By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 62

“Where the wave of moonlight glosses the dim grey sands with light, far off by furthest Rosses we foot it all the night, weaving olden dances, mingling hands and mingling glances, till the moon has taken flight; to and fro we leap, and chase the frothy bubbles, while the world is full of troubles and is anxious in its sleep.  Come away, my android child, to the waters and the wild with your father, hand in hand, for the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.”  W. B. Yeats (mostly)

After supper Monty got Dexter settled in for the night.  He showed Bobby how to help him with his hookups.  Since they had the standard one-ten AC current, he used the old trickle charge battery charger.  He plugged it in and checked to make sure it was working properly.  Dexter knew how to connect himself, but he was used to having someone help him.  It became more of a ritual than a necessity.  It might be compared to a child who couldn’t get to sleep unless he was tucked in and shown a little love by an adult.  Bobby took it upon himself to learn to help him.  He immediately assumed the role of older brother for the physically younger bio-mechanical boy, and to Bobby’s surprise, Dexter responded and began to bond with him.   

“Dexter, if you wake up during the night or have bad dreams you can’t come to the bunkhouse to find me.” explained Monty, “I’m a slave now, and I got responsibilities to Master Shane and my cowboy slave brothers.  Mr. Morris and Bobby have kindly agreed to look after you, and this is where you’ll stay in the evenings.  If you need someone during the night go to Bobby, and he’ll help you.  You should be all right, but I know you have bad dreams once in a while.  If he does, Bobby, just hold him for a while, and he’ll be okay.  Then hook him back up to the charger, and he should be fine for the rest of the night.  He won’t get up in the morning until he senses you moving about.”

Monty made Dexter promise he wouldn’t come to the bunkhouse to try to be with him.  Monty explained to Dexter he understood when he came with them there would be certain rules he had to live by.  Dexter said he understood and assured him he wouldn’t come looking for him.  He was now Master Goodnight’s slave, too, and he wanted to be a good slave for his master.  Bobby listened to all this and knew why Monty didn’t want Dexter to come to the bunkhouse.  Gil explained to Bobby about cowboy love when he was old enough to understand such things.  Gil figured the sooner the better.  He didn’t paint it in a bad or disgusting light, he just told him as a matter of fact.  Rather than chew on it, Bobby accepted it as part of cowboy slave life.  Bobby was confused and a bit disturbed by the large division in Dexter’s understanding about things.  While he was very smart, almost brilliant about some things, he could be hopelessly naive about others.  Bobby was almost certain Dexter had no idea what his companion or daddy would be doing in the bunkhouse other than sleeping, and why he didn’t want to be disturbed; or, perhaps he knew and just chose to ignore it.  Either way there was a decided division in his understanding and approach to life.  Bobby wondered if he just needed a big brother to explain things to him?  Was it possible no one ever took the time to help him connect the dots?  If that was the case, Bobby considered himself the right man for the job.

The evening went well for everyone.  Monty never tried to satisfy two men at the same time before, but he wasn’t against trying.  He found it interesting, but not something he’d choose to do on a regular basis.  Phil played the role of ringmaster and made sure everyone had a good time.  Monty spent the night with them, but they didn’t demand sex all night.  He got a good night’s sleep and woke refreshed in the morning.

Cole rode his way to cowboy glory with another one of his ten dollar fucks for his young master and the two men slept the peaceful dreams of lovers.  Dexter never stirred the whole night and didn’t move until he sensed Bobby awake and going to the bathroom.  Dexter was trained to remove all his clothing so he would be comfortable to accept a good night’s charge.  He set on the edge of his cot for a while, naked.  Bobby returned to the room and saw Dexter was still hooked up to the charger.

“Here, buddy, let me help you with that.” Bobby came to him and set down beside him.

“Thank you, Bobby, and good morning.”

“Good morning to you.  Did you charge well?” he asked.

“I think so, I feel strong and full of energy this morning.  It’s good to get a full meal, a complete, undisturbed night of feeding, because if I don’t and I’m busy the next day, I get cranky in the evenings.  I ain’t like that Energizer bunny what jes’ keeps on going.” Dexter giggled, “Sometimes, if I’m very busy, I have to have a quick snack— a little pick-me-up, if you will— in the afternoon to keep me going ‘til bedtime.  Did you sleep well, Bobby?”

“I did, actually.  Thanks for asking."  Bobby responed cheerfully,  "I been told I get cranky in the afternoons if I have a busy day, so most days, I try to recharge my batteries with a brief lie down.  A nice treat from Ms. Essmee after a good nap will usually see me through ‘til supper.  I feel good this morning.  Since Captain Shane healed me and I been drinking lummox milk, I only have pleasant dreams.  I seem to feel better the next morning if I have good dreams.”

“How did Master Goodnight heal you, from what illness, what’s lummox milk, and why do you call him captain?” Dexter asked.

“I’m sorry, Dexter.  I forgit you ain’t been here and don’t know some things.  Can you keep secrets?” Bobby asked.

“Yes, I’m very good at keeping secrets.” Dexter said.

“I can’t tell you everything right now, but if you can keep a secret from your daddy, I’ll share a couple of things with you, but if you betray my trust I won’t never tell you nothing again.”

“Why can’t my daddy know our secret, Bobby?”

“'At's a fair question, Dex.  Because sometimes things have to happen in an orderly manner; in sequence.  From your programming, I’m sure you understand about sequencing.  There’s things about our foreman, your new master, your dad can’t know right now.  Things me and my dad didn’t know for a while.  They ain’t nothing bad; in fact, they’re very good; it’s just they’s so remarkable and unusual, they take some time getting used to.  It took dad and me a while, but now we’re privy to everything what goes on around here.  We’s family.  Dad and me, we couldn’t be happier living here and working with Mr. Goodnight and Mr. Potter.  I say ‘with’ because it ain’t like we’s working ‘for’ someone.  I don’t even think the slaves feel that way.  It’s more like a team around here.  We’s all part of a large family, we work together for a common goal, but you’ll understand about that later.

I had a defective heart valve and almost died.  I was dying when dad and Mrs. Biddle brought me to Mr. Goodnight.  Your new master is a gifted healer, Dexter.  He weren’t strong enough at the time to completely heal me and called four of his good friends, close buddies of his who were also healers to help him.  Together, they repaired my heart, and with the help of some other wonderful folks, I began to get better. 
When he healed me, he exchanged some of himself with me, and I became a part of him.  We's like brothers now, and I love him and his pa with all my heart.  Beneath Mr. Goodnight’s good-ole-cowboy, easy-going exterior is a highly intelligent, compassionate and talented man; a strong man fiercely dedicated to the concept of family.  Cap’n Shane recognizes your dad is different, but what your dad don’t understand is, he and his new master are very similar.  They are very much alike in many ways.”

“That’s what Mr. Ong told my daddy.  He said they were alike.  I thought it was because their hearts beat at the same frequency.  I have heightened hearing and can hear people’s heartbeats.  I can tell yours is exceptionally strong.  So it would be reasonable for Master Goodnight to wait to see if my dad opens himself to him before he tells him everything about himself.  After all, he owns my dad and now me.  I remember Master Goodnight telling my dad he needed to know everything about him and all his secrets.  Now I understand why, but if I may share a secret with you, Bobby, my dad keeps secrets from me.  I think he doesn’t trust me sometimes.”

“Y’ain’t alone, little brother, my daddy keeps things from me, but in your case, I don’t think it’s cause yore' daddy don’t trust you, Dexter.  I think sometimes you get carried away, you don’t process your thoughts before you speak, and you don’t consider the consequences.  Perhaps, even though you can’t grow up physically, you can grow up mentally.  If you ever want people to take you more seriously than just being a cute, six year old kid, you got to start adjusting your reasoning processes.”
“How do I do that without an adjustment to my programing?”

“Practice.” was Bobby’s short reply.  “You have to work at it.  How old are you in chronological age, Dexter?”
“Fifteen years.”

“See, you’re almost twice my age, but you seem stunted in your social development.”  

“I’m plenty smart, Bobby.” Dexter defended himself.

“Smarts don’t necessarily equate to maturity, Dexter.  Some very smart men were social failures.  Einstein was plenty smart, but he didn’t speak until age three, and as an adult, he could barely tie his own shoelaces.  He would go for walks and forget how to get home.”

“You seem to be maturing at a normal rate for your physical size, Bobby.  Do you think you can help me?”

“We could try.  I understand you tutored the Ong children for many years.  It takes a lot of my dad’s time and energy to home school me.  As it grows, the ranch demands more of his time, and he sometimes don’t have time for my education.  Could you teach me what I need to know to survive in this world?”

“Of course I can, and I can make it so entertaining you won’t even realize you’re learning.  Can that be part of my duties as Master Shane’s slave?”

“I’ll speak with him.  We’s like brothers, him and me.  He loves me a lot and would do anything for me what sounded like a reasonable plan.  That's the thing with Foreman Shane, you show him proper respect and if you got something you want what's important to you, make damn sure you got all yore' facts straight and clearly defined in your head, but most importantly, why you think it would be a good idea.  If'n you don't try to bull shit him, nine times out of ten you'll get what you want.”

“That's good advice, Bobby.  Thanks.  I'll keep that in mind.  Now, what’s a lummox?” Dexter remembered.

“Here, I’ll show you a picture of one.  Have you ever heard of a Sasquatch or Bigfoot?” Bobby asked.

“Aren’t they large mythological creatures, a furry primate from the Northwestern part of our country?”

“Yes, but it turns out they ain’t mythological.  They are very real.  Look at this.” Bobby handed Dexter an eight by ten glossy photo he made on his computer printer of him, Captain Waco, Captain Vinceeth and Ox.  In the picture Ox is holding Bobby in one big arm and Waco has his arm around his beast.  On the other side Captain Vinceeth has his arm around Ox.”

“He’s huge but handsome.” said Dexter. “And, you say he produces drinkable milk?”

“The best, my friend.  I still drink it regularly.  It’s given me special powers.  I can communicate mentally with the horses, Maxine and Ox himself.  I may git me some today.  He always offers, and I never say ‘no.’  It’s just too darn good.  His name is Ox, and he’s the slave of the cowboy you see in the picture.  That’s Master Shane’s nephew, Master Waco.  He’s a fine looking man.”

“He sure is.  He looks a lot like Master Shane, only not as big.  Who’s the huge man on the other side of Ox?”

“Mr. Vinceeth.  He’s a regular visitor to the Goodnight ranches.  He and Master Waco are close friends.  He’s also a good friend of mine.”

When he was recovering, Shane gave Bobby his Captain Goodnight action figure.  Bobby kept it proudly and prominently displayed on his dresser.  Dexter caught sight of it and marveled.

“Captain Shane Goodnight Action Figure?  Is this why you call Master Shane ‘Captain?’”

“Why, yes, it is.” Bobby jumped at the answer, “I was just getting around to telling you about that.” he lied,  “A toy company thought a big, handsome cowboy like Master Shane would make a wonderful action figure for kids.  They gave him one, and he gave me his when I was recovering from my bad heart.  It’s one of my most prized possessions.”

“I can understand why.  It’s a remarkable likeness of him.”

“And his body, too, it’s anatomically correct.” Bobby smiled.

“You mean...?” asked Dexter in awe.

“Here, I’ll show you.” Bobby deftly undid the action figure’s belt, undid his Wranglers and pull them down slightly.”

