along normally the next week until Sunday morning came again.
Lazarus and Lucas were going to the ship for the arrival of Captain
Jones for his weekly checkup and for him to lay before the
Kryscellians. Lucas already told them about the Captain Long and
Captain Jones conceiving a bairn and they were all excited to check
things out for Arlen and the young fetus. Lazarus and Lucas were
in great spirits as they waited for him. Lazarus allowed the boys
and Ox to join them.
When Arlen came
through the portal he was alone. He’d left Bryce to take care of
the Raven and see to more collections. Right away Lazarus could
tell something was wrong. Arlen looked terrible. His face
was drawn and there were rings under his eyes. His skin had a
lackluster pallor to it. He wasn’t moving as sprightly as
before. Lazarus and the boys greeted him, but he didn’t seem to
have much enthusiasm.
brother, what’s wrong? You look terrible. What’s going on?”
“Aww, h’it ain’t
nothing. I think I’m having a little harder time adjusting to
being pregnant this time,— ‘at’s all. Thank God you boys mixed me
up a gallon of yore’ special milk or I wouldn’t a’ made it through the
week; however, I had such a craving for it I drank it in the first
three days. I think I might need two gallons per week. I
was doing all right until I ran out of milk. Then all hell broke
loose. I been sicker’n a dog for the last few days. I’m
sure it ain’t nothing. I’ll adjust soon enough.”
“Look, I ain’t
even gonna’ have Cable and the med bots run no test until after you lay
before the Kryscellians. They should be able to tell us what’s
going on. Can we get you anything beforehand?” Lazarus
“Yeah,— gimme’ a
few minutes to lay down with Garron and have some of his milk.
I’m sure it will make me feel better. I ain’t been able to keep
nothing on my stomach in two days. I’m s’damn hungry I could eat
The boys excused
themselves because they knew Lazarus and Ox would be busy with Captain
Jones. They wished him well and returned to the ranch.
Lazarus took Arlen and Ox to Ox’s stateroom on the ship and had Cable
follow with an anti-grav Gruney. Arlen lay next to Ox and sucked
his warm, flavorful milk directly from his tit. Ox was in heaven
and couldn’t help but sing to his Godfather. It was as natural as
a big cat purring because he was comfortable and happy. After a
while, Arlen seemed to be feeling better and some of his color returned
to his cheeks. He was able to get up and lay on the Gurney Cable
provided for him. Cable helped Arlen off with his clothes and had
him lay naked on the Gruney. He positioned him before the case
which contained the Kryscells, and the men left him alone. He
would signal them when he was finished.
He lay exposed
to the Kryscellians for a little over an hour and then notified
Lazarus, Ox and Cable he was ready to be removed from the Gurney.
Cable helped him dress. All the while, Arlen didn’t say anything,
but he had a strange grin on his face. Lazarus was about to chew
nails he was so concerned for his mate. His mind ran through the
worse case scenarios imaginable, but what he was to find out was
nowhere near what he conjured up.
they go to the galley for coffee. Lazarus agreed and the three of
them went. Arlen decided to have hot tea instead of coffee and
Cable got it for him. David and Jonathan joined them and were
busy getting some treats ready for the men. Lazarus couldn’t wait
Kryscells have an answer?”
they’re very good. Told me exactly what’s wrong with me.”
“My, God, what
is it, bubba? Can they help?”
“Ain’t a thing
wrong with me, but we got us a problem. There was a reason for
going through my milk in three days, feeling washed out and sicker than
obtuse, Arlen. ‘At ain’t like you. Now, tell us afore I
turn you over ma’ knee.” demanded Lazarus with concern. Arlen
laughed at his mate.
“Well, I ain’t
never heard of it happening before, but something happened with Ox’s
proto-embryo, — it split in two.”
“You mean,— ?”
she-it! I ain’t never heard of that happening before,— have you,
Son?” Lazarus asked his Godson.
<< Only in
Volgoron matings, Dad. Never before in Volgoron, human mating,
and never with a proto-embryo. It may be something for the
medical records. You may want to get in touch with the fleet docs
and ask their opinion. Can Dad Arlen give birth to twins?
Is he gonna’ be able to carry both to term? >> asked Ox.
“I don’t know,
Son. It’s something we gotta’ consider. Do you think you
can have both or should we consider aborting one?”
kidding? You’ll have to kill me before you abort one a’ them
boys. ‘At’s jes’ plumb crazy talk, Lazarus! I won’t hear of
it! The Kryscellians gave me a ninety percent chance of having
both with no complications. I’ll take them odds; however, they
reminded me of new medical techniques what can be downloaded into our
med base for birth complications. I might not even have to go
through giving birth. They can be beamed out of me and their
placenta remove manually. I’d be more worried whether Garron can
handle twins in his pouch.”
<< I can,
with no problem. I’ll stretch, Dad Arlen. If you’re worried
about me, I know someone who can carry them. >> Ox
projected to his Godfathers.
Sir. He’s a good deal bigger’n me. He wouldn’t have no
problem a’ tall. I could help feed. >>
young’uns as we’re gonna’ have around here, it might not be a bad idea
to ask his help, Son.”
“Well, then, we
ain’t got us no problem. Let’s jes’ make sure them boys make me
up two gallons of their special milk. Since I had the raw lummox
milk them boys settle right down. I feel fine now. I could
eat something. The Kryscellians said they’re both fine and have
equally strong heartbeats. So, congratulations, Dad. I
don’t know how you done it, but you got identical twins on the
way. I got me an idea it was that hot fuck you threw into me the
evening after I conceived with Garron. I think it was too much
genetic information for one embryo, so it decided to split in two.”
“Look, I only
wanted one kid, now you tell me you’re gonna’ drop a litter?” Lazarus
laughed. “What the hell,— the more the merrier. Cheaper by
the dozen,— right, cowboy?”
Arlen laughed at
his mate and they shook hands. Ox had a big smile on his face.
Now I gotta’ think up another name. I never liked twins what
names rhymed or sounded alike.” Lazarus complained.
“Since I’m their
other parent, don’t I rate billing. I was hoping they might be
called ‘Long-Jones.’” complained Arlen.
“I ain’t got no
problem with that. It has a better ring to it than either name by
itself. Sort of reminds me of them snooty British names. I
jes’ had an idea for another name, ‘Arlen Beaureguard Long-Jones.’”
Southern names. I like it. Angus and Arlen,— Jubal and
Bo. Sounds like they might fit the two ‘Long-Jones’ boys jes’
fine.” Arlen allowed.
The men at the
ranch were amazed to hear the news Arlen was going to have twins.
Waco was beside himself with the prospects of another little
brother. He and Lucas were high-fiving each other.
around for dinner and the Sunday afternoon football game. He
really seemed to be feeling better and enjoyed himself. He and
Lazarus managed to sneak off to the ship by themselves a little early
to say ‘goodbye.’ This time Arlen carried with him two gallons of
cow fortified with lummox milk. It was easier for the boys and a
bit more sanitary when Ida Mae managed to get them a breast pump to
milk their lummox. They made sure Captain Jones’ milk was
considerably heavier fortified than the milk they provided Mary Gibbons
and Elsie Jessup. The Kryscellians told them the percentage
should be upped for Arlen’s boys to at least twenty-five percent.
Arlen never had another problem after that.
* * * * * * *
Time begin to
fly by. Ping estimated the time of delivery of all four boys
would be approximately within weeks of each other; however, after
Arlen's boys were transferred to a Volgoron, no matter how they were
born, would have to remain another four to five months in his pouch.
began to happen between the four babies. Mary and Elsie’s boys
were conversing with each other and both were connected to the boys
Arlen was carrying. It seems the Kryscellians had a great
influence on the mental development of the fetuses and were helping
learn while they were developing. They were making minor
corrections weekly to the four boys.
regularly sent messages to their father and anyone else who would
listen about their situation and what they wanted to be fed. They
were fussy and demanding. They had strong likes and dislikes
about certain foods. Lummox milk was a must and they would get
grumpy if Arlen was late consuming it. He told Bryce more than
once how pleasant he was as a wee bairn compared to the two he was
carrying. Arlen told Bryce he never gave him a minute’s trouble
and was an easy birth for him. He expressed his concerns these
two boys might not be so easy. He was going to try to have them
naturally for their sake as well as his, but he wanted to be on the
Bandersnatch in case there were complications.
