By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 17

One Saturday afternoon, Charlie, Lazarus, and the boys decided to pay Cotton Daniels and Hoot Austin a visit.  They took Ox with them.  The Goodnight lummox, as he was beginning to be known in the community, was welcome almost everywhere.  He was getting the reputation of being a good luck charm.  None of the local ranch kids were afraid of him and told each other it was ‘good luck’ to pet him and rub his fur.  Of course, Ox loved the attention.  He had a soft spot in his big heart for the little ones.

Hoot called Lazarus and told him they had some things to tell him about a deal they talked about earlier.  Lazarus understood it was probably about old man Stamper and his boys, but knew Hoot didn’t want to discuss it over the phone.  Lazarus agreed with him and made arrangements for the men to visit their ranch the following Saturday.  He knew Hoot would have enough common sense not to discuss anything in front of Lucas.  Lazarus would make sure Lucas was away with Ox and the boys.

Charlie and Lazarus thought it was a chance to kill several birds with one visit.  Lazarus and Charlie wanted to hear what they found out about old man Stamper.  Lazarus wanted to place a portal in Cotton and Hoot’s barn to make emergency travel between ranches easier, and last but not least they knew Cotton and Hoot rescued a female Border Collie several months earlier.

They knew Cotton raised and sold cow dogs as well as roping ponies; however, most of his dogs were Australian Cow Dogs or ‘Blue Heelers.’  They were a little bigger breed of dog than the Border Collie and to some folk’s minds almost as intelligent.  Lazarus always suspected they had a little more of the wild dingo in them than breeders claimed.  Cotton was one of the few who agreed with him.  He accounted it for their roughness and sometimes going renegade.  Once in a while a dog would get so carried away, he would kill the livestock he was trying to herd and protect.  

Cotton also acted as a ‘Blue Heeler’ rescue for animals who were abandoned or their owners couldn’t take care of them anymore for some reason.  He and Hoot would travel hundreds of miles to save a dog from being put down because he or she was unwanted anymore.  Consequently, they had a steady flow of cow dogs in and out of the ranch.  Most times they would give away a rescued cow dog to someone who would give it a good home.  They sold enough of their breeding stock to be able to be charitable to those less fortunate.  Their main concern was for the animal to have a good home.

Charlie and Lazarus knew they recently rescued a female Boarder Collie.  She was a mess when they got her; although, Cotton thought she had potential.  She was owned by an old man and his wife who barely had enough money to feed themselves.  They weren’t trying to be cruel to the dog, they just didn’t have the means to take care of her.  The sheriff of the next county rescued her from the folks and contacted Sheriff Lassiter because he heard about Cotton and Hoot rescuing cow dogs.  Don Lassiter told the other sheriff they did rescue cow dogs, but he wasn’t sure about Border Collies.  He felt if he asked them right nice they might take the dog and find a good home for her.  That was fine with the other sheriff.

Cotton and Hoot saw any referral from the sheriff as a good sign and drove a hundred and thirty miles to the next county to pick up the dog.  The sheriff of the county was pleased to find a home for her even if it was temporary.  He told Cotton her name was ‘Happy.’  She certainly didn’t look happy.  She looked like a bag of skin and bones.  Most of her hair was either matted or falling out from a form of demodectic mange.  Hoot said he couldn’t remember a dog being in such bad shape.  The men talked on the way back about putting her out of her misery.  

Cotton wouldn’t hear of it and vowed he’d take her to Captain Long before he’d let Hoot destroy her.  He was very firm.  Hoot was a wise enough man, he knew when to back off when his mate was serious about an animal.  He joined Cotton’s vow and told him he’d support anything his partner wanted do to try to save her.  Cotton was happy with that.  Cotton worked his ass off to get her in some kind of decent shape.  They fed her well and Cotton bathed and dipped her several times to get rid of the mange.  She slowly came around and began to look like a dog again.  

Unfortunately, they had to keep her separated from the other dogs for sometime, because the form of mange she had was highly contagious.  They even had to sterilize her bedding and kennel area every other day to keep her from becoming reinfested.  Within the last month Cotton was trying to integrate her with the rest of the dogs without much success.  Cow dogs are a rougher lot than Border Collies and would bully and pick on Happy.  Even the two females she tried to befriend would be good to her until the males came around, and then they would turn on her.

“How is your new Border Collie coming along?  How is she working out for you?”  Charlie asked Cotton.

“She’s a fine dog, Mr. Goodnight.  She tries hard and is probably more intelligent than all my cow dogs put together, but when she tries to follow her natural instincts to herd, she’s so much more subtle than the cow dogs, they come along and run over her.  She gets frustrated because she wants to finesse the cows to get them to do what she wants.  Them cow dogs ain’t that patient.  If a cow don’t do what it wants, it jes’ comes along and nips it on its ankle.  I’ve seen ‘em jump up, grab their tails and hang on.  You rarely find a Border Collie doing that to a cow,— a sheep maybe.”

“How’s her health?”  Lazarus asked.

“Ah, hell, we got her almost where she should be.  I think she may have some internal problems, but I don’t know fer shore.’  I ain’t got me no way a’ tell’n without take’n ‘er to a vet.  Her coat is almost completely grown back in, and she ain’t got no more mange.  I wouldn’t let her be with the other dogs less’n I’s sure she was disease free.  She come into heat a couple of weeks ago, and we had to keep her separated from the males.  I know she ain’t been fixed, but I got no way a’ know’n if’n she’s fertile.

Are you men interested in her?  Lord knows, if you want her, she’s yours for the asking.  I’d be right proud and pleased to have you men take her off our hands.  I hate to let her go ‘cause I gotta’ admit I’ve grown fond of her.  She’s sweet tempered and wants to love people; however, from what she’s been through and what them dogs around here put her through, she’s somewhat shy.  Under the proper care in a different setting, I think she’d be a fine addition to any ranch.  She’s so much more loving than my cow dogs, but that ain’t what I keep cow dogs for.  I keep ‘em to work cows and make my life and other cowboy’s lives a little easier.  I’d like to keep her, but she jes’ don’t fit in here.  You interested in a mate for Scraps?  She’d be a good’un for him.  We heard us a rumor he’s learned to talk,— is 'zat right?”

“Afeard so, Son.  He’s talk’n up a storm.  Hell, we can’t shut him up.” laughed Charlie.  “He’s git’n better ever’ day with his taking.  Them boys think he’s about the neatest thing to come along since chocolate chip cookies.  Scraps expressed to his mistress he might like to have a mate.  He’s been such a fine dog for Ida Mae and us for years, we thought it might be a good idea.  We knew about the female you rescued.  Can we see her?”

“Shore,’ she’s out in the pasture with Hoot and the boys.  We can’t let her be with them rough heelers by herself.  They’ll run right over her and mistreat her, but if’n Hoot or I’s with ‘em they mind their manners.  I’ll holler to ‘em.”  Cotton went to the fence and hollered at Hoot and the boys.  “Hoot!  Bring Happy and the boys over here so Master Charlie and Master Lazarus can get a look at her.”

Hoot turned and whistled for Happy to come with him.  She obeyed immediately and left the cows to the big dogs.  She followed along trying to herd the boys to the gate.  They knew what she was doing and had a good time teasing her.

“Look at her eyes, Dad!”  Waco exclaimed, “She’s a beautiful dog.” he allowed.

Lazarus and Charlie were stunned.  She had the same blue eyes as Scraps.  When she looked at you, Happy looked like she was looking into your soul.  Lazarus stooped down and let her smell the back of his hand.

<< May I pet you, pretty lady? >>  he sent to her.

<< A man speaking to me in my head,— calling me pretty?  Of course you may touch me, Sir.  I thought it strange I could hear the boys, but to hear you, too, is very different.  Are you men similar to my owners? >>  she asked as Lazarus was petting her.

<< Jes’ like them, ‘cept’n they can’t send and receive thoughts.  The fine looking cowboy next to me,— he be my boss,— he can’t send or receive either.  His boy, Waco, can.  Some humans can, some can’t.  Jes’ like some dogs know how to herd proper-like and others don’t. >> Lazarus motioned toward the cow dogs and laughed.

<< They mean well, Sir, but they just don’t know what I do.  I ain’t saying they’s bad,— they’s jes’ different.  They get the job done. >>

Charlie stooped down, let her smell his hand and she immediately brushed against his hand to be petted.

“Damn, she’s friendly enough.” Charlie said to Lazarus.

“She likes you, boss.  Told me she thought you was a fine look’n, handsome cowboy.  I didn’t know dogs knew such big words, but she said you was a fine example of a pulchritudinous human male.”  

Charlie threw back his head and laughed.

“You’re lying through yore’ teeth, ramrod.  I can smell bullshit when I hear it.  I know you too well by now.” Charlie grinned real big.

“Didn’t she say that, Son?” Lazarus winked at Waco.

“She shore’ ‘nuff did, Dad.  Happy said you’s about the best looking buckaroo she ever done seen.”

