By Waddie Greywolf

 Chapter 69

I prithee, let me bring thee where crabs grow; and I, with my long nails, will dig thee pignuts; show thee a jay's nest and instruct thee how to snare the nimble marmoset; I'll bring thee to clustering filberts and sometimes I'll get thee young scamels from the rock.  Wilt thou go with me?*

Angus was patiently waiting for Monty when he returned.  He was gone a little over an hour.  It turned out to be a chilly night.  Angus started a fire in Monty’s fireplace and was stretched out on his big leather couch in a guest bathrobe with Monty’s comforter thrown over him.  Monty came downstairs in his own robe and Angus motioned for him to join him.  As Monty crawled up into Angus’ big arms he noticed Angus was still wearing his new boots.

“That didn’t take long.” Angus commented.

“Coyote is a man of few words.” Monty replied.

 “How are you, boy?” Angus sounded genuinely concerned.

“I’m better than I expected I might be, Sir.  He actually made love to me.”

“That can’t be bad.” Angus mused.

“I think he was sincere, but with Coyote John you just never know.  He seemed genuine enough.  He was happy to see me.  I was surprised, but I ain’t gonna’ try to second guess him.  I told him to get with the program and forget trying to be his own man.  He had to readjust his thinking to survive or at least for his balls to survive.  I couldn’t tell whether he was concerned about my words or not.  He seemed to be more interested in telling me what he wanted for me for the future.  He told me Ramrod Russell would make a fine daddy for me.  I don’t know’s I need a daddy, but a lot of folks seem to think so.”

“Couldn’t hurt, Son.” Angus smiled at him.  “My little brother needed a daddy when he’s growing up.  Our parents died when he’s just a toddler.  I was too damn young to understand what he needed was for me to become his daddy and not his big brother.  Because of my mistake he got into trouble and got ten to fifteen years as a slave.  Me and ma’ brothers, we scraped our money together to buy him.  It took me ten years of being his master to reverse my mistake, but I done it.  I don’t tell him too often, but I’m as proud of him as I am my own kids.  Probably more so.  Whether you think on that old cowboy as yore’ daddy or not, don’t mean you two can’t have a fine future together being each other's buds.  You couldn’t have no finer cowboy to take a shine to you. 

He won’t never tell you wrong.  I had me some serious reservation giving Jimmy Joe a chance and hiring him on as my ramrod.  Ain’t sorry I done it.  Ain’t been sorry for a minute.  Best damn decision I ever made in ma’ life.  As much book learning as my last ramrod had and for all his reputation as an expert in slave management and psychology, he didn’t have half the natural know-how Jimmy Joe Russell’s got.  Furthermore, I thank god ever’ damn day my new ramrod ain’t no fuck’n prima donna.  I like the idea I can take Jimmy Joe off with me on business or a small getaway and fuck him ‘til he speaks in tongues.” Angus chuckled and got a grin out of Monty.  “It keeps it real between us, and I like having a closer bond with a working partner.”

“Did Burt come between you?” Monty asked.

“Yeah, he did.  It would a' been okay if’n Burt just kept his damn mouth shut, was the slave he’s suppose to be and been more supportive of Jimmy Joe.  He always had my ramrod riled up about something.  A man can’t work and do a good job if’n his home life ain’t happy.”

“You afraid I might come between you, Master Angus?” Monty asked.

“Oh, hell, no!  Not a chance.” he grinned, “I plan on fuck’n both a' you regularly.” the big man said as fact, then bellowed with laughter.  He got Monty laughing with him.

“Sounds like a good plan to me, Sir.”

“It’s only been a while since Burt’s been gone, but I can already see a change in my ramrod.  Some of that change is because of you, boy.  I need my ramrod right now to have all his wits about him, and you’re part of the balance to that equation.  The way things is going in the world outside the ranches we gotta’ stick together as a family.  I’ll make arrangements for you and him to getaway or spend some quality time together.  I don’t want you living together; not just yet anyways.  I ain’t saying you can’t eventually, if that’s what you want, but you ain’t even out of your baby slave period.  You got responsibilities to ma’ little brother and this ranch.  Them men’s done gone to a lot of trouble to see you have enough to do to keep yore’ mind busy so’s you don’t get bored and frustrated.  I think you might come to appreciate your ramrod a little more.  You might even find me a worthy ally.” Angus stole a kiss.

“I could use me an ally, Master.” Monty said without nuance.

“You need more of yore’ big cowboy ally up yore’ alley, tonight, Son?  I can stay for a while longer, then I gotta’ be git'n me on back to the ranch.  I’d be happy to make another deposit for these fine boots.  For a pair this nice, I should setup a regular payment schedule with you of once a month for at least a year.”

“A year sounds a mite slight, Master.” Monty grinned.

“Hell, ever’ thing’s negotiable, boy.” Angus smiled. “Yore’ master done told ju’ to keep me honest.  I know'd him to be a man what drives a hard bargain.  He wouldn't want me cheat'n you none.” Angus bellowed with laughter.  Angus' humor was infectious, and he got Monty rolling on the bed with laughter.

They climbed the stairs to Monty’s bedroom and Angus made another payment on his new boots.  Monty couldn’t help being taken with the big cowboy.  He was as basic as they come, but he wasn’t stupid.  He knew how to take what he needed and give of himself in return.  Monty was impressed with him and gave Angus his all.  After they cleaned up, Monty walked Angus down to the barn were the gate was and said his goodbyes.  Angus left his old pair of boots behind for Monty to take care of for him.  Monty told him he’d have them ready for him Sunday afternoon.  He could pick them up or he would be happy to deliver them if Angus called and made arrangements with Monty’s master.  Angus smiled at the young man.  He told him he would take care of it.

* * * * * * *

The weekend was laid back.  Monty had his new cowboy slave daddies, Bart and Telly, in for Saturday night, and they had a great time.  They stayed the night and Monty gave Telly his pair of boots.  He was as blown away as the rest of the men.  Monty morphed for them, but they were totally unprepared.  They knew Monty had some strange talents, but they didn’t know everything.  They took turns sandwiching their new baby slave between them and sampling the goodness of his little cunt he shared with them.  It didn’t make them one bit of difference it just happened to be attached to their baby cowboy slave brother.  To a cowboy, a cunt is a cunt.  It was a deeply emotional experience for Bart and Telly.  Like Jimmy Joe, it was the first vagina they’d seen in twenty years or more.  Monty thought how sad it was to see the two big cowboys reduced to tears, but soon enough, their tears for the memories of their misspent youths, and the price they had to pay for the error of their ways, were replaced by tears of joy.

They both had to eat their fill and they were not unlike two ravenously hungry bears who just stumbled upon a honey pot.  One would rim Monty’s rear while the other ate his little cunt.  They ate Monty’s holes like he was an eight course banquet spread before two starving beggers.  He never imagined a man could insert his tongue so deeply within either orifice.  It was like they were trying to eat their way to each other.  Monty lost count of the number of times he climaxed.  They damn near drove him crazy, and that was before they got down to the main course.  Monty wondered what it was with cowboys and dining at the ‘Y’?  In the height of passion, Monty laughed to himself, he wondered if Jared Fogle ever got a sandwich from Subway that tasted or felt so good at the same time.  If he had, Monty considered, he probably would’ve lost a lot more weight.

The previous Sunday was a lot of work for everyone to entertain the Ongs and the major players of the Grange.  The coming Sunday was to be one of rest and relaxation, but Shane and Boss Potter decided they would still have a barbecue for their ranch family.  There wasn’t much going on at Angus’ ranch, and he told his ramrod go through the gate to spend the afternoon and evening with Monty.  Everyone had a great time, and Monty felt blessed he got to be with the man he was coming to love above all others.
The days began to fly by.  Things settled down into a manageable insanity.  It seemed there was always something else to be done and never enough time to do it.  The following week the two younger whale brains were placed within the smaller bio-bodies.  Physically, they were just about the same size as Dexter.  They could pass for his brother and sister except they were much more advanced.  They were so perfect, outsiders or those not in the know, would think they were real human children.  The only thing that might give them away was they didn’t act like children.  They were polite, well mannered and thoughtful.  They didn’t cause a lot of attention to be drawn to themselves.  Most of the time you didn’t know they were there, because they were busy observing, learning and taking in everything.  They didn’t get names right away.  Like Rocky, they had whale names, but he convinced them they should consider new names for themselves more in keeping with their new lives.  From time to time they would ask different people about names, and if they knew of a name they might like.  The cowboys provided them with many.  Of course they were all Western names.  The little boy decided he wanted to be called Cody and the little girl decided she wanted to be called Pearl.

Angus fell in love with Cody and Pearl and told Shane he would be happy to give them a home with him and his wife for a while.  Angus’ wife, Jean Goodnight, had some reservations about having a couple of bio-droid kids living with them, but they quickly won her over.  They were no bother and almost no extra work for her.  They were mostly self-sufficient, considerate and helpful.  They were excellent company, and a delight to have around.  They began to stay with their Uncle Angus and Auntie Jean a lot.  They took them with them wherever they went and introduced them as family.  They became the joy of the Grange and were welcome everywhere.  They became well known and loved by all.  Rocky was adjusting to his life faster than anyone predicted he might.  He, too, became loved and respected by everyone in the Grange, but especially the men and cowboys of the Potter/Goodnight ranch.  When he wasn’t cowboying, he escorted Monty, Maxine, Bobby, Dexter, Cody, Pearl and the coyote cowboys everywhere they went.  He became their big brother and protector.  

