“Shun him not, proud
son’s of Earth’s bright dust; sing forth ye ancient creatures shining
through the dark of night; fling wide the promised golden gates of
heaven; for today, he is three score and seven.” From: “Cantata Fortuna
Dies Natalis Puerbos” by Orfeo Arturo Benedito Grigiolupo da Pomona
Ben and Rocky
became Oblio’s greatest champions. They recognized who he was
immediately but kept their mouths shut. They became his big
brother protectors and tutors. They had direct communication with
the spheres and could put the boy in contact with his three
grandparents on his dad’s side. They made arrangements to channel
his grandmother, Jenny Hayden’s electrical essence in her alien
form to visit her aging father one dark and stormy night so he would
think she was a ghost returned to haunt him. She played the role
of spook to perfection. She reformed into a glowing image of her
previous self with long, ethereal strands flowing from her beautiful
pure white gown she designed especially for her performance. Jenny
asked the miserly
old curmudgeon what he planned to do with all the money and property he
hoarded away for years?
When he responded he planned to leave it
David Yates’ Pentecostal Evangelical Fundamentalist Church, she went
ballistic; she became a mother on a mission. She was out to make
sure her son and grandson survived with some modicum of comfort and
dignity. She figured it was the very least the old buzzard could
do for her and them. She
told him how appalled and disappointed with him she was the way he
neglected and abused her only child. His selfishness was
unforgivable. She stressed
there was absolutely no excuse for his uncharitable actions and unless
he dramatically changed his ways and made some effort to make amends
for his utter lack of humanity, she would personally haunt and torment
his soul for all eternity.
She would make him so miserable he would pray endlessly for the comfort
of a lake of fire. It was a heavy trip to lay on the old
conservative bible humper, and she played on his superstitions like a
cheap two dollar fiddle at a barn dance.*
The two big
bio-droids taught Oblio many wonderful things. They taught him
how to reduce himself to only his electrical essence like his alien
granddad. He never displayed his miraculous capabilities to
anyone but Ben and Rocky. They suggested his dad’s Shane and Cole
might not be ready for a kid who could reduce himself to a ball of
plasma with a small will-of-the-wisp sprite moving in and out and all
Oblio’s alien dad and grandparents were members of a race who called
themselves the Plurallians. They lived, learned, progressed and
evolved into the Ancients after hundreds of thousands of years living
as body-free entities; an intelligence without shape or form but which
could assume any likeness of their choosing for brief periods of
time. They were naturally concerned with Montana and Oblio
because they were the first of a new hybrid species.
They were also
interested in the boy because they expected him to have less talents
and traits of the disembodied Plurallians than his father. They
thought Montana would be the peak of the alien’s conjoining with an
Earth woman and his differences would dissipate within the genome after
several generations. Perhaps a few anomalous traits might pop up
from time to time as a random genetic throwback but would eventually
level out and be integrated into the greater sea of humanity.
They were wrong. From birth, Oblio had greater fluency and better
understanding of his talents and powers than Monty. He was
stronger and more capable than his father by a factor of two. In
some civilizations he would have appeared as a young god among men, but
a lot depended on the environment, in which, the two men were
raised. Monty was mostly left to his own devices to fend for
himself, while Oblio was being raised in a loving, supportive, and
encouraging environment where diversity was readily accepted and every
critter’s unique talents were nurtured and appreciated.
One might expect
such a child to develop a mischievous bend out of boredom and cause all
sorts of chaos in a Newtonian world inhabited by ignorant bipeds who
believed in myths and whose lives were guided by superstition. By
comparison, one might wonder if there really was such a historical
figure as Christ. If so, what would his childhood have been like
if he did have the awesome powers of a god? There are apocryphal
writings of the boy Jesus in which he becomes angry with his playmates
and changes them into swine. Not too cool for the son of a
god, but what kid hasn’t dreamed of having such powers to dispatch
their tormentors? What fun, to be able to change the school bully
into a squeally-gruntus with a wave of your hand? Oblio had such
powers, but he was loved, respected and guided by people of a different
age and outlook on life than the harsh, rigid world of camel jockeys
and sheep herders of two thousand years ago. Oblio and the world
blessed when he was rescued from the Ruggles’ by a class of people who
might best be described as secular humanist. One shudders to
think if he was allowed to grow up in the confused, dark, cult of
death, world of the rabid fundamentalist. Would they mistake his
powers and abilities as the second coming? Some might argue the
myth of Christ lends itself well to the concept of alien
hybridization. Was it true what some alien historians claimed:
the grays and snakes created an exceptional human to establish a
religion of fear to control the dumb ape-like creatures?
himself in a perfect environment to allow his talents to grow and
mature without him seeming to be a freak or someone to fear. He
had regular talks with his two masters when they could get away and
spend quality time together. Shane and Cole urged him to go slow,
conserve his talents and not be a showoff, especially around
Monty. They impressed on him the importance of growing up a
normal boy within the confines of his unusual circumstances; but, of
course, he wasn’t a normal boy, and several times Shane and Cole
realized they must adjust their expectations for Oblio’s
sake. The kid did his best, but he had a natural brilliance
about him that attracted everyone. He never woke up to a bad
day. There was just no such thing to him. There was always
something new and wonderful to learn and absorb. He wasn’t a
hyperactive cheerleading ‘happy face’ personality. He was mostly
quiet and reserved, but he just seemed to generate a goodness that
everyone wanted to be around. He would explain to his pa’s, Shane
and Cole, some new talent Ben and Rocky helped him develop, and the men
would be astounded. They would try to be as level headed as
possible and explain to him that perhaps a particular talent might best
be used sparingly.
watching the medical channels on cable when he had time. He’d
rather watch those than kid’s programs. He watched and learn
about the functions of the human body and its diseases. He was
fascinated by the healing capabilities of Jesse and Utah. He was
one of the first to equate Utah’s condition to what his dad, Monty, did
to the man they referred to as Coyote John. He came to
know his dad well enough, he knew Monty would never do something like
that unless he had a damn good reason. When he discussed it with
Shane and Cole they confirmed his thoughts Monty changed Coyote
John for a number of reasons, but the main one was to protect him from
himself and the consequences of his foolish actions. Shane
couldn’t help feel proud of Monty for creating the ideal situation
as an example of the use of his power in a judicious manner.
