fight off a stiff sedative, and all the mental and physical stress he
experienced during the day. Even though he was still just a pup
he had a rough day. He was fast asleep by the time his family and
all the cowboys returned to the ship to visit and wish him well.
Strom volunteered to stay with him for the night in case he woke up and
was disoriented or hungry. He did wake up once during the night
and found himself in the big arms of his hairy man friend, Strom.
He moved closer to Strom and started whimpering because he hurt so bad.
Strom enfolded him in his arms and began to sing to him. He
offered Moe one of his teats and the pup gratefully accepted. He
didn’t suck more than a half dozen times when he was fast asleep
again. He slept the rest of the night.
him; Moe was really sore the next morning and couldn’t move without
yelping. Cable gave him another sedative which relaxed him and
let him rest some more. Cable decided he would keep him on the
ship for another day or two. This time Moe didn’t voice any
objections. Everyone came to visit him, but he felt too bad to be
glad to see them. He kept asking about Stan and the Blooms.
“Now, don’t chu’
worry none, we’re gonna’ take care of them. You just get better,
little buddy.” Waco told him.
floated in and parked next to his bed for a morning and sang to
him. They were wonderful, and he could feel their healing rays
working wonders on his hurting little body. He was grateful for
their help. After the second day he began to feel a little better
and was able to enjoy his visits with his family and friends.
Strom stayed with him and fed him all the lummox milk he could
drink. That helped a lot.
the ranch for several weeks. He was curious about a lot of things
and how the boys interrelated with each other and their adult
counterparts. He became fascinated with Blue, Keekepata, and the
Kryscellians. He had never run across their species in his many
years of travel throughout the universe. He heard of them, but
never knew anyone who knew whether they were a real species or a
myth. He spent long hours conversing and singing back and forth
with them. He was able to teach them things, and they taught him
He was allowed
to come and go and had free run of the ranch and ship. He was
respected and honored, but he was not put upon to join in or do
anything he didn’t want to. He and Utah felt more comfortable on
the ranch than they had any place in a long time. They found a
home in Parson on the Mighty Bee. He visited a number of times to
be with Blue and Keekepata, but he would roam the country and visit
with the folks. They came to love him, and he loved them in
return. He traveled frequently between all the colonies on the
ship. He was welcome anywhere he went. He came to be known
as a healer and a hard worker who wasn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves
and get dirty.
Charlie were taking care of the Bloom ranch until they could figure out
a plan that would be reasonable for everyone. The next meeting of
the Grange was an important one and explosive. There were several
hot-heads who were immediately ready to take up arms and storm the
halls of the powers that be; however, they knew in their hearts it was
all for show. Lazarus knew and understood and allowed them to
vent their frustrations and settle down.
“Our main worry
ain’t the Blooms. We got their DNA on file, same’s we got
everyone else in the Grange. We got Stan’s, too. We can get
Ole and Hattie back in a day or two and give them a plot of land to
ranch on the Mighty Bee. They can become colonist like the Olsens
and many other folks. Our main worry is about Stan. What to
do about him?” Lazarus threw out for the men to discuss.
“We can’t just
leave him with that monster. I think we’re growing into a strong
community, and Stan is one of us. Though some of us keep slaves,
it’s more a correction and work ethic thing than what he’s up to.
It don’t justify some of our own practices, but it’s a damn sight
better’n what he’s up to.” said Angus.
“Ole and Hattie
know enough to talk up ‘rapture’ as a cover wherever they’ve been
sent. Them fundies really believe in that shit even though it
ain’t mentioned anywhere in the bible. If the Blooms disappear
before their eyes, the folks who witness it will swear they been
‘raptured.’” Charlie said.
“You can do
that?” asked Sonny Steele incredulously.
“We can fly over
your ranch tonight, and because we got yore’ DNA in our computer, we
can beam you up in seconds. It works on the same principle as the
gates. One minute you’re there and the next you’re here in the
blink of an eye. We can locate you wherever you are on the
planet. Don’t matter how well hidden you are, we’ll find you.”
Zoltan Kodaly to his son.
It was decided
to strike back at the federal government, but do it in a manner that
would leave them scratching their heads wondering where it all fit into
what was going on. Rather than scooping up the Bloom’s small
ranch, which might cause some suspicions, Lazarus and Charlie picked
out an area within the boundaries of Ft. Hood, Texas, outside a small
town that once existed called ‘Ham.’ It was land the
government confiscated years ago to run military maneuvers on,
but it might have some unexploded weapons. Lazarus set the
computers to excite and detonate any remaining shells or bombs on the
property one evening with a fly over. After it lit up the sky one
night, they waited for a week and lifted the area and caused it to look
like an enormous sink hole. The funniest thing about it
was, the property was less than half a mile from one of the
largest detention camps in the country and no one saw a thing.
They managed to capture some wonderful ranch land with a creek running
all the way through the property. They miniaturized it and
installed it on the Mighty Bee. Then they went after the Blooms.
surprisingly, they discovered Ole and Hattie were in the same detention
center on the Ft. Hood military reservation. They were scheduled
to go to different centers for re-education and had been attending
nonstop religious education classes. Whenever they were asked to
pray they made sure they prayed to be raptured from the camp in which
the were imprisoned. Of course their counselors frowned on that,
but couldn’t say much because, after all, it was what they taught;
however, they highly objected to the Bloom’s insistence they were being
imprisoned illegally and against their will.
Charlie’s timing couldn’t have been better. Lazarus and Kyron had
three invisible robo-cams on Ole and Hattie and could tune in to what
was going on as any given time. They kept close watch on them to
make sure they weren’t being mistreated. Ole was in the middle of
a particularly moving prayer oration and had just started asking God to
rapture him and his wife from the despotic clutches of this false God
religious group when they suddenly started to glow in a brilliant white
light, then just disappeared. Lazarus and his crew couldn’t have
planned it better. Their timing was perfect. The folks left
behind were stunned.
There was much
awe and disbelief from their captors; however, they saw it
happen. They couldn’t deny what they saw. They would be
branded hypocrites if they said they didn’t see the Blooms ‘raptured’
right before their very eyes. It gave great hope to other poor
souls who were having to listen to the same slanted religious crap day
in and day out. It also ruined the re-educator’s position of
authority. If God raptured these folks because they believed the
people running the camp was worshiping false Gods, who were they to
think otherwise. Much to the dismay of the self-righteous
Evangelicals running the camp, those left began to pray for their
rapture and salvation from the false religion.
Hattie was in
tears when they arrived on the ship and found themselves greeted by
Lazarus, Charlie, the boys and a couple other members of the
Grange. Ole was a bit misty eyed himself. They were so glad
to see their friends. The first words out of their mouth were
about their boy.
“Is Stan all
right?” Ole asked.
fine. We have the robo-cams operational. He’s on his way to
Washington to be processed. We don’t know how long we’re going to
leave him with the government people. We’ve learned a great deal
from having him among them as an insider into what’s going on. We
wanted to give you a chance to get settled in your new home and then
we’ll talk about what to do. We can lift him any time we want.”
Moe? The poor little thing. He was so brave.” Hattie
patched up. Cable and his staff took good care of him. He
suffered some cracked ribs, and it took Cable and David one afternoon
to get all the cactus stickers out of him. He’s still taped
up. He was really feeling bad several days ago, but he’s much
better now. All your livestock has been relocated to Charlie’s
ranch and will be transferred to your new property on the Bandersnatch
as soon as you’re able to take care of them. We didn’t take your
land, we took some not far from the detention center where you were
being held. Did you hear us exploding the weapons that were duds?”
you? We heard there was huge sink hole nearby. They thought
the weapons explosions cause it. They were worried it might
encompass the camp. They said the sink hole came about after
weapons accidentally exploded and the creek decided to run
underground.” Ole laughed knowing otherwise.
beautiful piece of property, Ole. You and Ms. Hattie are gonna’
love it.” added Charlie. “It even has an old farmhouse and
a couple of barns to get you started and Lazarus plans to bring in his
cowboy-slave carpenter crew this summer to get you up and running.”
