By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 18   

Blake Tindell was up earlier than the boys.  He dressed quietly and went to the big ranch house where Hoot and Cotton lived.  He was pleasantly surprised to see lights on in the kitchen area and a light on the back porch.  He went up the stairs to the screen door and knocked quietly.  He heard Master Hoot holler at him.

“C’mon in, Son, it’s open.”  

Blake walked into the kitchen and greeted his Master.

“Good morning, Son.  Ever’ thing go all right last night?”

“I didn’t have no problems with ‘em, Master.  They slept like babies.  They’re still asleep.  I didn’t wanna’ wake ‘em.  I thought I’d let you do that.”

“Good idea.  You ready to go?  I would invite you to have breakfast with us but it’s gonna’ be a while.  I know Master Charlie will invite you to have breakfast with them.  Best you be on yore’ way.”

The men walked to the older barn and Hoot opened the portal for Blake.  

“Be back as soon as I can, Sir.  Damn!  I don’t know if I’ll ever git used to these gates.”

“Yeah, you will, Son.  As soon as they git chore’ DNA recorded in the computer, the gates will open for you.  You’ll be going through them all the time.  Give our regards to Master Charlie and Captain Long.”

“Will do, Sir.” Blake walked through the gate into the Goodnight barn.  He was a little surprised to find Scraps waiting for him.

“Good morning, Mr. Blake.  Good to see you again.” said Scraps.

“Good morning to you, Scraps.”  Blake automatically reached down and patted Scraps on his head.   It seemed really strange talking to a dog, but Blake remembered what Master Hoot told him ‘to go along with it.’

“I was sent out to bring you to the big house, Sir.”

“Thanks, Scraps.  Lead the way.”  

Scraps took Blake to the back door.  Blake opened it for them and Scraps scurried through first.  Blake followed.  He could see Ida Mae Wallace and young Lucas working in the kitchen.  Lucas was moving like a man on a mission.  Blake heard Scraps tell his mistress,

“Mr. Tindell’s here, Ms. Ida.”

“Good morning young man!  Have a seat over there at the table.  The other men will be along in a minute.  Would you like a cup of coffee?”

“If I’m allowed, Ms. Wallace.  Ain’t had coffee in a long time.”

Lucas poured him a mug of steaming hot coffee, set a pitcher of cream and sugar in front of him and gave him a spoon.

“You’re allowed, Son.” she continued, “You’re a trustee, now.  You’re allowed more privileges than the ordinary slave.”

“Thanks, Lucas.” Blake told Lucas.

“You’re welcome, Mr. Tindell.” Lucas smiled and winked at Blake.

“Call me ‘Blake,’ Son.  We’s buddies, you and me.”

“Respect, Sir.  You’re a trustee now.  I call Hank Morgan, ‘Mr. Morgan.’  He’s the only other trustee on the ranch.”

“His Master done told him to call you that, Son.”  Ida Mae jumped to Lucas’ defense.

“Okay, that’s fine.  I don’t wanna’ go against yore’ Master’s wishes.”

“Don’t mind calling you ‘Mr. Tindell,’ Sir.  You earned it.”  Lucas said.

Blake didn’t know what to say, but about that time Hank Morgan walked into the kitchen from the backdoor followed close behind by JR.  He walked over to Ida Mae and gave her a quick peck on the cheek.  She kissed him back.  He came over to the kitchen table where Blake was sitting.  Blake stood up as Hank offered his hand.

“Good morning, Son, and congratulations on being appointed a trustee.”

“Thanks, Mr. Morgan.  I don’t feel much different.”

Blake and JR exchanged greetings.

“You’ll grow into it.  Jes’ call me Hank, Son.  We’re both trustees now.”

“Thank you, Sir, it will be an honor.”     

Lucas quickly sat a mug of coffee in front of Hank.  JR didn’t drink coffee yet.

“Mornin,’ Mr. Morgan.”  Lucas said quickly then when off to do another chore.

“Mornin’ to you, young man.” he acknowledged Lucas.  He returned his attention to Blake as his took a sip of his hot, black coffee.  “Hear tell you wanna’ know what the ‘long-shot’ is all about?”

“I can’t help be curious, Sir.  Master Hoot said it would be something wonderful.”

“It is.” spoke Ida Mae and Lucas in unison.  They laughed with each other and Hank smiled at them.

“They’re right.  The name Master Charlie give the shot says it all.  It’s jes’ what it says.  It’s a long-shot, but not in the sense of a bet.  ‘Long’ stands for ‘longevity.’” Hank smiled and let his words sink in.  He could see the wheels turning in Blake’s brain but, he wasn’t coming up with any answers.  

“A longevity shot?” Blake mutter to himself.

“Exactly, Son.  It’s jes’ what it says.  It will alter your DNA to allow you to live a long, long time,— almost indefinitely.”

“How long is ‘indefinitely,’ Sir?”

“For centuries, Son.  How old do you think Captain Long is?”

“He’s a young looking man in his early forties.”  Blake allowed.  Lucas and Ida Mae giggled.

“He’s two thousand two hundred and nineteen years old, Son.”



“And have you all received this shot?” Blake asked.

“Yes, Son, young Lucas received it while he was recovering on the Bandersnatch.  JR was one of the first to receive it along with Master Charlie, Waco and his slaves.  Mistress Ida Mae done decided to git the shot when the Captain helped Scraps.  He checked out Ms. Ida and his medical staff made a correction that probably saved her life.”

“I got me one a’ them shots, too, Mr. Blake.”  Scraps chimed in.

“If that’s true it’s amazing.  Does that mean you’ll still be a slave forever, Hank?”

“I don’t think so, Blake.  Master Charlie and Master Long told us there would be adjustments in our sentences.  Even if I have to be a slave for another fifty to a hundred years, to know one day I’ll be a free man would be worth it.  As it is now, I don’t never have me no hope of becoming a free man.  I was sentenced to life as a prisoner-slave; however, when they gimme’ that sentence the life expectancy of a man was anywhere from sixty to ninety years.  They never counted on the possibility of a slave living several hundred years.”

“That’s amazing.  Ever’ one told me I’d be amazed.  I’m looking forward to it.”

“Good!” said Master Charlie as he walked into the kitchen followed by Waco and his crew.  Lucas got a mug of coffee for Master Charlie.  Waco and his boys got their own coffee.

“You had breakfast, Son?” asked Master Charlie.

“Naw, Sir, Master Charlie.  I got up too early and Master Hoot sent me through the gate straight-away.”

“Then you’ll have breakfast with us.  I know Ms. Wallace has already counted on you.”  he winked at Hank and the men chuckled.

“Thank you, Sir.  I’d be honored.”

Lazarus came in the backdoor stomping his boots like he was trying to get feeling back into them from the cold.  He smiled to see everyone there as he took off his heavy coat and hung it on a peg rack next to the door and put his big cowboy hat on top of it.

“Good morning, ever’body.” Lazarus said cheerfully.  They all greeted him.  Lucas had his mug of coffee already fixed the way Lazarus liked it.

“Thank you, Son.”  he said to Lucas as he patted him on his back.

“You’re very welcome, Master.”  Lucas said sincerely.  Blake could tell there was a love and trust that passed between Lucas and Lazarus that was palpable.  He knew, without a doubt, Lazarus looked upon Lucas as his son.  The fact that Lucas was also his slave struck Blake as highly erotic.  He found the feeling almost enviable.  He couldn’t believe his dick was growing hard in his Wranglers.  Somehow, he got the feeling, Lucas’ role as Lazarus slave was not a concern for either of them.  They seemed as comfortable with each other as a cowboy wearing a well worn pair of old boots.

The men sat, had coffee and chatted about the coming day and what needed to get done.  Hank was going with Blake on board the Bandersnatch so most of Charlie’s comments about the ranch were directed to Lazarus.  He carried a small notebook he jotted down things Charlie wanted done.  It fit in the breast pocket of his brown leather vest.   Waco and his boys were helping Ida Mae and Lucas get breakfast on the table.  

Ida Mae told the men breakfast was ready.  Lucas was still scurrying about getting last minute items and Ida Mae brought out hot, homemade biscuits.  The men gathered around the table.  Blake stood next to Hank Morgan.  Lucas returned to the kitchen for a minute and Lazarus spoke softly to Blake so only the men at the table could hear.

“Ever’ thing okay at the other place, Son?”

“Yes, Sir.  They’re still a bit raw about things, but they’s settling in.”

Waco looked at his slave brothers and Lazarus saw a questioning exchange going on between them.  This was something they didn’t know about.  They weren’t quite sure why Blake Tindell was sent to Hoot and Cotton’s ranch.  They were told he was going to build some things for them.

“Good.  You need to get this medical out of the way for several reasons you already know about.” Lazarus called to Lucas to come to breakfast.  Ida took over what he was doing patted him on his cute little butt and sent him in to his Master.  Lucas took his place next to Lazarus and took his hand.  The other men joined hands and Charlie said a blessing for the food, for their day and for their new ventures.  Blake was impressed.

Everyone seemed in a great mood and the boys were congratulating Blake on being appointed a trustee.  He graciously thanked them and noticed Travis and Little Bear referred to him and Mr. Blake or Mr. Tindell.  It made Blake feel just a little more important in the scheme of things.
“Please tell me, Mr. Tindell,” Lucas spoke to Blake directly across the table from him, “do you think the late Caleb Stamper’s brothers will give you much problem as slaves?”

Waco almost choked on his eggs and dropped his fork in his plate.  Travis elbowed Little Bear.  

“Didn’t I tell you?” Travis whispered.

“Shhhh!” scolded Little Bear softly.

There was a silence you could’ve cut with a knife.  Everyone looked at Lazarus for an answer.  Lazarus took his napkin, slowly wiped his mouth and mustache, looked at Lucas and smiled.

“We can’t put much over on you, can we, Son?”