Mary didn’t want
to go to her regular doctor in the small town, but she made a monthly
trip to keep up appearances. Elsie certainly didn’t care to go to
the vet doctor for her baby. Even though he was one of the best,
she trusted Lazarus and his medical staff more. Besides, Elsie
and her mistress giggled like school girls and confided in each other
they got the extra added benefit of getting to look at Captain Long’s
fine looking, naked androids every time they visited the ship.
Most of the time Lazarus wasn’t on the ship when they were scheduled
for a checkup and a visit with the Kryscellians; however, Cable, David
and Jonathan treated them with the utmost courtesy and respect.
Neither woman ever felt intimidated or embarrassed by one of
them. There was just something comforting about being examined by
a fine looking, naked medical staff. The androids went out of
their way to see to the women’s comfort.
* * * * * * *
and everyone was busy with the holiday. It was a big event around
the ranch. The Goodnight family gathered at Charlie’s
ranch. Not only was it his turn to have Christmas, it was the old
family homestead and had a lot of memories for the older
brothers. There were no excuses for not attending the family
Christmas function for the younger brothers other than severe illness
or a death in the family. Besides, things seemed to be happening
at Charlie’s ranch that were unusual. Jessie, Dermont and their
families found them interesting in a detached sort of way; however,
they made absolutely no connection between the strange stories and
Charlie’s new ramrod, Lazarus Long. They found him pleasant and
charming enough but somewhat of a bumpkin. Lazarus was pleased
with that description.
Angus went all out for Christmas and no expense was spared to ensure
everyone had a good time. Most of the folks Charlie and Angus had
come to think of as their extended family were there, including the
sheriff and his family. Charlie suggested Lazarus invite Captain
Jones and their boy Bryce for a couple of days. Arlen and Bryce
were thrilled to be included and gratefully accepted. Everyone in
the know were wowed to find out Arlen was carrying twins. There
was all sorts of laughter, back slapping and raucous jokes that went
over the heads of those folks who didn’t understand the situation.
Lazarus tried to
get Lucas to tell him what he might want for Christmas, but he insisted
he had everything he needed. Since a slave wasn’t suppose to own
anything, he had no need for much other than his clothes and what books
he could borrow to read. Lazarus was at a loss as to what to get
him. The kid had become more than just a slave to him and the
rest of the family. He was quickly becoming one of the most
important members of their extended family. Certainly Arlen and
Bryce were taken with him and each brought him gifts. Cotton and
Hoot were in love with the boy and told Lazarus they would train him
for free as a courtesy to him and the boy.
discussion with Charlie, Ida Mae, Hank, and a few other folks, it was
Waco who came up with the best idea for a present for him. He
suggested Lazarus get Lucas his own pony to care for. It would be
something Waco’s slaves had for themselves and would give him an even
greater sense of belonging. It would provide him with a
responsibility other than having Lazarus become his complete focus in
life. It made sense to Lazarus, and he liked the idea a
lot. He bought a handsome, well trained, pinto gelding roping
pony from Cotton Daniels. Cotton and Hoot brought the pony with
them Christmas day. Lucas was thrilled. He was just
beginning to learn to ride and to have his own pony was
wonderful. The sheriff surprised everyone when he brought Lucas a
junior saddle one of his boys had outgrown. It was just sitting
in his tack room gathering dust. Lucas was overwrought with
emotion. He couldn’t thank Sheriff Lassiter enough.
was a wonderful time for everyone. It seemed like every gathering
of their extended family bonded them together into a single
purpose. They weren’t sure what the future would bring, but they
had hope since Lazarus came among them. They didn’t look to him
to solve all their problems, but began to form stronger ties with each
other with the idea, if they worked together and supported each other,
they would survive no matter what.
* * * * * * *
Lots of things
were happening around the ranch during the time the babes were
gestating. Waco’s pony, Ranger, was growing into a fine looking
stallion and had become the pet of the ranch. Most of the time he
was with Waco, Ox and the boys because he could communicate with
them. He just felt like he was one of the boys and joined in most
of their activities. He was a regular at the Sunday afternoon
football games and got as excited as the men watching. The boys
would all come to him and pet him for good luck. He just couldn’t
understand why he wasn’t allowed to go into the houses with them.
Waco had to sit down and explain to him how much smaller spaces they
were than a barn, and they weren’t built to accommodate horses,
especially one as large as Ranger.
growing in intelligence as well as size and strength. When he
reached his full growth he was going to be a big stallion. He
allowed the boys to climb all over him, and he loved to have them show
him attention when they fed and cared for him. Sometimes they
would ride their ponies over to Ranger Gibbon’s ranch instead of using
the gate to deliver their milk and Waco would ride Ranger
bareback. Ranger was constantly worried Waco might fall off and
hurt himself so he was extra careful every step he took so he wouldn’t
unbalance Waco. They formed a wonderful, loving and trusting
friendship. Ranger still missed his mother, but he talked less
and less about her as time went on. He was slowly transferring
his love to his new friends.
He grew to love
Ox as much as the boys and when he got big enough had no problem having
Ox on his back. Most of the time Ox would run along side the
ponies, but once in a while, if Ranger offered, he would climb on his
back and accept a ride. Ox was most grateful and made Ranger feel
like a hero every time he was given a ride. Waco told the
Kryscellians about his wonderful horse and companion, and showed them
mental images of Ranger. They were enthralled. They’d never
seen or heard of such large magnificent creatures. They expressed
a desire to see one for themselves.
Waco, JR and his
slaves were each appearing before the Kryscellians weekly.
Naturally, the Kryscells were tweaking each boy to have his body and
his brain perform at its peak performance. They were like a crack
pit crew for the five boys and the unborn infants. The boys were
improving in their school work by leaps and bounds until the four of
them were at the head of their classes in all subjects. A couple
of their teachers thought they might be cheating, but the others knew
them too well and vowed the boys were just experiencing an intelligence
growth spurt they’d witnessed in other serious students. They
never gave any of their teachers any problems and were always polite
and well mannered in class.
* * * * * * *
When Ida Mae
Wallace first came to the ranch to work as a cook and housekeeper for
the Goodnights, she was a young woman approaching middle age who had
been out into the world just long enough to get battered around a bit
by a couple of unscrupulous men. They took her for everything she
had and left her high and dry. She was in a terrible bind when
she applied at the ranch for a job. She was a large boned woman,
plain but not unattractive. She came from a poor family and was
happy to find such a good job since she was untried as a domestic and
had few references; however, Anne Goodnight was a shrewd judge of
character, and she was rarely wrong. Ida Mae felt fortunate the
Goodnights gave her a chance. Hank Morgan didn’t come into her
life for another three years after she came to work at the ranch.
time, she worked hard and kept to herself. She grew terribly
lonely until one day she discovered a mature male dog who, by the looks
of it, had been terribly abused. It was caught in a mesquite
thicket a good ways away from her small cottage. She swore she
could hear whimpering and the low wailing sound of a dog in
pain. She began to look for the animal who was making the awful,
doleful sound. She wasn’t concerned it might be a coyote, because
it didn’t make the same kinds of sounds.
It took her one
whole afternoon in the heat of the West Texas sun to find the poor
animal. It was a handsome, mature male Border Collie. Ida
was immediately taken by its soulful blue eyes. She had never
seen a dog with blue eyes before. By the looks of it, someone
mistreated it, drove it to the most remote area they could find and
dumped it to fend for itself. Domestic animals abandoned to the
wilds never last long. The coyotes gang up on them and kill them
if they don’t starve to death or die from the heat and lack of water.
Its thick coat
was caught in the underbrush and it couldn’t get free. When it
heard Ida coming, then caught sight of her, it panicked and tried to
free itself to run away. Its frantic actions only caused it to
get more tangled. It was hurt and bleeding in a couple of places
from the mesquite thorns. It looked at Ida Mae with the greatest
fear and desperation in its eyes. It was so hurt and frightened
it began to wail. The sounds of the poor dog stabbed at Ida’s
heart like a knife. She tried to talk gently to the animal to
soothe it, but Ida decided, if she was going to help it, she had to
offer it something to gain its trust.
