By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 40

HOLY PROPHET DR. JEREMIAH SCUDDER MURDERED BY CRAZED TEMPLE GUARD, screamed the headlines of major newspapers around the country that afternoon.  The world was in shock.  There was nothing else on the TV but religious and political pundits; talking heads having much to say about nothing.  The President of the United States of the Theocratic Republic of America was assassinated.  The Holy Prophet, religious father to millions was dead.  The stories went into lurid detail about how the lone gunman, obviously a terrorist mole, managed to infiltrate the upper echelon of power only to commit a horrendous murder for no other purpose than political opposition.  They played it up big, there was no Earthly reason that could have provoked any man to do such a dastardly deed.  What remained of the left wing, the former Democrat Party (they were careful not to write ‘Democratic.’ A small but not too subtle putdown) was to blame for this.  They must accept the responsibility and they would pay dearly for this treachery.  Known liberals were being rounded up within hours, without charges and shipped to detention camps called ‘Traitor Camps.'  (Sometimes called 'Cheney Camps.')

Strangely enough, the Holy City Police Department was more understanding with Brick Armstrong.  They found him where he said he would be, and he was unarmed.  He offered no resistance.  Since he was a brother officer they treated him with more respect than they probably would an ordinary assassin.  Brick made no statement to the police.  He admitted only to having shot and killed Jeremiah Scudder.  He would answer no further questions.  He would only speak with his attorney.  He was asked where Timmy Kelly, the young Semi-Vestal Virgin, was?  Did he know Tim was suppose to have spent the evening with the Holy Prophet and his political advisor.  Brick refused to answer.  He didn’t want Stan and Jimmy-Bob involved.  He thought he made a mistake having them remain in his apartment.  He should have ordered them to clean themselves, wash their clothes, and return to their dorm rooms and keep their mouth’s shut.  He didn’t have to worry, they were in good hands and being looked after.

* * * * * * *

Jimmy-Bob and Stan watched as their big buddy was handcuffed and carried off by the police.  They thanked Kyron for the video-feed but asked him to shut down the link.  He obliged.  Then suddenly there was a great flash of light in the living room where they watched the murder of the Holy Prophet.  Standing before them was Jesse Watkins and his companion Utah, but Utah was no longer a dog.  He was a handsome, bright and shining angel-like man with long flowing blonde hair.  Jesse smiled at them.

“God, you men look ghastly and smell worse.” he smiled.  “Do you recognize this handsome fellow?” he asked with humor in his voice.

“He looks like I would imagine Utah to look if he were a man.” replied Stan.

“Exactly.  He didn’t want to be changed, but we have work to do, and I need him.  He agreed to allow me to give him this form until we accomplish what we need to do.  Then, I will change him back into a dog.”

“You’re very handsome, Mr. Utah.” said Jimmy-Bob.

“Thank you, Sir.  I’m still just Utah to you and Mr. Stan, though.” he smiled showing a row of perfect teeth.

“I’m going to clean you men so there won’t be any forensic evidence you ever came in contact with Timmy’s blood.”

Jesse bowed his head, took Utah’s left hand and held onto his staff with his right hand.  A bright light shown forth from his staff and wherever it touched the cowboys the blood disappeared from them.  It disappeared from all places in the apartment where they might have tracked it from the guest bedroom; however, Jesse left all the blood in the bed, in Tim’s pants, and all around the room.  He wanted the police to find it.  When the light faded and went out, the boys were clean.  Even their bodies smelled fresh and clean.  Their clothes were spotless.

“Gee, thanks, Mr. Watkins.” said Stan.

“Now, you men go back to your dorm rooms and stay there except for meals.  Stay together in case I might need you in a hurry.  These next few hours are critical.  Will you do that for me?”

“Anything, Mr. Watkins, you know that.  You have our complete trust.” Stan assured him.

“Good, then be off with you now, and go in peace.  Remember, what you experienced this past few hours was not of your doing.  You were major players in an event, but you did your parts well and used good judgement.  The Ancients are most pleased with you and will reward you accordingly.  Have no fear, your time of rapture is near.  Your little sister and parents will be raptured with you, Jimmy-Bob.  Be of good cheer and keep a good heart.  Don’t worry about your friend Officer Brick.  We’ll take care of him.  We may need you later to comfort him; if so, I’ll be in touch.  Stay together and stay strong.”

“Thank you, we will, Mr. Watkins.  Bye, Utah.  Look’n good, brother.”  Jimmy-Bob smiled and gave Utah a thumbs up sign.  Utah smiled back and nodded.  They left the apartment.  The guards at the door didn’t ask them any questions.  The boys weren’t sure if they even heard the news yet.

* * * * * * *

The coroner was just about to make his first incision into the body of Jeremiah Scudder.  He didn’t know why they wanted a postmortem done on him.  It was obvious the man died of a massive gun wound to the head, for cries sake.  They could easily have waved the laws, but for some reason, the powers that be insisted on it.  He poised his scalpel over Scudder’s chest when a bright light filled the room and blinded him.  He couldn’t see in the dark room for a minute.  Then he saw them.  Two radiant men who looked like angels from an old picture he used to look at in his grandmother’s home.  They had long flowing hair and spotless white robes.

“Move away from the body.”  The taller of the two spoke to him in a commanding tone.

“What?  Who are you?  How did you get in here?  Guard!”  he yelled for the officers standing outside the door.

“They can’t hear you.  No need to panic.  We’re here to restore his life.  Now, please don’t make me be physical with you.  Move away from the body.”  Jesse insisted.  

The mortician backed away.

“Where are the pieces of his brain and skull, Sir.” the younger one with the long flowing blonde hair asked.

“They’re in that plastic bag over there on the counter.”  

Utah moved to the counter and retrieved the bag for his master.  He handed it to Jesse without comment.  Jesse opened the bag took out the bits of Scudder’s brain and placed them back into his head.  Finally he took the two skull fragments, one large and one small, and expertly fit them together on Scudder’s head.  His staff shot out a beam of the purest light, and the mortician could see the bone and tissue were being welded into place.  When Jesse was satisfied he took Utah’s hand and once again the light from his staff filled the room.  It became so blinding white the coroner had to cover his eyes with his hand for a moment.  Then the light was gone.  To his amazement, the coroner looked and saw Scudder’s chest was moving.  He couldn’t believe his eye.  He thought, ‘My God, he’s breathing.’  He walked over to the cold metal table and took Scudder’s pulse.  It was normal.

“How, the fuck, did you do that?” he spoke to Jesse and Utah.

“Nothing to it, when you know how.  You’re not ready for knowledge like this.” Jesse said condescendingly.

“But he was dead.  He’s been dead for hours.  You brought the dead back to life.  Are you angels?” he demanded.

“Some folks think of us that way.  We’ve been called that before.  What we just did is the way rumors get started and labels get stuck on things when people don’t understand the science behind something they don’t understand.  Scudder was easy to bring back.  He was still warm.  Christ raised Lazarus from the dead.  He was dead for several days.  He already started to stink.  You will tell this story the way you perceive it, but no matter how you tell it, you will be wrong.  Now,— I have given you your leader’s life back.  I want something in return.  I want you to tell them they are not to punish Officer Brick Armstrong.  You make sure, Dr. Scudder has a change of heart and makes a magnanimous gesture by forgiving and pardoning him.  If he doesn’t there will be grave consequence for him, and I don’t mean that as a pun.”

“Are you kidding?  They ain’t gonna’ listen to me.” he complained, then added, “Look, I’m just a man with a job.  I don’t care about politics or religion.  I do what I can to survive in this crazy world.  Scudder and his ilk are Looney Toons.  They be crazy as a Mexican bedbug convention at a Motel Six.  They ain’t about to listen to a nobody like me.”

“That’s the same argument Moses gave when they sent him to free his people.  How do you know unless you try?” Jesse argued.

“Okay, but I can tell you right now, it ain’t gonna’ do no good.  I know Scudder.  He holds grudges, and he’s a ruthless mother-fucker with anyone he even thinks is against him.  That officer ain’t got a snowball’s chance in hell.”

About that time Jeremiah Scudder sat up and looked around.

“What the fuck?  Where am I, and who the fuck are these people?” he asked.

“They just appeared, Dr. Scudder.  You were dead, and I was about to do a postmortem on your body when they came in a flash of light and brought you back to life.”