“H’it ain’t that, Dad.  This was an easy one.  I done figured it out when Master Waco, Travis and Little Bear come in from school yesterday and told me they thought it was odd none of Caleb’s brothers were in school Thursday.  I knew in my heart you were gonna’ do it.  It was just a matter of when.  I never told Master Waco, Travis or Little Bear what we discussed or what I thought you was plan’n on doing.  Caleb’s oldest brother, Burt, will be eighteen next month, and I knew if’n you were gonna’ do some’um it had to be before his eighteenth birthday.”

Everyone continued to eat, but no one dared say a word.

“How do you feel about it, Son?”  Lazarus asked in a concerned voice.

“Pleased.  Happy.  Relieved.  Grateful.  All that and a hay wagon load a’ love for you.  They couldn’t be in better hands than Master Hoot’s, Master Cotton’s, and especially, Mr. Tindell’s.  I couldn’t be more pleased and happy  Mr. Tindell’s seeing to them.  You and Master Charlie couldn’t a’ picked a better man for the job.  He’s got my full confidence.  Caleb’s brothers jes’ might have a chance in life now.  God and you gimme’ a wonderful new chance; a great new life where I’m happy to belong.  I couldn’t imagine praying for the life I have now.  I wouldn’t even know’d what to pray for.  While they ain’t Lucas Long’s brothers, I can’t help care about them for Caleb’s sake and wish the best for them.  I’m beginning to believe prayers are heard and answered.  I prayed you would save them from themselves and Caleb’s dad.”

Lazarus put his arm around Lucas and pulled him close.  He stole a kiss and Lucas broke into tears.  He cried into his napkin for a second then quickly got himself together.  Everyone was devastated.  Blake almost shed a tear.  He quickly wiped his eyes with his napkin.

“Thank you, Dad.” Lucas said to Lazarus, “You couldn’t a' given me a better present.”

Blake was stunned by their exchange.  He was impressed the way Lucas referred to his past life as ‘Caleb.’  He also thought his heart would break to hear the boy call Lazarus his ‘dad’ and thank him for enslaving his brothers.  It wasn’t because the boy was vindictive and glad his brothers got theirs.  He was genuinely concerned about them.  Blake knew it was a special moment.  Lucas was telling Lazarus he was his dad now, and what Lazarus did didn’t bother him.  He thoroughly approved of his dad’s actions.  Lazarus smiled at Blake.

“I’d like to hear what you have to say in answer to my son’s question, crew leader Tindell.”  Lazarus spoke softly.

“Gladly, Sir.  They were a bit shaken up yesterday, but I managed to get ‘em settled down.  It was a lot for them to accept.  I think they were emotionally exhausted by the time we hit our bedrolls.  They slept like babies.  They were still asleep when I left this morning.  Master Hoot is gonna’ git ‘em up and take ‘em to the chow hall.  I feel a little guilty not being there with ‘em this morning, but Master Hoot will take over for me.

We’re bunk’n in the barn right now; however, last night we met in the slave’s common room or recreation area.  It’s huge building and has complete facilities.   It was originally a slave quarter.  Only one toilet is working, but it won’t take me long to get ‘em working again.  Master Hoot is gonna’ let us partition off a third of the area for temporary quarters for me and the boys.  When we git the new slave quarters built we can either return it to it’s full size or leave it like it is.  I suggested to Master Hoot he might wanna’ consider leaving it, because he might have other, unexpected slaves before much longer.”

“Excellent!  Good thinking, Son.  You tell Master Hoot I’ll take care of the cost for remodeling the rec center, too.  You tell him I said for you or him to submit all the bills to me directly.  Anything you need, you get.  That includes any tools you might need.”

“I’ll tell him, Sir.” Blake said. “I appreciate your confidence in me.”

“You heard my boy, we all have the same faith in you.”  Lazarus told him.

The talk changed to more lively topics of conversation, and the subject was broached about playing football on Sundays.  Blake didn’t know if he’d be able to get away for Sundays.

“Oh, yes, you will!”  stated Charlie emphatically, “I included that in our agreement to loan you to Hoot and Cotton.  You would be allowed to come for Sunday dinner, have a good meal, relax and let chore’ hair down for a while and play some football.  It wouldn’t be the same without you.  I realize some Sundays you may not be able to make it because of other obligations, but for the most part I expect to see you here on Sundays shortly before noon.  You’re gonna’ need some time away from them boys to keep your head straight.”

“I hadn’t considered that, Master Charlie, but I can see how you might be right.  I appreciate you thinking about me.”

The men finished breakfast.  Lucas gave Blake a hug and a kiss before he left with Hank Morgan.  He told him he meant everything he said, and he was looking forward to playing football with him Sunday.

“If’n I can git away, buddy, I’ll be here.  Glad you know about all this.  I had to do what my Master wanted of me.  I’d never say ‘no’ to Master Charlie, but it did make me feel kind a funny when I thought about you.  I didn’t wanna’ have to do some’um behind yore’ back.  It makes it so much easier for me this way.”

Blake said his ‘goodbyes’ and told Lazarus he planned on going back to Master Hoot’s immediately after his medical exam.

“That’s fine, Son.  Just take it easy and tell the singing crystals we wish them well.”

“Singing crystals, Sir?”

“C’mon, Son, you’ll find out soon enough.”  Hank took him by the arm, and they left for the barn.

“Can I go with ‘em to say ‘hello’ to Cable, David and Jonathan, Ms. Ida?” Scraps asked his Mistress.

“Okay, but I don’t want you staying out there all morning on that ship.  Them boys got work to do with Hank and Mr. Tindell.  They ain’t got time to be entertain’n you, sweet baby.  There’ll be lots a’ time for that later.”

“I promise, I’ll come right back, Ms. Ida.”

“All right, then,— go ahead on.  Say ‘hello’ to Cable and the boys for me.” she hollered.

Scraps was already out the door and caught up with the men.

“Ms. Ida said I could go with you men and say ‘hello’ to Cable and his men.  Then I have to come right back.”

“Fine.  Glad to have you join us.” Hank laughed at Scraps and petted him.

Hank activated the portal and Scraps rushed through.  The men stepped through to find Cable, David and Jonathan making over Scraps and giving him treats.  Blake’s eyes almost popped out of his head.  These were not ordinary men.  They looked almost angelic.  They were perfectly formed, muscular, well endowed, drop dead handsome men, and they were totally naked.  Nobody warned him about Captain Long’s sons.  Hank could see the shock on the young man’s face.

“These gentlemen are Captain Long’s other sons, Blake.” said Hank. “They’re part of his crew.”  Hank proceeded to introduce the androids to him.  The men shook his hand and seemed genuinely happy to meet Blake.  They said they’d heard good things about him.  

“Don’t be afraid to ask us questions if you have any, Mr. Tindell.  I notice you’re a bit uneasy with us.”

“Not uneasy, Mr. Cable,— just curious.” Blake replied.

“No ‘Misters’ here, Mr. Blake.  Call us only by our name.”

“Then, please,— call me ‘Blake,’ Sir.  I’m a slave.  I’m jes’ used to showing all freemen respect.”

“Fine, we will be honored to call you ‘Blake.’  We are not like you and Mr. Morgan, Sir.  Our father, Captain Long, had us made.  We are bio-mechanoids or as Captain Long calls us, androids.”

“They ain’t robots, Son.” spoke up Hank, “They’re highly sophisticated and intelligent men.  They are classified as sentient, because they think, reason, have emotions like you and me, and can feel anger and love.  They are physically just like you and me, and ‘yes’ they are capable of having sex and enjoying it as much as us.  They’re capable of a great range of emotions, but mostly they are fine men dedicated to their father.”

“Well said, Mr Morgan.  We love our father very much.  He is our creator.  We are his sons.”

Scraps said his ‘goodbyes’ to the men and left through the portal.  He could swear he smelled the faint scent of a female dog in sickbay even though there were lots of other smells on top of it.  It must have been some time ago.  Maybe Captain Long helped another dog like he helped him.  He had to tell his Mistress about it.  Scraps ran as fast as he could to the house and the boys let him in on their way out to school.

“Have a good day, men.” He told them.

“You, too, Scraps.  See ya’ this afternoon, pal.” said Waco.

Scraps ran into the kitchen and found Ida Mae relaxing, having another cup of coffee.  Lucas was washing up the last of the pots and pans.  Together they had the kitchen cleaned up in no time.  Lucas was a God-send to Ida.  She never asked for him to help her.  He just started in to work for her and pick her brain how to take care of his Master.  It was a mutually rewarding relationship.

“Oh, good, you’re back.  I saved some goodies for you, darlin.’”

“Wonderful.  Thanks, Ms. Ida.”  Scraps said as she set the plate of food in front of him.  He gobbled it up and licked his lips.

"You think Captain Long’s had other dogs on the ship recently, Ms. Ida.”

“Why, did you smell something, sweet heart?”

“Yes ‘um, just a faint odor of a bitch.”

Ida and Lucas shared a laugh.

“He’s so darn busy, he might a’ had some other rancher's dog out there helping her.”

“I think he had a female they rescued a number of days ago, Scraps.  They took her away to another ranch.”  said Lucas winking at Ida Mae.  “I remember him saying something about it.”

Charlie told Ida Mae about Happy and she was thrilled, but told her to keep quiet about it.  Lazarus wanted to keep Happy on the ship for several days to make sure she was all right.  Ida Mae quickly changed the subject and began to ask Lucas about how his visits with the Kryscells were coming along.  Scraps lost interest in discussing it further, went over to his bed and curled up for a snooze.

* * * * * * *

If you gentlemen would be so kind as to remove your clothing we will begin.  Blake looked over and saw Hank Morgan was already sitting down removing his boots.

“May we assist you in removing you clothing, Mr. Tindell?” Cable inquired.

“No, thank you, I can manage.”  He sat down next Hank and began to remove his boots.

“They hate to wear clothes, Son, so us men got together and told the Captain h’it don’t bother us none for them to be naked.  They was even naked when Mistress Ida Mae came on board.  She got a big kick out of ‘em.  They love her, too.”