Shane tried to impress on Oblio the importance for him not to intercede
on Coyote’s behalf and let his dad make all the decision for the
outcome of their interactions. Oblio swore he would not interfere.
change him back to the man he was, Son?” Cole asked him.
“Naw, Sir, Pa
Cole, not without his genetic information on file in my body. If
I had even one hair or a trace of his blood from before Captain Montana
him I could, or if I ever have access to my dad’s blood, I could
inherit his files. Unless it becomes necessary, I don’t care to
do that. I’m building up my own base of genetic information from
those I love and care about in case I need to help them, and that may
be sooner than I thought.”
“Would you care
to share your thought with us?” Shane asked.
got colon cancer.” he said quietly. There was a stunned
silence. Cole looked at the sudden horror in Shane’s eyes and
shook his head not to panic.
“Are you sure,
Son?” Shane asked without nuance.
Remember that old cowboy you took me to see over to Mr. Steele’s oldest
boy’s ranch to see if I could help him? Uncle Angus went with
us. The cowboy was so eaten up from the same cancer there weren’t
I could do for him but ease his suffering some. He was too far
gone. His organs were shutting down. I can heal and reverse
cancers if I find them soon enough. I can bring any critter or
human back to life if they die suddenly and their body is otherwise
sound, but cancer is the rotting and decay of the body while a person
is still alive. It's the worst of all deaths. I'll never
forget the smell. Ms. Biddle washed my clothes I wore that day
many times, but I can still smell his disease on them. I ain't
worn 'em since. I put 'em in a plastic bag with moth balls and
stored 'em in that big trunk in the back of my closet.”
“How far along
is my brother?” Shane asked.
I detected the smell on him when he was holding me in his lap in church
at my granddad’s funeral. It was on his breath and his skin gave
off a faint odor. No one would notice but me or a dog what was
trained to sniff-out cancers. He has the same smell as the
cowboy. I meant to ask him when he had his last colonoscopy, but
I forgot.” he stated as a matter of fact. Shane looked at Cole
with a blank look on his face. Cole shook his head like he never
heard the word before.
have to educate us old cowboys, Son. What’s a colon-whos-copy?
Pa. It’s a probe a doctor sends up a person’s rectum with a
camera attached to look and see if they got polyps, little
nodules, growing inside the lower colon of their digestive tract.
In another procedure, they send one down the throat to inspect
the upper colon for the same thing. It they find any, they
usually just snip them off, remove them and the small wounds heal
over. Sometimes, they turn cancerous if they ain’t caught early
“And you learned
about this on them medical shows you watch?” Shane asked.
I done watched about a dozen or more procedures. Ever’ adult over
the age of fifty should have one done every five years; over sixty
ever’ three years.” he sounded like he was an authority on the subject.
“I can tell you
right now, my big brother ain’t never had one of them. He hates
doctors, and I doubt would ever consent to such a procedure.” Shane
said quietly. Cole cringed and shook his head motioning to the
boy. Oblio was crying. Shane put his arms around him and
pulled him close.
“If he don’t, or
he don’t let me do something for him, he’s gonna’ die jes’ like that
old cowboy. I don’t want Uncle Angus to die. I love Uncle
Angus. He’s a good man. He’s ma’ buddy.” he moaned.
Shane tried to comfort and assure the boy they would see to it his
Uncle Angus didn’t die. The truth was, Shane and Cole were
devastated. They wasted no time getting Angus to sickbay on the
Bandersnatch. Shane and Cole took Oblio with them and told Cable
what the boy revealed to them. Cable smiled, picked Oblio up, set
him on a table and spoke to him.
“We will check
out your uncle, Son, but if you say he’s got colorectal cancer, that’s
good enough for me. I’ve already sent for Basil Troubadour,
Commander Jones, Indigo/Blue, Jesse Watkins and Utah. I’ve called
for Admiral Long, Charlie, Waco and Little Bear. They should be
here any minute. That’s how much confidence I have in your
diagnosis.” he smiled and patted Oblio on his round little head.
The boy looked concerned.
and his men were due a few days leave from the Holy City anyway, Jones
fulfilled his obligations for that period, so Scudder gave them
permission to go a little early. Everyone was gathered, waiting
for him when Angus came through with gate. Shane’s message
sounded urgent. When he saw the gathered healers and Cable’s
medical team he knew something was up.
Angus asked and saw everyone looking at him.
“We need to run
a couple of test on you, cowboy.” Admiral Long said.
Angus went into defensive mode.
“We’ll tell you
after we run the test.”
“What kind of
tests?” he asked Cable.
“A blood PSA, a
CCSA-2 test for colorectal cancer, and a scan of your body to see what
we can find.” he replied.
nothing wrong with me. I ain’t got no cancer.” he barked.
fine. If positive, we need to do something about it right
now.” Charlie told him. “According to Lazarus and all the
medical personnel here, colorectal cancer is totally curable if caught
in time. Fortunately for you, you have a concerned nephew who
detected the smell of cancer on you while sitting in your lap at the
Angus looked at
Oblio sitting on the table and went to him.
“I know my
nephew won't lie to me. We's buddies, him and me. Is he
Son? Is ma’ brother telling me the truth? They ain’t jes’
gang’n up on me to trick me into some’um?” he asked him.