Maxine and Patty arranged for the gang to spend some time at the Two Meadows Inn on the Buttercup.  The other, and most frequented, was the Inn on the Bandersnatch, but the Inn on the Buttercup appealed more to the Grange insiders and critters.  They introduced Monty to Warren Steel, Horse and their new bairn.  It was Monty’s first experience with lummox milk.  He was a little shy about sitting on horse’s big lap and sucking on his massive teats, but after he watched the coyote cowboys crawl up into Horse’s lap, he decided to go native and try it.  He was pleasantly surprised.  It tasted like warm vanilla ice cream.  Monty couldn’t get enough and drank his fill.  As Maxine predicted, because of Monty’s advanced abilities to absorb other people and critter’s genetic information, one good taste of lummox milk was enough for Monty to take on most, if not all, of the lummox’s natural abilities.  She was right.  Monty could even morph into as big a creature as Horse.  As time went on, Ox and Strom offered their milk and he had a large database of lummox genetic information to draw upon.  He found his abilities greatly enhanced.  He no longer felt left out, because Maxine, Captain Shane, Bobby and all the coyotes could hear his workers and he couldn’t.  Monty began to hear and be able to communicate with his workers, Maxine and Bobby.  They could no longer laugh and giggle about their little jokes.  To his great surprise and delight he could communicate with Jenny Bottom and the horses.  

Monty took on a new role on the ranch which wasn’t discovered by his master or his cowboy slave brothers for sometime.  Animals on the ranch who were sick or injured would come to his quarters to graciously ask him for relief or to heal them.  Monty never failed to help any creature who came to his door.  It didn’t end there.  Word soon got out, there was a special human who could heal, and wild animals who were sick or wounded would travel great distances to seek Monty’s help.  There was a constant stream of wild critters hanging around the barn.  If they needed more than temporary care, Monty would put them up in the barn and care for them until they could recover enough to be on their own again.  The old barn became affectionately know as 'Montana's Ark.'  Jenny became Nurse Jenny Bottom and took her job as Doctor Monty’s receptionist seriously.  She ruled the barn with an iron hoof.  She acted like a triage nurse who sorted out the most needy patients to be seen first.  It was her chance to shine and pay Monty back for giving life back to her.  She was just what he needed.  She was brusk, bossy, dictatorial, commented way too much, moaned, bitched and complained about everything but had a soft heart for suffering critters of all kinds.  She was much like a typical nurse you might find in any hospital.  She wasn’t shy and was quick to give her opinions on everything whether asked or not.  Monty would get up an hour early every day to take care of his steady stream of patients.       

It was hard to keep it a secret when Monty was entertaining his ramrod or cowboy slave daddies when Nurse Jenny would be outside the door braying for his attention before his alarm went off.  Her sounds were more grating than an ambulance siren.  There was no sleeping after she began her insistent braying call to him.  Jimmy Joe marveled as he leaned against the door, half awake, with a cup of coffee in his hand and looked out upon a well ordered line of patients to see Doctor Monty.  Land tortoises, skunks, racoons, deer, and even a mountain lion, who called herself Ann-e-purrna, who traveled many miles to bring Monty one of her kittens who had a broken leg.  She told him she had met his kind before.  One afternoon Monty was working in the barn when Jenny came fogging in braying at the top of her lungs.

<<  Monty, Monty!  Monty dearest! >> she called to him with her mind, << One of the ponies saw a coyote in an animal trap.  She’s trying to gnaw her leg off to escape. >>

 Monty dropped what he was doing.

<< Is the pony outside?  Can he take me to her? >>

<< She’s waiting.  She’ll take you to her. >>

Monty walked outside and there was a pretty sorrel mare.  He recognized her as Bobby's favorite pony.  He climbed on her back and the pony set out for the place she saw the animal.  Nurse Jenny Bottom  followed but would stop now and then to complain or get her breath.  They arrived and the animal was going crazy from pain and fear.  She had a wild frenzied look in her eyes and was trying everything to get away from the trap and the man approaching her.  She thought her death was immanent.  Monty got down from the pony and slowly went to her.

<< Calm yourself, little sister, I am not like other humans.  I won't harm you or cause you pain. >>

<< Don’t come any closer!  I will bite you!  Oh, the pain!  The horrible pain!  It’s unbearable.  Maybe it would be better to die.  Kill me, human!  Make my death quick, and I will bless your kindness with my last breath. >>  it cried in Monty’s mind.  Monty could almost feel its pain.

<< I have to remove the trap, but when I do, don’t runaway.  I can heal your wound, but first I must know your blood.  I will have to touch you to sample your essence, coyote.  If you want to live, you must not bite me. >>

<< I won’t if you free me from this awful pain. >>

Monty moved closer and the coyote turned her head so she wouldn’t have to look.  Monty put his boot onto the lever and sprung the trap.  The coyote was free.  It moved a few steps and collapsed.  She fainted from the pain.  Monty went to her, gently put his hand on her head and put her into a deep, coma-like sleep.  He dipped the fingers of his right hand into the coyote’s blood, smeared some on each arm and a small amount across his forehead.  He put his finger to his mouth and tasted the animal’s sweet wild blood.  Its genetic information swiftly ran through his body, and he could feel the complete essence of the coyote.  He was ready to do his repairs.  He ran his hand gently over the animal’s body and rear left leg.  A bluish light emanated from his hand, and whatever area it passed over was brought together and healed instantly.  He kept the animal sedated for another few minutes and made a suggestion she might be sore, but her pain would be gone.  He woke her from her sleep.  She set up, shook her head like she was groggy from the deep sleep and looked at her repaired body.   She looked directly into Monty’s gentle eyes.  She saw only goodness and kindness.  She reached up and licked his hand.

<< You’re welcome, little sister.  If you follow me back to my place, I will feed you a good meal, and you can be on your way.  You need some solid, nourishing food to replenish the blood you have lost. >>

<< Can I trust you, two-legs? >> she asked Monty.

<< How could you not trust one who saved your life and took your pain away, you ungrateful wretch? >> Nurse Jenny brayed at her.

The coyote didn’t say more, she just followed at a safe distance behind.  When Monty got to the barn he got her a bowl of chow and some fresh water.

<< How long ago did you whelp, sister? >> he asked.

<< Three weeks.  It is my first litter.  They are hungry all the time.  I can’t find enough to eat to produce the milk they need.  How do you know these things? >> she asked.

<< Your blood told me.  Do you have a name, little sister? >>

<< My mother called me Criga. >>

<< I am known as Monty.>> he replied.

<< You are not like other two-legs.  You speak to four-leg's mind. >>

<< You are correct.  Like dog is your relative, I am two-leg’s relative.  I will leave food out for you for several nights so you will have enough to feed your whelps until you heal properly. >>

<< Why would you do this for me, two-legs? >> she asked.

<< A day may come when two-leg need favor from four-legs.  Four-legs will remember and not refuse two-leg. >> he smiled at her.

<< I will remember.  I will not refuse, two-leg. >> she said as she gulped down the tasty chow and ate the nutrient biscuit Monty gave her.  She returned night after night for about a week.  Monty would greet her.

<< Good evening, Criga.  Are you feeling better, my sister? >>

<< Yes, thank you, much better.  My pups are growing strong.  Criga find hairy two-leg young one.  Not very old.  Afraid it will die.  It is starving.  Four-leg can not provide for it.  So is the way of the wild. >> she lamented.

<< Can you take me to her, Criga? >>

<< Yes, but she smells awful.  She will smell your fresh scent and hide from you. >>

<< Two-legs can change his appearance.  I can smell awful. >>

<< What manner of two-leg can change his shape? >> she asked.

<< One who comes from lights in sky. >>

<< My mother told me stories of old ones.  Stories told by native two-legs who live before modern two-legs come and kill them.  Are you one of the old ones? >>  she asked.

<< No, but I'm descended from them.  Watch me change, but do not be afraid.  I will still be same Monty inside. >> Monty sent to her.  He morphed into a huge male lummox. << Do I look like small two-leg? >> he sent to her.

<< Like you could be her sire.  Is it true hairy-two leg milk is best of all animals?  Can you feed my pups? >>

<< It is true, Criga.  I will be happy to feed them if you will trust me. >>

<< I trust you. You have only been good to me.  Come, follow me, great hairy two-leg healer.  Young hairy two-leg in cave not far from my den. >>

Monty followed her in the darkness of the moonless night.  He was amazed at how strong and powerful his lummox body was and how light and swiftly he could walk to keep up with her.  He wasn’t even running or breathing heavy.  It was like he was gliding above the ground almost like an anti-grave Gurney.  They came to her den and she was greeted by four hungry pups, two males and two females.  Since big smelly hairy two-legs was with their mom he was something new and wonderful, something to explore.  They were all over Monty.  He took the runt of the litter, a little female Criga was most worried about and gently put her to his chest.  He squeezed out just a drop of his milk so she would get a whiff of it.  That’s all it took.  Monty smiled.  She looked like he felt the first time he tasted lummox milk.  She was slurping and gulping until her little belly ballooned up to obscene proportions.  Finally, she just couldn’t suck anymore and reluctantly ceased.  Monty put her down and Criga cleaned her.  The pup didn’t want to be bothered.  She only wanted to waddle off to her favorite spot in the den and pass out.  Monty fed each pup in turn until they were stuffed.  Then he offered Criga his milk.

