By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 70

It was a nice day. All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn't been invented yet. But clouds massing east of Eden suggested that the first thunderstorm was on its way, and it was going to be a big one. "Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous. Do not attempt it in your own home, and remember, all tapes left in a car for more than about a fortnight metamorphose into Best of Queen albums." (1)

The month of June passed quickly.  Dexter was getting used to his new body and was noticeably proud of himself.  He seemed to work twice as hard to be Bobby’s big brother and teacher.  Bobby was soaking up information at an amazing rate.  The lummox milk he had available to him seemed to increase his IQ and learning potential by a large factor.  Dexter began to copy Shane’s mannerisms and speech patterns until, people who didn’t know him when introduced for the first time, were convinced he was Shane’s son.  Their assumption would make Dexter quite proud.  He felt like he was being included and was being taken more seriously.  The men would ask his opinion more often about things.  Dexter and Rocky bonded and became close friends.  

Monty and Maxine practiced their flying one afternoon in the meadow that conjoined the back part of the ranch to the newer portion of the Crandall ranch.  Shane declared the afternoon a holiday.  Many of the newer cowboys didn’t know of Monty’s other talents, and when they were told he and his buddy Maxine were going to fly, they thought they were having smoke blown up their butts; they thought they were the brunt of the new-guys initiations; but, when Monty walked from his quarters wearing only his handsome buckaroo boots with a beautiful pair of wings on his back and Maxine followed close behind  with a beautiful pair of black wings with white tips, they began to wonder.  Monty added the white tips as an accent to the rest of Maxine’s markings.  It gave her wings a special touch, sort of like racing stipes on a fast car or airplane.  Monty remembered a set of old leather flying caps someone left in the antique double-winged airplane in the barn and a couple of pair of goggles.  One set, which Dexter used to play with must have been made for a child because they were much smaller than the set which fit Monty.  They were so old, some of the straps were broken.  Monty made new ones in his leather shop and restored everything to mint condition.

Maxine’s little cap and goggles fit her perfectly, and they wore matching forest green silk scarves Estelle Potter made and gave them for their first official flight.  The dark-brown leather aviator caps and brass goggles added a delightfully retro-steampunk realism to their new hobby which was given the cognomen "The Full Monty Polaris and Lady Maxine Flying Circus."  Boss Potter and Angus Goodnight thought it was all very amusing and laughed a lot.  Together, Monty and Maxine looked like something out of a super heroes' comic book: The Birdman of Mars and his faithful companion, Maxine, the Super Bird-dog. 
They took off together.  Monty was worried Maxine might not remember how to fly.  It had been sometime, but she did fine.  She took off a little ahead of Monty and was airborne before he could caution her about a few things.  He ran behind her unfolding his wings and with two large flaps he was sailing right behind her into the warm currents and updrafts.  The cowboys were speechless.   Maxine wasn't sure she was going to like the goggles at first, but now she was in the air, they made a lot of sense.  Her eyes weren’t watering like they were before.  She sent a message to her companion.

<< Thank’s for the eye-wear, big brother.  They keep my eyes from crying. >>

<< I thought you might like them once you got going.  You look quite lovely with your cap and scarf, dearheart. >>  Monty sent to her.   

They sailed and sailed around the meadow.  They weren’t in any hurry, they were just practicing for the following weekend when they were to be special guests of Darryl, the major impresario of three worlds, at the Mars Port Lodge.  Captain Shane was taking Dexter, Rocky, Cody and Pearl to meet professor Wankle.  Monty already had his workers working on six more smaller bodies.  Secret request began to come in from friends, they would be willing and proud to host a couple of young bio-droids.  Shane always stressed they were to be treated as freemen and ladies.  They were not servants or work slaves.  Everyone seemed to understand.  Cody and Pearl were good advertisement’s for the program.  They were welcomed and loved everywhere they went.  Monty and Maxine flew several loops and they could hear the men on the ground responding with applause.  Monty didn’t want to fly too much the first day and overly tire themselves.  He instructed Maxine to come in for a landing.  He thought she might have trouble, but once again, she surprised him.  Monty quickly learned, it’s easier to land on four legs than two.  Everyone was full of compliments and pats on the back.  Shane gave them both a big hug and a kiss.  

“I’ve got to try that, Son.  Do you think you can give me a pair of wings for a while?” he asked.

“I’d be happy to, Master Shane, but I must have your genetic information on file.  Unfortunately, we’ve not been close enough since I came to the ranch.” he smiled.  Shane grinned at him.

“I guess I been neglecting my duties as yore’ master, ain’t I?” he smiled.

“Not a bit, Captain.  I know you been busy, and you got yore’ pa to take care of.”

“What’s the best way to get my information, Son?”

“Body fluids, sweat, urine, semen or blood.  Even a good wet kiss would do fine, Sir.”   

“In the interest of saving time, how’s ‘bout a big ole sloppy buckaroo kiss from yore’ master?” Shane took Monty into his massive arms and planted a kiss on him that had the cowboy slaves wetting their Wranglers.  They kissed for a couple of minutes.

“That ought a’ do it, Sir.” said Monty trying to get his breath.  It was a moving experience for him.  It certainly made his cock want to crow.  Jimmy Joe Russell laughed at him.

“How do you know that was good enough to get my info, Son?” Shane asked.  Monty looked at him, grinned, then morphed into a perfect copy of Shane.  Everyone standing around began to laugh and applaud.

“I’d say you got it all.” Shane laughed. “What do I do now?”

“Come, let me help you off with your clothes.” Monty took Shane by the hand and led him into his quarters.  He paid a quick homage to his master’s boots and helped him off with them.  He helped Shane undress and helped him back on with his big boots.  Shane was wearing his new pair Monty gave him.  He wore them a lot lately.  Monty had him stand and went around behind him.  He passed his hands over Shane’s back and instantly a huge pair of beautiful wings grew from his back. 
They felt strong but lightweight.  For an extra added touch Monty made them a beautiful golden color.  They were stunningly beautiful.  When the two walked out everyone went crazy.”

“My little brother, from slave to angel.” Angus muttered to himself.  He didn’t think anyone heard him.

“You jes’ now realizing that, Son?” Boss Potter laughed.  “Thank God, I was the first to know him for what he really is.  I wouldn’t be alive today if I hadn’t.” he told Angus.  Angus never heard the story of Shane healing Boss Potter’s prostate cancer.  He was impressed.  Everyone went crazy trying to get close to Shane, touch his wings and still show him respect.

“What about you, Foreman Jenkins?  You wanna’ fly with yore' master?” Monty asked.

“Thanks, Son, but if God wanted man to fly he would a’ given him wings.”  Said the older stoic cowboy.

“God’s busy, Sir, he sent me to gift you with a pair if you want.” Monty said respectfully.

“I’d love to fly with you, Scout?” spoke Ramrod Russell.

“Come, master let’s us git chore’ clothes off.” Monty took him by the hand and returned a few minutes later with a bewinged ramrod.  To show his ramrod his affection for him he made Jimmy Joe's wings a bright silver color.  He looked like a cowboy archangel.  Jimmy Joe looked better than he ever did in his life.  He looked resplendent with his wings.  Shane was already running, trying out his wings and doing some short lifts and landings.  Jimmy Joe joined him.  They looked like two fledglings learning to fly.  Suddenly Shane decided he had to make an attempt.  He began to do some hard flapping of his wings like he saw Monty and Maxine.  Monty took off right behind him to encourage him.  Pretty soon Maxine joined them and they taught him how to save his strength and rest by using the upward lift of the warm air currents.  Monty returned for his ramrod.   Jimmy Joe was just about to get the hang of it.

“Take my hand, Master, and I will take you up for your first time.”  Monty looked directly into Jimmy Joe’s eyes which asked his mate to trust him.  Ramrod Russell would follow the young man off the highest cliff and never look back.  Jimmy Joe took Monty’s hand and began to pump his wings.  Monty tugged and pulled like a larger plane lifting a glider into the air and Jimmy Joe began to flap his wings.  They were airborne in no time.  Monty taught his ramrod how to sail the updrafts of warm air.  They sailed together for an hour or more.  The men were flabbergasted their bosses were in the air flying around like a flock of angels.  A flock of angels?  Was that right?  Monty wondered.  He knew about a murder of crows, a parliament of owls, an ostentation of peacocks, an unkindness of ravens, a covey of quail, a gaggle of geese, a fall of woodcock, a pitying of turtle doves, a cast of hawks, a racket of Jays, a glee of Canaries, a nattering of grackles, a tart of black birds, a full moon of Mockers, a parade of Penguins, a parley of Parrots, a scantling of Sparrows, a stand of Eagles— oh, yes— and a stomping of Bigfeet, but what was a gathering of angels to be called?  Was the old spiritual right?  ‘I looked over Jordan and what did I see?  A band of angels come’n after me.’  Somehow, Monty didn’t see himself as a member of a band.  The men and Maxine came in for a landing.  They were better at it than Monty his first time up that day.  Maxine landed a little beyond them and came running back to Monty.

“That was so great, Monty.  We’re gonna’ wow them folks at Mars Port.” she wiggled all over from her excitement.

“I hope so, little Sister.  I’m looking forward to it.” he said enthusiastically.

They were booked into the Mars Port Lodge the following weekend which would be the last weekend in June.  Word leaked out the amazing Montana and his companion, Lady Maxine the wonder dog, would be flying with the winged horses for four shows in two days.  The Lodge and the new Hotel were booked solid.  A room or suite was not to be had at any price.  Darryl made sure a good share of the suites and rooms were made available for members of the Grange.  It would be the Ongs first trip to Mars and they were excited.  They were shown videos of Monty’s rescue of Maxine on Mars, but they never saw them fly in person.  Everyone in the Ong family wanted to go including the elder Ongs.  They were beginning to feel the positive effects of the longshot and were acting like two young lovers.  Their children were amused but pleased.  The family was warned, while visiting among the animals, nudity was a necessary tradition and in keeping with that tradition Monty would be flying in the raw.  They seemed to have no problem with it.