“What kind of ship is this, Hank?” Blake asked, “Hi’t ain’t like no ship I ever seen.”

“What kind of ship do you think it is, Son?” Hank teased.

“Cain’t rightly say, Sir.  Ain’t never seen technology like this anywheres.  Whoever built it was years ahead of us.  I’d guess we’s on some kind of space ship.”

“And you would be right, Son.” Hank grinned as he stood to shove his Wranglers down and stepped out of them.

Blake had seen Hank Morgan naked many times.  Slaves get used to seeing each other naked, but Hank never failed to make Blake’s penis get the happies.  He hoped Hank wouldn’t notice.

“I didn’t get a chance to shower last evening or this morning, gentlemen.”  Blake apologized to Cable, David and Jonathan.

“No problem, Sir.  We have facilities here.  You and Mr. Morgan will take a shower and we will clean you inside.  We need to perform an exam of your lower colon.  Your upper colon we can spot check with another test, and if we see anything questionable we can schedule you later for an upper G.I.  In your lower intestines we will be checking for polyps and will remove any we find.  Secondly, after your water shower and internal cleansing, we will give you a sonic shower which will eliminate any surface bacteria, micro-organisms, or parasites from the surface of your body.  
Blake was a little surprised the androids went with them into the shower to helped bathe and scrub them down.  They had no hesitation about cleaning out both men and didn’t stop until their were completely clean in their lower colon.  Blake took his cue from Hank Morgan who seemed thoroughly at ease with the androids.  Blake was glad Hank was with him.  He didn’t know if he could’ve been this relaxed without him.  Hank was Blake’s crew leader on the Goodnight ranch.  It was like having his dad with him.

The men were on the ship almost all morning.  They were put into a twilight sleep for the colonoscopy exam and given a stimulant afterward that made them feel great.  It made them feel so good they couldn’t help getting erections.  It excited the androids and they got hard.  The men all laughed at each other, but Blake was secretly pleased the bio-men responded that way.  It made him feel like they weren’t so much different from him.

Blake’s favorite part was getting to meet the Kryscellians and learning to communicate with them.  He never considered there could be such a wonderful and beautiful life form in the universe.  They were truly amazing and told him they were going to make several corrections in his body.  They told him they would tell Mr. Morgan they needed to see him again a couple more times to complete their corrections.  

By the time they were finished it was almost noon.  Blake learned a lot.  The androids took his blood, it was instantly tested and found to be good and sound.  Other than minor corrections from the Kryscells, he was in perfect condition.  Last, but not least, Cable gave Blake his longevity shot.  Blake didn’t feel a thing.  Cable also instructed him how to give the Stamper boys a shot that would put them in twilight sleep.  Cable told him he needed to come aboard the ship first to get the shot to give them and the antigrav-Gurney.  He told him he would show him how to operate it at that time.

“When will the information be in the computers to enable me to activate the portals, Sir?” Blake asked.

“It already is, Blake.  You can activate them right now.”

Hank was equally in great shape.  Blake thought Hank was in excellent shape.  He couldn’t take his eyes off Hank’s body all morning.  Once Cable leaned over to him with his penis beginning to get erect and whispered,

“Is it just me or is there something about Mr. Morgan that has a special animal sexual magnetism?”   

 Blake thought he was going to bust a gut trying to stifle his laughter.

“H’it ain’t jes’ you, Cable.  I totally agree with you.  He jes’ has to have some’um extra in his genes what make me wanna’ commit crimes against nature on his body.”  they shared a laugh.

Cable told Blake the Captain wanted three robo-cams assigned to him and all the Stamper boys.  Cable explained it wasn’t to spy on him, but for his protection in case of danger.  He showed Blake and Hank what the robo-cams looked like when visible, then hit a key on a computer and they vanished; however, Hank and Blake’s images were shown on three separate screens for them to see.  It was like they were on a three dimensional television broadcast.  It was amazing.  Blake didn’t know if he was going to like that.  What if he wanted to jack-off?  He asked Cable about it.

“We git to enjoy it with you, Sir.” he joked with Blake.  Cable seriously explained they don’t look at everything recorded.  They run a days worth of recordings through the computer in three point two seconds and only look at anything the computer finds unusual.

“H’it don’t bother me a bit.” spoke up Hank, “Being a slave, yore’ life ain’t chore’ own no ways.  If’n it protects me from some’um,— all the better.  What if some robber slave traders was to nab us?  They wouldn’t be able to git too far with them robo-cams on us.  We could jes’ tell the Captain and Master Charlie where we was and them and the sheriff would come git us.”

“Never thought about it that way, Hank, but I see your point.  I jes’ won’t tell the boys they got surveillance cameras on them twenty-four/seven.  I can see it might be helpful in training them boys.  If some’um happens and they tell me lie about it, I can find out for myself.”

“That information would be made available to you as a trustee, Sir.” Cable assured him. “However, it might also prove the boy’s innocence.”

Blake was beginning to see the benefits of such a system.

“Does everyone have cameras on them?” he asked.

“Everyone whose DNA we have.  Even Scraps has three on him at all times.” Cable hit another computer key and there were three dimensional shots of Scraps getting a morsel of meat given to him by his adoring mistress.  He hit another couple of computer keys and the men saw Waco, Travis and Little Bear sitting at a table in the cafeteria at school eating their lunches.  They were talking about the Sunday football game.  Cable pressed another two computer keys and they saw Master Hoot and Cotton with the Stamper boys taking them to the chow hall for lunch.  Cable pressed a couple more keys again and they saw Captain Long eating his lunch of slave chow and a biscuit with his men under the shade of a giant oak tree.  

Blake and Hank were impressed and suddenly realized they were hungry.  Cable said they were through for today and could return to their ranches.  Hank tried to talk Blake into returning to the Goodnight ranch with him for lunch, but he declined.  He told Hank he promised Master Hoot he would return as soon as he could.  He would see him Sunday if he could get away.  Hank went through the gate to the Goodnight ranch.  Cable showed Blake how to set the portal for Master Hoot and Cotton's ranch.  They said their ‘goodbyes’ and Blake walked through to the old barn.

He headed on down to the chow hall to join the boys and men for lunch.  Everyone seemed glad to see him.  Hoot told him to get some chow and a biscuit from the slave-cook.  Blake got a cup of chow and a biscuit from the cowboy, thanked him and returned to the picnic tables where the boys were eating.

“Ever’ thing okay, Son?” Cotton asked him.

“Fit as a fiddle, Sir.  They want me to return two more times for some reason.  They told Mr. Morgan to tell Master Charlie, and he would tell you.”

“Yore’ word is enough for us, Son.  If’n you gotta’ be back there next Friday, we’ll see to it you get there.”

“Thanks, Master Hoot.  I appreciate that.”  Blake said as he ate some of his slave chow.  He noticed Master Hoot and Cotton were eating slave chow and a biscuit.  

 “Maybe you can take one of the boys with you next week.” Cotton said.

“The medical staff,” Blake smiled and blushed, “said they could examine one of the boys next Friday.”

“Good, then let’s start with the oldest and work our way down,— one a week.  They can do whatever they need for you while you’re there.”

“Sounds good.  In the meantime what’s on the agenda for the men for the rest of the day.”  Blake inquired.

“We had them stacking hay bails all morning, but we thought we’d let you take ‘em this afternoon.  We worked ‘em pretty hard, and they deserve some time to get to know you.”

“I’ll take ‘em to the common room, we can start measuring and figuring out what we’re gonna’ need to make a section of it livable for us.  I wanna’ check out the plumbing.  Do any of you men know anything about plumbing, electrical or building?” Blake asked.

“Jeb does.  He knows ever’ thing.” said his brother Sam like he was proud of Jeb.

“Shut up, dork!  I know a few things, but I’m a long ways from knowing everything.”  Jeb scolded his older brother.

“Okay, let’s get one thing straight, gentlemen.  There will be no more name calling.  No man here is better than the other.  One might have talents the others don’t, but because they don’t have the same talents, they ain’t worth any less than the rest of you.  Got that!”  Blake barked at his wards.  Hoot looked at Cotton and grinned.

“Yes, Sir, boss!”  they answered in unison.

“Now, what do you know, Jeb?”  Blake asked him.

“I know how to wire up electricity.  I know how to fix most anything mechanical or electrical.  I was all the time fixing my brothers computers.  They never let me use ‘em, but I was good enough to fix ‘em.”

“He is awful good at stuff like that.” allowed Burt quietly.  “I didn’t let you use my computer, little brother, because I needed it most of the time for school work.  Besides, I didn’t want you seeing some of the stuff I had on my machine.  Knowing you, you’d a’ found ever’ thing I didn’t want you to see and a man deserves his privacy.”

“Well, you can give up that idea, brother.” shot back Jeb.  “We ain’t got us no more privacy.  We’re slaves now, and slaves don’t have no rights to nothing.”

There was a pregnant silence.  The younger boys were looking to their handsome cowboy crew leader for an answer.

“There’s a lot of truth to that, but like ever’ thing else in life, you learn to live with it.  You accept it as part of your new life, and you git used to it.  I never think on it no more.  All you have to worry about is working hard, pleasing me and your Masters, and the rest will fall into place.  One of the benefits of being a slave, if there is any, is you don’t have to learn to be a slave,— it’s done for you.  Ever’ day you’re told what to do and what is expected of you.  If you accept that and get chore’ work done, your Masters will be happy, I’ll be happy and you’ll be happy.  If you buck the system, I promise you, no one will be happy.   Gentlemen,— I choose to be happy, and I urge you not to make me unhappy, ‘cause when I’m unhappy,— you will be more unhappy.”

Hoot knew, at that moment, if he ever had the least doubt, they had the right man for the job.  There never was any doubt in Cotton’s mind.  Blake talked to Hoot and Cotton about a free standing blackboard his slave-master-builder used to teach him and his slave-brother, Ed Bach, about building.