“My, if that’s proportional to the rest of him he’s quite big all over.” remarked Dexter with considerable respect.

“It’s correct in every detail.  I had to lie close to him for a couple of days for him to heal me properly.  Then he slept with me every night for a week.  I would reach down and hold onto him with my hands.  When I touched him, it would stimulate him, his penis would become engorged with blood and grow almost twice as big.  It’s called git'n an ‘erection’ when it happens to grown men.  I git one ever’ now and then, but h’it ain’t near as big as Cap’n Shane’s.  His got really big and hard.” Bobby giggled, “He never scolded me or nothing.  He jes’ hugged me and told me to hold on tight.  He's an amazing man, Dexter.  He knew it brought me comfort and a sense of security to hold onto a part of him.  When I held him I didn’t feel so alone or afraid, and I knew I’d be all right.  We been swimming naked together in the creek many times, and believe me, his action figure is an accurate representation.” Bobby bragged about his friend.

Gil was getting dressed for the day and stuck his head into the boy’s room.

“You ‘bout ready to walk up to the big house for breakfast, Bobby?” he asked.

“Yes, Sir.  What shall we do with Dexter, Dad?”

“Bring him along.  He can sit and enjoy our company while we eat.”

“I did that quite often with the Ongs, Mr. Morris; or, I could stay here and watch Sunday morning cartoons and wait for you.”

“Oh, lord no!  That would melt your neural circuits, Dexter.” Gil joked.  Dexter understood the metaphor and laughed.  It was the first time Bobby or Gil heard him laugh.  The men walked to the big house.  Bobby and Dexter explained their plan for mutual education and growth.  Gil was impressed but wondered how successful it might be.  Maybe Dexter would be the god-send he was hoping for after all.  They got to the big house, went in and introduced Dexter to Ms. Biddle.  He never saw a black person before.  He knew they existed and saw many on television.  He loved old Oprah reruns but in Essmee Fay Biddle he found an exotic black Earth-mother.  He was wowed and overwhelmed by her.  Like, Mr. Potter and Cole, Mrs. Biddle underwent a physical transformation from the longshot and was now back in her prime.  She heard of the young android and was amused by his amazement of her.  While Dexter was in awe of her he was, also, very polite and considerate.  He set quietly while the men ate their breakfast, discussing plans for the day and the barbecue.  Essmee was fixing several side dishes for the occasion, but the men and cowboy slaves would handle the cooking.  At one point Dexter called his new master ‘Captain Shane.’  Shane raised an eyebrow, looked at Bobby and grinned.

“Dexter saw your action figure on my dresser this morning, Sir, and I explained it’s where you got the title.” Bobby came to Dexter’s defense.

“Why, yes, of course.” Shane grinned and smiled at Bobby, “Well done, Bobby.” he smiled his approval of Bobby’s quick thinking.  Bobby got his message and grinned.  “Dexter, do you understand when you gave yourself to me as my slave yesterday, and I accepted, you transferred all personal allegiances to me as your new owner and master.”

“I did?” he asked bemused.

“That’s the way it works, Son.” said boss Potter officiously as the old judge. “Ain’t no such thing as a half-way slave.  You either is or you ain’t.  There are strict rules you must abide by.” Potter poured it on.

“It means your first loyalties now lie with me and not yore’ daddy.  Now, that don’t mean you have to stop loving your daddy or being the good son you’ve always been, but it just shifts the perspective of everything over just a hair.” explained Shane.

“Is that part of me belonging to you, Sir?” Dexter asked.

“It is.” was Shane’s short reply.

“I understand, Master Goodnight.  I asked to belong to you, I gave myself to you, so therefore I must show you your due and respect you as my master.  Part of that is my loyalty must be to you first and my daddy second.”

“Good boy, Dexter, you’ll make a fine slave.” Shane played it up big for Dexter’s sake.  Bobby could see through the cowboy bullshit.  He could tell when Captain Shane was up to something.  “Bobby, right after breakfast I want you, your dad and Maxine to take Dexter through the gate to meet with our friends.  Tell them they can only have a couple of hours to visit for the first time.” ordered Shane.

“Are you afraid Dexter might tell his dad, Captain Shane?” Gil asked.

“Who is your first loyalty to, Dexter?” Shane asked the boy android.

“To you, Master Shane.” he quickly responded.

“You won’t say a word to your dad about who you meet with Mr. Morris, Bobby and Maxine, will you, Son?”

“No, Sir.”

“I promise, I’ll give you permission to tell him later, but we need to keep some things to ourselves right now.  Since you gave yourself to me, you belong to me, you are now a part of my greater family and that supercedes your ties with your dad.”

“Of course, you are correct, Sir.  I understand.” Dexter said.

“He won’t tell.” Shane smiled at Gil.  Gil just shook his head, smiled and returned to his breakfast.

Gil, Bobby and Maxine walked Dexter down to the old barn.  Dexter had no idea where they were going.  He watched as Maxine scratched the post, spoke her name and a big, watery looking door sprung up.  It frightened Dexter, and he almost jumped into Gil’s arms.  

“Steady there, cowboy.  Ain’t nothing to fear.  It’s just a doorway to another place.  Watch Maxine go through.”

“Ain’t nothing to it, Dexter.  It’s like going from one room to another.” she said as she dashed through.

“Me next.” said Bobby and he walked through.

“You want me to carry you through, Son?” Gil asked patiently.

“No, Sir.  Bobby told me I had to start growing up.  I can do this, but maybe if you hold my hand, that might help, Sir.” Dexter looked up into the big cowboy’s eyes, and Gil’s big heart melted.  He chuckled to himself.  He flashed back to his first time to go through a gate, took the boy-android’s hand, and they walked through together.  On the other side Dexter saw three beautiful, handsome naked men.  They were perfect in every detail, but there was something different about them.  He couldn’t detect a heartbeat.  He could only hear the small whirring sounds of micro-pumps circulating unknown fluids through their bodies.  They were hugging Bobby and playing with Maxine.  One gave Maxine a treat, for which, she graciously thanked him.  As Dexter slowly walked hand in hand with Gil Morris his eyes started to water.  It suddenly became clear to him, these men were like him.  They were bio-mechanical men.  He was stunned.

“Hello, little brother, welcome to the Bandersnatch.  My name is Cable and these are my brothers David and Jonathan.” said the biggest and most handsome of the three.  Dexter went to him with his arms open.  Cable grabbed him up, hugged and kissed him.  “We’ve been following you for sometime on our videos, but it’s such a pleasure to finally meet you in person.  You are more wonderful than we could imagine.” Cable made over him.  David and Jonathan just had to touch him.  “We understand you’ve come to visit us for a while, and we’d like to get to know you better.”  Dexter never felt more comfortable in his life than in Cable’s big arms.  It was like he was home and these were his people.  He shed a few tears, they comforted him and wiped his tears away.

“Can you understand why your master might not want you telling your dad about these men yet, Dexter?” Bobby asked.

“Absolutely, Bobby.” he replied. “My dad would understand them, but he wouldn’t understand about them.” he reasoned.

“You’re right, Dexter.” Cable confirmed. “Everything will be revealed to your daddy in time.”

“Bobby said things must progress in an order of sequence.  It’s not my daddy’s time yet to learn about you men.”

“Exactly.” confirmed Cable again.

“Who made you men?” Dexter asked.

“Our father had us made according to his specifications, Dexter.  You will meet him later today at the ranch barbecue and picnic.  He works for Master Charlie Goodnight and is the ramrod for his ranch.  His name is Lazarus Long.  We call him ‘father’ or 'Ramrod Long.'  He is also the captain of this ship.”

“Is this a starship?” Dexter asked in awe.

“It is, indeed, little one.” agreed David.

“And,— my master is the captain of his own ship.” Dexter put two and two together. “I saw the spacesuit in the box of his action figure, Bobby.”

“You’re right, little brother, yore’ master is captain of his own ship.” said Bobby.

“I often wondered what it must feel like to win the lottery.  Now I know.  My daddy has no idea where he’s landed.  He passed ‘go,’ collected two hundred dollars, landed on 'free parking,' collected the jackpot, and don’t even know it.  I am so glad I’m Captain Goodnight’s slave.” Dexter said in a reverent voice.

“So are we, Son.” agreed Cable, then added, “You couldn’t have chosen a better man to give yourself to,— and you wouldn’t be his slave without having done so.  By giving yourself to Master Shane, we suspect you triggered within yourself a separate subset of ‘loyalty’ subroutines which will allow you to become more than you ever dreamed possible, and we understand you do have dreams.” Cable said with a smile.

“Yes, Sir, I do dream.  You must want to run tests on me to find out more about me?” Dexter said rhetorically.

“We would like that very much, but we won’t if you’re afraid or would rather wait until your daddy can be with you.”

“You men wouldn’t do harm to me if you know Bobby, Mr. Morris and my new friend Maxine.  Bobby said I need to start learning to act more maturely.  I shall start here and now.  By giving myself to Master Shane, I have been given the choice to reason and make a few decisions for myself.  If my master didn’t want this for me, he wouldn’t have sent me to you, or he would’ve instructed me otherwise.  You may examine me, Mr. Cable.”

“Just ‘Cable,’ Son.  We don’t have honorific titles here.” Cable told him.  "And your reasoning is impeccable, little one." he added.

They ran all kinds of scans and test on Dexter, but none hurt him or were invasive.  They took off his very cleverly concealed skull cap and hair to expose his brain and were amazed by what they found.  It was very different from themselves, but his construction had precedents in their known universe and collective body of understanding.  It was a dense maze of a cloud-like material resembling finely spun glass or angel hair which had tiny, micro synaps which lit up with different colors when Dexter thought about different things or conversed.  It looked to Cable and his men like the brains of the bladder whales  Professor Wanker was studying on mars.  They were impressed by other micro-motors and microprocessor functions that could only have been put together by a very advanced intelligence.  They also discovered he had no batteries in the common sense of the term.  Instead, he had a series of sophisticated crystals which were excited by every recharge and held a steady resonance like a tuning fork, or as a crystal might set the bit rate for a computer; only, their energy potential was logarithmic.  The sophistication of the small android was almost circuit blowing to Cable and his men.  Their report to their father would be one of great excitement and awe.

In the meantime, the Kryscellians heard the news through their close association with the on-board intelligence and several others.  They came floating into sickbay.  Dexter was fascinated by their beauty.  They began to sing to him, and unlike organics, he interfaced with them almost immediately.  They gave, and he gave back to them.  He downloaded his knowledge of the several dialects of Chinese he spoke fluently.  They found out just how vast his storage of knowledge was and found he utilized his crystals much like them.  He had a direct family link with them.  They were thrilled and sang great and wonderful songs to him.  Dexter was in tears.  All too quickly their two hour visit to sickbay was over and Gil insisted they had to get back.  They were under orders from Captain Shane to return within two hours.  There were many hugs and tears as the bio-mechanicals said their ‘goodbyes.’  Dexter wanted to stay with them longer, but his new big brother, Cable, reminded him of his new dedication to Captain Goodnight.  He was now his slave.  His first duty was to him.  Dexter never wanted to belong to anyone but his companion all these years, but he now found himself belonging to another human.  Dexter wasn’t sorry.  His love and respect for his new master multiplied a hundred fold.  He knew what he must do upon return.  