* * * * * * *
The big day came and arrangements were made for Jimmy Joe to get away for the weekend with his partner.  Cody and Pearl invited their Uncle Angus and Auntie Jean to go along with them to meet professor Wankle.  Angus was just going to let them go with Shane, but they seemed wary about meeting the professor and insisted Angus and Jean be with them.  Shane thought it was a good idea and urged them to come along.  The young bio-droids bonded with  their new family and were comfortable with Angus and Jean.  They looked upon them as surrogate parents.  If they had a problem or wanted to talk about something personal they knew they could discuss anything with them.  Shane loaned Phil Pie and Eli Stone to Angus to keep watch on his ranch and cowboy slaves for the weekend.  Shane left his slave daddies, Bart and Telly, in charge of their ranch.  Monty wanted to take them with him and Jimmy Joe, but Shane needed them at the ranch.  He promised Monty he would let them go another weekend with him and Jimmy Joe.
Monty and Maxine had great fun flying with the winged horses, and they looked wonderful with their flying caps, goggles and green scarves trailing behind them in the wake of their flight.  They flew in the mornings after breakfast and in the early evenings before supper.  Their flights were videoed and a feed was sent all over Mars and Venus.  Sales of their action figures went off the charts.  They became the toast of Mars and couldn’t go anywhere without being mobbed by well wishers and autograph seekers.  Ramrod Russell, Rocky and Dexter became bodyguards for Monty and Maxine to keep them from being crushed by rabid fans.

The first afternoon Captain Shane, Cole, Angus, Jean, Monty, Jimmy Joe, Admiral Long, Captain Waco, Captain Vinceeth, the Coyote Cowboys, Gil Morris and Bobby took Dexter, Cody, Pearl and Rocky to visit professor Wankle.  He had no clue the two young children, one young adult, and one mature man were bio-droids, within which, housed three of the brains of the bladder whales.  He was dumbfounded.  He couldn’t get over the perfection of the four bio-droids.  Monty had to explain about Dexter being his childhood companion but wasn’t sure Wankle was comprehending what he was telling him.  He couldn’t get past how much Dexter looked like a young Captain Shane.  He thought they had to be related.  Monty couldn’t quite explain to him he designed Dexter to look like his master.  Wankle was further preoccupied with Cody, Pearl and Rocky; particularly, Rocky.  Rocky took to dressing like his celluloid look alike and namesake.  He looked for all the world like Rocky Lane, the cowboy, and sounded like him, too.  Wankle remembered the names of the three bladder whales and kept calling them by their whale names.  Rocky gently reminded him they decided to take on new names, and while he couldn’t speak for Cody and Pearl, he would appreciate it if professor Wankle would call him ‘Rocky.’  

“Of course, of course!  I meant no harm or disrespect.  Sorry.” he said then asked, “May I examine you?”

“Shore.’” Rocky said, “But let’s do it later when there ain’t so many folks around and Monty and Ramrod Russell can come with me.  You don’t need to examine Cody and Pearl.  They’s just like me to the last detail; only their appearance is different.” Rocky sounded firm in his comment.  Shane looked at Angus and grinned.  They noticed Cody and Pearl looked at Rocky like he was their hero.  It was plain to see they didn’t look forward to being examined by the professor.  It was the first time Shane could remember Rocky asserting himself to any degree about anything.  He was the most accommodating, gentle, genteel, and unassuming of the three whale brain bio-droids, but always ready to learn and to do his job of protection for his small group.  They noticed Cody and Pearl moved to Rocky’s side and each took a hand in solidarity.  

“We’ll come with you if you like, big brother.” Cody told him.  It was like they didn’t want him to go through a Wankle inspection by himself.

“If your parents don’t mind, I’d be happy for you to come with me.” Rocky replied.

As Cody, Pearl, Rocky and Dexter went to visit the rest of the whale brains, Shane and Monty explained they had six more children’s bodies ready to accept whale brains.  Wankle couldn’t understand why they would bother with children’s bodies.  Shane patiently explained how he thought it might be best if they had adjustment periods just like humans or whales as they grew up and matured.  Cody and Pearl would spend several years as children learning slowly to live as any human child and then be transferred to bodies more like Dexter’s to live several years as adolescents.  Then they would graduate to mature bodies.   

“What about Rocky?” Wankle challenged.

“I think we got lucky.  We already had his body ready when you released the three brains to us.  Rocky is a special case, but we may find others who are like him and can comfortably adjust to an adult body; however, for right now, we’re going with our plan.” Shane explained.  He and Angus could see the professor was withdrawing his cooperation.  When Shane told him the number of brains they would like to take back with them he balked.

“No, that won’t be possible.  I don’t have that many ready.” he complained.  Everyone was dumbfounded by his statement.  There was a great silence.   Delfee McNair, his niece was shocked by her uncle.  Darryl was noticeably embarrassed.  Shane didn’t know what to say.  Monty kept his mouth shut.  Admiral Long walked over and put his arm around the professor.

“Come, professor, walk with me.  Show me the rest of your lab.” he smiled to him.  There was no doubt in anyone’s mind they would get the brains they wanted.  Dexter, Cody, Pearl and Rocky were noticeably depressed.  Wankle did nothing to hook the brains up to outside stimulus.  He had plenty of equipment provided for him.  Lazarus and Charlie outfitted his lab handsomely.  He had all the latest equipment, he just didn’t understand how to use it to interface with the brains to get them up and running.  The bio-droids could communicate with their brothers and sister mentally, and they knew they were miserable.  They all wanted to go with Monty and Captain Shane.  They begged Dexter, Cody, Pearl and Rocky not to leave anyone behind.  They were about to go crazy.

At least on the surface of Venus they could occasionally sing with their relatives as they passed over them, but here they only had each other and needed more stimulus.
  Monty could hear and could communicate with them.  He told them he felt he could work with Delfee McNair and Darryl and perhaps even teach the professor how to interface with them.  He wasn’t sure Admiral Long was going to be able to get more than the rest of the young whale brains and maybe a couple of mature ones.  That would probably only amount to about eight, but he would do his best to see they got hooked up to the intelligence on Mars and had free access to all resources of robo-cams and feeds through Kyron and several other of the intelligences on the Bandersnatch.  They could be in constant contact with their brothers and sisters.  A great cheer went up for Monty among the remaining brains.

<< I promise you, I will not let you go another week without some intervention.  I know my master to be a good and kind man.  He will want me to see to your well being. >> Monty reassured them.  

Lazarus was a silver tongued devil.  If there really was such a thing as the Devil, Shane was quite sure Lazarus could con Old Nick into selling him his soul.  He confided in Angus, Cole and Monty, he would give the Admiral thirty minutes alone with the lord of darkness and Lazarus would not only own the Devil’s soul, he would have him paying homage to his boots and thanking him for buying it.  So it was with the professor.  In about thirty minutes time, Lazarus had Wankle eating out of his hand.  No one knew what they talked about, what was agreed upon, what concessions were made, but it really wasn’t important.  The details didn’t matter.  Wankle seemed happy and placated.  What was important was the rescue of the poor, stagnant brains.  Monty was able to project to them mental images of Dexter, Cody, Pearl and Rocky.  They ‘ooohed’ and ‘ahhhed’ at the perfection and capabilities of the bio-droids.  Many made weeping sounds like they were crying from joy for their brothers and little sister.  Cody, Pearl and Rocky couldn’t stress how happy and comfortable they were in their new bodies and knew they would be pleased with theirs.

At the end of their rescue operations on the surface of Venus, Lazarus and his crew took twenty-five brains.  Monty took three and that left twenty-two.  Somehow, Lazarus talked Wankle into letting go of half the remaining brains.  Wankle would only have eleven brains left in his care, but Lazarus promised he would become a processing depot and pre-learning center for the new brains.  Lazarus foresaw a large colony of bio-droids doing many task ordinary Venusian or humans would find monotonous or repetitious.  He also foresaw a self-sustaining work force that could create a world for themselves if they wished.  He saw it as a beginning of a new race of people in the universe.  A new race who would have no appeal to the grays or reptiles unless they evolved and developed a taste for silicon and bio-synthetics.  The only problem he foresaw was losing several to the Daleks who might try to back engineer them.  He saw that as a futile task.  Monty’s lab critters and workers were so much further advanced it would be like the first day of school for “them infernal machines” as Lazarus referred to them.  He only hoped they wouldn’t become unbalanced again, begin to feel threatened, allow their hatred to grow and develop the idea if they ‘exterminated’ the new kids on the block, it would do away with the competition.  (Lazarus saw them as the human equivalent of corporate Republican elite with their sprawlmarts.)  The bio-droids were not their concern.  Monty was their competition.  As special as he was, they would surely see him as an evil Time Lord whom they must EX-TER-MI-NATE with extreme prejudice.  Lazarus pledged to himself he would protect Monty with his last breath.  Lazarus spoke privately with Rocky, Shane and Monty later.

“You don’t have to go through his inspection if you don’t want to, Son.” he told Rocky.

“I will if you think it will help, Admiral, but I’d rather my little brother and sister not be subjected to his inspection.”

“We noticed a feeling of resentment toward professor Wankle.  Would you care to share your feelings with us, Rocky?” Captain Shane asked him.

“We lost faith in him.  He would tell us he was doing something for us when in reality he would do nothing.  He hasn’t done anything for our brothers and sisters who remained with him.  We think he doesn’t know how to use the technology he’s been provided.  There’s computers he was provided that have never been removed from their boxes.  He couldn’t communicate with our brothers and sisters like you men can and they were kept in the dark, so to speak.  They only had themselves and since they could see nothing, they lived in blindness and fear.  They needed reassurance he never gave them.  Yes, we feel fear and a certain amount of resentment toward him.”