“H’it ain’t been used for several years, Master Hoot.  It’s mostly in the way.  Would you ask Master Charlie for me if’n he’d mind if we borrow it so’s I could use it to teach the boys?”

“I remember that old blackboard.  It had slate on both sides and it rotated on an axis.  It’s a big ole thing.  You could flip it over and use either side as I recall.  That’s a good idea.  I don’t think Master Charlie would mind.  How soon you need it, Son”  Hoot looked at Blake.  Blake was slow to answer.  “Like yesterday, right?”  

“As soon as possible, Sir, or when it’s convenient for you to get it.  I don’t know’s we could git it here by any other means unless it could be broken down.”

“Can it wait till Sunday?  We’re invited over for dinner, and the three of us could take the big truck.”

“Sounds good.  I can git by till then.”

The boys were with Blake the rest of the day.  Hoot and Cotton had other things to attend to.  He took them to the common room and they laid out the floor plan for their temporary quarters.  Blake even figured out a way to put in a washer/dryer unit so he and the boys could wash their clothes.  When they finished for the day, Blake had it pretty much in his mind the plans he was going to draw up.  He asked Hoot for the dafting pad and started drawing up plans that evening.  The boys were just sitting around not doing much of anything when Hoot came out with a football in his hand.  The boys perked up real fast.

He gave it to Burt and told him to pass it around for a while.  They spent a couple of hours tossing and receiving the ball.  Hoot watched and saw another natural athlete in Jeb.  He moved with the same grace and strength his younger brother did.  Of course, Jeb had no idea his younger brother was still alive.  At the end of the day, Hoot took the football back.  He told the boys when they were good, they got extra privileges.  They could just as easily be taken away from them.  It was a sobering thought, but one they knew they had to learn to live with.  The only brother who didn’t seem phased by all of it was Sam.  Burt swore Sam could be happy up to his neck in a shit-pit, as he crudely put it.  Not even that phased Sam.

“No sense in worrying about some’um you can’t do nothing about, bubba.  Best you can do is find the good in any situation you find yore’self in.  You wanna’ sit around and worry yore’self into an early grave,— go for it, brother!  Jes’ don’t ask me to sit by and hold yore’ hand.  Life ain’t about feel’n sorry for yourself and wait’n for the end to come, it’s all about the journey.  I’m too damn interested in what’s around the next bend in the road to sit around on my ass and cry with you.” Sam told Burt.

His other brothers hooted and laughed at Burt.

“Sam,— with an attitude like that, you’re gonna’ go far in life.” said his boss, Blake Tindell, laughing with the boys.

The plans were drawn up and materials for building and plumbing repairs were figured.  Blake took his drawing over with him on Sunday to be looked over by his master-builder and building partner.  They thought Blake had did a fine job and complemented him.  They had a couple of good suggestions  Blake later incorporated in his plans.  Blake was going to see if he could get either one or both men to help when they got going on the main slave quarters; however, he figured he’d be able to complete the temp quarters with the boy’s help.

Blake showed his plans for the temporary quarters to Captain Long and Master Charlie.  They were wowed by his expertise as was Hoot and Cotton.  Lazarus told them once again, he would pick up the tab for the remodeling and repairs.  Also, he would provide a brand new washer and dryer for the boys.  Charlie suggested he might want to consider opening an account at the local hardware store and lumber yard.  Lazarus thought that would be a great idea then all Blake had to do was sign his name for whatever he wanted and the bills would come directly to Lazarus.

Hoot and Cotton left two older slave cowboy trustees in charge of the boys while they went to Sunday dinner at the Goodnight ranch with Blake.  There wasn’t any work to be done on Sunday.  Hoot gave his slaves a day of rest every Sunday.  The two cowboys were mostly to watch after the boys and make sure they didn’t get into trouble.  Hoot left a football with them to let the boys play a bit if they wanted to.  Naturally they wanted to, and with several of the younger cowboy slaves, they had a pretty good game.

Charlie invited Sheriff Lassiter and his family for Sunday dinner.  He and Lazarus felt they should keep him updated as to what was going on.  When he learned Hoot and Cotton were looking to buy tools he called them over.

“Listen men, old man Murray is closing his plumbing business in the next county over.  He’s been in business over fifty years, but he can’t git one of his boys to take over the company.  He’s got all sorts of plumbing shit for sale at rock bottom prices.  It’s worth a drive over there to see what he’s got.  Take Blake or his teacher Trotter Helms with you.  They’ll know what you need.”   

“Good idea, Sheriff, thanks for the tip.  We’ll check him out come Monday.”

“Damn glad to hear you got them boys, Captain Long.  I did my part to help the old man make up his mind.”  The sheriff grinned at Lazarus.

“How’s that, Sheriff?” Charlie asked.

“Who do you think sent him that damn case a’ dog food?”  the Sheriff slapped his knee and fell out laughing.

You could’ve heard the men all the way to the next county laughing.  It was about the funniest damn thing they’d heard in weeks.  Even though they swore they didn’t do it, Lazarus and Charlie were sure Hoot and Cotton were the culprits.  No one remotely suspected the sheriff would do such a dastardly deed, but then after they got to thinking about it, all the pieces fit together.  Lucas saved Don Lassiter’s life and the sheriff developed a strong bond of affection for him and Lazarus.  He knew Lazarus was out to buy the Stamper boys to protect them.  The sheriff had more than a passing interested in seeing the plan come to fruition.  It would also save him considerable time and hassle running after the boys when they got into mischief.  He could see it was only a matter of time before one or all of them did something, for which, he would have to come down hard on them.  Hoot and Cotton were in tears.  Lazarus was about to choke to death trying to get his breath from laughing so hard.  Charlie couldn’t stop laughing.

The boys and men played another wonderful game that afternoon.  Waco’s team won by one fieldgoal.  Lucas, Blake, Little Bear and JR got in line to congratulate them.  There was much laughter and threats to stomp their butts next Sunday.  It was all in good fun and everyone enjoyed themselves.  Ranger, the pony, was standing by the sidelines enjoying the show.  Scraps was beside himself with joy for Waco and his men.  He was running from one to the other congratulating them.  Scraps jumping about reminded Lazarus of something.

“You think this afternoon would be a good time, boss?” Lazarus said, out of the blue.  Charlie could read Lazarus’ mind most of the time without the gift.

“I’d say she’s been in quarantine long enough.  How’s she doing?”  Charlie inquired.

“Lucas and I visit her every evening, and she’s in heaven chasing them damn sheep.  She takes care of ‘em all day long.  She don’t wanna’ go to sleep at night.  My cowboys have to make her come to the house to feed her and get her settled down for the evening.  My boys tell me they can’t find nothing wrong with her.  I think she’s ready.  Shall I send Lucas for her?”

“Yeah.  Send Hoot and Cotton along.  I’m sure she’d love to see them again.”

“Good idea, boss.  Son!”  Lazarus hailed Lucas.  He came over still breathing heavy from the final play.  Hoot and Cotton were in the area.  Lazarus took him over to them.

“You men go on board the Bandersnatch and have Cable take you to get Happy.  Bring her back with you.  The boss man and I decided she’s been in quarantine long enough.  Time she meets her new mate.”

The men slowly walked down to the old barn.  Everyone knew where they were going.  Waco winked at Lazarus, and he made a motion for Waco to keep Scraps busy.  Waco nodded his head he understood.  He looked at Travis and made a Frisbee throwing motion.  Travis nodded his head, and ran to the porch to get the Frisbee.  He no sooner got to the bottom of the steps when he sailed it out across the compound.  Little Bear was closest and ran to catch it in mid-air.  Everyone applauded.  Scraps was going nuts.

“Me!  Little Bear!  Throw for me!” Scraps hollered.  Little Bear purposely threw it to Waco.  Scraps dug out trying to get to it before Waco could catch it, but he wasn’t quite fast enough.  Waco caught it easily and everyone applauded.

“Me, Waco!  Throw for me!” yelled Scraps again.

“Okay, you better catch it or your out of the game.”  Waco chided him, knowing full well Scraps could catch anything he tossed.

Waco sailed it up and away in the opposite direction from Scraps.  He saw it, judged its trajectory and ran as fast as he could, leaping six feet into the air to catch it.  Scraps seemed to hang motionless in the air for a few seconds like Nureyev in his prime on a good night.  Everyone went crazy.  The boys kept him so busy he didn’t miss Lucas, Hoot or Cotton.  Finally, Travis threw one for him toward the old barn.  He ran to catch it, when out of nowhere another beautiful boarder collie beat him to it, leaped up into the air and caught it.  Scraps was stopped dead in his tracks.  Was this the female he’d smelled on the ship?  He turned and looked questioningly at the men.  He knew something was up.  They all had big smiles on their faces.  Happy brought the Frisbee to Scraps and dropped it at his feet.  They put their noses together, and it was love at first sniff.

“Helloooo, gorgeous!” Scraps said to Happy.

Hoot, Cotton and Lucas came up to them.  The men surrounded them.  JR had gone to get Ida Mae and Hank.  They were there.

“Scraps we’d like for you to meet Happy.  Happy this is Scraps.”  said Charlie.

“Where did you come from?” Scraps asked her.

“She can’t talk like you can, Scraps.”  said Lucas.

“Don’t matter none.  She’s ‘bout the prettiest thing I ever laid eyes on.”  He turned and looked at Ida Mae.  “‘Cept for you Ms. Ida.”  he added.

Ida threw back her head and laughed.  

“Where does she live?” he asked.

“She lives here now, Scraps.” answered Charlie, “She’s part of the ranch, just like you are.  That is, if’n you want her to stay.  If not, I’m sure we can find another good home for her.  She was living with Master Hoot and Cotton, but she was git’n beat up by their big cow dogs.  We saw her and thought you might be a better friend for her.”

“I won’t beat her up.  She’s too damn pretty.”

