are right now, including me. I was in misery the morning I fledged. Every bone in my body ached and I was quite sure I made the biggest mistake of my life," Billy said with a smile in his voice.

"Thanks, I needed them words of encouragement, sir. I think we got unfinished business to attend to, Master Billy," Douglas said quietly.

"How so, Cowboy?" Billy asked.

"May I have permission to pay homage to your boots, Master Billy?" Doug asked.

"Are you sure you can get down and up again, Doug?" Billy asked in a concerned voice.

"I think so with your help, sir," Doug said and took Billy's hands as he went down on first one knee and then the other. The big man leaned over and kissed each of Billy's boots and sat back on his. "As I come to understand, it is a universal law, a man whose life has been saved by another must offer his life to him in exchange. I'm offering you my life, Master Billy. Would you please accept me as your slave, sir?" Douglas asked.

"You been talking wiff' ma' bossman, Son?" Billy asked and grinned looking Doug in the eye.

"Bossman, sir?" Doug asked.

"Yore' nephew, Doug," Billy explained and winked at him.

"Yes, sir, Cowboy Randy, and my best friend, Ludo," he replied.

"Tonto? Clyde? Help this cowboy-angel to stand before me so's I can look him in the eye," Billy said and the two big Cowboy-Angels grabbed Doug under each arm and pulled him up to a standing position. Billy smiled at him, "Ordinarily, I would give you a long-winded speech about how that arcane law only applies to the greater universe and certain societies here on Earth, both primitive and advanced, but I won't this time. It's failed me ever' damn time when a man was serious and has a deep need to obey that law from their own personal conscience and perspectives about life in general. My best explanations, or admonitions, how we didn't have to uphold no law what ain't standardized was not what they wanted to hear. Am I right, Cowboy? May I assume it might be the same in your case, Douglas?" Billy asked.

"I think I can understand them men's needs, Master Billy, and I fully agree with them. My soul is at peace and in harmony with the idea," Doug replied.    

"Then my answer to your petition is 'yes.' I would be proud to call you my slave, Douglas Rutherford," Billy said, "Come to your Master's arms, and we will seal our bond with a goodly kiss," Billy commanded and the two men accomplished a passionate kiss. The other men applauded, stomped their boots, and whistled. Douglas continued to hold Billy for a while after their kiss. "Is there something else, my Good Slave?" Billy asked.

"When do I get my rings, Master Billy?" Doug asked quietly and several of the men broke up laughing.

"Hear! You men hesh up! Have some respect!" Billy admonished them and grinned real big. "Would after breakfast be soon enough for my new slave, Son?" Billy asked.

"That would be fine, Master Billy," Douglas replied, "I would appreciate it, sir," he added.

"It shall be done!" Billy exclaimed.

There came a great flash of light and Doc Oatie and Jethro in his Kagoli demon form with his handsome horns arrived in the dining hall. Randy forgot all about his uncle and ran full-out to Jethro's massive red arms and jumped into them like he'd done it hundreds of times before. Doug was stunned. None of the men seemed upset by the demon, and he was spinning around with Randy in his arms. They were smothering each other with kisses. "Who? What is that?" Doug asked.

"'At's yore' twin brother, Son. It's Jethro Quince in his demon form. He comes to work like that almost ever' day 'cause he gets more work out of his staff," Billy said and laughed.

"I understand why. I'd work my ass off for him and beg for more," Douglas said, and the men shared a laugh.

"You got other motives for want'n them rings, and you want them permanently installed, don't cha', Son?" Billy asked.

"Yes, sir, Master Billy," Doug said looking down at his boots.

"And h'it t'ain't because you's afeard of being drawn to your brother's wife, neither," Billy said.

"Naw, sir, Master -- it ain't. I ain't worried none about that," Doug replied.

"I don't think you have to worry none about chore' nephew, Son, but I can understand your own personal need for the security and mental comfort it might bring you. I will certainly abide by your wishes," Billy said.

"I'd appreciate it, Master," Doug said.

"Actually, I admire you for wanting it that way. You're leveling the playing field and protecting yourself. It's subtle but a brilliant move at the same time. I like a man what can think ahead and tweak the system to his advantage for his personal peace of mind. I got me a good feeling you're gonna' fit right in with the rest of my close Cowboy-Angels," Billy said.

"Thank you, Master Billy, I'm looking forward to an interesting new life serving you and my family," Doug replied.

"You thought about another name for yourself?" Billy asked.

"No, I thought I'd leave that to my masters," Doug replied.

Billy didn't even have to ask why Doug used the plural 'masters.' He knew Doug meant Randy.

"I will confer wiff' ma' Bossman, and we'll get back to you, Son," Billy said and grinned from ear to ear.

Talk was fast and furious around the table that morning about everything from their new Cowboy-Angel to the new Angels and their participation in the great emancipation of their brothers in stasis. Douglas was astounded to be welcomed into Master Billy's circle of Cowboy-Angels, Angels from earliest history who were now devoted to Master Billy, and Master Billy's own personal family and staff. There was much talk about the coming weekend concert for the Fourth of July and some conversation about who would be in charge of the fireworks display. Several of the Fabricant-Angels volunteered to work with Hank and Buck. Finally it came down to Billy asking Bossman Randy if he thought about a new name for his uncle.

"Oh, that one's easy, Big Bro. He'll be Bruce Wayne," Randy announced like it was carved in stone.

"You mean as in 'Batman' Bruce Wayne?" Billy asked.

"Sure, I done told Uncle Doug I'd become his sidekick 'Cowboy Randy,' but I never wanted him to make the mistake of calling me 'Robin,'" Randy replied.

"Why not? What happened to Robin?" Billy asked in amazement.

"He died of AIDS back in the eighties, and Batman's been alone since then; except, for a brief fling with William 'Bane' a criminal mastermind the Dark Avenger tried to help until Billy Bane went all bat-shit crazy on him and tried to kill poor Bruce," Randy said.

"Robin died of AIDS? That's terrible, Bossman!" Billy exclaimed.

"Then why are you men laughing?" he asked, "I never did like Robin anyway. He wore them fruity little green slippers with them pointed toes what looked like he just stepped out of a gay cos-play article from an old Advocate magazine. With Cowboy Randy, the very personification of the masculine 'tude bros, forta- and pulcra-, the Caped Crusader and his wing-man don't have to worry none about being called the Ambiguously Gay Dynamic-duo no more," Randy said and got everyone at the table laughing at his nonsense.

"As convoluted as your reasoning sounds, it makes sense to me, but it might be seen as a bit homophobic," Billy said.

"I take it my idea don't rate no Hosanna, Master Billy," Randy lamented.

"No. Not this time, Buckaroo -- out of respect for and in memory of poor Robin. No matter your strong opinions about another, always remember your compassion," Billy replied. Eager to leave the subject behind, Billy turned to Doug, "Well, I guess it's settled, Slave, you will become Bruce Wayne. If anyone makes the connection, just laugh and tell them it's a coincidence and you were named after your granddaddy who was a distant cousin of John Wayne. Actually, I think I like Billy 'Bane' better. Two b's? Two bees or not two bees? What was the question?" Billy riffed and his audience laughed at his nonsense, "Or what about three B's like Beethoven, Bartok, and Bach? Why not give him a real Texas buckaroo name: Billy Bob Bane?" he asked.

"Gees, come to think on it, I like Billy Bob Bane, too, Master Billy, and it still would leave room for me to become Batman," Randy said, "I like it a lot. Uncle looks more like the character, Bane, than Batman anyway. Bane's first name was William or Billy Bane. I looked up the name on the Net and 'Bane' comes down from the old Scottish language meaning 'bone' or 'long-awaited child.' I always did have me a secret hard-on for Bane and thought with a little cowboy love'n he could be turned around and become a great super-hero for good. Just think, Uncle, you and me could become a new dynamic duo of the hill country: Billy Bob Bane, Foreman of the Rutherford ranch, and his side-kick; Bossman Cowboy Randy. Does it for me!" Randy exclaimed and got a round of applause from the men at the table.

"You got any idea what chu' got chore'self into, Doug?" Billy asked drolly in his best Tommy Lee Jones imitation and laughed.

"You done had me when you woke me up on that table and told me your men were wear'n Angel-drag, Master Billy," Doug replied and brought down the room.

"Damn good thing you got a sense of humor, Son. You wouldn't last long among this crowd without it," Billy said and everyone laughed again.

After breakfast, those who had jobs went to work which were more than three-quarters of them. The rest were invited to the dungeon to witness the ringing of Master Billy's new Cowboy-Angel-Slave, Billy Bob Bane. Billy kept his promise to his new slave and his rings were wielded shut. They could only be removed by Billy Bob's master or one of his men but not without his master's permission. No one questioned him. They held enough faith in their master they expected him to do the right thing. Later, when they were alone together, Randy asked his big brother why he made his uncle's rings permanent.