“It won’t be the
same without Stan.” said Hattie.
“Now, don’t give
up on Stan. We ain’t. We don’t know we’re gonna’ leave him
there. We gotta’ talk with Stan. We can do that. Them
robo-cams got two- way communication devices on them.” encouraged
* * * * * * *
There were few
secrets within the Grange. Naturally Ranger Gibbons and his wife,
Mary, discovered the Watkins man was staying at the Goodnight ranch,
and he helped several people; however, Ranger never asked for him to
come to them. Ranger understood Lazarus and Charlie knew about
his inquiry on his wife’s behalf. Lazarus was honest with him, he
didn’t know how much or what Jesse could do. They met Jesse at a
couple of the Sunday afternoon Grange meeting, but they didn’t say
anything to him about Mary’s illness. The third Sunday Jesse was
at the ranch the Gibbons didn’t attend the meeting. Neither
did Bobby and Elsie Jessup. Elsie called Ida Mae to say Mary was
too sick and under the circumstances they didn’t feel like attending.
morning Jesse announced quietly he and Utah would be gone for the
day. Lazarus and Charlie smiled at each other to see him and Utah
take off in the direction of the Gibbons’ ranch. They reached the
ranch house a little before noon and knocked on the backdoor.
Ranger came to the door and smiled to see it was Jesse. He
invited him in and asked if he would have Sunday dinner with his
family. Jesse accepted his invitation, but insisted he could only
eat whole-grain bread and a bit of oil. Ranger saw to it Elise
took care of his needs.
Jesse doted over
the Jessup and Gibbons’ babies. He thought they looked very much
alike. They were a little over a year old. They were
already walking and talking. They were fascinated by Jesse and
Utah and knew he was someone special. They asked intelligent
questions and Jesse didn’t talk down to them. He answered them
honestly and openly. After dinner Ranger sent the boys off to
play so the adults could talk. Mary was able to join them and
Jesse spoke to them. He was blunt and to the point.
“I can’t cure
the form of cancer you have, Mary. I’m sorry. Your exposure
to Cable, the Kryscellians and the advantage of lummox milk has
prolonged your life much longer than they estimated. No one can
fully cure you of the dread disease. I know Lazarus has even
given you the Longevity shot in hopes it would give you more time, but
it will only fully work if your DNA is functioning perfectly and yours
Mary looked very
depressed and shed a tear or two, but she was stronger than
Ranger. He broke down, much to the distress of Elsie and Bobby
who loved them both dearly.
“Is that why
you’ve been reticent to come to us?” Mary asked quietly.
Gibbons. It breaks my heart to have to tell someone bad
news. I try to live my life for good news and to bring hope to
folks; however, what I have to say is not all bad, I bring you some
Jesse let that
sink in for a moment before he began again.
“I can’t save
you, but the Goodnight boys can extend your life for another
period. I can’t say how long, because I just don’t know.
There is such a thing on Earth as the waters of life. Some folks
call it Aqua Vita. There was an early Spanish explorer, Ponce de
Leon, who tried to find such a thing in Florida. While there is a
spring of such water in the State of Florida no one has ever found
it. It’s at the bottom of a very dense swamp area and feeds
directly into the brackish waters of the Okefenokee swamp. It’s a
shame, it does no one good because it immediately becomes contaminated
upon mixing with the other waters.
In our travels,
me and Utah, we discovered another source. To be honest, it
weren’t me what discovered it, it was ma’ buddy, Utah. He chased
a rabbit into a cave on the bank of a river we were camping by one
evening and discovered it by accident. Dogs have a much better
sense of hearing and smell than we do and he recognized the importance
of his discovery immediately. He forgot all about the rabbit he
was chasing and came to tell me about his greater discovery. The
supply Utah discovered is an underground supply and may never
surface. It may go into a thermal zone and finally come to the
surface through steam or a geyser. If so, it becomes chemically
altered so it’s no longer useful for the purpose of healing.
It is the purest
form of the water I’ve ever discovered. I can give the boys a map
to the cave. They can go and bring back several gallons of the
water. Now, I must warn you, the water smells like rotten eggs;
however, once you drink a little it don’t taste too bad. It has a
high sulfur content, but that’s a good thing. There is a strict
regime you must follow if you want to see results from this healing
water. You must drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of the water,
evenly spaced, within a twenty-four hour period. That’s one glass
every three hours.
Now, here’s the
hard part. You may have no food for seven days and nights.
On the eighth morning you may have one cup of boiled white rice with
one cup raw lummox milk, and you are to have only that plus the eight
glasses of the water for seven more days. The third week, you may
have two portions of the rice and milk twice a day. The fourth
week, you may have three portions, three times a day. Do you
think you can do that?”
be willing to try, Sir.” Mary replied like she was desperate for
any hope. Ranger perked up a bit, but Elsie frowned and shook her
head. It sounded like torture to her. Bobby didn’t respond.
for you to know before you begin, if you fail to follow my instructions
to the letter, you risk sliding all the way back to where you
were. Another thing is, I don’t know how effective it will be or
for how long it will last. I have never worked with or prescribed
Aqua Vita to anyone. I ain’t known where a supply was before last
summer. Cancer is a strange disease. There are so many
varieties and permutations, and as you’ve been told, yours is a
particularly virulent form. We can only try it and hope for the
best; however, you have a leg-up on most other folks who might try a
new or alternative cure.
If you decided
to do this, I would also suggest you do it in sickbay on the
Bandersnatch for several reasons; they can watch and monitor your
progress; you won’t be so tempted to cheat just a little as you might
at home; and those with the experience and powers to help you will be
close at hand around he clock. You have an excellent medical
staff on Captain Long’s ship, and several known healing potentials
available to you. You have several Lummox available to you who
are known to have certain healing powers; lummox milk, one of the
purest, most nutritious, and healing food sources in the universe; you
have the wonderful Kryscellians who have powers to heal carbon based
life forms we don’t fully understand yet; you have Ping and Pong who
can provide you with pheromones which will curb your appetite and
alleviate any feelings of hunger and depression you might have; and,
you have the combined healing resources of me, my companion and the
Grange to back you up. Never underestimate the healing power of
the combined thoughts and prayers of your fellow men and women.
You have a wonderful chance of defeating this disease, but it would be
wrong of me to promise you such a thing. Like I’ve explained, I
have no way of knowing your chances, but even a small percentage is
better than no chance at all.”
agreed and the evening ended on a note of cautious optimism.
* * * * * * *
to the ranch and had a meeting with Lazarus, Charlie, Hank and the
boys. The school year was almost over and the boys would be out
for summer vacation.
“Where is this
river?” Charlie asked.
“It’s the Paluxy
River that runs through Glen Rose, Texas. I can give you and the
boys geo-positioner stats so you can find it or Utah and I can go with
you if you like.” Jesse volunteered.
would be best. How much do we need to bring back?”
would equal two day's treatment. So for thirty days she’ll need
fifteen gallons. It probably would be good to bring back a larger
supply for emergencies; perhaps as much as thirty or fifty
gallons. It has to be stored in amber or dark green glass vessels
with no plastic tops. It can’t touch anything plastic or it with
null its healing and restorative properties.” Jesse told them.
“What about a
fifty-five gallon, light-weight titanium storage drum?” Lazarus
“That would be
perfect. Any non-ferrous metal container would work.” allowed
“Okay, we have
plenty sterile containers for just such a purpose on the Mighty
Bee. Cable, David and Jonathan can get them for you. Waco,
I can give you another gate post. Take it with you and when you
get into the cave, post it and walk through to sickbay and get the
containers from Cable. Fill them on an anti-grav gurney and float
them back through.”
there’s one small detail I ain’t told you men about.” Jesse
smiled. “There’s another life form what inhabits the cave and you
may want the containers placed in an isolated area so you can
control it. If not, you run the risk of having them all over your
“What sort of
life-form, Jesse?” Waco asked.