“Naw, Sir, Uncle
Angus, they ain’t trying to trick you. Master Charlie’s telling
you the truth. Remember that old cowboy ya’ll took me to see over
to one a them Steele boy’s ranch?”
was too far gone for you to help him.” Angus recalled. “I remember it
almost broke your heart. I's worried about you for several days.”
that terrible smell in his room what almost made you puke? You
got that same smell, Uncle Angus, only not so strong. It's faint,
but it's there. I forgot to say anything until
this morning while I’s talking with Pa Shane and Cole.” tears started
running down his face. Angus took him into his arms and comforted
him. “Please, Uncle Angus, let them check you out. It won’t
hurt chu’ none, and if'n I'm wrong, it would put my mind to rest.” he
“Well, if you
say so, Son, I will. I wouldn’t for nobody else, but if you’re
that worried, I’ll do it to ease your mind.” he smiled and kissed away
Angus’ blood, and he was positive for both tests. The scan showed
two small polyps and one larger one that was mere days away from
becoming malignant and another half-dozen or so which needed to be
Angus looked defeated. Shane never saw fear in his oldest
brother before. Shane couldn’t imagine Angus knew the meaning of
but what he saw on the old cowboy’s face was the reality of facing his
own mortality. His heart went out to his brother.
worry. Thanks to your nephew, I think we caught it in time, but
we need to act today.” Lazarus spoke, “Charlie, Waco and Little Bear
will go over to your place to help Jimmy Joe and do whatever needs to
be done. Follow Cable and this group of healer’s advice and you
should be out of here and on your way home by early afternoon.
Right, Son?” Lazarus asked Cable.
problem. We can fix him up as soon as we get him cleaned out.”
That could take days.” said Charlie. Everyone laughed. It
was a much needed relief to a serious situation.
brother.” Angus growled.
“Good one, Dad!”
complimented Waco. Everyone was laughing and patting Charlie on
the back. Angus finally grinned.
on staying by his uncle’s side even though there were five other
healers to see to him in an emergency. Shane and Cole cancelled
everything for the day to be with him. Rocky and Ben were
like two giant shadows everywhere Oblio went and Shane asked them to
stay. Monty was down three crew members, but he was told by Shane
he needed the three men with him for the day. Shane and Cole
Oblio, Ben and Rocky with them when they went somewhere, so
Monty didn’t think anything of it. They didn't have anything of
major importance scheduled anyway. Cable gave Angus
laxative and the men set around waiting for the bottom to fall
out. It didn’t take long. After that, Cable and his men got
into the cleansing area with him and thoroughly cleaned him, inside and
out. He was clean as a whistle when he returned.
lie on the table on his side. They sedated him and started the
procedure. Everything went fine until Cable located and started
to remove the first, the largest of the pre-malignant polyps. He
underestimated its size and just as he was beginning to snip it off, he
suddenly realized it was much larger than he originally thought.
It was about the size of a golf ball. It was too late. He
already made the cut but had to make another of equal length to
completely release the growth. He was going to halt the procedure
when Jesse told him to make the cut. There were enough healers to
back him up in case of an emergency. Cable reluctantly made the
cut, the polyp was free, but Angus started hemorrhaging from the
wound. Cable tried everything to staunch the flow but was
unsuccessful. He announced to the people waiting what happened
expressed his concern.
“If I can’t stop
the flow by surgical procedures, I have to open him up and do a bowel
resection. I might have to cut out as much as a foot of his lower
colon. I will need several blood donors.” Cable said
me go in. I can heal him. I can stop it. I have Uncle
Angus’ DNA on file inside me.” Oblio cried.
inside? How? What to you mean, Son?” Cable asked.
Shane’s mouth dropped open. Oblio looked from Ben to Rocky.
“We been working
with Oblio privately teaching him some basics of his inherited genetic
makeup. He has some unique abilities his father ain’t developed
yet. Go ahead, Son, show them. It’s probably the quickest
and easiest way.” Everyone watched as Oblio started to glow a
bright blueish white color and dissolved into a small ball of a bright
blue-green light surrounded by an active plasma and halo of
light. It was the most incredible thing any man or bio-droid in
the room ever saw. His clothes fell to the floor around his small
cowboy boots as he began
to move slowly toward the table and Angus’ body.
exclaimed Brett Jones. “Another life-form altogether. Almost
like a complementary form to match our own. How wonderful.
Well done, Oblio. Basil, help him. You got the experience
these matters.” Brett Jones urged his mate. Basil didn’t
say a word but suddenly dissolved into micro-particles the size of dust
or smaller and began to flow toward Angus as his clothes joined Oblio's
on the floor of sickbay. Jonathan gathered them and set them
aside for the men.
instruments, Cable, and insert a speculum. Open him just enough
so they may enter, then close and gently inflate his colon with
air.” Jesse instructed. Cable quickly did as he was
told. He had a grim, worried look on his face. He inserted
the speculum and opened Angus’ anus. Everyone watched the small
bright light go inside the big cowboy, followed closely by the dust
particles that were from Basil. Jesse told Cable to remove the
speculum and he did. He took the air hose and gently began to
inflate Angus’ colon. Angus’ body suddenly took on a beautiful
blueish-green glow like he was surrounded by St. Elmo’s fire.
They watched the progress of the two entities on an overhead vid-screen.
<< Can you
hear me, Oblio? >> Basil sent.
very well, Mr. Troubadour. Thanks for joining me. >>
<< Call me
Basil, Son. You light up the way. I’ll take care of the
smaller stuff. Can you stop the flow by yourself or do you need
my help? >>
Sir. I’m on it. >> Oblio seemed sure of
himself. Everyone watched breathlessly as the heavy bleeding
immediately began to slow and finally stopped altogether. They
watched in amazement as the wound sealed itself. It was only a
matter of zapping the remaining polyps, and they were finished.
The job was done and Angus was good for another several hundred
thousand miles or until his next checkup. Jesse, Utah,
Brett Jones, Shane, Cole, Cable and his men set and watched in
awe. The kid did what he said he could do, and they were
amazed. Cable was worried he made a mistake. He was
“Don’t lose your
self-confidence, Son.” comforted Jesse. “You done the right
thing. It could’ve happened to anyone. You did your
best. I was witness to it. I urged you to cut on
through. I’ll take full responsibility. You done just what
I told you to do.” Jesse assured him. Cable was somewhat
calmed. His brothers tried to reassure him. Lazarus spoke
up, “If worse came to worse, and we didn’t have these remarkable
healers, a bowel resection was the only option. You could’ve
easily done it. I’ve seen you, and our healers would’ve helped
with the healing. Let it go, Son.” Lazarus told him.