“Okay, okay!  I know when I’m licked.  No pun intended, girl.” Charlie spoke to Happy and chuckled, “I like her, without all the b.s.  As long as you boys promise to take good care of her and look out for her like you do Scraps, I’ll see what we can workout with Mr. Daniels and Mr. Austin.  What do you gentlemen want for her?”

“Not a thing, Master Charlie.  I done told you, she’s yores for the asking.” replied Cotton sincerely, “We’ll jes’ be glad to know she’s gonna’ have a good home, and I know she will at chore’ place.”

“We already done told her about our ranch and our pal, Scraps.  She said us boys ’ud be a lot easier to herd than them cows.”  Waco said.  The men laughed.

“Okay, you men stay up here and play with Happy for a while.  Our ramrod and I are gonna’ walk down to the barn to install a portal for Cotton and Hoot.  We got us some more business to talk about, so stay within earshot in case we need you.”

“Right, Dad.  We’ll take good care of Happy.  I know she’ll take good care of us,— right girl?” Happy jumped up on Waco, and he petted her.  She went from one boy to the next.  She seemed pleased she might be going home with them.

The men slowly walked down to the barn.  Lazarus installed a portal where Hoot and Cotton wanted it, and he showed them how to change the settings on their remote to go to Charlie’s barn or directly into sickbay on the ship.  He also showed them how to go to Ranger Gibbon’s and Angus’ barn in case of emergency.  Then he showed them a quick way of changing settings.  The wooden post he set the portal button by could be used to change destinations by the number of times they hit it with their fist.  It was programed to respond only to their bio-signatures.  No other entity could activate it but them.

Lazarus told them the story of Cable setting their portal to be activated by Scraps, and he could visit them anytime he wanted.  He paid them a visit at least once a day to say ‘hello’ and practice his speech.
“Now, if you men are sure you wanna' let go of Happy, after we get the boys home, I’ll come through yore’ portal, get Happy and take her directly to sickbay on the ship.  I’ll have my boys check her out.  I don’t want Scraps to know until we’re ready to tell him.  He goes on the ship ever’ damn day so I know he’s gonna’ smell her, but my boys know how to cover for us.  I’ll have my cowboy androids take care of her until we can check her out.  We got a herd of sheep on one of the ranches on the ship what should keep her busy and entertained for a while.”

“The Bandersnatch must be a huge ship to have so much room.  How many ranches you got on that thing, Captain?”  asked Hoot.

“Right now, about a hundred and forty.”  Mused Lazarus

“It’s a big ship.” allowed Charlie, “It’s massive, but inside is a technology we have no concept of.  You could store ten thousand ranches the size of yours, mine, ma’ brother’s, and ma’ neighbor’s combined in that ship.  It compresses larger spaces into much smaller spaces by a sophisticated system of time and space dilations.  It’s like this ranch would be shrunk down to the size of an eight by twelve picture, but if you’re in the picture it would appear to you to go on forever.  You could git on yore’ pony and ride from sunup to sundown and not come to the end; however, on the ship, yore’ ranch would be so small, it would fit on a shelf.”

“That’s fantastic!” exclaimed Cotton.

“How’d ju know that?” Lazarus grinned at Charlie. “I didn’t tell nobody, because I thought they’d be afraid of being shrunk down in size and having to stay that way, but that ain’t the way it works.”

“Scraps ain’t the only one what’s in tight with yore’ boys.” Charlie laughed. “I wanted to know more about the mechanics of the ship, and you told them to tell me anything I wanted to know.  They did.  I’ve spent several afternoons with them boys.  I have to say, I’m quite fond of ‘em myself.  They be damn fine look’n boys, ‘father.’” Charlie laughed.

“I’ll say.” allowed Hoot.

“One afternoon, Ping and Pong showed me around and explained a lot of things to me.  Ping carried a translation device what put her thoughts through an amplification system she wore on her belt what would speak to me.  They were very patient and helpful.  I don’t know what you’re worried about.  The idea of changing size don’t bother me a bit.  To my perception, I’m always gonna’ be the size I am now.”

“That’s right, boss.  Glad you got the grand tour.” Lazarus grinned. “Moving right along, what news do you men have for us?”

“We gave old man Stamper yore’ offer shortly after Thanksgiving.  He listened, but told us there ain’t no way he’s gonna’ sell his boys into slavery.  We done like you told us and didn’t try to talk him into it.  We just laid it out for him and let him think about it.  As time went on and Christmas was coming, we knew he didn’t have money to buy presents for his boys so we loaned him several hundred bucks.  We know we’ll never git it back, but that weren’t the point.  We’s jes' priming the pump.

Well, Sir,— about two weeks after the first of the year, we stopped by the bar, and he wanted to know if’n the offer was still available.  We told him it was, and he mused about it for a while.  Then he told us his oldest was gonna’ be eighteen the second week in March and would the interested party settle for four of the five boys?  We told him we didn’t think so.  The offer was for all five,— take it or leave it.

The old man told us he was really unhappy with his boys, and we asked him why?  He said after he went out and spent the money we loaned him for their Christmas, they done a cruel and dirty thing to him.  Somehow they got some money together, bought a case of dog food and had it delivered to him.  There was a letter with it what claimed it was a quarter of the lot of dog food that was made from his youngest son.  The sender thought he might like to have it to remember his boy by.”  Cotton and Hoot tried to stifle themselves from laughing.  Lazarus and Charlie didn’t laugh, but they couldn’t help but grin.  They had to agree it was a lousy thing to do to the old man, but they felt he deserved it.  Charlie raised an eyebrow and winked at Lazarus.

“Them boys didn’t send that dog food to him, did they, Hoot?” Charlie slapped his knee and fell out laughing.

“Naw, Sir, we ain’t got us no proof, but we’re almost sure they didn’t.  Of course, we weren’t gonna’ tell him that.  We don’t know who sent him the dog food, but it was a rotten damn thing to do to the man.” Hoot was laughing his ass off.  Lazarus was about to have a stroke from laughing so hard.  Cotton just shook his head.

“May God forgive the men what done such an awful thing.” he said quietly.  That only caused the other men to laugh harder.

“So the upshot of all this is,— ?” Lazarus asked.

“He told us he’d let us know before the end of February, and he’s only got one more week.  We’re gonna’ drop by the bar again this weekend and see what he’s got to say.  We give him our business card.  H’it’s got our phone number on it.  He could call us any day.  You still wanna’ go through with the deal, Master Long?”

“Hail, yes!  You call Charlie or me the minute you know something, have them papers ready, and I’ll bring you the money immediately.  Don’t give the son of a bitch time to think about it.  Git his signature on them papers and submit them and the money to Slave-Escrow.  They’ll do all the legal work.  You deliver ownership papers to me with a warrant for their enslavement, and you get your twenty percent in cash.  I’ll leave it up to you to have them enslaved.  If you need to pay the sheriff and a couple of his deputies to go out with you, do it and you’ll have the money in hand to pay them.  Slip Don Lassiter  five hundred bucks cash and a hundred for each deputy.  You can let Sheriff Lassiter know who’s buying them and why, but ask him to keep it to himself.”

“He will, Captain,” said Hoot, “He’s come around to trust us more’n more.  All them Stamper boys is still in school including the oldest,— he don’t graduate until June.  How do you want that handled?”

“Like I told you, I want ‘em to remain in school.  They’ll be micro-chipped.  They cain’t go no wheres no ways.  They’ll be found out as soon as they’s missing.  If any of ‘em tries to run, they’ll all be taken out of school until you think they can be trusted.  I might be wrong about this, Hoot.  Don’t be afraid to tell me what you think.”

“I think you’re making a mistake by keeping ‘em in school this year, Captain.  Give us a year with them as slaves, and then put it to them, they can go to school the next year if they cooperate, work hard and don’t give us no trouble.  If they do, then we’ll consider let’n ‘em go to school.  School should be a privilege for a slave and not a right.  Let ‘em earn the right to go to school, Master Lazarus.  It’ll make ‘em appreciate it more, it’ll be a lot more important to them in the long run, and they’ll be more interested in making good grades to please their masters.  Less’n they keep their grades above a ‘C’ average, they ain’t working hard enough and won’t be allowed to go to school the next year.”

Lazarus stood there musing for a minute and looked at Charlie.

“Hoot’s right, ramrod.” spoke up Charlie, “Them kids is used to doing whatever the hell they please.  Give these men a year to get ‘em in shape and let ‘em git’ used to the idea they’re no longer free men.  He’s also right about letting ‘em earn the right to go to school.  Let Hoot spell it out for them.  If they wanna’ go to school and learn, they gotta’ earn it.”

“Okay, you’re both right.  We may be git’n ahead of ourselves.  The old man jes’ might not agree to sell’n ‘em.”

“I think h’it’s a pretty sure bet, Master Long.” Cotton spoke up, “One of his cronies in the bar told him he was pert-damn sure it was his oldest boy what sent him the dog food.  ‘At really got to him.” Cotton laughed again, “He’s think’n on the money he can git, since he thinks he’s got hisself a pretty good excuse for selling ‘em.”

“Well, jes’ keep us informed, and let us know the minute you hear anything.  Do you men need any cash up-front for anything?”