"Because, it's the way my slave wanted them installed, Son," Billy said, but he didn't elaborate. Randy pondered, but he never asked his uncle.

* * * * * * *
Billy found time to schedule his final purging of toxic chemicals for his Swamp-Angels for early afternoon on Friday after he and his posse got back from rehearsals with the Houston Philharmonic. He invited anyone who wanted to gate to Uncle Tom's cabin to lend a hand or simply listen to the rehearsal would be welcome. Several took him up on his offer. He knew, without a doubt, Randy and his uncle would be there. Randy wouldn't miss a rehearsal if the state of Texas was on fire.

Billy announced Wednesday afternoon to his Irin slaves they would have a long weekend which would begin after work on Thursday; however, there was a minor catch. They would be expected to give a hand getting everything ready for the weekend and helping to make sure their visitors enjoyed a relaxed, good time. He told them to remember, they were as much family as anyone else on the ranch and how the good folks from their area saw them was a reflection on the Daniels family. Billy reminded them of three words to remember: be mannerly, polite, and helpful.

"Billy, would you be upset with me if I called Brent Sparks and ask him and his young cowboy friend to drive out tomorrow for lunch and spend the weekend with us?" Kate asked.

"I'd be upset if you didn't, Grandma," Billy said and smiled.

"Thank you, Billy, I owe you one," Kate said quietly.

"Are you keeping score, Grandma, 'cause I ain't? How would I repay you for them many years you were there for me?" Billy replied, took his grandmother into his arms, and kissed her gently on her forehead.

"Will you have time for them?" Kate asked.

"No, but we'll make time, even if I have to take them to the cloakroom to work on them, but we got to work on them Angelic Cajun Swamp-rats tomorrow afternoon anyway. We can put them to work right after, and make them give us a hand. Wiff' the extra added power, we really can do miracles," Billy said, "You might consider asking them out for supper tonight and stay the weekend wiff' us. I'll have more time this e'nin and will have the entire three-day weekend to observe them and do any touch up stuff they might require," Billy added.

"Even without your wings, I always suspected you were an Angel, Billy Daniels," Kate said, stole a kiss, and went off to use the ranch phone to call Brent Sparks.

* * * * * * *
Billy instructed Billy Bob Bane to stick close to his Bossman and follow him around all day from meeting to meeting and hither and yon. When everyone went to the great dining hall in the castle of Captain Nick's ship, Doug confided to his nephew he didn't know how their master kept up such a pace. He was going here and there and never failed to stop to give a good word to the most insignificant of the workers or village people; he would call them by their names and never seemed to forget one. Following in his master's footsteps, Douglas Rutherford took on a new persona and was convinced he made the right decision to become Billy Daniels' slave. He could never remember a time in his life when he felt more included or needed.

* * * * * * *
"Mrs. Daniels, this is Brent Sparks calling from your front gate. How do I get past the cattle down here?" he asked.

"Oh, I'm so sorry, Mr. Sparks, I know they were alerted you and Mr. Langstrom would be arriving about now, but I plum forgot to tell you about them. See them two large bulls before you?" Kate asked.

"Yes, ma'am. They's handsome beasts, but imposing," Brent said.

"The smaller bull is Mr. Yates and the larger one is Mr. Dunn. Just walk up to them, introduce yourself, and politely ask them to let you pass. They're really nice bulls. You'll like them," Kate said.

"You're joking, right?" he asked and laughed nervously.

"Not at all. Trust me, Mr. Sparks, you and Mr. Langstrom will have to adjust your sense of reality. Just think of the Daniels ranch as the lost land of Oz and the drive up to the house is the yellow brick road," Kate said and laughed.

"Okay, I'll try anything once," Brent Sparks said and disconnected. He slowly walked up to the two large bulls and spoke, "Hello, Mr. Yates and Mr. Dunn, I'm Brent Sparks. Me and my friend, Mr. Bart Langstrom, were invited to the Daniels ranch for supper and to spend the weekend. Would you gentle creatures please allow us to pass?" Brent asked.

"We'd be happy to, Mr. Sparks. We're sorry for your delay, but we're told not to allow anyone pass we don't know until they introduce themselves to us. We know your names and we were expecting you, but this being your first time to the ranch, we needed to make sure. Hope you will forgive us, sir? If you will get back into your vehicle, we'll begin to make a path for you. We hope you enjoy your visit to our ranch. Since you ain't been here before, may we say, you're in for a treat, sir," Yates said.

Brent Sparks was totally shagrinated. (chagrined) First he giggled and then doubled up with laughter. "Forgive me, Gentlemen. I lost my composure for a minute," he said.

"That's all right, Mr. Spark, we get that quite often. We come to love people's first reaction to us, but once't you been here and get to know us, you'll begin to wonder why you ever thought it was so strange. We're only the first of many discoveries you men will have for yourselves this weekend, but trust us, you will be the better for it," the larger bull, Dunn, said.

Mr. Sparks thanked them and returned to his car and closed the door. "What was that all about, Mr. Sparks?" Bart Langstrom asked.

"See them two fine looking bulls? I just carried on a conversation with them, Son," Brent replied and laughed again.

"I believe you, sir. My hearing is excellent, and I heard them; but, I couldn't make out what they were saying," Bart said.

"They told me we were about to have an experience like we never experienced before, and they welcomed us to the Daniels ranch. They're sentient cattle, Son -- or at least I think they're cattle," Brent said as he started up his car. The cattle parted and the men drove up the hill on the long dirt road and around the bend at the top into the compound of the Daniels ranch.

There were cowboys and cowgirls everywhere. Bart Langstrom was sure he died and went to cowboy heaven. Two huge dogs came bounding up to the car with a beautiful little red Cavalier Spaniel with them like they were a welcoming committee. They were not only wagging their tails, but their complete bodies. They were looking in the windows at Mr. Spark's small dog, Gertie. Brent almost messed in his pants when he heard the big male say, "Oh, look, Momma, there she is. Ain't she the cutest thing?" Daffy asked.

"Oohh, she's adorable," Chloe replied.

"Where? Where? I can't see!" the smallest one shouted.

"Jump up on my back, Little Sister, and you can see for yourself," Daffy told Molly. She gracefully made the leap, and took a good look.

"You're right, Daffy, she really is cute," Molly agreed.

Brent looked at Bart. The were both stunned with blank looks on their faces; then, they broke up laughing.

Gertie couldn't wait to get out of the car. She was going crazy scratching at the windows and barking. Brent never saw her so anxious to be around other dogs. Usually she was pretty shy until she got to know someone, but not that afternoon. Bart looked up and saw a strange looking assembly of men and other creatures heading for the car. "Uhhh, Mr. Sparks, look at that group heading our way from that old barn. Is that Billy Daniels leading them?" he asked.

"Yes, that's Mr. Daniels, but what are those enormous hairy creatures, that ugly one carrying that young cowboy, and what is that walking arm-in-arm with him with them white wings?" Brent asked.

"I think the monsters are Bigfoot, and he must be a Bird-man or an Angel of some kind," Bart replied.

About that time, a big cowboy opened the back of Brent Sparks' car and Gertie jumped down like a bullet out of a gun and was united with the other dogs. They began to run around the compound playing tag games with each other. The huge cowboys opened Bart's side of the car, scooped him up like a young child, and moved him to his wheelchair the other held waiting for him. "Thank you, Gentlemen," Bart said.

"Glad to be of help, Son, but we ain't no gentlemen. We's cowboys. My name's Enoch Redbone and this here fine looking buckaroo is ma' bonded partner, Moss Garrett," Enoch introduced them.

Brent Sparks got out of the car on his side as Kate Daniels came down the stairs from the big house to join Cowboy Billy and his posse on their way to meet and greet the two new men. Brent couldn't take his eyes off the Watchers and Bart couldn't take his eyes off the cowboys. Suddenly Gertie ran in front of her master and looked up into Billy's eyes. "Hello, Gertie, we've heard a lot about you and your master. Welcome to the Daniels ranch, Little Sister," Billy said as he squatted down on his boot heels and offered the back of his hand for the small dog to smell his essence. Gertie sniffed a bit and then did something totally uncharacteristic for her -- she jumped into Billy's arms and started giving him sloppy wet doggie kisses. Billy didn't try to stop her, he let her get her fill.

"I've never seen Gertie do that before with a stranger," Brent said in awe.

"Gertie and me ain't no strangers, Mr. Sparks. She knows a friend when she sees one," Billy said but didn't elaborate. "Besides, Daffy, Chloe, and Miss Molly already done told her about me. Glad you men could join us for the weekend. We hope you'll enjoy your visit. Just keep an open mind and always remember, there ain't nothing on this ranch what will harm you men," Billy welcomed them.