Then the Admiral advised him to reinsert the speculum. Basil and
Oblio were waiting to get out. Cable obliged, they returned to
the room and rematerialized into human form. They were naked, but
that didn’t stop Basil from taking Oblio into his arms, giving him a
big hug and a kiss. The rest of the men applauded their efforts.
brilliant, young man. You saved Mr. Goodnight from having to go
through a major operation. Congratulations.” Basil said and
let him go into his master’s arms. Shane took him from Basil,
to his chest and gave him a hug and a big kiss. Cole was next,
then the rest congratulated him. Shane didn’t forget Basil and
had a hug and a kiss for him. Everyone was in better spirits now
the crisis was over. Cable asked for a couple of blood donors
with “O” negative blood. Shane and Cole volunteered. They
each gave Angus a pint of their blood. He finally came around but
was weak, groggy and grumpy. Cable decided he wanted to keep him
overnight to make sure there was no further incident of bleeding.
He didn’t expect any, but it was just good practice.
Oblio refused to
budge to go with his masters and his big brothers. He was going
to stay by his uncle’s side until he was feeling better. Shane
gave in when Cole told him the boy earned the right and Cable told him
they would look after him. The
Kryscellians heard of Angus’ ordeal and came to him and Oblio.
They had the boy remove his clothing and get into bed next to his
uncle. Oblio held his big cowboy uncle as the beautiful crystals
sang and bathed the two of them in the healing rays of their
light. Oblio learned and absorbed more than just their healing
rays. He began to understand their structure and learned to make
sense of silicon life. He saw how their intelligence and that of
the whale brains were similar. He learned much from their
visit. They learned from him as well. Early the next
morning Shane and Cole came into the small room off sickbay to find
Angus and Oblio in bed together, naked, side by side, sitting up,
a nice breakfast Cable’s men provided for them.
“What are you
doing in bed with your uncle, Son?” Shane asked with surprise.
“Hesh up, baby
brother! You leave that boy be. ‘At boy spent the night
hold’n onto me like I’s a drown’n man and he was my lifesaver, while
them good crystal folks watched over us, sang to us and healed
done his best to make sure his old uncle was comfortable and had a good
night. The kid done a good job, and I love him for it. He’s
having his breakfast. You crawl up my big cowboy butt, save my
life and you
can lie naked in bed with me and have breakfast, too.” Angus grinned.
son, and my slave. You got a pint of me and ma' pa's blood in
cowboy. Don’t that count for some'um?” Shane protested.
“You can have a
piece of bacon, but only one!” Angus barked.
“You’re a hard
man, brother.” Shane grinned. They shared a laugh. Oblio
was in heaven lying in bed having breakfast with his big cowboy uncle.
Monty and Jimmy
Joe heard Angus was in sickbay overnight for a checkup, but they didn’t
hear any details. Maxine mentioned Oblio was with his uncle all
night. Monty asked him what happened.
never had a colonoscopy before. I saw on my medical programs how
important they are for men over fifty. I talked him into it, and
I told him I would go with him. Weren’t nothing to it
really. Cable took care of him and he’s fine. When’s the
last time you had one, Ramrod?” Oblio asked Jimmy Joe and
The ramrod looked down at his boots and shuffled them in the dirt like
he was nervous.
“Uhh, a couple
months ago I think it was. I can’t remember, I’d haf’ta’ check.”
he lied through his teeth. He never had one. He didn’t
fool Oblio for a minute.
* * * * * * *
Shane put out
the word to both ranches the coyotes and other wild critters were not
to be poisoned or shot by the cowboys. He explained he wasn’t
trying to be a tree hugging conservationist, but he had his
reasons. Shane grew in such stature and respect with the men who
worked under him they didn’t question his decisions.
The truth was the coyotes acted more like scavengers than outright
killers. They would, on occasion, bring down a ewe or a lamb but
by and large they didn’t do much killing. They mostly hunted and
killed smaller animals and fowl. Coyote John and Criga were too
intelligent to go after the smaller domesticated animals like Maxine
and her siblings. They came to depend on them for gossip about
what was going on around the ranches. Coyote John and Criga were
about the only permanent coyotes they had on the ranches. After
they raised a litter of pups, she and John would run them off to find
their own territories. John kept the boundaries of his territory
well marked and patrolled them regularly. If another coyote or
one of their pups tried to venture back into his territory Coyote John
would run them off. Then he would go and refresh his
markers; much like he did when he was a human.
Shane knew Monty
warned Coyote John and Criga not to kill the livestock but was secretly
providing them with a portion of every animal they slaughtered.
The first thing a wild canid will eat when they kill an animal is their
intestines and internal organs. On the ranch those portions were
usually thrown away. Monty would sometimes take a couple of five
gallon plastic buckets of the waste and dump them on the ground for the
coyotes. He would include bits and pieces of offal that would
otherwise be thrown away. They never went hungry. When
Monty heard of Shane’s decision he was surprised, and wondered if Shane
suspected something. It wouldn’t be the first time or the last
Shane was wise enough to see through one of Monty’s schemes.
Since most were harmless and well thought out, Shane indulged him his
little secrets. Shane was keeping score in case Monty became
indignant about his keeping Oblio’s birth a secret from him. He
didn’t think it would be a problem, but as Oblio got older and
developed more of his abilities, the more difficult it was becoming to
keep his parentage a secret. One thing Shane couldn’t figure out
Coyote John was aware of Oblio being Monty’s son, why hadn’t he told
Monty about him. He asked Oblio.
John know you’re Monty’s son?”
At least, I don’t think so. I told him the same thing you told my
dad. I’s an illegitimate child of one of your brothers, and
even though I'm yore' nephew, I gotta' live as your slave, because it's
the law. He told me he thought it was another one a' them rotten
whitemen laws what didn't make no sense to him. He said he was
sorry but thought I probably got the best end of the deal. I
him, and that was the end of it. He don’t know nothing about my
abilities. I done told him I was born a little early and raised
on lummox milk which
the ability to hear him. He’s jes’ fish’n when he asked if I
could change him back into a human. I told him I couldn’t, but it
weren’t no lie. I can’t, ‘cause I ain’t got his human DNA in my
Shane allowed, then added, “You don’t believe that crap about you being
illegitimate, do you, boy?” he asked.