She left and
returned the half mile or so back to her cottage. She found a
clean quart Mason jar and a small bowl. She quickly filled the
jar with clean fresh water and looked into her cabinet for something to
feed the animal. She imagined it was starving. Ida didn’t
have anything but a tin of Scrapple her mom gave her when she first
moved into the cottage. She didn’t know if it was still
good. She quickly opened it and smelled it. It didn’t seem
to have gone bad. Ida got a small stainless steel mixing bowl and
added it to her things to take back with her. She found her
garden gloves and pruning shears she used to help Mrs. Goodnight cut
back her roses every fall. She added those to her small basket of
Ida Mae set out
and found the animal still caught in the mesquite bush. She sat
near the dog, but he moved as far away from her as he could. He
couldn’t move too far because he was bound fast by the bush. She
removed the stainless mixing bowl and poured fresh water into it from
the jar she brought along. She poured it slowly so the dog could
see what it was. She set the bowl on the ground and slowly pushed
it toward him. She could tell it was dehydrated and began to
encourage it by speaking softly.
He wasn’t having
any of it at first, but the thought of a cool drink of water overcame
its fear and he finally reached over and began to drink. She let
him drink for a while then pulled the bowl back. She was worried
it might try to drink too much too quickly and become sick. Next
she got out the Scrapple, put about half of it into the other bowl and
pushed it toward the dog. He gratefully accepted it, wolfed it
down, then looked at her as if to ask if she possibly had more.
She smiled, told him she did, and he was welcome to it. She put
the rest of the tin of Scrapple into the dish and the dog ate it just
as fast. She offered him more water, and he took a few more
Ida took out her
gloves and put them on and got our her pruning shears. She slowly
began to cut the dog out of the mesquite brambles. As she was
cutting she thought the poor dog must have been starving to
death. It ate the whole tin of Scrapple. She thought that
would make a good name for him,— ‘Scrapple.’ It took her a couple
of hours to slowly and meticulously cut the dog from his
bindings. She talked gently to him the whole time. She
could tell he was intelligent. When she got to the pieces causing
him the most pain and discomfort, he seemed to understand she was
trying to help him. Once she was done, he turned to Ida and
licked her hand in thanks. She tried to pet him, but he was still
wary and backed away.
She put her
things away in her basket and stood. The dog was free now, shot
past her, and it ran off into the thicket. For all her hard work
she didn’t get to offer it a place to stay and recoup. She tried
to call to it to follow her to no avail. She reckoned he was long
gone by now. Ida didn’t even know if the Goodnights would allow
her to have a dog anyway. She wearily made her way back to her
house in the oppressive heat. When she got to the back porch she
had a thought, left the stainless steel bowl by the steps and poured
the rest of the water into it.
She cleaned up
and went about her duties. She was late getting to the front
house, but she felt Mrs. Goodnight would understand. When she
told Mrs. Goodnight about the dog, Anne warned Ida Mae to be careful
because the dog might have rabies. Ida promised she would be
careful, but expressed doubt she’d ever see the animal again.
Anne Goodnight laughed. She knew animals had a way of knowing who
would be good to them and she knew there would be no one on the planet
who would be better to him than her Ida Mae Wallace. Anne thought
to herself, maybe that’s what Ida Mae needed was a companion. She
said a prayer for the dog and for Ida.
Ida Mae cleaned
up the kitchen after fixing supper for Mr. and Mrs. Goodnight and
returned to her cottage. She noticed the water was gone from the
mixing bowl. She smiled to herself. She saved some table
scraps from supper just in case. She got the other bowl, left the
scraps in it, and refilled the water dish. She went back into the
house but came back out later to check. Sure enough, the scraps
were gone and more of the water was missing. She was
thrilled. Maybe there was a chance she could befriend the
surely, Ida Mae won the dog’s heart. It started waiting for her
to return from the big house, because it knew she would always have
something for him. Ida decided she wasn’t going to push
him. She would let him come to her. Charlie and his wife
were following Ida’s involvement with the dog. Charlie told her
he’d seen it several times and allowed if it was cleaned up it might be
a right handsome dog. He was sure it was living under Ida Mae’s
All through the
months of July and August the dog got more used to Ida Mae coming and
going. He still ran from Charlie or any male who tried to
approach him and would hightail it to his safe hiding place under the
porch; however, he would sit within reach of Ida Mae while she was
sewing on the back steps, but he still wouldn’t let her pet him.
She bode her time. Ida knew eventually he would come around.
It was the
second week in September, and it was beginning to get cold. Ida
asked Charlie if she could have a couple of handfuls of hay to put
under her porch for ‘Scrapple.’ Charlie smiled. He knew it
was getting serious when Ida Mae named him, but he refused to call the
dog ‘Scrapple.’ He just referred to him as ‘Scraps.’
Finally, Ida Mae started calling him ‘Scraps.’ She thought to
herself, ‘After all, what is ‘Scrapple’ but scraps of pork offal and
cornmeal mush with seasonings.
One night there
came one hell of a West Texas thunderstorm. It was one of the
worst storms anyone could remember. The heavens opened up and
poured forth its bounty while it gave a fireworks show not to be
rivaled. Ida Mae was concerned for Scraps and went to her back
door. There he was, scratching on the lower wooden part of the
screen door and whining softly.
She opened the
door and let him onto the porch. He was cold and soaked to the
bone. She went to get a towel and was going to get him an old
blanket to lay on. Scraps had other ideas, slipped past her into
her cozy house and headed straight for the fireplace. She laughed
and closed the door. Ida got an old towel and went to him.
She sat by him and slowly began to dry him. That’s all it took.
Scraps was all over his benefactor with grateful thanks. He
couldn’t lick her enough he was so happy to be out of the storm in a
warm, dry place and sharing it with someone he had come to love and
It was the
beginning of a wonderful friendship that lasted many years.
Scraps never left Ida Mae’s side after that. He would follow her
everywhere she went and would protect her with his life if need
be. He would sit outside the door to the big house while Ida was
there. She started letting him onto the back porch in colder
weather and finally he worked his way onto a small pile of rags next to
the backdoor. He never strayed from his place the whole time she
was in the house unless she called to him.
He even became
tolerant of Charlie and Mrs. Goodnight. They didn’t try to pet
him, but always had a good word to say to him. He seemed to
readily accept Mrs. Goodnight’s young boy. Waco was just a
toddler. He was barely walking and Scraps took it upon himself to
herd Waco where he should go. He also acted like training wheels
for a not too sure footed little boy. As he learned to walk, Waco
was always putting a hand out to balance himself with Scraps.
Waco would use Scraps to get on his feet. He would grab a handful
of fur and pull himself up. Ida and Anne knew it had to be
uncomfortable for the dog, but he never made a move to correct
Waco. He knew the discomfort would be short lived when Waco was
on his feet.
afternoon in late September, Ida Mae and Anne Goodnight were in her
backyard trimming back the roses and Waco was playing in the lush St.
Augustine grass they kept watered all summer. The women didn’t
worry much about Waco because Scraps was always right there with him
herding him away from the flowerbeds and anything Scraps thought might
The women took a
small break. Mrs. Goodnight stood to stretch her legs and Ida Mae
joined her. They were looking at Waco playing in the deep
grass. Scraps was about ten feet away from him laying down
watching him closely when all of a sudden he jumped up and ran at Waco
as fast and hard as he could. He threw all his body weight in to
what looked like a dog version of a halfback doing a full body block on
a lineman, knocking Waco up and backwards about three feet. Ida
and Mrs. G. were stunned and started running to scold Scraps.
Waco was screaming and crying at the top of his lungs. The women
got almost to Waco and stopped dead in their tracks when they heard a
rattling sound. They watched Scraps pick up, what looked like a
large piece of rope, and toss it high into the air. Anne
Ida Mae ran to
Waco, scooped him up in her arms and took him to his mother. In
the meantime, Scraps caught the snake in his mouth behind its head
before it touched the ground and snapped its neck. He let it go
and it began to writhe about in its death throws. Ida Mae called
to Scraps, and he ran to her open arms. After she petted him,
told him what a good boy he was and called him a hero, Anne told Ida to
check him for bites. Sure enough, the snake bit Scraps on his lip
and right paw before Scraps could kill him. Ida Mae was beside
herself with fear and grief. She was sure she was going to lose
her wonderful companion she had come to love in such a short time.
Ida, we can save him!” said Anne Goodnight, “Run to the kitchen and
bring back that big bowl of fresh butter we churned this morning.”
question her mistress, she ran as fast as she could and brought
back the butter.