<< I don’t think I can, two-legs. >>

<< Don’t think on me as a two-leg, Criga.  Think on me as your lummox friend.  Lummox milk is the most perfect food in the universe.  Drink from me, little sister.  My milk will heal you faster and make you grow stronger so your pups will have a fighting chance. >> he implored her.  Criga began to suck at his teat, and like her pups, couldn’t get enough.  She drank until she couldn’t drink any more.

<< Thank you, Monty. >> Criga finally used his name.  Coyotes only use names if they know you well and trust you. << I will have time to catch up and have good milk to feed them in the morning.  Come, I will take you to the young lummox’s cave. >>

Monty quietly followed her and with his increased sense of smell and vision he could see a carefully disguised opening to a small cave in the hillside.  He called into the cave a formal lummox announcement of territorial rights.  There was no movement, but he knew he was being watched.  Criga stood apart.

<< She may be afraid of you, sister.  Return to your pups.  I will see you tomorrow for food. >>

<< Thank you, Monty, and good luck to you and the young one. >> Criga sent to him.  She turned and left the area moving quietly through the underbrush.  Monty projected his thoughts into the cave.

<< Hello, little one.  Criga with four-legs told me about you.  I am Montana.  I am of your kind.  I am a big, hairy two-legged lummox.  I come to feed Criga’s pups.  Their belly’s are full.  I have much milk in my heavy breast I will share with you if you come to me.  I will sit here under this rock. >> There was no answer, and Monty set for a long while.  He was beginning to doze off when he noticed movement.  Standing before him was a young lummox female a little smaller than Dexter.  She just stood there in the rising moonlight looking suspiciously at the huge male sitting with his back against a big rock.  Monty didn’t move but sent her an invitation.  << My breasts are heavy with milk.  They are so full they hurt.  Won’t you take pity on me, young one, and drink some to relieve the pressure?  I have very fine milk, and you look hungry.>> Monty sent to her.

She slowly moved toward Monty.  She stunk so bad it almost made Monty nauseous, but his lummox senses were more attuned to such sensations and quickly adjusted.  The young one crawled up into Monty’s huge lummox arms and hungrily hooked onto Monty’s right teat.  She started crying as she tasted the wonderful milk flowing freely from Monty’s breast.  It felt so good to Monty.  He wasn’t kidding when he told her his breast hurt.  The pups sucking on him made his body produce even more milk.  The steady flow of his milk was not unlike an orgasm from his penis.  It was highly sensual, and he felt his huge lummox penis becoming engorged with blood.  It already had a bone in it, but it would grow even larger from stimulation.  Monty never experienced another biped sucking on his teats before.  It was a wonderful sensation.  From somewhere deep within him he felt a rumbling song forming.  He didn’t hold back.  It seemed like the thing to do and only enhanced the sensuality of the young lummox sucking at his breast.  He could feel his song relaxing the bairn, and it made his milk flow more freely.  This was a revelation to him.  How much sensuality do other species know about, of which, humans have no clue?  He didn’t try to embrace the young bairn.  He just let her rest in his arms.  Monty thought it might be too much of a threat for her if he held her tightly.  She sucked until her small belly was full, then turned and ran off into the cave.  Monty smiled to himself, got up and returned to his quarters.  Before he left he send a message.

<< You’re welcome, little one.  I will return tomorrow night to feed you again. >> he promised.

Monty returned every night for almost a week.  He would feed Criga’s pups first and then go to the bairn’s cave.  The third night she was waiting outside her cave for Monty and allowed him to gently hold and pet her while she nursed.  Of course, Nurse Jenny had to tag along with him each time he went.  She felt is was her duty to see to Doctor Monty no matter what shape he took.  She had a difficult time keeping up with Monty’s huge strides.  She would grumble, complain and call for him to slow down.  Monty nicknamed her ‘Granny Quick.’  He was always telling her she complained like a grandmother who had too much advice for her grandchildren.  She needed to ‘hesh-up’ and be quicker.  He told her she couldn’t walk and talk at the same time.  Every time her mouth moved she slowed down.  He would stop from time to time and wait for her to catch up.  

<< Hurry, Granny Quick!  Step lively!  Stop your caterwauling.  The more you complain the slower you go.  We got pups and a bairn to feed, and we gotta’ git back before someone discovers we’re gone. >> he would chastise her.  She complained about being out of breath, but she always found enough air to chastise him for traveling too fast.  Monty laughed to himself.  He thought they must have been a funny sight moving throught the night; misbegotten actors rushing for their entrance into a full moon spotlight; a huge, hairy monster and a tiny ass; characters straight out of Shakespeare.  Jenny Bottom, the youngest daughter of Nick Bottom the weaver, in her first night on the candle lit boards playing Ganny Quick to the great mooncalf beast Caliban, son of the witch Sycorax.  Monty sang to her and considered many things as she fed from his breast.  The third night he got the young one to communicate with him.

<< Do you have a name? >> he asked as she was busily sucking.

<< Of course I have a name.  My parents called me Frieda Toosoon because I crawled from my mother’s womb too early.  My mother said it was because I was afraid of the darkness within her.  I am always afraid.  I see the future, but I don’t know why.  What I see sometimes makes me fearful.  I had to crawl into my father’s pouch when I did, or I wouldn’t be alive right now.  I stayed within my father’s belly-pouch for a month longer than normal.  My mother said I was afraid of my shadow.  I guess I am.  I have seen my shadow, and it is as dark as my mother’s womb.  I do not wish to know it.  I tried to tell her I was afraid because I could see the future.  She didn’t believe me.  She called me Fraidy-cat, then shortened it to Frieda.  I saw you in my future, Monty.  Is your name Monty Montana? >> she asked.

<< No, dear heart, like your mother changed ‘afraid’ into ‘frieda’ my friends shortened my name ‘Montana’ to ‘Monty.’ >>

<< I understand. >> she projected as she sucked some more.

<< Are you afraid of me, Frieda? >> he thought.

<< A little, not so much now, but I can’t see a future about you or me.  Something is blocking my ability.  I don’t think you would offer your milk if you meant me harm.>>

<< Nothing wrong with your reason, little sister. >> Monty smiled and held her small head in his huge paw.

<< I know darkness, but I see no darkness in you.  You are surrounded by a beautiful light— more beautiful than the light that surrounded my parents.  Your loud companion, tiny four-leg with big ears, she has the same light around her, but not so much.  Is she your mooncalf? >> she asked.

<< Mooncalf, indeed! >> snorted Jenny Bottom who settled down and was munching on a some wild sage with spring garlic.

<< Now, now, Granny Quick, Frieda is right.  In a way you are my mooncalf.  I gave you a new birth.  I brought you back to life beneath a full moon.  I remember it well.  Captain Shane said there’s a part of me in you.  It’s the part our little sister is seeing.  We have many friends like us, Frieda.  They live happily in communities together with hairless two-legs. >>

<< My parents told me always to hide from hairless two-legs; to make myself invisible to them.  I haven’t learned how to do it yet.  They say we can’t live with hairless ones. >>

<< They were wrong, Frieda.  There are those among us who can change their shape.  I can change into anything I want as long as I have their information within me.  I come to you as a big hairy one, but I live my life as a hairless one. >>

<< No, not possible. >> she dismissed him.

<< I won’t change to prove it to you, because it might frighten you.  I don’t want to do that.  I want to be your friend.  You’re alone.  You need help.  You need me.  Tell me about your parents?  Why has their lights gone out?  Why do they lie still? >>

<< My father bring home meat for him and my mother.  He find dead fuzzy four-leg.  He not kill.  It was already dead, but I think it had the powder of death on it.  I hear them talk about it many times.  They didn’t know.  I begged them not to eat it.  I told them I was afraid it would kill them.  They didn’t listen to me.  They thought I was a silly baby bairn.  They were hungry and ate it anyway.  I don’t eat solid food yet so I didn’t eat any.  I was still drinking my father’s milk.  They lie down, go to sleep, but not wake up.  I try for two days, but I can’t wake them.  I was afraid.  They lie still in cave.  It was like they went away but left their bodies behind.  I knew my dreams, which cause me such fear, came true.  They were dead.  I tried to gather stones to cover their bodies, but I’m not strong enough.  They smell bad.  Small white things crawl on them.  I don’t think they will ever wake up again.  I think death is forever.  I see bright lights come for them to protect them from the darkness, it joined with their lights and took them away.  They will never come back to me, will they, Monty?>> 

<< I’m afraid they won’t, Frieda.  I’m afraid for you.  They won’t come back, little sister. >> Monty said as he shed a tear.

Monty knew some ranchers would purposely kill and lace a sheep’s carcass with poison to kill large predators.  He knew most lummox weren’t killers of livestock.  They were savvy enough to understand if they killed a rancher’s stock they would hunt them down.  They mostly scavenged from other predator’s kills.  Once in a while, if attacked, they would kill and eat the predators.  They would not come near a carcass which fell from the sky.  They would go out of their way to give it a wide berth.  They ate a large variety of grasses, wild fruits, nuts and raw fish.  They would sometimes forage in a domestic orchard, but would be careful not to leave tracks.  They would also catch small game and eat it but almost never killed sheep, goats, or cattle unless they were starving.