“I don’t know,
Pa. I had a mom and a dad who never got married. I guess I
fit the meaning of the word, but there weren’t nothing I could do about
it. H’it don’t seem fair, somehow, I gotta’ carry that title
with me and be a slave all my life when it weren’t my fault.”
don’t. That ain’t true. While it’s true the circumstances
of your birth might fit the definition of the word, the word don’t fit
the meaning of you. Don’t never confuse the two. Don’t you
never think for a minute you ain’t legitimate. There’s another
word what cancels out that awful word and makes it meaningless.
You know what that word is, boy?” Shane challenged.
Son. What makes you legitimate is the love folks have for you and
the love you have for them. Nothing else matters. As long
as there’s one critter on this planet what loves you, you’re
legitimate. Don’t chu’ never forget it.” Shane admonished
him. “Are you worried about the slave part?” Shane asked.
That’s just a label. I know what it used to mean. I know
what it’s suppose to mean. I know what it means to other ranchers
what ain’t good men like you and Boss Potter. You treat all your
slaves like family. I don’t feel like no slave. I feel like
I’m your son. The respect I show you and grandpa Cole as my
parents is the same as I'd have to show you as a slave; 'cept'n for
paying homage to yore' boots, but I come to think it wouldn't do
free-boys no harm to show that respect for their daddies. H'it's
just another form of love and respect as far as I'm concerned.”
“As long as you
call me ‘pa’ you are my son, boy, and don't chu' never forget it.
Yore’ favorite cowboy slave buddy Lucas is his dad’s
slave, but he calls him his ‘pa.’ And I agree with you, to have
you pay homage to my old boots once in a while is an act of love and
respect. It says to me you love and honor yore' master enough to
pay homage to him.”
“Lucas and me,
we done had us
some good talks. He’s a super-intelligent guy. He helped me
understand why it’s safer for me to be a slave right now. He says
he don’t think we’ll be slaves all our lives, but he weren't in no
hurry to give up being his dad's slave.” Oblio watched Shane’s
“Lucas Long is a
good man. You can listen to him. You can trust what he
tells you. He knows what he’s talking about.” Shane hugged him.
“Do you love me,
Pa Shane?” he asked.
“More than all
them stars in that big sky, boy.” Shane said without hesitation.
“I love you,
too, Pa. When we tell Monty I’s his son, will you stop being my
“Naw, not on
yore' life, buckaroo. Me and my pa got too much invested in
you. You grow'd to be a part of us. We ain’t
giving you up that easy. We
become accustom to your face.
looks jes’ like mine. Me, Dexter and you
look like we’s a matched
set. That makes me feel good. We come to love you,
boy, like you's our own. You make the moon go
down, the stars come out at night, and the sun come up in the morning
for us. We ain't about to give you up. Do
you think you could give me and yore'
old gram'pa up?”
Shane replied grinning at Cole.
“I wouldn’t want
to. It would make me awful unhappy.” lamented Oblio.
“Tell you what,
Scout, after we tell him, you can call Monty 'dad,' but I’ll always be
“I’d like that.”
he replied. "Will you always be my gram'pa, Ramrod
Jenkins?" he looked at Cole with hope in his eyes.
"Forever and a day, cowboy." Cole replied with a smile.
* * * * * * *
down with the Grange and the government after the incident on the
dark side of the Moon. Scudder seemed to be keeping his promise
to Jesse. He stopped all investigations into alleged crashes of
extraterrestrial phenomona. It somewhat angered his
fundamentalist base, but it was long past Scudder’s caring what they
thought. He and Bush used them to gain absolute power. They
throw them a fish from time to time, but beyond that they did pretty
what they damn well pleased. Scudder didn’t really need them
anymore. Besides, he became more and more aware several members
of his staff were secret members of different Granges all over the
country. He never confronted them, because they were all devoted
employees and faithful to him. In a way, he found some modicum of
comfort knowing these people were keeping an eye on him. Any
other dictator would’ve become paranoid, had them rounded up and sent
to Cheney camps. Not so with Scudder. He didn’t for three
reasons: they never did anything to threaten him or jeopardize his
power; the Grange
members, with which he had contact, while meting out justice for his
indiscretions may have seemed harsh, he had to admit to himself
they were fair; and finally, if he did send them to Cheney camps, he
knew they would be ‘raptured’ within days, he would never see them
again, and they were some of his most trusted and valued
employees. He expressed his conundrum to Austin and compared it
to pissing on a burning hog. Austin didn’t quite understand the
metaphor, but the visual Scudder’s words conjured up sufficed.
Austin had a sage answer.
“Why the hell
would you even contemplate such a thing? It would be like sinking
the lifeboats.” he asked with dramatic emphasis. Scudder had no
problem with Austin’s metaphor. “S’a good thing you weren’t on
the Titanic. No one would’ve survived.” Taycious zinged him.
“You would have,
you wretched bitch, you got ice water in your veins!” he replied.