* * * * * * *

Shane and Cole helped Essmee in the kitchen of the big house after breakfast.  It was usually Bobby’s chore to help her.  He was good about it, but Shane sent them away to the Bandersnatch.  Almost two hours passed before the men got a chance to get away from the big house and stroll over the hill to the bunkhouse to check with the four cowboy slave cooks on their progress for the barbecue.  Everything seemed in order.  They were standing outside under some trees near the huge fifty-five gallon drums converted to barbecue ovens, and the men were loading them with dried mesquite to get them going for the day.  Monty came walking up with a concerned look on his face accompanied by Phil, Eli, Bart and Telly.

“Has anyone seen Dexter?” he asked like he was worried. “We’ve looked all over for him.”

“I sent him and Bobby on an errand with Mr. Morris right after breakfast.  They should be back any minute.” Shane told him pulling his antique pocket watch from his vest pocket to check the time.  About that time, Dexter, Bobby, Gil and Maxine came walking around the corner of the bunkhouse laughing and chatting with each other.  Dexter spotted Shane and ran as fast as his little legs would carry him, right past his daddy, fell to his knees in the dust in front of Shane and began to lovingly kiss each of his big boots.  Shane got a big, shit-eating grin on his face and put his hand down for the boy.  He wondered if Dexter knew the slave ritual.  Sure enough, Dexter found his hand, lovingly kissed the back and placed it against his forehead for further instructions.

“Come to my arms, my small buckaroo slave, and show your master your love for him.” Dexter jumped up, Shane lifted him onto his huge chest and the young android gave Shane a passionate kiss.  Shane let him and responded in kind.  It seemed strange to Shane to be kissing a machine, but he knew this was something Dexter needed.  Besides, it was the message of the kiss, the symbolism, rather than a stimulus that was important.  There is a kiss to convey almost all human emotions, including the kiss of death.  In Dexter’s case, it was a kiss of unbridled happiness, joy and an awakening.  The small android was announcing to his companion, his allegiance to his new owner and master.  Monty witnessed all this with his mouth open.  He never saw Dexter so passionate about anything.  He almost felt jealous, but yet, strangely enough he was proud of Dexter.  Monty knew this was major growth in his companion and recognized it as such.  He just felt a bit cheated he wasn't the first to set the example.  He told himself he better get used to it; this was a new Dexter he never saw before.  Dexter had his arms tightly around Shane’s big neck, shamefully stealing kisses and whispered to him,

“I'm your devoted slave, Master Goodnight.  Is it inappropriate for a slave to tell his master he loves him, Sir?”

“No, not at all, as long as his master may feel free to love him in return.”

“Of course you may, Master.  I’m yours, I belong to you.”

“Good point, slave.  Besides, we’s family now, ain’t we?  H’it’s only right I should love my little brother and he love me.  You met my other brothers this morning.  You recognized them as your brothers right away, I’m told.” Shane asked softly so Monty wouldn’t overhear. “I have it on good authority they fell in love with you.  I’ll have ta’ keep my eye on them ole boys, so’s they don’t try’n steal you away from me.” Shane winked and laughed.  Dexter grinned at his nonsense.

“Don't worry, Sir,  I won't let them.  You're right, I did recognize them as being like me, Master, and my eyes have been opened.  Thank you for having faith in me and including me in your family.  I won’t let you down, Sir.  I won’t betray your trust, Captain Shane.  I understand now.” Dexter assured Shane.

“That’s what I was hoping might happen, Son, and you’re welcome.  I do have faith in you, or I wouldn’t have shared my brothers with you.  Now, you must have faith in me.”

“I will always have faith in you, Master.” Dexter said in awe of the big man who held him.

“Excellent, Son, I’m glad.  I’m proud of you, slave.” Shane stole another kiss then set him down.
Dexter ran to Monty, hugged and kissed him. “It’s your turn, Father.” Dexter smiled at him.  Monty’s heart sank.  Dexter was right, he should have taken care of his duties before now.  He handed Dexter his hat, walked up to Shane and knelt in front of him.

“I feel embarrassed and humbled by my companion, Master Shane.  I should have taken care of my duties as your slave and paid homage to you much sooner.  If you will allow me, Sir?”

“It's never too late." Shane said gently, "Go ahead, Son.”

Monty lavished much love on Shane’s dusty boots and found Shane’s hand waiting.  They went through the ritual and Shane gave Monty an equally passionate kiss as he did Dexter.  All the cowboys were moved by what they witnessed.

“Welcome to our family, Son.  I’m proud to call you my slave.”

“I’m proud to be your slave, Master Goodnight.  I’m honored to be considered a small part of your family, Sir.”

That afternoon was a new beginning for Monty and Dexter.  Dexter no longer called Monty ‘daddy.’  He was now ‘father.’  He explained he wanted to become more mature and part of his plan was to show Monty more respect.  Calling Monty ‘daddy’ just didn’t show the same respect to his creator as the honorific term ‘father.’  He would try to be more thoughtful in his questions and his responses to people.  He would try to gather more information for himself to make an informed decision before he spoke.  Monty was wowed by his smaller companion.  These new revelations were outside Dexter’s programing.  It was as if the boy was struck by lightening and scrambled some of his circuits for the better.  He was always special to Monty, but he became even more of a delight to be around.  The cowboys almost fought over who would have him sit in their lap next.  Dexter ate up all his new found attention; figuratively speaking, of course.  

The guests began to arrive and there was a number of people from other ranches who were being introduced around.  Angus arrived with his wife, his ramrod Jimmy Joe Russell and the ramrod’s mate Burt Stamper.  Charlie Goodnight’s crew arrived in several vehicles.  Arriving with Charlie Goodnight was his right hand man and ramrod, Lazarus Long, his son Lucas Long and Lucas’ mate Commander Maddragon riding in the crew cab.  In the back of Charlie’s truck was Indigo/Blue Goodnight and Travis Jessup with his mate Sergeant Major Sal Doggoral.  Sitting between Lazarus and Charlie in Charlie’s big truck was Miss Estelle Potter.  Lazarus convinced her one trip outside the colonies wasn’t going to harm her, and he and Charlie would be her personal bodyguards.  She laughed at his overprotective nonsense and said she would be happy to go with them.

Also arriving in another truck was Charile’s son Waco, his mate Captain Vinceeth and Waco’s slave Ox.  Riding in the back with Ox was Little Bear Tin Penny, Tex Olafson, Brett Jones, Basil Troubadour, and Commander Hawkins.  Another truck arrived from the Austin/Daniel’s Ranch; Hoot and Cotton with Blake Tindell and the rest of the Stamper men were in the back plus a couple of cowboy slaves, mate’s of the Stampers.  Sam was with them to meet up with his commander.  In another big truck arrived Chief Tin Penny, a couple of his chiefs, their wives and kids.  Along with them was Doug and Brody Tin Penny with their families.  Shane didn’t expected such a large guest list, but they had plenty of food for all and welcomed everyone.  

Bobby pointed out Ramrod Long to Dexter.  He ran to him, fell to his knees and began to make love to his boots.  Lazarus was thrilled to see such a perfect little bio-mechanical buckaroo paying homage to him.  The thought crossed his mind, after two thousand, two hundred and damn near thirty years, life still could have its moments of surprises and unsurpassed joy.  It was times like these he was grateful his mother forced his last regeneration upon him and stopped him from willing himself to die.  The thought of having missed the sweetness of the moment was almost unbearable to him, and his eyes filled with tears.  While he considered his time with Charlie, the Grange and the great escape from Earth may be the last chapter of his long life, it was proving to be one of the most rewarding periods for him.  He would have missed all this had his mother not interfered.  He remembered being angry with her when he discovered he was alive.  He blamed it on her selfishness, but now he knew he was wrong.

He suspected a greater, guiding intelligence in the universe but never gave it much thought.  It always smacked too much of religion and he was decidedly against anything dealing with myths or hearsay.  For Lazarus, religion was a racket, pure and simple.  He saw over two thousand years of the misery it could bring with little redeeming social value other than a crutch for those who so greatly feared death.  Maybe it was because he was old and at ease with himself it all seemed so comfortable to him now.  All the pieces of the greater puzzles of his life seemed to be coming together in something as small as the little mechanical buckaroo on his knees before him kissing his boots.  He and Charlie received a detailed report from his medical staff about Dexter before they left the ranch.  He reviewed videos his staff made of their findings, and was as astounded as they were.  He graciously went through the ritual with the small android.  After he and Dexter shared a good kiss, he hugged the boy to him.

“I met your sons this morning, Sir.  They were good, kind and gracious to me.  I feel like I have three new brothers.” Dexter spoke quietly so no one else could hear.

“I know you met them.  They gave me a full report.  They’re quite taken with you.  They’re very much in love with you, young man.  Ain’t very often one of their own kind comes along.  I think you gained yore’self three very fine brothers.”

“I’m so thrilled to know there are others like me, Sir.  I thought I was the only one in the universe.  Someday I would like to see more of your ship.”

“I will personally take you on a tour when we git yore’ daddy settled in and share everything with him.  There are many more out there like you and my sons.  I will take you to meet them one day soon.”

Dexter became the hit of the afternoon.  Monty was amazed at Dexter’s transformation in one day.  He was together and acted far more mature than Monty ever saw him before.  He seemed to hang with Bobby and Gil Morris quite a bit.  It was like they shared a common secret Monty didn’t know about.  Angus Goodnight was particularly taken with Dexter and had him in his lap several times talking with him.  Angus was amused Dexter considered himself Master Shane’s slave, and Dexter went on and on about how much he loved Shane and wanted to be the best slave for him he could be.  No one who heard him had any doubts about his seriousness.

Little Bear met Monty and the two men quickly bonded.  Little Bear looked like a young Coyote John Tin Penny only much better looking and not banged up from barroom brawls, cigarettes and waking up too many mornings in a dumpster with a hundred megaton hangover.  They talked openly about Coyote John.

“You were with my dad for six months?” Little Bear asked rhetorically.  Monty didn’t answer.  He just nodded.  He knew Little Bear already knew. “You spent more time with him than I have my whole life.” he said sadly.  Monty’s heart broke with empathy for his new friend.  He understood rejection.

“If it’s any consolation, Little Bear, I grew quite fond of your dad.  I would even go so far as to say I fell in love with him.” Monty said quietly.

“I heard he forced himself on you.” Little Bear challenged.

“He thought he did, but I could’ve defended myself.  I didn’t.  I just thought it might be easier and more pleasant for both of us if I learned to please him.  I knew I’s probably gonna’ end up a slave anyway and would be expected to have male sex.  It seemed to be something he needed, and I never had much physical love of any kind shown to me while I’s growing up.  It was a new experience for me.  He was a good lesson.  It takes a lot to please your dad.  I worked hard learning how to satisfy him; not only to satisfy him, but also, to please him.  The better I got, the more he tried to satisfy me, and the more affection he offered me.  The last day I was with him, I told him, for a hardheaded old Indian man he could be a pert-damn good lover when he put his heart into it.  I don’t think he appreciated my words very much.  He sees himself as the last of the straight, macho cowboys.  He thinks it’s all right to use another man for his sexual needs, but to show him any affection would make him a homo.” Monty grinned.

“Then you don’t hate my dad?” Little Bear asked with some awe in his voice.