“Well, it’s about Goddamned time!” he barked at the radiant men.  “He sent you, didn’t he?” he smiled.

“He?  Who?” asked Jesse.

“You know, the big man.  God almighty!  J.C.!  The Holy Ghost!”

“No, if you’re referring to Jesus Christ, he’s been gone now for over two thousand years.  Oh, yes, and I don’t expect him to be returning anytime soon.”

“Then who are you?”

“You don’t need to know who I am.  I’ve been known by many names over the centuries.  Some you would recognize, others you wouldn’t.  That’s not important right now.  We’re here to bring you back to life so you can complete your mission on Earth.”

“What are you talking about?  What mission?  My mission is to be the greatest President this country ever had.  How do I know you ain’t from the Devil?”

“You don’t, but after you’re recovered for a while you’ll find you have certain powers you never had before, but rather than use them for good, you’ll abuse them.  Then you’ll have to be checked by a higher power than yourself.  I’m also here to tell you, for giving you the gift of life, you’re not to punish Officer Brick Armstrong.  He’s a good man and he has gained favor in the sight of the Ancient of Days.  Should a hair on his head be harmed, you and your nation will suffer dire consequences.”

“Who are you to tell me crap like that?  I rule this damn country!  He killed me!  He shot me through the head with his service revolver.  Can you imagine the pain of a forty-five slug plowing its way through your brain?” Scudder yelled at Jesse.

“You threatened him with castration, death by burning him at the stake, and you threatened the death of his mate.  What would you have done?” Jesse challenged him.

“I probably would’ve done what I said after he butt-fucked me like he done.  I raised that man from a young boy.  Don’t matter what I did, he didn’t have the right to do what he done to me and Austin.  It clearly says in Leviticus a parent has the right to kill an incorrigible child.”

“Yeah, and like he said, you forced sex on him from a very young age until he was too old to be attractive to you any more.  Leviticus was written by a zealot Jew who considered it an unforgivable sin to pass wind in public, but it’s the first scriptures crackpots from all generations turn to for support of any hair-brained prejudice for which they wish to promote hatred.  I’m not here to argue scripture with you.  You have freedom of choice in all things except when it comes to Officer Brick Armstrong.  You will not harm him.  Do I make myself clear?”

“I ain’t your child.  You can’t talk to me that way.  Besides, what happened to my advisor?  Did that muscled brained idiot kill him, too?” Scudder was defiant.

“Austin Taycious is alive and recovering from his surgery.  He’ll be fine.  So you both got what you deserved.  Now, will you abide by my wishes or will I have to show you I’m serious, and I mean business?”

“Fuck off, clown!  I ain’t impressed with your white robes.  Armstrong and his queer little buddy are dead meat!”  Scudder insisted.

Jesse smiled, lowered his head and a light flashed from his staff to Scudder’s crotch.  Scudder looked down and saw his penis and balls were gone and yelled at the top of his voice.  He was looking at a vagina between his legs.  The coroner gasped, then he put his hand to his mouth to stifle a giggle.  Utah almost forgot he wasn’t a dog and managed a half-bark, half-laugh.

“All right!  All right!  I’ll do what you asked!  I won’t do nothing to them.  Now change me back!” Scudder demanded.

“All right, Norman!  Just this once, but next time, I won’t change you back.”

“Norman?  How the hell do you know my real name?  No one knows my real name!  Not even Austin!”

“We do.” Jesse smiled.  His staff flashed again and Scudder had his cock and balls back— well, almost.

“It ain’t as big as it was.” Scudder complained.

“Let that be a lesson to you.  Never be disrespectful to a man with more power than you, and if you fuck with an angel, you’ll come up short every time.” Jesse grinned wickedly.  Utah threw back his handsome head and laughed.  The coroner couldn’t help but laugh with them.

“Please remember me and my family.” the coroner spoke softly to them.

“You will not be forgotten.” Utah told him still laughing.
* * * * * * *

Detective Johannson sat across the table from Brick.  Brick’s lawyer, Buster Grimes sat next to him.  All Brick knew about Mr. Grimes was the card he handed him.  Handwritten on the back were two words: Trust Buster, Officer Brick!  It was signed: Space Cowboys and Moe.  Brick knew it could only be from Jimmy-Bob and Stan.  Buster was dressed in cowboy garb.  He spoke like a cowboy and liked to tuck a chew.  He carried a Skol can in his left hip pocket of his Wranglers everywhere.  He trusted Buster immediately.

“You wanna’ tell me why you killed the Holy Prophet, Son?” asked the detective.

“He doesn’t have to answer that, Officer.  That will all come out in his trial.”  Buster answered for his client.

“If it goes to trial.” said the detective.  “Look, I ain’t here to scare a confession out of you Officer Brick.  We already got you dead to rights.  You gotta’ know that.  What I’m trying to do is help save your ass.  We know there has to be something more no one is telling us, but we ain’t been able to talk with Austin Taycious, yet.  He just got out of surgery.  You must have torn him up pretty good.”  Johannson smiled and shook his head like he couldn’t believe what Brick did to the man. “We found blood all over the fuck’n place in that apartment.  It wasn’t Scudder’s or Taycious’ blood.  I can’t tell you what a mess we found in your apartment.  It was the same blood as in the Holy Father’s apartment.  It belongs to one of the Semi-Vestal Virgins named Timmy Kelly.  The only thing is, we don’t have a body.  Do you know where Timmy is, Officer Brick?”

Brick looked at Buster.  Buster nodded for him to answer the question.

“Naw, Sir.  I honestly don’t know.”

“How did you know it was his blood?”

“Smell.” answered Brick.

“Are you a bloodhound, Officer?” the detective demanded of Brick.

“Do you detectives take a course in stupid question?” spared Buster, “Does my client look like a gotdamn bloodhound to you?  Of course he ain’t no bloodhound, but every person has their own distinct smell, their signature odor.  Ask you wife that same question about her kids; see what she says.”

“All right!  All right, you made your point, counselor.  Now, Officer Armstrong, are you sure?” Johannson backed off.

“Yes, Sir.  I’d know the smell of my little buddy anywhere.  It was him all right.  It was his smell in Scudder’s apartment last night, too.  Are you trying to tell me the blood from Scudder’s apartment didn’t match the blood found in my guest bedroom?”

“No, I already told you they were the same.  We can imagine you must have gone crazy when you got home and saw all the blood and went over to Scudder’s apartment in a rage.  You had revenge on your mind.  You raped him and Taycious.  Then when Scudder got mouthy with you— you killed him.  Is that how it happened?”

Buster told Brick he could answer the question with a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

“Yes, Sir.” Brick answered.

“All right!  Good!  Now, we’re getting somewhere.  Can you go one step further and tell us what you done with Tim’s body?” Johannson asked quietly.

“I didn’t do nothing with his body.  He wasn’t there when I got home.” Brick insisted.

“Was anyone there?” the detective pushed.  Brick looked at Buster again.  Buster shook his head ‘no.’

“I don’t remember, Sir.  I was so upset.  I left immediately.  If there was anyone else there I don’t remember.”  

Buster was pleased with Brick’s answer.  Brick didn’t look, but he could see out of the corner of his eye Buster breathed a bit easier.

“Okay, we know two of the newly recruited Semi-Vestal Virgins, Stan Edmunds and Jimmy-Bob Dodge were there at the time you got home.  The guards at the front desk recorded the time they got there and the time they left.  They didn’t leave until about a hour after you killed Scudder.  Did they move the body?”

“No, them boys had nothing to do with what happened.  They’re just two innocent kids me and Tim befriended.  You’re wrong about new recruits.  They ain’t recruits.  They were forced against their will to become something they didn’t want to be part of.  We just tried to make their lives a little more bearable.  We tried to ease them into what they would be required to do.  They’re good men.  Leave them alone.  They don’t know nothing.”

“We’ve already questioned them, and they told us the same story.  They say Tim wasn’t in your apartment when they got there.  They stayed around to tell you and help if they could.  They had no blood on them anywhere.  They said Tim called them after he got home to tell them what happened and asked them to come over, but when they got there, all they found was the bloody bedroom.  So we have to believe you, his body wasn’t there when you got home.  We don’t believe the boys were involved in any way,  but we can't figure out why they stayed there all that time?”