“We plan to change that.  We will bring in several technicians who will assist him.  They will get the program running as we hoped it would from the beginning.  We never meant to cut off access to the outside world for any of you.  The equipment is here.  It just ain’t being utilized.  He don’t know how to use it.  He’s from a different era.  We’ll see to it he retains his position, but he will become more of a figure head in a managerial position.  We will also bring Miss McNair along to take over the main management.  She’s bright and can keep him in check.  In the meantime, I’d rather you not submit to his inspection.  I’ll take care of it.  Not to worry, Son.”

“Thank you, Admiral.  I know Cody and Pearl will be pleased.  We’re also pleased to know eleven more of our brothers and sisters will be coming with us, but what about those left behind?”

“They will be connected before we leave.  We have the Coyote Cowboys who are prodigies when it comes to interfacing computers.  Monty can show them what he wants.  Ping, Pong, Jack and Jill are with us and can supervise them and help connect them.  We plan to apprentice a number of the resident Langerian on Mars to work in the labs here.  We think they can be of great help and learn as they go.  It won’t take long to have the other eleven wired and surfing our intelligences and the nets as they please.  There will be a few restrictions about communicating within our public webs, but we trust them to not expose themselves.  Ping will make sure their surfing won’t be detected or traced.  They will also be able to see their surroundings and what’s going on in our world.  They will be able to see Monty and Maxine fly tomorrow.”

“Thank you, Admiral.  You have no idea how much your help will be appreciated.” Rocky said with appreciation.

“I think I do, Son.  I wouldn’t like to be trapped in a dark place even if I could converse with my fellow prisoners.”

The rest of the weekend went quickly and by their last flight Sunday afternoon, there were throngs of people from the colonies, Mars Port and Venus who came through the gates for Monty and Maxine’s final flight.  They developed a wonderful relationship with the winged horses.  Monty was unable to hear and speak with them his previous trip, but now he could, and they became close friends.  Everyone could tell they bonded and flew as one large group with affection and respect for each other.  It was spectacular to behold and no one wanted to see them stop.  They flew around and around the basin to the cheers of their fans.  Monty had a tendency to be somewhat of a daredevil showoff and would end his flight by flying almost to the apex of the ceiling of the cave, then stalling in flight, allowing himself to tumble over and over like he saw a flock of pigeons called ‘rollers’ do.  Just before he reached the floor of the savanna he would spread his wings and soar out of his death roll to the yells and applause of the audience.  

“He sure knows how to milk a crowd.” Darryl said to Shane and Cole then grinned real big like he could count the money rolling in.  He was right.  The visit by Monty and Maxine to Mars Port pumped in millions for both of them.  Darryl was not a selfish man.  He made sure his entertainment properties, as he called them, were handsomely paid and shared in the wealth.  It also increased his personal fortune considerably.  Not surprisingly, he did many wonderful, charitable things with his money.  He was wise in many ways.  He could see the end coming on Earth and when it did, he had every intentions of throwing his lot in with the humans who gave him such a wonderful opportunity.  He and Delfee were very much in love, and she agreed to go with him.  At supper that evening on the balcony at the Mars Port Lodge restaurant, in the dimming light, a delegation of flying horses flew up to the landing area to say goodbye and wish Monty and Maxine well.  Among them was their old friend Brilliante, his mate and their new colt.  He was just barely flying, and he was so cute everyone stopped to watch.  The big stallion bowed to Monty and sent him a message.

<< Most honorable and respected friend, my mate and I ask your permission to name our first born after you.  We would be proud to call him Montana. >>  Monty was so moved he got tears in his eyes.

<< I would be proud and pleased, good friend.  Thank you for such a great honor. >>  Monty went to the colt, got down to his level and gave him a hug and a kiss.  The crowd went crazy.  They turned and flew off into the mist of evening to their nesting grounds high on an opposite cliff.  

Monty and Maxine were physically tired as they made their way back to the gate to return to the Bandersnatch and home.  Last minute fans wanted autographs.  Someone had a stamp pad for Maxine to put her paw on and then make a print on a card or piece of paper.  She did it several times, but it was a hassle to clean her little paw each time, Monty drew the line and started adding her name with his to his autographs.  They managed to get back through the gates and home.  Monty and Maxine were exhausted.  They said their goodbyes to each other, Maxine ran for her house and Ramrod Russell walked his partner back to his quarters.  He was going to stay the night with Monty.  Angus, Jean and the kids were going back to their ranch.  Jimmy Joe and Monty were alone as they walked through the meadows.  They watched a female coyote with her four pups following her.  She was out teaching them to hunt.  Monty send a message.

<< They grow so fast, little sister. >> the coyote stopped and looked right at Monty and Jimmy Joe.

<< Faster and stronger every day.  Is that you, Monty? >> she returned.

<< Yes, Criga.  You look well.  I hope you’re staying away from traps. >> he said with a smile.

<< Won’t go near one.  Teaching young four-legs not to go near them no matter how hungry they might be. >>

<< Wise mother. >> Monty said as he waved goodnight to her.  Jimmy Joe looked at him and grinned.

“Friend of yours, Son?” he smiled.

“It’s Criga, the female coyote I saved from the trap.  She’s out teaching her pups to hunt.”

“My, God, I never counted on you being so...”  Jimmy Joe stopped.

“Unusual?” Monty tried to help him.

“No, that ain’t it.  Complex, maybe, multi-talented.”

While they walked a Mockingbird flew down and landed on Monty’s shoulder.

“An how are you this fine evening, Percival?” he asked out loud.

<< Tolerable, Monty.  Right tolerable.  Thanks for asking, and you? >> the bird projected to him.

“Better than fine, little pal, I got my love to feather my nest with me tonight.” Monty smiled, took Jimmy Joe’s hand and gently squeezed it, “Tonight’s a full moon.  You out singing for a mate?” he smiled at the bird.

<< Yeah, I got me a nice one lined up.  I’m in fine voice, tonight.  She won’t be able to resist me. >> he bragged puffing his little chest out and giving forth with a couple of impossible mellifluous melismas.  He was really quite good...and very loud.

“Do me a favor, old friend, and sing in them trees down yonder by the other barn or the large stand South of my quarters.  While I truly love your songs, and you have such a fine voice, the power of your singing kept me awake for hours the last full moon.”

<< Sorry, brother.  You should have said something.  Will do.  The old barn it is.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  Peace and love to you, friend. >> he flew off toward the other old barn.

Lastly, a small squirrel ran up to Monty, climbed his leg to his shoulder, then scurried inside and down the front of his western shirt.

“Now this it getting to be too much.” laughed Jimmy Joe. “You git out a’ there.  He’s mine tonight, and I ain’t share’n him with no fuzzy tailed Disney reject.” Jimmy Joe laughed.  About that time a red tail hawk flew over their heads and perched on a tall fence post.

<< Get me to cover, big brother.  He wants me for his supper. >> Monty heard in his head.

“Okay, but stay still.  Your little claws tickle.” he spoke to Jasper the squirrel.  Monty told Jimmy Joe what he said and they laughed.  When they got to the barn Monty gave Jasper the all clear sign.  He poked his head out the front of Monty’s shirt, looked both ways and ran down the front of Monty’s clothes.

<< Thanks, big bro!  Won’t forget your kindness. >> he sent as he scurried off to the protection of some bushes.

“Is this the way it's gonna' be between us, slave?” Jimmy Joe smiled at him.  “Damn, it’s like I’m dating Snow White and I have to share you with all of nature.  You make yore’ own dwarfs and always got a chorus of cute critters crawling all over you.  I’m surprised they don’t fly in and help you dress in the mornings.” he grinned.

“They do when you ain’t here.”  Monty laughed, “Sorry, Master.  They’s just friends of mine.  I promise, I’m all yours for the rest of the evening.” Monty assured him.  Jimmy Joe threw back his handsome head and laughed.  

“I can’t imagine you any other way, boy.  A man what’s loved by so many critters can’t be all bad.” he chuckled.

“Would you like something special this evening, Ramrod?” Monty teased.

“If you feel like giving it to me.”

“Yes, this evening, more than ever.  Sort of a celebration. ‘Sides you’s s’damn good, I dream about you sleeping inside me when we’s apart.” Monty confided.

“Gees, we been together, what, three months, and I sometimes wonder how I ever lived so long without you, Son.  I’d enjoy sleeping inside you tonight.  When you told me you made yourself something extra what was you talking about?”

“I positioned my clit almost inside my cunt so’s yore’ fine cowboy shaft rubs against it with ever’ stroke, and I increased my internal nerve endings by a third more than a regular female has.  I can reach a climax either way.  I can reach multiple orgasms when you’s fuck’n me what are as powerful as the one’s what come out ma’ dick.  I’m so sensitive inside I can feel your come as it flows.  It’s like I got a hot volcano erupting inside me, and I climax ever’ damn time.”
“Damnation, boy!  You got me all hot and bothered jes’ talk’n about it.  I think we could both use a little relaxation.”

Monty and Jimmy Joe spent a wonderful night making love and enjoying each other's company.  They were up early the next morning as nurse Jenny had several patients for Doc Monty to see.  Monty got up, got him and his master a cup of coffee and began his day.  It was going to be a busy Monday because the eleven whale brains would be delivered that morning and Monty would be busy with them almost half the day.  There were only four patients to see that morning and their health problems were small.  One large terrapin came up from the creek.  She somehow managed to get an old fish hook lodged in her neck.  Monty quickly removed it, healed her, and sent her on her way.  She was very grateful.  Monty closed up his quarters and he and Jimmy Joe started their long walk up through the two meadows.  It was a repeat of the previous evening.  Critters came from all around to wish him and Jimmy Joe a good morning.  Jimmy Joe thought it was hilarious.  They had a great breakfast.  Everyone was in a good mood and refreshed from their weekend away from the ranch.  After breakfast Monty and Jimmy Joe said their goodbyes and walked down to the other barn so Monty could see his partner off through the gate.  Monty was going through the gate to sickbay.  The delivery of the brains were to be left with Cable and his men to check out before Monty took charge.  He was to meet Master Waco and Lucas there.  They would help him transport them back to his workrooms.  Jimmy Joe took Monty into his arms and gently kissed him.