“Set it in front
of Scraps. Let him eat all he wants. He’s gonna’ git
powerful sick, but as long as he has the butter on his stomach, the
poison won’t kill him. It’s an old trick my grandmother taught me
on the ranch. The dogs and cats were all the time getting bit by
rattlesnakes. She kept a big bowl of fresh churned butter in the
cooler at all times. The bitten animal would eat it and several
hours later puke up the most awful green bile you ever saw. It
was the snake’s venom. Scraps will be all right but stay with him
and after he throws up offer him more butter. It may take him
several times, but he’ll live.”
couldn’t believe what Anne was telling her. Anne Goodnight petted
Scraps and urged him to eat all the butter he could. He ate a
bait of it and finally couldn’t eat anymore. Then he began to get
really sick and lose his balance. About that time, Charlie came
up to see what all the screaming and hollering was about. He was
wowed when the women told him Scraps saved his son’s life.
Charlie walked over and took a look at the rattler and whistled.
snake.” allowed Charlie, “He probably had a lot of venom in him.
You think we should take Scraps to the vet?”
Darlin.’” assured Anne, “That’s why we got the butter out
here. He ate a bunch of it. It’ll do the trick.”
Charlie shrugged. He’d never heard of such a thing.
After about an
hour, Scraps tried to stand but couldn’t. Ida Mae helped him, and
he began to puke. Mrs. G. was right. All the butter Scraps
ate came back up, but it was a bilious green color and stank.
When Scraps couldn’t seem to puke anymore, Charlie began to wipe his
face with a warm wet rag he got in the house. Anne offered Scraps
more butter and urged him to eat. The dog seemed to realize what
the butter was for and ate another big helping. They repeated the
routine with him four times until the last time he vomited, it came up
almost clear butter.
“He’ll be all
right now, Ida.” Anne Goodnight reassured her, “Just take him
home, keep him warm and let him eat more of the butter until he can
keep it down. I don’t think he’ll throw up again. He’s
gonna’ be sick for several days. He won’t be able to follow you
around for a while so when you leave him make sure you leave a door
open so he can get out to do his business.”
throw up again and ate the last of the butter as a treat. For
weeks, Scraps was the hero of the ranch. Anne Goodnight was fully
convinced Scraps knew he would probably be killed by the snake, but was
ready to give up his life for Waco’s. Many humans aren’t that
brave or selfless.
Mrs. G. wrong. He followed Ida Mae to the big house the next day,
but he had to take it real slow. He’d walk three or four steps,
stop and lean against Ida’s leg. Ida Mae was patient with
him. She was right there by his side gently urging him on until
he could make it to the back steps. Charlie came out and lifted
him to the porch and helped him get about that day. After that he
Goodnight lay dying and Ida Mae was in the big house working and taking
care of her, Scraps was right by Anne’s bed the whole time. If
Anne needed anything, all she had to do was tell Scraps to get Ida Mae
for her, and he was away to let his mistress know she was needed.
Goodnight passed away, Scraps was as devastated as the rest of the
family. When the family went to the graveyard to lay her to rest,
Snaps tried to jump into the limo Ida Mae, Charlie and Waco were
in. Ida Mae told him ‘no’ he couldn’t go, but Charlie told her to
let him. He had become a member of their family and deserved to
At the cemetery,
after all the songs were sung, the scriptures read, all the prayers
said and the casket lowered into the grave, everyone began to leave to
return to their cars. Only the immediate family remained.
They left and it was only Charlie, Ida Mae and Waco. They turned
to leave and Ida called to Scraps to come with them, but he
refused. He kept standing by the grave looking down at the casket
and then back to Charlie with a questioning look like he couldn’t leave
Anne behind. The look in his eyes was asking Charlie why they
were leaving Mistress Anne in this hole? He knew it wasn’t
right. He was going to stay with Mistress Anne.
shed a tear during the funeral and the trip to the family
cemetery. He wanted to be strong for his family. Cowboys
don’t show a lot of emotion, and he was a cowboy. It was his duty
to be the stalwart man, a paragon of strength for those he loved even
though his gut churned and his heart felt like a lead weight inside his
chest. He sometimes wondered if he could take his next
He stood and
looked back at Scraps and in that moment he knew he would have to be
the one to go to the animal and explain why they must leave their
beloved family member behind. Charlie would have to tell the
faithful animal he must come with them. Scraps was a part of
their family, and they couldn’t do without him. Charlie walked
over to Scraps and knelt down. He took him into his arms and
couldn’t contain the flow of his tears any more. He unloaded all
his sorrow and grief onto Scraps who seemed to sense why Charlie was so
sad. He tried to lick away Charlie’s tears as if to say he
understood, and he felt the same way.
When Charlie got
himself together enough to speak, he patiently explained to Scraps why
he must come with him. He didn’t talk to Scraps like he was an
animal, but like he was an old friend. It was like Charlie knew
Scraps would understand every word he was telling him. They must
leave this place, and leave Mistress Anne behind with their
sorrow. Charlie stood and took Scraps by his collar and gently
led him away. Every few feet, Scraps would stop, turn and look
back to the grave, but he allowed Charlie to take him to the
Limo. He jumped inside when Ida Mae called to him.
When JR came
along there was some concern Scraps might be jealous of him. Ida
Mae knew better. She knew her buddy too well. Scraps
adopted JR as quickly as he did Waco and became his shepherd. Ida
Mae never worried about JR when Scraps was on duty, and that was all
Now, Scraps was
getting older and Ida Mae, JR, Hank, Charlie and Waco couldn’t bear to
see him deteriorate. Naturally, Charlie and Waco had a deep love
for the old dog. You couldn’t be around him and Ida and not know
there was something special between them and the family she
loved. She put it off, and put it off, but finally, after hearing
the wonders of Captain Long’s ship and the miracles he seemed to be
accomplishing, she thought she would ask his help. One evening
before supper, Ida asked if she could have a word with him in private
after he finished his meal.
Mae,— be happy to. Where shall I meet you?”
“The boys said
they’d do the dishes for me this evening. If you’d be so kind as
to stop by my cottage, I’d be most grateful, Sir.”
“I’ll be looking
forward to it.” Lazarus said with all his considerable charm.
quiet during supper. He reckoned Hank and JR knew Ida Mae asked
to talk with him. Even Charlie intimated he knew she asked.
“Do you think
there’s anything you can to do for the old fellow, Master Long?” asked
unless he’s got some strange Cancer or something like that. We’ll
see. We may be able to get a few more years out of him, but I
won’t try if I think he’s gonna’ be uncomfortable for that time.
It wouldn’t be right to extend an animal’s life if they’re only going
to live in pain.”
understand. It’s jes,— mom loves Scraps so much.” added JR.
“We’d appreciate anything you can do.”
“I’ll do my
best, gentlemen, but I cain’t promise anything.”
After supper the
boys cleaned up the table and headed for the kitchen to do the dishes
for Mrs. Wallace. Hank Morgan sat having another cup of coffee
with Charlie. Lazarus excused himself and left by the back
door. He walked the short distance to Ida Mae’s cottage and
knocked on her front door. Ida came to the door to let him
in. She led him into her small kitchen and asked if he had
dessert and coffee.
“No, ma’am, Ms.
Ida. I left Hank and the boss man drink’n their coffee and
finishing up their desserts. I figured I’d better get on out here
to have a chat with you.”
you coming, ramrod. How ‘bout a piece of German Chocolate Cake
and a cup of coffee? I jes’ made some fresh. I’ll join you.”
Ms. Ida. I like yore’ German Chocolate Cake. Best I ever
see Scraps in his bed next to the back porch all curled up, but he
wasn’t asleep. Someone new was in his space, and he wanted to
make sure they were ‘all right.’ Lazarus could see the old dog
recognized him. He went to him and saw his tail start to
wag. Lazarus offered the back of his hand for Scraps to smell to
identify him. He sent a message to him with his mind.
Howdy, Scraps. Jes’ come out to visit with you and yore’
mistress for a spell. May I put ma’ hand on you, pardner?
beating his tail on his bed and looked bemused.