“A form of
arachnid; what you folks call daddy-long leg spiders. The
ceilings are covered with hundreds of thousands of them. If you
bump into them you run the risk of stampeding them and you’ll have
spiders crawling all over you. If you’re very careful, they won’t
bother you. They won’t hurt you, but they’ll make you hurt
yourself unless you can control the urge to brush them off.”
“Oh, Lord, I
hate spiders.” said Charlie with a groan.
“You don’t have
to go in, Dad.” Waco allowed.
“That’s why I
suggest you send in the boys. They have a better tolerance for
such things than adults.” Jesse smiled at a grimacing Charlie.
“Also, boys, you can’t allow one of them to fall into the water you’re
storing. It will contaminate it immediately. Just the act
of transferring the water from the ground to the containers will cut
down its effectiveness by ten percent or more.”
provide you with an aluminum-glass pump with flexible hose of the same
material. The opening of the containers are of such a size to
exactly accommodate the tubing. It doesn’t have to be touched by
“That would be
ideal, Lazarus.” Jesse said, “Then all the boys would need to do
is break through the back wall and create enough space to pump what we
need and seal the wall back when they’ve finished.”
“You want to
hide the source? Why would you wanna’ do that?” asked
it. It’s been undiscovered for thousands of years, maybe
millions. If we leave the gate-post there we can have an instant
source if we need it. If we leave it open, it would soon become
contaminated and worthless.”
“Makes sense to
me.” said Blue. “How many of us get to go, Master Charlie?”
see. I guess it to be a couple of day’s drive from here in the
motor coach; so, me, Jesse, Utah, Blue, Waco, JR, Travis, Little Bear
and Lucas will go.”
“Uh, what about
us, Master Charlie?” asked Bronc and the others joined him.
“You men better
speak with your parents about that.” Charlie smiled. “Besides, we
only have so much room in the motor coach. As it is, we’ll
probably have to have some sleep on the floor or sleep in shifts, but
since it’s only gonna’ be a couple of days trip, I think we can manage.”
Bron hadn’t told
his boys, but he planned to take Bronc and T’sgan back to the wilds for
the first two weeks of the summer. He wanted them to have a
chance to reconnect with their roots. After becoming fully
acclimated at the ranch, he didn’t know how they were going to
react. Bron knew he had to return for a while. He missed
the freedom of roaming around in the deep forest of Canada and the U.S.
with his brothers and sisters. Captain Trong and Commander
Fielding wanted Gavin and Jerry to return to the Archimedes for a
couple of weeks to be with their family.
“What about Ox,
Dad? You know how upset he gets when we’re separated for any
length of time.”
“We ain’t gonna’
be gone that long. He can better serve you here by him and Strom
checking on Keeke and being around the ship if they’re needed.
Besides, I got one more man in mind to go with us.” Charlie
The man Charlie
had in mind to go along as Sergeant-at-arms to ride herd on the boys
was his slave-cowboy brother Shane. He contacted his older
brother, Angus discussed it with Bill Birdsall and they agreed it would
be a great chance for Shane to get away and be with his beloved nephew
and uncle. Shane had come to love and appreciated Blue, Lucas,
Travis and Little Bear as his brothers as well as Waco. Whenever
the family was together, he got permission from his mate and master to
hang with the boys. They were essentially Shane’s peer group for
a second adolescence; one he never could seem to get right the
first time around.
* * * * * * *
The drive to San
Antonio was long and unpleasant. Stan sat in the rear of the huge
limo with the big man who arrested him. Brick didn’t give Stan
any time to get much together. Stan packed one small suitcase
with his newest pair of Wranglers and a couple of nice Western
shirts. He put on his best pair of boots he only wore to go to
church. He started to take his notebook computer Waco had given
him but instead hid it under the mattress of his bed. Brick’s men
handcuffed him, but Brick took pity on him in the limo when he saw his
wrists were beginning to swell from them being too tight.
“If I take them
cuffs off you, you promise you won’t try’n do something stupid?” Brick
asked him sincerely.
I promise, I won’t. I’m smart enough to know when I’m
licked. Being a slave from birth you learn when to give in and
not get back up when you been knocked down.”
“You ain’t had
it too easy, have you, boy?”
complain. I had it easier than most, Sir. I was raised by a
poor family who treated me more like their son than a slave. I
lived and worked for them because they were good to me and I loved
them, not because I was a slave. It ain’t gonna’ be easy for me
to adjust to becoming a slave again.”
“No, I don’t
suppose it will.” Brick commented empathetically as he removed
Stan rubbing his wrist to get the blood flowing.
what you promised.”
“I will. I
won’t forget. Where we going, Sir?” Stan asked quietly.
“We’ll drive to
San Antonio where I have a private government jet parked and we’ll fly
back to Washington; however, it’s late and we won’t make it all the way
this evening. We’ll stop and stay at a motel for the night, and
I’ll get you something to eat. We’ll be up early and drive the
rest of the way to San Antonio.”
never been on a plane before.” Stan said.
it. Our plane is more like traveling in someone’s living room
than just having a seat on a commercial jet. If you relax, kid,
and go with it, you can have a good time. I ain’t hard to get
along with. All you gotta’ do is listen to what I tell you and
obey me.” Brick said as his reached for his brief case to do some
He noticed Stan
looked bored. He reached over and grabbed a remote. He
pressed a button and a big LED video screen rose from the wall of the
limo before them. He tossed the remote to Stan.
three hundred movies stored in the memory of this machine. Pick
one if you want. Reach in that compartment next to you for
headphones. I need to get some work done, but you can watch a
film if you like.” Brick explained.
Stan seemed to
appreciate the gesture more than he really wanted to watch a dumb
movie. He thanked Brick and like any kid with a new toy, played
with it more than watched a movie from beginning to end. It was
just as well, it wasn’t long before the limo pulled off and they parked
in front of a set of motel rooms. Obviously, they never
checked out from their travel to Reason county. They figured
they’d be back after they picked up Stan, and they were right.
They went into
the room and one of Brick’s guards came with them. Stan learned
the guard named Jim was his babysitter. Jim brought with
him some hard, light weight, plastic hobbles of some kind and threw
them in one of the top drawers of the dresser. He didn’t bother
to hide them from Stan.
kid,” he mumbled to Stan, “they’re for when you go to bed so you won’t
try to run.”
into the room and heard what Jim told him.
“I don’t think
we’re gonna’ need them things, Jim. He gave me his word he
wouldn’t try nothing.”
“He’s just a
kid, Brick. How do you know he won’t do nothing. It’s our
ass if he don’t get delivered to processing.”
“You don’t know
these country folks like I do, Jim. They don’t have much, but
they give their word, it’s like gold to them. You ever hear of
the cowboy code?” Brick watched Jim shake his head, “Trust me, he
won’t try nothing.” Brick asserted as he handed Stan a menu
from the motel restaurant. “Here, Son, order anything you wan’t
on the menu. Don’t be shy. You want their best steak, order
it the way you like it. You want a cheeseburger, get it.
Whatever you want. Also be sure you order some dessert for
yourself. If you don’t eat it right away, you might get hungry
Stan decided on
an expensive burger with salad and a glass of milk. He also asked
for a piece of German Chocolate cake for dessert. Brick told Jim
what he wanted and Stan couldn’t believe the amount of food the big man
ordered. Jim got on the phone and ordered the food.
believe the amount of food Brick packed away. The big man ate
like it was his last meal. Stan finished his burger and even ate
his cake and Brick was still eating. They talked a little during
their late supper, but not much. Jim didn’t eat with them.
He and his buddies wanted to go to the restaurant.
“Are the rumors
true about you guys, Mr. Brick?” Stan asked.
rumors? That we get clipped in the life of service for our Holy
true enough.” Brick paused to take another bite of his steak,
“Now you wanna’ know if I been clipped?”