“I’m proud of you, boy.  I had one of the finest weekends of my life with you.  For all your talents and popularity you never let it come before your love for me.  I appreciate that.  H’it’s hard not to love you, Monty.”

“That’s good to hear, Ramrod.  I wan’t you to love me, because I love you, Master Jimmy Joe.”

“My age don’t bother you none?” he asked.

“Yes, Sir, it bothers me a whole hell of a’ lot.  Ever’ damn time I think on you and how mature and experienced a lover you are the harder ma’ dick gits.  When I think on yore' fine, mature, chiseled, cowboy body, lying next to mine with your prime, aged buckaroo beef inside me, I have ta’ drop ever’ thing I’m doing and go jack off; sometimes two or three times a day.  Yes, it bothers me a lot, but I wouldn't have it no other way.  I look forward to many more good times together.  I’ll just tell them critters we’s family; love me love my master.” he smiled, they stole another quick kiss, Jimmy Joe stepped through the gate and was gone.   Monty’s heart didn’t sink quite as far as before.  He knew he would see his ramrod again soon.  Angus was being very generous with them, and he faithfully made another payment on his boots once a month.  Monty reset the gate to sickbay on the Bandersnatch and stepped through.

* * * * * * *

Boss Potter, Shane, Cole, Gil Morris, Bobby, Rocky and Dexter were still sitting around talking.  School was out for Bobby and he and Dexter wouldn’t take up daily lessons again until the fall, but Dexter planned to make sure Bobby learned a lot of other things.  Shane began to take him and Rocky more into his confidence.  Since he got his new body, Dexter and Shane grew much closer.  He went with Shane and Cole everywhere.  Shane knew he could tell Dexter anything, and he would never betray his trust.  Dexter was growing up and became a big help to everyone.  Before the men discussed anything about Monty they made sure they were all on the same page.  Shane discussed with Dexter and Rocky Shanna Ruggles was pregnant with Monty’s son.  Dexter wasn’t surprised.  Rocky was just beginning to understand human reproduction and saw it as a natural discourse of their having sex.  The men discussed it that morning after Monty left.

“We ain’t resolved nothing about what we’re gonna’ do about Monty’s son, bossman.” said Shane. “Shanna’s only got about four weeks left on her pregnancy.  Ping’s approached her by computer.  She’s tried to talk sense with her without telling her too much.  She even asked Shanna to join us, but she didn’t feel like she can turn her back on her religious upbringing.  Ping is certain her old man plans to sell her baby to that phony genius baby program the government is using to get more food for their reptilian overlords.”

“I won’t let that happen.” said Boss Potter, “We got an injunction ready to go to protect your property rights, Son.  There’s always the chance he might try to hide her, but we got robo-cams on her.  They’ll give us an exact readout on where she is at all times.  He’d have a difficult time getting away with it.  I could talk to Anderson and have her ordered into custody the last two weeks of her pregnancy, but you never know what might happen.  Because she’s under a good deal of stress, she could have the baby prematurely.  I think the best thing to do would be to serve her and her daddy with the injunction which states the baby is to be taken away from her at birth and becomes your property.  We could have the process server warn him if he tries anything funny, he might be looking at slavery himself.  Of course, with his money he might think he can buffalo his way around anything.”

Everyone thought the last idea would be best, so that week, Boss Potter paid Deputy Douglas Tin Penny and his younger brother Brody to serve the papers to Shanna Ruggles.  Old man Ruggles was hopping mad, but he didn’t challenge the deputies.  It was obvious he didn’t know about slave laws and didn’t see this one coming.  The officers explained it to him.  It made sense, but he didn’t like it one bit.  He didn’t like anyone telling him what to do.  He told others what to do all his sorry life, and he just couldn’t understand how this was happening to him.  Douglas spoke for both the deputies and warned Ruggles if he tried to hide his daughter he could be facing kidnaping charges of Master Shane Goodnight’s slave and theft of his property.  He would be facing no less than a thirty years sentence which would make him a mandatory slave for life.  They explained these things to Shanna as well so her daddy couldn’t put a spin on it to make her do what he wanted.

“Does that mean my baby will be with his father?” she asked.

“We can’t tell you, ma’am, we jes’ don’t know, but there’s every likelihood he probably will be.  While Master Goodnight is a strict and demanding business man, we also know him to be kind hearted, compassionate, and generous.” Doug said.

“Like hell he is!” exclaimed Charlie Ruggles. “What kind of a monster would take a mother’s baby away from her to be a slave for life.”

“The same kind of monster what would sell the baby to the government’s phony baby genius program; the same kind of monster what would prosecute a young man on spurious charges for loving his daughter and having her baby's father sold into slavery.” Brodey said to him without nuance.  Ruggles just snorted.
“How do you know the government’s program is phony?” he challenged.

“We’re lawmen, Mr. Ruggles, we know a lot of things regular citizens don’t.” confirmed Douglas.

“He’s right, Daddy, I been reading about it on the Internet.  I won’t let you sell my baby to the government.  I’d rather Master Goodnight have him, and he can grow up near his father.  It’s the least I can do for Monty to repay him for what you done to him.”   

“Hesh, up, girl!  We done been over it a hun'nert times or more.  You know'd I done it for your best interest.  I done it 'cause I love you.” he insisted.

“No, you didn't.  Love or caring about what I wanted had nothing to do with it.  You did it to control me like you've done all my life.  I'm old enough to make my own decisions, but obviously you don't think so.  When it’s all over, I’m leaving here, Dad.  I don’t care where I have to go or what I have to do to survive, but you will never see me again.  What you did to me and Monty was wrong.  I don’t care what you say.  You didn’t do it for me.  You did it for yourself.  You use your religion to hurt people.  You’re full of darkness and lies and all your praying won't make you a better man.  I will never forgive you for what you’ve done.”

Ruggles looked defeated.  Deputies Doug and Brodey Tin Penny were gracious enough, said their farewells and left.  Shanna went to her room and shut the door.  She refused to answer when her dad came to tell her why she was wrong and how things were going to be.  She didn’t care to hear another word from him.  She didn’t come out until her mother came to get her for supper.  She refused and said she would never sit at a table with her father again.  Her mother brought her a tray later.  The next day Charlie Ruggles phoned the Potter/Goodnight ranch and insisted on talking with Shane Goodnight himself.  Boss Potter took the call and told him he represented Mr. Goodnight, and he could talk with him.  Mr. Goodnight was busy at the moment and couldn’t drop what he was doing just to talk with him.  Ruggles was silent for a moment and figured Potter was as far as he was going to get.  

“What the hell does he think he’s doing, taking my grandson away from his mother and his grandparents?” Ruggles demanded.

“He’s exercising his legal rights.  You should have thought about it before you insisted Montana Dundee be made a slave because of your narrowminded religious beliefs.  Be sure your sins will find you out, Mr. Ruggles.  Ain’t that one of you Christianist favorite scriptures you go ‘round spouting?  Thanks to you, Monty Dundee is now a slave, but by law that automatically makes his son a slave for life even if his father is later granted manumission.  So your action has condemned an innocent child to a lifetime of slavery even though his dad may someday become a freeman again.”

“I’ll contest it.  You ain’t got no proof that Dundee boy is his daddy.” Ruggles challenged.

“I can have a test ordered before the week is out, if you like, but your daughter’s already signed a statement Monty Dundee is the father of her baby.  It’s in the court records.  Unless you have some other information that your daughter slept around and want to challenge the current records, I’ll be happy to order a parental DNA test for the child.”

“No, no, that won’t be necessary.  I concede, the baby is Dundee’s.  I know my daughter.  She ain’t a loose woman.  Is there a deal we could make?  I’ll buy the baby’s freedom.  I got money.  Tell him to name his price.  I’m in danger of losing my whole family over this, Potter.  I hear’d tell Shane Goodnight is a respected slave owner; he’s a kind, generous and good hearted man.  Surely he can understand my position.”

“I assure you, Mr. Ruggles, he understands your position better than anyone.  He was a slave himself for ten years.  He has his own reasons for wanting the baby which I’m not at liberty to discuss.  I’m sorry for you and your daughter, Mr. Ruggles, but I’ve discussed this matter at length with my foreman, and I’m afraid you don’t have enough money to buy the child’s freedom.  He won’t consider selling the baby at any price.  The baby is to be brought up within our ranch family, and because of your regrettable actions, will be a slave all his life.  Now, Mr. Goodnight may agree to sell the boy to his father if and when he’s emancipated, but that’s between him and his slave.  It hasn’t been discussed yet.”
Ruggles flew off the handle, started cursing and calling Judge Potter all manner of names.  Potter hung up on him.  Ruggles called back in a few minutes, ate a major portion of humble pie and apologized.  Boss Potter forgave him and told him he understood why he might be upset.  He tried to assure him the boy would probably have as good a life as a slave under Shane Goodnight as he would with an unwed mother in Ruggles’ narrowminded religious world.  His mother would always be looked upon as a scarlet woman, and the boy would be considered a bastard.  Potter reminded Ruggles, as a slave, the boy wouldn’t have to live with such social and mental abuse.  Potter could hear Ruggles grinding his teeth in anger, but he knew the old Judge was right.  The boy would always live with a stigma of being a pariah or social outcast from his church group.

* * * * * * *

Waco, Lucas, Ox and Trey Vinceeth helped Monty get the new whale brains to his lab.  His workers were thrilled.  They had more work to do.  The six new children’s bodies had been completed for sometime and they were waiting for brains.  Shane and Monty decided the six new bodies would be given to the three remaining young whales and the remaining bodies to the three young adults.  Shane didn’t think it would hurt to have them learn to use smaller bodies and adapt to their new surroundings.  He wanted Monty’s workers to get started on four more adult bodies and the rest would be childrens’ bodies.  He wanted Monty to interact with the older brains to determine which should get the mature bodies.  Lucas and Waco spent most of the morning helping Monty hook up the five remaining brains to computers until they could be placed directly into bodies.  They worked for hours getting them on-line and able to see what was going on around them.  They seemed thrilled to be able to communicate with each other more freely and surf the Internet as they pleased to learn as much as they could about humans.