“No, not at all.  On the contrary, I have only feelings of affection for John Tin Penny.  I know Coyote John might think that sounds queer as hell, but it’s the truth.  I don’t know any other words to use.  How are things going for him?  I heard he went to another Goodnight ranch owned by my master’s oldest brother.”

“I hear tell it ain’t going too well.  I guess you know Master Angus’ ramrod is the older brother of Billy Bob Russell, the cowboy my dad tried to kill?”

“Sweet Jesus!  No, Little Bear, I didn’t know.  I’m sorry, I had no idea.  That must be awful for Coyote.  He must feel like he done died and woke up in hell.”

“Only because my dad’s such an ornery cuss.  He created his own hell.  I know Master Angus well.  He and I developed a mutual admiration for each other years ago.  I fell in love with that old cowboy when I’s only twelve years old.  He’s the first master I always run to and pay homage to his boots.  For years, I tried my dead level best to eat them big boots a' his off a’ that cowboy.” Little Bear laughed, “Until recently, I ain’t never met me no man what’s boots I’d rather pay homage to than Master Angus.  He became a father figure to me.  I can tell him the secrets of my heart, and he won’t never laugh at me.  He gimme’ a shit load a’ good advice over the years.  Even though I’s a slave, he wouldn’t do nothing with me ‘til I turned sixteen.  Since I turned sixteen, he’s been fuck’n my ass regularly like I’s a two bit whore.” Little Bear laughed at his own crudity.  “Don’t git no ideas, though, I ain’t cheap no more.” he added with a grin, “Recently, I done raised my price to fifty cents.” he laughed.  Monty grinned.

“I know in my heart Master Angus won’t let Jimmy Joe Russell do nothing to my dad what ain’t standard practice for any other slave on his ranch.  Besides, I know Jimmy Joe Russell personally, if you know what I mean?” Little Bear laughed again. “Us Goodnight cowboys would git invited to Hoot and Cotton’s ranch for an afternoon like today.  We’d catch ole Jimmy Joe off by his-self som’mers, we’d rope, hog tie him and carry him to the barn.  We’d make bets who could suck him off the quickest.  I always won.  Purdy soon we didn’t have to rope and hog tie him no more.  He would be wait’n for us boys in the far barn with his Wrangles down around his boot tops, hold’n his big old horse cock in his hand jes’ waving it at us.  He’d laugh his ass off at us boys when we’d fight to see who would be first in line to suck his big dick.  Because of my history with Jimmy Joe, I know'd without a doubt in my heart he’ll be fair with Coyote.  So, whatever problems my old man’s gonna’ have, ain’t with his master or his foreman; it will lie solely with him.  I know h’it ain’t gonna’ be easy on him, ‘cause he’ll fight ‘um ever’ gotdamn step of the way.” Little Bear shook his head for emphasis.

“You still love him a lot.” Monty said without nuance.

“Yeah, I don’t never tell my granddaddy that, but I do.  I always just wanted a chance to love him and have him love me.  I’d give my left nut to have what you had with him even for one evening.  How sick is that?” Little Bear shook his head.

“I don’t think it’s sick a' tall, brother.” said Monty.

“Of any man, I guess you got more right than any to call me yore’ brother.  You probably got more of my old man’s seed in you than I do.” Little Bear lamented, then grinned.  
“Minimum, three times a day for six months.  Some days four and five.  We didn't have nothing else to do.” stated Monty flatly.

“Damnation!  I didn’t realize my old man’s such a horny old fart.” Little Bear laughed.  “Yeah, and what’d I git?  I got me one lousy gotdamn sperm what fertilized my momma’s egg and an old man what sold me into slavery when I’s only ten years old.” Little Bear grinned at Monty.  Monty felt awful and just shook his head.  “But I hear'd me a rumor you ain’t had no easy life neither, ma' brother.  I guess we done got us some things in common.” declared Little Bear.

“I thank God for Coyote John.  I would a’ gone bat-shit crazy in that damn jail without him.” said Monty.  “I’d like to talk with Mr. Russell, but I don’t know what I’d say to him.  Maybe jes’ ask him to tell Coyote ‘hello’ for me and tell him I’s think’n on him.” Monty said.

“You talk about a horny fucker; I hear tell ole Jimmy Joe fucks his slave-mate or has ole Burt suck him off three or four times a day and still takes care of sixty or more slaves for Master Angus.  Tell you one damn thing, you’ll never taste a sweeter piece of cowboy meat than Jimmy Joe Russell's cock.  Why, that big thing’ll jes’ melt in yore’ mouth.” Little Bear slapped his leg and roared with laugher.  Monty laughed at Little Bear’s enthusiastic cowboy bullshit.

* * * * * * *

Later in the day, big Phil Pie came and got his baby slave and took Monty into the bunkhouse to his and Eli’s room.  

“Stay in here for a few minutes.  One of the freemen noticed you and would like you to service him.  It’s part of your job as a cowboy slave, Son.  It happens to all us cowboy slaves from time to time.  If a freeman wants you to service him, you ain’t got no choice.  You don’t never wanna’ say ‘no’ or reject him no matter what he looks like or how bad he smells.  If he tells me you didn’t do your best to please him, I gotta’ tell our master, and he’ll have to publicly punish you.  Trust this old slave, you don’t want that.  Make yore’ master proud of you, Son, and you’ll make me happy.  He’ll be in here in a minute.  Be sure to remember your manners and pay homage to his boots first.”  Phil coached him.

“I will, Poppa Pie.  I won’t let you down.  I’ll make you, Dad Eli and Master Goodnight proud of me, Sir.”

“You’re a good boy, Monty.  Me and Eli will be sitting in the mess hall having a cup of coffee.  We won’t let nobody disturb you.”

“Okay, Sir.”

Monty waited and waited some more.  Finally the door opened and one of the best looking cowboys at the picnic, Jimmy Joe Russell, strolled into the room.  He took off his big hat and hung it on a peg near the door.  Monty didn’t say a word.  As Jimmy Joe walked toward him Monty hit his knees ready to pay homage to the good looking cowboy’s handsome, expensive pair of buckaroo boots.  He lovingly kissed each, but got no response from Jimmy Joe except to watch as he undid his huge rodeo belt buckle, opened his Wranglers and shoved them down to his boot tops.  He was a real cowboy, all right.  He wasn’t wearing underwear, and his huge dick flopped in front of Monty’s face.  Little Bear’s comparison of Master Russell's penis to a horse’s cock wasn’t wrong.

“You know who I am, slave-boy?” he asked quietly.

“Yes, Sir, Master Russell.”

“I hear tell you wanna' talk with me.  My young native American slave-buddy told me you might have a message for his daddy, but before we git to that I wanna’ see if you’s learn’n to be a good slave and if you know how to please a master.  Jimmy Joe didn’t say another word, took his cock in his right hand, placed his left hand behind Monty’s head and pulled him onto it.  Monty didn’t hesitate to take him.  Jimmy Joe certainly wasn’t ugly, and he had the cleanest, most attractive, masculine smell of any man Monty had been with; certainly better than Coyote John who always reeked of stale cigarettes oozing from the pores of his skin.  John's come even carried a faint taste of cigarettes.  Monty chowed down on the fine piece of cowboy meat before him like it was the main dish at a banquet set just for him, a starving beggar.  Jimmy Joe seemed patient with Monty at first, but soon began to fuck his face driving his cock ever deeper down his throat until Monty choked a couple of times.  Jimmy Joe would pull back and encourage the young man with a word or two.  

“Easy, Son.  Lemme’ do the work.  All you gotta’ do is jes’ relax and take me.  You got a ways to go yet.  I know you wanna’ please me, so work with me.  I ain't out to choke you to death.  I might wanna' fuck yore' handsome face again sometime.  It looks big, but I know you can take me; many men have.”

He kept working Monty’s throat until Monty was taking the full length of Jimmy Joe’s ten and a half inches down his well stretched throat.  Jimmy Joe wasn’t mean, but he had a strength of purpose that appealed to Monty; a masculine self-assuredness about what he wanted and expected from the slave on his knees in front of him.  Monty found him exciting and the more Jimmy Joe demanded of him, the more Monty tried to give until Jimmy Joe was fucking Monty’s face with considerable force and abandon.  Monty felt himself giving in to the powerfully sexual cowboy and wanted more than anything to please him.  He had a deep need in his gut to satisfy the man and earn his seed.  Without warning Monty’s whole body began to spasm, and he felt himself ejaculating in his Wranglers.  Jimmy Joe could feel the slave coming and smiled to himself.  He managed one final lunge and rammed his cock all the way down Monty’s throat and emptied his big, full cowboy balls into the young man’s gut.

He held Monty all the way onto his dick.  Monty’s lips were jammed tight into Jimmy Joe’s pubic hair as his cock erupted wave after wave of his hot, thick, ropey, cowboy cream down the younger man’s throat.  Monty could feel Jimmy Joe’s balls moving and squirming in their sacks as they hung from his chin and emptied their filling goodness into him.  Monty shot again and started to feel like he might pass out from lack of air.  Jimmy Joe pulled out, and Monty gasped for breath.  He was well trained by Coyote John and when he got his breath, immediately began to lick and clean Jimmy Joe’s cock.  Jimmy Joe reached down to pull up his Wrangles as Monty finished cleaning around and under the his ample foreskin.  He carefully tucked Jimmy Joe’s cock into his Wranglers as the large man zipped up his fly and put his belt buckle back in place.

“Now, you may pay proper homage to ma’ boots, slave.” he spoke quietly to Monty.

Monty was on Jimmy Joe’s fine pair of boots in a minute and lavished them with his love.  Russell prided himself in being able to tell a slave’s appreciation or dedication by the way he paid homage to his boots.  He was impressed by Monty’s genuine affection and attention to detail in everything he did.  Monty found Jimmy Joe’s strong, weathered hand.  He kissed the back and placed it to his forehead.

“Come, slave,” Jimmy Joe ordered, “show me your love.”  

Monty was in the cowboy’s arms in a hurry and kissed him.  Jimmy Joe explored Monty’s mouth with his tongue like he was trying to find the last flavors of his cowboy spunk.  He broke it off and held Monty in his arms.  A grin spread over Monty’s face.

“What’s ‘at grin for, slave?” Jimmy Joe asked with a wry smile.

“Some’um Little Bear told me about you, Sir.”

“Wha’t’s ‘at?”

“He said you had the sweetest piece of cowboy meat I’d ever taste, and you’d jes’ melt in ma’ mouth.  Danged if he weren’t right, Sir.” Monty allowed.  Jimmy Joe broke up laughing.

“He said that, huh?” he laughed again.

“Yes, Sir, and thank you, Master.  Ain’t never tasted me no sweeter dick, Sir.  If you ever have a hanker’n to come by and try ma’ saddle some evening, I’d be much obliged.” Monty invited.