“I wouldn’t ask,
I’ll tell you. No, I ain’t been clipped. I ain’t never been
asked to join the Holy Order. I worked hard to get to where I am,
but I’m beginning to have second thoughts about it. Not about God
or the Holy Prophet, but about my own motivations. I just wonder
if I’m really worthy of such an honor.”
“I pray you
ain’t worthy.” Stan said quietly. He didn’t know where that
came from. What did he care what the man chose to do? If he
wanted to sacrifice his cock and balls for some crackpot preacher’s
holiness, what was it to him?
“Why would you
say something like that?” Brick asked but not in a challenging
tone; more like he was curious.
“If God wanted
you to lose them for the Holy Prophet he would cause them to drop off
naturally. It’s just like circumcision. It’s loony to think
a God who created you would want you to have your protective
covering hacked off because of his religion. It’s just plumb
crazy to think that way.”
say things like that, boy. Them be blasphemous words.”
“Since when is
truth blasphemous. My words are only blasphemous to those who
think that way and as far as I’m concerned, they be crazy people.”
your mind after you’re re-educated and see the miracles our Holy
Prophet can perform.”
seen miracles your Holy Prophet could only dream about.”
right!” Brick scoffed at Stan and grinned sarcastically.
“If your folks loved you so much, how come they didn’t set you free?”
“You told me you
was raised in a religious orphanage?”
replied Brick, “That’s why I’m where I am today.”
“Then you have
to know the minute they set me free, it would involve the State and
Federal Government raising their ugly heads. The first thing
they’d do is take me away from the Blooms and put me under their
custody because I weren’t no blood relation to them. Then I’d be
placed in a Government orphanage and put up for adoption. You
know the percentage of kids what get adopted who are over one year old?”
“Less than damn
few— almost none. Even if the Blooms wanted to adopt me as their
own, you know the government would never let them. ‘At’s just the
way things is. Then what would happen to me?”
“After so many
years, if you didn’t get adopted you’d be sold for indenturement to pay
back the money you cost the government. Then, most likely, you’d
remain a slave for the rest of your life.” Brick conceded.
“You do know the
ropes, then.” Stan said with surprise.
“I guess I was
more fortunate than most kids, I was raised in a religious home.
They didn’t have the same policies the government run homes do.
They took care of us up through the end of high school and college if
we wanted to go.”
“Did you go to
helped me and I got a football scholarship to Baylor. I majored
in Physical Education, Religion and Politics. The day after
graduation I went to work for the Holy Prophet and been with him ever
“Are you going
through with it if you’re offered the position?” Stan asked with
know.” he answered truthfully. Stan recognized it as such
without pressing further. “Something’s happened I didn’t count
on.” added Brick.
Stan just looked
at him. He didn’t ask. He figured if Brick was going to lay
a loaded gun on the table it was for a reason; he needed to tell
someone; someone who wasn’t a part of the holy
infrastructure. Stan waited. Brick looked at him like he
knew what he was waiting for and was a little hurt Stan didn’t respond.
“I fell in
love.” said Brick.
smiled. “E’aup! ‘At’ll do it.” he said like a wizened sage,
and sat back after his last bite of cake.
“What do you
know about love?” Brick asked sarcastically to the young man.
“Enough to know
I didn’t want to leave my family. Enough to know I didn’t want to
leave my brothers, whom I love very much. Enough to know I didn’t
want to leave my little buddy I love, you and your men wanted to
destroy. Enough to know I feel sorry for you.”
someone like you, who has nothing, feel sorry for a successful man like
“Because I had
more love around me every day of my life than you will ever dream of in
all of yours. You’re willing to sacrifice that which you most
want from life for your perverted idea of success and happiness you’ve
allowed others to convince you should be your dream, but in your heart
of hearts, when you’re alone, in the wee small hours of the morning,
there’s a nagging little voice way down deep inside you that says, ‘I
don’t want that. I want this instead.’ Is she very
pretty?” Stan asked.
quite handsome.” Brick responded without emphasis.
“So are my
brothers.” confided Stan like he shared Brick’s secret.
“I thought you
were the only slave of the Blooms.”
“My brothers are
my football teammates who live on the ranch down the way from
ours. They were there when you came for me. We were
planning to leave on horseback through the badlands to their
ranch. They would’ve hidden me and helped me get away, but I made
them leave and take my pup with them so he wouldn’t be hurt no
more. Your man really hurt him bad, and he was only trying to
protect my mistress.”
said Brick. “I didn’t know how attached to him you were. So
you sacrificed yourself for the love of a dog?” Brick asked
“He weren’t just
a dog. He was my friend, my buddy, my pal, and I miss him.”
Stan’s eyes started to tear up. He turned his head and wiped his
eyes with a paper napkin. Stan quickly
regained his composure. “Ain’t being in
love with another guy kind a' forbidden in your world, Mr. Armstrong?”
“Not if you’re
as high up in the socio-religious food chain as I am.” he tossed off
with a chuckle.
“I can see
parallels with the Holy Prophet’s tastes. How can he condemn
something for his associates he practices himself— right? So, I’m
to become one of the Holy Prophet’s toy-boys— a temple whore.”
look at it that way. You’ll be greatly repaid for your dedication
and services to our Holy father. You’ll be guaranteed a place in
his kingdom in heaven.”
thanks. Don’t I get a choice? What if I’d rather take my
chances being a good cowboy?”
“You been living
with folks who don’t treat you like a slave. You keep
forgetting. You’re a slave, and slaves don’t get no
You will become what the Holy Prophet tells you, and you will worship
him for his love for you.”
Jim came back in
the room with the other three men. They started tidying up the
place and throwing away the trash. There was a busboy from the
restaurant with a cart to pick up the dirty dishes and take them back
to the kitchen. They were soon gone and Brick and Stan were alone.
late. You get into the shower first and clean yourself.
When you get out, I’ll get in there.”
Stan did as he
was told. He didn’t have any modesty undressing in front of
Brick. He was proud of his young athletic body and although he
wasn’t any where near as large as Brick, he knew he was
attractive. He carefully arranged his clothes on a chair and
walked naked into the bathroom. He left the door open.
Brick couldn’t help but see everything. He was undressing and
putting his clothes in the closet.
Stan enjoyed the
shower and took his time. When he finished he toweled himself dry
and walked back into the room. Brick was doing one handed pushups
on the floor. He had a routine he did every night and every
morning. He was completely nude. He didn’t seem to be
showing off. He was just doing his normal routine. Stan
watched him and smiled to himself. His own dick was larger than
Brick’s. Stan sat on the edge of the bed until Brick
finished. Brick didn’t say anything to him right away.
“Pick a bed,
Son. I ain’t got no preferences.” he told Stan.
Sir.” Stan responded.
Brick went into
the bathroom with his overnight bag. Stan tried not to pay
attention but Brick’s body was the stuff young men dream they want
their bodies to look like. He looked like something off a
bodybuilding web site Stan knew about and would call up to ogle the
bodies with his brothers. Stan saw Brick get out a hypo of some
kind and fill it from an individual vial of some chemical. Then
he watched as Brick emptied the hypo into the toilet and flushed it
afterward. Was that the steroid shots the Temple Guards were
suppose to take every day? Why was Brick not taking
his? Waco told him how destructive steroids could be to the body
when Stan asked about ordering some from Mexico. After what his
brother told him, he didn’t want them anymore. Stan didn’t let on
he knew anything.
got into the shower and was in there for quite a while. Stan
wondered if he could get his clothes on and get out the door before
Brick got out of the shower. Then he thought about several
possibilities. What if Brick had an internal lock on the door
Stan didn’t know about, and he was testing him? What if there was
a guard outside the door all night? Besides, the man said
he trusted him. He gave Brick his word. How could he go
against him? He decided it wasn’t worth it and got into his
bed. When Brick came out of the bathroom he wasn’t wearing a
towel or robe of any kind. He was buck naked. Stan guessed
when you have a body like his, who would want to hide it?