Is that you what’s talk’n to me, ramrod? I hear you in my head,
but ‘chore lips ain’t moving. >>
Ain’t them boys been talk’n with you, Scraps? >>
Naw, Sir. I’m old and don’t get around like I used to no
more. They pretty much ignore me. I hear ‘em talk with each
other once in a while, but I ain’t never said nothing to ‘em.
Please, be gentle when you pet me, Sir. >>
Always, Scraps. >> Lazarus reached out and gently
made contact with the old dog. Scraps seemed to appreciate his
touch as Lazarus gently scratched behind his ears and rubbed his sore
neck for him.
‘at feels mighty fine, ramrod,— thanks. >>
time, Scraps. >>
“He don’t let
many folks get close to him any more. He’ll let Hank and JR pet
him a bit, but he mostly prefers to be left alone. I’m surprised
he let you pet him.” allowed Ida Mae.
permission first, Mrs. Ida. I’d never touch an animal without
“I forgot,— you
got the same gift Waco and ma’ boy has.” Ida commented as she sat a
huge slice of cake in front of him and poured him a hot cup of coffee.
“I know how busy
you are, Mr. Long, with work’n here at the ranch and all the
responsibilities you have with your other work. Don’t seem right
for me to add to your burden.”
Ida. If there’s anything I can do for you or someone you love,
all you gotta’ do is ask. I’ve eaten too many fine meals prepared
by yore’ hands, and I ain’t never had me a bad one. I always
pushed back from the table satisfied in ma’ gut as well as my
spirit. You always get a good scald on ever’thing you cook.”
ramrod. Ain’t heard that phrase since my granddaddy used to say
that to my grandmother. She told me it was the highest
compliments a woman could get for her cooking. I don’t wanna’ be
a bother to you, but the light in my friend’s eyes seems to be dimmer
the last few days, and I’m so worried about him. I’m afraid he’s
about to give up on life, and I don’t know if’n I can,— .” Ida Mae
pulled her apron to her face with both her hands and wept into
it. Lazarus continued to eat his cake until she got herself
It’s hard to say ‘goodbye.’ How do you tell someone you love as
much as Scraps, ‘goodbye’? You want me to see what I can do for
him, Ms. Ida?” Lazarus asked quietly.
Ida dropped her
apron, but didn’t try to hide her red eyes. She looked at
Lazarus’ cup and got up to get him more coffee.
“I’d be in your
debt, Captain Long.”
“Enough to allow
yore’self to be examined and to get a longevity shot like the rest of
yore’ family?” Lazarus smiled at her.
“I been think’n
on it a lot, and I don’t see no reason not to. If it means I can
be with Hank, watch JR grow up and have grand kids for us to spoil, I
want that chance,— even if it never comes true. I still ain’t
real sure it’s for real. I’ve been lied to so much in my life and
had things promised what never came about. I think that’s why
Hank and I understand each other so well. We live from day to day
and never expect nothing from tomorrow.”
“We’ve all lived
with disappointment, Ms. Ida. As many years as I’ve lived, I’m
still disappointed with folks sometime, and I’m always left asking
myself,— ‘why’? This won’t be no disappointment, Ms. Ida.
H’it’s the real thing, but you can only know by experiencing it for
yourself. I can promise you ‘til I’m blue in the face, but
there’s still gonna’ be a nagging doubt. I can live with your
honesty. I’d rather deal with a man or woman what’s got the
gumption to look me in the eye and tell me they think I’m full a’
beans, than to have them disagree with me and say so behind my
“Do you think
there’s anything you can do for Scraps, Captain Long?”
know, Ms. Ida. I need to examine Scraps and talk with him a
bit. I need to see if he understands what’s happening to him and
whether he wants my help. Sometimes when the end is in sight for
an animal they accept it more gracefully than we do, but not because
they ain’t as smart as us. Any man what thinks he’s above the
intelligence and feelings of a fine animal is a fool.
I told Hank if’n
I thought Scraps was gonna’ have ta’ live in pain or discomfort jes’ to
extend his life for our benefit, I wouldn’t try. So, it will
depend on several factors. I’ll be happy to examine him this
coming Saturday morning after breakfast, if you like. I’ll take
him, you and Hank on board my ship, and we’ll see what we can do.
Will you be comfortable having Hank along?”
Captain,— Hank’s ma’ husband. I’d feel more comfortable with him
elaborate. Lazarus realized they weren’t married, but he knew she
wasn’t lying either. Hank Morgan was her husband in her eyes and
heart, just like Arlen was his mate. Many relationships are
sacred in the eyes of God whether they’re approved of by a church or
not. Churches are run by men, not by God. Be very
suspicious of any man who tells you God has spoken to him
directly. There was a time, not so long ago, someone spouting
that kind of nonsense would be slapped in the looney bin. Today,
they make him our leader.
“I think it
would be a nice gesture if’n we invite our boss.” added Lazarus.
ramrod. Mr. Charlie is like a big brother to me. I know I
get paid well for my work, but I think on Mr. Goodnight and Waco as
part of my family.”
about through with his cake and coffee. He turned to look at
Scraps, and spoke out loud to him for Ida’s benefit.
our conversation, Scraps. Do you know what’s happening to you?”
<< I think
so, ramrod. I learnt what dying means when Mistress Anne stopped
breathing. I watched the part of her what was her leave her
body. She smiled and spoke to me then departed into a bright
light. I don’t think the humans in the room could see her.
They didn’t say ‘goodbye’ or nothing. I didn’t wanna’ leave her
at the cemetery until Master Charlie explained to me she was gone, and
it was only her body we was burying. I’m getting older, but I
don’t think I’m gonna’ live much longer. >>
right. Your specie lives shorter lives than humans. We live
about seven years to your one. It’s a rotten system, I’ll admit,
but I didn’t make the universe and all the critters in it. Yore’
mistress is worried about you and wants me to see if I can do something
for you. First,— I wanna’ know if you want me to fix you
up? Do you want to live longer?”
like this, Mr. Long. I don’t have no energy no more. I ache
all over. My legs and neck hurt me some’um fierce sometimes, and
I have a hard time doing my business outdoors once in a while.
I’m to the point, I think to join Mistress Anne would be a blessing for
me and Ms. Ida. I wouldn’t hurt no more, and she wouldn’t have to
worry none about me. I hear humans talk about an afterlife.
They say that’s were Mistress Anne went when she passed away, but I
don’t never hear ‘em talk about animals going there. Why is that,
Scraps! Arrogance, stupidity and a wagon load of hubris.
We’s animals jes’ like you, my friend. Most men wanna’ set
themselves apart from our animal brothers by claiming we’s smarter and
know more. It just ain’t true, Scraps. I know’d a lot of
animals smarter’n most men. Know’d a few a damn sight smarter’n
me. Man wants to think he ain’t a part of nature, he tells
himself he’s special ‘cause he has a soul and he’s above nature, but he
really ain’t. He has to eat and do his business jes’ like you do,
Do you think
if’n there’s a God in the hierarchy of things he’d deny a life-force as
good as yours, as fine and devoted a companion as you’ve been to Ms.
Ida and her family all these years? Do you really think, if’n
he’s good and kind, he wouldn’t find you a small corner in his vast
kingdom somewhere for you to dwell in peace? It says in our holy
book he knows when every sparrow falls. If he’s that all knowing
and all powerful, do you think for one minute he’d forget about you?”
<< I guess
not, Captain Long. I jes’ ain’t never heard ‘em say nothing about
there being room for critters like me. If’n I can’t be with my
mistress here anymore, I’d love to join Mistress Anne until Ms. Ida
could be with us. >>
“To be honest,
Scraps, no man can guarantee you or anyone there’s an afterlife.
It can’t be proved one way or the other. A man can thump his
bible as hard as he wants ever’ damn day of his life and tell you, you
must believe because it says so in the good book; however, the naked
truth is,— it’s just hearsay. The argument wouldn’t stand up in a
court of law. Then they tell you to believe on faith. You
have ta’ have faith. Well, if that’s true, then it must mean, if
I have faith and I’m a good human, for my final reward, I’ll have ta’
go where all them self-righteous, holier than thou, organized religious
folks think they’s going. Why, in the world, would I wanna’ go
where them boring hypocrites are going without my animal friends I’ve
know’d and loved over the years? Hell,— I want ‘em all with
me. Jes’ like Ms. Ida wants you to be with her a little longer in
suppose Mistress Ida was right. The light does seem to be going
out in my eyes, and it’s growing weaker in my heart at the same
time. I ain’t got me the will to keep on going much longer,
Sir. I can feel it, Mr. Lazarus. It’s almost like I can
hear voices calling my name from far away,— calling me to come home to
them. I ain’t afeard of ‘em, Sir. I know they’s good
voices. To be honest, I been look’n for a good time to tell my
beloved mistress ‘goodbye’ and slip away so’s she won’t have to watch
me go. >>
“No, no,— don’t
never do that, Scraps. That would kill her. It would break
her heart in two. You mean far too much to her.”