The four remaining young brains and two middle aged brains were placed immediately into the children sized bodies and were slowly learning to use their functions.  The workers fussed over them and helped them hour after hour with exercises, physically moving all parts of their bodies until they got the hang of it.  Naturally, the four younger brains learned quicker than the two older, but they were all in good spirits and took the task on as a team effort as they encouraged each other.  Of the four young brains, two were male and two were female.  The two older brains were a male and female.  So they were equally divided three males and three females.  It really didn’t matter too much their age difference in whale years, but the younger brains made a much quicker adjustment to their new bodies than the two older ones.  What to do with them became a problem.  Shane and Boss Potter really didn’t have any place to put them, and they needed supervision.  They decided to temporarily put them in one wing of the slave quarters.  The three boys would bunk together in one room and the girls in another.  They had one whole wing of the quarters to themselves and shared the bath facilities.  The two older cowboy’s who previously belonged to Gil Morris, Jack Hamil and Spence Gaether became their new Earth daddies.  They were two of Shane’s most trusted and unflappable lead cowboy slaves, and knew they would be like two mother hens for the new kids.  He was right.  He couldn’t have picked two better men to ride herd on the six new children.  They came to love and be loved by all the cowboys.  They became a part of the greater ranch family and had their chores to do just like everyone else.

* * * * * * *  

There was much joking and razing of Monty and his following of critters who would follow him everywhere around the ranch.  He made it a habit of carrying around a pocket full of peanuts and several various treats.  He got Bobby, Dexter, and Gil Morris to order him some meal worms and learned how to start growing them for food for certain birds.  He healed a male humming bird and another female hummer.  They were constantly riding on his shoulder somewhere.  When he set out under the large oak trees with his cowboy slave buddies and daddies for an evening, they would brazenly fly up to him to get treats.  The men were fascinated and soon the birds began to trust them as well.  Evenings outside the slave quarters looked like Blazing Saddles meets Bambi and Thumper.  One afternoon Shane, Cole, Boss Potter, and Gil joined the men for supper and walked out to sit and jaw with each other under the trees.  The critters were all upset because Monty wasn’t there to give them treats.  Some of the cowboys brought out some and they graciously accepted them.  They looked down into the lower pasture past Gil and Bobby’s house and there was Monty wearing only his buckaroo boots covered from head to knees with bees.

“What the fuck?!” exclaimed Shane.

“He’s been down there for a couple of hours.  He missed supper, but the cooks saved him some.” said Bart Swinson, “He says he’s giving them immunity against hive collapse disease microbactum and teaching their systems to produce toxins against the varroa mite.  They’re in love with him and wanna' make him their queen.” the men broke up laughing.  Nothing was sacred among the cowboys.  Bart realized what he said, but didn’t mean it the way they took it.  He grinned real big and added, “Come to think on it, Telly and me’s been talk’n ‘bout doing the same damn thing.” that really got the men laughing.  Gil was amazed.  He started walking down toward Monty.

“You be careful, Mr. Morris.” laughed Shane, “Monty’s got special healing powers, but you don’t.”

“They won’t hurt me.  I been working with them bees for ten years now.”

Gil got close enough to Monty to speak with him.  Monty told the bees to move away from his mouth so he could speak with Mr. Morris.
“How long you gotta’ let them crawl on you, Son?” he asked.

“Just a little longer.  They all hate the mites so they’re sucking up as much of the toxin from me as they can.  It won’t hurt 'em none, and it really ain't toxic to the varroa mite, but it makes them so weak they drop off the bees and die.  The toxin has a genetic component to teach their systems to produce the mite irritant.  It will make them happier and more comfortable.  Happy, comfortable bees make more and better honey.  Also their royal jelly will be twice as potent.  It will actually cure many diseases of the joints and skin in humans and mammals of all kinds.”

“I lost several hives from microbactum.  It would be so great for them to get rid of it.  I know they appreciate it, and so do I.” Gil assured him.

“I been meaning to git down here before now.  Several of them came looking for me and asked me kindly to come to the hives to see what I could do.  They promised they wouldn’t sting me and so far, not a one has.” Monty smiled and winked at Gil.  The bees started shifting to Gil.  It didn’t bother him.  He was used to them swarming on him.  They recognized him as their keeper and they respected him.  He didn’t rob them of all their hard work, and they didn’t mind sharing with the man who looked after and cared for them.  Before long he had almost as many bees on him as Monty.  He wiped some away from his mouth.

“I could swear they’re happier.  They’re buzzing at a slightly higher frequency.  I can tell how happy or healthy they are by the sound of their buzzing.”

“They are happier.  Notice they’re just a mite lighter?” Monty laughed at his pun.  Gil laughed with him.

“That was really bad, slave.  I ain’t never punished a slave before, but that demands a reprimand at least; at worst ma’ belt.” Gil grinned.

“Can I have both, Master Morris?” Monty giggled.  Gil roared with laughter.  The men up the hill wondered what they could be talking about.  Telly bet they was up to no good.  He was right.  Soon the bees thanked both men enough and began to return to their hives, but like humans there was a few stragglers who just had to say one last ‘goodbye.’  Gil walked up the hill next to his naked partner with his big cowboy arm loosely draped around Monty’s shoulder.  It was obvious to the men they shared a wonderful experience.

“What was all that fall-de-rall about down there?” Shane pressed.

“I told yore’ slave I’s gonna’ have to take my belt to him.” Gil grinned.

“What the hell's he done now?” Shane went along.

“Just a god–awful pun.” Gil stressed ‘god-awful.’

“You got my permission.” Shane laughed, “Ain’t no excuse for a bad pun.”

“H’it ain’t ‘cause it was bad.  It was damn good and funny, too, but he should be punished ‘cause he laughed at his own pun.” Gil laughed, then added, “Ain’t there a rule no slave can laugh at his own pun?”

“Absolutely, it’s a cardinal rule.  A slave what laughs at his own pun automatically git’s the belt.” said Shane in his best straight-faced cowboy bullshit persona, and the other cowboys agreed with him.  

One of the cooks hollered at Monty.  “We save you a plate, brother.”

“Thanks.  I’ll be right there.” Monty acknowledged.  He no sooner said that when Angus walked up to the crowd of men standing around Monty.  

“What the hell’s going on here?  Why’s this slave naked?  He ain’t being punished.  You’s all laughing ‘bout something when I walked up.”

“Well, yes and no, brother.” laughed Shane.  He’s being punished with our bullshit."  Angus walked up to Monty and shooed a blue bird off one shoulder and a hummer off the other.

“Damnation, boy!  You’s the only salve I ever done see'd what had to be de-critterized before I could give him a hug and a kiss.” Everyone laughed at the big cowboy.  “What they gonna’ do, Son, lynch you?”

“Naw, Sir, Master Angus, I hope not.  Come sit with me while I eat, and I’ll tell you about it.”

Monty led Angus by the hand to the slave quarters and set with him while he ate his supper.  The cowboys drew the line with critters in the bunkhouse, and they knew it.  They lined up outside to wait for their hero.  Angus came to make another installment payment on his boots.  He decided how he wanted them finished and brought Monty a picture of the official Goodnight cattle brand to use on each boot.  That night as they lay together talking quietly Monty asked about Coyote John.  It was the first time he asked anyone about him since the night Angus sent Monty to visit Coyote.  It was the second week in July and Monty knew his and Coyote’s baby slave period would be coming to an end in another two weeks.

“He’s doing better’n any of us expected, he learned real quick to control his bowels and piss and only had to have a handful of diaper changes.  Git chore’ master to tell you about the last time him and his pa come to shoe our ponies.  Coyote thought because Shane was with Cole he’s just another slave and asked him to change his diaper for him.” Angus laughed.

“My God!  What happened, Sir?” Monty grinned from ear to ear.

“What do you think?” Angus grinned.

“Knowing my master like I do, he let Coyote think he was a slave, took him off to clean him up and changed his diaper for him.”

“You know your master pert-damn well, slave.  That’s exactly what Shane done, but when Coyote found out he was your master, I think it really brought him down a notch.  He felt bad for a couple of days.  Anyway, he’s been servicing his cowboy slave brothers and been performing satisfactorily for me and ma’ ramrod, but it’s like his heart ain’t in it.  Maybe we’re reading too much into it because it’s Coyote, but it’s like I done told you before, it’s like he’s jes’ going through the motions wait’n for his chance.  I hope he don’t plan to run.  It would mean automatic castration when we catch him.  Some slave owners go one step further, but I won’t do that.  We don’t do it to animals, and we shouldn’t do it to no slave neither.  Jimmy Joe reminds Coyote all the time he’s got a chip in him.  My foreman checks regularly, at least once a week, with his monitoring device to make sure ever’ slave’s chip is functioning properly.  I know he checks Coyote’s.  If he tries to run, shore’ as my dick’s love’n yore' butt, I know the first place he’ll run to.” Angus took another long, deep stroke into Monty’s ass.

“Me, Sir?” Monty sounded a little surprised.

“Yeah.  The ramrod and me think he’s still got a hard-on for you.  Whether it’s that, or you’re the last bit of family he’s got, whatever his reasons, I know damn well he’ll come here directly to you.  Bonds between men, no matter how they occur, can be the strongest on Earth.  I think that’s a lesson Coyote ain’t never learned, or don’t wanna’ admit.”

“What for?  Why would he come to me?  I can’t do him no good.” said Monty almost perturbed as he pushed his ass further back onto Angus’ beer can of a cock.   

“You represent something good to him.  He’s heard stories about what you can do, and he’s hoping you’ll save him from slavery.”