Buster got nervous and gave Brick a gentle nudge with his cowboy boot under the table as a sign to be careful.  He could feel Brick’s frustration building.

“Because I told them to wait for me.  At the time, I thought I’d just go over there and rape them like they done Timmy and let it go at that.  Then I planned to come back to my apartment, load me and the boys up in my Hummer and take off for parts unknown,— maybe to Mexico or to take the boys back to their families.  I didn’t count on killing Scudder when I went over there, but he kept threatening me and telling me what he was gonna’ do to me and Tim.  I thought if he was gonna’ kill us, I’d take him with us; in for a penny, in for a pound.  If he jes’ kept his gotdamned mouth shut I wouldn’t a’ done nothing.  I should a known better’n to take the duct tape off his mouth.  What preacher can go five minutes without shoot’n his damned mouth off?”

About that time Officer Johannson was interrupted by a man in a dark suit and sunglasses.  He excused himself and left the room for a minute.  Buster turned to Brick and spoke,

“You’re doing fine.  Try to limit your answers to ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ You ain’t said nothing wrong, though, and you done well to protect Jimmy-Bob and Stan.”

“They sent you to me, didn’t they?”  Brick asked.

Buster smiled and nodded.

“Damn!  They said they’d be here for me and Tim, and they weren’t lying.  I owe them boys a lot.  I’d go to hell and back for them.”

“They already have for you, Brick.  Now, try not to act real surprised when the detective comes back in here.  He’s gonna’ tell us, Dr. Scudder is alive.”

“What, the fuck— how could he— how do you know that?”

“Shuuu!” Buster silenced him as the detective returned to his chair.  He looked at Buster, then Brick and smiled a sickly smile.

“I ain’t real sure how to tell you men this, but it looks like we don’t have us a murder after all.  Dr. Scudder is alive and well.  He’s sitting up in a bed right now eating his supper.”

“How could that be?  I blew half his damn head off!  A colt forty-five leaves a hole the size of a baseball.  I watched his skull and brains hit the wall.”

“I don’t know what to tell you, but he’s alive.  It ain’t my job to convince you.  All I can tell you is you didn’t kill him.  It’s a shrink’s job or your lawyer’s to convince you otherwise.  All I’m telling you is they’re reducing the charges to assault, sexual rape, treason and terrorist, enemy combatant.  You will be taken directly to prison without trial.”

“Wait a minute!  He has to have a trial.” objected Buster.

“Where you been counselor?  What rock you been living under?  This is the new Theocratic America.  He can be held forever without trial as an enemy combatant.  There are hundreds of thousands of red-blooded American’s in detention camps all across this country labeled terrorist, enemy combatant, whose only crime was being gay or sending an e-mail denouncing the Bush or Scudder administration.  After butt fuck’n the President and his top political advisor, I’d say Officer Armstrong definitely falls into one of those categories.  There ain’t no such thing as Habeas Corpus no more.  That was done away with by Saint George the first.”

“He ain’t no enemy combatant.  He was on the Holy Father’s staff for cries sake.  How can you send him to prison without a trial when the Holy Prophet and his advisor are guilty of the same crime?  Not even the Holy Father can sweep that much dirt under the rug.”

“Look!  He better be happy he ain’t being taken out and shot or hung.  That’s what he was looking at a few minutes ago.”

“Don’t worry, Brick, we’ll fight this.  You got a better chance now.  We’ll take it all the way.  There’s enough evidence your actions were caused by momentary insanity.  We’ll get you out of these charges.  They won’t hold water.”  Buster tried to reassure Brick to little avail.

“It would help a lot if we could talk with Tim Kelly, Officer Armstrong.”  Insisted Officer Johannson.

“Why, so you can secretly do away with him to protect the unholy abomination we got for a president?  Why would I wanna’ do that?  I love the kid.  Yes, I said it!  He’s my mate, my life partner!  I planned to marry him some day.  I probably won’t now, but at least I know he’s gone to a better place.  I’ll go to prison and be at peace with myself, ‘cause I know in my heart he’s safe and sound.  You wanna’ know where he is?  I’ll tell you where he is.  He’s been raptured.  He’s been taken away from this hell hole of a world and taken to a place where he will be healed, protected and loved.  The rapture is going on all around us, Johannson, but our government ain’t telling the people.  They lose folks daily they ain’t got a clue where they went.  They don’t tell the public because they ain’t the one’s being taken.”

“I don’t know nothing about religion and crap like the rapture.  I ain’t a believer, Officer Armstrong.  All I know is right and wrong.  Considering your case, I don’t think you were right to shoot the President.  That was an act of supreme terrorism and could be punishable by death if Scudder chooses to push it, but for what is worth, if I came home and found the woman I loved raped and dying, I can’t say I might a done the same damn thing.”

“You’re lack of faith will probably be the only thing that saves you, Officer Johannson.” Brick told him.

* * * * * * *

Jimmy-Bob and Stan were interviewed by the same detective who questioned Brick.  Buster represented them, too.  He was there for every questioning and told the men what to say before Johannson got to them.  They stuck with their story: Tim called, told them he was raped and mistreated by the Holy Father and his political advisor Austin Taycious.  He said he was hemorrhaging from his rectum and was scared; would they come to him?  Stan told the detective they agreed and rushed right over; however, when they got there they found a lot of blood, but no Tim, he wasn’t there.  They thought maybe he called emergency and went to the hospital or Officer Brick came home and took him.  They waited around for Officer Brick to return to tell him about Tim’s phone call or to find out how Tim was if Armstrong took him to the hospital.  

The police bought the cowboy’s story.  They didn’t have any choice.  Jimmy-Bob and Stan didn’t have any evidence they came in contact with blood, but the one thing they couldn’t figure out,— where was Tim?  What happened to him?  Was he dead or still alive?  No one seemed to know for sure.  There were vague references to him being raptured.  The police didn’t believe things like that.  They only believed in black and white.  They could see it or they couldn’t.  It was either evidence or it wasn’t.

* * * * * * *

Through the fog, Tim was barely aware he had been on an adventure.  To where, he had no idea, but he knew for several minutes he left this world and was caught in a nether region where he met a number of folks who welcomed him into their presence.  He vaguely knew and remembered it wasn’t a journey he chose to take.  It wasn’t something he wanted to do.  The thoughts which came drifting by were painful and disturbing to him.  He was floating, adrift in a calm sea, looking at them from an observer’s viewpoint rather than a participant.  He was warm and comfortable.  A couple of his visitors in the nether region were regular men like him, but several were the big hairy creatures like Stan and Jimmy-Bob showed him and Brick on their T.V.  They were good and kind to him.  They welcomed him and told him he had nothing to fear, he was in good hands.  He would live.

Stan and Jimmy-Bob’s pup Moe came to him and tried to console him.  After he spoke with Moe, he knew he was with Jimmy-Bob and Stan’s people and he rested.  He slept the deep, restful, healing sleep of angels.  He could see many beautiful colored lights from some crystal mountains.  They were beautiful and they sang to him.  Their songs made his chest swell and his heart beat stronger.  The more they sang the more he learned and could imagine himself singing along with them.  He heard other voices as well.  He heard the voices of the whales of Earth and other, more strange creatures.  He knew they were the bladder whales of Venus Jimmy-Bob spoke about whose voices swelled with the chorus of the beautiful crystals and their Earthly whale brothers until they united in one huge chorus.  Tears streamed down Tim’s face at the beauty and delight that filled his soul.  He was being healed in mind, spirit and body.  They were repairing the psyche as well as the physical.  Then they departed and left him to rest again.  This time he could feel his body growing back together, and he was becoming whole again.  He knew he would be stronger and better than he was before,— but what of his love?

* * * * * * *

Brick was put into a cell by himself away from any other prisoners.  He rarely saw anyone except when his guard brought his meals.  He was still in jail at the Holy City Police Center.  He was in the Jail for over a week and there was an ominous quiet over his fate.  He was awaiting judgement by the Holy Prophet.  Brick knew he probably stood a better chance under some other judge.  Now that Scudder was alive he could do all the things he threatened.  That was all right with Brick as long as he knew Timmy was safe, and he felt pretty sure he was.  If he was with Stan and Jimmy-Bob’s people, he knew he would be fine.  He didn’t know all the ramifications of these folks, but they had to be better than what he’d been dealing with for the last decade.