Lazarus told Ida
what Scraps said, and she started sobbing.
Captain Long, sweet heart. He’s right. If you thought you’d
be doing me a favor by crawling off and dying by yore’self somewhere,
it would break my heart.”
“If I could make
you feel better, do you think you’d like to live a while longer?
I don’t think anyone here at the ranch is ready to let you go.
You’re a solid member of this family and we love you. Our boss,
Master Charlie, is worried about you, so’s them boys and all a’ them
cowboys. I don’t think I’m ready to let you go, Scraps,— but chu’
gotta’ wanna’ stick around for a while. You heard me tell Ms. Ida
I wouldn’t let you hang around if’n I weren’t pert-damn sure I could do
some’um for you, but I ain’t even gonna’ try unless you wanna’ stick
around for a while longer.”
love to stay with my mistress, Sir. If you could help me, I’d be
most grateful. >>
“Okay, ‘at’s all
I needed to hear, Scraps. I’ll look forward to taking you, yore’
mistress, Hank and Master Charlie to my ship Saturday morning, and
we’ll see what we can do.”
you for caring, Master Long, and tell’n me them things. I’m glad
to know there’s a human I respect what think’s us animals is important.
certainly welcome, Scraps, and you’re very important to us. I
know your mistress will be thrilled, and you’ll set a number of other
folk’s minds at rest.” Lazarus chuckled.
Ida got a big
smile on her face. She gleaned enough from Lazarus’ side of the
conversation she knew Scraps was willing. She was thrilled.
They heard Hank come in the front door and holler to them.
“We’re in the
kitchen, Hon. Come on back.” Ida Mae hollered back to
him. Hank stopped at the door. Lazarus stood and Ida walked
“Can I have a
hug, Captain Long?”
“Of course, you
can.” Lazarus opened his arms and enfolded a teary eyed Ida
Mae. “This is medicinal, Hank,— you understand.” Lazarus
Hank rolled his
eyes and grinned. “In that case, can I have one, too?”
“Take a number
and have a seat.” Laughed Lazarus. Then he gave Hank a big
hug. “Hell, as healthy as you are, I should a’ jes’ told you to
take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” they shared a laugh.
* * * * * * *
flattered Ida Mae requested he accompany them to the ship. He
told Lazarus he would wait in the galley while they tended to business,
and Lazarus laughed at him.
“You won’t be
lonely, boss. I’ll be right there with you. You don’t think
I’m gonna’ examine Ms. Ida, do you? That’s what I got them med
bots and Cable for. It will all be handled with the greatest
respect to Ms. Ida. Hank already done warned her about my naked
androids. I think she’s interested to meet them.”
The four humans
walked down to the old barn followed slowly by Scraps. Hank
offered to carry him, but he refused. He told Lazarus he wanted
to make it on his own. They respected his wishes and were patient
with him. Ida and Scraps were a little taken aback by the portal
which sprang up in the barn behind the bails of hay stacked almost to
“Why don’t you
go through first, boss, to show them there’s nothing to be afraid
of.” Lazarus suggested to Charlie.
hesitate and disappeared through the dark blue veil of energy.
Ida looked down and spoke to Scraps.
“We don’t have
to do this if’n you’re afraid, old friend, or Hank will carry you
tell my mistress, I’ll go wherever she goes, ramrod. >>
Lazarus told Ida
what Scraps said.
“I love you,
Scraps. C’mon, let’s us go together.” and they slowly
walked through the portal and stepped into sickbay on the
Bandersnatch. Hank and Lazarus followed close behind.
“See, nothing to
it.” said Hank to Ida Mae and Scraps.
introduced Ida and Scraps to the med bots, and especially Cable, David
and Jonathan. Ida was speechless, and Scraps was impressed the
androids took a special interest in him to welcome him. They
shared with him the reason they didn’t smell like humans was because
they were made of different stuff. He wondered about that.
As old as he was, there was nothing wrong with his sense of
smell. He was impressed with them and immediately trusted
them. They didn’t do anything they didn’t first explain to
him. Ida Mae didn’t seem to be bothered in the least by the naked
androids. She even joked with Lazarus about trading Hank in on a
newer model. That endeared her to the androids. It didn’t
do much for poor Hank, but he had a good sense of humor. Hank
knew Ida Mae loved him without question.
get Scraps scanned first and Ms. Ida can see his condition for
herself. Then afterwards we’ll take him to visit with the
Kryscellians for an hour or so, and we can scan Ms. Ida. Then she
can visit with the Kryscellians for a while.”
Charlie, Hank and the boys already told her about the wonderful
Kryscells on board Captain Long’s ship. She was anxious to meet
“Did Ping and
Pong manage to get the longevity serum modified for Canis lupus
familiaris?” Lazarus asked Cable.
they completed their work last evening before returning to the
ranch. They’re on board now if you wish to speak with them.”
“No, that won’t
be necessary unless they’d like to check in on us. We’d be happy
to have them observe. Ping sometimes catches things we miss.”
right. I’ll relay your message to them, father.”
Ida smiled at
Cable calling Lazarus ‘father,’ but she didn’t comment. It didn’t
pass Scraps’ attention either. Cable came to him and asked his
permission to lift him onto a Gurney. Scraps made an attempt to
lick Cable’s hand, but it tasted funny, like food stored too long in
plastic containers. Cable took that as an affirmative and gently
lifted Scraps to the comfortable anti-grav Gurney.
frightened, Scraps,” Cable said gently, “this table floats on a
magnetic field and doesn’t require wheels to move it about. Since
there’s no friction, it’s easy to move you from place to place without
putting you through any discomfort. Now, if you’ll lay there for
a while, we’ll get this done quickly, and it will all be over.
You can take a nap if you’re comfortable enough.”
like a good idea to Scraps. He was tired from the walk to the
barn. He lay his head between his paws and closed his eyes.
Cable moved his Gurney into a small room off the main room in
sickbay. He told Scraps he was going to leave him for a while,
but he’d return in a few minutes to see to him. Scraps was
already drifting off on the comfortable Gruney. The strange
machines began to whir and hum. All around the control room next
to the small room where Scraps lay were huge screens that showed every
detail of Scraps’ body. Ping and Pong joined Lazarus and Cable to
see the scans of Scraps. They were pointing out certain things to
Lazarus, but the others couldn’t hear their conversation. Finally
mostly good news, Ms. Ida. There ain’t nothing really wrong with
Scraps except he’s jes’ worn out. We can fix that; however, he’s
got a lot of bone calcification causing him a great deal of pain in his
joints. We can take care of that, too, but he will need several
visits to the Kryscellians to help him get rid of it and heal
properly. With the adjusted longevity serum I’ll give him, he
should return to a middle aged animal for a couple hundred years or
longer. He still won’t live as long as you, but he’ll live a hell
of a lot longer than most humans. Is two or maybe three hundred
years long enough for you?” Lazarus joked with Ida.
Ida Mae threw
her arms around Lazarus, hugged him and sobbed. Lazarus smiled
down at her and winked at Hank.
he’s gonna’ be fine. It says something about the good care you’ve
given him all these years he’s in such good shape. He jes’ needs
a tune up. There’s one small lump on his right side.
Nothing to worry about, it ain’t Cancerous. I’ll have the
Kryscellians check it out.”
by the others, took Scraps on his Gurney into Ox’s stateroom to lay in
front of the Kryscellians. Lazarus explained to Scraps what was
going to happen.
comfortable on the Gurney, Scraps?” he inquired.
thank you, Captain Long,— very comfortable. >>
“I want you to
lay here in front of these beautiful crystals in this cabinet.
They are a race of folks. We’re animals, but they’re
another life form. They’re capable of healing animals like you
and me. I want them to sing to you, and they will repair your
body. Just answer their questions if you can understand
them. You’ll be able to, I have no doubt. They’re gonna’
love you. You’re a new life form for them, and they’ll wanna’
know all about you. Tell them about yourself. You’ll feel
the glow of their light shining on you. Don’t be afraid.