Brick sat on the
edge of his bed, folded his hands between his legs, bowed his head and
began to pray silently. Stan knew what he was doing, but didn’t
interrupt him. When Brick finished, he looked up an saw Stan
“I pray twice a
day.” he said meekly. Stan didn’t respond. “Look, kid, we’re going to
be seeing a lot of each other. You’ve been placed under my
supervision for your initiation. Believe it or not, I know what
you’re going through and where you’re coming from. I would’ve
given anything to come from a background like yours. What’s
happening to you and your family ain’t your fault. You’re just a
pawn in the game. I can’t tell you all I know, but you’re small
fry compared to what the Holy Prophet wants from that community.
I’m praying he has a change of heart, and it don’t blow up in his
face. I plan to talk with him about it when we get back.
I’m sure I don’t have much influence on him, but on occasion I have his
ear. He listens to me whether he likes what I have to say or
not. Anyway, try to understand the position you're in, the
position I’m in and we’ll get along fine. I don’t wanna’ make it
tough on you, but I will if I have to. It’s just my job,
Son. Do we understand each other?”
I promised I won’t try to escape, and I ain’t. I won’t. You
can trust me; however, I won’t lie to you none neither. I’m
praying to my God he raptures me and takes me away from you and the
Holy Prophet. Not because I don’t like you. You been pretty
damn nice to me, but because I don’t belong with you and him.
There is an order in the universe, and I’m a part of it. Some day
I hope you can understand it.” Stan said quietly.
Brick had no
idea what the kid was talking about and passed it off as pseudo new-age
mumbo-jumbo don’t-kill-a-butterfly-‘cause-it- just-may-be-
somebody’s-reincarnated-mother crap. Brick smiled at
him and turn down the covers to his bed. He crawled into his bed,
said ‘goodnight’ to Stan and turned off the light next to his bed.
The motel was on
the back of a lot, and there was no freeway traffic to keep a person
awake. It was very quiet and Stan found himself drifting off to
sleep. He awoke and had to go to the bathroom to take a
leak. When he came back he looked at the mountain of man laying
in the other bed and wondered what it would feel like to lay next to
him. He had no idea what made him do it, but he found himself
crawling in next to Brick Armstrong. He imagined the big man
might become incensed and throw him out immediately. That’s not
what happened. The mighty Brick rolled over and threw his huge
arm over Stan and snuggled close.
“You get scared,
I’s just wonder’n what it would feel like to lay next to a man’s big as
“How does it
feel?” Brick whispered.
Brick moved his
crotch in closer to spoon Stan. Stan relaxed and backed into
him. He could feel Brick growing strong, but he was no longer
smaller than Stan. Somehow, he managed to grow quite a bit larger.
“You sure you
know what you’re doing, Son?” Brick asked.
“Not really, but
I’m willing if you are, Sir.”
“You ever been
“Yes, Sir, a
couple of times this last year. I begged my brother Waco to come
home with me after one of our football games. Since I’m a slave,
it was legally all right for Master Waco to take me. I got my
master’s permission before I invited Master Waco over for the
night. I was honest with him, and he told me if I had to learn to
be taken I couldn’t have me no better partner than Master Waco.
He knew what we was up to and wished us well. He loves Master
Waco and all them Goodnight boys. They be ma’ brothers, Mr.
“I figured as
much. Has Mr. Bloom ever taken you?” Brick asked.
“Naw, Sir, but I
wouldn’t mind if’n he wanted to. After Master Waco broke me to
the saddle, Mr. Ole is looking better’n better ever’ day. I even
thought about offer’n ma’self to him. I love him so much,
but I don’t know what that might do to Ms. Hattie if she found
out. I’d have to discuss it with him. I think Mr. Bloom is
a sexy older cowboy. I’d shore’ ‘nuff ride his old cayuse.”
Stan grinned real big.
“Who was your
second?” Brick asked.
time was with Master Waco’s cousin from Alaska. Master Blue looks
almost like a double for Master Waco, but he’s a lot quieter and
introspective. He confided in me he ain’t never fucked nobody,
but he wanted to try. I invited him home with me after a game one
Friday evening. He was almost as good as Master Waco. I
done it with him a couple more times. He got better each time.”
clean?” Brick inquired softly.
“Yes, Sir, I
brought along my hygiene kit, and I cleaned myself in the shower.
‘At’s what took me so long.”
“I just thought
you was enjoying the hot water.”
too.” Stan laughed.
“You sure you
wanna’ do this?”
“Yes, Sir, I
think I need it from you, Officer Brick.”
“Do you need
“No, Sir, I done
took care of that. Master Waco taught me about being a good slave
to a master.”
“Sounds like you
had some good, loving folks to break you in. I don’t think you’re
going to have any problems serving the Holy Prophet.”
Brick took Stan
gently but firmly. He stopped taking the drugs the doctor for the
Temple Guards was providing after his miraculous time with
Tim. Brick saw it as a message God wanted him to stop
taking the drugs. He figured he was big enough as he was.
Why carry more coals to Newcastle. After he’d been off them for a
while, he not only became more potent, he began to feel better over
all, and noticed his penis began to grow to its normal size
again. He was raging hard as he took Stan.
He was taking
Stan from behind and enjoying every minute of it; however, he wanted
more. He withdrew and ordered Stan to lay on his back with his
legs up. Brick then mounted him from the front and sunk his newly
engorged penis to the hilt in Stan’s waiting ass. Stan was in
heaven. He could only imagine what having sex with a man of Brick
Armstrong’s proportions were like. Brick was not stingy with his
love making either and the two were entwined in passionate embraces to
compliment their sex. Somehow, one of Brick’s big succulent tits
found its way into Stan’s waiting mouth.
like Stan had found his magic spot. He reached his huge arm down
and wrapped it lovingly around Stan’s head and locked him to his tit
urging the young man to suck more and harder. When Stan seemed to
get the most from that tit, Brick placed his huge hand on the back
of Stan’s head and transfer him to his other tit and urge him to enjoy
that one as well; all the while, steadily fucking his young partner
closer and closer to climax.
“I can’t hold
back much longer, buddy?” Brick whispered. “My tits are so
sensitive, and you’re doing a wonderful job making love to ‘em.
How do I feel inside you?”
Officer Brick. I can’t hold it much longer neither. You’re
hit’n my come spot inside me over and over again. It feels so
“Let’s do this
together, cowboy. Here we go.”
fucking Stan really hard and the young man opened to him like a
flower. The harder Brick fucked him the harder Stan sucked on his
massive, luscious male tits. The flavors from Brick’s tits was an
overwhelming sexual turn on for Stan. He arched his back to let
Brick take his deepest thrust into him and let out a loud groan.
Son! I’m shoot’n my load in your hot little ass, boy! Take
it, Son!” Brick moaned.
“Oh, God— oh,
God!” Stan shouted softly as he shot all over himself,
Brick’s muscular chest and abs.
into deep spasms of heavy breathing. Brick rolled Stan onto his
side so his weight wouldn’t crush the boy. They were still
coupled together, making fierce love to each other, enjoying the
twilight ecstacy from the afterglow of their love
making. They were equally drained.
Son.” Brick whispered between kisses.
Officer Brick. Thank you.” Stan complimented the big man.
and Stan went to the bathroom. He got a face towel and dampened
it with warm water, then returned to the bed to gently clean his
partner. Brick lay back enjoying the young man’s attention.
Master Waco teach you this, too?” he smiled.
I just figured it would be a nice thing to do for a man what provided
me with as much pleasure as you just done. The young man you fell
in love with is a lucky young slave.”
“I’m the lucky
one. His name is Tim and he’s opened new worlds for me. I’m
having doubts about my future. I’m having doubts about
everything. I guess I just need to pray harder and have more
faith in the Holy Father.”
the towel to the bathroom and returned to share Brick’s bed
again. The big man greeted him with open arms, and they slept the
rest of the night holding each other close.
* * * * * * *
morning, Stan woke to the sounds of water running in the shower.
“Stan, can you
hear me?” he heard a small voice.
“No, it’s your
“Where are you?”