The only entertainment Brick had in his cell was a small T.V. mounted in the wall.  He had a remote and could change channels, but it was permanently mounted on a table next to his bed.  As the days passed, he watched the news about himself and how the Holy Prophet miraculously came around on the postmortem table.  The coroner was sharp enough to realize he was still alive but in a very deep coma.  They interview the coroner who said he was  preparing the body for burial.  He was putting all the parts back in the right places when he realized Dr. Scudder was breathing.  He immediately called for help, but by the time other doctors arrived the Holy Prophet was sitting up talking with people.

Brick couldn’t figure it out.  How could that oily little bastard still be alive?  He had several visits from Buster who said he was trying his best to get him a speedy hearing with Scudder, but he kept getting doors slammed in his face.  He told Brick to stay strong, he knew Tim was improving every day.  He came through surgery well, and he was receiving the best of care in an advanced medical facility unlike anything Brick had ever seen.  There were lots of folks concerned and caring for Tim.  It was Sunday afternoon, and it was the day Buster usually came to visit him.  Buster was a little late getting to the jail.  The guard let him in the outer door to his cell, and Brick almost came in his pants when he saw Stan and Jimmy-Bob were with him.  The guard opened Brick’s cell and let them in.  There was much hugging, kisses exchanged and tears shed.  He was so happy to see them and to see them doing well.  They calmed down.  Buster sat in the only chair in the room and Jimmy-Bob and Stan sat on either side of the big man on his bed.

“I’m surprised you men are still here.” said Brick spoke quietly.  “I thought you’d be raptured by now.”

“We done told you, we’re here for you, Officer Brick.  We can’t go until you go.  We don’t know everything what’s going on or why, but we know it’ll be soon.  Moe is by Tim’s side all the time.  If he needs anything, Moe lets his doctor know, and he’s taken care of.  Moe tells us he’s doing real good.  They got him up and walking, and he’s eating real good.”

Brick broke down and cried again.  Jimmy-Bob and Stan comforted him.

“I’d give anything just to see him again and to tell him I love him.”

“Well, you can, Officer Brick.” Stan said reaching over to the remote on the night stand next to the bed and clicking on the T.V.  He put it on channel three and Brick could see his beloved Timmy lying in a bed with a black and white sheep dog curled up at his feet keeping him company.  Brick could tell Tim was looking up at a screen and could see him.”

“Hello, sweet heart.” Tim said to Brick.  Brick broke down again.

“Oh, Timmy,— my sweet Timmy, I love you so much.  How are you, babe?”

“I’m just fine.  I’m up walking around three times a day.  I’m gaining my strength back.  My doctor thinks I can be unhooked from all these tubes tomorrow.  This is Moe, my buddy.  Say ‘hello’ to Officer Brick, Moe.”

Moe raised his head and looked into the TV.  “Hello, Officer Brick, we’re taking real good care of your buddy.  Don’t you worry none.  He’s getting better by the day.”

“Hi, Moe.  Thanks for taking such good care of him.  He means a lot to me.”
“Have you heard any word, Brick?” Tim asked.

“No, I was hoping Buster would have some news for me, but it don’t matter today.  Just to get to see Jimmy-Bob, Stan and to say ‘hello’ to you is all my heart can stand for one day.  You remember I told you I didn’t know if it was right to love you?”

“I remember.” Tim replied.

“I know now, Tim.  It’s the right thing for us.  There ain’t no more doubts in my mind, love.  Our love is right, and if we’re ever together again I plan to make you mine if you’ll have me.”

“I will certainly accept your offer, Officer Armstrong.  I would be proud and honored to call you my husband.” Tim smiled. “I will pray it comes to pass, Brick.  I know you’re in a lot of trouble, but I pray God will find a way for us to be together.  I don’t want to go on without you, Brick.”

“Don’t say that, Tim!  You must go on no matter what happens to me.  You’re with good people now.  You’re young.  Don’t let everything I did be in vain, sweet heart.  I made a statement.  I did what I had to do.  It may have been wrong, but I won’t be judged by anyone on Earth.  I will leave my judgement to a higher court.  Promise me, no matter what happens, you will go on.  That’s my only prayer for the future.  You must survive, Timmy,— for both of us.”

They talked for a little more, said their tearful ‘goodbyes’ and the screen went blank.  Stan turned off the T.V.

“Thanks, men.  I own you a lot.  You said you’d be here for me, and you ain’t let me down; but if you can, I want you two to get out of here as soon as possible.  I don’t want you hanging around to help me.  I want you to be with your people.  Buster will take care of me.  It don’t matter any more what happens to me, I want to know those I love are safe.”

“We can’t, Officer Brick.  We signed on for the long haul, Sir.  We’ll be here until the end.  Buster’s gonna’ ask if we can come see you more often.  If we can, we’ll come keep you company when we can.  You don’t owe us nothing.  You helped us when you could.”

“God, I love you men.”  Brick put an arm around them, pulled them close and stole a kiss from each.  Jimmy-Bob and Stan blushed.  Buster laughed.  The guard came back in to tell them their time was up.  They said ‘goodbye’ and left.  Brick was all alone again, but he had a full heart.  His love was going to be all right.

* * * * * * *

It didn’t take Austin Taycious as long to recover as it did Tim.  Brick didn’t injure him as bad as Austin hurt Tim.  He was up and around in days.  He was in the Walter Reed hospital in the room next to Scudder.  He was a constant visitor.  He couldn’t believe Jeremiah survived.  He saw Brick shoot him and watched his friend’s brains be blown out of his head.  It was horrible, and he knew he would have nightmares about it for a long time.  At first Scudder kept quiet about what happened, and Taycious only had the same news everyone else had to go on.  He knew there had to be more.  He knew Scudder like a book.  He knew when he was withholding information from him.

“All right!  It’s been a week, and you ain’t told me the truth yet.  Now what happen?  You know you can’t keep secrets from me.  We made a pact remember.  No matter what we tell others we will always be honest with each other.  I watched Armstrong shoot you.  I saw you die, Jerry.  How is it you’re alive?”

“Aww, if I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.”

“Did the coroner see what happened?”

“Yeah, he saw it all.  He was right there.  He saw them bring me back to life.”

“Saw who?  Who brought you back to life, Jerry?”

“Two angels, I guess.  I don’t know what they were.  They were cagey, like they wouldn’t tell me who they were or from where they came.  They would only tell me they brought me back to life so I could fulfill my purpose.  They didn’t bother to tell me what purpose they were talking about.  The only catch was, I can’t do anything to Officer Armstrong.  They said I had to forgive him to show how magnanimous I am as a great leader.”

“Two angels?” asked Austin.

“I ain’t lying, Austin.  I can get that coroner in here, and he’ll tell you the same thing; except now he’s acting a little strange like he don’t wanna’ tell nobody but me about it.  The guards outside the door claimed they didn’t see or hear nothing.  It was the damnedest thing.”

“Well, it sounds like too good a story to pass up, Jerry.  What better recommendation or endorsement can you have than two of God’s Holy Angels come to Earth to personally bring you back to life so you could complete your work in the name of the Lord?  Do your realize what this could mean?  You could rule the world, Jerry.  You could bring all the religions and all the nations of the Earth together under one rule.  You could be declared God’s official ambassador here on Earth.  You could do away with that stupid Pope and all that silly Catholic dog and pony show, bowing and scraping nonsense.  Although, you should really consider keeping some of the nicer Balenciaga gowns, and those Prada shoes that old German queen wears are to die for.  You could have them eating out of your hands, Jerry.  I’d like to see that old Nazi German fairy eat a big one.”

“I’m gonna’ execute Brick Armstrong, Austin.”

“No, no!  The angel was right.  You need to show you can be loving and forgiving.  You can be what they want, what they need, a bigger than life leader; not a petty little man.  They want a loving father to lead them.  They want a man who knows how to be strong, but can forgive them their trespasses as they forgive him his trespasses.  Let Brick Armstrong become your cross to bear.  You don’t have to let him out of prison.  Keep him locked up and throw away the key.  If he dies in prison from neglect then it won’t be your fault.  It was God’s will, not yours.  If he dies you will pray for him and bury him in your family plot because he was once your beloved son.  All Temple Guards are your sons.”