Brent Sparks was in awe of the huge hairy monsters standing behind Billy and watched in horror as his little dog leaped into the arms of the biggest one behind Billy Daniels who immediately pulled Gertie to his big breast, petted her, and offered her his teat. All Brent could see was Gertie's little tail moving back and forth like a metronome set to prestissimo as she sucked the warm sweet milk from the great beast's teat. Billy turned to look, grinned real big, and turned back to Mr. Sparks.

"That's my husband, Boomer, Mr. Sparks. He's got another tit what ain't taken if you'd like to sample his milk. I think you can take Gertie's reaction to the bank. It's pert-dang good stuff. I drink it ma'self several times a week. Best natural food in the universe," Billy said and smiled.

Bart Langstrom was speechless. Brent was an amateur electronics and computer buff; when anyone in the community got a new one and wanted to discard their old one, they would give it to Mr. Sparks to refurbished, install a new open-source operating system, and he would give it to someone in the community who would like to have a computer but didn't have the money to buy one. He gave Bart one of his rebuilt machines and taught him how to use it. Bart spent hours surfing the Net and learning about different things which interested him. One of his favorite pastimes was to read or watch videos about the legends of Bigfoot. He loved hearing people tell about their close encounters with the great beasts, and here he was in a wheelchair looking up at eight of the magnificent beasts. He was struck dumb. "And what about you, Cowboy?" Billy spoke to Bart, "I know you must have an adventuresome spirit if'n you's in a wheelchair from attempting to ride a huge Brahma bull. Would you like to try some watcher teat?" Billy challenged him.

"Oh, dear God, would I?" Bart replied.

"Bubba, can we borrow Brute?" Billy asked.

"Shore', share some of yore' milk with that young cowboy, my Sweet Protector," Bubba said.

"Oh, my God, he's the one I admire the most, sir," Bart said like he was about to piss in his pants.

"He's a real looker, ain't he?" Billy asked and smiled.

Brute walked over, picked up the young cowboy into his huge arms, looked deep into his eyes, and smiled. He moved his huge paw behind Bart's head and gently guided him to his teat. Bart immediately started to suck and tasted the warm sweet milk for the first time. It tasted like warm Blue Bell vanilla-bean ice cream, and he drank and drank while making almost obscene sounds of erotic pleasure. For the first time in a long while, he felt his penis began to engorge with blood, and he was afraid he was going to ejaculate. He stopped and Brute looked at him questioningly. "I'm afraid if I drink much more I'm going to have an accident and come in my pants," he whispered to the handsome beast.

"Go for it, Cowboy. It will be my treat to clean you," Brute said quietly in a deep rumbling voice.

Bart hooked back up and started sucking again for all he was worth, only this time Brute began to sing to the cowboy in his deep rumbling tones. The more he sang and built his song, the more he could feel Bart building up to his climax. Brute kept on until he caused every man's penis standing near them to grow hard as a rock, and they watched as Bart's body bucked and pitched as he reached his own personal climax. Bart disconnected from the great beast, but he was still breathing hard. "Oh, God! Oh, God!" he whispered to Brute, "Thank you, Brute! I'm so embarrassed, but I can't remember feeling this good in such a long time. It was worth the embarrassment, my Sweet Friend. Thank you, Brute. No, I can't thank you enough," Bart said and stole several kisses from the beast.

"Come, Brute. We'll take him inside, and clean him up. Save a taste to share with our master," Bubba said, and they walked up the stairs to the porch and into the house. Kate was waiting at the door and held it for them. Billy motioned for Brent Sparks to follow, and he did. They took Bart to one of the bedrooms on the far right side of the great ranch house and Brute gently laid him down on one of the big comfortable beds. Brent was in awe these cowboys didn't seem to be the least bothered Bart experienced an embarrassing sexual accident. They acted like it was nothing to get upset about. When Brute got Bart's pants undone and lowered them, Brent watched Billy Daniels walk over and dip two of his fingers in Bart's ejaculate then raise it to his mouth to taste it. "Not bad, but it could use a bit more cowboy flavor," Billy said and laughed at his own nonsense. "Take your prize, Brute," he said to the giant beast.

Bart watched in awe as Brute's huge black tongue began to lap up his cowboy come and seemed like he was in ecstasy as he began to sing to Bart once more. "What more could I want, to have such a wonderful beast cause me to shoot my load while he feeds me his wonderful milk and then sing to me while he feasts on my baby batter -- all in my first few minutes on the Daniels ranch. Thank you, Master Billy, for inviting me and Mr. Sparks," he said.

"Why do you call me 'master', Son?" Billy asked.

"I heard Brute's companion call you his master. If'n Bubba Kirkendall calls you 'master,' it's good enough for me, sir," Bart replied.

Bubba came from the bathroom with a warm, damp, washcloth and handed it to Brute. The big beast gently, but thoroughly, cleaned the rest of the cowboy's crotch and pants. Someone handed him a hairdryer, and he gently dried the area. Last, they lightly powdered the young cowboy's crotch to keep him from chaffing and closed him up just in time to hear Kate ring the triangle to announce supper for the Daniels family. Brute picked up Bart like he was a rag-doll and gently set him into his wheelchair. "I hope I'm not too much of a bother for you men this weekend," Bart said.

"Oh, you won't be, Son. Take old Bubba's word for it, you won't be no trouble a' tall, Cowboy. We got enough big men and watchers around this place to make yore' visit wiff' us seem like a walk in the park," Bubba encouraged Bart.

The men pushed Bart's wheelchair into the large entryway and found the rest of Master Billy's posse waiting for them. Kate looked around and then looked at Randy. "Where's your sister, Randy? I told you Kayla was invited for supper this evening and to stay the weekend with us," Kate admonished him.

"Oh, my God, I just forgot, Mistress Kate. I can just see her waiting for me patting her foot. C'moan, Ludo, I may need protection from my big sister. Let's go get her," Randy said and before anyone could say anything, the young buckaroo opened a gate to the Rutherford ranch, and he and his giant protector walked through and disappeared. Brent and Bart's mouths dropped open, but before they could say a word Randy walked back through with his sister with Ludo right behind them.
Kayla was giving her little brother 'what-for.' "Do your realize I've been waiting for you a couple of hours. I could have been over here giving Mistress Kate and Ms. Zelma a hand in the kitchen!" Kayla let Randy know her displeasure.

"I'm sorry, Kayla, I got caught up in other things, and I ain't got me no good excuse except I jes' done plum forgot. I just got through telling someone earlier today how very important my big sister is to me; how much I love and appreciate her, then I done went and let chu' down like that. I ain't just sorry, I'm deeply embarrassed, and I beg your understanding and forgiveness. I promise, it won't happen again," Randy said and sounded convincing he was truly embarrassed and sorry.

"Oh, all right. I forgive you this time. I know how caught-up in cowboy stuff you can get. You see a cow, a horse, or a cowboy and your brain flies out the window. Howdy, everybody," Kayla said and everyone greeted her with hugs and kisses. She soon forgot her anger for her little brother. Randy closed the gate and joined the others.

"New technology?" Brent Sparks asked Billy nonchalantly.

"Naw, Mr. Sparks, it's been around for centuries. We just ain't know'd about it until recently. Randy Rutherford, my little cowboy brother, learned an 'app' like you got on your computer to open gates from place to place. That gate he just opened took him and his watcher-protector Ludo to their ranch about eight miles this side of Fredericksburg to gather his big sister," Billy explained like it was a matter of fact.   
 
"Rutherford? Fredericksburg? Walmart? Cowboy Jesus? That was you, Mr. Daniels. I remember now. I know I knew you when I watched them videos Mr. Sparks brought me of your Barnyard Concerts. I never made the connection until now. I must a' watched that Walmart video dang near a hun'nert times and dreamed so hard of meeting you one day it made my guts ache, but I never made the connection. How dumb can I be?" Bart Langstrom lamented.

"You ain't dumb, Cowboy, I done the same thing. Sometimes when we ponder the mysterious we overlook the obvious. I never made the connection until you just brought it up. Is he right, Master Billy?" Brent Sparks asked.

"Well, it was me and ma' little brother in that video, but I ain't no Jesus. Even if I was, I wouldn't wanna' be associated with a heartless predatory corporate conglomerate like Walmart," Billy replied.

"Sorry, sir, I didn't mean no disrespect. I'm sure Mr. Sparks didn't neither," Bart spoke up for his friend.

"None taken, Gentlemen -- now come, let's have us a nice supper together," Billy said and led them into the large kitchen dining area.

Almost everyone in the extended Daniels family was there but the Breedloves, the Sheriff and his family. The Breedloves were having dinner with Jethro and his people on Captain Nick's ship. "Where's the Sheriff, Grandma," Billy asked.