“Back at the
ranch. We’re using the speakers on the robo-cams. Bet chu’
forgot all about them— didn’t chu’?” Waco laughed.
did. Damn, it’s good to hear your voice. How’s Moe?”
better. Still a bit sore, but we can’t keep him down. He
sends his love. He’s heartsick they took you away. Look, I
can’t talk long. We don’t wanna’ be discovered. We
heard rumors Ole and Hattie done got themselves raptured. They
prayed and prayed for it, and one night, it happened.” Waco
news.” Stan spoke barely above a whisper. “We’re flying
back to Washington today from San Antonio.”
“Listen we ain’t
forgot about you. Don’t lose hope. Don’t worry. God
will get you out of this. If you need to contact us, git to
someplace where you can be alone and ask. Kyron is monitoring you
constantly. He’ll put you through to me or Captain Lazarus.
You done good last night, buddy. Great show! Nice going!”
groaned. He forgot the cameras were on 24/7. He thought
he’d play along.
“How’d I do,
straight tens across the board from your brothers, cowboy. Way to
ride that big man! Do I have your permission to send the
footage to my Captain and his crew in deep space?”
Stan fell out
laughing and slapped his leg.
“Of course you
do. I suppose everyone will review it before it’s sent.”
“Count on it,
brother. On the big holo-screen in the auditorium of the Mighty
Bee. I’m think’n about renting kleeg lights and advertize it as
another cowboy grand opening. I promise you, there won’t be a dry
crotch in the audience. Don’t know what it’s gonna’ do to my shy
Visallian warrior though.” They shared a laugh. Stan knew
Captain Vinceeth was anything but shy. Waco heard the water turn
off in the shower.
run. We’ll keep in touch. Make sure you pray to be
“Do me a favor,
Master Waco. Get my computer from under my mattress on my bed at
our house. Keep it for me.”
brother.” Waco was gone.
to the room with a towel wrapped around his waist.
“What were you
“I had the TV on
for a minute and something struck me as funny. It was some silly
animated kids program with vegetables talking about the rapture.
Then I turned it off.”
* * * * * * *
The trip to Glen
Rose took a little longer than Charlie guesstimated, but the boys were
out of school, their birthdays were coming up and they were in great
spirits. They got there just in time to pay the fees and park the
motor coach. They decided to stay on board the coach for the
night and start out for the river the next day. As it turned out
there were a lot of tourist. Many knew about the cave and were
eager to explore it. They could see it might not be as easy as
problem.” said Jesse, “We’ll just camp out down here nearby and
do what we need to do at night. No one will be down here at
They did just
that, and it went off without a hitch. The boys came out and
related to Charlie the ceiling of the cave looked like they were
covered in black hairs, but upon closer examination you could see each
hair was part of an individual spider and they were constantly
moving. Charlie had no interest in going in to see such a
phenomenon. They spent half the night pumping two fifty-five
gallon stainless titanium drums full of the cold water and then
carefully capped them off. They pushed them through to sickbay on
the Bandersnatch with an anti-grav dolly. When they were finished
they carefully sealed the hole back up. They disguised it so no
one would think anyone was excavating anything. They left the
gate-post embedded about a foot into the dirt where no one would ever
find it. Even if they did, they wouldn’t know what it was or know
how to activate it.
The boys spent
the next day resting as the adults and their Sergeant-at-arms drove
them home. The trip did wonders for Shane and he really seemed to
enjoy himself. He and Charlie had a lot of time to talk about
things. Shane only had another three years to go on his
indenturment, and Charlie planned to set Blake Tindall free the
following summer. His time was nearly up. He discussed with
Shane his and Lazarus planned to make Blake an offer he couldn’t
refuse. They didn’t want to let go of him and were willing to pay
him handsomely to keep him working for them. The return trip
seemed to take less time. Lucas allowed it was because it was
downhill from where they were.
* * * * *
The water was
tested on the Mighty Bee under the strictest sampling methods and found
to be almost pure Aqua Vita. There was little, if any,
contamination. Jesse commended the boys for their care and expert
handling of the water. He was very impressed with their
Mary Gibbons was
ready. She came on board the Bandersnatch and was treated like
visiting royalty. Cable, David, Jonathan, the boys and the
androids on the ship had gone to a great deal of trouble to make her a
private room with all the comforts of home except no access to a food
source. Ping and Pong stood by to provide her with pheromones
which would elevate her mood and curb her apatite. She started
her therapy June first of that year amid much well wishes from friends
and family of the Grange. The boys expressed their regrets she
would miss their birthday celebration; however, hopefully this
would provide her with many more years of celebrating with them.
The first week
was the hardest for her. Mary lost a lot of weight. She was
always slim, and it just seemed to accentuate her thinness; however,
Jesse assured everyone she would began to look better as the second
week progressed. It wasn’t as hard on her as she thought it
might be, but sometimes she had a hard time gaging down the
water. She came to look forward to the mornings of the second
week when she could have her cup of rice with a cup of lummox
milk. She ate it all mixed together as a sweet pudding. Her
color began to return and she began to show signs of overcoming the
came to see her a couple of times every day and would sing to her for a
couple of hours. She loved their visits and came to know them
quite well. They were encouraged by her progress and related to
Lazarus and Jesse she was doing much better than they expected.
Blue would come and hold her hand for a while almost every day.
He never missed a day, and he became very close with the
* * * * * * *
was growing by leaps in bounds. The Sunday afternoon get
togethers almost became so large to become unmanageable; however, the
overall work and organization came through a lot of volunteer hard
work. It just seemed to become necessary to everyone involved for
them to become a part of something bigger than just their immediate
families. Since there was so much food consumed, the raising of
chickens and cattle for the private consumption of the Grange became a
cottage industry of the colonies on the Bandersnatch. There were
a couple of large chicken farms sprang up and many of the ranchers were
running larger numbers of cattle. Some of the poorer ranchers
like Ole and Hattie Bloom began to make more money and afford a few
luxuries for themselves. Newer standards of agriculture were
enforced so the raising and slaughter of animals became a humane
practice and they were not grown in cramped, closed quarters where
their brief existence wasn’t one of misery.
fifteenth birthday party proved to be one of subdued celebration.
Everyone was worried and praying for their beloved Mary Gibbons and
still more worried and equally concerned for Stan Edmunds. The
Grange counsel put it to a vote what to do about Stan. They were
in touch with Stan, and he seemed to be getting along all right.
He was learning a lot about the inner workings of the Holy Prophet and
his circle of sycophants. Stan relayed these things back to Waco
and Captain Lazarus. They even had videos of him meeting with the
Holy Prophet and aside from having to strip for him to admire, he
hadn’t suffered anything sexually demeaning, in which he didn’t care to
participate. Stan decided he didn’t care to have anything to do
with Scudder and particularly his Holy-fabulous Aide-de-camp, Austin
Stan made it a
point to stand up to Scudder and tell him he had a strong faith and his
God would not allow him to remain in the clutches of such
men. He would pray for his rapture from among them.
It didn’t play particularly well with Scudder, but he thought the boy’s
faith was charming. He felt he could work with Stan. While
he hadn’t managed to get the big fish from the pond, he had to admit,
Stan Edmunds wasn’t exactly small fry. He was pleased with his
catch, and like any sociopath could care less about the damage he might
have done to Ole and Hattie Bloom or their associates. As Holy
Prophet and Decider-in-chief of the greatest nation on Earth, he
had lobbed a big one across the bow of the Grange as a warning: Don’t
fuck with me! He would teach Yates and that damnable Grange a
thing or two. Scudder forgot one small thing: Hubris and
arrogance have a much greater height to fall from than a cowboy with
his boots firmly planted on the ground.
* * * * * * *
to have a good time. Cable, David and Jonathan dressed up in
their cowboy clothes and got Mary Gibbons bundled up into a
wheelchair. They made a surprise, unscheduled visit to the party
for a while. Everyone was pleased to see her, and she seemed to
be in good spirits. She didn’t want to stay long and put a damper
on the boy’s day so they soon left. She insisted Ranger stay and
enjoy himself. She would see him later in her room. Elsie
was in charge of both babes, but she had help. She had Strom to
act as guard and extra food source for the boys and they took full
advantage of him. So did the Long twins. They were not to
be left out when there was lummox tit afoot.