All of a sudden, Scraps lunged at her, jumped out of her way and turned to stand as close to her as he could.  He raised himself over her with his tail at a salute, leaned over and playfully nipped at her ear, then ran away as fast as he could.  Happy didn’t need any translation.  She spoke dog fluently and knew it was an invitation to play.  Off they went all over the compound playing with each other.  It was a joy to see two dogs so happy.  Ida got tears in her eyes.  Hank put his big, cowboy arm around her and pulled her close.  

A pang stabbed thought Blake’s heart at the sight of Hank and Ida Mae in a moment of tenderness, but he was happy for them.  He laughed at himself for having such a silly schoolboy crush on Hank Morgen.  He respected him more than he wanted him; although, if offered, he wouldn’t turn down an invitation to lay down with the big man and spend an hour or two in his arms.  Little did he know all the boys and half the men standing there had thoughts of lust for Hank Morgan at one time or another.  Even Hank’s own son had lain in his bed at night and jacked-off imagining the big cowboy slave sharing his bed for an evening.  Blake was in good company.

Everyone seemed to relax and have a good time.  The boys helped Ida Mae serve homemade ice cream to the men, and it was the perfect end to a wonderful day.  Even Scraps and Happy got a dish of ice cream.  It was a great day for everyone, but most of all, it was a day Scraps and Happy would never forget.

* * * * * * *

Monday was the beginning of a new week.  Blake returned with Hoot and Cotton to their ranch with them.  In the back of Hoot’s truck was the large four by eight, stand alone blackboard.  It was still early evening when the men returned.  The boys came out to greet them and helped Blake unload the blackboard.  They carefully carried it to the common room.  The boys were eager to hear where he was and what he did.

“We drove over to Mr. Goodnight’s ranch to have Sunday dinner, and I played football all afternoon with Master Waco, his slaves and some of my slave-brothers on the Goodnight ranch.”

They were impressed, and a couple said they wish they could’ve been there and played football with him; however, Master Hoot left his football with one of the slaves looking after them, and they had a pretty good game themselves.  Blake gave the boys the option of staying in the loft until they finished the temporary quarters, or they could move their bedrolls to the  common room.  Burt said he thought it would be a hassle living around an area under construction, and Blake agreed with him.  Therefore, they voted to remain in the loft until they were done.

* * * * * * *

Monday morning started, early and Blake was anxious to get started with the remodeling of the common room.  He had his list of supplies and tools he needed.  Master Charlie said he could take his tools from the ranch over with him to begin with, but he was going to need more.  First he wanted to get the area cleaned up to see what they were up against and just how much he’d have to repair or replace.  He could use the boys to help clean up.

Things got too busy for Hoot or Blake to get away to the other county, so rather than lose out on bargains available from the plumbing company shutting down, Cotton climbed into his old truck and headed for the town.  When he got there, he thought there would be throngs of people pushing and shoving to get the best bargains.  To his amazement there was no one there.  He walked into the yard and noticed table after table of tools lined up with all sort of stuff  on them.  To the side was eight large lockup bins with a big question mark painted on the front of each.  The bins were huge.  They measured six feet long by four feet wide by four feet deep.  The lids lifted open from the top, but all were locked with a huge padlock.  He looked up to see a handsome young man of about twenty-five walking toward him.

“Good morning.” Cotton spoke and stuck out his hand to shake the young man’s.

“Good morning, Mr. Daniels.” The young man smiled real big.

“You know me, Son?” Cotton was amazed.

“Of course I know you!  Know you and your partner, Mr. Hoot Austin.  You’re legends around these parts.  I come to see you men rodeo ever’ damn chance I git.  I’m Robby Murray, Sir.  Me and my partner’s roped against you and Mr. Austin several times.  We always lost, but we had a good time.  My daddy bought me one a’ yore’ rope’n ponies several years ago.  Best damn pony I ever had.  I still got ‘em and we compete regularly.”

“Then you must be Les Murray’s boy.”  Cotton remembered. “But, Robby, you’re all grow’d up now.  I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you, Son.”

“‘At’s understandable, Mr. Daniels.  I been away at college for a couple of years.  What brings you to Murray plumbing, Sir?”

“Sheriff Lassiter told us about yore’ granddaddy going out of business.  ‘H’it’s a damn shame.  Sorry to hear it, but he said we might be able to pick us up some bargains on plumbing tools.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty tough on my granddad, Mr. Daniels, but ma’ dad and all three of my uncles became ranchers and weren’t interested in the plumbing business.  Me and several of ma’ cousins have worked for granddad now for the last five years or so, but none of us are interested in taking over.  I took a semester off from college at A&M to help him liquidate ever’ thing.  If’n you need some plumbing tools, you come to the right place, Mr. Daniels.”

“Yeah, we’re expanding our operations.  We’re gonna’ be doing some major building and remodeling on our ranch.  We got the building talent to do it and the resources, but we need some tools.  I couldn’t bring ma’ slave what’s gonna’ be doing most of the work.  Could you help me pick out some stuff he might need?”

“Be glad to, Mr. Daniels.  It would be an honor and a pleasure.” Robby added.  Cotton wondered about that.  “We got all them tables with tools on it, but I tell you what;  we got them eight roll-off lockup bins with the big question marks on ‘em as sort of mystery ‘grab bag’ sort of deals.  They’s chocked full of pluming tools and supplies; mostly tools.  Anything and ever’ thing you can imagine for plumbing is in each of those bin.  In each bin, there’s so many tools you could start your own small plumbing business, I guaran-damn-tee-ya,’ Mr. Daniels.”  Robby Murray winked at him.

“We’s gonna’ auction ‘em off by silent bid.  In other words, a man writes down an amount he’s willing to pay for one of ‘em bins and puts his bid in the box for that bin.  If he’s got the highest bid, he wins.  When do you need your tools, Sir?”

“As soon as possible, Son.”

“Tell you what, Mr. Daniels.  I’ll be honest with you.  Things ain’t going so good on the auction front.  I think we got us only one bid for fifty dollars on that end bin.  Now, if’n we don’t git another bid on it, I’m gonna’ let it go to the man for fifty bucks; however, that leaves us with seven other bins with no bids, and we been trying to sell this shit for a week or more.  I was the man what loaded and supervised the packing of all them bins, and I know what’s in ‘em.  See that white bin over there, third from the right?”

“Yes, Son, I see it.”

“It’s got three times more than all the rest of them bins because, I packed it myself.  I’ll make you a deal you can’t refuse, Mr. Daniels.  For a hundred bucks and a favor from you,— it’s all yours.  Is yore’ truck a three quarter ton, Sir?”

“Yes, it is, Son.”

“It should be able to handle it.  You’re ass-end will be awful low, but jes’ be careful going across low places or cattle guards.  You can back your truck up over there, I can load it on with the fork lift, and you’re in business.”

“What’s the favor, Son?”

“It’s sort of personal, Mr. Daniels.”

“Ain’t nothing personal to an ex-slave, Son.  You should know that, yore’ daddy’s got slaves.”

“I know, that’s why I was sort a’ hope’n you might feel that way, Sir, and not take what I’m gonna’ say as no disrespect.  Ever since I first laid eyes on you and Mr. Austin as a kid, I’ve always had me a fantasy of suck’n either one or both of yore’ dicks, Sir.  I can’t tell you how many times I laid in bed at night by myself, beat’n off think’n on it.  If you’d take a few minutes, step into my office in the back where we won’t be disturbed, you can make one young cowboy awful damn happy, and I’ll make damn sure you got chore’self a big smile on yore’ face as you drive home with yore' plumbing tools.”

Cotton stuck out his hand to shake Robby’s.

“You got chore’self a deal, Son!” Cotton grinned with his big dick growing in his Wranglers.

Robby took Cotton to the rear of the business to a small but neat office.  It was obviously Robby’s personal office while working for his granddad.  He lost no time hitting his knees and getting Cotton’s fine cowboy dick out of his Wranglers.  He didn’t lie to Cotton.  Robby gave him a blowjob that kept a smile on his face all the way back to the ranch, and when he got there he was still smiling.  Hoot knew without asking his mate got lucky.  He just grinned real big and shook his head.  When Cotton told him the story, he thought Hoot would have a stroke from laughing so hard.

“Damnation!  I can’t never let chu’ out a’ my sight, cowboy.  Serves me right!  Shit!  I knew I should a’ gone with ya.’  Hail, I’d gladly take sloppy seconds from that Murray boy.  He’s one handsome Aggie.  Fuck, that turns me on!  You may have to pay for your indiscretion by being more indiscrete with me afore the sun goes down.”  Hoot slapped his knee and hugged Cotton.

Cotton had to slow down to five miles an hour to get his heavily laden truck over the cattle guard at the entrance to the ranch.  The rear bumper was almost dragging the ground, and every time he hit a bump on the way, the bumper would bang on the blacktop.  Blake came out to see what Cotton returned with and whistled low when he saw the lockup bin.  He knew it was probably filled with goodies.  When he opened the top, he couldn’t believe what he saw.

There was every imaginable plumbing tool in the bin and not just one but several of each tool.  When they got most of it unloaded, to make the lockup bin lighter to get it off the truck, they found thousands of dollars worth of tools including three electric pipe cutter/threaders.

“Well,— the kid told me there was enough tools in this one bin to start your own small plumbing business.”

“He weren’t lying, Master Cotton.  I know how to cut and threat pipe manually, but this is wonderful.  They even threw in all sorts of manual cutters and threaders.  They’re interchangeable with the electric cutters.  The only thing is, they’re for galvanized pipe and my building-master taught me to use mostly copper; however, I know all about galvanized pipe, how to cut and thread it.”

“Okay, what did you have to give him for all this beside the visit to his office, pardner?” asked Hoot.

“I’m almost ashamed to tell you.  Y’ain’t gonna’ believe me if’n I do.”

“Try me?” demanded Hoot.

“A hunnert bucks.”

“No!  Yore’ shit’n me!  Ain’t no way!”

Cotton handed him the receipt.  Hoot looked at it and his eyes bugged out of his head.  He smiled and called Cotton’s attention to what the kid wrote across the receipt.  “And thanks for the extra special favor.  This receipt is good for one more favor for your partner.”