“Why would I wanna’ go and do a stupid thing like that?  I don’t owe him nothing.  As far as I’m concerned, I think slavery is the best thing what could happen to the man.  I keep hoping it will make him grow up and teach him to accept responsibility for himself and his actions.  I ain’t never lied to you Master Angus, and I ain’t gonna’ start now.  I still love Coyote, but he ain’t got no claim on me.  I gave a hell of a lot more’n I ever got from him.  Well, that ain’t the god’s gospel truth neither.  I got what I wanted and needed from Coyote.  It’s just he goes about it different from other men.  I come to love my master, you and ma’ ramrod a hell of a lot more’n I ever loved Coyote.  Why in the hell would I wanna’ go’n jeopardized that?  I imagine aiding and abetting an escaped slave is about as bad as running myself, and I ain’t about to do that.  Hell, I got me a better life as a slave with Master Shane than I ever had over to ma’ grandpap’s place.  What the fuck?  Why would he wanna’ put me in that position?  No, wait!  Don’t answer that.  I know damn well why.  It’s ‘cause he don’t think on nobody but his’self.  Whatever he think’s best for Coyote is what he's gonna' do and goddamn ever’ body else.”  Monty said with considerable disgust.  Angus couldn’t remember ever seeing the young man so agitated.

“Look, don’t fret so, boy.  I ain’t gonna’ let chu’ git caught up in this mess.  I know what you feel for me.  I can feel it when you give yourself to me.  If you give that old cowboy what works for me, half a’ what you gimme,’ and I know you give him yore’ very best, he’s one lucky son-of-a-bitch.  By the same token, I know you would never jeopardize yore' place on this ranch or the trust we have in you; but if, by chance, you git chore’self caught up with Coyote, I got me a feeling you’re ready to handle him.  We both know he can’t make you do nothing.  I don’t care if you give him a little comfort, and I basically don’t care how you handle the situation, but send him on his way.  Don’t you set one foot off this here ranch.  Neither one of you would git very far.  You might, but he shore’ as hell wouldn’t.  As you said, h’it don’t make no sense for you to run no how.  I know you got the smarts and the talent to handle him.  I trust you, and all I will ever ask you is if I was right, did he come to you?  All I expect from you is a 'yes' or 'no' answer.  I won't ask no more.”

“I hope he don’t come here.  I done my part, Master Angus.  I told him not to go and do some’um stupid.” Monty was almost in tears.  Angus held him tight and fucked him ‘til it went away.

“Feeling better, boy?” Angus asked softly as he stole another kiss.

“I can’t think about Coyote when you’s fuck’n me, Master.  You jes’ feel too damn good.”

“That’s the idea, slave.” Angus smiled.

* * * * * * *

“Ping?  Are you there?” Shanna Ruggles said out loud.

“I’m here, Shanna, darling.” came across her computer.

“I’m having problems.”

“What kind of problems, dear?” Ping inquired.

“Pains, and it isn’t from my baby kicking.  It’s... well, it’s different.  It’s sharp stabbing pains, and it’s beginning to hurt pretty bad.” she groaned.

“Don’t you think you should tell your parents?”

“They flew to Houston to be with my aunt and uncle.  He’s dying of cancer.  They’ll be away for at least the weekend, maybe longer depending on when he passes.  They could be gone for a week, and daddy made sure I don’t have any transportation.  He even told the cowboy slaves not to take me any place.  They wouldn’t go against his orders if I had a rock drop out of the sky and broke both my legs.”

“Maybe you should call an emergency service to come get you and take you to a hospital.” Ping typed.

“Okay.  I’ll try that, but they’ll want some kind of payment guarantee.  I don’t have any money or credit cards.  All health insurance coverage is in my parent’s names.  My dad took every means of escape away from me.  I’m being held prisoner against my wishes.  Trouble is, I don’t know what my wishes are at this point.  I just want to have my baby and get away from here.”

“Do your best, dear.  I’ll be watching over you.  I won’t let any harm come to you.” Ping typed.

“You’ve been like a guardian angel to me these past few weeks, Ping.  I want you to know how much I appreciate our chats and your patience with me.  I know you aren’t an evil spirit.  We may not agree on some things, but I think you have me and my baby’s best interest at heart.”  All of a sudden a pain hit Shanna, and she thought she was going to pass out.  It was the worst pain she ever felt in her life.  “Oh, God!” she cried and fell across her bed.  She felt something wet, looked down and saw she was bleeding from her vagina.  “Oh, God!  Oh, Ping!  I’m bleeding.  Oh, dear God in heaven, I’m so scared!” she wailed.

“Shanna!” Ping typed furiously, “Speak to me, Shanna!”  she typed, but Shanna couldn’t see her computer.  “Kyron, speak to her.  Tell her we will come for her.”  Ping typed.

“Shanna?” Kyron softly boomed.

“Who’s there?” she groaned.

“I am Kyron.  I am an evolved intelligence.  Ping does not speak so I must speak for her since you can’t get to your computer.  Are you still in pain, my child?”

“The worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life.” Shanna was double up into a fetal position.

“Help is on the way.  We’ll be there in a few minutes to get you.  Are you ready to go with us?”

“Yes, anything would be better than this pain, but what about my baby?”

“The baby’s chances are better with us than your father’s hospital.  Trust us, Shanna, and we will help you.”

“I will, but I don’t think I can get up to meet you.  I’m bleeding very fast now and growing weaker.”

“We will be there.  Hold on!” Kyron boomed.

Waco, Lucas, the Admiral, Cable, Trey and Charlie all rushed into sickbay.

“We don’t have time to go get her.  Thank goodness we put them robo-cams on her.  Let’s just beam her here to sickbay.  Kyron, if you would be so kind.”  Lazarus said.

“Shanna?  Close your eyes and don’t open them until I tell you to.” Kyron ordered.

“They’re closed.  Oh, God, please tell them to hurry.”

There was a bright flash of light in Shanna’s bedroom, and she was gone.  She appeared on a comfortable bed in a dimly lit room off the main operations area of sickbay.  Ping took her hand.

“You can open your eyes now, Shanna.” Cable spoke softly to her.  Shanna opened her eyes to the most handsome man she ever saw, but he was naked and so were the two standing by either side.

“Where am I?  Ping?  Who are these men?”

“They’re bio-mechanical men who are also doctors, Shanna.” said the tall cowboy who came into the room.  She recognized the man as Ramrod Lazarus Long and his boss Mr. Charlie Goodnight. “They will take good care of you.” There were other men gathering in the main room of sickbay.  Some of them Shanna recognized as members of the Grange; a group of men her dad hated because he tried to join many times, but they refused him.  They made no apologies for their reason.  It was because of his religious beliefs and practices.  Charlie Ruggles was sure they were a satanic cult and worshiped the Devil.  How dare they disapprove of his religion and beliefs?  His was the only one true faith.  Ever’ body knew that.  

The place was strange, but it looked and smelled like a surgery.  Suddenly another pain hit her, and she passed out.  Cable rushed her into the examination room where all the electronics devices were.  Lazarus sent for Arlen Jones, and he got there as soon as possible.  They found out quickly she was hemorrhaging and would surely lose the baby when the strangest thing happened.  The baby acted like he knew what was going on and the men watched as he took his small hand and gently rubbed it over the area, from which, his mother was bleeding.  A bright blue light emanated from his tiny hand.  Her internal rupture healed itself immediately.  The baby looked up at the men and smiled like he knew they were watching him through the electronics.  He tried sending a message and was pleasantly surprised to feel several minds could hear him.  

<< Can you help me out?  I don’t wish to hurt my mother and cause her further harm.  Is my father with you? >>

<< No, young one.  He can’t be here right now, but you may see him later. >> Lazarus sent to him. << It’s complicated, but we’re here to welcome you.  Are you ready to come out? >>

<< I think I 'm a mite early.  Will it harm me to come out now? >>

<< We have a surrogate womb for you to crawl into until you’re more developed and ready to come out on your own, and it comes complete with its own snack bar. >>

<< Sounds good to me.  Get me out a’ here. >> they could see a big smile cross his face.  Shanna was still passed out.  Cable used the opportunity to cut the cord, secure it, and the baby was beamed out without a cut, a stretch or discomfort to Shanna.  The baby wasn’t breathing when he came out.  Cable rolled him on his side and gently patted his back.  He coughed up amniotic fluid and took his first deep breath.

“Air!” he exclaimed. “Ah, but it tastes good.” he spoke. “Thank you, Doctor Cable.”

“No thanks necessary, young one, but it’s appreciated.” Cable smile as he bathed him with a soft cloth and toweled him dry.  Lazarus walked in and peaked over Cable’s shoulder and smiled.

“Welcome to Earth, young man?” he said like he was greeting an old friend.

“Are you my father’s master, Sir?” he asked.

“No, but he’s on his way.  We sent for him, and he’ll be here in a moment.” Ox came from behind Lazarus and peaked.

“Is he my incubator?” the baby asked.

“He is, and see them big teats?  Best damn eat'n you ever had, Son.  Best tasting, most nutritious milk in the universe.  I drink it ma’self when I can talk my boy, here, into letting me have a little.  Keeps me fit and in good shape.  He’s got two names.  His parents named him Garron, but his master calls him Ox.  He’s got a right-nice cozy, single, crawl-up pouch for you to call home for a couple of weeks, but before you take up residence, we need to weigh you, take a blood sample, do a few test, and git chu’ fed.  You hungry, young man?”

“I’m a mite peckish, Sir.  You say them big teats is full of sweet milk?” he mused licking his lips.

“The very sweetest.” Lazarus assured him.

“They sure look good.  Can I get me a little, Mr. Ox, Sir.  Please.”  he started drooling just thinking about sucking one of Ox’s big teats.  Ox gently picked him up, blanket and all and hooked him up to his left teat.  The kid went crazy.  He was sucking like a West Texas cyclone.  Shane arrived in sickbay accompanied by his pa and Boss Potter.  Gil Morris, Bobby, Dexter, Rocky and Maxine were with him.  About that time Shanna woke up.  She was amazed she wasn’t in pain anymore, but she knew her baby was gone.  She didn’t remember giving birth.  How could this be?  She looked up and saw a huge, hairy monster with a baby in his arms feeding him from his teat.

“Is that my baby?” she asked.

“It is, Shanna.  He’s a fine looking baby boy.” Shane came to her side.