“Naw, Sir, we’re pert-damn flush right now.  If’n we do, all we gotta’ do is step through the portal.” Hoot laughed.

“Anytime, men.”  Lazarus shook their hands.  

Charlie and Lazarus rounded up the boys and Ox and got everyone into the truck.  Happy wanted to go with them.  Waco explained to her Captain Long would return for her in a while, and they would see her again soon.

<< I’ll be back to git you in about in hour or so, girl.  You sure you wanna’ come live with us?  We’d love to have you, and there’s a handsome male Border Collie who would really like to make your acquaintance. >>

<< Mr. Hoot and Mr. Cotton have been good to me, but I would like to get away from these cow dogs, Mr. Lazarus. >>

“Good, then I’ll see you in a little while, pretty lady.”  Lazarus spoke out loud for all to hear.

Lazarus and Charlie were in great spirits as they drove home.  It had been a good morning, and they got several things accomplished.  The boys were admonished not to say a word around Scraps or Ida Mae about Happy.  They might have to do some explaining because he would smell the other dogs and especially Happy on them.  Scraps was outside, waiting to greet them when they came home.  He seemed to know when they were due to arrive and told his Mistress.

“Master Charlie, Captain Lazy-us, Ox and the boys is on their way back.  Can I go out to greet them, Ms. Ida?”

“Sure you can, sweet heart, how do you know they’re on the way.”

“Can’t describe it, Ms. Ida.  It’s just a feel’n I git.”

Ida Mae let him out the back door and told him to tell them lunch would be ready in about fifteen minutes.

As Charlie pulled his big truck into the compound the two men looked at each other and smiled.  Hoot Austin was waiting for them along side of Scraps.

“Betcha’ a dollar old man Stamper called him.” Lazarus said to Charlie.

“I wouldn’t take that bet, ramrod.  I can tell by the look on his face.  He looks like the cat what swallowed the canary.”

The men jumped down from the truck and hailed Hoot Austin.

“You got damn good legs to run so far so fast, cowboy.” Charlie teased him. “Ju’ miss us that much?”  they shared a laugh.

“Yes, Sir, jes’ got me the hongries to see you men’s handsome faces again.”

“Better roll up yore’ pants, boss.  The bullshit’s start’n to rise.” Lazarus laughed. “You already done heard something,— ain’t chu, Son?”  he smiled at Hoot.

“Yes, Sir.  Can you and Master Charlie walk down to the barn with me so’s we can talk?”

“Shore.’  Happy to.”  said Charlie.

The boys were making over Scraps.  He was glad they were back and asking all sorts of questions about the dogs he smelled on them.  Especially about the female he smelled.  The boys played dumb and acted like they were just a bunch of uninteresting cow dogs; not nearly as handsome as he was.

The men got to the barn and Hoot began to speak.

“Stamper called right after you men left.  You weren’t even to the blacktop when my cell phone rang.  He asked me if I was sure the deal was still good.  I told him I jes’ talked with the buyer less than five minutes ago.  He didn’t have a lot to say, ‘cept’n he wanted to do it as soon as possible, but he wanted ten thousand up-front.  I told him I probably could get it for him, but he’d have to understand it would be deducted from the overall agreed to price.  He said he understood, and it was all right with him.”

“‘At’s no problem.  We can go to the ship and I can get you the money right now, if’n you have time.”

“I got time, Captain.”

“I don’t think you can get all this done today.  It’s going on noon and I’m sure the Escrow office don’t stay open but half a day on Saturday.  Tell you what, call Don Lassiter.  Make sure he’s gonna’ be at the station this afternoon.  Then, call Stamper to arrange for him to meet you there.  Tell him you’ll let him have a thousand this afternoon, but he has to sign a receipt for it and sign all the papers to sell his boys.  Tell him he can git the rest of the ten thousand on Monday morning when he meets you at the Slave-Escrow office.  

I’ll give you five hundred extra to tip Don two hundred and the three deputies a hundred each.  Have Don and three of his deputies sign the receipt that they witnessed you give Stamper the thousand dollars and get their signatures on the slave papers as witnesses.  Be sure and tell him, in front of the sheriff and his men, once he signs them documents and accepts the cash advance, there ain’t no turning back; he’s entering into a legally binding contract with the buyer.  He git’s all his money, minus the ten thou and his half of the escrow fees when Escrow closes.”

“Sounds good to me.” Hoot took out his cell phone and dialed the Sheriff’s station.  He talked with Sheriff Lassiter and confirmed he would be there that afternoon.  Hoot called Mr. Stamper and told him what he could do.  The old man was satisfied with what Hoot told him.  Hoot told Lazarus and Charlie, Stamper probably just needed money to drink on for the weekend.  He was right.

Charlie told Hoot to call his partner to come through the portal so the two of them could join the men for lunch.  Hoot and Cotton enjoyed the men’s company.  Everything worked like clockwork.  After lunch, Lazarus got the money Hoot needed to satisfy Mr. Stamper and told him he would bring him the rest of the money for escrow early Monday morning.  He and Charlie returned to Hoot and Cotton’s ranch with the men to get Happy.  She seemed happy to go with Lazarus and Charlie, but she kept running back and forth to Cotton and Hoot.  Finally she gave Cotton a big sloppy kiss.  She realized he saved her life, and she was grateful.

“She told me to tell you she loves you, Cotton, and she will always be grateful to you for what you done for her.  She also love you, Hoot.  She’s sad about leaving, but thinks she’ll have a better life with us.”

“She will, Captain.  You be a good girl, Happy, and make us proud of you.”  Cotton said with a couple of tears in his eyes.  Hoot put his arm around his mate to comfort him.

Charlie and Lazarus said their ‘goodbyes’ and took Happy back through the portal with them to sickbay on the Bandersnatch.  Happy couldn’t believe how the scenery changed so quickly.  Naked men who didn’t smell like the cowboys she was used to were there to greet her.  They didn’t smell right, but they were good and kind to her, and they had several nice treats for her.  She thought she might like them.  They explained why they didn’t smell right, and told her she was welcome to sniff them all she wanted until she got used to them.

Lazarus and Charlie said ‘goodbye’ to Happy and told her they would leave her with his staff.  The Captain’s staff would check her out and feed her that evening.  They would put her on a farm on board the ship temporarily where she could herd sheep for some of Captain Long’s ranchers.  She liked the sound of that.  Lazarus promised he would be back before sunset to visit with her and make sure she was comfortable.  She thanked him and became curious and interested in Cable, David and Jonathan.  She didn’t seem the least concerned Captain Long was leaving her for a while.

* * * * * * *

Hoot and Cotton took care of every small detail for Captain Long.  Charlie told Lazarus, Cotton was the brains behind their operation and Hoot was the brawn.  While Cotton could be as big a hell raiser as Hoot, he had a more organized brain.  He developed skills over the years Hoot didn’t have; however, together, they made a perfect team.  By the time Lazarus came though the portal Monday morning with a briefcase full of money, Cotton had all the papers in order ready to be filed.  Lazarus signed them and handed Cotton a manilla envelop containing their twenty percent commission plus an extra five thousand for any out of pocket money they might have spent.  He also reminded them it was to insure their service the next time he needed them.  

The Escrow company did their jobs well, a court order was issued, and a warrant for the enslavement of the five boys was issued.  The greedy old man got his money, and the Stamper boys were enslaved the following Thursday morning early before they had a chance to get up and put their clothes on.  Hoot paid Sheriff Lassiter and two of his handpicked deputies to meet him at the Stamper farm so there would be no question in the boy’s minds what their fate would be.  There was much weeping and accusations on both parts.  Their dad accused them of sending him the case of dog food, but they all vehemently denied it.  They begged their dad not to enslave them, but the old man was more greedy than compassionate and turned a deaf ear to them.

“H’it’s already a done deal.  There ain’t no back’n out now.  You boys think about the way you treated your old man and yore’ little brother.  You’s just as guilty as Caleb was.  To let another man suck yore’ dick makes you jes’ as queer as he is.  Says so in the good book, and there ain’t no arguing agin the word of God.”

The oldest boy asked if he could take his computer.  The two older boys had computers.

“Son, y’ain’t gonna’ need a computer where you’re going.  Hell, you wouldn’t have no time for a computer no ways.”  Hoot told him.

The boys were allowed to put their clothes on.  The deputies handcuffed and hobbled them, and they were taken directly to Sheriff’s station for chip implanting, slave number assignment, and identification photos which included full frontal and rear nude shots as well as facial and profile pics.

Hoot and Cotton brought both trucks and once the deputies got the boys loaded in their van and locked in tight, Hoot told Cotton to give him a hand dismantling the boy’s computers.  He wanted to take them.  Hoot wanted to see what was on them.  He thought it might give them a head start on how the boys think.  Besides, it would save them having to buy new computers later on when they went back to school.  Hoot and Cotton brought along two slaves they trusted to box up the boy’s extra clothing and a few odds and ends  They were loading the boxes into the Cotton’s truck as fast as they could.