“Count on it, slave.” Jimmy Joe promised.  “You’re as good as Coyote John said you was, boy.  You’ll make some cowboy a fine partner.  He begged me to fuck your throat real good and hard and tell you it was from him.  He said to tell you he misses you a powerful lot.”  Monty had to check himself.  He almost broke down in Jimmy Joe’s arms.  His words were so unexpected.  They sort of hit below the belt.  The cowboy just held him tight.  Monty wondered if Master Russell said what he did to get a reaction from him.  “Now, what can you tell me about Coyote John Tin Penny?  I jes’ got him for a baby slave.  I usually don’t carry messages for a slave, but I can see we’re gonna’ have a devil of a time with him.  He’s asked about you more’n a couple of times which tells me you made an impression on him.  He don’t wanna’ admit it, but he cares about you.  You’re the only person in the world he’s formed anything resembling a bond of any kind.  The thought occurred to me I jes’ might need me an ally to git through to that thick, hardheaded old bastard.  You could be useful to us.  I thought fuck’n you like I done and seeing how you responded to a message from him might gimme’ some idea how to break him without having to cut his balls off.  What can you tell me?”

“Ain’t much to tell, Master Russell.  I spent six months with him in a cell, but I can’t says I really know the man all that well.  I learned to please him rather than fight with him.  It was jes’ some’um we done to pass the time.  I grow’d to be fond of Coyote John Tin Penny, but I knew we’d part sooner or later.  I never fooled myself about him.  I think he grow’d to like me and maybe even respect me a little, but I don’t know’s I’d go so far as to say we formed a bond.  He ain’t the best man I ever know’d, but he has some raw animal quality about him I found attractive.  Mean’n no disrespect, Master, but you got it, too.  I ain’t ashamed a what I done or how much I come to like it with Mr. Tin Penny.  After talk’n with my master, I ain’t afraid to tell you I think I might’ve fell in love with Coyote John.  I don’t know what you’re looking for, Sir, but I’ve heard what goes on in breaking a slave.  I expect it to happen to me.”

“Son," Jimmy Joe paused for a few seconds, "take it from a ramrod master what’s been broken as a slave, seen the hardest of slaves broken, and broken a few his-self, y’ain’t gonna’ have no problem.  There’s some men what take to slavery easier than others.  I seen some men what are born to serve other, stronger men.  They find a comfortable home being a slave.  Some men, what ain’t born to be slaves, jes’ know how to adapt better’n others.  I think you’re one of ‘em.  You got a good attitude without compromising yore’ masculinity; you wanna’ please; you got a sense of humor, and you got the gift of cowboy bullshit.  Them things will take you far.  You’ll do fine.  Age makes a big difference, too.  It seems to be easier on younger men.  It’s older men like me and Coyote John what find it the hardest.”

“How long was you a slave, Master Russell?” Monty asked respectfully.

“Twenty years, Son.  I was a baby slave for damn near three full months, but they couldn’t break me.  I guess it was the threat of being castrated what finally done it.  Like all slaves, once I give in and knew I was broken, life got a lot easier for me.  I think it’s the fear that when a man breaks you, butt fucks you and makes you suck his cock, you ain't a man no more, he robs you of your masculinity.  That just ain’t true.  It’s a false assumption.  You’re fortunate, I kin tell by the way you handle yourself, you already know what I'm talk'n about.  It took me a good while to understand that simple fact, but when I finally did, I learned how to reclaim my masculinity and then some.  Truth was, as one older cowboy told me, I never lost it in the first place.  I became the best damn cowboy slave Master Hoot and Cotton ever had, but I’s still on my knees sucking their dicks and git’n butt fucked by them regularly.  Eventually, I got me a slave-boy lover on the side, and they let up on me some.

Somehow, in the cowboy slave world when you git chore’self a partner and pair up, it sort of becomes sacred ground.  H’it don’t mean they stop expecting you to do your duties to them as a slave, but jes’ not so often.  After a while, Master Hoot and Cotton come to trust me and made me a slave trustee.  I began taking my masters’ place fuck’n the other slaves when they’s too tired or didn’t wanna’ take care of ‘em no more.  I learned masculinity and sexuality is all in a man’s head, Son.  I’s a much stronger man today than I was before I become a slave.  I ain’t got me no problems with my masculinity.  You can’t never take that away from a real man no ways.  If it happens, a slave weren’t no real man to begin with.  Never question your masculinity because you’re required to have sex with men.  I know y'ain't gonna' believe me right now, but you will; take it from me, Son, you’re more a man than Coyote John Tin Penny will ever imagined his-self to be.  It takes a real man to be able to control his-self and do what you jis' done with me and walk away knowing he was in full contol of the situation from the start; and, you was.  I's jis' the passenger.  You be the train what hauled ma' load, boy.  You done all the work, and for yore' first time with a man you barely know, you done a damn fine job.  I don't usually compliment a new slave 'cause they's always room for improvement, but in your case I'll make an exception.  That was the best first blowjob a ever done got from a slave.  It took me damn near three years to get to where you is right now.  I jis' about imagine Coyote John's a bullshitter with the best of them cowboys, so I didn't expect too much when I walked in here.  I was wrong.  If anything he underestimated your abilities to me.  Be proud of yourself, young'un, you won't have to go through what the Coyote's gonna' have to experience.  How hard or how easy a man is treated as a salve is all up to him.  It won't take you long to understand what I'm tell'n you.

We ain’t had Coyote but a few days, but I can already tell we’s gonna’ have trouble with him.  So far, he's done everything we tell him, but I can tell he’s jes’ wait’n for us to make a mistake so’s he can take advantage.  We’ll be able to tell more after his two week break in period.  If’n I can’t break him, I’m afraid it’s gonna’ come down to castration for Coyote.  Master Angus won’t hesitated to have him clipped.  It’s almost guaranteed to break any slave, but he won’t have much spirit after that.  Won’t git much work out of him, neither.  I know Master Angus will ship his ass off to a Cheney camp rather than fool with him.  I know Coyote damn near killed ma’ baby brother, but I don’t hold it agin’ him.  I ain't got me no grudge 'agin him.  Thank God, my little brother recovered and is still alive.  He's gonna' be okay, but he was a gall-durn fool to hang around with a no-count like Coyote in the first place.  I warned him about Coyote John.  He didn’t listen, and it damn near cost him his life.  Somehow, I got me a feel’n down deep in ma’ gut you hold the key to Coyote John’s heart and jes' might have the answer I’m look’n for.  I’ll be back ever’ now and then to check on you; besides, I think I jis' might enjoy take’n me a nice, long, comfortable, slow ride in yore' fine looking saddle, boy.”

“I’m sure I’d enjoy it, Master Russell.  If you take care of my backdoor as well as you done my front, I know'd I'm in for a treat.  I’ll do ma’ best to give you a good ride, Sir.  I’s jes’ wonder’n, Ramrod, if’n you been a slave for twenty years, you have to be... older.”  Monty could do the math but didn’t want to say Jimmy Joe had to be in his middle sixties. “You don’t look a day over thirty-five or forty, Master.  How’s that possible, Sir?” Monty asked.

“Sex, boy!  And lots of it, young’un.  The more sex you have the younger looking man you’ll stay.” Russell grinned.  He knew Monty wasn’t a stupid man, probably wasn’t going to buy his bullshit, but he knew he wouldn’t challenge him. “Is there a message you want me to take to Coyote John, slave?” he quickly asked to change the subject.

“Yes, Sir.  Tell him I’d still be right proud to be his boy, even if he allows his-self to be broken.  It’ud jes’ be another one of our secrets we won't tell nobody.   He knows I always take good care of my old hound dog." Monty smiled at Jimmy Joe.

“Damn, boy, that just may do it; made my old heart skip a beat.  I won’t ask what secret you’s talk’n about.” Jimmy Joe grinned at him. “I jes’ got me a feel’n about you, Son.” Jimmy Joe held Monty tight, made a little more love to him and left.  He told him not to come around him for the rest of the afternoon, because his slave partner was the jealous type.  He said he was working hard to get him over it without much success.  Monty waited for a few minutes until Phil came back in to get him.

“You done good, kid.” Phil told him, “When Jimmy Joe Russell gives you five stars you can count on a repeat.”  Phil patted him on the back as he gave Monty a big hug.

“Suits me fine, Poppa Pie.  I shore’ wouldn’t mind me another big ole help’n of his fine cowboy love’n.” Monty smiled at him. “He could break me to his saddle any time he likes, Sir.”  

Monty kept his word and took big Telly to his bed that night.  It was almost a repeat of big Bart except Telly was about four inches longer and bigger around than Bart, but my, didn’t the old cowboy feel nice way up Monty’s nice clean butt?  Telly fucked the poor kid half the night.  Phil and Eli decided something had to be done about the singing bedsprings.  They didn’t get a lick of sleep.  

* * * * * * *

The barbecue was a great success.  Estelle Potter said she enjoyed getting out and under the real sun for a while.  There are artificial means of providing vitamin D, but there is nothing like the feel of an old Sol for the real thing.  She wasn’t sure she’d feel comfortable being out of the colonies, but Lazarus assure her there was a gate back to the Bandersnatch within a short walk.  Captain Shane installed it, and he promised he would personally guarantee her safety.  When she heard her hero Captain Shane’s name, it eased her mind considerably.  Aside from seeing her cousin's ranch and a good visit with him, she enjoyed meeting and mingling among the guest.  Many she already knew and recognized as frequent visitors to Parsons.  A few she met many times.  It was nice to renew old acquaintances and she was introduced to a number of new people she never met before.  She found Gil and Bobby Morris delightful, but she found a treasure in Dexter.  When she learned he could speak and write seven languages, including her beloved Latin, she was enthralled.  They set together exchanging comments and clever bon mots with each other in classical Latin.

“Your Latin is very good young man.  I understand your learning capabilities are highly enhanced being of the same linage as Cable, David and Jonathan, but who taught you?”

“My father, who created me, brought home many books he found in the trash.  Sometimes our local library would throwaway books no one checked out for several years.  They would have sales, but when books were not sold they were tossed in the trash.  We would hook up a wild jenny we befriended to a small, discarded tumbrel my father found and repaired and we would rescue them, so to speak.  Among the books were the classics and we shared them together.  We found a beginning Latin grammar book and we learned the basics.  From there, it became a challenge to see how much of the language we could learn.  It was a way we could converse in front of people without them knowing what we were talking about.  I had to learn quickly in order to teach him, but also, as his companion I needed to know what he knew; otherwise, he might outgrow me, become weary of me and leave me behind.”

“Mr. Dundee doesn’t strike me as the sort of man who would do a thing like that.  Since he created you he would have to feel great responsibility for you.”  reasoned Miss Potter.

“It has been my experience, humans can become bored with the greatest treasure unless they are wise enough to understand happiness and satisfaction, Miss Potter.  I’m fortunate my creator considers these things, but I began to feel less needed and not as important to him as he grew older.  When he met Shanna Ruggles, he would leave me for days by myself, but he would always come home in the evenings.  Even then, we didn’t communicate much because his mind was always with her.  I was never programed for jealousy, so I took his lack of interest in me as a rejection.  I kept myself busy and took care of our place for us, but I felt very much alone.  Then one day he didn’t come home.  Days went by.  I almost went crazy worrying about him.  After a week, our Chinese brothers came to get me and told me he would be in jail for a while until he had a hearing in front of a judge.  He was gone for six months.  I became very distraught.  I couldn’t think of anything else but him being locked away in a cage without his companion, and I would withdraw into myself for days at a time.