"They just got here, but Will bought a butt-load of carrots for the guard cattle and them men is slowly throwing them out of their truck on their way up. They'll be here in a minute. We still got a couple of things left to put on the table. You folks sit down and talk until they get here. Everyone sat down and there came a scratching sound at the back screen door to the kitchen; a small voice was heard. "Mistress Kate? Mistress Zelma?" Miranda hollered.

"Randy, go let Miranda and her pups in the back door, but warn them pups there will be no flying in this house!" Kate said firmly, then laughed, "I've already lost too many what-nots from them misjudging a flight and crash landing into my Hummel collection," Kate said and laughed again. "It's one thing to have dogs around a ranch. They're almost a necessity, but it's quite another thing to have dogs that can talk and fly. I can accept their enhancement. I love all our dogs, but flying dogs with wings should only be for the outside," she added and looked directly at Billy.

Her grandson just grinned real big. "Sorry, Grandma. I'll admit h'it t'weren't one of my better ideas," Billy said.

Into the kitchen came six rambunctious pups and a beautiful female Aussie Blue Heeler cow dog; each one cuter than the other, but all with a set of wings.

"Also, there will be no slipping food to them little winged monsters under the table. I know they're cute, but don't let them fool you. Trust me! Each one is a major con artist, and with their eyes alone, they will talk you out of your very soul if you let them," Kate warned. Everyone laughed and agreed with her.

Sheriff Will Tate, his dad, Buster, and his little brother, Everett, came in, and they exchanged greetings with everyone. Will stuck out his hand to the new Billy Bob Bane, "Hey, Jethro, it's good to see you again and this time in your other set of wings," he said and shook his hand.

"Uh, he ain't Jethro, Sheriff Tate. Jethro Quince and the Breedloves are having dinner on Captain Nick's ship this evening. This newly fledged cowboy-angel sit'n next to me here is Billy Bob Bane. One of Master Billy's new slaves, sir," Randy said.

"He's joking, right?" Will asked, and the others shook their head.

"Wait a minute. I thought he was Mr. Quince, too, Sheriff," Kayla said adding to the confusion.

"If he ain't Jethro Quince, who is he?" Will asked the obvious question.

"He was a Daddy Long-leg what was shot in the back and fell off them limestone cliffs over to the Rutherford ranch. Randy opened a gate and with the help of four of my men, him and Ludo brought Mr. Bane to me yesterday afternoon. It took us a while, but I think we managed to fix him up pert-darn good. His face was so messed up we provided him with a new one; a face the Bossman helped create, using Jethro Quince's DNA as his template. He even got Jethro's okay before we done it," Billy explained.

"Amazing resemblance, welcome to the family, Mr. Bane," Will said and sat down.

"You didn't say nothing to me about finding a Daddy Long-leg on our ranch, Randy," Kayla said to her little brother.

"Didn't have time, Sis. He was in a bad way. I was going to tell you about it later -- honest," Randy said.

"He's Leatherface, ain't he?" Kayla asked using the cowboy vernacular.

"Yes, he was Leatherface, Kayla. I promise I will share everything I know with you later. Now is not the time, Dear Sister," Randy said firmly.

"Now I understand why you forgot about me. You had other things on your mind. You were concerned about the well-being of this man. I can understand. You were forced to make a choice, and you made the right one. If you would just be honest with me, Randy, I wouldn't get so upset with you," Kayla said.  

"I'm sorry, Kayla. You have a right to be angry. I don't like waiting on someone what gimme' their word they will do something, but I promise, what I have to tell you will make it worth your wait. Trust me," Randy almost begged.

"I will. I will. In the name of some unknown god, bless me! I never thought I'd live to see the day, but the transformation of Leatherface into a twin of Mr. Quince ain't the real miracle here. The real miracle is, I do believe you're beginning to show signs of growing up, and for that, I'm truly grateful to the Ancients or anyone else responsible," Kayla said and got a couple of laughs from the ladies. The men kept their mouths shut in respect for their Bossman -- the Hosanna king.

"Then Master Billy really did heal you in the Walmart parking lot in Fredericksburg?" Bart Langstrom asked quietly.

"Yes, but by the time the news people got to us, we was buddies. We was tight. Master Billy done made me his little brother and wing-man. We claimed we done seen us a big flying saucer above what shined a bright beam of light down on us and Master Billy got healed at the same time from some old rodeo injuries what still hurt him pretty bad. We just made that stuff up. The light come from the life-force in the universe and was channeled through Master Billy and Captain Nick standing next to him with his hand on my cowboy brother's shoulder. Master Billy gathered my DNA from licking my tears from my face, and he corrected my body chemistry to kill the disease what was in its final stages of killing me. I had less than a month to live," Randy said, "We didn't mean to deceive nobody; we was try'n to protect each other by using our cowboy hippy-boulders," Randy added. A few men chuckled. Kayla almost fell off her chair.

"And you can read someone's DNA from any fluid from their body, Master Billy?" Bart asked.

"Yes, and now I have your DNA on file, Bart," Billy answered and there was a silence you could have cut with a dull knife around the table.

"Thank you. Good to know, sir," Bart said, but he didn't ask anymore questions. He was a true cowboy and somebody taught him the cowboy way.

"Everyone started to eat and conversation was brisk around the table. There were reports of how the food and arrangements for the Fourth were coming along and everything sounded good. Bart ate much more than he thought he might after gorging himself on watcher milk, but it only seemed to make him more hungry. The food was so good compared to the food in the rest home. He ate it to stay alive and came to love Brent Sparks for either cooking for him in his small home or once in a while taking Bart to one of the two restaurants in town. He didn't know what he would have done without Brent in his life, but the older man never asked anything of Bart in return.  

"I'd like to thank you for sending me and Bart copies of your Barnyard Concerts, Mrs. Daniels. I think we've both learned a lot about music, and the joy there is in good playing. We're looking forward to hearing a concert in person," Brent said.

"You're certainly welcome, but please, Mr. Sparks, let's do away with the Mr. and Mrs. thing. If you don't mind, I'd like to think of you as a friend and call you 'Brent,' and I certainly would be pleased and honored if you would call me Kate," Kate said.

"Thank you, Kate. I do consider you a good friend," Brent replied.

"What are you men planning after supper, Billy?" Zelma asked.

"I thought we'd take Mr. Sparks and Mr. Langstrom to Captain Nick's ship and join the Breedloves for a while and see what trouble we can get into together. I'd like to introduced them to the greater Daniels family the average guests usually don't get to see. Maybe we might get the village musicians to play a couple of tunes for us, and then we might retire to the hot tubs in the dungeon of the castle. I need to talk with Gabriel and asked if Zeke can borrow his horn. I got an idea for the Ives piece what will knock yore' knickers off," Billy said and got a laugh from his group.

"I think Gabriel and his horn are inseparable, Son," Nick said.

"Won't hurt none to ask, Pa," Billy answered, "He leaves it parked in the cloakroom next to Excalibur," he added.   

"From Camelot to the final trumpet. Humm, there has to be something more than coincidence to that picture," Nick said.

Brent Sparks laughed, "Forgive my impertinence, sir, but what the Hell are you men talking about?" he asked and everyone laughed.

"Top secret, Mr. Sparks! We can't share our inner-most machinations to take over the Earth and rule the heavens, less'n you's a fully fledged member of our family, sir; but first, you gotta' go through our initiation. It's long, involved, grueling, and gruesome. Very few make it through the first time," Billy said and the men around the table fell out laughing at Billy's nonsense. Randy laughed the hardest.  

"You'll have to forgive my grandson, Brent. Billy can have moments when he has just a little too much of the cowboy in him. Young Randy adequately defined the condition a couple of minutes ago as an idiosyncratic 'Eggcorn' by changing the word 'hyperbole' to 'hippy-boulders.' Randy's eggcorn more clearly defines what just came out of my grandson's mouth. Alas, it's an affliction which runs in families. Billy's granddaddy was the same way. It's a cowboy's way of letting off some of the pressure by enlarging any given situation into a megalithic icon of cyclopean proportions to mask its true intent. When you see my grandson's eyes turn from brown to blue you'll know he's passed his hippy-boulder, and it's safe to believe what he says until the next time he gets stopped-up," Kate said and got another laugh. Randy, Kayla, and Zelma joined them. Billy and Nick laughed the hardest.

"Good one, Grandma!" Billy exclaimed, "I didn't know you had it in ya,'" Billy said and laughed again.

"Never make the mistake of underestimating your grandmother, my budding Maestro, I assure you, your grandmother learned from the very best," Zelma said and gave Kate a bit of a hug.  