There was no windows in the sheriff’s van and the boys couldn’t see Hoot and Cotton carrying the computers to Cotton’s truck.  Hoot thought the old man might object, but he didn’t.  He thought Stamper might want more money; however, Hoot was ready to remind him of the money they already lent him.

They drove the boys to the sheriff’s station where they were officially processed as slaves and got i.d. chips implanted deep within their left shoulder muscles.  It had all their identifying information; who they belonged to, their slave registration number, and all pertinent medical information including blood types.  Lazarus didn’t want them branded or slave numbers tattooed on the boys.  There really wasn’t any need.  The chips told all the information necessary.  Only hardened criminals were tattooed and branded anymore.  It was more for a warning to others than for identification.

* * * * * * *

The boys were made to strip at the sheriff’s station and were examined by Hoot and Cotton.  Hoot ran his slaves like a marine boot camp.  He wasn’t cruel, but he was firm and demanding.  A slave didn’t dare speak out of turn or talk back to him or any freeman, especially during their first three months of training.  He wasn’t afraid to use corporal punishment when necessary.  Lazarus had given him ‘carte blanche’ when it came to training the Stamper boys.  He wanted them turned into obedient, respectful, courteous, and attentive slaves.

Lazarus assigned three robo-cams to each boy, and they were monitored  day and night.  The robo-cams were invisible to everyone, but their every actions were recorded.  Each twenty-four hour recording for each boy was reviewed by one of the Captain’s androids each day for anything unusual.  Of course, they could scan through a recording of twenty-four hours in three minutes.  

Lazarus hoped the oldest boy, Burton, would take on the role of responsibility for his younger brothers, but it didn’t work out that way.  There was a great deal of hostility, anger and sibling rivalry the boy just couldn’t get on top of.  After seeing how Burton related to his younger brothers it was obvious to everyone he was torn between his love for them and his anger against his dad.  Charlie said he thought the boy needed a mentor.  Someone strong enough to show him the way.  Lazarus agreed.  Hoot and Cotton thought it was a fine idea; however, they didn’t have the time to ride herd on five rambunctious young cowboys twenty-four hours a day.

Charlie came up with an idea.  What they needed was a slave-trustee who knew what was expected of a slave in training and would see they performed to expectations or punishment would be administered.  The trustee wouldn’t punish them, but his word would be God with the trainers.  If he felt one of the boys needed to be punished, there was no question.  He would be punished.  Charlie told them he had just the man, Blake Tindell.

He would assign Blake Tindell, his youngest cowpoke to ride herd on them for the three months.  Blake was ten years older than Burton, the oldest Stamper boy.  He was just old enough to become an authority figure, and yet be able to communicate with them on their level.  Charlie thought it would be good for Blake to have a new assignment for a while.  Lazarus couldn’t agree with him more, except it would leave him short one of his best cowboys.  Charlie told him they could talk about that later.  Blake Tindell was called up from the slave quarters to talk with the men.  As he was with everything, Blake was enthusiastic.  He jumped at the chance.  He knew the Stamper boys.

None of the slaves were told very much about Captain Long’s ship.  One of the crew leaders, Curley Jones didn’t know much about it.  He heard some fantastic stories, but that’s all they were as far as he was concerned.  When the slaves asked Hank, he neither denied nor confirmed what they heard.  Hank didn’t lie, he just didn’t say much.  He could get away with it, because Hank never talked about his business.

There were many things discussed with Blake.  He was told about the invisible robo-cams that would be assigned to the boys, but he thought the men were pulling his leg.  Charlie assured him, as his Master, he wouldn’t lie to him about it.  Besides, the boys were going to have to have a medical examination, and when they did, he would be the one to take them on board Captain Long’s ship.

Hoot and Cotton brought up the subject of sex.  They wanted to know how they were to treat the boys, especially the two youngest.

“They’re slaves now.  They don’t fall under the same rules and laws of freemen.  There is no age of consent where a male slave is concerned.  They are to be treated the same as any other slaves.  Hoot, you, Cotton and Blake may used them any way you see fit; however, I expect you to use discretion and your best judgement with the two younger boys.  They definitely should be broken in; however, be gentle and compassionate with them.  We don’t wanna’ traumatize the boys.  We know the joys of male bonding, and they should be introduced to it in such a manner it won’t scar them for life.  It would be too easy to be vindictive towards them boys.  They never had much compassion for their youngest brother.  Fortunately, he’s coming along nicely, and I couldn’t be prouder of him if’n he was ma’ own flesh and blood.” Lazarus said.  Charlie faked a cough, like he was calling Lazarus' attention to something.  Lazarus forgot, the slaves, other than Hank, didn’t know Lucas used to be Caleb Stamper.

“I thought the youngest boy was sold for dog food, Master Lazarus.”

“Ooops!”  laughed Charlie.

“He needs to know any how, Charlie.” Lazarus said, “If’n he’s gonna’ be a slave-trustee we gotta’ trust him with some things.  Blake,— my boy Lucas, was Caleb Stamper.”

“Lucas?  That handsome slave-boy of your’n?  The kid I play football with ever’ damn Sunday?  You’re tell’n me that boy was Caleb Stamper?  He weren’t sold for dog food?”

“That’s exactly what he’s tell’n you, Son.” confirmed Charlie, “Master Lazarus has some pretty remarkable surgeons on board his ship.  With the sheriff’s help, we spread the rumor Caleb Stamper was ground up for dog food, but he weren’t.  He’s very much alive and happy living as my ramrod’s slave-son.”
“Does he know about his brothers?”

“No, Son, he don’t, and that’s part of the trust we’re put’n in you as a slave-trustee.  We don’t want him to know right away.  He’ll eventually find out, but I’d like to be the one to tell him.  He’s already surmised I might be planning on buy’n his brothers.  He jes’ don’t know it’s been done yet.  So keep it to yourself for right now and under no circumstances tell his brothers who Lucas is.  That would be wrong.  The day may come, but I want it to be Lucas’ choice whether to tell his brothers or not.  We owe the kid that.

After he saved the sheriff’s life I offered him his freedom.  I told him I’d adopt him and raise him as my own son.  I didn’t figure it would scare the kid.  Because of his fear of his dad and brothers, he opted to remain my slave-son until his eighteenth birthday.  Then, if’n he’s comfortable, I’ll emancipate him or if’n he wants, he can remain my slave for a while longer until he is ready.  It’s gonna’ be up to him; however, as for his brothers, he’s dog food to them boys.”

“I understand, Sir.  Humm, that fine looking slave-boy,— Caleb Stamper.”

“No, Son,— remember,— Caleb Stamper is dead.  That fine looking slave-boy you admire so much is my slave-son, Lucas Long.”

“Of course, Master Long.  Caleb Stamper is dead to the world.  Wait a minute!  I’m beginning to git a pitchure here.  You didn’t buy them boys to be slaves all their lives.  You bought ‘em to protect ‘em from their old man and theyselves.  You’re planning on doing for them what Master Charlie done for me.  Teaching five young ruffians to become gentlemen and grow up to be decent citizens,— and you want me to make damn sure they do.  It’s all come’n together.  I can see it clearly now.  Makes a lot a’ sense to me!  It also clarifies what my role will be with them boys.  I’ll be help’n mold ‘em into the men we’d all like ‘em to become.”

“See!  I done told ju’ the kid was smart.” Charlie grinned at Lazarus as he put his arm around Blake and pulled him close. “That’s exactly what we want from you, Son.” Charlie added.  Blake smiled then hung his head.

“I’m humbled and honored you men think enough of me to put such trust in me.  I’m yore’ man, Captain Long.  I’ll ride herd on them boys twenty-four hours a day.  You can count on me, Master Charlie.  I’ll make you proud, Sir, I promise.”

“I’m already proud of you, Blake.  You wouldn’t be standing here talking with us if’n I weren’t.  They’ll be more things to discuss, but in the meantime, pack up what you need to take.  You can take your favorite pony if’n you like and your tack.  Just git everything ready and your pony saddled up.  You’ll still be my slave, but you’ll be working under Master Hoot and Cotton.  If I remember correctly, they’s the ones what trained you.”

“Yes, Sir, Master Charlie.  I ain’t got me no problems working under Master Hoot and Master Cotton.  They’s good men, and I’d be right proud to have them for my Masters.”

“Good,— you got any more questions?  This is gonna’ be a seat of the pants type thing so we expect you to have a bunch a’ question.  Don’t never be afraid to ask.”

“I won’t, Master Charlie.  You done taught me that.  Did Master Hoot and Cotton bring along a horse trailer?” Blake asked.

The men laughed.

“You won’t need no horse trailer, Son.  We’ll explain when you git chore’ gear together and saddle your pony.  You’re gonna’ be learning about some new, strange and wonderful things you never could’ve imagined before.  Just go with it, but keep it to yourself.  Them boys will have to have medical exams, and you’ll be the one responsible for taking the boys to Master Long’s ship and back.  You’ll learn a lot of knew things you have to keep to yourself.  You can’t share it with nobody other than your masters.”

“I promise.  I won’t let you down, Master Charlie.”

“I know you won’t, Blake.  I trust you to do the right thing.”