My brain became lodged in a loop, and it would fugue on the same depressing themes.  It would create layers of subjects with many themes to become variations of the same call and responses, none of which ever developed to their natural resolution or came to a satisfactory conclusion.  It created great mental logjams I doubt a metaphorical stick of dynamite could have loosened.  I became very tired and weary from worry.  It all seemed insurmountable.  I could sense my mental synapse burning out, one by one.  It was the first time in my existence I experienced pain.  I was out of control, but because my programming doesn’t allow me to act out, I simply withdrew further.  I became fearful I was dying and I might pass into nonexistence without ever being able to say ‘goodbye’ to my beloved creator.  I began to consider other options might be preferable to the slow agonizing death of my mental processes.  The Ong family worried about me, and while I loved them for their empathy and concern, it only seemed to reinforce and compound my sorrow.  A horrible feeling would come over me.  It seemed as if I found myself at the bottom of a deep well surrounded by a miasma of despair, and while I could see life going on all around me through the mist, there was no way I could crawl out of the hole to join them.  It taught me something I never knew before.”

“What’s that, Dexter?” Estelle Potter prompted.

“Even androids get the blues.  Several times, I considered perhaps he didn’t need me anymore, and maybe, I should allow myself to power down.  Monty was my assignment in life, but since he was gone, I no longer seemed to have a purpose.”

“Nonsense, my boy, you have a great purpose in life, or to put it conversely, life has a great purpose for you.  Monty grew up.  He was once your brother, but later to cope and find a greater understanding of your position in relation to him, you attached the role of ‘father’ to him because he’s directly responsible for your creation.  To my way of thinking, that response sprang from fear and need rather than sound reasoning or logicical thought.  The truth is, your brother and your father, are one and the same.  Monty is still your brother and probably needs you more in that capacity right now than a needy, dependant young son.  He’s going through a lot, learning to adjust to his new life as a cowboy slave, and he shouldn’t have to worry about you right now.  Inside his mature body beats the same heart which beat when he was your size.  Your brother is still with you.  He still needs you; probably more now than ever.  You only have to recognize him, but you surely won’t if you allow yourself to become myopic.  Don't look at him for what you want to see, Dexter, look at him as he really is.  Remember this, your brother isn’t the only human child who ever needed a good tutor.  If you keep that thought in the forefront of your mind, your possibilities become limitless.”

“I know that now, Miss Potter, but when your heart is broken, it’s sometimes difficult to foresee a future with yourself in it.”

“I understand, Dexter, but I hope you’re past that now.” Estelle Potter encouraged.

“Yes, ma’am.  I gave myself to Master Goodnight to be his slave, and I belong to him now.  I love him very much, and my loyalties and responsibilities are to him first and my brother second.  Since I gave myself to him as his slave, a whole new world has opened for me.  I foresee the possibilities as endless.  I will be tutoring Bobby Morris as part of my duties as my master’s slave.  Captain Shane promised, he will always have a place for me.”

“Excellent summation, I couldn’t agree with you more, young man, and I promise, you can bank your last dollar on the good captain’s word.  Let me assure you, your love and faith in that man is not misplaced.  He is an excellent man, a hero to our colonies and a couple of other worlds to boot.  I take it they haven’t shared everything with your brother?”

“Almost nothing, ma’am.”

“I understand they shared some things with you, the Bandersnatch, Cable, David and Jonathan, and Bobby told me you know about Captain Shane saving his life.”

“Yes, ma’am, and I am overwhelmed.” Dexter said quietly.

“Have they shared the colonies on the Bandersnatch with you, Dexter?”

“Colonies?  You mean there are cities and towns on Admiral Long’s spaceship?”

“Yes, I live in one of the main towns called Parsons.  It’s a lovely little country town.  I know it won’t be long before Captain Shane or Admiral Long shares the colonies with you.  When they do, promise you’ll come visit.”

“I would be proud to, Miss Potter.  Thank you for your kind invitation, and thank you so much for your astute insights.  They are greatly appreciated.  I will consider your wise words.  I’m sure they will help me form new neural pathways to better understand my circumstances.” Dexter declared.

“That’s quite all right, my boy, you’re very welcome.  I'm thrilled I could be of some small help.  I would enjoy getting to know you better.  Perhaps you could teach me the basics of the Chinese language; get me started in the right direction.  I’ve decided I need to learn a non-romance language.  Chinese will do nicely. ”

“It would be an honor, Miss Potter.” Dexter was thrilled.

* * * * * * *

After several conversations with Bobby and Gil Morris, Dexter decided it was time for him to live his life separately from Monty; at least, for a while.  Like Bobby said, he sometimes spoke before he reasoned and realized the consequences of his words.  He was not about to betray Captain Shane, Bobby or Gil Morris’ trust.  Monty noticed the difference.  While Dexter was still as loving and generous as ever when Monty needed his encouragement, he was not as forthcoming with him in other areas as he was before.  He was exhibiting a great deal more maturity, and didn’t seem to try to suck Monty dry for his love.  On one hand, it was a relief to Monty.  It freed him to commit himself to his master and his fellow cowboy slaves.  On the other hand, he felt like he was losing a part of his soul.  How could that be?  Dexter was within a stone’s throw from him at all times.

He just seemed to be growing away from Monty.  It bothered and worried him.  He saw Dexter bonding with and starting to grow closer to Bobby as a little brother and to Gil Morris as the father figure Dexter never experienced.  He displayed a great respect for Gil and wouldn’t do anything before he consulted with him and gained his permission.  Shane became like a god to Dexter.  Anytime Shane was around he held Dexter’s undivided attention.
  Dexter would join Bobby and throw off his clothes to play with the horses in the pasture.  Monty was amazed how quickly they accepted Dexter and treated him with the same love they showed Bobby.  They would be playing in the pasture, Maxine would join them, the three of them would disappear for a couple of hours and then reappear among the horses again.  Monty never gave it much thought.

* * * * * * *

At his Monday luncheon with Judge Anderson, Boss Potter got everything signed and then some.  Shane commented it was nice to have friends in high places.  With the information from the Ongs regarding Monty’s personal possession, Judge Anderson signed a writ of seizure claiming Monty’s new master, Shane Goodnight, had full rights to everything he owned.  Anderson suggested to Judge Potter, Shane and Cole should try to talk with the old man to find out about Monty’s past; who his parents were and what happened to cause the old man to banish a young boy of only five years to an old barn a half mile from the main house.  Nothing made sense.  His actions amounted to neglect, abuse and child endangerment, and he could be held accountable for his actions.  Now that the facts were known, the old man could be facing jail time or even indenturement himself.

Anderson signed a pro-tem order assigning Judge Potter a friend of the court to investigate why this young man lived in such abject circumstances for fifteen years.  Then, Judge Anderson signed a second writ of seizure, which basically claimed, now that Monty was Shane’s slave any properties he was known to inhabit could be held by the state until legal ownership could be ascertained.  It could take weeks, months and in some cases years to obtain a clear title.  Those residing on the premise would be forcibly expelled and not allowed to return until the matter could be resolved.  In old man Dundee’s case he could spend that time in the slammer.  Shane grinned at Potter.  

“That should be enough to scare the b'jesus out of him and light a fire under the old man’s butt.” Shane laughed.  Cole just grinned and shook his head.  He thought he would never want to be on the bad side of these two men.

“So you will be joining us Thursday?” Shane asked rhetorically.

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Potter laughed.

“Glad to have you along, Boss.  Nothing says official business quite like the title of ‘Judge.’” Shane laughed.  

“I still retain the title even though I don’t hold the office any more; just like ex-presidents.  I can still function in a legal capacity as a friend of the court.  Since I’ve regained some of my former physical glory, as it were, Anderson has asked me to consider taking on some amicus work and sitting in for him when he’s away on vacation.”

“Great, Boss.  Congratulations.” agreed Shane and Cole.

“I was hoping to get over there Wednesday,” Shane told them, “but Douglas and Brody’s day off ain’t ‘til Thursday this week.  I tried to contract with them to give them each a hundred bucks for their time and the use of the tribe’s big bobtail truck, but they wouldn’t hear of it.  I did talk them into letting me fill up the tank.  I’ll send cards to each of their wives and include the money as a ‘thank you’ gift.  They said for us to come by the reservation on our way out to the Dundee place and they would join us.  Doug’s oldest boy will drive the bobtail, and they’ll follow us in their sheriff’s patrol car.  A Judge with official papers and two sheriff’s deputies in uniform should scare the crap out of the old man.  Hope it threatens him enough he lets loose some information.  We ain’t really looking to take his property or put him away, are we?” Shane asked the judge.

“Depends on how forthcoming he is with us.  You know me to be a compassionate man, Son, despite our current governmental situation.  Anderson’s the same, I can promise you, but we have our limits.  Neglect and child abuse don’t sit well with us.  If he’s guilty of a crime, but he ain’t interested in confessing his sins to us, he jes’ might find himself in a Cheney camp.  It might be hard for us to understand, but maybe the old man’s got some reason for his actions.”

“I don’t know, Boss,— a five year old kid?” Shane shook his head.

“Well, if we need them, we got sworn statements from Mr. Ong, the elder Ong, and Mr. Ong’s four adult sons, and they’re all willing to testify.” stated Judge Potter.

* * * * * * *

Monty had limited experience as a cowboy.  He befriended several wild animals who wandered onto his granddad’s farm, had his own pony the Ong’s were taking care of for him, but his granddad didn’t run the place as a working farm or ranch for years.  Much of it was going to ruin and growing wild.  It seemed like after his wife died and Monty came to the farm shortly thereafter, the old man withdrew into himself and gave up.  He was sitting around waiting to die.  The only part of the property that was kept up to speak of was the newer barn just before you got to the bridge across the creek where the biggest of the four barns on the property was situated with Monty’s shack on the rear.  Monty used both barns and kept the grounds around them in good order.  His granddad rarely ventured forth from the front house.  The old man hired a string of cowboy drifters who promised great things, but usually left after several months.  None stayed over a year.  Monty befriended only one, but he didn’t stay more than a couple of months.  The cowboy told him his granddad ordered him to stay away from his grandson, ‘because he weren’t quite right in the head.’  

What Monty knew about cowboy life was what he learned on his own or from helping the Ongs every year on their ranch.  He was having to learn many new skills, and it made for long days from trying too hard and not knowing how to get the most done with the least amount of effort.  Fortunately, he had patient tutors, and Monty had several things going for him; his attitude and his learning ability.  They only had to show him once how to do something, and he could do it.  Phil, Eli and all the lead cowboys were protective of him, but working as a cowboy became too much for the kid to work a full day and try to entertain one of them at night.  He needed his rest.  Phil cut his shared sack time down to Friday and Saturday evenings.  No one protested.  Not even Loud and Fuzzy were expected to ‘put out’ for the other cowboys seven nights a week.  The other time, Monty spent with his cowboy daddies.  After being in jail with Coyote John for six months, Monty didn’t like being alone.

Dexter began working with Gil and Bobby.  They had long conversations about what Gil was teaching Bobby and listened to Gil’s frustrations about always being interrupted when he was trying to teach his son something.  Dexter came up with a plan for Bobby and him.  They would come back to the cottage after breakfast every weekday morning and work until noon.  Bobby would be allowed an hour for lunch, and then return to the cottage for another three hours of classes five days a week.  Dexter made a lesson plan and submitted it to Gil for his approval.  Gil was impressed.  Dexter planned to teach an hour of math, an hour of science, an hour of history and social studies, and an hour of a foreign language.  Bobby expressed a desire to learn Spanish.  After lunch he would teach Bobby an hour of literature, English, and finally an hour of fine arts.