“It will make me look weak.  I can’t let him get away with it.”  Scudder clenched his jaws together.

“Oh, Jerry, you can be so dense sometimes.  You have the world offered to you on a fuck’n golden platter, and all you can think of is petty revenge.  Don’t think with your gonads, Jerry!  Think with your mind.  So you stand him up before a firing squad.  One shot and he’s gone.  Or even if you hang him, right after the executioner pulls the lever, he drops, does his little air ballet, shoots his load,— it’s all over.  It’s like eating pop rocks.  Once the initial thrill is gone, it’s over.  However, keeping him in prison for the rest of his life is a long drawn out death.  He dies a little every day instead of all at once.  To execute him would be doing him a favor, Jerry.  There’s also the possibility you might make a martyr of him with the left wing.  If you’re really angry, let him rot in prison, but use it to your advantage.  Make it look like you’re the loving, all forgiving father figure.  The people will eat it up, Jerry.  You can make sure he understands it’s because of his stupidity you’re having such a great success with your political agendas in the world.  Rub his face in it, Jerry.  Make him rue the day he ever came after you for revenge.  Make him die a thousand deaths, a little at a time, Jerry.

You’ve been wanting to get that mind control, radio I.D. chip into people for years now, but everyone’s afraid of it, because it smacks of the mark of the beast.  Now’s your chance.  If you must, use Armstrong until you get everyone chipped, and then you can kill him.  No one will say anything then.  You can program them to think whatever you want them to.  They will become robots for you.  You will never have to worry about a left wing uprising again.  They keep clamoring to reinstate the Constitution and hold elections again.  If you have all of them chipped you won’t have to worry anymore.”  

Scudder had to admit Austin’s advice made a lot of sense, but it still stuck in his craw, Brick would basically get away with what he did.  As long as he was alive Scudder felt he could never feel really safe.  He came up with a plan more devious than even Taycious could have dreamed up.  He would find a double for Armstrong and have his Temple Guards, the FBI and CIA destroy any history of the man’s past.  He would become Brick Armstrong and be held in prison for the rest of his life.  With a new Armstrong in place, in prison, Scudder would be free to have Brick stand before a firing squad.  Who said you couldn’t have your beefcake and shoot it too?  He just wouldn’t tell anyone except a very few of his closest, most trusted intelligence men.  The angel wouldn’t know either.  He certainly wouldn’t say anything in his prayers about it.  Who was he kidding?  Other than to make a big show and spout prayers in public he never prayed in private anyway.  Praying was a job for which he only wanted to be paid.  

Scudder smiled to himself and relaxed in his hospital bed as he watched some silly kid’s program on TV, A Fractured Fairy Tale, about a rabbit who every morning would run down a hill from his home and use his huge hind feet to stomp out rats playing at the bottom of the hill.  He did it morning after morning until one morning a beautiful fairy drifted down from the sky and told him, “Rabbit, those little rats aren’t bothering you.  You’re just being a mean-spirited bully.  If you don’t stop, and leave those poor rats alone, I will change you into a hideous goon.”  She warned him three times, but he just laughed at her, mocked her and ignored her.  The third morning, when he ran down the hill to stomp out rats, the fairy drifted down and changed him into a hideous goon.

Moral: Hare today, goon tomorrow!

Scudder laughed at the silliness of such a stupid thing, but it made him wonder about the angel’s threat.  He put it out of his mind.  He wasn’t a rabbit, but Brick Armstrong was a rat by any definition.  He was a large rat who made the fatal error of crossing him, and Scudder planned to stomp him out.  ‘Let’s see if the angels resurrect his big, muscular butt.’  Scudder thought to himself.

Having been the only person to come back from the dead, beside Lazarus of the bible and Christ, Scudder was basking in his glory at having come back from the dead, but everything was not jubilation and awe for everyone.  Many pointed out the bible clearly prophesied the anti-Christ would be mortally wounded in his head, proclaimed dead, and yet would recover.  He would arise from the dead.  Scudder scoffed and said it didn’t apply to him because a couple of angels came to him and brought him back to life to complete his mission here on Earth.  His mission wasn’t clearly defined to the public yet, but behind the scenes, with Austin’s guidance, Scudder had elaborate plans to bring all the religions of the world under his control.  To do that he would have to unite the old testament and the Jews with the new testament and Christianity.

His plan was to destroy the Mosque of Umar or the Dome of the Rock under a ‘false flag’ operation, so the Jews could rebuild their Temple as prophesied in the bible.  It would be a symbol and a bold statement to the Muslims to either convert to Christianity or face being wiped off the Earth with nuclear weapons.  (Or as Scudder renamed them, the ‘Angels of Death’ as a sick metaphor.)   He even went so far as to declare the religion of Islam an insidious pestilence on Earth and an abomination in the sight of God.  It was the anti-religion of demonic forces to do away with the one true Abrahamic religion of Judaeo-Christianity.  Once the new temple was built, he would take over and proclaim himself God’s ambassador on Earth.

The most terrible side effect of Jesse bringing Scudder back to life was, it endowed him with certain advanced powers he never would have attained any other way.  When Jesse discussed his decision with Lazarus he was doubtful of it having any positive application especially in the hands of a madman, but he was not one to go against the Voices of the Ancients nor the Winds of Consciousness.  He knew this must play itself out before he and his band of followers could leave the Earth.  It was a sign of the beginning of the end.  There would definitely be seven years of tribulation; seven very bad years.

* * * * * * *

Buster made arrangements for Jimmy-Bob and Stan to visit with Brick regularly, but he didn’t go through the Holy Prophet’s staff.  He knew enough Washington insiders and people in the Holy City Police Department he arranged it on the Q.T.  Only the guards in charge knew about it.  Their visits never got back to Taycious or Scudder.  They brought great comfort to Brick and kept him from going insane.  They always brought some good news or arranged for him to visit for a few minutes via video with his beloved Timmy.

Then one day they went to visit, but Brick was no longer Brick Armstrong.  It was someone else in his cell who looked like a double for Brick but the poor man was obviously drugged, dazed and confused.  He had no idea why he was in jail.  No one would tell him anything.  He wasn’t even sure he knew who he was.  Stan had enough presence of mind to ask the man for a small sample of his blood.  The guy didn’t know why the boys wanted his blood, but he agreed to let them prick his finger.  He was a bit stunned to see some kind of camera appear out of thin air and Stan place the pin in a small drawer.  Then it disappeared again.  He cried in the boy’s arms and thanked them for coming to visit him.  He asked if they knew what he’d done.  They assured him they didn’t know.  That afternoon when the boys returned to their dorm room they contacted Buster and told him what they found.  He tried to go see for himself but was told Officer Armstrong wouldn’t be allowed visitors any more.  The guards said they shouldn’t have allowed the boys in to see him earlier, but they didn’t get the word in time.  Stan sent the blood sample via robo-cam to Waco and Cable for processing.  They weren’t surprised to find he was another man altogether, because his DNA didn’t match.  Lazarus got everyone in gear at once.  He put the pieces together and figured out what Scudder planned.

They had the Buttercup over the Holy City compound with in the hour.  They located Brick from his DNA and the robo-cams.  He was in a holding compound getting ready to stand before a firing squad.  As soon as Scudder arrived to witness his execution, Officer Brick Armstrong would be shot through the heart  ending his life.  Brick didn’t know what was going on.  No one told him anything.  He didn’t even know the area where he was being held was one of top secret access only known to a handful of top ranked people as a private execution area for political prisoners the government wanted to disappear without any fanfare or press.  They held Brick without telling him anything.  They were very quiet, but Brick was no dummy.  He could tell the way the officers were responding to him he was a walking dead man.

They left him alone, handcuffed, in a room by himself for several hours.  Finally, they took him to the secret courtyard and Brick recognized it as an execution area.  He didn’t panic.  He was very calm and collected.  There was one tall post near a wall that had hay bales stacked before it to absorb a bullet if it went all the way through a person’s body.  They handcuffed his hands around his back and behind the post.  He stood straight as he watched twelve armed men with high caliber rifles line up at the other end.
  Strangely enough, Brick felt no fear.  He was rather stoic about it all.  If this was to be his end, so be it.  He felt he had a good run, and he was pleased his mate was safe and would be happy,— eventually.  Brick straightened when he saw Scudder enter the area.  He walked right up to Brick and looked him in his eyes.  There was fire and anger in Scudder’s beady little eyes.