“We ain’t done medicals on any of yore’ slaves, boss.  I think it’s time we started.  What about Hank and Blake?  Hank can show Blake the ship.”

“Good idea.  The slaves should be given medical check ups.  They need to get their long-shots.”  Charlie winked at the three men and chuckled, “I can’t remember when I last took a slave to the vet.  I should take ever’ damn one of ‘em ever’ three years.  None of ‘em never complain about nothing.  I jes’ assume they’s all right.”  Charlie thought out loud.

“Okay, tomorrow is Friday.  We ain’t got nobody scheduled for tomorrow so you come on back here tomorrow morning, and Hank will take you on board the ship.  I gotta’ be with the slaves, but you’ll be taken good care of."  said Lazarus
“I’ll say.” added Hoot in deference to the Captain’s naked androids.

“What’s a ‘long-shot,’ Master Charlie?” asked Blake.

“Hank Morgan will explain it to you, Son.  H’it ain’t nothing bad.”  responded Lazarus.

“We all got the shot.” added Cotton.  Hoot nodded in agreement, grimaced and rubbed his butt.  The men laughed at his exaggeration.

“You go on and git chore’ stuff together and report back here a soon as you got ever’ thing, Son.  We’ll see you then.” Charlie told him.

“Thanks, Master Charlie,— Captain Long.”  Blake turned and ran off to the slave quarters.

“Now, gentlemen, along with being a fine cowboy, a good man, and one fine fuck, Blake Tindell has other talents.  Lazarus already knows about them.  Blake was one of the craftsmen what done some work for me and Captain Long.  He’s a journeyman carpenter, knows all about plumbing, electrical and building.  He’s your man to get your new slave-quarters built.  He can draw up plans and tell you down to the penny what it will cost you to build it.”  Charlie bragged about his slave.

“And, you got five strong boys to build it for you.  Let him teach them as he goes.  If things work out the way I think they might, let Blake be their slave-trustee crew leader and become the big brother or daddy they never had.  It’s the way Blake looks on you men today.  You trained him to be a slave, and he looks up to you as his parents.  I know it sounds crazy, but it happens.  You set him on the same road we’re gonna’ try to set them boys on.  Let him teach them how to do plumbing.  Let him teach them how to be carpenters.  It may take longer to get it built, but they’ll be proud of if when they move into it, and they'll take care of it like it was their home.”

“In the meantime, we’re a little worried about where we’re gonna’ put ‘em all.  We got us a full complement of slaves right now.”  Cotton complained.

“It’s the dead of winter right now.  Put ‘em in the loft in the barn.  Blake’s a cowboy.  He ain’t no stranger to bunk’n it in a loft.  It’ll be warm enough for ‘em, and let ‘em eat slave chow like all the other slaves.”

“Oh, yes, and I want my slave back over here every Sunday afternoon for dinner.  He eats biscuits and slave chow most of the time; however, the slaves supplement their chow with fresh vegetables, and I let ‘em begin to raise rabbits for meat last year.  So far it’s worked out great.  I want him having one good home cooked meal a week.  I want him to report to me and our ramrod how he’s doing and what’s going on with them boys.  You men are welcome to join him for Sunday dinner if you like.”

Hoot and Cotton laughed at Charlie’s concern for his slave but agreed to his terms.

“As soon as Blake comes up with a price for your new slave-quarters let me know, and I’ll git chu’ the money to buy materials.  Have him build it with enough room for you men to expand yore’ business.  Hell, make it two stories with four wings; baths with showers, multiple sinks and toilets on each end for each wing and a common room in the middle for each floor.  If’n you wanna’ build small single private rooms for each man, do it.

If’n you’re gonna’ need a new chow hall for your slaves, let me know, and it can be their next project.  By the time them boys git through building their own slave-quarter, they’re gonna’ be pert-damn good junior craftsmen.  It’s up to you.  Them’s jes’ suggestions, but if I tell you to build it big, take advantage of it.  I ain’t jes’ blow’n smoke up yore’ butts.  Cain’t say’s I’d mind doing it to either one a’ you cowboys, but chu’ git what I mean.”

“Yes, Sir, and we certainly appreciate it.  How you plan on git’n ‘em boys checked out on yore’ ship without them put’n two and two together, Master Lazarus?”  Hoot asked.

“Simple.  I’ll have Cable show Blake how to give the boys a shot.  We’ll check ‘em one by one.   Probably one a week if’n we don’t have someone else scheduled.  Blake can check with Cable each evening.  He gives ‘em a shot, they go to sleep on an antigrav-Gurney sitting on a bale of hay, he activates the antigrav mechanism, activates the portal, and takes them through to sickbay.  They remain in twilight sleep for several hours.  They’ll be just awake enough to answer questions if asked, and if they recall the experience at all, it’ll be like a weird dream.  Guess who we stole the drug from?  Them nasty little grey critters.  I want each boy to lay in front of the Kryscellians for an hour to have them correct any minor flaws they might find.  That ought a’ be weird enough for any man let alone them boys.  I never know what them critters is gonna’ come up with next.  Glad to have ‘em aboard, though.  They saved our butts several times.”  The men shared a laugh.

The men talked until Blake Tindell returned with a duffle bag of his cloths and extra pair of boots, a bedroll behind his saddle on his pony.  All his stuff was neatly arranged on this pony so he wouldn’t have to be lugging it around.  He didn’t know how long he’d have to be carrying it.  

“You ready to go, Son?” Charlie asked him.

“I’m ready, Master Charlie.  I’m looking forward to a new adventure, Sir.”

“Gimme’ a hug, boy.” Charlie held his arms open for Blake.  The handsome young man went to him and Charlie enfolded him in his arms.  Blake hugged him back.  “Damn, I feel like you’s one of my boys going out into the world.  Ah, hell, you is one a ma’ boys, Blake.  I know you’re the man for this job, Son.  Do me proud.”

“I will, Master Charlie,— you’ll see.”

The men walked down to the barn and Blake walked between Charlie and Lazarus.  He didn’t know why they were going into the barn, but he wasn’t going to ask.  When they went behind the bales of hay stacked to the ceiling he began to get a little suspicious.  There was nothing there but several horse stalls.   Hoot walked over to a post one of the stall gates hung on and hit it gently with his fist three times.  Suddenly, a door sprang up from nowhere.  It wasn’t like any door Blake ever remembered seeing.  It was obviously a  door to someplace, but there was a blueish electrical charge that looked like water rippling on top of a lake.  You couldn’t see through to the other side.

“Through this portal you’ll step into our barn on our ranch, Son.”  Hoot calmly said to Blake.

“No way!” smiled Blake.

“Yes, way!” grinned Hoot.  “We were just as skeptical as you when we first went through one.  Ain’t nothing to it.  It tingles a little like static electricity, but it’s only for a second.  We’ll, go through and wait for you.  Ready, pardner?” Hoot asked Cotton.

“Ready.”  answered Cotton.  The two men disappeared through the gate.  Blake’s mouth was hanging open.

“Go on, Son.  Lead yore’ pony through.  They’re waiting on you.” said Charlie.

“Yes, Sir, Master Charlie.  I guess I’ll git used it.”

“You will, Son, you’ll be going through ‘em ever’ day.  Now git!”  Charlie slapped his pony on the ass, and they walked through the portal together.  Hoot shut it down on his end, and the men walked away.

* * * * * * *

“Dayamn!” said Blake, “That’s awesome.  I cain’t wait to see Captain Long’s ship.  I got me a feel’n it’s a little more advanced than our technology on this planet right now.”

“A lot more advanced, Son.” laughed Cotton, “These gates or portals is tame compared to some of the shit we’ve seen.  Just do like we do and keep it amongst ourselves.”

“I won’t say nothing to nobody, Master Cotton.”

Cotton took him and showed Blake where to unsaddle his pony and where to put his tack.  He put his duffle bag aside.  Cotton told him he and the boys would probably be bunking it in this barn temporarily until they could get something built.  They were counting on his abilities to help plan and build a new slave-quarters.

“Like I done told Master Charlie, I’m yore’ man, Master Cotton.”

“We want you to take over them boys and teach them how to build, plumb and become craftsmen.  Every one of ‘em.  We want them to become your crew.”

“I can do that, Sir.  I got a feeling this is gonna’ be a fine job, but it ain’t gonna’ be easy.  Them boys is probably gonna’ fight me ever’ step of the way.”

“You may be right, Blake, but we’re here to back you up.  Hoot won’t put up with any nonsense from them boys.  He’ll whip ‘em into shape pert-damn quick.   Let’s go down and you can meet ‘em.  You say you already know ‘em?”

“Yes, Sir.  I don’t know if’n they remember me, but I used to rodeo with their uncle.  He’d dead now.  Got run over by his own cultivator.  He was in five pieces when they found him.”

“Damn, what a way to go.”  mused Cotton.

The men got to the recreation room where the slaves could gather to read or play games on their time off.  There was no T.V.  Sometimes Hoot would take out a portable T.V. if there was a good game on, and the men had worked hard and been good.  The boys were inside and there were several other slaves sitting around talking with them.  