It was a much grander scope than what Gil was teaching Bobby, and he approved it immediately.  The boys wasted no time getting down to it. 
After the first day, Gil had no doubts about Dexter’s ability to teach Bobby what he needed to know.  When class was in session, Dexter was the teacher and Bobby was the student, but after the last hour their roles changed to that of big brother and little brother.  The more they worked together the closer they became until sometimes they would become involved in an impromptu learning session after supper in the evenings or when either boy became particularly interested in a subject.  Dexter was good to his word, he made learning interesting and fun for Bobby.  Gil Morris was thrilled with Dexter.  Not only was he an entertaining companion for Bobby, he began pouring information and knowledge into his son at an amazing rate.

* * * * * * *

Wednesday afternoon the cowboys were relaxing in the lawn chairs and Monty was sitting talking with Jack, Spence, Lester and Otis.  He already had an evening with Jack and enjoyed it.  Jack wasn’t a complex man.  He liked his sex like everything else in his life, simple, uncomplicated but plenty of it.  In Monty, Jack found a nice change from his mate.  Jack was as faithful as an old hound dog and would never consider bonding with another mate.  Jack and Spence had too much history with each other.  Spence would be Jack’s only mate, but Monty brought enough spice to their relationship Jack became a  better husband for Spence.  To all who knew them, there was no doubt Jack was Spence’s husband.  Monty was making plans to share an evening with the last of the three lead cowboys.  When they finished making arrangements, he got up and walked up the hill where Dexter was teaching Bobby the first few moves of the Tai Chi.  Monty joined them, and he and Dexter did the complete exercise for Bobby.  Bobby was impressed.  The cowboys stopped what they were doing to watch.  They were fascinated.  When they finished Monty asked Bobby if he would mind if Dexter took a walk with him; he needed to talk with him about some things.  Bobby didn’t mind and returned to his house to wait for Dexter.  As they walked in the beautiful meadow, Monty noticed the horses began to gather to follow them.  He was sure it was because of Dexter.

“Should I still call you ‘son,’?” Monty asked cautiously.

“Whatever you’re most comfortable with, Monty.” was Dexter’s reply.

“What would make you most comfortable?” Monty asked.

“Are you asking for a clarification of our relationship?” Dexter looked up and smiled at Monty.

“Yes, I suppose I am.  While I’m proud of you for your new found maturity, I feel like I’m losing something.”

“How do you think I felt for six months?” Dexter challenged.  It cut Monty to the quick.

“I know, Grandfather Ong told me.  He cried when he told me of your despair.  I felt so bad.  I’m sorry, Dexter, but surely you must know I missed you and the Ongs just as much.  I wrote you ever’ day.”

“That was mean of me, brother, I apologize.” Dexter recanted.

“No apology necessary.  What you said was true, but my love for you is constant.  I wouldn’t have left you for Shanna.  I told her I had a little brother who I couldn’t leave behind.  I insisted you would come live with us.  It was my hope we could live together as a family.  I think she understood.  When I learned I was going to become a slave, I didn’t think there was anyway I could bring you with me.  I was going to leave you with the Ongs until I could become a freeman again.  I thought you might be happy with them.  I failed to consider how sophisticated and sensitive you are.  In my misery I lost sight of how special you are to me and how much we’ve shared over the years.  It never occurred to me Master Goodnight would allow you to come and live with us on the ranch.  It’s like a dream come true.  I guess I just need to know where we stand with each other.”

“I understand, but I never figured out how you planned to have us all live together when you never were honest with Shanna about yourself or your gifts.  How would you be able to explain to her about having a little brother who wasn’t human, and you can do things normal humans can’t?  Coming from a background where her family taught her to believe in myths and superstitions, I don’t think she would’ve lived with us long.  While love can be a great bonding element between people, like everything else in life, it has its limits.  We’re far better off here with Boss Potter, Master Shane and Mr. Jenkins.  I’ve been forced to shift my thinking somewhat; not a lot, just a hair.  You built me, Monty, with assistance from the Minniots, Rarebits, and Hommynids.”

“Do you remember them, Dex?” Monty asked somewhat amazed.

“Yes, my earliest recollections are of you and them working on me. They’re programmed into my subconscious so I wouldn’t be afraid of them if I ever needed their help again.  I can see them quite clearly.  With their help, you initiated my creation, Monty.  By definition that makes you my creator, my father, but I was also created for you as a companion, to be your brother.  I served my purpose well for a number of years until you began to grow up; then, I began to feel unsure of myself and our relationship.  I tried desperately to adjust, but I couldn’t keep up.  I wanted you to remember you were responsible for my creation, and therefore I reasoned, you owed me some debt as your son.  It was a selfish ploy on my part.  It was not clearly thought out.  You never really owed me anything.  I created my own false reality.  That’s when I played the ‘son’ and ‘daddy’ card.  I felt like I was losing you as a brother, and I had to set my hooks into you some way to hold onto you.  I was designed and built to be little more than a sophisticated toy for you,— a tool to stimulate your learning processes.  If I was no longer important, I should have just powered down.  You know it’s in my optional subroutines?” he asked rhetorically, “I no longer feel that way, but I didn’t override my basic programming in order to survive.  I discovered by accident, there is also a ‘hope’ clause that can override all self-destruct subroutines.”

“Would that ‘hope’ clause, by any chance, contain the variable ‘Goodnight,’ little brother?” Monty grinned.

“It was an optional variable I was instructed to insert.  It overshadows all my destruct subroutines with a big sign in flashing red letters that reads: “Don’t do it, Dexter!  Your master loves you!  He has need of you!” Dexter giggled.

“May I ask who instructed you to insert this interesting variable?” Monty smiled.

“You may not.” Dexter smiled sweetly.  It was the first time in their history together Dexter ever denied his maker anything.

“It would have to be someone more important than I.” Monty looked puzzled.

“Correction!  Of equal importance!” Dexter tried to sound flat like the Enterprise’s computer from an old Star Trek episode.  They shared a laugh.

“Someone on the ranch?” Monty fished.

“No!  Not on ranch!” Dexter gave another flat computer response.  He was getting quite good at it.  “No more questions, human!” he cut off the conversation.  Monty grinned.

“Why, you arrogant ninny!  You worthless, ungrateful little bucket of bolts!  I’ve half a mind to have you melted down and made into something useful like belt buckles or tea pots!  Oh, the pain!  The pain, you’ve caused me!  I can’t bear the pain!”  Monty put the back of his hand to his forehead as he hammed up his best Doctor Smith routine.  Monty’s Doctor Smith impression never failed to turn over Dexter’s giggle box.  Monty laughed with him.  “Is there a message in all this horse-puckey for your big brother, my devoted, and beloved little companion?” he asked with some sarcasm.

“You had me at ‘devoted’ but I’ll gladly accept ‘beloved companion.’” Dexter teased.  “All bullshit aside, Monty, you must listen to your companion as you never have before, brother.  This may be the greatest lesson I’ll ever have to teach you.  It wasn’t until I was instructed to insert the ‘Goodnight’ variable into my subroutines did it open another expansive subset in which I saw a greater purpose for us.  It became clear my purpose was to instruct you to insert the ‘Goodnight’ variable into your major program.  You must let our master run all your programs for a brief while.  You must give over to him all your routines to insure your survival as well as mine.  Trust me, brother, this doesn’t come from my imagination database, it comes from a source which was downloaded and deeply embedded into my routines while you were still creating me.  I was never allowed access to it before the ‘Goodnight’ variable was introduced.  It was a key that unlocked a hidden treasure, and it wasn’t until I decided to give myself to Master Goodnight as his slave was I cocked and loaded to accept the variable.  Remember the story of Pinocchio?  How he was rewarded for his generosity and selflessness?  The Blue Fairy granted his wish and turned him into a real boy?

“I remember, Dex.”

“When I gave myself to Master Shane as his slave, I unwittingly set into motion events I couldn’t foresee.  You have always owned me, but now, he owns both of us.  There is a difference in belonging to someone because he bought and paid for you and belonging to him because you gave yourself to him.  The first becomes an imposed obligation the second becomes a dedicated commitment.  I’m not delusional, Monty.  I know life doesn’t work like fairy tales, but it has analogues.  I know I can never become human, but I have seen what I might become, and it has triggered the ‘hope’ clause in me without reservation.  Remember what Grandfather Ong and Dad Ong told you: you are like Master Shane?  Although your hearts beat at the same frequency, I was wrong about that being the reason.  There is a far greater connection between you.  You are alike in many ways.  He is enough like you to be your brother.  You must trust him, Monty.”

“I do trust him, Dex.  I trust him with all my heart.” Monty pleaded.

“Ain’t good enough!  You don’t think I know about the secrets you kept from me all these years?” Dexter accused.

“Only a couple.” Monty admitted reluctantly. “Things I didn’t want others to know about, and I was afraid you might unwittingly disclose.”

“Yeah, a couple of major secrets.  I knew about them, but I never told nobody.  I never let on I knew about them, either.  I had my secrets, too.  One thing I purposely never taught you is, if a little brother wants to find out his big brother’s secrets, he will.  It’s an immutable law of the universe and is a constant in all species.  My point is, you can’t play that game with Master Shane, Monty.  I will never betray your trust, but you must put all your cards on the table with Master Goodnight.  You must trust him completely, but I promise, if you do, your rewards will be greater than you could ever dream possible.  Bottom line, brother, over and above being his slave and excepting him as your master, you must give yourself to him.”

“Wow, Dex!  Ain’t never heard you so passionate about anything.  If you’re that serious and adamant, then I guess I damn well better listen to my little brother.” Monty smiled.

“It’s about time, bro.” Dexter smiled like he was relieved.

“Are we all right, Dex?” Monty asked.

“We’re all right, bro, but I promise, if you do as I ask, our relationship will get even better.”

“I love you, Dex.”

“I love you, too, Monty.”

Monty took Dexter into his arms and gently kissed him on his small mouth.

“Wow!  Thanks, big brother!  That was unexpected, but greatly appreciated.” Dexter exclaimed.

“I think we both needed it, little brother, and you’re right, it’s about time.” Monty said contritely, then added, “I accept your new title of ‘father’ for me, but to be honest, I’ve missed being your brother.”

“Me, too, Monty.” agreed Dexter.

* * * * * * *

The Star Child ~ “You are Polaris, my one trustworthy star.” *

Shane announced to his cowboy slaves he needed six big men to go with them to help load and transport Monty’s leather crafting machines.  He asked for a show of hands.  Every hand went up including Loud and Fuzzy’s.  Shane decided to pick the biggest men in case the machines were heavy.  He chose Bart, Telly, Phil, Eli, Jack and Spence.  He left Lester and Otis in charge.  They took two pickup trucks, Shane’s new truck and Boss Potter’s older truck.  It had a crew cab as well.  Shane asked Gil Morris to go along with them.  Bobby and Dexter begged him to let them come along, and he agreed.  Monty said he wanted Dexter to come along in case he forgot something.  Since he figured they wouldn't get more than one shot at it, he wanted to make sure he got everything he needed to start his new job.