“I’ll be damned!  Only you, Cotton!” he said as he hugged his mate again.  Blake took the receipt from Hoot and just shook his head.

“Do you have any idea what one electric pipe threader cost, Sir?” Blake asked Cotton.

“I would imagine around a thousand bucks.” he replied.

“You might be able to git a used one for that.  A new one would cost you around three thou.  You robbed that man blind in broad daylight.” Blake chuckled, “Well done, Master Cotton.”

* * * * * * *

Blake got the boys busy designing and building some work benches in one of the larger stalls in the old barn.  It was good practice for them.  He had each boy design and build his own bench.  The old barn wasn’t used for much but storage and Hoot thought it would make a great base of operations for the building projects.  They only had a couple of hammers and one Cotton loaned them from the front house, but Blake planned to get the boys a set of their own tools.  Blake never let them get by with shoddy work.  If it wasn’t right he made them tear it down and do it again.  Every morning he had an hour and a half lesson in some aspect of building.  First he wanted to tackle the basics of measuring, cutting and nailing boards into place.  He had them practice by the hour until he thought they could do it right.

With the new plumbing tools he managed to get two of the shower stalls going pretty quick and discovered someone had taken out the old water heater and never bothered to replace it.  Lazarus bought them two brand new hundred gallon water heaters so they wouldn’t run out of hot water.  Blake hooked them up in series so one would feed hot water into the other.

Blake got two more of the six toilets functioning within a day or so.  By that time the lumber for the remodeling was delivered and stored in the old barn.  It was everything Blake ordered.  The next day they started remodeling the common room.  He made the boys do most of the work.  He was a firm believer in hands on learning.  That was the way his slave-master taught him.  His motto was, ‘You learn by doing.’  Blake learned.

By the time they got their temporary quarters framed in, the boys were gaining confidence in themselves.  He taught them how to run romex wiring and how to put outlet boxes in each area.  They made it better than it was before.  Some of the tiles in the shower were missing and there were several that were cracked.  The grout was a dingy gray color.  He had the boys use some commercial tile and grout cleaner that restored it almost to new, but Blake new they would have to re-grout the entire shower area.  He taught them how to clean an area you were going to fix, apply mastic, new tile and grout the area.  The two younger boys got really good at it.   

Blake was astounded by the boy’s interest.  It was like no one ever took the time to teach them anything, and they were soaking up knowledge as fast as Blake could teach them.  Everyone kept a pretty good attitude.  Burt was a little slow coming around, but after seeing what they were accomplishing, even old Burt had to admit to a little pride in what he and his brothers accomplished as a team.  And that was the most important word.  They were beginning to learn to work as a team.
* * * * * * *

It was a busy week, but the men got a lot done.  Blake didn’t care about speed.  He told Hoot and Cotton he was more interested in the boys taking their time and learning it right.  He’d rather them take the time to do it right the first time and not have to go back and do it again.  It made sense to Hoot and Cotton and they gave him free rein with the boys.  The boys were beginning to admire and trust Blake more and more.  It seemed easiest for the youngest two, but then there was good ole Sam.

Sam seemed to be the heart and major soul of the boys.  The two youngest boys confided something about Sam to Blake.  Sam was the only brother who didn't want to treat his youngest brother, Caleb, like a slave.  He tried to be good to him and brought him bits of food he knew he’d like.  Blake later confirmed that with Lucas.  Lucas told Blake, Sam would try but he would be run over by his two older brothers who would chastise him for spoiling Caleb.  Blake was more and more impressed with Sam.  He also watched as Sam began to outgrow the influence and peer pressure of his older brothers.  He began to stand up for himself and his two younger brother.  He refused to let his two older brothers bully or intimidate him any more.

Burt and Phil were used to having their way with their younger brothers and when they mentioned the youngest brother Zeke would have to take their baby brother’s place after Caleb was enslaved by their dad, Zeke was scared to death.  He appealed to his next older brothers to stand up for him.  Jeb was guilty of using Caleb like his other brothers, but he had bad feelings about it.  He was smart enough to know about mob mentality, but too uneducated and inexperienced to stand against it.  Sam wasn’t.  He said he wouldn’t allow another one of his brothers to suffer the fate of his baby brother.  He told his brothers what they did to Caleb was wrong and he thought God was punishing them now because of it.  Sam told them he had terrible thoughts and dreams about it.

Burt and Phil called him a wuss, a baby and a pussy; nevertheless, Sam stood up to them and Jeb backed him up.  Zeke wasn’t afraid to join with them.  Three against two seemed like pretty good odds to them.  Sam told them, as long as he was one of their bothers and was living with them, no brother would be forced to do anything against his will again, and if they tried, he would find an equalizer and use it on them when they least suspected it.  Sam never made an empty threat in his life, and Burt and Phil knew it.  While Sam could be good natured and fun, he could also be one of the strongest willed of the five brothers.  They decided they better take Sam seriously unless they wanted a two by four applied to the base of their skull some dark evening.  They decided it might be healthier to let Zeke be.

Sam felt some protection from the relationship he was forming with Blake and even more so from Hoot and Cotton.  They couldn’t help fall in love with the kid.  He didn’t have the brains Jeb had, but what he had in his heart more than made up for it.  That’s not to say Sam was a dummy.  Far from it.  He was very bright and picked up concepts and application faster than his two older brothers, and he slowly began to learn from Jeb and Blake.  Jeb was damn near a genius with mechanical things.  He could put his hand on a machine that was malfunctioning and tell what was wrong with it.

Blake couldn’t get his Skill saw to work properly one day.  Jeb took it and turned it on a couple of times and smiled at him.

“The brushes are shot, boss.  Get me a new set of brushes, and I’ll fix it for you.”  Not only did he replace the brushes.  He rebuilt the saw until it ran like new.  His boss was wowed.  Blake didn’t know anything about the mechanics of his saw, but Jeb taught him.  He began to learn a lot from Jeb.  He just let Jeb take over teaching about electricity.  Jeb had among his personal possessions a small electrician’s handbook.  He ask Blake to get several for them.   They weren’t expensive.  He could find them at any hardware store.  Blake got one for each boy and himself.   He was amazed by the amount of information available in the small book.  Jeb used it for a textbook in his teaching.  Every morning for an hour and a half, Jeb would go over every aspect of electrical wiring until every man, including his boss could wire anything correctly.

Friday came that week, and it was Burton’s time to go for a medical exam.  Charlie and Lazarus had discussed it with Hoot, Cotton, and Blake the Sunday before that eventually the boys would be brought on board about what was going on, but Lazarus wanted the boys to bond with their new boss and Master’s before they were exposed to something they might have a difficult time comprehending.  Blake agreed.

Blake got up early, had his breakfast with his Masters in the big house, went to the ship early, had Cable give him the hypo he needed and showed him how to use the anti-grave Gurney.  Blake was fascinated by the Gurney.  He already had some hay bales set up to place the Gurney on top of for Burt to lay on and get his shot.  After Blake took the boys to chow and got them started on what he wanted them to get done for the day, Cotton came out to watch over them.  Blake took Burton to the old barn and told him to sit on the Gurney.  Burt did as he was told but got wide-eyed at the small hypo.

“What’s that for, boss?”

“It’s a shot the medics gave me to relax you, Burt.  It won’t hurt you.”

“Why do I have to be relaxed?”

“‘Cause, it’s just the way they want you.  I’m a slave, I do what I’m told.  They knocked me out, too.  Trust me, Burt, no harm will come to you.  I’ll be with you the whole time.”  

Blake had some cotton ready with alcohol and swabbed Burt’s shoulder.  He gave him the shot right in the muscle of his arm like he was shown.  Blake put the hypo aside and was about to tell him to lay on the Gurney when Burt passed out.  Blake caught him and gently lowered the boy to the Gurney.  He activated the mechanism, opened the portal and glided Burt through.

Cable and his men were ready to receive him.  They were going to have to give him a stimulant to clean him thoroughly, but they would only give him enough to leave him groggy and cooperative.  He would barely remember anything afterward.  They got Blake set up with the Kryscellians and he was already singing away to them as they left him to return to Burt.

When Burt woke up on the Gurney shortly before lunch he was still a bit groggy.  He went with Blake to have his lunch, but he wasn’t hungry.  He couldn’t eat anything.  His brothers were concerned and asked him if he was all right.

“Yeah!  I think so.  Jes’ a little groggy.  They gave me a sedative to relax me.  I can’t believe how beautiful they were.”

“Who, the nurses, Burt.” Phil asked him.

“I don’t know if they were nurses or doctors, but they were very kind and good to me.  They were men, but they didn’t seem like men.  They were perfect in every way.  I’ve never seen men like them before, and they were naked.  Didn’t have stitch of clothes on.  Hell, they didn’t need no clothes, they was perfect the way they was.  Clothes would a’ made ‘em look silly.  They were unbelievably good looking. Beautiful.  Almost like they were angels.”  The boys laughed at him nervously.

“Is that true, boss?  Do they look like angels?” Jeb asked.

“You’ll find out for yourselves quick enough.  Jes’ tell your brothers if there was anything to be afraid of, Burt.”

“No,— no, there weren’t nothing to be afraid of.  The only thing that hurt was a shot they gimme’ in ma’ butt, and it really didn’t hurt.  It was like a honey bee sting.  They told me it would make me live a long, time,— much longer than the average human life span.  I knew in my heart they weren’t lying to me, but I didn’t understand how that could be,— still don’t.  I felt safer with them and the crystals what sang to me than I have in a long time.  It was like I was welcome.  Like they made me a part of them.  Like I was family.  I even sang back to them, which was strange, because you know me, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.  I’m tone deaf, but I weren’t with them.  I actually sang to them, and I was okay,— not great, but okay.  It was so beautiful they made me cry.  They told me they loved me, and it was all right if I loved them.  They fixed something inside me, but I don’t know what.  They explained it to me, but I can’t tell you what they said.  Maybe they weren’t real.  Maybe I dreamed it all.”