“Well, I guess you know why you’re here.” he sneered.

“Of course.” said Brick, “This ain’t rocket science.” he added without the least fear in his voice.

“Is there anything you’d like to say to me before I have them execute you for treason?” Scudder asked.

“Not that I can think of other than I’m sorry I wasn’t a better shot.”

“You have no remorse for what you did to me?” Scudder demanded.

“Nope!  None!  Nada!  Not a bit!  If I had it to do over, I would’ve done the same damn thing, except I would’ve emptied the chamber.  Oh, and just for the record, I ain’t being executed for treason, I’m being executed because I’m a patriot.  I saw it as my duty to take out a monster like you.  I was right, too.” Brick accused him.

“The hell you say!  There’s no sense in talking anymore.  It’s obvious you’re insane.  Finish what you were doing.” Scudder motioned to the officer in charge who threw a black hood over Brick’s head.  “No, no!  No hood.  I want him to see the bullet coming when it plows into his heart.”  Scudder screamed.  The hood was removed, but the man pinned a white circle of cloth over Brick’s heart.

“Any last requests?” Scudder asked Brick.

“I suppose a blow job is out of the question.” Brick grinned at Scudder like he wasn’t intimidated by him in the least.

“Let’s get this over with!” Scudder yelled at the officers.

The officer in charge stood behind the twelve armed officers and gave the orders.

“Ready!” he ordered.  The men hoisted their guns to their shoulders.  There were only two which contained live ammunition.  The rest were blanks.  The men on the firing squad wouldn’t know who actually killed him.  Since Brick was one of their officer brothers, it made a psychological difference.

“Aim!” he ordered.  The men took careful aim at the white patch on Brick’s chest.  Brick threw back his head and prayed. “Into thy hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.”

“Fire!” the office in charge yelled.  Twelve guns went off at once.  Brick jumped from the sound but felt nothing.  He opened his eyes and looked at two bullets about a yard from his body frozen in mid-air.  Then they fell to the ground.  Suddenly there was a great white, blinding light appeared directly in front of him and two men in long white robes stood with their backs to him looking at the firing squad.

“Oh, shit!” Brick heard Scudder exclaim. “Reload!  Reload!  Shoot them!  They’re terrorist!  Use your service revolvers!  Shoot them!” he yelled at the top of his voice in obvious panic.  A couple pulled out their service revolvers, but their guns immediately grew red hot.  They threw them away from their bodies to keep from getting burned.

“Son of a bitch!” one screamed.

Things quieted down for a moment.  The officers were in awe of the two shining men in white robes standing before them.  They certainly didn’t look like terrorist.  They looked more like angels.  The tallest one spoke.

“Norman, Norman, Norman!  We meet again.  What am I going to do with you?  I thought we had an agreement.  I brought you back to life, and you agreed to forgive Officer Armstrong his trespass against you.  Am I missing something here?”

“Fuck you and your agreement!  I do what I want to do.  I’m the decider down here, not you!  Fuck off!  I’m the commander-in-chief guy what gives the orders.  If I decide someone’s to die, he’s a dead man.  I want that asshole dead, do you understand me?”

“But, you gave me your word, Norman.  I’m really disappointed with you.  I don’t take kindly to men who don’t keep their word.  I warned you, Norman.”

“Quit calling me, Norman.  It ain’t my name.  My name is Jeremiah Scudder!”

“Norman is the name your parents gave you.  You took on the name of Jeremiah later.  The name of a prophet.  I guess Norman Scudder didn’t have quite the biblical ring you wanted.  Ah, but that’s show biz, ain’t it, Norm?  Nevertheless, you not only broke your word to me, you went against the wishes of the Ancient of Days.  Not a cool thing to do.  We are not pleased with you, Norman, so you must be punished.”

“No!  I’ll let him live.  I promise.” Scudder feared the worst.

“You had your chance.  I told you I wouldn’t be so forgiving next time.  You lied to us.  We know we can’t trust your word, so you can kiss your dick and balls goodbye, Norman.”

“Noooo!”  As Scudder tried to run from the area, he was immediately caught by a beam of light from Jesse’s staff and floated in front of all the officers.  He was turned around to face them in mid-air, and his clothes simply disappeared from his body.  He was completely naked before them.  To their amazement, they watched his dick and balls disappeared and in their stead was a vagina.  It was unmistakably a female vagina.  After all the men saw Scudder’s humiliation he was lowered gently to the ground.  Jesse turned to Utah.

“Take those cuffs off Officer Brick, Son.”

“Glad to, Master.” Utah replied and went behind Brick.  He simply waved his hand over them, and they dropped to the ground.  Brick rubbed his wrists and was looking down at the ground almost afraid to look at the two angels before him.  

“Thank you, Sirs, for saving my life.” whispered Brick.

“You’re welcome, Son.  Now, hold your head up high.  Are you ready to go with us?” Jesse spoke quietly.

“I am, Sir.  I will be honored and proud to go with you— wherever that might be.”

“All right then, but in keeping with the idea of the rapture, we’ll leave your clothes behind.  It will reinforce in their minds that’s what’s happening.” Jesse told him.

“No problem, Sir, I understand.”

Scudder anticipated what was going to happen and screamed at the two men.

“No!  Wait!  Don’t go!  You can’t leave me like this!” he bellowed.

“Oh, but I’m afraid we can, Norman.  You’ll get used to it.  You might even find you like it that way.  I warned you never to fuck with an angel.  Now every time you get fucked real good by a big man’s penis you can think about how I fucked you and why.  Too bad you won’t have Officer Armstrong around to fuck you.  He’s got a nice big dick and Timmy told me he knows how to use it just fine.  I’m sure he could’ve provided that new pussy of yours a great deal of comfort.  Why, I’ll bet this big man could teach your little cunt to sing a new song.  I’ll check back with you, and if you wish I can change you the rest of the way in case you might want to have a couple of kids of your own by some good man. ”

“No, no!  You can’t do this to me!  I’m God’s Holy Prophet!”  Scudder’s words went unheeded.

There was another blinding flash of light and the three men were gone.  All that was left was Brick Armstrong’s prison clothes in a crumpled heap on the ground.  There was a hushed silence came over the men like they were trying to understand what they saw and what happened.  Norman Jeremiah Scudder fell to his knees and screamed at the top of his lungs and buried his face in his hands.  One of the officers ran to get Brick’s clothes to offer him so Scudder wouldn’t be naked.

“Get those away from me.  They have the stink of a traitor on them.  I’m still the leader of the free world.  I ain’t put’n on a prisoner’s clothes!”

* * * * * * *

Brick looked around and he could see he was on board a ship of some kind.  ‘My God,’ he thought, ‘Jimmy-Bob and Stan weren’t lying to me!’  There were smiling, friendly faces all around.  Jimmy-Bob and Stan didn’t care he was standing there in the buff.  They went to him to give him a big hug and a kiss.  He hugged them back until their eyeballs began to bulge.  He shook Jesse’s and Utah’s hands.  He was being greeted by a lot of familiar faces, but through the crowd came a handsome naked man pushing a wheel chair and in it was his beloved Timmy.  Tim held his arms open for the huge man.  Brick was in them in an instant crying his heart out.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.  Moe was running around laughing and barking.  Brick was petting him and trying to hold on to Tim.  He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry more.

“Okay, we got a couple of things left to do.” said the young cowboy who seemed to be in charge.  “Let’s rapture Officer Brick number two.”

There was another flash of light and another naked bodybuilder who looked enough like Brick Armstrong to be his twin was standing on the bridge of the Buttercup; only, this man didn’t have a cock and balls.  He already made the final step to joining the Holy Order.  He was in a daze.  He didn’t know what to think.  Brick winked at Tim and got up to go to the man.

“Welcome, brother.  You’ve just been raptured.  You’re safe now.”  The man looked at Brick and seemed to understand.  Since Brick was nude he didn’t seem to be bothered.  Someone brought robes for the two men and they put them on.  

“Okay, Jimmy-Bob your little sister is next.  She’s gonna’ be naked, too, so you men turn away, and Vivian, you have a robe ready for her?”