Hoot hadn’t had his introductory talk with the boys.  He was waiting to talk with Captain Long and Master Charlie to find out exactly how they wanted him to approach the boy’s training.  He stood up and motioned for Cotton and Blake to have a seat.

“Okay, boys, it’s time you meet your new Masters and hear what’s gonna’ be expected of you.  You all know who I am,— right?  You will call me Master Hoot, Master Austin, or Sir.  You will begin and end every sentence or question with ‘Sir.’ Got that?”

“Yes, Sir.”  was the weak reply.  A couple didn’t respond at all.

“I didn’t hear you!” Hoot shouted.

“Yes, Sir!” they all shouted together.

You all know my partner,— Master Cotton Daniels.  You will refer to him as Master Cotton, Master Daniels or ‘Sir,’— got that!”

“Yes Sir!” they all shouted in unison.

“Better.  Needs work, but it’s better.  This gentleman sitting here is a cowboy-slave from another ranch.  His name is Blake Tindell.  How many of you know him?”

The three oldest boys raised their hands.  The younger two drew a blank.

“Okay, good.  He’s a slave jes’ like you, but one who has earned his Master’s trust and has been loaned to us to be you men’s crew leader.  You will refer to him as Mr. Tindell, or Sir.  You may also call him ‘crew leader’ or ‘boss,’ because he will be your boss.  He will be more than that during your three months of training.  He will also be your teacher.  Do you understand?” Hoot shouted at them.

“Sir!  Yes, Sir.”  they shouted in reply.

“Now, do you have any questions?  This will be the only time I’ll answer your questions.”

 The oldest boy held up his hand.

“Yes, Burton?”

“How long we gonna’ be enslaved?”

There was no answer.  The boys began to get nervous.  They looked from one to the other and then at Burton.  The next oldest spoke.

“The man jes’ done got through tell’n you how to address him, you dork.  He ain’t gonna’ answer your question until you obey him!”

Burton hung his head.

“I’m sorry, Sir.  I ain’t used to it yet.  Please, let me try again, Sir.”

“All right, try again, big’un.” Hoot allowed.

“Master Hoot, Sir, how long are we gonna’ have ta’ be slaves.  Nobody’s told us nothing.  This is all a shock to us.  We been ripped up out of our home and sold into slavery by our dad.  It’s hard to accept, Sir.”  Hoot thought for a minute the big boy was going to shed a tear, but he held it back.

“You and your brothers have been sold by your father into a lifetime of slavery.  You will be slaves for the rest of your lives.”

“Sir!  No, Sir.” Burton said shaking his head, “Our daddy wouldn’t do that to all of us.  Maybe me, ‘cause I’ll admit, I ain’t been the best son to him I could a been, but then he ain’t been the best of dads neither, Sir.  He wouldn’t sell my brother’s into a lifetime of slavery.  My youngest brother is only thirteen, Sir.”

“Didn’t chore’ daddy sell yore’ youngest brother, Caleb, for dog food?  You boys ever hear how they do it?  The boy was still alive when he was thrown, screaming into a huge grinder?  Can you imagine the horror of his last few moments of life.  A few seconds later his body was ripped apart, ground into a meat mush and packed tightly into small cans, cooked to sterilize it and sent off to supermarkets.  Wasn’t that yore’ daddy what done that to him?”

There was a stunned silence in the room.  Hoot’s graphic description of Caleb’s last few moments of life stunned them.  It was obvious they never stopped long enough to think about it.  The two youngest started weeping.  

“Yes, Sir, it was him.”  Burton paused for a minute, “Then, I guess it’s true, our daddy did sell us into a lifetime of slavery.”

The two younger boys began to sob.  Burton went over to them and put his arms around them.

“Hey, hey!  We’re still together.  Maybe our owner will keep us together as a family.  A lot of slaves never see their family again.  May I ask another question, Sir?”

“Good ahead on, Son.”

“What about school, Sir?  We ain’t real good students, but I was due to graduate this year.”

“School is no longer a right for you men.  You may attend school only by the graciousness and generosity of your owner.  He done told me those of you who show a willingness to work hard, conform to being a good salve, and keep a healthy attitude may git to go to school next year; however, you must understand one important thing,— school will now be a privilege for you and not a right.  If you work hard this year and have no major bad marks against you, you may git to go to school next year.  If not, you’ll remain just a dumb slave cowboy doing manual labor the rest of your lives.  It’s up to you, gentlemen.  As for you, Burton, you’ll have to repeat your senior year in highschool.  I know you may think that’s a bad thing, but think about it another way,— you git to play football one more year.”

Burton’s face brightened a little at that.  His other three younger brothers liked the sound of that because they were on the team.

“Any more question?”

“Naw, Sir, Master Hoot,— I guess we’re ready to hear what you have to say, Sir.”

“Okay!  As a slave you have no rights.  You’ll be trained and treated as any other slaves.  You will be used at your master’s and yore’ boss’ discretion.  You will be taught to pleasure a man.”

Burton held up his hand.

“Master Hoot, does that mean what I think it means, Sir.”  the cowboys in the room chuckled and nodded their heads.  Burton got his answer before Hoot could answer.

“I hoped I wouldn’t have to spell it out for you, but it’s okay.  I don’t want there being any misunderstanding what I mean.  It means you will learn to take a man’s penis up yore’ butt and be fucked by him until he shoots his load up yore' ass.  You will learn to suck your Master’s and yore’ boss’ penis until you satisfy them and they ejaculate.  You will never, ever spit out a free man’s sperm.  You will swallow it, and afterward, complement him on how good it tasted.  You will also thank him for allowing you the honor of pleasuring him.  It’s part of being a slave and being broken as a slave.”

“Sir, that’s disgusting!” said Burton.

“You didn’t think so the last few times you buggered your youngest brother sitting there.  You been fucking him for several months now.”

“How’d ju’ know that, Sir?”  Burton shouted and looked accusingly at his youngest brother.  Burton’s other brothers looked accusingly at him.

“I didn’t.  It was a lucky guess, but now I know.  What did all of you do to yore’ youngest brother what got him ground up for dog food?  You made him suck you off until yore’ daddy caught you.  Then you lied and told him he begged you to let him suck you off.   You’re as much to blame for his death as yore’ daddy.”

“Naw, Sir, Master Hoot.  He did beg us, Sir.”  all the boys agreed with Burton.

“Of course he did.  It was the only way he could get any affection from you; that is, when he wasn’t busy waiting on you hand and foot.  You made a slave out a’ that boy.  You kept him locked up in a four by five foot cage.  You made him piss and shit in a bucket.  You wouldn’t even allow him to go to the bathroom.  Some brothers you were!”  Hoot spat his words at them condemningly.

“He was a queer, Master Hoot.  He loved to suck our dicks.” insisted Burton.

“Did you ever show him any affection?  Did you love him in return?  Did you ever tell him ‘thank you’ after he sucked you off?”

“Naw, Sir.  We ain’t queers.  We’s taught you don’t never love no queer.  He wasn’t like us no ways, Master Hoot.  He was a freak.”

“And you think that gave you the right to mistreat and abuse him?  He was your brother, Burton!  He was your brother as much as any one of them four boys sit’n next to you.  Caleb had a clef palate what could a’ been corrected by surgery.  Other than that, he was jes’ like you.  You made him a queer.  Now you’re gonna’ git chore turn at being queers.  You will be used for sex by anyone I decided to give you to and you will do your best to please the man.  If not, you will suffer the consequences.”

“Sir, meaning no disrespect, but we’ll never do nothing like that.”

All the slaves broke up laughing.  Burton saw Blake smile at him and shake his head.

“Yes, you will, boy!” one of the biggest, roughest looking slaves spoke up. “You boys better git used to the idea.  Master Hoot done told ju’ the truth.  H’it’s jes’ part of being a slave.  All us slaves had to learn to do it.  Why should you be any different?  None of us wanted to do it, neither.  You either go along with the program, or they’ll strap you to a table and do it anyway.  Take it from a slave what resisted it all the way.  H’it’s a hell of a lot easier cooperating with yore’ Master than it is being raped by him.”

“May I say something, Master Hoot.”  Blake asked.

“Shore’ son, say anything you like.”

“As yore’ teacher and slave-wrangler I promise I won’t never ask you to do nothing I wouldn’t do or ain’t done myself.”  
“I don’t believe a cowboy like you would suck a man’s dick or let him fuck you.  You used to be a professional rodeo rider.  You rode with ma’ uncle Joe.  He used to tell me you was one hell of a man and cowboy.  Said you always had his back and could kick any man’s butt.  You’re jes’ tell’n us that so’s you can pass us around among you as sex toys.”

Blake fell to his knees in front of Hoot.

“May I Master?”  he asked.  Hoot knew immediately what Blake had in mind.

“Of course you got my permission, Son.  Go for it!”

The boys watch in awe as the handsome, masculine cowboy unzipped Hoot’s Wranglers, removed his big dick and started making love to it.  Hoot gave him permission to take him, and Blake deep throated him.  Burton and a couple of the boys gasped.  The three younger boys were blushing and lowered their heads so they wouldn’t have to watch.