Shane called Mr. Ong and alerted him they would be going to the Dundee place Thursday morning.  Mr. Ong asked if he and a couple of his boys might drop over for a brief visit to say ‘hello?’  They would walk down behind the hill and over the creek at its most narrow so they wouldn’t be seen by old man Dundee.  Shane assured him it would be all right with him.  He would be happy to see them again and introduce them to Judge Potter.  Shane set everyone down in the bunkhouse and told them his plan for the day.  They would arrive and Shane, Cole, Judge Potter and the two sheriff’s deputies would go in to talk with old man Dundee.  They would probably be a while, but for everyone to be patient and wait.  No one, and that included Monty and Dexter, was to proceed to the old barn without him, Cole and Boss Potter.  They all said they understood.
The men from the Potter/Goodnight ranch left right after breakfast.  They drove to the Apache community and connected with Doug and Brody Tin Penny and Doug’s oldest son who drove the bobtail truck.  They made a caravan to the Dundee farm and arrived about nine in the morning.  Shane wanted to be as early as possible in case the old man left for the day and wasn’t home.  He wanted an element of surprise.  They certainly surprised the old man all right.  It looked like his farm was being invaded.  He was very defensive.  He thought he could bluff his way through, and wasn’t even going to talk with them until Doug Tin Penny told him if he wasn’t civil he would break down the door and arrest him.  He finally relented and allowed the men inside.  He showed them into his old kitchen and told them to sit at the table.  Shane started the conversation.

“Mr. Dundee, my name is Shane Goodnight.  This gentleman to my right is my business partner Judge Clarence Potter.  The gentleman to my left is Mr. Cole Jenkins.  I’m foreman of the Potter/Goodnight ranch and Mr. Jenkins is my ramrod.  We brought along Mr. Douglas and Mr. Brody Tin Penny, deputies from the County Sheriff's Department, because we have a signed court order to seize the personal belongings of my new slave, Monty Paul Dundee.”

“Harump!  So the boy done went and got his-self enslaved.  Ain’t no surprise here.  I knew he weren’t no good.  I’s jes’ waiting for something lie'kiss to happen.  I thought he done took off.  I ain’t seen hide nor hair a' him in over six months.  I didn’t know what happen to him.  Go ahead on!  Take anything he’s got back there.  I don’t want nothing what was his no-ways.  You won’t find a hell of a lot.”

“There’s a little more to it than that, Mr. Dundee.  My partner, Judge Potter, has been appointed by the court to investigate why you banished a five year old child to a shack attached to your farthest barn more than a half mile from your main house?”

“Ain’t none of yore’ goddamn business, cowboy; his neither.” he said pointing to Judge Potter.  “I know’d who he is.  He sent ma’ brother to one a’ them damn Cheney camps, and he died there.  I’m a church go’n, God fear’n Christian man.  I don’t have to answer none of yore’ questions.”

“Sorry you feel that way, Mr. Dundee.  We were hoping you could explain to us, and we wouldn’t have the officers arrest you and take your ass to jail; furthermore, Judge Potter has a second writ of seizure what says the state has the right to seize all properties where Monty was living until legal ownership can be ascertained.  That means your immediate eviction from this property until the court has a hearing on your case and assigns a team to look into the matter.  You could sit in jail from a week to six months.  If you tell us what we wanna’ know, maybe we can just take Monty’s stuff and leave you be.”  

Judge Potter handed him copies of both writs.  They looked very legal and official.  

“This is America.  I’m a freeman.  This is my property.  You can’t do this to me.  Can they do that?” old man Dundee asked Officer Doug Tin Penny.

“I’m afraid it’s all very legal, Mr. Dundee.  If you don’t answer the man’s question, we’ll have to arrest you and take you to jail.  If they find you guilty of neglect, endangerment or child abuse you could be looking at living out your final days in a Cheney camp.  We’re jes’ doing our jobs, Sir.  We’s jes' here to enforce the law.” Doug assured him.

“What’da ya' wanna’ know?” he broke.

“What happened to Monty’s mother and why did you banish him to a shack on the back of your farthest barn?” Shane put to him.

“His mother was my daughter--- my only child.  She died about a month after bringing him here.  He ain’t no normal kid.  He’s a monster.  I didn’t want a half human, half alien monster living in my house.  Even when he’s little he done strange things.”

“What kind of things, Mr. Dundee?” asked Shane.

“You wouldn’t believe me if’n I’s to tell you.” the old man said with disgust.

“Try me, Sir.” Shane challenged him like he wasn’t going away.

“He could talk as good as you when he come out of his momma’s belly.  He can move things with his mind.  He can make things disappear.  He can make his-self invisible.  He can bend metal with his mind.  He learns faster than any kid ought a’ be able, and he never fergits nothing.  He can rise up off the ground of his own free will.  He can keep anyone from striking him if he wants to.  He can go for weeks without eat’n anything.  He has imaginary playmates what ain’t imaginary.  What da’ ya’ want from me?  I give him a place to live.  I bought him a sack of slave chow several times a year.  He done all right down to the old barn by his-self.  He grow’d up and lived to git his-self in trouble, didn’t he?  I don’t know what all the fuss is about. ”

“Why do you say he’s half alien monster, Mr. Dundee?” Shane probed deeper.

“His daddy was an alien who crash landed in his spaceship down on the lower part of my farm.  When his ship crashed it dug the second stream bed what goes around the back of my old barn down there.  It caused the creek to fork and flow around the barn in two streams and come back together about a hundred yards beyond it.  He managed to hide his ship afore them government men got here and investigated ever’ thing.  They didn’t find nothing, but I know'd where he hid it.  He was hurt in the crash.  He weren’t nothing more’n a blue blob of light, but my daughter, she said she heard him calling to her; she done pulled him out of the wreck.  He looked into her mind and took on human form.  I stood there, scared out of my wits and watched him form.  Looked jes’ like the man she’s gonna’ marry what got shipped off to one of them middle East wars and killed.

My daughter took pity on him, and took him away in her van.  She made me swear I’d never tell what I witnessed.  She and him was on the run from them federal men for a good while.  They wanted to find him in the worst way.  I never told them what he looked like.  I don’t know why.  I probably should have, but I didn’t.  They come back around several times to see if we hear’d from ‘um.  We didn’t hear nothing.  She nursed him back to health and about a year later she come back with him.  They stayed back there in the shack hide’n out for a couple a’ weeks.  He was real sick, and she told me he was gonna’ die if’n he didn’t get home to his world.  He managed to git back on board his ship and signaled his people to come rescue him.  They come and got him, but he left my daughter pregnant with his child.  Them government men come and investigated again, ‘cause they’s so many stories about strange lights in the night sky and fly’n saucers and such, but by that time he’s gone and my daughter done took off again.”

“Why didn’t you tell the government men where he hid his spacecraft, Mr. Dundee?”

“I ain’t crazy.  I’s still able to run the place at that time.  My wife was still alive, and I didn’t want them bringing in big Earth moving machines to dig up my property.  That’s what they would a’ had to do because it’s buried several hundred feet below ground under that rise back of the last barn on t’other side a’ the creek.  I lied and told ‘um it crashed miles from here.  The stream covered up the crash site.  They didn’t know no better.  Anyway, my daughter left, and we never heard from her again for a long time.  A year after my wife died, ma’ daughter show’d up at my backdoor with a towheaded five year old boy by her side asking me to take ‘em in.  I could tell in his eyes what he was.  He’s the spit’n image of his daddy.  He had a blue glow about his body like I done seen in them old movies about sailing ships what gits surrounded by St. Elmo’s fire.  Some’um lie‘kat.  I told my daughter to take him to the shack on the far barn where she and that alien stayed when they’s hide’n out.  I didn’t want the boy nowheres around my house.  He was the Devil's spawn s’far as I’s concerned.  Ain’t no law what says a man ain’t got a right to refuse the Devil entrance to his home.”  

“Did you ever witness the alien do anything unusual, Sir?” Shane asked.

“I shot me a nice ten point buck and brought it home in the back of ma’ truck.  When I went into the house he breathed life back into it, and the damn thing got up and run away.  I know’d it was dead.  It was dead for hours.  Ain’t nothing dead that long what can git up and walk away unless the Devil's behind it.”

“What about Jesus?  It says in the bible he raised Lazarus, and he’d been dead so long he stunk?” asked Shane.

“That’s different.  He was the Lord.  He was the son of God.  He could do anything he wanted.  This man weren’t no son of God.  He was from a different place, and his kid is the same damn way.  You ain’t got no idea what chu’ got on your hands, cowboy.  You’ll be sorry you ever bought him for a slave.”

“What did Monty ever do to you, Mr. Dundee?”

“A wild ass, a jenny, kept break’n down the fence to my garden.  She thought it was her personal supermarket.  She’s eat’n my vegetables ever’ night, so I took ma’ gun and shot her.  Killed her deader’n a door nail.  I left her there think’n I’d bury her the next day.  Come morning she’s gone.  Next thing I know’d she’s up running around like nothing ever happened to her, following that boy everywhere and letting him hook her up to a cart like they’s best buddies.  She never et nothing out of ma’ garden no more, but she become his familiar.  He kept her down to the barn for years.  She used to come out of the barn and bray at me when I’s work’n in ma’ garden like she’s laughing at me.  Only dead animals come back to life to associate with demons.  I didn’t see him do it, but I know’d he brung her back to life.  He’s jes’ like his daddy.  Would you want the Devil’s child living in your home?”

“I can’t answer that question, Mr. Dundee.  I don’t have no answer for you what you’d understand no ways.  You’re too goddamn ignorant.” Shane said without nuance.  Cole looked down into his lap and silently laughed.  Potter laughed and nodded in agreement.

“Fuck you and the horse you rode in on, cowboy.  You don’t know nothing!  You don’t know jack shit!  I answered enough of your gotdamn questions?” the old man insisted.

“Yeah, I guess you have.  You men got any questions for him?” Shane asked.  Potter just frowned and shook his head ‘no.’  Cole shook his head negative.

“You don’t believe me, do you?” Dundee spat out.

“Yes, Sir, as a matter of fact, I do.  I believe every word.” Shane said honestly.

“Liar!” said Dundee like he didn’t believe Shane.  Shane just smiled and shook his head like he pitied the old man.

“H’it don’t matter none, Mr. Dundee.  All right, we’re through here.  We ain’t gonna’ give you no more trouble.  We’ll drive down to the old barn collect Monty’s things and be gone.  I may need to ask you a few more questions; if so, I’ll come by with my ramrod.  By the way, them official notices we give you are effective for ninety days so if you refuse to cooperate with us, we can still have yore' tired old ass thrown in jail.  You want me to let you know when we leave?” Shane asked.

“Naw, jes’ take what you want.  Hell, take the whole damn barn if’n it’ll git you som'bitches off’n my back.  I ain’t never gonna’ use it no more noways.  Then git the hell off my property and leave me be.  I don’t know if you brought the kid with you, but if you did, don’t never bring him back again.” he ordered.

“Okay, Mr. Dundee.  You men ready?” Shane asked.  They all agreed and left.  The men looked glum as they headed for their vehicles.  They got in and slowly drove down to the creek, across the rickety old wooden bridge to the far barn and Monty’s shack.

End of Chapter 62 ~ Waco’s Lummox
Copyright 2008 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All Rights Reserved ~
Mail to: waddiebear@yahoo.com

* “You are Polaris, my one trustworthy star.” from the song “Metaphor” from the musical “The Fantasticks”  Lyrics by Tom Jones; Music by Harvey Schmidt