“We’re ready, Captain Waco.” Vivian Steele confirmed.

Another flash of light and a confused, naked young girl was on the bridge of the Buttercup.
“Welcome, Sarah Ann, to the Buttercup.” Vivian spoke softly to her. “Here, darling, put this around you for right now.  We’ll get you some clothes in a little while.” Sarah Ann Dodge quickly put on the robe and looked around.  She saw her big brother turn to her and smile.  He was in a robe, too.  He opened his arms to her and she went to him.

“Oh, Jimmy-Bob!  I never thought I’d see you again.  Thank, God, you’re here.  Where are we, big brother?”

“On board a wonderful spacecraft, little Sister.  You just done been raptured.  They had you leave your clothes behind so everyone would think it was the biblical rapture happening.”

“You mean it isn’t like in the bible?” she asked.

“It is and it ain’t.” said Jimmy-Bob.  “I’ll tell you all about it the same time I explain it to mom and dad.”

“Are they here?” she wanted to know.

“They will be in about half an hour.” spoke Waco as Jimmy-Bob introduced him to his little sister.

It was a wonderful evening for Jimmy-Bob and his family to be reunited.  His mom and dad had not been treated as well as their son and daughter and were pale and thin.  Cable got them to the ship’s mess and had his staff make them some soup with a strong, tasty broth.  They were very grateful and couldn’t take their hands off their kids.  Jimmy-Bob sat down with them and introduced Stan to them as his partner.  He didn’t elaborate.  He and Stan agreed it would take time for them to understand.  His parents and sister couldn’t believe their stories about going to Venus and Mars, but when they began to see strange creatures, met Darryl the Venusian, and heard the pups speak for the first time they begin to come around.

Ox was on board the Buttercup with Waco and Trey.  Brick Armstrong was blown away by him.  He just had to go to Ox and asked if he might touch him.  Ox smiled and threw his arms around him in a big hug.  Brick’s eyes got real big and then he smiled from ear to ear.

“I owe my cowboy brothers an apology.  I told them I didn’t believe they had a Bigfoot or lummox for a friend.  I will never doubt their word again.”  Brick promised.

He was having a ball meeting all the new wonderful folks that made up the world Stan and Jimmy-Bob told him and Tim about.  Tim already met most of them and took great delight in introducing Brick.  Brick couldn’t get over Captain Vinceeth and several of the winged Shushonni warriors who were flying around meeting folks.  He was charmed by Keekepata.  He was interview by Darryl the Venusian and told him what it felt like to stand in front of a firing squad.  He met Strom, Lyle Chambers and their son’s Kuluke and T’kan.  He learned Lyle was pregnant with another of Strom’s sons.  His mind was reeling with new information, but none of it seemed to bother him or his previous rigid belief system.  They all seemed to get along together so well there was no room for hate or dissension.  Everyone just seemed to think it was normal and quite okay for a human male to be having a lummox male’s baby.

There were only a couple of things Brink found almost too strange for him to understand.  Immediately after he was raptured and went to thank Jesse Watkins and his partner, he found Jesse to be a normal, brown dirt cowboy like all the other men, but his partner had changed into a beautiful Collie sheep dog; however, not just any sheep dog, like the other dogs Brick met, Utah could talk as well.  Naturally he asked his saviors about it.

“We do that angel routine because it’s what they respond to best.  We could’ve appeared to them anyway we wanted, but we’ve found it’s the most effective.  Utah don’t much like taking on human form.  He’s been a dog for a long while now, and he’s comfortable with it.  He was once a human.  He was punished by a greater power and became my slave and companion.  They assigned him to be a dog, and he’s been that way for many centuries now.  He’s long since met his obligation of punishment, but remains with me in his current form because he chooses to.  I’ll change him into a human whenever he wishes.  He does it for me when I need his help, but he always wants to return to being a dog.  I don’t mind.  To be honest we’ve become attached to each other over the years.  I don’t know what I’d do without him.”  Jesse said as he scratched Utah behind his ears.

“Mr. Utah, you should consider becoming a full time human.  You’re a mighty handsome fellow.”

“Don’t you think I’m a handsome dog, Officer Armstrong?” Utah laughed.

“Of course you are.  No doubt.  You’re one of the finest looking animals I’ve ever seen.  I’m no judge of animal pedigree, but I’d say you’re one of the finest.”

“Well, that’s very nice of you.  I appreciate that, but I’m happy being Master Jesse’s companion.  He needs me and I need him.  When he needs me to play the part of an angel, I’m ready to help.”

“All I can say is, you both convinced me you were angels.  I’ll always think of you that way.”

Brick thought it was a strange relationship, but then again, some might say his and Timmy’s relationship was strange.  It wasn’t strange or unnatural to Brick anymore.  He crossed that bridge and never planned to look back.

“Oh, yes, and I have something else to tell you, my love.” Tim said.

“What’s that?” Brick asked in reply.   

“Remember Jimmy-Bob and Stan told us about lummox milk?”

“Really?” Brick looked at him.

“It seems it’s very healing and has been one of the major reasons for my quick recovery.  Strom and Ox have been taking turns feeding me right from their tits.  The boys were right.  It’s the sweetest milk I ever tasted.  It’s almost addictive.”

“You mean their tits are sweeter than mine?” Brick looked hurt, then he grinned.

“Not at all.  Yours are the sweetest I ever tasted Officer Brick, but their milk is the best.” Tim smiled.

“I love you, Tim.”

“I love you, too, Brick.  They kept telling me not to worry we’d be together again, but I just didn’t see how.  I’m ready to put my life into these folk's hands, Brick.  I don’t think we can go wrong throwing our lot in with them.”

“I agree, Tim.  We both owe them our lives.”

Tim told Brick, from what he heard about Mars, he thought he might like to become a part of what was happening there.  He wanted to get as far away from Earth as possible.  Brick had to agree with him things looked pretty bad for them and the future.

“We’ll work everything out, Tim.  All you need to worry about is getting better, and I need to find a job to support us.  If Mars is what you got your heart set on, I’m open to anything, just as long as we’re together.”

* * * * * * *

They moved Tim to the small hospital in the community of Parson under the care of Dr. Stevens and his partner Arnie.  They had more of a homey setting and a large bedroom where Tim could stay with his love.  Tim was not fully recovered, and Brick was warned there would be no hanky-panky between them until Tim’s doctors agreed.  Brick understood and was only too happy to just hold his little buddy in his arms and comfort him.  Everyone swore Tim began to get a lot better, much quicker once his lover was with him again.

They found temporary housing for the Dodge family with the Blooms.  Hattie and Ole were only too happy to have their boy Stan back.  Moe was beside himself with joy.  The Dodges marveled at all the new and wonderful experiences they were having.  They were learning quickly and catching up fast.  They couldn’t believe their boy brought them to all this, and they were once again together.  Jimmy-Bob felt more proud of himself than he had in a long time.  He and Stan were contemplating their future and discussing it with their families.

* * * * * * *

And so it began, the beginning of the end.  When Austin Taycious found out his friend tried to execute Brick Armstrong he yelled and screamed at Scudder for an hour.  When he learned, not only was Armstrong raptured by the angels but also his double, he told Jeremiah Scudder he deserved what the angel did to him.  Then he insisted on seeing Scudder’s new cunt.  He was even more amazed when Scudder dropped his pants and showed him.  He fell out laughing.

“Looks just like your face, Jerry.”  Taycious laughed.  He probably was the only man on Earth who could’ve gotten away with a comment like that.

“T’ain’t funny, you loathsome bitch!” Scudder shot back.  “How’d you like to go though the rest of your life with a cunt?” He looked Taycious in the eyes and saw a twinkle, then a smile that went from ear to ear.  “Okay, stupid question!  I shouldn’t have asked.” Scudder had to laugh.

“Is there ANY way you can contact that angel?” laughed Austin.

“I don’t know.  He said he’d check on me later, and if I like getting fucked he could make me into a woman so I could have kids if I wanted him to.”

“I think you should go for it, Jerry.  You ain’t gonna’ be fuck’n them Semi-Vestal Virgins no more, that’s for damn sure!  And you better stop chemically castrating them Temple Guards.  I think you’re gonna’ need them to keep your itch scratched regularly.  Don’t worry, I’ll be in charge of the short-arm inspections.”  Austin giggle with glee.  “Next time that angel comes around ask him to visit me.  Maybe we can work out a deal.”  Austin grinned wickedly.