* * * * * * *
Shane Goodnight, and Judge Potter received a special invitation from
the preacher David W. Yates to attend a special pancake supper and
dedication service in the recreation/dining hall of his new
church Friday evening. Also invited were Ramrod Long,
Ramrod Russell, and Ramrod Jenkins. Shane and Potter were amused,
because usually the church people would never invite a slave to one of
their functions. Yates was smart enough to know how solid some
masters were with their slaves, especially ones in whom they put a good
deal of trust. They were not stupid to the other ramifications of
those relationships either, but were wise enough not to speak of
them. There was some discussion among the members of the church
council, of which Charlie Ruggles was the head deacon and lay preacher,
but Yates put it to them: no Ramrod Jenkins, no Shane Goodnight or his
business partner. No Goodnight/Potter, no Grange.
were neatly handwritten by Yate’s wife Abigail, the daughter of Sonny
and Vivian Steele. It was to be an informal dedication service
completion of the new church and since Lazarus Long, the Goodnight
brothers and the Grange were mainly responsible for funding the
building project and making sure Yates and his wife had food on their
table, they were to be included in the dedication. Also invited
were Sonny Steele, his wife, their four rancher sons, and their
ramrods. Not only was Sonny, his sons and Warren relatives of
were very high placed members of the local Grange. Charlie called
a meeting of the Grange at his place open to anyone who wanted to
attend. Charlie’s largest barn was packed. Grange ranchers,
their families and many slaves were literally hanging from the
rafters. The place was packed. Charlie led the meeting,
because he hosted it, and it was on his ranch. He told about the
invitation and threw it open for comments. There were a lot of
ideas. Most thought they should go because the Grange and it’s
good works should be acknowledged, and it might be inconsiderate not to
allow them to be gracious. Things deteriorated so bad, women
of the Grange who were life long friends of members of the church would
be publically shunned by the bible crowd. Many thought it would
be a fine one-upmanship to attend. However, one old cowboy slave
in the back rose, held up his hand, and ask Mr. Goodnight for
permission to speak.
“Mr. Wade, you
got some'um you'd like to say, Sir? You know we make no
distinctions in our meetings.” Charlie reassured the old cowboy slave.
wanna’ offend nobody, Master Goodnight.”
mind, Sir.” Charlie encouraged him.
Trojan Horse.” he said and waited for it to sink in.
“I think I know
what you’re saying, Mr. Wade. You think they might be asking us
for one reason, but h’it ain’t the real reason they’s inviting us,
right?” Charlie smiled at him.
“I knew you’d
understand, Master Charlie.” Gene Wade said.
“Do you have
more information you’d like to share with us, Mr. Wade? It might
be helpful if we’re being setup and walking into an uncomfortable
about the slave telegraph.” Wade began, “Don’t matter none if it’s
Grange or not. Us slaves of the Grange are more selective what we
share for obvious reasons, but the slaves of the religious lot mostly
hate the way their master’s treat ‘em so they tell us ever’
thing. We done hear’d they’s gonna’ try’n force you men into
telling them how you protect your cattle, slaves and folks while they
keep getting hit by them aliens. Some of their smaller ranchers
are about to go
under. Even with the slow down of the abductions, they’s still
the ones the aliens is pick’n on.”
of news, Mr. Wade. We certainly appreciate the information.
Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share with us, Sir?”
Charlie encouraged him.
“Naw, Sir, other
than urging you men to be wary and prepared. I don’t hold much
stock in religion, ma'self, but if'n they's a way for us all to think
thoughts while you men are meeting with them, it would be a small
comfort to me and a lot of other salves.” he allowed.
“I got a
feeling we’re gonna’ need all the help we can get, Mr. Wade.
Anyone wanting to keep us in their thoughts and wish us well are
certainly encouraged to do so. Even though it smacks of prayer, I
don’t think it would do no harm. Any thoughts?” Charlie asked the
crowed. Lazarus held up his hand. Charlie acknowledged him.
“I think it
would be a fine idea. Men have prayed for centuries even when
they didn’t know who or what they’s praying to. Prayer only
becomes dangerous when people expect unrealistic results from something
what can’t be measured or its effectiveness proven. A
fundamentalist family who believes it’s their mission in life to
protect every unborn baby from conception to birth, will allow their
sick child to die rather than seek professional medical care.
Their child may only need minor treatment, but they believe they only
have to pray and God will heal them. An innocent child, who has
no advocate to speak for them, is allowed to die, often in unspeakable
pain, because of his or her parent’s stubborn, unbendingly rigid,
ignorant, fundamentalist religious beliefs which keep them from seeking
medical help. Then, the concept of prayer becomes the worst
possible form of delusion bordering on insanity. It is an equally
sick and fundamentally deranged public what turns its head the other
and not offer condemnation of the parents because it’s afraid of
offending someone’s religious beliefs.
say to you, anyone who allows a child to die under such circumstances
should be held responsible and charged with first degree murder or at
the very least manslaughter on the grounds of criminal
negligence. Just as claiming ignorance of the law is no excuse,
there should be no excuse for such mind numbing stupidity. Make
no mistake, religion of any kind carried to the extremes of
fundamentalism breeds and supports such ignorance. Insanity ain’t
inherited. Parents very carefully and methodically teach it to
their children one day at a time, pouring their delusions,
superstitions, and hatreds into them in a toxic brew as a substitute
for the milk of human kindness, and evolution comes to a screeching
halt. If they can’t kill Darwin one way, they’ll do it another
until one is born among them without the compliance gene, leaves the
nest and finds a better, more full life for themselves without fear and
self-loathing. The child who walks away from the cult of death,
out of the darkness and into the light, bears a heavy load. He
carries with him or her the greater hope for humanity. Freedom
from superstition of myths becomes his holy grail.
godless as I like to think I am, I often find myself offering up a
prayer for someone or some situation to turn out for the best. I
tell myself it’s because I’m a secular humanist. I do it, because
care about those I love, and I’d like to think my positive projections
will make a difference, but I know in my heart that really ain’t
the truth. The truth is, it’s second nature for most of us.
It’s either a holdover from our childhood or our earlier, more
primitive days, but then again so’s a lot of our customs.