"Then that might beg the question: what is your true intent, Master Billy?" Bart Langstrom asked.
 
"Love and compassion for my fellow man; to do good when able and correct the wrongs within me and my family's sphere of influence; and to make sure the milk of human kindness is the preferred drink with the banquet life has to offer," Billy replied quietly.

"Hosanna!" Randy said softly.

"Hosanna, in the highest," everyone around the table said reverently.

After a wonderful dessert, the men got up and started helping clear the table, scrape the plates, load the dishwashers, and get the kitchen cleaned up so there wasn't so much for the ladies to do. They told Brent and Bart to go out into the hallway near the front door, and they would be with them as soon as possible. Brent took the opportunity to feel Bart out. "Do you think Billy Daniels might be some sort of megalomaniac, Son?" Brent Sparks asked Bart quietly.

"Not if he can back up his claims, Mr. Sparks. I ain't never seen me no cowboy with a set of wings like that big buckaroo sitting across the table from us," Bart replied, "Besides, a megalomaniac would show no signs of humility or be able to relate as easily on a personal basis with those he considered less than himself. I see nothing like that in Billy Daniels. Maybe I'm wishing too hard for my own selfish reasons, but all I'm seeing is a genuinely nice guy with a well-balanced sense of humor in the midst of what might be total chaos to another man who took himself too seriously. His men don't seem shy about pointing out flaws in his reasoning. I'm ready to accept what comes, and for once in my life, I hope I'm right. I could certainly use a nice surprise, and I think you might benefit from one, too," Bart added.

"Have you considered we weren't invited by chance?" Brent asked.

"Several times, but they don't seem too interested in making it no secret neither. They ain't tried to hide nothing from us. Why would a man want to taste another cowboy's spunk unless he was making love to him, or he had an ulterior motive?" Bart asked.

"Maybe he's a connoisseur of come; sort of like a passionate wine maven," Brent replied. They looked at each other and broke up laughing. "No, huh?" Brent asked still laughing.

"I don't think so, Mr. Sparks, but you get a gold star for the thought," Bart said and smiled, "Thanks for bringing me with you, Brent, it means a lot," he added.

"Ah, Hell! I'm glad to do it, Son. We both needed to get away from our usual routine and experience something different. Do you have any idea what kind of ship we'll be visiting?" Brent asked.

"From everything I've gathered, I'm almost sure it's a space ship, sir," Bart replied.

"No! Do Angels need spaceships?" Brent asked.

"I don't' know, but I think we're about to find out, Pod'na," Bart replied.

Billy and his posse joined them. "Bossman, do your thing," Billy commanded and Randy opened a gate to the dining room on Captain Nick's ship.

Randy came to Brent and took his hand. "Follow me, Mr. Sparks. The first times a bitch, but once't you get used to it, there ain't nothing to it," he said and Brent followed the young cowboy.

Brute got behind Bart's wheelchair and pushed him through without a word, and they came out on the other side in the great dining hall. The men hailed the other men sitting around the huge table talking and drinking Texas Tea. It was a wonderful mix of different sized men from half sizes, medium, big, and larger. Brent and Bart were in awe. "Come! Join us!" hailed Elmer Breedlove. He was resplendent in his rings and Vox looked like he belonged by his husband's side. Oatie and his slave husband were looking fine. Jethro didn't bother to morph back to his human form and he was hot in his Kagoli demon form. Introductions were made all around and the help brought out mugs of hot Texas Tea for the new men and plates of Hosanna Cakes.

"How could a building this big be on a spaceship?" Bart asked.

"Remember the holo-decks on Star Trek?" Billy asked.

"Yes, sir," Bart replied.

"Well this ain't nothing like them. This ain't no mirage or holograph, we're inside a great tesseract confined in a much smaller space. More like inside of Dr. Who's Tardis, only bigger. The space inside the tesseract is almost limitless, but right now all we have in it is a small village with several hundred dwarfs and halflings who grow food, and sometimes they act as crewmen for the ship. Last week some of our people discovered another race of advance people living in stasis beneath a great chapel in the dark forest near our village. We made contact with them, and they will be joining our family. Most of the village folks are workers and servers but no one is more important than anybody else with the exception of their Captain and his first mate our great Shedu bull. They tolerate me as their master because Captain Nick is my slave and my surrogate dad.

"Tolerate, Hell! They worship Billy. He won their hearts the first week we were here, and they ain't stopped loving him since," Nick said and grinned.

Every angel, manufactured or enhanced, living on the ship was there in the dining hall. The ship became a place of gathering for sharing conversations as well as eating. Brent Sparks and Bart Langstrom were enthralled by the manufactured or Fabricated Angels from so many years of history. Billy decided he didn't like either connotation. Someone would use the word and he would see the light go out of many of the angels eyes because no matter their powers or abilities to contribute, they perpetuated the ingrained image, even among themselves, they were merely fabrications and not as worthy as the evolved and enhanced Cowboy-Angels Master Billy was creating for himself.

Billy stood to speak, "The time has come for integration among us. If we are to become as one, there must be no more 'us' and 'them.' From now on, our elder brothers will be known as just that: our elder brothers of gathered wisdom and experience. I will no longer entertain any descriptions of them as 'manufactured' or 'fabricants.' I have my suspicions those titles which they have brought down with them through the ages is an early meme given them by their creators to continually remind them they were less than those what created them. I don't care for labels. Change and new growth must begin here; right now, with us. We are a band of brothers who have come together to grow into something larger than the sum of our parts. It's time we started to think upon ourselves as a unit and not separate entities," Billy said firmly.

"Hear! Hear!" exclaimed Tron Garrett, "Labels are a divisive ploy to contain peoples' passion for life; to keep them from thinking they can become more than a label might imply. Our elder brothers should be honored and revered, but not glorified. They must adjust as well as ourselves," he said, "but, we are more than willing to work with them and help them," he added.

"I agree with Master Garrett and not because he's my chosen mate. If we are to become as one, no group should be elevated to a higher status than the other," Billy's Uncle Nathan said.

"We couldn't agree more. Glorification is an empty title. It smacks of religion and unjustified mythological superstitions. After what we've observed these last several days at the ranch, you will get no argument from us," said Uriel, "We are ready, and I think Master Billy made an excellent suggestion. Our only caveat would be to ask our Essengurda brothers be included in our bond," Uriel said.

"It will be done. We will take it up with them this weekend," Billy said and there was an immediate shift in the camaraderie in the great hall. It was like a blanket of equality was thrown over them.

"I think we just witnessed something important, Bart," Brent whispered.

"I agree. I would give anything to become a part of these men's world. I'm sure they will become the future of mankind if we are to survive; but alas, I have so little to offer," Bart lamented.

"Why do you think you were brought here this weekend, Brother?" Billy asked looking directly at Bart.

"Oh, my God, he heard me," Bart said embarrassed, "I expect nothing, sir. Your grandmother's graciousness to invite me and my friend for the weekend is quite enough. My longing to belong comes from a little boy who lives inside me, but I must admit, his reasoning is not always sound, sir," Bart said humbly.

"Not necessarily, Buckaroo. The child is father to the man. We have much in common; more than you might think. So it is with your friend. Despite the difference in your ages, that you have found a middle-ground to form a friendship, is extraordinary. What do you see in their auras, Bossman?" Billy asked Randy.

"Strength passes freely between them. Respect. Non-sexual affection they question, but sup on its sweetness to provide them with the succor they need. Their support for each other is damn near equal but within a well-balanced spread. They are not so much father and son as older and younger brothers. Empathy ebbs and flows between them as surely as the tides. Bart fears for Brent. He also fears for himself because he knows, but refuses to admit to himself, he sees Mr. Sparks slowly declining in health. While Bart has come to depend on Brent, Mr. Sparks has come to depend on Bart for strength of purpose to keep him going. It is a beautiful but fragile ego-eco-system of mutual admiration they have created and rests comfortably between them," Randy summed up like a reading of their lives.

"That's remarkable," Brent Sparks said in awe, "Do you agree or find fault with his words, Bart?" he asked his young companion.

"No. I find no fault. While I agree with most of what Bossman Randy said, I don't think of us in quite those terms; nevertheless, the young cowboy's appraisal is valid. Perhaps my concern is more selfish because if anything should happen to you, Dear Friend, I would be alone in the world, and the reality haunts me so badly sometimes I dare not read the handwriting on the wall," Bart replied.

"If we were to initiate them into our greater family would it destroy their friendship? Would the fragile beauty survive, Little Brother?" Billy asked.

"Would it destroy their friendship? Hardly. I don't think it would even dent it. They're like the Monitor and Merrimack fighting on the same side. Unsinkable iron clad warriors, whose only fear is rust," Randy said and laughed.