“I want every eye on my slave here.  The first man to drop his eyes or turn his head away, will git five stripes with the cane.  Now, watch, damn you!”

Blake was just about through.  He had Hoot roaring hard.  

“I’m ready, Son.” Hoot spoked gently to him.  Blake stood, turned his back to Hoot, undid his cowboy belt buckle and dropped his Wranglers to his boot tops.

“Take me, Master, I’m clean.”

Blake bent over a little, more for effect than anything else.  Hoot spat on his hand and helped lube his roaring hard cock with it.  He placed the big head at Blake’s rose bud.  He put both hands on Blake’s shoulders and with one swift but sure motion, he sunk his ample penis all the way to the balls.  The boys watched in horror as Hoot’s big bull-like balls slapped against Blake’s butt.  Blake stood up straight and Hoot wrapped his arms around the cowboy’s front.  

“Watch them, Cotton!”  Hoot ordered his partner, “If one of ‘em dares turn his eyes away, he gets four lashes with the cane.”  instructed Hoot to his partner.

Hoot took one gentle stroke into Blake’s ass.  The other cowboys in the room couldn’t believe what they were seeing.  It was one of the hottest things they’d experienced.  One ran out the door to tell the others, and soon the rest of the slaves came into the common room.  Some were gathered around the windows watching their Master fuck the new slave.   

“Damn, you feel good, Master Hoot.  You’re welcome in my ass anytime, Sir.”

“Lord, don’t tell me that, Son.” Hoot said quietly and chuckled.
He began to fuck Blake in earnest.  Blake responded to him like it was the best thing to ever happen to him.  He made it every bit as sensual and provocative as the night of the slave ceremony with Master Charlie.  He was working his ass making it the best fuck for Master Hoot he could.  Hoot worked himself to the point he was ready to shoot.  He hollered to Blake to come with him, and the men climaxed together.  Blake’s come shot six feet into the air as Hoot Austin filled his ass with hot, cowboy cream.

The boys were mesmerized.  They couldn’t believe what they just saw.  The oldest boy, Burton, had a look of disgust on his face and shook his head from side to side like he didn’t want any part of it; however, he knew down deep in his gut, he had no choice.  He and his brothers were now slaves and subject to the whims of their owner and Masters.  Burton vowed to himself he would fight them all the way.  He wondered how a big, handsome, masculine cowboy like Blake Tindell could actually seem to be enjoying something like that?  How could he like being fucked in his butt?  There was no doubt he was erotically aroused from the amount of come he shot halfway across the room.  All the cowboys in the room and at the window yelled and applauded for the show they just saw.  Blake turned and fell to his knees in front of Hoot.  He carefully cleaned his Master’s cock with his mouth and returned it to his Wranglers.

“Thanks for the fine fucking, Master Hoot.  It was an honor and privilege to serve you, Sir.”

“My pleasure, Son.” replied Hoot.

“I only hope these boys learned something from what they just witnessed, Master Hoot.  They can make it hard on themselves or they can learn to enjoy it.  It’s up to them.  Believe me, gentlemen, I fought it more than you ever considered, but I finally came around to the idea, if I wanted to git through life as a slave, I’d better start adjusting my thinking.  Once I broke, I never had me another problem.  I learned to accept my fate and make the best of it.  I’m a happy slave, and I plan to see you become like me.  There ain’t no sense going though life being miserable, but I guarantee you, you will be miserable if’n you don’t cooperate and learn what you’re taught.  Take it day by day, and I’ll be here to help you.  I ain’t gonna’ be yore’ mother or your daddy; not even a big brother.  I ain’t here to wipe your noses or your butts.  I’m yore’ boss and you will do what I tell you, when I tell you, because if’n you don’t, I have to explain to my boss why you didn’t, and gentlemen, you don’t wanna’ put me in that position.  Do I make myself clear?”

“Sir, yes, Sir!” they answered in unison.

“Now, gather your stuff.  You’re staying in the loft of the barn with me tonight.”

Several of Hoot and Cotton’s slaves came around to shake hands with Blake, introduce themselves and welcome him to the ranch.  They told him how much they admired what he did for the boys that evening, but they also slapped him on his back and told him it was one of the hottest things they ever experienced.

“You gonna’ be all right with them until morning, Son?” Hoot asked Blake.

“Yes, Sir.  I think so.  They gotta’ be emotionally exhausted.  I’ll give ‘em a pep talk before going to sleep.  What shall I do about them eating supper, Sir?”

“Wait until me or Cotton comes and gets you.  We’ll take ‘em to the chow hall after the other men eat.  I don’t think they’ll be room for everyone, and I don’t want them overexposed to some of them hardcore cowboys, if’n you git my drift.”

“I understand, Sir.  I’ll help ‘em git settled in.”

The boys followed Blake to the barn with what little they were allowed to bring along.  Hoot and Cotton had taken over a couple of trusted slaves to help with the boy’s belongings.  The old man didn’t have any use for things like their clothes, and it would save time and money if they didn’t have to go out an buy new clothes for them right away.  They knew it wouldn’t be a problem with Lazarus.  They knew he would give them the money; however, being ex-slaves they learned how to be frugal and squeeze a nickle until the buffalo shit.

The slaves were instructed to box up each boy’s clothes, boots and shoes, if any and put them in the back of Cotton’s truck along with the two older boy’s computers.  They weren’t interested in personal items.  The boys didn’t have all that much.  Mr. Stamper had been living on a shoestring for a couple of years and didn’t have the money to go out and buy them new clothes.  What money he got from odd jobs or the sale of stock was usually spent in the bar.

The family washer and dryer were broken.  If the boys wanted clean clothes, they had to wash them by hand in the bathtub or sometimes the old man would take them to the Laundromat down the street from the bar he drank in.  Burton was the only boy allowed to come into the bar to tell his dad when they were through.  He would take them home only when he finished drinking.  Sometimes the boys would have to wait in the cold truck for hours until their old man had his fill and staggered out of the bar.  The ride home could be perilous.  Burton would ride by his dad’s side and wake him when he started to fall asleep.  A couple of times he pulled the truck over to the side of the road, handed Burton the keys, told him to drive and passed out.  Burton would always get them home safely.

The boys were almost exactly one year apart in their ages.  The next youngest boy was Philip.  Everyone called him Phil.  He was going to be a carbon copy of his older brother.  Burton was seventeen, soon to be eighteen.  Phil was sixteen and wouldn’t be seventeen until the summer.

Next was the fifteen year old Samuel.  He was called Sam.  He could have been a Xerox copy of his two older brothers, except he probably had the best personality of the five boys.  Sam was one of those kids who was good natured, loved life and had a genuine interest and trust in people.  Sometimes it hurt him when he found out people weren’t as good natured as he was; however, he rebounded quickly and moved on.  Nothing seemed to bother Sam; not even being enslaved.  He just accepted it, and was the first to realize if that’s the way it was going to be, by God, he was going to make the best of it.

As sometimes happens in the wonderful world of genetics, the fourteen year old, Jebadiah, looked like he could’ve been the mailman’s son or the product of a number of other men in the community.  Everyone knew that couldn’t be the case.  Elvira Stamper was a church woman of great inner strength and religious convictions.  Whatever she suffered, she suffered in silence.  She silently suffered too much pain in her lower abdomen while praying for a miracle to make it go away.  Her laconic stoicism cost her her life.  When she was finally taken to the hospital, it was too late.  A simple colonoscopy a year earlier would have saved her.

Jeb didn’t look anything like his four brothers; however, he did look a lot like Elvira’s older brother, whom Elam Stamper hated.  Jeb was the best looking of the five and had a natural body that made him stand out like a sore thumb from the rest of the boys.  The other four were built on the big boned, brutish side.  They had sandy blond hair, but Jeb’s hair was jet-black.  It was also noticeably apparent to Hoot and Cotton when they examined the boys nude, Jeb was the best endowed.  He was also considerably brighter than the other four boys.  He was more like his younger brother Caleb than his other brothers.  He was a natural born athlete and excelled in any sport he decided to participate in.  His brothers were plodders, mentally and physically.  Jeb’s mind and body moved with the grace of a panther.

The last brother was Ezekiel.  He was thirteen and another copy of his three oldest brother; however, they all had brown eyes and Zeke had blue-green eyes.  The last three boys, including Caleb, had blue eyes, only Zeke’s tended to the green side.  He was also a handsome young man.  He got more of his mother’s good looks than his older three brothers, Jeb notwithstanding.  He was also more than adequately endowed.

None of the boys could account for the size of their appendages.  They were all considerably larger than their sire.  It was mentioned Elam Stamper may have suffered from penis envy of his sons, and it could have been the deciding factor for him to get rid of them.   

* * * * * * *

Before he took the boys to the barn, Blake asked Hoot to show him the common room.  It was a huge room and to Blake’s surprise it had toilets, lavatories, and shower facilities at one end.

“This ain’t been used as a common room all the time, has it, Master Hoot?”  asked Blake knowing the answer before Hoot told him.