<< They won’t wake up, Frieda.  They are dead like the fuzzy four-leg critter your dad found.  I will help you gather stones to cover them.  Will you come live with me? >> Monty asked.

<< Thank you, but ‘no.’  I will learn to find food for myself.  I must not leave my parents. >>  she replied.  Monty spent a couple of hours carrying heavy stones into the cave until her mother and father were completely covered.  She seemed pleased, but lost.  For the first time, she seemed reluctant to let Monty go.  Monty guessed her to be no older than a year, maybe two.  She was just a baby.  She was smaller than Dexter.  He was worried about her.  Monty decided he needed help.  He talked it over with his ramrod that evening.

“Why ain’t chu’ said nothing before now, Son?  We’s family.  We help each other.  Them men probably know what chu’ been up to?  You forgit they got three robo-cams on you all the time.  They can watch what you do twenty-four hours of every day.  The slightest thing out of the ordinary and that big daddy computer they call Kyron will alert them.  They probably already know and are jes’ wait’n to see how long it will take before you say something.” Jimmy Joe told him.  Monty got a funny look on his face.  He forgot about the robo-cams.  That evening at supper Monty was very quiet.
“Everything going all right in your neck of the woods, Son?” Shane asked Monty.

“Naw, Sir.  I feel embarrassed.” he replied quietly.

“Whatever for?” Shane looked surprised.

“You know, don’t you?” he said without looking up from his plate.

“Know what, Monty?” Shane asked concerned.

“About my little friend I been feeding for the last week.”

“What little friend would that be?  We’ve heard talk you have a steady stream of critters what come to your door early in the mornings.  If you mean have we been following your every move by robo-cams, we ain’t.  We give you your privacy most of the time.  I’ll be honest, we checked a couple of times in the beginning, but it weren’t to spy on you so much as to see if you were comfortable and happy.  Kyron would alert us only if he thought you’s in danger.  Would you like to tell us what you’re talking about?”    

“Yes, Sir.  I told my ramrod about it, and he agreed I need some help.  Bobby's pretty little sorrel mare and Nurse Jenny Bottom took me to a female coyote what was caught in a trap on the adjacent ranch.  I got her out of the trap and healed her, but she had four pups what were almost starving to death.  I morphed into a lummox and helped her feed them for several days until I could feed her enough for her to take over.  She’s better now and will be all right, but she took me to a cave on the other property where there was a young lummox smaller than Dex.  She’s about a year or two old.  Her parents were poisoned by the rancher on the next property.  I been feed’n her lummox milk for almost a week now.”  

“Wow, that’s fantastic!” Shane exclaimed quietly, “I’ve heard rumors we have several families living around our area, but few have seen them.  Let’s look at the videos after supper.”

The men retired to Boss Potter’s living room and Shane asked Kyron run videos of Monty morphing into a lummox and feeding the coyote pups and then the young lummox bairn.

“Her name is Frieda Toosoon, Captain.” Monty said. “Her mother gave birth to her too soon, and her father had to take over early.  They didn’t know if she would make it.  She’s been small since birth, and her mother told her she was always afraid; thus the name Frieda.  She claims she had to climb out of her mother early because she can see the future, and she wouldn’t be alive today if she hadn’t.  She speaks of being afraid of darkness.”

“She looks healthy enough.  She is rather small even for a two year old lummox.  The coyote and her pups look like they’re going to make it.  As ranchers we sort of frown on predators, but coyotes are mostly scavengers.  They will gang up and attack small domestic animals and eat them.  So be careful when our pups are with you.”

“I don’t think Criga would do anything like that.  I already warned her not to.” Monty defended her.

“Were you planning on going to Frieda tonight?” Shane asked.

“I wanted to, but I have my ramrod to take care of this evening.”

“Well, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind waiting for you.” Shane winked at Jimmy Joe.  “I think this is too much for you to handle alone, Son.  You got too many other responsibilities.  You done good to help her and make a friend of her, but I think it’s time we found Frieda a home.  If’n we don’t she runs the risk of being caught or shot by a rancher, or worse, eating poisoned meat herself.  Kyron?” Shane spoke to the evolved intelligence.

“I am here, Captain Shane.”

“Would you be so kind as to alert Warren Steele, Horse, Strom, Lyle Chambers, Captain Waco, Ox, Captain Trong and Commander Fielding to come through the gates to the  Potter/Goodnight ranch.  We got us a lummox bairn we need to talk into letting us help.  Tell Strom to bring his three male bairns and Captain Trong and his sons Kurg and Bogg.”

“Hold on, Kyron!  Wait a minute, Son.” Cole said. “You sure you want a  stomping of Bigfoots tromping though the ranch and onto another ranch in the moonlight?  Lummox make big targets.  No telling what might happen.”

“Ramrod Jenkin's got a good point, Son.” said Boss Potter.

“Why not have Monty go to her, have Waco beam them aboard the Buttercup to the meadow area?  Horse and Warren are already there.  Where Captain Waco goes Ox is always there.  That way, Frieda would be contained and safe.  If she bolts or tries to hide, she can’t get off the ship.  Then the others could gather at an agreed time to approach her.  You might not even have to go to all that trouble.  From what we’ve seen, it looks to me like she’s about ready to let someone help her.” Cole said.

“How much do I pay you, pa?” Shane grinned.

“Not nearly enough, ‘at’s fer damn sure.” laughed Boss Potter.  The other men joined him.

“Not to worry, Ramrod Jenkins, there’s a new pair of boots in it for you.” grinned Monty.

“Oouuu!” said the other men.

“I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to that, Son.” Cole smiled at Monty.

Shane contacted Lazarus, and the Admiral contacted Waco.  They were more than happy to oblige.  They had Monty’s DNA in their computer and it would be a simple matter for Ms. Myra to beam him and Frieda into the meadow on the Buttercup.  Shane, Cole, Gil Morris, Bobby, Dexter, Rocky and Maxine all wanted to go along but Shane decided they would have to wait.  Shane decided he would take Cole, Gil, and Jimmy Joe.  They left immediately for the Buttercup.  Monty was followed down to his quarters by Bobby, Maxine, Dexter, Cody, Pearl and Rocky.  After they got there, Monty morphed into his huge lummox form.  Cody, Pearl and Rocky never saw Monty morph before, and they were amazed.

Much to her displeasure, Monty told Nurse Jenny Bottom he didn’t have time for her Granny Quick routine, and he insisted he didn’t want her following him.  He wouldn’t be coming back by land, and she might get lost or jumped by a wild predator.  He knew how stubborn she could be so he fed her and closed her stall gate so she couldn’t follow him.  He told everyone not to let her out no matter how much she bitched and moaned.  He would let her out when he returned.  Monty made the trip in no time in lummox form without having to stop for his constant companion.  He passed by Criga’s den, and briefly checked  on her.  She seemed pleased to see him.  He didn’t offer milk to her pups, but told her he would return the following evening.  He left and arrived at the cave.  He found Frieda sitting in the entrance to her cave.  Monty set on his usual rock, opened his big arms, and she ran to him.  They exchanged greetings.  Monty hugged and petted her affectionately.  She started sucking immediately.

<< Hungry tonight, little one? >> he sent to the small bairn.

<< You have such good milk, Monty.  I loved my daddy, but his never tasted this good. >>

<< That’s because of what he ate.  I eat different foods.  It’s a hard life in the wild.  You eat what you can find and sometimes you go to sleep hungry because you can’t always find food.  I don’t want that for you, Frieda.  I’ve come to care about you.  I want you to become a part of my family. >>

<< You can come see Frieda anytime you want. >> she sent as she sucked.

<< My life ain’t like that, Frieda.  I can’t always come.  You’re too young to be alone.  You don’t understand responsibilities big folks have.  I have others I have to look after... like Criga. >>

<< That’s all right.  Frieda soon be big enough to take care of herself. >>

<< I don’t think so, sweet heart, but I won’t insist.  Drink deeply, little sister. >> Monty said as he began to sing his low, rumbling song to the bairn.  It was as much comfort to him as it was to the young one.  Frieda had been sucking for a while when a blinding, bright white light surrounded them.  Monty grabbed her into his huge, powerful arms and held her tight.  << Don’t be frightened, Frieda.  I am taking you to a place where you will be safe. >> In the next minute they were in a beautiful meadow on the Buttercup.  Frieda was still in Monty’s arms.  She looked frightened when she saw the shape of others around them, but instead of bolting she made herself as small as possible and hid her face in Monty’s arms.  Ox, Horse, and Strom came and set down close to Monty.

<< Look, Frieda.  They are our kind.  They are my friends.  They have come to welcome you.  Don’t be afraid.  They will not harm you.  They are here to help.>>

Slowly the baby bairn peeked out from Monty’s arms and saw three of the biggest, best looking lummox she ever saw.  She hadn’t really seen any others but her mother, father and Monty.  These three huge creatures looked healthy, and they smelled wonderful.  They didn’t have the stench of death on them.   Ox took her hand and gently pulled Frieda into his arms away from Monty.