It’s the rays of their light what will help you. Don’t try to
jump down from the Gurney, you may hurt yourself. I’ll check back
with you every fifteen minutes or so to see if you’re doing okay.
When they’re through visiting with you, they’ll let me know and we’ll
come back in to get you. Do you have any questions?”
<< Will I
feel better afterward, Sir? >>
you, Captain Long. >>
Scraps. Now, relax and enjoy your visit with the
Kryscellians. They’re a wonderful race of beings. I think
you'll like them.”
Scraps could see
the beautiful glass things through the glass of the cabinet and lay his
head down between his paws again. The humans left him
alone. He wasn’t afraid. He trusted Captain Long and he
trusted his mistress. They wouldn’t put him in harms way.
He could feel the rays of light beginning to penetrate his fur and
skin. They tingled and made his spine shiver several times.
Funny, each time it moved it hurt less and less.
Scraps lay in
front of the Kryscells for an hour and thirty minutes. They
didn’t want to let him go and made Captain Long promise he would bring
him back. They had more to do to help Scraps, and they wanted to
know so much more about him. Lazarus promised they would see
Scraps once a week for several weeks. They were satisfied.
They told the Captain the lump on Scraps was a cactus thorn that had
been in him for sometime and scar tissue grew around it to protect
him. They managed to loosen it, and all the Captain’s med bots
had to do was remove it and sterilize the wound. It was
immediately taken care of by Cable. Lazarus made sure Cable gave
Scraps his longevity shot, and he was through in sickbay. He
joined the men in the galley where David and Jonathan had a couple of
healthy treats for him and some special sweet milk for him to drink.
Ida Mae was
being scanned while her companion lay before the Kryscells. The
men were looking at the screens and Ping was pointing out certain
things to the Captain. He was translating for Cable and his
staff. Finally he spoke to Ida through the speaker system.
“How long have
you had that small lump under your right breast, Ms. Ida?”
discovered it about a week ago. I was gonna’ ask if you think I
should see a doctor?”
“The answer is
‘yes,’ but you’re seeing one right now. It’s Cancerous, but it’s
very small. It ain’t had a chance to grow or spread. I
ain’t gonna’ have my staff remove it. I want to see what the
Kryscellians can do for you first. If they can kill it and cause
it to be absorbed by your body, ain’t no need to cut on you.”
Captain. I’m afraid of being cut on.”
Ida lay before
the Kryscellians for a little over an hour. She was amazed she
slowly began to understand what they were singing to her. She
found herself singing along and back to them as she answered their
questions. She was fascinated by them. She could feel them
healing the lump in her breast. They told her it would take
several followup visits, but they killed the majority of the
growth. It would be absorbed into her system and passed as waste.
thrill was after Cable and his men got her dressed and she joined the
Captain, Hank and Charlie,— Scraps bounded over to greet her like he
was a much younger dog. She knelt, held him, petted him and
cried. He was so much better, and he was happy to be alive.
Ida thanked and thanked Lazarus.
“One more thing,
Ms. Ida. Our agreement,— remember?” he smiled.
standing by ready with her shot.
“You sure that’s
the human longevity serum, Son?” Lazarus winked at Cable. Cable
looked a little hurt, but figured out it was a joke.
Father, you know I wouldn’t make a mistake like that.”
wouldn’t want you giving Ms. Ida the same serum you gave her
buddy. She might develop strong urges to bury bones in her
All the men
roared with laughter at Lazarus’ joke.
“Oh, I don’t
know,” mused Ida Mae, “I enjoy having a big bone buried in my backyard
ever’ now and then.” then she giggled like a schoolgirl.
Hank turned a
brilliant shade of red. Charlie and Lazarus laughed their ass’s
off at him. Ida Mae couldn’t help but laugh as she reached up and
stole a kiss from the big cowboy.
Cable gave the
shot to her in her arm. She didn’t complain and was surprised
there was no pain. Lazarus set up appointments for her and Scraps
to come aboard the Bandersnatch the following Saturday morning for a
followup visit. There would be three more visits for each of them.
The boys were
waiting for them when they returned from the barn and came running
across the compound. Scraps looked up at Ida. She smiled at
“Go.” she said
to him. Scraps was away to meet the boys in the middle of the
compound. They were so happy to see him feeling better and more
active. He still wasn’t up to a hundred percent, but they knew he
soon would be. They were all sending him mind messages at
once. He was thrilled he could hear and speak with the
boys. Lazarus was afraid he might over do.
“Let him.” said
Ida Mae, “He may have to pay for it tomorrow with some sore muscles,
but that’s okay. I know he’ll rebound. For right now, he
ain’t felt that good in long time. I’ve got my buddy back
again. I can’t thank you enough, Captain.”
Ida and Scraps
continued their visits on the Bandersnatch until they were both given
an approval from Captain Long and his staff they were sound
again. Scraps was returned to the health and active ability of a
mature dog in his prime years. He couldn’t do enough for Lazarus
and always made it a point to go to him and greet him every time he
came around. He would thank him for his renewed self and saving
his mistress from almost sure death from Cancer. Lazarus was
never too busy to acknowledge him and have a good word for him.
However, unknown to everyone, the Kryscellians had done something to
Scraps they only shared with him. They tweaked a couple of his
minor homeotic genes to give him a gift he wished for. They sang
to him of his life and how brave and good hearted he was. If they
could reward him with one wish, what would it be?
“To be able to
tell my mistress how much I love her for saving my life and giving me
the best home I could ever have. I can send messages to Captain
Long, the boys and their lummox, but I can not speak.”
They told him
they fixed his vocal cords and in a matter of weeks they would
rearrange themselves so he could speak. They would tell him when
to start practicing. After his fourth checkup on the ship, they
told him his new vocal cords were developed enough. He started
practicing with Cable, David and Jonathan. They were thrilled
with his progress and promised to keep it a secret from their
father. Scraps would sneak off in the afternoons and go to the
old barn where he would activate the portal to the ship himself and go
through to sickbay. Cable would always be waiting for him with a
treat and some special milk. Scraps loved the milk.
Scraps.” Cable would address him.
affer-none, Kay-bell.” Scraps would reply.
friend.” Cable would complement him. David and Jonathan would be
all over him. Scraps would spend about an hour every day with the
androids. They looked forward to his visits.
the Captain arrived unannounced and found Scraps and the androids
laughing together. He raised an eyebrow and was about to scold
the androids for taking the liberty of bringing Scraps on board the
ship without his permission. Scraps read his mind, went to
Lazarus, looked up at him and spoke.
Daw-vid, or Gon-a-tons falt, Kaab-tin. I open gate. I come
visit. Wan su-prise miz Eye-da.”
down to pet Scraps with a big smile on his face.
scamp. You’re doing fine. How long have you been able to
“I done know,
Sir. How many, Ka-bell?” Scraps turned to look at Cable.
practicing with us about a month ago, Father. We didn’t tell you
because he swore us to secrecy.”
“Then you did
the right thing, gentlemen. When a friend asks you to keep a
secret, it’s part of being his friend to respect his wishes; however,
you must be selective. This secret was a good one, but I hope
you’re aware there are bad ones.”
we’re aware. We would never withhold anything from you that might
endanger us or cause emotional harm to anyone.”
when do you plan to surprise yore’ mistress, Scraps?”
“I done know,
Misser Long. You think I ready?”
‘nuff surprised the hell out of me!” Lazarus laughed, “I think yore’
ready, good buddy. Did the Kryscellians do this for you?” Lazarus
knew better than to ask, but he wondered if Scraps knew.
The singing glass friends grant me one wish. I wish to speak to
tell mistress how much I love her. They fix Scraps to speak.”
“Well, I’ll be
damned!” exclaimed Lazarus, as he slapped his knee and laughed.
“I’ve heard so many awful ‘talking dog’ jokes in my life this is truly
a reward after suffering through them and laughing when I didn’t want
to. Them singing glass friends is amazing ain’t they?” Lazarus
“They good to
Scraps. They like Scraps, and Scraps like them. They sing
pretty songs and make Scraps feel better. Now Scraps can tell you
how much he love you, Kaab-tin Lazy-us.”