“Charlie’s right, you are a smart lad.  No, it was once a slave-quarter, but when we took over the ranch we built a newer, more comfortable slave-quarter.  We just turned this building into a common or recreation room for the slaves.  Hardly any of the plumbing works.  One toilet over there works.  The men use if they don’t want to go outside or walk back to the slave-quarters.  You got some’um on your mind, Son?”

“This is your temporary slave-quarters for the boys.  I can fix the plumbing and bring it up to livable condition.  Our first project could be to build a partition to separate this area from the rest of the room for the boys and me.  We would only need about a quarter of the total space in this room.  I could add a door for some privacy and the men could still have most of the space for their common room.  Once we get the new slave-quarters built, we can return it to its original size, or you could leave it for emergencies.  From the sounds of it, you never know when Master Long is gonna’ surprise you with more slaves.”

“You know,— you’re right, Son.  That’s a great idea.  Don’t know why my partner and I didn’t think of it.  Of course we don’t have your knowledge of building and repairs.  Tomorrow,— after you git back from the Bandersnatch,— .”

“The WHAT?”  interrupted Blake.  Hoot laughed.

“Guess you ain’t never heard the name of the Captain’s ship.  He calls it the Bandersnatch.” Hoot winked at him, “Crazy name, but you gotta’ know the Captain to appreciate the humor of it.”

“I’ll take you word for it, Sir.” Blake laughed.

“Anyway, when you get back from the ship, I’d like you to draw up some plans of what you wanna’ do. I got some large drafting tablets in the house.  I tried my hand at designing a few things.  Finally gave up when I realized I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.  We’ll git busy and git you the supplies you need.  It’ll be more comfortable for you and the boys.  It won’t make their lives seem quite so bleak.  How long would you guestimate before you and the boys could move in, Son?”

“We can have the room partitioned off by the end of the week.  Depending on how much help I git out of the boys we can take care of the rest of the repairs the following week.  I don’t see more’n two weeks total from the time we git the materials.  I’ll need a skill saw and some power tools.”

“You write down what chu’ need.  If you need other power tools you think would be helpful list ‘em.  We’ll git ‘em for you.  If you need several so the boys can have access to them, order them.  Whatever you think you need.  If’n you need plumbing tool, list ‘em.”

“I’ll get busy on it right after I get back from the ship.  I won’t be groggy or nothing will I, Master Hoot?”

“No, not at all.  You won’t even know you had the long-shot.  You better brace yore’self, Son.  When Hank Morgan tells you about the long-shot you’re gonna’ lose control of yore’ asshole.  Cotton and me,— well, we still can’t believe it.  H’it ain’t nothing bad,— it’s probably the most wonderful thing that will ever happen to you.”

“Damn, Sir.  You make it sound so mysterious.”

“We done told you to open yore’ mind and jes’ accept what comes.  It ain’t so mysterious as it is wonderful.  You’ll see.”

* * * * * * *

Blake took the boys to the barn to get them settled in.  They were surprised to find some of their stuff in five separate boxes.  It was mostly more clothes but there were a few articles the slaves figured the boys might like to have with them.  They hoisted the boxes up to the loft to get them out of the way.

When Hoot came to get them for chow, he brought in a couple of empty five gallon plastic buckets laundry soap comes in for them to use for urinals or sit on if they had to shit.  He also had a roll of toilet paper.  He put them in a dark corner of one of the far stalls so there would be no unpleasant odors.  They would be responsible for emptying them in the morning.  He explained what they were for.  The boys didn’t say anything or have any question.  They figured they could ask Blake.   Hoot went on to tell them their boss would be busy for the better part of the morning and unavailable for them.  He was leaving early in the morning.  He and Cotton would come out to get them and take them to morning chow.

The boys had their first experience with slave chow.  Blake was a bit surprised they ate it without much complaint.  From the looks of them, they probably needed the nutrition slave chow could provide they weren’t getting at home.  Only the two youngest didn’t finish their chow.

After supper, everyone settled down for the night.  There were no evening showers or bushing of teeth.  The slaves reported they only found one old toothbrush in the boys bathroom, but it wasn’t worth taking.  Toothpaste was a luxury Elam Stamper couldn’t afford for his boys; however, there was always enough money for him to drink and buy for his booze hound buddies.  Hoot made a mental note to correct that as soon as possible.

Blake saw to it every boy had a bedroll.  Hoot and Cotton went out and bought five new bedrolls,— the best the store had.  Cotton figured if the boys had to sleep in bedrolls for a while they should be warm and comfortable.  They would have beds for them soon enough.  Both men believed you got more work out of a slave if he’s had a good night’s sleep.

The boys were not shy about being nude around each other and obviously slept in the raw at home.  They all shucked off their clothes and sat in their bedrolls waiting for Blake to talk with them.  Blake took off his clothes and a couple of the boys stared at the power and beauty of his body.  Blake Tindell looked like a young God to them.  Even laconic Burton was impressed by the man’s masculine beauty.  He just couldn’t understand what went on earlier and how willingly Blake participated, even to the point of initiating sex between him and Hoot.  Blake settled into his bedroll.

“I guess you guys have a lot of worries.  I know I did when I was first enslaved, but fortunately I had a wonderful Master who trained me properly and made me the slave I am today.  I admire him and love him very much.”

“Who was yore’ slave trainer, boss?” Sam asked.

“Your new Master, Hoot Austin.  One of the finest slave trainers in the state of Texas, bar none.   He’s probably on a par with Master Birdsall.” The boys heard of Bill Birdsall.  He was a legend in the state of Texas.

“Sir, didn’t you stay with him and Master Cotton?”

“No, Son, I was sold to a fine young Master.  One of the famous Goodnight brothers; Master Charlie Goodnight; another man I love very much.”

“We go to school with his boy, Waco, Sir.” said Zeke motioning to Jeb.

“You mean we went to school with him, brother.”  Jeb corrected him.

“Yes, Sir.  That’s what I meant.”  Zeke said quietly.

“Look, gentlemen, you’re gonna’ be okay.  You’re gonna’ be looked after every day.  You’re gonna’ be fed well and get a lot of fresh air and exercise.  You’re gonna’ be helping me build us a temporary place to live where we can have regular beds and a bathroom with all the facilities we need.  Then you’ll help me build a brand new slave-quarter for us.  From what I hear it’s gonna’ be huge, and I get to design it.  You can give me ideas if you have any.  I’m gonna’ teach you how to use tools and do carpentry, dry-walling, plumbing and electrical work.  You’re gonna’ learn things that will be useful to you all your life.”

“Don’t chu’ mean we’re gonna’ be trained to be workhorses, boss?”  Burton asked sarcastically.

“Depends on the way you wanna’ look at it, Burt.  You could look at it that way or you could look at it as an opportunity to better yourself.  I didn’t know nothing about building or fix’n stuff when I was first enslaved; however, I had an older slave I still work with ever’ day on Master Goodnight’s ranch take me under his wing and patiently teach me how to do  things.  Why do you think he done it, Burt?”

“Because he was ordered to?” shot back Burton.

“No,— he had his pick of any cowboy there.  He picked two men.  Me and another, middle aged cowboy, but he picked us ‘cause we told him we was willing to try.  No one else was willing.  He taught us everything we know about the building trades and there weren’t much the old man didn’t know.  If fact, after we git them plans drawn up I’m gonna’ take ‘em to him for his final approval.  He’s always got some good suggestions what makes things better and easier.”

“Do you know who bought us, Mr. Tindell?” Sam asked Blake.

“Yes, Sam, I do.  All I can tell you is he’s a fine man and a good Master.  If you have to be slaves, you don’t know how lucky your are to be owned by him.”

“If’n he’s so good, Sir, what would he want with five boys?” asked Burton.

“He has his reasons, and even though you might not think so, they’re good reasons.  Beyond that, I can’t tell you more.  You don’t need to know the reasons for everything when you’re a slave.  You jes’ accepted your situation and trust your Master will take good care of you.  For right now, all you have to remember is Master Hoot and Master Cotton are your Masters.  I’m your crew leader and boss.  I’ll expect you to do as you’re told without backtalk and do your best.  I will only accept your best.  Every man has in him the potential to be the very best he can.  I plan to bring out the best in you men.  I promise you, after three months of training you won’t recognize yourselves.  Right now, we need to get some sleep.  Morning comes early around here.  Does anyone need to use the buckets down in the end stall?”  

No one responded.  Blake reached up and pulled the string attached to the one bare bulb in the loft and all was dark, except there was some ambient light from a light in the front of the barn over the door that was left on all night.

The boys were soon asleep and Blake lay there listening to their soft breathing thinking to himself how lucky he was to have a good Master like Charlie Goodnight.  This was his opportunity to show him how much he had learned and changed over the years under his influence and ownership.  He was hoping the boys would come to look upon him with some affection.  He didn’t know why he needed it, but they seemed so lost and frightened,— just like he was,— once upon a time,— not so long ago.

End Chapter 17 ~ Waco’s Lummox
Copyright 2006 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All Rights Reserved ~
Mail to: waddiebear@yahoo.com