<< Would you like to sample my milk, Frieda? >> Ox sent to the young one.  Frieda didn’t answer but hooked up to one of Ox’s big inviting teats.  It was like she found a home at Ox’s breast.  She was really going after it as Ox began to sing his low grumbling song to the bairn.  It was a lummox lullaby.  It said you are mine, you are safe in my arms, I will love and protect you.  Feed from my body.  I will become a part of you, and you will be a part of me.

“I think I jes’ lost my slave, Admiral.” Waco laughed.

“Naw, you and Trey jes’ gained yourselves a little sister.  That was love at first suck if I ever saw it.” confirmed Lazarus.  The men laughed.

* * * * * * *

Boss Potter joined his ranch family to await the return of the rest of the men.  The Buttercup flew back over the Potter/Goodnight ranch and beamed down Monty, Jimmy Joe, Shane, Cole and Gil Morris.  They were standing in Monty’s barn.  Monty was still in lummox form and went to release Nurse Jenny Bottom.  She scolded him and bellowed, he petted her, gave her some carrots to placate her, and she soon settled down.  You may give a woman roses as an act of contrition, but sweet carrots is the key to open the door for instant forgiveness from a mooncalf.  For modesty sake Monty didn’t morph back to human form in front of everyone.  No one wanted to come near him.  He smelled awful.  He went outside with his ramrod accompanying him a couple of paces away, and he morphed back into his normal self on their way down to his quarters.  He still stunk, but he got into his shower and thoroughly cleaned himself.  After several washes and several rinses he thought he might pass in polite society.  He used a third of a bottle of Lilac Vegetal as a body astringent and coverup for his lummox smell.  He wondered if Ox had fearful-Frieda in a big tub giving her, her first introduction to the bath.  Monty knew he would be gentle with her.  After he dressed, Monty rejoined his friends and Ramrod Russell.

“Job well done, everyone, especially you, Son.  By the way, you make a fine looking lummox.  Ox told me to tell you he thought so, too.” Shane said to Monty.  It was still early evening and no one seemed interested in leaving.  Everyone was sitting in Monty’s living area around the fireplace and talking quietly.  Monty started a fire so he would have hot water to clean himself.  His ramrod added more wood to it to keep it hot for him.  The water came out almost steaming.  He had to mix a considerable amount of cool water to keep from scalding himself.  After he rejoined his family, Monty went to his leather area and returned with four boxes.  One for Captain Shane, one for Ramrod Jenkins, one for Gil Morris and one for Boss Potter.  They thanked him graciously.  The men tried on their new boots and complimented Monty on his craftsmanship.  They began to talk about many things.  There was a lot for them to talk about.  It just seemed they were coming together as a family and were enjoying each other's company.

“We were going to wait 'til later to tell you, Son, but one nice gift deserves another.” started Boss Potter.  "Yesterday, our first money came through from Darryl and his company.  We’re well on our way to becoming millionaires.” he grinned at Monty. “You’re master has put your first money into your account, but we’re afraid to deposit overly large sums because it might attract attention.  Since it’s under court supervision, this new money has been credited to you for your leather work products.  The larger amounts due next week, Captain Shane will keep for you in his safe on board his ship the Bluebonnet.”

“Gosh, I never expected to have a lot of money.  Are there things we can spend it on without a great deal of suspicion?  I’m open to anything, but I have a few ideas of my own.” he asked.

“Well, the Maxine Potter foundation, as we’re calling our new joint financial venture, will be purchasing the ranch where you found Frieda.  I didn't know, but it’s been up for sale for over two years now.  When I inquired about it, no one has expressed interest.  The owner is a hardcore, dyed in the wool, washed in the blood fundamentalist, yet he has the reputation of being the worst rancher and slave owner in our county.  He has two or three deaths per year among his slaves from neglect, sickness and ordering them to do stupid, dangerous things that get them killed.  I think we can make him a lowball cash offer he’ll jump at.”

“We gonna’ run cattle on it, Boss?” Shane asked.

“We’ll use it for extra grazing land, but I want some sheep.  My partner needs a job to keep her active and fit." said Boss Potter.  A chill ran up Monty’s spine.  He remembered his dream of him and Maxine herding sheep on the adjacent ranch in the high meadow.  Potter continued, “By the way, Monty, Darryl and the people of Mars Port and Venus are chomping at the bit to see another performance of you and our beautiful little lady.  He says it will increase sales of your action figures by eighty percent.”  

“Gee, I’d love to if Master Shane thinks we can get away.  Would you approve of us practicing in the meadow down here near my quarters, Sir?  It’s low enough I don’t think we’d be seen.  We don’t need to fly too high.  Seems like they ain’t no one around these parts for miles.” Monty asked.

“Sure, jest let us know.  We’ll want to watch.” replied Boss Potter.  Everyone agreed with him.

“What about it, little sister?  You up for another flying lesson?” he smiled at Maxine.  She was in his lap in an instant.

“You know it, big brother.  I can’t wait to experience that feeling again.  I would love to fly with you and my big friend Brilliante.”

“When will you take Cody, Pearl and Rocky to meet Professor Wankle, Captain Shane?” Monty asked.

“I was going to wait until the first of June when our boy gits his new body and we can sort of soften the blow as a celebration of new achievements for all.  In the meantime, do your workers have enough materials to start working on several more bodies?”  

“Yes, Sir.  Master Morris has been most helpful, and if I may say so, somewhat of a wizard getting things for us.  Fortunately, many of the basic ingredients they use are common industrial and agricultural chemicals.  For larger quantities, Admiral Long said he can get us anything we need.  We’ve started collecting old bathtubs from yard sales and salvage yards.  We can clean them up, and for the smaller bodies they’ll work as well as the expensive plexiglass tanks.”  Monty told him.  

“Good.  I’ll have Darryl find out what he has left and their genders.  If we have bodies ready for a number of them he will have no choice but to let them go.  I suppose the Admiral could just order him to turn them over, but he helped us when we needed him.  We should try to honor and respect his position.” Shane replied.

The evening came to an end and the men left.  Monty entertained his ramrod.  It had been sometime since Monty last morphed for him and asked if he would like a little pussy that evening.  Jimmy Joe didn’t answer, he just grinned real big.  Frieda spent the night with her new lummox daddy, Ox, and his family.  She didn’t know whether she was going to like the hairless two-legs, but she could see as much light coming from their bodies as Monty’s, Ox’s or her parents.  They were very kind and solicitous of her.  She soon decided she just might like them after all.  Ox, his master and his mate, took her to a sonic cleaning chamber on the Buttercup.  They seemed to do things together as a family and Ox just explained to her since they were his family she must become a part of theirs.  They had no problems being nude before the small lummox female.  It was discussed and felt she should be exposed to the realities of nature as she would in the wild.  Other than the fact Waco and Trey’s genitals weren’t covered by fur, she didn’t give it another thought.  She wondered why they went to the trouble to wear clothes, but then reasoned if she didn’t have a lovely covering of luxurious fur, she might want to wear something.  She told Ox she felt sorry for them because they didn't have fur.  He laughed and agreed with her.

After the sonic shower came the wet bath with lots of soap and bubbles.  She was afraid at first, but Ox took her in his arms and gently lowered her into the warm water with him.  He had all sorts of wonderful brushes and sponges to clean her.  Waco and Trey joined them.  They figured it wouldn’t do them any harm to have a good sudsing.  Frieda observed how Captain Waco seemed to cater to his older and much larger friend Captain Vinceeth.  She wondered if they were related.  She asked Ox about it and he smiled.

<< In our world, or the society we’re creating for ourselves, sometime two people of the same sex pair off for a period of time.  Sometimes they go their own way.  Others stay together for many years.  There are many degrees and different kinds of relationships which develop.  You’ll understand more as you grow older and get to know these people.  No one will ever lie to you or try to deceive you, sweet baby-bairn.  If you want to know something, ask, we will try to find a way to explain so you will understand. >> Ox sent to her as he stole a kiss.

Frieda slept in the huge arms of her new daddy.  She wanted to get into his pouch and make herself as small as possible, but Ox wasn’t large enough.  She grew beyond hiding from her fears, real or imagined, within her father’s second womb.  She abandoned all thoughts of escape and settled for a late night snack of lummox milk.  It relaxed her, and she fell into a deep sleep.  She loved the way she smelled, and the fragrance of her newly bonded father figure.  She thought Ox would do nicely.  For all the sonic cleansing and warm swirling waters of the wild, frothy bubbles filled with natural scents spilling over her; floating lightly above the sweet, a stronger, darker musk invaded her bright senses which spelled well the essence of the giant lummox in whose care she was entrusted.  It wasn’t offensive to her; on the contrary, it was similar to her father’s smell that bound her to him and him to her.  If she was blind she could find her father’s pouch among a hundred other lummox males.