Austin/Daniels contingency was a little late in arriving. When
they pulled into the compound they were pulling a huge horse trailer
behind them. They were followed by the sheriff, his family and several
of his deputies who were members of the Grange. Blake drove
the Stamper boys over with several of their cowboy-slave saddle
buddies. It was mass confusion for a while. The
Stampers were all over the Goodnight boys and wishing them happy
birthday. The Olsen boys were already at the party.
They spent the night on their family ranch on the Mighty Bee.
believe what them men got for you men for your birthday.
Especially, you, Master Waco.” said Burt.
high school the year before. He was working full time with Blake
Tindell. Phil, the next oldest just graduated and would join Burt
and Blake in their role as builders for the Grange. They were
making good money for their masters.
imagine.” said Waco.
“We know’d about
it for sometime. We damn near had to cut our little brother’s
tongues out to keep ‘em from spill’n the beans.” added Phil.
walked up with a big grin on his face. The boys lined up to shake
hands and receive a hug and kiss from Don Lassiter. He saved
Lucas for last.
“I never get
tired of saying ‘hello’ to you, young man.” he said sincerely.
“You make my day
a little brighter ever’ damn time I see you, too, Sheriff.” Lucas
birthday present is in that trailer. I won’t tell you what it
is. Just go on over and see for yourselves.”
The boys ran to
the trailer and opened the rear door. They couldn’t believe their
eyes. Inside were four beautiful, if not well kept, fully grown
Shire horses; three mares and one stallion. It didn’t dawn on
them at first, but Angus walked up to explain.
man I bought Ranger from?” he asked rhetorically, “He lost everything
including his ranch because of the government hounding him. These
horses were left behind to fiend for themselves and they damn near
starved to death. Sheriff Lassiter got a call from a neighbor who
fed them during the past winter out of the goodness of his heart, but
they were costing him too much to keep on feed’n ‘em. He didn’t
have any use for them anyway. He was going to call the rendering
plant and sell them, but the three mares were just too beautiful for
him to see destroyed. He called the sheriff of Reason
county. He knew there were some larger ranches in his county.
Cotton, Hoot, Chief Tin Penny, his boys, me, Bill and Shane drove
down there and picked ‘em up and brought ‘em back to Hoot and Cotton’s
place. Your Stamper brothers have been taking good care of ‘em
for the last month and they look a damn sight better’n they did.
This is Ranger’s dame and sire, and two extra brood mares the man
bought. We didn’t think the stallion would make it. If’n it
weren’t for a miracle from Mr. Watkins, he wouldn’t be alive.
Them boys’s been feeding him lummox milk and good oats. So, it
was a concerted effort to get them to you as a birthday present.
Ya’ll got a whole passel of folks to thank for these critters.”
The boys were
stunned. Little Bear, Travis and Lucas were already inside the
trailer getting them loose so they could get them out into the fresh
air and sunshine. The boys could see the big stallion was in poor
shape, and he look like he didn't feel very good. He saw them and
became frightened when he didn’t recognize them.
big fellow! We’re friends. We mean you no harm. We
just want to help you out of here. >> Lucas sent to him.
<< How can
I hear you speak to me? Only one other man knows how to speak to
me. He gave me the strength to cheat death. >>
Jesse? We know him. He’s a good man. He’s our
friend. He’s here. Let us help you out, and you can speak
with him again. >>
like that. I’d like to thank him for my life. >>
then, we have another surprise for you. Your son is here. >>
Ranger was over
grazing on the football field with Jack and Jill playing on his
back. They were jumping around, swinging from his neck, and his
tail chasing each other. He didn’t seem a bit concerned. It
was natural for his little buddies to be playing all over him.
Life was good. He looked up when he heard his name called.
He wondered what was in the big horse trailer the boys were gathered
around, but the fresh grass tasted too good to bother investigating.
Buddy! Git chore’ big butt over here!” Yelled Waco.
The crowd laughed.
Ranger began to
mosey over until he caught sight of the first huge Shire to back out of
the trailer and stand there in all her glory. ‘Could it be?’ he
wondered. He began to break into a gallop. Jack and Jill
forgot their play and hung on for dear life. He slowed before
getting to the crowd. They made room for him as he slowly
approached the big mare.
Mom? >> he asked.
>> she asked in return.
me, mom. They named me Ranger. >>
<< I never
thought I’d see you again. Your father is coming out of the
trailer now. He almost died this past winter. If it hadn’t
been for a kind man on the next ranch who fed us and a man who saved
his life, he wouldn’t be here today. I’m so glad to see you
again, Ranger. >>
The big horses
stood muzzle to muzzle and no one had to interpret what was passing
between mother and son. Everyone knew and felt it. It was a
powerful moment to see Ranger reunited with his family.
these mares my sisters, Mom? >>
son. They’re two mares the rancher bought separately. >>
slowly up to the older stallion and greeted him. He welcomed him
to the Goodnight ranch and told him he would be honored and well taken
care of on the ranch.
<< Are you
my son? >> he asked.
<< I am,
Sir. >> Ranger replied.
turned out handsome enough. >> he allowed.
you, father. I can see where I get my good looks. >>
Ranger said. The old stallion snorted.
* * * * * * *
The day came to
an end and the boys had to say ‘goodbye’ to Maxine. She was going
home to live with the Lassiters. They hated to let her go, but
they knew they’d see her almost every Sunday and holidays.
Laverne went home with the Olsens, and they were thrilled to have her
come live with them. The boys could see her almost any time they
wanted. Moe went home with Ole and Hattie. He was still
taped up. While he felt perfectly fine, he was milking it like he
was the last of the invalid pups. He had Hattie right where he
wanted her; until, one of the boys got out the frisbee and threw
it. Moe managed a miraculous on-the-spot recovery, forgot
himself, and made a spectacular leap and catch in mid-air that would
make the best of the canine frisbee catchers green with envy. His
cover was blown. He went home with the Blooms anyway.
Hattie didn’t care, she spoiled him rotten.
Patty, Shep and
Larry stayed on at the ranch. They were working out fine as extra
cow dogs for the Goodnight cowboy-slaves and they loved having them
around. They made their work a lot easier. Lazarus found a
great deal of pleasure in them. Patty was becoming a young
lady though and thought she needed her space from her rough and tumble
brothers. She asked Master Long if she could live with him and
Lucas. Lazarus talked it over with Lucas and he agreed to take
care of her. He made a bed for her in his room. The other
pups stayed first one place, then another. Shep and Larry were
always together. Sometimes they slept in the boys rooms and other
times they slept in the barns with their lummox buddies. Just
like two brothers, they argued with one another a lot. They
never fought, but there was always something they didn’t agree
on. When it came to work they worked perfectly as a team, or if
one was threatened his brother was always there to back him up.
By the same token, if there was mischief to get into, if one was
involved you could bet the other was, too. That’s why Patty chose
to distance herself from her brothers. She worked well with them,
but when the day was over she chose to be with Lucas and Lazarus.
They grew fond of her, too.
* * * * * * *
“You just had to
dip into that ranching community— didn’t you?” Austin accused
Jeremiah Scudder. “You never asked me; and, we both know
why you didn’t ask me about it— don’t we, poopsie?”
down. He’s small potatoes. I took him and his owners just
to show them hicks not to fuck with me.”
seriously they’re the least interested in fucking with you. I
don’t think you impressed them very much. Either that or they’re
praying to a God you don’t represent.”
“What da’ ya’
heard? Oh, yes, that’s what you have me for, ain’t it?
Seems like young Stan’s owners were raptured several nights ago at one
of your religious re-education centers.”
“What are you
talking about, you cow?”