Scraps. Good boy. I love you, too. You’ll get better
in time. You remember how long it took our young’uns to
talk? You’re doing jes’ fine. Dayamn! Ms. Ida’s
gonna’ be floored. Them boys and my boss is gonna’ shit their
Scraps left the ship together. Scraps said ‘goodbye’ to Lazarus
and ran to join the boys playing ball. He’d run from one to the
other trying to get the ball. Finally Waco tossed it to him and
Scraps caught it in mid-air.
Scraps.” the boys complemented him. He was in heaven. He
decided, with the Captain's help, tonight was the night.
away toward the foreman’s house whistling an old cowboy tune. He
spotted Hank coming up from the slave quarters and motioned for him to
join him. He had to tell someone and who would appreciate it more
than Hank Morgan? He invited Hank to set in the swing with him on
the porch. He recounted his visit to the Bandersnatch and what he
discovered. He had Hank in tears he was laughing so hard.
me, ramrod! Scraps? A talk’n dog? Ain’t no way.”
having a hard time being straight with him because Hank was laughing so
“I shit you not,
brother! If’n our boss-man and the boys don’t crap in their
Wranglers tonight I’ll be surprised.”
“I jes’ may
myself.” Hank laughed again shaking his head.
“Not a word to
yore’ wife, crew leader.” Lazarus winked at Hank. Hank
appreciated the sentiment.
“I don’t know
nothing, boss. I appreciate you tell’n me. I’ll be
prepared. I usually ain’t. I’m usually the last to know
around here.” Hank complained, but laughed at his silliness.
That evening at
supper the boys cleared the main dishes and Ida was serving
dessert. She made a wonderful fresh peach cobbler from peaches
they grew on the ranch. She served it with vanilla ice
cream. It was one of Charlie and the boys favorites. She
was trying to get through to get out of the kitchen early. The
boys volunteered to clean the kitchen for her that evening. After
she served everyone, Lazarus stood and ask all the men if’n they
enjoyed their meal. They all agreed, applauded and complimented
“Sit down here
and join us for a minute, Ms. Ida. Son,” Lazarus spoke to Lucas,
“git Ms. Ida a dessert and a cup of coffee.”
Lucas was up and away. In a minute he returned and brought Ida
Mae a big piece of cobbler, some ice cream and a cup of coffee.
She thanked him. She was looking at Lazarus and Charlie
funny. Hank kept looking down at his dessert and wouldn’t look at
her. She knew something was up. She slowly ate her dessert
and enjoyed her coffee. She joined in the conversation and was
enjoying herself in spite of her wariness. Finally, she got up
enough nerve to question Charlie.
“What’s this all
about, Master Charlie? I don’t never have dessert with you
men. Ain’t because I don’t want to, it’s jes’ I’m all the time
too busy to take the time, and I figure you need yore' privacy to talk
“Don’t look at
me, Ida Mae. I ain't got no idea what’s going on. I’m as
much in the dark as you are. I ain’t got no clue.”
on our part, Ms. Ida. We’s jes’ trying to show you our
appreciation for yore’ fine cooking and taking good care of us.
Ain’t ‘tat right, men?”
All the boys and
Hank agreed. They applauded for her again.
there’s someone else here what has some’um to say to you,— Scraps,—
where are you, boy?”
at Lazarus side, and he petted him.
“Now’s the time,
Scraps. Go for it, tiger.” Lazarus said gently.
and looked into Ida’s eyes and spoke,
Scraps love you.” There was a dead silence in the room. Charlie
and the boys mouth's dropped open. Hank stifled a laugh.
Ida Mae’s eyes grew real big. Lazarus was grinning from ear to
“Go on, you’re
doing fine, Scraps.” Lazarus urged him gently.
Scraps’ life two times. You take Scraps in and love him like he
never been loved before. Scraps ask glass-people to make him
speak so I can tell you how much I love you.”
Ida Mae lost it
and broke down in sobs. She got down on her knees and hugged her
“Oh, God, I love
you, too, Scraps. I thank God for all my blessings every morning
when I wake up and every evening before I go to sleep, but I say an
extra thanks to him for Captain Long and you. You’re the most
wonderful friend and companion anyone could have. We all love
Charlie threw up
his hands and shook his head.
damned! Never a dull moment around this place, but I guess
I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Then he broke up laughing and
shook Lazarus’ hand. “Well done, ramrod.” he allowed.
“Don’t look at
me! I didn’t have nothing to do with it, boss. The
Kryscells offered Scraps one wish, and if it was within their power
they would grant it. It just so happened his wish was within
their abilities. He wanted to speak so he could tell Ms. Ida how
much he loves her. Unbeknownst to me, he’s been going to the ship
ever’ day on his own and practicing with my androids for over a month
now. I caught ‘em this afternoon, and he asked me if I thought he
was ready. I told him to go for it. Hell, he speaks
better’n some of them cowboys down to the slave-quarters.” Lazarus
The boys were
flabbergasted. They were next to congratulate him. They
each had to take Scraps in their arms, pet him and tell him how
wonderful they thought he was. Once he got over his shyness, he
began to speak more freely. He made mistakes, but no one
corrected him. He got better and better as time went on.
Now he could holler at the boys to throw the ball to him. The
only drawback was, now he didn’t sound like a dog when he tried to
bark. He sounded like a human trying to imitate a barking
dog. He vowed to work on that. He remembered he had a good
strong bark that would get anyone’s attention.
* * * * * * *
After seeing the
miracle the Kryscellians did on Scraps, the boys were interested in
helping them more. Waco, Lucas, Travis, Little Bear and JR talked
with Lazarus. They wanted to know how they could arrange it so
the Kryscells could experience Waco’s pony, Ranger. Lazarus
grinned real big. They were really serious. He knew between
the five of the boys, they should be able to come up with some good
ideas on their own.
“I tell you
what,— you men are old enough now to have some ideas of yore’
own. I want you to come up with some ideas and tell me how you
would go about getting the Kryscells to Ranger or Ranger to them.
You’ve got one great resource of information about how things work on
the ship. That would be yore’ lummox. He’s practically
their god. He rescued them and saved their lives. They know
he ain’t a god, but they treat him with the utmost respect and
affection. They won’t do nothing without discussing it with him
first. Ox is a fount of knowledge and he knows what I’ll go along
with and what I won’t. He’ll be happy to work with you.
I’ve often thought about getting the Kryscells more mobile so they
could experience more of the universe for themselves. Work on it
and think on it. I know you young’uns can come up with some new
Lucas had fully
earned himself a respected position with the boys. His life was a
little different having to take care of his master; however, Waco and
his crew had their responsibilities to Charlie and the ranch.
Waco was the undisputed Master and leader of his slaves, but he took a
tip from Captain Long and his own dad, Charlie. Waco ran his crew
like a benevolent monarch. He never tried to tell his little
brother, JR, what to do. JR was always willing to do anything to
lend a hand to Waco, Travis or Little Bear.
Since Scraps was
feeling better, he became bored just laying around all the time and
asked Ida Mae if she minded if he went with the boys sometimes.
He told her he still wanted to visit with his friends on Captain Long’s
ship. Ida was so thrilled he was feeling better she couldn’t tell
him ‘no.’ She was glad he felt like being up and around. It
made his life so much more rich and interesting. She also noticed
whenever Hank and she wanted to make love, Scraps would leave his bed
in her bedroom a go sleep in JR’s room. JR loved to have Scraps
sleep with him. He would let Scraps sleep on his bed.
Scraps would keep JR’s feet warm during the winter. Ida finally
asked Scraps if Hank and her making love bothered him.
Eye-da. Scraps give privacy. Now Scraps feel better,
listening to you and Misser Hank, makes him wonder what he miss.
Scraps not ungrateful. He have wonderful life with you, Ms. Ida,
but Scraps never,— .”
dog,— I never stopped to think about that. How stupid can an old
woman be? Of course it would make you wonder. It’s only
natural. Not to worry. I’ll have a word with Master Charlie
and Captain Long.”
Ida talked with
Lazarus and Charlie. While they were concerned they had a good
time razzing Ida Mae for being naive, and yet, being such a wonderful
friend to Scraps. The men knew just who to contact to make life a
bit more complete for their buddy Scraps.
End of Chapter
16 ~ Waco’s Lummox
Copyright 2006 ~