So it was with Ox’s male musk.  It spoke to her of ancient warriors, brave and strong who would take up arms against the fiercest foe to do battle for her sake.  He smelled of honor and faithful security.  She smelled within him the spark of an honest, innocent, unalloyed love.  Someone loved him once thus.  Gone were the rank, dank, dark odors of death and the rotting flesh of her parents.  Strong odors, good or bad, are the source of lummox memories.  They wear their smells like a diary of their history.  Her heart was heavy for having to leave her parents, but she knew it was for the best.  She forgave Monty for betraying her trust.  How is it she could not have foreseen his cunning?  Was he an ancient who could cloud her mind?  He told her he descended from them.  Monty did what he needed to do for her.  She came to a dead end, but not of her own making.  Ox helped her understand she was a victim of circumstances, and Monty was her savior.  She hoped she would see Monty again, even if he was a hairless two-leg.  She decided not to be afraid anymore; at least, not for the night.  Tomorrow was another day.  

* * * * * * *

Things kept getting worse for Scudder and all the world leaders.  They were having to meet the unreasonable demands of their overlords and the governments were becoming unstable.  The people were losing their children in vast numbers.  Not everyone believed in Scudder’s rapture explanation.  Only the Christianist fundamentalist were stupid enough to swallow something as crazy as the idea of being taken up into the air by a supreme being to be taken to a Ken Ham equivalent of Disneyland; Jesusland perhaps.  (Not to be confused with the Republic of Texas)  The snakes were not supreme beings but when any society’s technology reaches a point, to those with less technology their achievements make them look like gods.  Certainly they were more advanced than the people of Earth.

The most remarkable part was, Scudder knew the “beaming up” must be true, because he witnesses Jesse and Utah come and go in a flash of blinding light.  The problem was, the reptiles weren’t particularly subtle about it.  A family would be walking down the street of any city in the world and their children would suddenly be taken up into the air and disappear.  Rapture or no rapture, the parents and families of the babies and children weren’t happy about it.  There were too many unanswered questions.  If, as Scudder declared, it was the Christianist god or Jesus why the hell would they be taking the children of Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, and many other religions including cults like the Mormons?  They were even taking the children of godless liberals.

The people began to fight back.  The Muslims strapped bombs to their kids with clever timing devices which were altitude triggered.  If a child was taken, the minute he or she was lifted more than a couple hundred feet into the air the altitude device would trip a timer and five minutes later the bomb would go off.  There would follow a massive explosions which would light up the sky.  Videos were being made of these incidents and sent all over the world on the free-internet.  They were banned on the official government controlled net, but every kid past the age of five knew how to hack into the free-net.  It became a rite of passage for an older kid to teach a younger one how to get on and surf the free-net.  The younger generation knew what was going on, and they were fighting back.

Some parents went so far as to anchor their kids with heavy duty chains to large cement blocks sunk into the ground when they allowed them to play in their backyards.  They would be attached to a body harness or a hand or leg cuff of some sort.  Many kids lost a hand or foot that way.  Some country dad’s armed their sons, and when they were abducted, would try to blast their way out of the situation.  One kid’s dad made him a vest with two small handguns and several live grenades.  He became a mini-rambo and succeeded in killing every reptile on one ship, but unfortunately didn’t know how to pilot the craft and it crashed.

All these things were slowly coming to light that there was more to it than Scudder was telling, and his credibility was quickly eroding by the day.  He had a lower approval rating than his predecessor.  Strangely enough, more of the abductions were going on in the larger cities than rural areas.  Why?  More meat per square foot.  M. Night Shyamalan was in his nineties when it all began.  He talked about coming out of retirement to make another dreadfully vacuous ‘shaggy dog’ type movie about the current situation, which would be sort of scary but have absolutely no valid point to it.  Fortunately, for the American public, he couldn’t raise the money.

Lazarus and his staff put out notices to the Grange that children under the age of ten years must be hidden at all times.  Most of the people who were in jeopardy were already living in one of the communities on the Bandersnatch or one of the many scout ships, but there were those who had to live and work in the town.  Sheriff Lassiter and a number of ranchers had young children.  They were encouraged to quietly take them out of school with the understanding they would be home schooled.  They would be transferred to a foster home in Parsons or one of the other many small towns being preserved on the Bandersnatch.  Their parents were free to visit them as much as they liked.
* * * * * * *

Judge Clarence Potter bought the adjacent ranch the following week.  He didn’t think the owner, Felix Crandall, would except his low ball, all cash offer.  He was pleasantly surprised when he did.  He didn’t have any idea how close to bankruptcy Crandall was.  Potter’s offer covered everything including buildings, stock and equipment.  Just so there was no misunderstanding, Potter added an explanation clause to the contract reminding the seller, slaves were considered chattel or livestock.  Over the weeks Monty lived in his quarters on the back of the old barn, several of Crandall’s slaves secreted themselves away to Monty’s door to dutifully stand in line with the other critters.  How they learned of his healing capabilities no one knew.  Maxine said she often saw and smelled their slaves watching the goings on at the Potter ranch.  She speculated they saw the critters lining up in the mornings to be helped.  

When questioned, Bart and Telly weren’t surprised.  It only confirmed what they already knew.  Slaves have an underground railroad of information they developed over the years for survival.  The slaves of the Crandall ranch were just trying to survive under adverse circumstances.  Potter and Shane gave Monty their approval to help any critter who came to his door, and that included slaves from the adjacent ranch.  Monty was appalled to see the physical condition of some of the men.  They were in rags, barefoot and all were severely undernourished.  Some had scurvy and several displayed signs of essential vitamin deficiency.  It made Monty appreciate where he was living and with whom.

Immediately upon taking ownership, a posse of men from the Potter/Goodnight ranch, including Ramrod Russell, saddled up and rode over to the Crandall place.  What they found was almost beyond belief.  It was close to the same shocking scene troops found entering concentration camps in Nazi Germany at the end of World War II.  Many of the animals in the barns  were sick and dying.  A few of the cowboys slaves were bedridden and looked like they were on their last leg.  Three died the previous week.  When they heard they were going to be sold they were happy, but they knew Crandall had a vicious streak.  At one time he threatened to kill them to put them out of their misery and rid him of the expense of what little money he spent for their upkeep.  Many ran away into the brush and found caves to live in.

Some stayed from a sense of duty to their fellow cowboy slaves to care for them.  Monty went from man to man doing what he could, but healing without proper care meant little.  It was like trying to sweep the ocean back with a broom.  Monty was busy from sun up to late at night.  He didn’t have time to entertain his ramrod.  That was no problem for Jimmy Joe.  He wasn’t a small man.  When he could, he was right by Monty’s side, working with him, encouraging him and helping keep his spirits up.
  Shane sent for reenforcements and was surprised by a motley crew of healers and lummox who came to feed the cowboy slave’s and see to their health.  Monty morphed into a lummox several times to feed a particularly sick patient.  The slaves were naturally afraid of the big beasts until they watched Monty nurse from Horse’s big teats.

Strom picked up Maxine and offered her some milk.  She couldn’t get hooked up fast enough.  Once they tasted the milk they didn’t have any problem.  Jesse Watkins and Utah came.  Newly commissioned Commander Brett Jones and his body guards, Captain Del Hawkins and Commander Tex Olafson were there getting dirty, working their butt’s off to help.  Of course, Basil Troubadour was there by his famous cousin’s side doing an excellent job of coordinating and helping to heal.  Over time, Basil developed his gifts independently and became as fine a healer as his cousin and rivaled Jesse and Utah.  They all were more than a little impressed by how far their protege and student, Monty, progressed in such a short time.  Shane Goonight was coming into his own as a more than competent healer and once again took over leadership and organization of the work to restore the malnourished and sick slaves.  He and Basil worked closely and began to get things done.

It seemed like the gathering of the old gang of heros from the rescue and repair of the bladder whales of Venus.  Even the coyote cowboys got in on the act and thought nothing of cleaning and dressing wounds or emptying bedpans as needed.  They took great delight in giving the bedridden cowboy’s baths, then gently toweling them dry and lightly dusting them with baby powder to prevent bed sores.  The team of cooks from the Potter ranch were brought in to prepare nourishing soups and broths.  Extra goodies came in from all over the county when word got out through the slave underground that a massive effort was underfoot to rescue and save the lives of thirty cowboy slaves.  Slaves from the other Goodnight ranches volunteered to work and sit with the sick slaves.  Bedding that could be salvaged was boiled in bleach, washed in machines, dried and returned to a new, clean mattress.  Old mattress were throw in a heap and burned.  Within a week there was a marked improvement.  Within two weeks many were up and walking around.  Over half the men had no boots to work or walk in.  Monty created a list of sizes and Shane sent it around to the other ranches.  Boxes of older but servicable used boots came in and distributed.  At least the men had something to protect their feet and make them feel like cowboys again.  

Monty worked endlessly taking care of the sick and dying animals.  His helpers did what they could and by the time they had to get on with their lives the stables and barns of injured or sick animals were beginning to look a lot better.  Nurse Jenny Bottom was by Monty’s side the whole time.  She kept every detail in her little head and didn’t forget a thing.  If he promised an animal or a slave something and forgot because of all that was going on, she was there to remind him.  Several days Monty worked around the clock for as many as three days in a row.  Shane would have to order him back to his quarters for some rest and relaxation.  He instructed Jimmy Joe to physically carry him back if he refused.  Monty never refused his ramrod.  Needless to say it only bonded Monty and Jimmy Joe all the more.