“You’re Shane Goodnight?”

“Yes, I am.  I think you know several of these men.”

“Why am I not hurting anymore?  How did my baby get born without me knowing it?  Am I still bleeding?” she asked.

“You passed out from the pain.  We looked inside you with special machines and watched your son heal your hemorrhage.  He is a very special child, Shanna.  He will be a great healer and become a great leader.  He asked for us to remove him so he wouldn’t have to hurt you by being born.  He was worried you weren’t strong enough and might die, so we helped him out.  You didn’t have to go through the labor and pain of parturition.”

“How could he ask you to remove him?  He’s just a baby.” she seemed perplexed.

“He’s a special little boy, Shanna.  There were things about his father you never knew; things, he didn’t even know himself at the time.” Shane tried to reassure her.

“But he’s premature by almost three weeks.”

“That big monster what’s feeding him is like a kangaroo.  He has a large pouch, a secondary womb, where he will stay until he’s ready to come out on his own.  In the meantime, it’s only a short stroll to the cafeteria.” Shane smiled at her.

“Can I see him?  May I hold him?” she asked.

“Do you think that’s wise?” Shane asked. “You know he’s mine.”

“I know.  I also know if you hadn’t brought me here, we both would be dead right now.  I just want to see him and hold him once, then you may take him away.  Will he be with his father?”

“Later, but not right away.  Monty has gone through a lot and we’re being very protective of him.  He didn’t even know you were pregnant.  I got your letters you sent to him, but I didn’t give them to him.  I kept them and put them away.  Some day, when he’s a freeman, I may give them to him.  I’m sorry.  It was my choice to make, and I think I made the right decision.  I’m his owner, and I’m responsible for his life for the next four years.  Your son is now my slave, but in name only.  He will be more like a son to a small community of good, loving folks, and he will be raised and protected by me and my family.  He will grow up without the hate, guilt and anger your narrow minded version of religion teaches.  He will be taught science and humanistic arts.  He will learn to treat his fellow man like he would want to be treated, but with no hypocrisy.  Furthermore, I plan to see Monty don’t have problems he can do nothing about.  Your letters would only stir him up and make him hope for something he can’t have.  You can’t have him either, but h’it ain’t your fault, Shanna.  You gotta’ go on with your life.  You gotta’ learn to be independent and make your own decisions for yourself.  If you don’t, this will be just the first of many things your parents will do to keep you under their control.  You will become their defacto slave.”

The baby’s little stomach ballooned up until he couldn’t drink anymore.  He pulled away.  

“Thanks, Mr. Ox.  That was delicious.” he said quietly.

<< You’re welcome, my handsome little bairn. >>

<< I can hear you, big man. >> he smiled up at Ox.

“Bring him over here so his mother might hold him, Ox.” Shane asked.

Ox brought the bundle over and laid it in Shanna’s arms.  The baby looked up at her and smiled the sweetest smile.

“Hi, mom.” he said.  Shanna almost fainted.

“You can talk already?”

“I been able to talk for several weeks.  I been trying to get your attention, but you just thought it was gas.”

“You were right, Mr. Goodnight, he is a special boy.”

“Mom, I love you and all, but I’m awful sleepy right now.  I just had the best dinner, and it’s making me drowsy.  I can barely keep my eyes open.  I need a warm, dry place to climb into and sleep for a while.  I’m ready, big guy.” he held his arms up for Ox.  Shanna kissed him and gave him to the big monster.  She watched as Ox opened his pouch, leaned back a little and placed the baby inside.  She watched as the pouch closed around her baby.  She was amazed.

“Will he be all right in there?”

“He’ll be fine.  Ox is better than an incubator.  When he’s hungry he’ll let Ox know, he’ll lie down and allow him to come out and crawl to one of his feeding stations.  We’ll be giving you some lummox milk a little later.  Right now we need to stabilize you and get your fluid pumped out of you.  This evening we’ll move you to a small country hospital in the town of Parsons, Arizona until you’re better.  Then we’ll return you to your home and parents.”

“They should be notified where I am and how I’m doing?” she said without nuance like she wasn’t sure.

“Why?  They didn’t seem to care enough about you to provide for you in case of an emergency.  If we didn’t act swiftly, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.” Shane challenged.

“You’re right.  Let them worry for a change.  I can take charge of my life.  I don’t have to live by their rules.  I’m a grown woman.  I’m twenty-two years old.  I should’ve left home long ago.  I just thought I was being a good and dutiful daughter staying home to help my mother.  It was all my dad’s idea.  He just didn’t wanna’ let go of me.  I won’t allow them to run my life from now on.”

Cable gave Shanna a sedative which put her in a twilight sleep.  He drained her amniotic fluid, and her belly went down even more.  He was worried she might begin to go into postpartum depression.  When she awoke she wasn’t in the same hospital anymore.  She was in a comfortable bed in a small clinic.  A beautiful dog was sleeping soundly on a throw rug next to her bed.  The dog raised her head when she was aware Shanna was awake.

“Hello.  My, aren’t you pretty.” Shanna commented.

“Thanks, Ms. Shanna.  I think you’re pretty, too.” replied Patty.  Shanna got a look of horror on her face that changed to one of bemusement.

“You can talk?” she asked rhetorically.

“Of course I can talk.  I been talking all my life.  I’m Patty.  My sister Maxine asked me to stay with you and get our nurse when you awaken.  Maxine is Monty’s best buddy.  She would’ve watched over you herself, but she had to get back to work.  Just a minute, and I’ll get Arnie for you.”  Patty was away before Shanna could say anything.  The next thing she knew, a good looking young man came into her room carrying a tray of food.  He placed a standard bed table next to her bed and arranged the tray for her.  He uncovered the plate.  It was a chicken dish and smelled delightful.  

“Hello, Miss Ruggles.  I’m Arnie Lewis, and I will be your nurse.  You are in Parsons, Arizona in a small clinic and your doctor is Randy Stevens.  We hope your stay with us will be pleasant, and we’ll do everything we can to make you comfortable and help you with a speedy recovery.”

“How did I get to Arizona from Texas?  I don’t remember any trip.” she asked befuddled.

“All your questions will be answered, but right now, enjoy your meal.  What can I get you to drink?  We have coffee, tea or cow’s milk.  We also have some nice chilled lummox milk for you if you’d like to try it.” Arnie smiled, then added, “It’s delicious and quite nutritious.  I often drink it myself.”

“No, thanks.  I think I’ll just have some hot tea, if you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind at all.  If you need me, Patty is like a call button in a regular hospital, but a lot nicer.  Just send her for me, and I’ll be with you in a jiffy.”

“Thank you, Arnie.”  Shanna began to eat her meal and was amazed.  It was the best food she ever ate.  It was wonderful.  She couldn’t get over it.  Arnie returned with her pot of hot tea and placed it on her tray.  He brought sugar, a tin of milk and a lemon wedge.

“Arnie, this food is delicious.” she gushed.

“Thanks, Ms. Ruggles, I made it for our lunch.  I’m glad you’re enjoying it.”

“Please, Arnie, call me Shanna.” she insisted.

“Thank you, Shanna.  I will.” he smiled and turned to leave.  “I’ll check back with you in a few to see if you need anything else.  In the meantime, Patty will keep you company.”

“Thanks, I’ll be fine, Arnie.” Shanna was too busy eating the delicious food.  She didn’t realized how hungry she was.

“Have you eaten, Patty?  I hate to eat in front of you without offering you some.”

“No, no, Ms. Shanna.  That's kind of you, but I done had my lunch already.  Beside, I don’t eat people food.  My masters keep me on a strict died to make sure I don’t lose my school girl figure.” she laughed.  She got a chuckle out of Shanna.

Patty went to get Arnie when Shanna finished her meal.  They returned and Arnie was carrying a big dish of ice cream.

“And for your dessert, fresh, homemade, vanilla ice cream.” Arnie presented with a decided flourish.

“My goodness.  I haven’t had ice cream in a while.” she tried a taste, and it was heavenly.  She was already full, but she ate the whole thing.

“More?” Arnie asked when he returned to remove her tray.

“Later, perhaps.  I can’t eat another bite, but that was the best ice cream I ever tasted, Arnie.”

“Good!  Glad you enjoyed it.” he smiled to himself as he left the room.  He didn’t bother to tell her it was little more than soft-frozen lummox milk.  

Arnie got Shanna up and walking shortly after her meal.  He insisted she must exercise to get her strength back.  He let her lean on him as they walked down the short hallway into a beautiful garden.  It was lovely and everything was immaculate.  There were flowers of all kinds, but the sky looked funny.  There were clouds, the sky was blue but the light didn’t seem to have the same intensity.  They talked as they walked.

“Why were those men who took care of me naked, Arnie?”

“Ah, you must be referring to Cable, David and Jonathan.  They aren’t human like you and me, Shanna.  Ramrod Long had them created many years ago by an advanced race of machines to be his sons and companions.  He thinks they’re beautiful and likes to see them in their natural state.  They’ve never been taught their nakedness is something to be ashamed of.  They’ve been that way all their lives, and they’re used to it.  It’s the way they live.  They rarely go out of the hospital, but when they do, they have clothes to wear.  They understand societies on Earth wouldn’t understand their nudity.  They can walk around Parsons in the nude.  Many people do.  They are accepted here as they are because they take care of the medical problems for many of us.”

“Then Lazarus Long is like their creator?  He would be their God?”

“Well, if you put it in religious terms, yes, I suppose he would be, but they don’t worship Ramrod Long.  They love him very much and would do anything to please him, but they don’t look upon him as a god.  I’ve seen Cable respectfully let his dad know some idea he has is not good and back him down with reason and logic.  Mr. Long isn’t a tyrant.  He makes mistakes just like we do.  He laughs and tells Cable he’s right and that’s why he had him made so smart, to keep him from doing stupid things.” Arnie explained.  They set in the garden for a while.  Doctor Stevens joined them and Arnie introduced him.