The brother sat there listening in awe.  They were stunned by their big brother’s story.  Blake sat there eating his chow, smiling to himself.

“Is he making this up, boss?  Or, did he jes’ hallucinate under them drugs?”  Phil asked.

“Do you think your brother would lie to you, Phil?”  Blake asked him.

“No,— but what he’s tell’n us don’t make no sense.”

“You’ll find out if he tell’n the truth next Friday.”  Blake winked at him.  That didn’t seem to satisfy Phil.

“Tell us more about them crystals, Burt?  I’ve heard crystals can heal folks.”  asked Sam concerned.

“Yeah, but these weren’t just any crystals.  They were beautiful crystals of all colors, and they were alive, Sam.  They lit up like light bulbs and bathed me,— yes, that’s the word,— they bathed me in their light.  They can heal folks.  I’m sure of it.  They told me so.  I could feel their light penetrate every part of my body, but it didn’t hurt.  It felt wonderful.  It felt right.  They even probed my brain.  They felt around to every corner of my mind and tested everything.  It was like they were looking for something wrong.  They found a couple of minor things they said they corrected.  They sang to me so beautifully.  They taught me to sing to them so I could tell them about myself and my brothers.  I cried when I told them about our baby brother.  They told me what I done to Caleb was wrong,— how I treated him and made all you treat him,— but they said they weren’t gonna’ condemn me.  They said I deserved another chance.  I don’t know, it’s all so weird.  It’s probably jes’  the medication they gimme.’”

Tears were running down Burt’s cheek.  That was unusual for Burt.  He never cried.  His brothers finished their chow and biscuit.  No one said anything else.  Burt quickly shook off the sedative and returned to his former self; still, there was something that touched Burt deeply he never felt before.  He wondered if the experience really did change him.  He knew he was thinking more clearly than ever before.  He no longer had any fear about being a slave.  He seemed to relax, he began to feel like it was the right place for him to be at the moment.  He was thinking he might adopt some of Sam’s philosophy, he was ready to start living again.

* * * * * * *

The last thing was the drywall.  Blake went with Cotton to the hardware store and bought more tools and things they needed to complete the drywall.  He taught the boys how to measure, cut and put up the drywall.  He made three teams and gave each team a section to complete.  The drywall went up in no time and they were ready to tape and mud.  Blake bought five drywall knives of varying sizes.  He taught the boys how to mud divisions or cracks and patch  nail holes.  He taught them how to apply the tape and mud over seams.  It was frustrating to them at first.  Blake had to show them several times how to use their knives.  He told them they could only get good the more they did it, and by the time they finished the new slave-quarters, they would be experts.

The restroom facilities were repaired and working perfectly.  The boys cleaned it until it was spotless.  The tile was re-grouted, repaired and looked brand new.  The showers worked perfectly.  Some of Hoot and Cotton’s slaves complained two of their showers didn’t work and one would burn you one minute with the hot water and freeze you the next.  The boys were so confident, they volunteered to take a look at it for them.  Hoot and Cotton was pleased with their attitude.  Lazarus bought six institutional beds for them.  They were much better then the usual beds slaves get to sleep on, but they weren’t fancy.

It took the boys almost a month to finish their temporary quarters, but it was really nice when they got through.  It was actually better and more comfortable than their old home with their dad.  Two Fridays passed and two more of the boys went with Blake to the ship for their medicals.  Phil came back and told the same story Burt did.  Phil was even more sure the men were angels.  He was impressed as Burt with them and went on and on about how handsome and beautiful they were; how good and kind they were to him.  He even told of getting shot in the butt with some kind of shot they said would make him live a long time.  

Sam didn’t have a lot to say when he came back.  Blake didn’t think they would ever get the silly smile off his face.  The effects of his visit to the ship lasted far longer than it did with Burt or Phil.  Blake thought he knew why.  He felt Sam was more sensitive and idealistic than either of his brothers and probably had a hidden romantic streak that tempered his actions.  The boys asked if he experienced the same things they did.  He just told them ‘yes’ and said it was  wonderful.  Blake noticed an immediate jump in Sam’s intellect.  Concepts that were hard for him to grasp before were coming more easily to him.  He could follow Jeb's thoughts anywhere he went and began to absorb his knowledge.  He was learning at an accelerated rate.

The boys were taught by Blake the proper protocol to show their Masters when they first meet them for the day.  One would be chosen among them to represent the group to show homage to his boots and complete the Master/slave ritual with him.  They all had a chance to do it, and were made to understand it was just part of their new lives as slaves.  Of course, the one who hated it the worst was Burt, but even he was getting used to it.

They boys moved their stuff into their new temporary quarters and put it away.  They asked Blake to ask Hoot if they could have an open house and invite all the slaves to see their temporary quarters.  Cotton and Hoot thought it was a good idea and decided to made an evening of it with hot dogs and hamburgers for everyone.  Everyone agreed the boys did a good job.  Hoot and Cotton invited several folks from the Goodnight ranch to attend.  They didn’t know if Lazarus or Lucas would attend, but they invited them anyway.  Lazarus talked with Lucas and told him about the small party.

“I plan to go, Son.  You may go with me if you wish, you may stay here with Ms. Ida,  or you could stay on the ship if you feel lonely.”

“I’m gonna’ have ta’ face ‘em sooner or later, Dad.  May as well git it over with.  The longer I put it off, the bigger the bear grows in the forest.  This sounds like a perfect time.  We won’t be over there that long I don’t imagine.  Please count on me stick’n close to your side.”

“You couldn’t stick close enough to me, boy.  I doubt we’ll be over there long.  It’s jes’ gonna’ be a drop by, have a burger, take a look, meet the boys, and leave.  Nothing fancy.”

“I’ll go if’n you want me to.”

“Let’s put it this way.  I want you to do what feels right for you.  As far as I’m concerned, I’m proud to have you walk by my side and be my slave-son.  I love you, Lucas, and I would be proud and pleased for you to go with me.”

“I love you, too, Dad, and I would be honored to be by your side.”

It was settled and the men traveled over in Charlie’s truck.  Hank Morgan wanted to go and so did JR.  Waco, Travis and Little Bear went with Charlie, Lazarus and Lucas.  Blake asked Hoot if his teacher and building partner, Trotter Helms and Ed Bach could be allowed to come with them.  Charlie had no problem with it, and the men were with them.  When they arrived they were pleasantly surprised to find the sheriff’s patrol car there.

The boys watched the three older slaves, Hank Morgan, Trotter Helms, and Ed Bach, go through the slave/ Master ritual with Master Hoot, Master Cotton and Sheriff Lassiter.  The watched Waco Goodnight, his little brother JR, and Waco’s slaves, Travis and Little Bear get out of the camper shell on the back of Charlie Goodnight’s truck.  They thought that was all until a huge hairy creature crawled out of the back, aided by Waco on one side and Little Bear on the other.  The boys heard rumors of Waco’s lummox but had no idea the size of the creature.  The two youngest gasped at the sight of him.  Of course, Ox was wearing his favorite outfit the boys gave him.

Travis and Little bear saddle soaped and polished his big boots and the handsome harness he was wearing until it shown brightly in the late afternoon sun.  Ox was in full fur for the winter and every time he moved it flowed in unison with his body.  Ox got in line with the slaves to pay homage to Master Hoot, Cotton and Sheriff Lassiter.  It was hard for the boys to imagine such a large creature was a slave to such a young boy.  The Masters in line took turns embracing him and talking with him.  They all made over his fur and how well he looked.  The big creature seemed more than just Waco’s slave.  He acted like he was the boy’s protector.  He had his arm around one or sometime two of them at all times.  He was mostly attentive to Master Waco, his owner, and a handsome boy they didn’t recognize.    

Travis, Little Bear and the handsome boy performed the slave ritual with Master Hoot,  Master Cotton and Sheriff Lassiter.  The handsome boy was the last and the sheriff was last in his line.  When the sheriff told the boy to rise and show his love for him, they kissed a kiss that was more than just a Master and slave kiss.  It was the kiss of two men who were very fond of each other.  The boys were impressed.

“You okay with this, sweet baby?” The sheriff whispered to Lucas.

“My Master gave me a choice, and I chose to come, Sir.  It’s gonna’ happen sooner or later.”

“Just remember, you got a shit-load of men here who love you and a couple who would kill for you in a minute.  Walk tall and be proud of how far you’ve come, Son.”

“Thanks, Sheriff.  I appreciate your encouragement.”  Lucas answered.

The boys were most impressed by the size of the monster who emerged from the back of Charlie Goodnight's truck.  The men and the big creature walked over to be introduced to the boys.  Blake did the honors and told them the middle boy, Sam, would be doing the Master/slave ritual with them for the group that evening.  One of the other slaves was chosen to represent the rest of Hoot and Cotton’s slaves.  Blake introduced each man.  The boys shook hands with the slaves, but didn’t with the other men unless he offered his hand.  Lucas thought it was amusing and somehow right that Sam, his favorite brother, was showing obeisance to the freemen.  Good old Sam.  The irony was, Sam was the least likely to be bothered by such an act.  Sam just took it in stride.  Lazarus and Lucas approached the line of men.

“Gentlemen, it’s my pleasure to introduce to you the ramrod of the Goodnight ranch, Mr. Lazarus Long and his son, Lucas Long.”  said Blake.

Lazarus took Burton’s hand and talked with him for a minute.  Burt was impressed by the big cowboy.  Lazarus moved on to Phil and shook his hand.  Lucas stepped up to Burt and offered his hand.

“It’s good to meet you, Burt.” offered Lucas.

Burt just stared at Lucas.  A memory flashed in his mind.  He had only seen such beauty in one other place.  It was the medical men who examined him.

“Are you Master Long’s son?” Brut asked as he shook Lucas’ hand.

“Yes, that’s right.”     

“And you’re a slave?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Your dad sold you into slavery.”