Slowly, but surely, the Crandall ranch began to function again.  As soon as a cowboy slave was rehabilitated enough to function on his own he was taken back to the Potter/Goodnight ranch and given a bunk in a two man room.  They had plenty rooms and space for all the Crandall slaves, and it meant they could centrally care for them easier.  Shane and his bossman had in mind remodeling the Crandall slave quarters to be more like theirs.  Blake Tindall formed an extra crew, and they began work immediately.  They were working on it when the last four slaves were transported to the other ranch.  Monty became like a god to the cowboy slaves of the Crandall ranch.  He could do no wrong in their eyes.  The Potter/Goodnight cowboy slaves looked upon Monty with a new respect.  Even Loud and Fuzzy came around Monty with their hats in their hands to show him the respect they felt for him.  Bart and Telly showed him great love when he could find time to entertain them.  They considered Monty more than their cowboy baby slave, they were ready to take out adoption papers.

Thanks to Monty and his helpers they didn’t lose a single slave or critter after Boss Potter took possession of the Crandall ranch.  The old ranch house was almost as bad as the slave quarters.  Any furnishings left behind were of little value or no use.  They were piled up, dowsed with kerosene and burned.  They needed someone to live there to keep the property from being vandalized, but they didn’t have anyone in mind at the moment.  Shane conferred with everyone including Maxine, but they decided not to push the issue.  They felt they would be provided with the right people to care for the property when the time came.  As soon as the slave quarters were remodeled and in good shape, Blake’s crew started on the house and a couple of the outbuildings.  The month of May seemed to fly by because everyone was balls-out busy for the month.  June first was only a day away.  Despite what was going on all around them everyone in the Grange tried to keep their sanity and go on with their lives.  June marked a great transition in the lives of many.

* * * * * * *

Gil and Bobby were more than pleased with Dexter’s tutoring and highly recommended he be allowed to have his new body.  Dexter was thrilled but understandably nervous.  While he wanted it more than anything, giving up the known was hard for him.  In one of their rare moments alone, Dexter admitted to Monty he was afraid.

“Nothing to be afraid of, Dex.  We’ll jes’ put your higher functions on hold for a few minutes while we make the transfer.  Your autonomic and subconscious functions will be fine, and you’ll retain all your memories.  When I wake you up you’ll have a fine new bio-body what’s capable of so much more.  You ain’t think’n on back’n out, are you?” Monty put to him gently.

“No, I just want you to know, if anything goes wrong, and I can’t remember nothing, I love you, Monty.” he said quietly like he was going to cry.

“Would you stop that!” Monty exclaimed quietly, “You’re gonna’ have me crying in a minute for no good reason.  Ain’t nothing gonna’ go wrong.  Them workers I have are crackerjacks.  Look how well they transferred them three whale brains.  They built your brain, Dex.  They know more about you than they did them other brains.  You’ll be fine.  I’ll miss my baby brother’s old body, but I know I’ll come to love my new adolescent bubba just as much.”

“You won’t leave me alone, will you, Monty?” Dexter asked like he was a small child facing a major operation.  In a way, he was.  It isn’t every day some creature gets its brain transferred to a new body.

“Of course I’ll be there, for every minute.  What da’ ya’ think, I’m just gonna’ drop you off for a lube job and a tune up like some old piece of farm equipment?” Monty grinned.  He got a giggle out of Dexter.  “Don’t be silly, little brother.  I’ll be there the whole time.  I won’t let nothing happen to you.  In fact, Captain Shane, Ramrod Jenkins, my ramrod, Master Angus, Boss Potter, Mr. Morris and Bobby all want to be there; even Maxine.  She begged Boss Potter to let her be there to welcome you.  They’ll be watching from the crow’s nest walkway above the work area, but I’ll be right there with you.”  Monty assured him.  Dexter seem happy with that.  

The first of the month arrived and there was great excitement in the air.  Everyone on the ranch knew it was the day Dexter got his new body.  All the cowboy slaves turned out to give him a hug and a kiss and wish him well.  They told him they would be gathered around Monty’s quarters to hear how his transfer went.  The new slaves from the Crandall ranch didn’t fully understand what was happening, but they understood Dexter was a bio-droid.  They didn’t know all the details, but he helped as much as anyone in their rehabilitation, and they were grateful.  The other slaves didn’t tell them everything right away.  Shane and Boss Potter felt it might be better if they learned a little at a time like Gil Morris and Bobby when they first came to the ranch.

Shane and Cole drove to the Ong ranch one afternoon and installed a gate post in their barn for traveling between ranches and the Bandersnatch.  They showed Mr. Ong, his father, and two of their son’s how to program it.  Since Cable and Kyron had the Ong's information on board the Bandersnatch it was no problem.  The gate could be opened by anyone with the Ong DNA.  Shane shared with them the morning Dexter was to receive his new body and they were anxious to be there for him.  They saw it as a gathering of the family for an important event.  Shane and Cole encouraged them.  Everyone gathered at Monty’s quarters about the same time and Dexter was particularly moved the Ong tribe showed up for him.  The kids had small signs painted up, ‘Good luck, Dexter, we love you!’ and other good sentiments in Chinese.  The cowboy slaves met the Ongs before and welcomed them among them.  It came time for Dexter to go with his immediate family into Monty’s lab and workshop.  For the people waiting, it seemed like they were only gone a few minutes when the men walked out with a new Dexter.  Monty asked him if he wanted to put on some clothes, and Dexter asked Shane if he had to.

“No, Son, no one on this ranch will care one way or another.  I know the Ongs won’t care.  I already done asked them."  Shane assured him.

“I just wanna’ feel the sun on my new skin and the breeze on my body.” Dexter said.

“Well, to protect your feet, put on these new boots I made for you, little brother.”  Monty smiled.  “I guess I can’t call you ‘little’ no more.  You’re almost a full grown young man.”  Monty helped him with his fine new pair of boots and they left the lab area.  There were many hugs and well wishes from the workers before they left the lab.  They were happy for Dexter he was finally getting his new body.  When they walked out into the sunlight from the living area everyone was stunned.  The new Dexter looked like a smaller double of Captain Shane Goodnight.  Someone started clapping their approval and another picked it up until everyone was applauding and whistling for Dexter.  He managed a smile.

“I hope my nudity doesn’t offend anyone.  I’m so proud of my new body I just wanted everyone to see it.  Thank you all for coming and supporting me.  I’ll try to live up to the standard of excellence of the man I now look like.” he said humbly.

“Lord, I hope not!” laughed Shane, “I’m probably one of the most flawed humans there is, Son.” he put his arm around Dexter, pulled him close and stole a kiss.  Everyone laughed as Dexter blushed.  It was his first time to blush.  Rocky and the other bio-droids were there and through the crowd came Admiral Long with his three naked sons and one human son following him.  Dexter cried when Cable hugged and congratulated him.

“You look wonderful, Dex.  We’re very proud of you.” and so the compliments went all day.  Monty finally got Dexter into some clothes and they partied the rest of the day.  The Ong family were very solicitous and pleased with Dexter’s new appearance.  All the young ones had to have him speak to them in Cantonese to make sure he really was the Dexter they knew and loved.  One cowboy slave after another had to give him a hug and a kiss.  They were all pleased for him.  The Admiral couldn’t get over how much he looked like Shane.  He congratulated Monty on his choice of Dexter’s appearance.  During the day Monty returned to his leather work area and returned with several more boxes of boots.  He handed one to the Admiral and one to Charlie Goodnight.  The last box he handed to Bobby.

“I made these the same time I made Dexter’s new boots.  I know I repaired them old ones for you and you been wearing them, but you need a new pair.  I got another pair on order for you what ain’t buckaroo boots.  They’s more your standard cowboy boot.  Enjoy, little brother.” Monty told him.  Bobby gave him a hug and a kiss.

“Thanks, Monty.  I can’t tell you how much this means to me.” he said.

“I know your birthday is in July, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt none to give ‘em to you in advance.  I’ll give them others to you for your actual birthday.” he promised.

Gil Morris came over to thanked him for Bobby’s boots and told him he loved his new pair.  Thus began one of the most important weeks in the history of the young Grange members.  Waco, Travis, Little Bear, Lucas, Indigo/Blue and Gavin were graduating high school the following Friday.  They swept the state championship in football four years in a row.  They were a team every small town West Texas football coach dreams about.  They were unstoppable.  No one came close to beating them.  They made it look easy.  It was like they could read each other's minds.  Of course, everyone knew they couldn’t.  Also graduating with them was the last of the Stamper men, Zeke or Ezekial.  All the Stamper men were growing up, some faster than others.  Zeke was actually a year older than Lucas, but Lazarus wanted him to be in the same class as the other Goodnight men, so he lied about his new son’s age.  Lucas was certainly smart enough to be skipped ahead and proved it.  His physical development was faster than any of the Stamper boys.  He was shaving twice a day by the time he was a sophomore in high school.

There was a big brouhaha among the Goodnight men when the final grades were posted and Lucas Long had the highest grade average of any student.  Waco was second by a tenth of a point, followed by Travis, Indigo/Blue, Little Bear and Gavin.  All were within a tenth of a point of each other.  There was a law a slave could give neither a Valedictory nor a Salutatory speech.  It was mainly for political reasons.  They didn’t want to give a slave a public forum to speak out against slavery.  For a slave, there was no such thing as freedom of speech.  That was reserved for freemen, but in reality, even the freemen lost that right.  Most all their basic rights were swept away by the Bush administration and the evil Cheney who played the puppet-master with his hand up Howdy Doody Bush's butt.  Still, the red-neck bubbas would get drunk and remind each other how great it was they still lived in a free country.  Their stupidity and denial knew no bounds.