Sometimes, when I wake in the morning, I got a good night’s sleep, feel
great, set my feet on the floor, ma’ boy comes in with a cup a’ coffee
for me, wishes me a ‘good morning,’ gives me a quick, sweet kiss to
day, I think it couldn’t git no better’n this, and I voice a word of
thanks to the universe for a good night’s rest and the promise of
a new day. If some god or ancient happens to be listening,
more’s the better. Good, positive thoughts ain’t never hurt no
man; they don’t cost nothing, and who knows, good vibrations might be
the difference between success or failure. You don’t need
religion to tell you that. Them old Beach Boys is happy to tell
you all about it. Hell, you can’t listen to their song without
knowing they were sure of it. You gotta’ believe ‘em when they
sing about them ‘Good Vibrations.’ Why, they make you wanna’
stand up and testify; either that, or grab yore’self a boggie-board and
run for the surf.” Everyone laughed and applauded Lazarus.
got up and said he thought giving the fundie ranchers too much
information would open up a larger can of worms.
wanna’ know how we come by such information, and why we never told them
before now? Either way we’s screwed. What will you tell
them? We wanted the aliens to come after them, so we kept it
secret? That could start a range war not seen since the Lincoln
County wars in New Mexico in the eighteen hundreds or the Hoo-Doo wars
of Mason county, Texas
between the German and Anglo-Scott-Irish european immigrants.
if you allow them the information, the aliens are gonna’ come after us
again. How much time we got left on this world, Ramrod
Long? Is playing patty cakes with them religious loons gonna’
further our cause that much? Beside, you give ‘em som' bitches an
inch, and they’ll be knocking on our doors day and night
their bibles and pamphlets in hand insisting we be born again. I
don't need to be born again. I done got it right the first
time. Speaking for me and my
family, we got used to not having anything to do with ‘em. I
ain’t ready to start now.”
“You bring up
some good points, Sam.” Lazarus said, “We honestly don’t know how much
time was got left, but it ain’t long. My best guess is two to
four years; maybe more. Then again, something big could happen
would move things up pert-damn quick. We got us a reprieve for a
while, but it’s gonna’ git worse as soon as them aliens get their
facilities back on line. We may postpone leaving for another
couple of years at the most. Nevertheless, we have to think and
decide our actions with that in mind. To put yore' mind at ease,
leaning to the way you’re thinking. We rebuilt their house of
worship, let them pray to their god to make them aliens stop taking
their cattle and slaves. If they’s so sure he hears their
prayers, let him intercede for them.” Everyone applauded Lazarus
and Sam. There was almost complete agreement among the ranchers
and the town folks who threw their lot in with the Grange.
They asked for a
show of hands and everyone was allowed to vote, including slaves and
critters. Children under the age of twelve were excluded.
It was almost unanimous with only a handful of dissenters.
Charlie asked if anyone had a better idea or wanted to express an
opposing opinion. No one did except one little lady, Ms. Betty
Bob Dove, stood up and said she thought they should be good to all
people no matter how stupid they were. Some snickered at her, but
Charlie and Lazarus didn’t.
and appreciate your thought, Ms. Dove, but we’re in a race to save our
lives. We have to make decisions that will be for the greater
good of our people. The church folks will be lost after we
leave. They’ve chosen their fate. There’s little we can do
for them now what will make a difference. It might be different
if they humbled themselves and came to us with their hats in their
hands. That ain’t gonna’ happen. My best guess is they will
be arrogant, demanding and quickly alienate us. If so, the best
we can do is be gracious and withdraw. There will be no reasoning
with them. There are no words what will convince them they’re
being unreasonable, but we promise we will be good to them. We
jes’ won’t let them bully us into helping them when we're certain they
the same for us.
The trouble with their level of conservatism is,
it becomes pathologically self-centered, and due to years of ingrained
fears and phobias it precludes them from considering anyone’s welfare
but their own and that of their immediate family. They like to
use the term ‘bleeding heart liberals’ to define anyone even slightly
left of center. It’s a pity. They live exactly opposite
from the teachings of Jesus. If you take his teachings and
actions into consideration, by any definition Christ would be
considered a card carrying liberal today. There are certain sects
of Catholicism called the sacred order of the bleeding heart of
Jesus. The irony is, they’re also one of the most conservative
groups in all Christendom.” Lazarus patiently explained. It
was a little more information than she needed, but Ms. Dove was
satisfied they would try to be good to the fundamentalist.
The men thought
it was strange they would have a dedication ceremony on a Friday
evening rather than a Sunday afternoon. Vivian Steele told them
her daughter let it slip the pancake supper was a private dedication
ceremony and the main, public, ceremony would be during the morning
church service the following Sunday. Vivian explained Yates
didn't want to give the Grange credit for their generous contributions
and help during his public dedication before his congregation.
She laughingly assured the men the Grange would not be mentioned during
that dedication. The church board planned this private dedication
and 'thank you' to placate the Grange and get them out of the
Charlie accepted the invitation on
behalf of the Grange. There
was a delegation from the Grange of twenty good size men. There
were only a couple of women invited to attend: Vivian Steele; the
sheriff’s wife, Emma Lassiter; and, Mary Gibbons, Ranger Gibbons wife
who seemed to have won her battle with cancer and for the time being
was fully recovered.
The Grange members
met at Charlie Goodnight’s ranch and car pooled into town to the
For a small town the big brick church looked
impressive. There was no expense spared to create the finest
church the Grange’s money could afford. They were met by a
welcoming committee, the preacher and his wife. They took them on
a brief tour and showed them the beauty of the sanctuary. There
were six beautiful stained glass windows on each side, floor to
ceiling, depicting scenes from biblical accounts of Christ’s life.
At the base of
each window was a small brass plaque with a dedication to some high
person or family in the church. They weren’t surprised to see
Charlie Ruggles name on one, but they were a bit bemused to see the
Goodnight family on one listing the various members. There was
one dedicated to Judge Potter for his good works and contributions to
the church building funds. One was dedicated to Lazarus Long for
his personal contributions and encouragement in the building of the new
church. However, the most beautiful window and the focal point of
the whole church loomed high and mighty behind the altar, pulpit,
organ and choir loft. It was magnificent. It was a tribute
to the stain glass maker’s art. It was a masterpiece.