"Then, lets do it! I asked Grandma to get them over here early to make their weekend more easy and enjoyable for them. Whatever Grandma wants, she gets! I wouldn't dare go agin that woman. I love to eat too damn much," Billy said and laughed. The other men joined him. "If we have full cooperation from our brothers, it should only take us about an hour, we can call it a day, and head for them tubs, Gentlemen?" Billy questioned as a signal for everyone to wing-up. In a flash they disappeared and returned almost as quickly fully fledged in their resplendent wings.

"Holy shit!" exclaimed Bart.

"I think we just hit the jackpot, Son," Brent Sparks said.    
   
"Boomer, help Mr. Langstrom navigate his wheel-chair to the dungeon," Billy said.

"To the dungeon?" Bart asked with some trepidation in his voice.

"Of course. Oh, you thought I was kidding about the initiation," Billy said and laughed.

"Ignore my Big Brother, Cowboy. The dungeon has been converted into a work station and sometimes a convention center play room," Randy reassured Bart. Brent laughed and followed.

Billy had a long conversation with Gator Gap about completing his transition to be able to fully morph into a Kagoli demon and back to his natural angel state. Gator reasoned, while the organic process of change was his preferred course to accomplish his ability to fully morph back and forth, for the sake of time, he would opt for the DNA exchange from a fully infected blood donor; in hopes Billy and his pa might invite him again for a closer walk up demon alley. They both assured Gator he only had to ask. Since Jethro was already morphed, he volunteered to share a bit of his blood with the fine looking swamp-angel.

Billy decided to take care of Gator first to show the two new humans they weren't monsters -- they only created monsters or demons. Remarkably, the Bossman was instrumental in explaining the complicated, almost convoluted, transformation into a Kagoli demon form and why the ability was so highly prized by some angels. When asked how many angels could morph into demons, Randy replied about a third of them developed the skill. He also emphasized the Kagoli were not a fearsome race of people, but were gentle, kind, and were known throughout the universe as great lovers, full of strength and compassion. It was only because of their fearsome appearance they were hunted into extinction.  

As Billy was working on Gator, the grooms were preparing Bart and Brent, with the help of Brute and Ludo to move Bart to and from their prep table. They gently bathed each man and carefully dried them. When they were finished they gave each man a heavy terry-cloth robe to wear until their master was ready for them. They could see the angels working on Gator Gap and could only imagine themselves in his place. Their turns came soon enough. Billy took Bart first and made room for Brent to stand by his friend's side and hold his hand. "Do you have any feeling below your waist, Cowboy?" Billy asked.

"Once't in a great while, but I was told it was a sensation caused by the mind what doctors call a ghost-limb sensation when a person loses a limb, and he swears he can feel it itching," Bart replied.

"Did you feel your orgasm while you were suck'n on Brute's tit?" Billy asked.

"Oh, yes, and h'it t'weren't no ghost feeling. It was the real McCoy, sir, I assure you. It don't happen a lot but when it does it almost rips my guts out," Bart said graphically and everyone laughed.

"Can you feel it when you urinate and your bowels move?" Billy asked.

"Both," Bart replied.

Billy activated the scanner and with Oatie's help moved it into place just below Bart's waist. "There it is," Oatie said pointing to the vertebrae in Bart's spine, "It don't look so bad to me, Master Billy," Oatie said, "Looks to me like they done patched him up pert-damn good," he added.

Billy took his straight-pin from his cowboy hat, went to Bart's feet, and pricked his big toe. The cowboy let out a holler you could have heard outside the ship. Billy laughed. "I thought you said you couldn't feel nothing below your waist, Cowboy?" Billy asked.

"I just told you I done told my doctors I could feel something now and then, but they brushed it off as a ghost limb syndrome. I shore' as Hell felt that!" he said and laughed.

"Did they ever suggest therapy to get you up and walking again, Bart?" Billy asked beginning to smell a rat.

"Naw, sir. I asked about it, but they said my insurance wouldn't pay for nothing like 'at, Master Billy," Bart said.

"Holy shit!" Oatie exclaimed quietly in disgust slowly shaking his head.

"It's shit all right, but it's far from being holy, Brother," Billy responded.

"I don't understand. What did you men discover?" Brent asked looking at the two men going over the picture on the advanced scope.

"Just a minute, Mr. Sparks," Billy said quietly, and turned his attention back to Bart, "How many years you been in that nursing home, Son?" Billy asked.

"Eight years, Master Billy," he replied.

"Sorry, Mr. Sparks, I wanted to ask Bart before I forgot. If you see here, and here, on the pitcher, they did a decent job of reconnecting his spine, but they didn't do nothing more to encourage the connection or get him up and moving to rebuilt his connective neurons. If we're using terms here, Bart ain't no paraplegic, he's a cripple thanks to poor care and malpractice on the part of the health care industry. The doctors of today are run by the corporate health insurance companies. They didn't want to spend the money to get Bart up and walking again," Billy said and his voice cracked like he was about to lose it.

"Can you do anything for him, Master Billy?" Brent asked concerned.

"Yeah, we can have him walking by this evening. I can restore his muscles which have all but atrophied from lack of use. I can strengthen the bond in his back and the motor neurons will connect and once again start to fire and communicate with one another like they used to. I was expecting something far worse, but it's bad enough to think this poor cowboy could be up and walking today if they only helped him when he needed it the most. They were hoping no one would notice, they would save a bundle not having to pay for his rehabilitation, the government would be out the money to take care of him, and Bart would die young without anyone bothering to take a good look at him," Billy said, "They probably thought it was a pretty sure bet he couldn't afford a second, independent opinion," he added.

"Does he have any legal recourse?" Brent asked.

"We have two fine lawyers here with us. What do you think, Gentlemen?" Billy asked.

"If the angles are played right, we could cut their black-hearts out, but Bart by himself, not so much," Grover replied.

"Your thoughts, Jack?" Billy asked.

"I bow to my revered colleague, Master Billy, he has a much better track record and knowledge of defending cowboys than I do; however, I'm willing to be his second and 'go-for' for anything he needs," Jack said.

"What angles are we talking about, Grover?" Billy said.

"Suppose Bart come to the ranch like he done with his good friend and takes a look around? He likes what he sees and decides he'll try a long shot. He begs you to take him for your slave. In return for his physical care, his knowledge of computers would make him an ideal cyber-warrior for you and your staff under Aunt Helen's wing. If you can provide your punishment slaves with a staff of keepers, a couple of grooms assigned to him for limited care would be paid back several times over by his work effort. It would get him out of that dreadful old-folks home to become a part of something he could grow into and become proud of himself. It would be a win-win for both. So you agree to take him for your slave. It would only be natural for you to take your new slave to Doc Oatie to have him checked out, and the good slave-doctor discovers the medical insurance corruption and doctor's collusion to fail to recommend rehabilitation for your slave to cut expenses for the health care industry.

"Our whole world is corrupt, but crime is still crime. Put the screws to the doctors, and they'll sing like a canary in a window on a bright sunny day to confirm it was the decision of the insurance company. It has malpractice writ large all over it and reeks of corporate intervention. As Bart's master, you sue for an outrageous sum, more for the publicity to garner public sentiment, and settle for a comfortable amount. However you and Bart choose to split the settlement will be up to you, but I think Bart has a tight case -- certainly worth pursuing," Grover said.

"I agree. I wasn't thinking from Grover's perspective, but it works for me," Jack said to Billy.  
 
"It will depend on Bart. Let's get him up and around so's he and Mr. Sparks can enjoy their weekend, and we'll let him think on it. After we bring him back to normal, I plan to offer him a home here at the ranch anyway. Let's give the young man time to look us over. This is all very new and powerful stuff to him," Billy said before everyone gathered -- even Bart and Brent heard the men's conversation.

A great multitude of Angels joined in the healing and physical restoration of Bart Langstrom and Brent Sparks. It took Billy and Oatie less time to repair and completely enhance Bart than they spent on Brent Sparks. Billy found Brent developed full-blown testicular cancer. It metastasized to his lymph nodes, and was about to invade his lungs. Billy cured him of every trace, but told him he wanted to see him again every three months for a year afterward. He also reversed Mr. Sparks' age to look like a man in his mid-thirties, and Billy gave him a complete enhancement.

Billy and his posse gave Bart back the years he lost in the nursing home and almost ten more. Brent and Bart would become Cowboy-Angels. By the time the Angels got through with Mr. Sparks, Bart was already walking on his own holding on to his wheel-chair and walking behind it. Everyone was amazed. Billy even got Gertie on his bench. Billy reversed her age by five years and enhanced her to speak.