“Can the cow
routine, Lara, honey! You’re no poster child for Jenny
Craig. They just disappeared in front of a room full of
people. You’re people have been too afraid to tell you about it.”
How could they just disappear? That don’t make any sense.
They ain’t no such thing as the rapture. I preach that shit to
make them yokels think any day now God could come knocking on their
door. The more I keep ‘em stirred up the more money they
contribute. Thank God for them two damn fools what wrote them
Left Behind books. They weren’t nothing but fairy tale fiction;
however, them Jesus freaks believed ever’ damn word like it was the
second writing of the Gospels; like it was a damned addendum to
Revelations. It was insanity of the first order; yet, them
looneys think it’s coming. Unless there really is such a thing as
pantheistic solipsism then there ain’t gonna’ be no rapture.
It’s just a bunch of hooey. Besides, if God was to rapture
anybody, it would be me and not them penniless fools.”
know. Jesus said the least among you will be first. That’s
pretty clear to me he weren’t talk’n about you, sweet-cheeks.”
“Awww, blow it
out chur’ ass, Meg. You’re the last one what should be quoting
scripture to me. If it weren’t for me, you’d be on the fast-track
midnight train to hell, and if I remember correctly you spell that
G-e-o-r-g-i-a. Ain’t that your old stomping ground, darling?”
Jerry. So, I’m from the backwoods of Georgia. I’ve come a
long way, baby! I’m warning you, Katherine Kuhlman, if you don’t
give up on that small ranching community providing you with new talent
for your semi-vestal virgin pool, they’re gonna’ give you a one way
ticket to vulcan-city. You’re playing with fire with them old
cowpeople. They could take this national in the press and cause
you all sorts of embarrassment. Besides, I’ve heard rumors
there’s a good bit of doubt brewing among your Temple Guards you might
not be the prophet you claim to be.”
“That’s why I
pay you the big bucks, Meg. What have you heard?”
“I ain’t pinned
it down yet, but I have my suspicions. I’d keep my eye on that
big one— Armstrong, I think his name is. Have you had him
“Naw, I talked
with him about it, but I ain’t got around to offering him a position in
the Holy Order. He’s the one I sent after the Edmunds boy.”
know. I wouldn’t count on young Stan being a virgin.”
do you know, Meg?”
“You know I have
my ways, sweet-cheeks. I had my men sent along with him.
They’re tried and true. They’re already members of the Holy Order
and clipped. I checked ‘em myself. They’re cut high and
tight. They got to squat to take a piss. My ex-men planted
some well placed micro-cameras in his motel room. I got video’s
of Armstrong flushing his meds down the motel toilet and him fuck’n the
snot out of your new slave-boy on a stopover on their way back to San
“You wanna’ see
“No, I’ll take
your word. Son of a bitch! I was gonna’ offer him a place
in the Holy Order and he goes and does something like that to me.
I don’t particularly mind him fuck’n the kid. Hell, he’s been
sleeping with one of my favorites, little Tim. I think he’s in
love with him, but if he is, why would he sleep with the Edmunds boy?”
“He ain’t taking
his meds, May-Ling. He’s getting horny. He didn’t seduce
the kid, the kid seduced him. Stan crawled in bed with him and
offered himself to Brick. I wouldn’t be too harsh on the
man. He ain’t done nothing to really bust him for. I would
take him to task about his seriousness about being a Temple
Guard. Is he serious about wanting to become a member of the
Knight’s of the Holy Order?”
“I asked him
already, but he never answered me. He said he wasn’t sure, so he
didn’t lie to me. He was being honest.”
“On the other
hand, he could be a good tool for you. You know he’s honest and
won’t lie to you. You also said he told you honestly what he
thought about things. He might be good to keep around to keep
your head out of your ass.”
“Why, when I got
you to do that?”
point, you don’t always listen to me! Sometimes you shut me out
altogether and do exactly what you damn well please. You know
what that gets you! Admit it, every damn time to do something
like this behind my back it blows up in your Gotdamn face and you end
up running to me to get your out of it. You might try listening
to me this time. Just listen to the man and see what he’s got to
say. I’d certainly listen to him about that slave-boy. I
got a feeling about him, Jerry. He may be only a slave to you,
but I got sources what tell me he’s well thought of in his community
and a member of the Grange. You just robbed that community of one
of their favorite football heroes. You could be in deep do-do
“What can they
do against me? I am the Federal Government of this country.
I could go in there and claim they’re all seditionist and throw the lot
of ‘em in re-education centers.”
tried it in the past and what has it gotten you? A lot of
unnecessary bloodshed and the economy takes a nose dive. The last
time you pulled one of your bitch-fit tantrums we almost didn’t recover
from the recession it caused. One more and you're looking at a
military coup. You put all them uber-conservative Jesus Nazis in
the Pentagon. They’ve been tolerant of your extracurricular
activities so far, but they’re so tight assed they can’t fart without
screaming in pain. They’d just love to take your place.”
dare. I’m the Holy Prophet.”
“Don’t make me
laugh, Mary Magdalene. You walk a thin line in your position, and
even gotten thinner over time, because you keep clamping down on the
big corporations; wanting more and more money from them for your
useless little wars to keep them Jesus Nazis happy and earning more
money for all the blood sucking industrialist war profiteers. The
rest of the world is weary of your shit. The only reason Russia
and China ain’t blasted us into the stone age is because we owe them so
damn much money. If they did, they’d feel bad and have to send
more aid because they lit the firecracker.”
right! All right! What will it take to get you off my ass?”
“Talk to me
before you do something rash. If you go down, I go down, and I
don’t mean that in a good way. I’ve got twenty years of my
gloriously, fabulous life invested in you and your ministry. I
got a feeling you’re gonna’ do something that’s gonna’ cause us a world
of hurt. Whatever you do, think before you act.”
promise. You know I love you, don’t you?”
“Yeah, like a
dog loves his fleas.” Austin tossed off. He wasn’t in the
mood to make nice.
* * * * * * *
Lucas recited a
chapter from Peter Pan for the twins before tucking them in for the
Lucas. Read us another.”
“No, I’ve got to
get to bed. Your daddy is already in bed and he’s waiting for
me. Now, be good and go to sleep. I’ll come get you in the
morning. If you mess yourselves during the night tell Patty, and
she'll come get me. I’m gonna’ leave the night light on.”
“We love you,
Lucas.” said Bo.
“I love you,
too. Both of you.”
“I love you,
too.” said Jubal.
Patty. I love you, too.”
Lucas left and
went to Lazarus room. They already discussed sleeping
together. Lazarus was awake reading when he came into the room
“Them boys is a
lot of work for you, Son.”
“I don’t mind,
Dad. They’re ma’ brothers. Is Captain Jones and Bryce
gonna’ take them for a while.”
“We talked about
it, but they’re in the heart of the Amazon jungle and the boys are
really too young to be wandering around in that place. I told him
he could lift some ranch land and store it on his ship and have them
visit there, but so far he and Bryce ain’t had the time. Maybe
when they get a bit older. Are they getting to be too much for
“No, they were a
lot more work when I was in school, but we left them with Ox and Strom,
Ping and Pong every day. I just took care of them in the
evenings. Most of the time ma’ brothers help me. They’re
really growing fast and they’ll be easier to take care of soon.
They’re working really hard on becoming potty trained. All I have
to do is remind them, warriors don’t shit their drawers.” Lucas
laughed and Lazarus joined him.
forget the warrior thing as they get older?” Lazarus asked with a
grin. “No, wait! You don’t plan to let ‘em forget it.” he
threw back his head and laughed again.
see.” allowed Lucas.
fifteen today. I was as proud of you today as I’ve ever been,
Son. You got one more year to sixteen.”
gonna’ keep your end of the bargain?” Lucas asked.
“You still want
“Would you be
hurt if I chose someone else?”
all. It’s yours to call. You gonna’ share with me who
you’re think’n on?”
Lazarus knew he
wouldn’t get more out of Lucas.
End Chapter 31 ~
Copyright 2007 ~