“Shanna, I’d like you to meet my husband, Dr. Randy Stevens.” Shanna almost took his hand and then quickly withdrew it.  Randy got a grin on his face.  Arnie felt uneasy.  He knew his mate too well.

“Your husband?  You mean...?” Shanna grimaced.

“My, my!  Is it my week to be husband, sweet heart?” Randy Stevens smiled at Arnie and stole a kiss.  “How time flies.  I think it was only last week I introduced you to someone as ‘my’ husband.” he chuckled.

“Yes, Shanna’ we’re married.  Don’t be alarmed, dear.  You’re not here for us to convert you to our way of thinking.” Arnie assured her.  Patty spoke up.

“We have several colonies here of same sex men and women.  They are the discards and outcast from your society.  Here they live peacefully and are allowed to create and develop their natural talents.  My masters' are married, too.  Of course, I really have two sets of masters.  The other is a lummox and his mate who is the father of Sonny Steele the champion rodeo cowboy.”

“My God, what have I gotten myself into.” Shanna moaned.

“Into a society that doesn’t practice hate or intolerance.” Randy Stevens spoke quietly.

“I’ve been taught a man should not lie with another man as with a woman.  The bible teaches us it is an abomination in the eyes of God.”

“Yes, well I can assure you, Miss Ruggles, we look upon your religion as an abomination.  Look where it’s gotten us so far.  Our world is on the verge of collapsing.  It’s in shambles due to your religion and belief in an imaginary big daddy who either can’t or won’t step in to make a pronouncement one way or the other.  Quoting a book filled with myths, which has no basis in truth or reality, is hardly an argument for intolerance of any sort.  Before I offend you further, Ms. Ruggle, let me say, I hope you enjoy your stay with us.  In the next couple of days you will be exposed to a lot of new ideas and people you could never imagine; wonderful folks who live and work together for the betterment of all and not just a favored few.  Do try to keep an open mind, my dear.  It may one day save your life... again.” Randy admonished her.

Arnie walked Shanna back to her room and helped her to bed.  Patty stayed by her side the whole time and would get Arnie whenever she needed him.  She watched the video screen some but couldn’t believe some of the things she was seeing.  She stayed a week in the clinic and had a steady stream of visitors and well wishers.  Her room was filled with flowers.  In the garden one afternoon she was visited by Keekepata and her court.  They came flying into the garden and all around.  At first she was frightened but after Keeke set and talked with her for over an hour, she was no longer fearful.  She met huge giant lummox men and a couple of female lummox.  She met big muscular men she was told were from another planet in another solar system.  Nothing was held back from her.  Lazarus’ felt sure no one would believe her if she told everything she saw and learned about.

* * * * * * *

Her parents returned home after the funeral of her uncle only to find her bed covered in blood with no sign of a struggle.  They panicked and called the sheriff.  Sheriff Lassiter and several of his deputies knew what happened and where their daughter was.  He dutifully took the information and told Ruggles not to worry, he had a feeling she would show up soon.  Lassiter send Doug and Brody out to pretend they were investigating.  Ruggles was pissed because Lassiter didn’t come himself, but he knew the last person in the community he wanted to offend was Don Lassiter.  Don was unquestionably the strongest man in the community politically.  Two days later, in the late afternoon, Shanna was returned to her room.   She didn’t bother to rush out and see her parents.  She set quietly in her room and fired up her computer.

“Are you there, Ping?” she spoke softly.

“I am here, dear one.” came the reply across her computer.

“Thanks, Ping, for everything.” she said.

“You’re welcome, sweet heart.  I only hope you change your mind and decide to join us.”

Her mother thought she heard a voice in her daughter’s room and opened the door.

“Hi, mom.” she said as she shut down her computer.  She never told her parents about the miraculous journey she made and having her baby.  She told them he was now with Mr. Goodnight and his family.  She said she thought it was for the best.  She explained to them about hemorrhaging in the bed and she called Mr. Goodnight.  He came for her and took her to a small hospital in another town which had excellent doctors who managed to save her and the baby’s life.  She didn’t bother to tell them how she returned.  She knew they would think she was lying.  She was playing her cards close to her breast, the same breasts, from which, she was allowed to feed her son so he might collect her natural immunities.  They had several long talks, and he assured her he would be okay.  He told her he would come to her in her dreams, and they could be together for a while.  

 * * * * * * *

Dexter was growing in all directions.  His new body provided him with so many new and wonderful advantages.  Shane didn’t try to hide Shanna from him.  In fact, he never once mentioned to Dexter to keep it a secret.  Dexter just understood it was sensitive information, but he did discuss it with Rocky.  For a former whale, Rocky had a lot of common sense and also understood they were not to say anything to Monty.  They didn’t.  He didn’t have a clue he had a new son.  Everyone understood that was the way Captain Shane wanted it and most agreed with him.  The few who didn’t respected his judgment.

The days began to pass quickly and things were beginning to go from bad to worse.  Lazarus ordered more pickups of failing folks from the Cheney death camps and the rescue of the remaining healers who stayed behind to give of themselves and help others.  He started approving mercy ‘raptures’ of folks who couldn’t make it in the outside world and were all but starving to death.  He ordered more land grabs.  The federal government was so preoccupied with the alien threat, they didn’t have time to be checking out the strange phenomenon of missing land.  He stepped up Monty’s activities on his ship.  He wanted Monty and his posse to find out all they could about the Gopher Bay and how it could best be utilized if push came to shove.

There was a big celebration for Monty’s final evening as a baby slave.  The cowboys got together and held sort of a roast for him.  They invited all his friends.  Angus came with Jimmy Joe and everyone who Monty helped or worked with in the past three months were included.  Anyone could get up and say a few words.  Most were good things, some were touching remarks of gratitude for Monty’s healing talents, but a few were side splitting funny.  Phil Pie had a few choice words for him and certainly big Bart and Telly, his slave daddies, had some funny things to say.  Angus told everyone he was still paying for them damn boots.  They all laughed.  It was a great evening and everyone had a good time.  Everyone wished Monty well.  He spent a wonderful evening with his ramrod and couldn’t have been happier.  He remarked to Jimmy Joe, other than the Ongs, he never felt like he had family before, but now he had a huge family who loved him.  He loved them in return.

“I guess that’s one of the unexpected blessings from being a slave, Son.  You have to readjust yore’ way a’ think’n about life and family.  It opened the door to a new life and acceptance for me of the greater possibilities the world has to offer.  Most folks grow up in little boxes made of ticky-tacky and never leave their small boxed-in world.  Look what we have before us.  The world and the universe ain’t just our oyster, it’s our very own personal ocean to swim in and explore.  I’m proud of you, boy.  If I had another son, Monty, I’d want him to be jes’ like you.”  

“I love you so much, Ramrod.  You’re the only man I’d ever want to call ma’ pa.” Monty said quietly
* * * * * * *

There was no celebration for Coyote John ending his baby slave period.  He passed muster, and not just by the skin of his teeth.  He made a strong finish and proved to Jimmy Joe and Angus he could perform as they wanted.  He was given his clothes the next morning and in two days he disappeared.  Angus didn’t worry about it, he just called the sheriff and gave him their locator.  A posse of men were sent out following the trail, but every time they got close they would lose the signal.  It seemed like Coyote was living up to his name, he was wiley and swift.  Doug and Brody told the men the Navajo called the coyote “God’s dog” because he’s so sly and resourceful.  While other predators are on the decline, the coyote has learned to live and adapt to man and his urban sprawl.  They spent several days trying to track down the ever moving source of Coyote John’s signal.  One thing they were certain of, he was moving fast for the border of Mexico.  They had to find him quickly or he would be gone for good.

They finally zeroed in on the signal in a small arroyo.  There were six men in the party.  Three took their time and circled around to box him in.  The signal told them he was hiding in a small cave in the bank of the dried up creek.  They approached the cave and called for him to come out, but there was no answer.  They slowly approached on foot.  Doug told the men not to draw or fire their guns unless John was armed and then shoot to wound him, not to kill.  One of the men got the bright idea to pick up a big rock and chunk it into the cave.  Doug gave his consent and the big deputy lobbed one deep into the darkness.  It caused a big squeal of a complaint and a flurry of commotion.  Suddenly, in a cloud of dust and a blur of action, an enormous javelina emerged and charged the men.  Brody already had his gun out, took dead aim, shot and killed the giant peccary just before it almost took his older brother’s leg off.

“Good shot, bro!” Doug breathed a sigh of relief.  The other men complimented Brody and laughed nervously.  “Where the hell is Coyote John?  He must still be in there.  C’mon out, John!  We got chu’ cornered!”  Doug hollered into the cave.

“Maybe the pig ate him.” one of the men laughed.

“Uh, Doug.” Brody grunted, “You might wanna’ come take a look at this.  This, here, pig is the source of the signal.  This is what we been tracking for a week.”

“What?  Naw! Yore’ shit’n me!” exclaimed Doug with a big grin crossing his face.  The men walked over to look at the detector.  “Damned if you ain’t right, little brother.  Let’s throw the son of a bitch in the back of the truck and take him back with us.  You know how our folks love they’s-selves some pig.  The sheriff ain’t gonna’ believe this shit unless he see’s it for his’self.” Doug shook his head.  Brody knew his brother was worried Sheriff Lassiter might think they had something to do with it.  The sheriff never questioned them.  He knew they weren’t responsible.  They cut the round, oblong device out of the beast’s right rear flank.  It was deeply embedded like it was placed there professionally, but the strangest thing was, there was no entry scar;  not even a scratch.  The sheriff reported back to Angus what they found and the men mutually agreed they should stop looking for Coyote John.  They figured he was way down in Mexico by now; after all, he had a full week’s head start.  Doug and Brody secretly held a new respect for their big brother.  He played the white man’s game and won.

End of Chapter 70 ~ Waco’s Lummox
Copyright 2008 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All Rights Reserved ~
Mail to: waddiebear@yahoo.com
Proofed: 11/30/09    

(1.) From:  Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (1990)  a novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, a satire of prophecies of the Apocalypse and Armageddon.