* * * * * * *
Billy gave Bart and Brent a choice. They could stay in the castle for the weekend or he would be happy to put them up in a bedroom in the big house. There was one more small suite in the giant's quarters next to the room Billy assigned to Billy Bob Bane and his young nephew, Randy. After Billy showed them the room they agreed to stay on board Captain Nick's ship. They were enthralled and fascinated by the different critters and people. They fell in love with the giants and their family of friends. Since Billy Bob Bane only recently fledged, the men felt they had more in common with him, and Bossman Randy would be there to fill them in on a host of other things. They ate a late evening snack in the dining hall before going through a gate to their rooms to get naked for the tubs.

Randy apologized to Billy he needed to gate to the big house to have a chat with his sister, and he would return as soon as possible; however, Bubba, Jack, Grover, and Brute were with his uncle, Bart and Brent, and they could gate them to the baths. Billy smiled at him, wished him luck, patted him on his butt, and watched his little running buddy disappear through a gate. Randy found Kayla with Roz, Aunt Helen, Zelma, and Kate in the kitchen enjoying some Texas Tea and having another dessert. They seemed to be having a good time. The ladies got Randy some tea and a Hosanna Cake.

"How did it go with Brent and Bart, Son?" Kate asked.

"They're complete and enhanced. There was a couple of surprises I'll let my big brother tell you about. They decided to stay on the ship. They done fell in love with the Angels, Giants, and Village people. I come to have a brief chat with my dear sister," Randy said.

"You want to speak in private, Randy?" Kate asked.

"No. You ladies need to know what I have to tell her. You'll find out sooner or later, so you might as well hear it from the horse's mouth," Randy said, "It's somewhat sensitive so I would ask you use discretion with whom you share the information. Kayla, you were right, the new Billy Bob Bane was Leatherface, but after Master Billy tasted his blood to gather his DNA to repair him, he discovered something startling. Leatherface and Billy Bob Bane is our uncle Douglas," Randy said.

"Oh my God!" exclaimed Kate, "But..." she started and stopped when Randy raised his hand to tell more.

"The military got bodies and dog tags mixed up and another soldier is buried in our family's cemetery on our ranch," Randy said, "Uncle Doug's face was so bad he couldn't bring himself to let his mother and sister-in-law know about him. I'm telling you this, Kayla, because I want you to know I love and respect you. I know you can handle this, and as you so generously observed, I'm trying to grow up and do the right thing by you. It would not be the mature thing for me to hide this information from you. I won't try to tell you what to do. I'll trust your own maturity to find an answer, but our uncle ain't ready for nobody to know, but you and me. I told him I would have to share with you because you are my greatest champion when it comes to our mom letting me go and do with my cowboy brothers," Randy said. Kayla was in tears. She was shaken to her core from the news, but she was just as moved by her little brother's show of love and trust for her.

"I wondered why Master Billy didn't just use the man's own DNA to make him look like his old self. Now it makes sense. He wanted to give Uncle Doug a new start; a chance to find his own way. I don't know as I understand our uncle's motives, Randy, but neither have I gone through the misery he has either. You can trust me, Brother, I won't reveal his secret," Kayla said.

"He's coming to live with us on our ranch as our new foreman," Randy said.

"That will be a major adjustment for him, but with you and me to help him and give him our love and support, it just might work, Randy," Kayla said, "You did an excellent job of picking a new look for him. I've always admired Mr. Quince," she added, "Why all the rings?" she asked.

"He gave himself to become Master Billy's slave. Uncle Doug asked for them rings. He thought the appearance and stigma of slavery would be a strong persona to hide behind," Randy explained.

"That poor man," Kayla said and shook her head.

"I must get back. Bart and Mr. Sparks are staying next door to Mr. Bane and me on Captain Nick's ship. Master Billy has asked Ludo, me, Brute, and Bubba to stand watch over them while they fledge. I have yet to teach Mr. Bane to drop and park his wings. I asked Master Billy if he was worried about new Angels walking around with wings, but he didn't seem to be concerned. He said after this weekend, it won't matter much noways. I ain't sure what he's talking about, but he usually knows what he's doing," Randy said.

"I think he's expecting we won't have as much privacy as before, but we can't keep hiding either. Us ladies were just talking about the passing of the age of innocence for the Daniels Ranch," Ms. Zelma said, "It's sad. It's been a wonderful experience watching Master Billy gather his people, but now comes the work, and the battle against the status quo will begin," she added.

Randy and Kayla shared a hug and stole a kiss or two when Randy got ready to leave through the gate. "Thank you, Randy for your trust, and you were right, this news was worth waiting for. It gives our lives new meaning. I feel sorry for grandma, but I think she's done her grief-work for both her sons, and mom never knew Uncle Doug that well. Tell me Randy, is he a man's man?" she asked.

"I'm almost certain of it, Sis, but I don't know for sure. Even if I found out he was, I wouldn't love him a whit less. He's going to be my hero, Billy Bob Bane, Foreman of the Rutherford ranch, and I'm going to be his side kick, Bossman Randy," Randy bragged.

"That's a healthy attitude," Kayla allowed, and they shared a laugh.

Randy gated back to his and his uncle's room on the ship, but everyone was gone to the tubs. He quickly undressed and opened another gate to the dungeon. Billy saw him walk through and went to greet him. He gathered Randy up into his big arms and stole a kiss as they walked to the tubs. How'd it go, Bossman?" Billy asked.

"Tolerable. Downright tolerable, Brother. Them ladies were excited and wowed, but they got it under control. I think I scored some major points wiff' ma' Big Sister. I'm glad for that," Randy said.

"Think she'll keep your and Billy Bob's secret?" Billy asked.

"I'd bet my life on it. Kayla can see both sides of the coin and her heart is with Uncle Doug no matter his reasons. She asked if he was a man's man, and I told her I was almost certain he is," Randy said.

"Are you gonna' ask why Doug asked me to make his rings permanent?" Billy asked and grinned.

"No, I already know. So's no one can say he attempted to have sex with his young nephew," Randy declared.

"You got it. I doubt seriously Doug Rutherford is a boy lover to begin with, but I can understand if he's gonna' live and work with you day in and day out, he wants that protection for himself. He's a smart man. I admire his decision. Furthermore, he's now a Daniels slave, and represents not only me, but my family. If that ain't enough, he done it for you, Cowboy," Billy said.

* * * * * * *
The tubs that night were particularly relaxed and congenial. Bart Langstrom found he could stand in the deepest part and his body would be buoyant enough to support his weight while he practiced walking. He made several trips around the pool, then Bart would rest and join the conversation. After a while, he would make several more trips. It was great practice and exercise for him. The evening came to an end and the men returned to their rooms. Billy was satisfied the new fledglings had his little brother with them. He knew Randy and Bubba were skilled at cutting and healing. A little after midnight Bart and Brent began to complain their shoulders hurt; Randy and Bubba took it from there. They slept soundly through the night and awoke with a new set of wings.

* * * * * * *
Billy joined them for breakfast on the ship the next morning. Bart and Brent were in great spirits and Bart was walking by himself; except, he still had to have someone on either side of him just in case. He was so proud of himself when he actually managed to walk to breakfast wearing a heavy set of new wings. Billy had a hug and a kiss for each man and welcomed them into the Daniels family. Billy didn't stay long after breakfast. He left with his posse to gate to Uncle Tom's Cabin in The Woodlands. Jessie Jones and Harlen were with them. Billy's crew and several members of his family were already there and most of the orchestra arrived shortly thereafter.

The members of the orchestra weren't surprised by anything anymore and didn't think it was unusual to have three men with beautiful wings join the Daniels family for rehearsal. They were too damn happy to get the work and when Clara Mae posted to her private web site the music they would be playing, she got e-mails from Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and San Angelo from musicians begging to come play for Master Billy. She even received e-mails from several out of state as far away as Los Angeles and New York. They were musicians who bought the other Barnyard Concert DVDs off the Internet, and they wanted to play under the baton of the budding new musical genius, the maestro from the Texas Hill Country.

The dogs went through just ahead of Billy and his posse and Billy overheard Molly tell Gertie, "Stick close to Chloe. She knows the best folks to schmooze with who are easy touches for a bite of a Hosanna Cake."

"My, they do learn fast, don't they? I can foresee a day when they might rule our world," Billy said to Nick.

"They couldn't do any worse than what you got today. Hell, they might even run things better," Nick allowed and everyone laughed.

Tommy Griffin was brought to the rehearsal by his two cowboy uncles. They didn't live too far from The Woodlands and drove him to Uncle Tom's Cabin. They planned to gate with the Griffin family Saturday morning for the day's activities. They were happy and had healthy handshakes and stole a couple of kisses from almost everyone. Billy made a brief announcement, he added one extra piece to the program, Ferde Grofés 'Grand Canyon Suite' which they would play right before the intermission, but he wasn't sure. He wanted to play the program pretty much in the order he had in mind, but it was open to change.