“You’re no damn good!  You know that, don’t you?” Scudder slammed his advisor.

“That’s why I’m your closest friend and advisor, Jerry.  We’re like two peas in a pod.” Austin cooed.

* * * * * * *

Scudder didn’t have to worry about disbanding the Semi-Vestal Virgin Corps.  Waco and Trey, along with Brick, Jimmy-Bob and Stan took care of that for him.  Oh, yes, and Brick’s double, Ernie Shields, gave them a hand welcoming the young men into the fold.  When it was explained to Ernie what Scudder did to him, and if they hadn’t ‘raptured’ him he would’ve spent the rest of his life locked away in prison as Brick Armstrong, he didn’t have much difficulty embracing his new found friends.  His past life and identity on Earth was wiped clean.  There was no record of his birth, education, military experience or work as a Temple Guard under the name Ernie Shields.  He was now facing another life altogether different as a total eunuch.  Somehow, just being away from the Holy Temple and Scudder’s influence, was a rebirth for him.  The fact he had no balls or penis didn’t seem to bother him.  He was like a kid in a candy store with all the new critters, people and friends he was making.  He was optimistic there would be a place for him in this new world.  He couldn’t have been more right.

* * * * * * *

As things got worse in the government, life was settling down to a routine in the hinterlands and small towns.  Societies and social sets will try to keep their approach to life on an equal level while the rest of society is going to hell on the fast track.  The news media had a field-day with the Holy Prophet actually being certified as dead and being brought back to life.  To make matters worse for Taycious, Scudder and the theocratic regime, the video from the robo-cams assigned to Officer Armstrong so Jimmy-Bob and Stan could follow his actions, somehow made it onto the Internet.  It was a dramatic production and even pointed out Scudder’s date of birth of June, 6, 1966.  No one knows how the video was taken, how or from where it was uploaded onto the net; however, it was duplicated so many times it was easily seen by anyone, even cyber-challenged adults who could manage to find a six year old kid to show them how to load it.

Of course the Scudder administration claimed it was a hoax and it was just a left-wing Hollywood underground production to make his administration look bad.  Whoever uploaded it to the net achieved their purpose.  It had its desired effect.  It managed to split the fundamentalist right down the middle.  There suddenly were no more middle of the road fundamentalists.  The more liberal of the right wing, which in itself is somewhat of an oxymoron, began to see Scudder as the anti-Christ as prophesied in the bible.  Being brought back to life by two angels had little to counterbalance their fear, especially when he began to push for his ‘Patriot Chip’ to be implanted in every man, woman and child in the country.  They began to leave the fundamentalist churches in droves.  In Reason county the fundamentalist congregations were cut in half.  It was just another burden David and Abigail Yates saw as a falling away from God and the true faith, but the major thorn in David’s flesh was his income was cut in half as well.  All through history, when the church’s purse strings became threatened they determined the cause and launched a crusade.  It seemed only natural the same thinking applied to governments under Catholicism, protestant fundamentalism or the zealots of Zionism.  When any religion reaches the stage of blind faith, good men suffer.

The Grange doubled and tripled its membership within six months of Scudder’s murder and rising again from the dead.  Secret stock piles of food goods, guns and ammunition were being stored in several locations.  The men were smart and let one of the main storage places be know to most members; however, there were numerous ones that were only known to a handful of the most trusted members.  In case there was a government confiscation of their main store of emergency supplies, they had others the government wouldn’t know about to fall back on.

* * * * * * *

Lazarus went back to work with his cowboys as ramrod.  By now all the cowboys knew what was going on and worshiped their ramrod as not only their boss, but as a great man.  Even stoic old Curley, the other lead cowboy came around and was supportive of Lazarus and Charlie.  The cowboys foresaw their futures were with these men, and they had as great a part to play as anyone else.  Lazarus still ate his lunch of slave chow with his men everyday.

Waco and his cowboy brothers started school again.  Stan and Jimmy-Bob couldn’t go back to school because they were ‘raptured’ and Lazarus didn’t want any chance word might get back to the Holy City those who were raptured were seen.  Neither could Jimmy-Bob’s family be seen again.  The same went for Brick, Tim and Ernie Shields.  They had to be hidden in the communities on board the Mighty Bee or the increasing lands on the Buttercup.  Waco and Lazarus were training Burt and Phil to gather more properties and their ships had several.  Tim’s idea and interest in Mars resonated with everyone as a good idea.  There would surely be enough work for them there.

Everyone celebrated Captain Vinceeth and his men’s R and R period.  The boys being back in school and getting active in sports again meant a certain number of the warriors along with their Captain were allowed to go to the home games.  They loved that and those who had to stay behind were able to see it on the three dimensional holo-deck on the Bandersnatch.  It was almost as good as being there.  Once again videos were compiled and sent to the Banshee for the entertainment of the warriors working on the ship.  When the Venusian counsel got word of these videos they wanted to know if they could have copies to broadcast.  Commander Maddragon got in touch with Captain Vinceeth, and he got permission from Captain Waco, Lazarus and Charlie.  The weekly football games in the small town on Earth became the second rage of Venus.  Of course it was all done under the direction of Darryl and his staff on Earth.

At the end of the three weeks rest and recreation period for Captain Vinceeth’s warriors Trey was out of his cast and walking without the aid of crutches.  He was thrilled to be back in action.  The cowboys had a long three day weekend and were going to take them back and move the Banshee to Mars Port.  It was to be a quick turn around trip and few people were to be included except for Captain Waco, his men, Lazarus and Charlie.  The only man who would return with them would be Captain Vinceeth who planned to stay with his young Captain until Thanksgiving.

They planned a second trip over the Thanksgiving holidays to take all the new folks with them so they could get an idea what Venus and Mars were all about.  By that time, Trey was hoping the new drives would be installed in the Banshee, and he and his men could get back to their home world and take on another assignment.  After they left Mars, he didn’t know when he would be able to see Waco again.  Everything depended on the war with the snakes and grays and what the Elders of his planet had in mind for him and his warriors.

For all their responsibilities, Waco and his men seemed to find time for everything.  It was the fall of the year, when the weather begins to get a nip in the air by the second week in September.  There were many things happening.  There was the annual Master/Slave ceremony the second week in September that  swelled to a much larger audience with Captain Vinceeth and a hundred and fifty of his warriors all wanting to attend.  They knew the rules and not a man among them wanted to be left out.

It was coming up on Blake Tindell’s release date at the end of September of that year and once again his fellow slaves voted him the honor of pleasuring his Master one last time in front of all the men.  Not one of the Stamper boys chose to be excluded.  By that time, they considered it a great honor just to be included.  It turned into one of the most memorable nights anyone could remember.  Many of the closest Grange members, males only, were invited to attend.  Chief Tin Penny and his two sons were there naked as their brave forefathers standing proudly along side the youngest member of their family, Little Bear.

Everyone arranged to have Blake’s freedom ceremony right after his and Master Charlie’s performance in front of the men.  It was done a little early as a surprise and a pat on the back for Blake.  Everyone was there including Sonny Steele, his dad Warren, and Jack Hall.  All naked as the day they were born.  The main judge of the county and the sheriff and two of his men were there.  At the end they came forward with Blake’s papers of freedom and a robe to throw around him to symbolize the love and protection the community felt for him.  They all wished him well for the future.  It was already settled months before the ceremony he would continue working for Charlie and Lazarus in the same capacity, except now, he would be a paid employee.  It was a great and moving moment for Blake Tindell.  The Stamper boys all shed tears of happiness for their ‘boss-man.’

It was a magic time for the cowboys, their friends and close relations.  It was remembered as the year of the bountiful harvest.  Not so much in relationship to crops or livestock, but as a metaphor for the new souls they were introduced to that year and those whom they worked hard to save.  The coming years were to be ones of great trial for all of them, but somehow they all held the strength of purpose that their goals were important and attainable.  From a world slowly sliding into total chaos, they were determined to make it through into the light and freedom of a brave new world.

End Of Chapter 40 ~ Waco’s Lummox’
Copyright 2007 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All Rights Reserved ~
Mail to: waddiebear@yahoo.com