Lucas was recognized as the legitimate Valedictorian.  The majority of the students didn’t care he was a slave and thought he should be allowed to give the speech.  Everyone in the school, including the teachers, loved him.  His homework was always perfect and his test scores were, too.  In four years he made only one ninety-six and one ninety eight on a test.  The rest of his scores were perfect.  He was intelligent, but quiet and charming.  He participated in class and when no one knew the answer to a teacher’s question, they knew Lucas would and called on him.  He never let them down.  Although he was proud of the honor, giving a speech didn’t really mean that much to him.  When he became reborn to be Lazarus Long’s son and slave, his visions reached much further than graduating high school.  Before his first day in school, the new Lucas Long  looked to the stars.

Waco was incensed.  He wanted Lucas to give the speech.  He considered Lucas his brother and took the rejection hard.  Lazarus tried to convince Lucas to accept his freedom.  He could have Judge Potter run it through the court in a matter of days, and it would be done.  He would become a freeman.  Lucas was firm.  He thanked Lazarus, told him he loved him for the offer, but he very much wanted things to remain the way they were.  If he became a freeman and didn’t go to college it would make him eligible for Scudder’s killing machine.  He would be sent to god knows where to fight for the never ending wars of corporate theocratic America and his chances of survival was less than one in a hundred.  Lucas didn’t want to go to college, neither did he want to give his life for a political system he considered corrupt and criminal.  He was constantly reading and studying.  Ping and the Kryscellians took him under their supervision a year before he started high school.  High school was a stroll in the park for him.  He only put up with going to class to play football with his brothers.    

As a freeman and Salutatorian, Waco was next in line to give the speech.  He decided he would show his protest by refusing to participate, but Lucas reasoned with him and begged him not to.  They decided on a plan.  Lucas would write the speech, but Waco would deliver it word for word.  It would stand for both the Valedictory and Salutatory speech.  They told no one of their collusion.  It was a big day for everyone.  Lucas wrote a speech that was neither political nor antiestablishment.  It was somewhat secular, but it wasn’t antireligious.  Lucas’ first draft was a barnburner, but then he began to think about his brother.  Waco was trying to get accepted into a college of his choice.  He didn’t need to worry about a scholarship.  Since Lazarus wandered onto the ranch and Charlie gave him a home and a job, they went together on so many business deals they were both independently wealthy.  Lazarus was already a wealthy man by Earth standards, but he brought Charlie up with him.  Charlie had too many irons in the fire and was far too wealthy for Waco to be concerned.

Waco’s main worry was there were few slots in colleges because all the freemen wanted to continue their education to escape being sent to what was euphemistically referred to as the Holy Profit’s meat grinder wars.  The entry boards of any college to which he applied would be looking at Waco's Valedictory speech as part of his total package to consider him for a slot.  Lucas wrote the speech for Waco and not himself.  After writing what he really wanted to say and got it out of his system, he set down and wrote a speech which would satisfy and impress anyone who heard it.  It was eloquent, concise and to the point.  It didn’t ramble on and on.  It presented a premise, developed it and came to a conclusion.  It was air tight, irrefutable and solid.  In short, it was brilliant.  Just the type thing a college entry board would be looking for in a bright, young potential student.  Waco read it over and was deeply moved.  It brought a tear to his eye, but he quickly wiped it away with the sleeve of his Western shirt.

“You's so full a' shit!  You fuck’n hypocrite!” he grinned at Lucas, and they rolled together on Waco’s bed laughing.

“Come on, gimme’ a break.  It’s a damn good speech and you know it!  It made yore’ cowboy ass cry.” Lucas challenged.

“Only for a moment, but I caught ma’self.” Waco countered, “It’s too damn good.” he added. “Them yokels ain’t gonna’ understand or care about a word of this.  It makes too much sense.  It’s a beautiful speech.  It’s a hell of a lot better’n anything I could a’ come up with.  I would a’ never thought of it.  I know where you’re coming from, but you don’t need to do this for me, brother.” he complained.

“Yes, I do.  I ain’t the one what’s gotta’ be worried about being drafted.  Why the hell you think I refused to accept my manumission from ma’ dad?  You know I don’t wanna’ go to college.  College would be a waste of my time and ma’ dad’s money.  If I let anything happen to you, I’d lose a major chunk a’ my soul, brother.  I ain't about to let that happen.  ‘Sides, it’s jes’ the sort of crap them college entry board folks is looking for.” Lucas smiled at him. “It will wow the shit out of everyone who hears or reads it.  Another thing, I done thought a lot about it, and I don’t want you give’n me no credit for it.  It’s enough for me to know I wrote it, and you thought enough of me to read it.  Promise me you won’t.”  Lucas insisted.

“Don’t ask that of me, Lucas.” Waco groaned.

“Promise me!” Lucas demanded.  He looked directly into Waco’s eyes.  “I won’t let you win at football no more if’n you don’t.” he grinned.  They rolled on the bed again laughing and giggling until they stopped and held each other close.  Waco gently kissed Lucas, and he returned it in kind.

“I love you, brother, and against all what’s honorable within me, I promise, I won’t.” said Waco.

“I love you, too, Master Waco, more'n all them silly words in that speech.  I loved you like a brother every day we’ve been together since I come to this ranch to live, and I lied— I ain’t never let you win.” Lucas laughed.  “When you beat me it’s always ‘cause you cheated.” Lucas broke up and they went at it again until they had their clothes off and were sucking each other's dicks.  They satisfied one another and lay together for sometime talking quietly.

“We ain’t gonna’ tell our mates about this, are we?” Waco asked casually.

“You do and y’ain’t no cowboy.” Lucas shot back.  Waco howled with laughter.  “What two cowboy brothers do together in a private moment ain’t nobody’s business but their’n.” Lucas added using his best cowboy vernacular.  He considered West Texas speak or cowboy lingo almost Shakespearian.  He collected vast files of idiomatic patterns and colloquialisms.  He could tell you in five minutes after listening to a cowboy talk what state he was from and within fifty miles of the area he was raised.  He could speak it with the best of the cowboys and make them think he was a seasoned hand.  Lucas could fool any cowboy into believing he was from his home town.

Waco gave Lucas’ speech just like he wrote it.  He didn’t read it, he memorized it and practiced speaking it to his big Shire ponies.  After three or four times, they would run the other way when they saw him coming.  Only his faithful friend Ranger, Ranger’s mom and little sister would stand and listen to him orate.  They were good to offer suggestions and helped to make it the best speech he could give.  Waco’s practice paid off.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd when he finished.  Lucas was right.  It was a damn good speech, and it was the final element, along with his athletic accomplishments, which made the board at Texas A&M decide to give him a slot as a student and offer him a full tuition scholarship.  Waco would become a Texas Aggie.  After he received his notification of acceptance, he wondered just how much time he might have.  Things kept getting worse, and he could tell the adults and leaders of the Grange were worried.

* * * * * * *

The month of June was remembered as a time of great rejoicing and fun for everyone.  It was like the members of the Grange were trying to deny what they saw going on around them within their world and government.  The second Sunday in the month of June was the day Charlie Goodnight set aside to celebrated the boy’s birthdays.  They all had birthdays within a couple of weeks of each other, and it seemed like a good idea to celebrate them at the same time.  The boys were so used to the idea they no longer spoke of their individual birthdays but referred to the day as ‘our’ birthday.  It was a wonderful day and of great import to the young men, because, after all, you’re only eighteen once.  Waco talked with his dad and asked if he could offer Travis and Little Bear their freedom as a present for their eighteenth birthdays.  Charlie had no problem with it.  Waco would be going to A&M in the fall, and you couldn’t take a slave with you to school.  You could if you paid to go to a private school, but A&M was a state run school.  It was amusing to many that the religious schools which once claimed to be so against slavery now had dorm rooms for a mistress or a master and their slave.   

It didn’t take Travis and Little Bear but a minute to make up their minds.  Lucas didn’t want his freedom, and neither did they.  Waco told them his dad and Admiral Long would pay for them to go to school, but they still declined.  Because they were strong athletes and contributed greatly to four winning seasons for their high school football team, Travis, Little Bear, Lucas, Gavin and Indigo/Blue were all offered full scholarships to almost any college they wanted to attend.  Texas and football were synonymous.  They simply didn’t want to go to away to school.  They reasoned like their brother Lucas.  They wanted to be able to learn more freely from the people, critters and evolved intelligences they worked with every day.  They predicted Waco wouldn’t stay in school long, not because he didn’t have the smarts for college, but he would become so bored, miss his family and mate, he’d want to come home.  Waco didn’t have much choice unless he wanted to be conscripted.  He thought about disappearing and going to live in the colonies or Mars.  He could always find a place, but he would have to be hidden away.  He had much to consider and only the summer to do it.

End of Chapter 69 ~ Waco’s Lummox
Copyright 2008 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All Rights Reserved ~
Mail to: waddiebear@yahoo.com
Proofed: 10/27/09

* Spoken by Caliban ~ from ‘The Tempest’ by Shakespeare.