They started off with Aaron Copland's 'Fanfare for the Common Man.' Zeke and Cloog were added to the trumpet section to flesh it out. Billy wanted maximum brass, and he got it. The orchestra was primed. They drank just enough Texas Tea and ate a couple of blessed Hosanna Cakes and were in top form. They played it through without missing a note. It was so penetrating it raised the hairs on the back of everyone's necks. Zelma never heard her hometown orchestra, she supported all these years, play better. It was like they were being resurrected by Billy's conducting. They were beyond good, they were spectacular.

Next they tried the Ives piece, and they were equally as accomplished with it. The orchestra boasted two extra flutist, including Clarice Wombat, and they doubled on two of the four flute parts. He also added an oboe and a clarinet to make the answers more full and foreboding. One might say the orchestra was enhanced. Randy and his brothers Pard, Rory, and Cal; Tommy Griffin; Poly and Cass; Kayla, Aunt Helen, Roz, Mack, Clyde, Gog the giant, and Aeron were playing instruments with the orchestra keeping up with the best of players note for note. The concert master was impressed by even the youngest's abilities to play his part flawlessly upon request.

Billy wanted Zeke to play the trumpet solo, and he was spot-on. Zeke played it just the way Billy wanted, but a baroque trumpet just didn't have the sound Billy was looking for. He didn't dare ask one of the orchestra members to loan Zeke their instrument. A musician's instrument is sacred to him. Billy didn't bother to ask Gabriel if Zeke might borrow his silver trumpet after Nick's comment for much the same reason; however, about halfway through the piece he saw a flash of light. Billy looked and Gabriel was gone, but he reappeared in a second. He was holding his seven foot long silver trumpet. He walked over and handed it to Zeke, "Here brother, try this one," he said, "No other angel has ever blown this horn. In keeping with Master Billy's talk earlier about becoming a family, I thought you might enjoy sharing mine. The piece you're playing cries out for this once holy horn. I would never entrust it to anyone but you, Ezekiel," he added, turned, and returned to his seat. Zeke was stunned. Billy shook his head and grinned at his old friend.

"Lets try it from the beginning," Billy said and they once again began the slow muted strings which represented the slow progression of silent mysterious druids through the universe. This time the trumpet solo sounded like the last trumpet in the final days calling out the same question seven times only to have the flutes try to find a satisfactory answer. They never do and become increasingly more frustrated and frenetic until they become angry and mocking from their failure.

Finally they come to rest on a painful, almost spiteful dissonance of their discontent. As they fade into the oblivion of eternity carried on the backs of the slow, plodding chordal changes of the muted strings, like the UrRu Mystics making their final slow plodding journey to unite with their malevolent other halves, the Skeksis, the question is asked one last time. It was a perfect reading of the piece and Billy was thrilled with the sound they achieved. The great horn produced the very purist quality of tone which added an eerie other-worldly or celestial presence to the piece.  

The brass players in the orchestra were more than a little interested in Gabriel's horn. They were highly impressed by the sound. They gave Zeke and the chorus a standing ovation. They didn't understand how one long silver trumpet could play diatonically without crooks or valves. Zeke told them it was all in the lips, and he was partially right. One trumpet player compared it with the towering monolith in the old movie 2001. Billy agreed it was an apt analogy. Billy planned something a bit more theatrical for the Ives' piece for the actual performance, but he only shared his thoughts with Zeke and the 'answer' chorus of eight players. They loved the idea. It was bold but added a statement to the world: We're here, and we ain't going away.

The orchestra played Leonard Bernstein's 'Overture to Candide' like their pants were on fire. Once again Billy challenged them to blow him off the podium and they didn't hold back. They did the same with Dvorák's Ninth Symphony 'From the New World,' and Billy was quite pleased. He only had to stop them a couple of times but not from errors. Billy knew how he wanted it played, explained, and they respected his directions to the letter. Afterwards, Billy thanked them for their understanding and dedication for giving an untried conductor their full cooperation, aside from the fact they were being paid to do so.

The concert master, Herbert Winston, stood and spoke, "As concert master, I was asked by my fellow musicians to express to you how glad and proud we are to get to play under your direction, Maestro Daniels," he said and everyone in the orchestra stood and gave Billy an ovation. Master Winston continued, "Naturally we're grateful for the extra work, but I was particularly instructed to tell you, as a body of musicians, we have never been more fairly treated for our time and talents than provided by your family; especially, unexpectedly receiving bonus payments for soloist and a percentage from your sales of the DVDs. We never ask for the consideration. We were just damn glad to get the work. You have been generous with us to a fault, but beyond those good things, the number one reason we have come to love you is you have provided us a means to play the music we have spent untold hours and years learning to play instruments just so we could play the great classics. We have become so musically starved over the last decade or more, coming to your ranch has become the highlight of our recent days. We hope and pray you keep up with these concerts. Every trip to your ranch has been a wonderful experience for us, but when we saw your program for the concert tomorrow, it was a must for every member of our orchestra. You have earned our respect as a conductor and we are watching you grow into a musical phenomenon. We can only hope we're contributing some small part to your growth. Last, but not least, thank you, sir," Concert Master Winston finished and the orchestra gave Billy another huge round of applause.

Billy was moved as his family stood and applauded with the orchestra. When the applause died down, Billy graciously thanked the concert master and the orchestra and stood silent for a moment. He shook his head and spoke, "I can't imagine working for a man who refuses to play the classics," he said.

One old cowboy who went back to ranching because he couldn't support himself and his family from playing his trombone spoke up, "You can't imagine how stupid he is, Maestro Billy. We call him the waltz king. We have to play everything in waltz time 'cause he's so damn dumb he gits dizzy when he tries to count to four. He does all right with 6/8 time 'cause somebody done told him he only had to count to three twice't," the cowboy said in his best hyperbole and broke up everyone. It was a much needed moment of humor.

Bart Langstrom and Brent Sparks knew Billy was talented from the DVD's Kate sent them, but they had no idea how much the Houston Philharmonic Orchestra members loved him. They went on with the rehearsal, but the rest was pretty much like the earlier pieces. The orchestra performed flawlessly. The big surprise came when Jessie played Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' with them. They were as stunned as Billy with Jessie's performance. The tall, lanky cowboy was maturing with the orchestra, and it was like they formed an unabashed love affair with each other. Jessie and a person in the orchestra would actually catch each other's eye as they were playing together. It was downright spooky. When they finished everyone was in tears applauding each other and Billy's family came to congratulate Jessie and thank him. Harlen and the pups were beside themselves with pride for their loved one.

Even with the extra addition of 'The Grand Canyon Suite' they were through by noon. Jessie played the celesta and piano parts. Concert Master Winston played the violin cadenza at the beginning of "On the Trail" also known as the "Jackass cadenza" and he played it with bravura and humor. It was perfect. While they were working on the last piece, a bevy of the Daniels family cowboys, cowgirls, giants, halflings, and dwarfs came through the gate and set up tables with all kinds of food for the orchestra members so they wouldn't have to drive home on an empty stomach. They were wowed and amazed at Billy's thoughtfulness and generosity. They had a wonderful morning of music, but the fine food and camaraderie was priceless. They looked forward to the following morning. They were told to come to the cabin and gate to the ranch anytime between eight and eleven. If they had family bring them along if they wished, but please, keep it to immediate family.

* * * * * * *
After telling everyone goodbye, including the pups, Billy and his family cleaned up Uncle Tom's Cabin and gated back to the ranch. Billy's day wasn't over. He took the swamp-angels to Captain Nick's ship and gave them their last treatment to rid their systems of toxic elements. By that time, Bart was pretty much walking on his own except Brent was right by his side just in case he needed him. Gertie was beginning to learn to speak, and all was well.

Billy's staff estimated with the home-coming of out-stationed family slaves, most of the crew and village people on Captain Nick's ship, invited neighbors and town folks who RSVP'd, and the Essengurda, there could be eight hundred or more people attend; however, that didn't include watchers and daddy long-legs. Billy wondered if they bought enough comfort stations. His staff assured him they had the situation under control, but when Hank and Buck agreed, Billy knew there was nothing to worry about.
 
Everyone seemed happy in the tubs that evening and the senior Cowboy-Angels were teaching the three fledglings to park their wings so they wouldn't have to wear them the next day. The less attention they caused the better for them and the ranch in general. Billy and his immediate family retired a mite early to the line cabin and the others decided to call it an evening. The following day was going to be full from sunup to way into the evening. It would be an experience they would remember for the rest of their lives.


End of Chapter 71 ~ Seek Him What Made Them Seven Stars
Copyright ~ ~ 2014 ~ 2016 ~ Waddie Greywolf ~ All Rights Reserved
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WC = 17,817
03/21/2014
12/15/2016


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