“Yes, he did, Burt.”

“How do you feel about it?”

“I didn’t agree with him when he done it, but I understand why.  It was the best thing he could’ve done for me.  For a good while, my life wasn’t worth living.  It’s a long story.  For a time, I was a slave to some bad people who mistreated me terribly, but my dad rescued me by buying me from them as his slave.  It taught me a lesson I’ll never forget.  I’ve been his slave ever since.  I’m very happy being my dad’s slave and serving him as best I can.  I’m first and foremost his slave, I just also happen to be his son.

“Why ain’t we never seen you at school?”

“We didn’t get here in time for me to begin this school year, but dad’s home school’n me.  If I do well and he’s pleased with my progress, with his permission, I may start school next fall.  I’m looking forward to it and playing football with Master Waco, Travis and Little Bear.”

It was time for Lucas to move along.  Waco and his men were waiting to say ‘hello’ to Burt.  Waco offer his hand to Burt.  They talked for a while about football and school.  Waco introduced Ox to Burt and he took his huge paw in his hand and shook it.  Burt’s eyes were open wide.  Ox just smiled, nodded to him and bowed slightly.

“He don’t speak none, Burt, but he understands English.”

“It’s good to meet you, Mr. Ox.”  Burt said quietly.  Ox smiled, nodded and bowed again.

Travis was next and called Burt ‘brother.’  That kinda got to Burt that Travis was recognizing him as his slave brother, but he appreciated the sentiment.  He figured Travis meant it as a compliment and not as a put down.  Little Bear just hugged him and told him he was looking good.

Phil didn’t have much to say to Lucas, but he looked at him like he was  one of the beautiful men who examined him.

When Lucas got to Sam, Sam got confused and was going to drop to his knees for the ritual when Lucas stopped him.

“I’m not a freeman.  I’m a slave jes’ like you.  You must be Sam.”

“That’s me, and you’re Master Long’s son, Lucas?  You look jes’ like him.”

“That’s right, and thank you.”

“You seem to be doing all right as a slave.”  Sam looked into Lucas’ eyes and something inside him broke.  Tears were forming in his eyes.  Lucas took Sam in his arms.  He didn’t think Sam recognized him.  Maybe he was wrong.

“I’m sorry.  You look so much like some men what examined me last Friday for a medical exam, and yore’ eyes.  It’s like I’ve looked into yore’ eyes a thousand times.”

Burt and Phil heard Sam and said they agreed with him.  They felt the same.

“I’m sure we’ve never met in this life, Sam.  I’m told I look a lot like a number of people.  Maybe you have me mixed up with someone else.”

“Maybe, but I could swear,— ”  Sam cut off his sentence.  He seemed uncomfortable and Lucas moved on.

Lucas made it through Jeb and Zeke with little problem.  He felt genuine affection for them and Sam.  He wouldn’t go so far as to call it ‘love,’ but he was concerned about them.  He reserved his opinion for Burt and Phil for later.  Lucas was glad his brothers were under the care and guidance of men he knew to have their best interest at heart.  He trusted them to do the right thing by them.

Lazarus and Charlie were impressed with what Blake accomplished with the boys and the accommodations they managed to create.  It looked professionally done.  The restrooms were perfect and spotless.  Blake’s teacher Trotter Helms was all compliments.  So was his partner Ed Bach.  They couldn’t believe what he accomplished in such a short period of time.  He assured them the boys were intelligent, learned quickly and were highly motivated.  He was pleased the way they were coming along.  Lazarus told Blake he was happy to see his money was being put to good use.  He was very impressed.

Hoot, Cotton, Charlie, Hank and Don Lassiter were talking in a group.  Hoot looked at Lazarus and spoke.

“So much for us training young Lucas, huh ramrod?” Hoot grinned.

“Yeah, I been doing me a lot of think’n on that, and it might be best described as a conflict of interest, but not quite the same way.” he chuckled.

“I’ll be dead honest with you, Master, I don’t think the boy needs much training.  He’s completely devoted  to you.  He’s attentive and polite to other Masters.  He never fails to perform the ritual.  If anything he’s overly vigilant in his duties and responsibilities as a slave.  If we can teach them other boys to be half as good a slave as he’s become, we’ll be doing some’um.  Cain’t says we wouldn’t welcome him to our bed for a weekend or two.”

“I’ve talked with him about that.  I decided to let him choose the man he wants to break him in.  Now, I may be wrong about that.  Any suggestions will be gratefully considered, gentlemen.  You’ve all had more experience with this sort to thing than me.  So far, he’s got it narrowed down to three men.  That’s count’n you and Cotton as a package deal, Hoot.”  The men laughed.

“Hell, we’ll take him any way we can get him.” they laughed again.

“The other two is Bobby Jessup and Hank Morgan.”

“Me?” Hank exclaimed. “Why me?” he looked shocked.

“Why not you?  He done told me he knows you’d be gentle but firm with him.  On top a’ that, he thinks you’re jes’ about the hottest damn cowboy he’s ever met.”

“Who don’t?!” exclaimed Charlie and elbowed Hank in his ribs.  The men all broke up at Hank’s embarrassment.

“I’m flattered, Master Long, but I don’t think I’m the man for the job.”

“Is that what chore’ gonna’ tell yore’ boy when he comes to you and asks you to teach him about sex?” asked Lazarus with a big grin.

“I pray to God ever’ day that day won’t never come, ramrod.”

“I guarantee ya’ it’s gonna’ happen.” said Charlie. “We all see the way JR looks at you.  It ain’t slipped by his momma neither.  She knows.  I’m surprised she ain’t never said nothing to you.”

“She has.” said Hank, blushing beat red.  The men laughed at him again.  “Oh, shit,” Hank said softly, “why can’t life be simple?”

“H’it ain’t as hard as you make it out to be, cowboy.” Charlie scolded him. “Ain’t a man standing here what has more knowhow and a bigger heart than you, Hank Morgan!” Charlie winked at him.

“Amen to that, brother!” allowed Lazarus and the other men agreed with him.  Lazarus continued,  “Then, the other night,— we’s laying in bed, and Lucas asks me what I think about him asking Blake Tindell to break him in?”

“He git’s my vote!” laughed Don Lassiter.

“Mine, too, if’n that’s what the boy wants.” added Charlie.

“Wait a minute!” Hoot interrupted,  “Who says the kid has to choose just one man to break him in?”

“You jes’ might have some’um there, Hoot.” Lazarus said.

“I’d shore’ ‘nuff like to throw my hat in the ring.” said Don Lassiter.  Lazarus was only a little surprised, but why not?  Don loved Lucas as much as any man there,— with good reason.

“It would be easier for me, if’n I knew I would only be one of several.” said Hank, “To be honest, I think so much of Lucas, I don’t know if’n I could turn him down if he was to come to me and ask.  Ida’s done made me promise I won’t leave some’um that important to some other man if JR should come to me.”  

“E pluribus unum.” Laughed Lazarus. “Glad we had this talk, gentlemen.  I like yore’ idea, Hoot.  At least it gives me an option to offer the boy.”

“Why don’t you do it, ramrod?” asked Hank.

“No,— they’s too close, Hank.  If their situation was different, it would be Master Long’s responsibility, even his duty to take his slave for the first time, but Lucas is a unique situation.” Hoot explained.

“Mean’n no disrespect, Master Hoot, but I’m just as close to JR as Master Long is to Lucas.  Aside from the fact I’m a slave, why is it all right for me and not for him?”

“Hank’s got a point there, ramrod, and a damn good one.” Charlie backed up Hank.

“I jes’ ain’t let ma’self think on it.  I let him jack me off in the shower once in a while, and I’ve taken him a couple of times when he’s jacked off, but nothing more.  Because he’s my slave, I make him come to me and ask permission before he jacks-off.  Most times I jes’ tell him to go ahead on.  But, he’s so damn good looking, ever’ now and then I jes’ wanna’ stand and watch him.  Maybe I should give him the option.”

“I think that would be very wise, ramrod.” confirmed Charlie.  Hank backed him up.  Hoot, Cotton and Don agreed.

* * * * * * *

Lucas stuck to Lazarus’ side like glue and was waiting on him hand and foot.  Things Lazarus would ordinarily do for himself, Lucas insisted on doing for him.  He laughed a couple of times at him.  The only time he ventured away from Lazarus was to use the restroom, or when he hugged and give Blake a kiss to congratulate him on his success.

“I’m so proud of you, Mr. Tindell.  You’re doing a great job.  I can see a change in them already.  When dad told me Master Charlie suggested you to lead them, I knew you were the man for the job.  Master Charlie and ma’ dad couldn’t be more pleased with your work.”

“Thanks, buddy.  I know this must be hard on you, but you’re handling yourself admirably.  I thought for a minute, Sam recognized something, but he didn’t, or maybe he did and jes’ don’t realize it.”

“I agree, but I ain’t ready to let them know nothing yet.  I may never tell them.  I don’t really have any need to tell them.  I don’t think on them as my brothers no more.  I think of Master Waco, Travis, Little Bear, JR, Bryce, Cable, David, Jonathan, Ox and you as ma’ brothers.  I’ll take you men over them any day of the week.”

“Trust me when I tell you we feel the same way, little brother.” Blake told him.

The five brothers seemed to gravitate to Lucas all evening.  Everyone noticed and wondered how he felt.  Lucas just stayed close by Lazarus side and sometimes held his hand.  It was not missed by his brothers.  They could feel the love and trust that passed between Lazarus and Lucas.  They were almost envious.  Lazarus would gently squeeze Lucas’ hand from time to time to remind him whose boy he was and to whom he belonged.  Lucas couldn’t have loved Lazarus more than he did that evening.  He knew in his heart who he wanted to take him for his first time, and if age was a factor in his Master’s mind,— Lucas was willing to wait for the best.

End Of Chapter 18 ~ Waco’s Lummox
Copyright 2006 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All Rights Reserved ~
Mail to: waddiebear@yahoo.com