the center was the risen Christ in long white robes beginning his
ascent into heaven. His feet were noticeabley wounded and copious
amounts of blood flowed from the gaping holes down his toes onto the
ground from which he was ascending. He was depicted as a white
male about the age
of thirty with long, flowing, very blond hair and blue eyes with a
mournful countenance on his face. He’s holding his right pierced
and bleeding hand up
toward some rays of light shining down on him from the sky, while his
left hand, also bleeding, trails down toward Mary Magdalene and his
apostles he’s having to leave behind. Mary Magdalene
has her right hand reaching toward Christ while her left is stretched
out toward the apostles coming up a hill to witness the
ascension. Her head is turned toward them urging them to follow
her to witness the risen Christ. The window was the jewel in the
crown of the church. It was incredibly beautiful, but as glorious
as the window was, there was just something not quite right about
it. Instead of depicting Mary Magdalene as a beautiful woman, she
looked rather like a dog. No, not quite a dog, but damn close to
being a butt ugly mutt. The men of the Grange were silent for a
few minutes taking it in when Sonny Steele spoke what was on everyone’s
“Oh, my, God!”
he exclaimed quietly, and started laughing. Charlie and
Lazarus were dumbstruck. Ranger Gibbons, to whom nothing was
sacred, started laughing. Shane thought he would have to break
Angus' arm to keep him sober. Instead he settled for pinching him
hard. Angus jumped but still laughed. It suddenly dawned on
the men, at approximately the same time, the picture of Mary Magdalene
was none other than the preacher, David Yates, in drag. It was an
exact copy of one of the photos the Grange sent him to keep him from
speaking out against them a number of years before. It
quite a bit of conversation to say the least. Yates overheard
them talking and snickering. He went into damage control mode.
“Ah, I see you
gentlemen noticed the family resemblance of Mary Magdalene. I
gave the artist a photo of my late, dearly departed sister, whose name
was also Mary to immortalize her within the beauty of the window.” he
explained like there should be no doubt about his truth or sincerity.
commented Vivian Steele, “Simply stunning. It captures her
essence perfectly. She was such a dear.” she allowed and Sonny
turned into his dad’s arms to hide his laughter. It looked like
his whole body was racked with heavy sobbing.
“Are you all
right, Dad Steele?” Yates inquired of his father-in-law.
Son.” replied Warren. “He’s just a bit emotionally overcome
from the beauty and message of the window. Beautiful. Truly
a fine work of art.” encouraged Sonny’s dad. Then he whispered to
Sonny, “If you don’t stop laughing I’m a’ gonna’ knee you in the balls,
boy!” That only added fuel to Sonny’s fire, and he laughed
harder. The other men tried to be more gracious, and for Yates’
sake accepted his explanation with limited stifled coughs and
titters. Later they all agreed it was the high point of their
visit. On the return trip, in Charlie’s huge ranch van, Vivian
Steele revealed to all the cowboys David Yates was an only child.
The caravan had to pull over to the side of the road everyone was
laughing so hard.
As the evening
progressed, speeches were made and thanks given. Charlie was
nominated to give a brief speech on behalf of the men from the
Grange. Charlie was not a man to give speeches, but when he was
into the role of leadership, he accepted his position like
everything else in life he undertook, with dignity, intelligence and
He gave a broad, general talk about how the Grange felt it was their
duty to help provide a fine, comfortable place of worship for the
Pentecostals of their community. There was nothing in his
speech that hinted of separatism or the Grange’s distaste for
fundamentalism. Waco couldn’t have been more proud of his
dad. Lazarus was pretty damn impressed with him as well.
Charlie’s oldest and dearest friend, Ranger Gibbons, gave him a big hug
to congratulate him on a job well done.
to the pancake supper which the women of the church were busy
preparing. It was a nice meal and there was plenty for
everyone. Talk was general but cordial around the table.
The non-grange members were interested in Waco’s future as a ball
player for Texas A&M. He was gracious and answered the
men’s questions respectfully. The only man who was quiet most of
the meal was
Charlie Ruggles. It was like Yates threatened him with his life
if he caused a stir. Ruggles was far too sure of himself to let
Yates intimidate him. He warmed up by asking Shane how his
grandson was getting along.
fine, Sir. I adopted him as my own son. Naturally, he has
live his life as a slave, but he has the benefit of growing up in an
environment where he’s loved and appreciated for his talents.
Here, I just happened to bring a photo in case you asked.” Shane
whipped out a picture from the pocket of his Western shirt.
“My, God, he
looks jes’ like you!” Ruggles exclaimed.
remarkable, ain’t it? Others have noticed and made the same
“Then, I take it
you ain’t told Dundee the boy’s his son.”
“No, we decided
not to until Monty’s indenturement is complete. That’s only
another two years. The boy gets to see and be with his dad almost
everyday. They spend a lot of quality time together. They
treat each other as brothers.”
“What’d ju’ name
him?” Ruggles asked.
Goodnight.” Shane said with pride.
What kind of a name is that?” he challenged.
“A good one.”
replied Shane, then added, “He understands it’s a temporary name until
he reaches puberty, then he may choose his own name.”
“Why would you
do a thing like that?” he asked.
“Because I’m a
nice guy.” Shane answered. Ruggles wasn’t amused.
“So when can we
expect you men to start coming to the only true church in town?” he
boldly asked with a sneer on his face. Everyone was quite.
Yates turned pale and shot Ruggles a look intended to choke off his air
supply. Ruggles ignored him.
Sunday services regularly at the Episcopal Church on the other side of
town. It ain’t quite as elegant and shiny as your beautiful new
church, but it’s comfortable for us.” replied Charlie, not looking for
“Yeah, we know
about what them people believe: Everything in moderation or as we
call it, Christianity-lite.” Ruggles grunted and
several of his cronies agreed with him.
“We rather like
it that way. Less calories in the burn-forever department.” shot
back Charlie. Everyone fell out laughing including Yates.
Ruggles didn't expect such a quick, intelligent comeback from
Charlie. He was not amused.
“Cut to the
chase, Ruggles!” one of his fellow ranchers demanded.
“We wanna’ know
what you men been doing to keep them aliens from abducting your
“We pray a lot.”
answered Charlie. For staunch church people the non-grange men
looked at Charlie incredulously. They didn’t believe him for a
“You pray a
lot?” Ruggles repeated like he thought Charlie’s answer was a
slap in the face, “Look, we know you been blowing up their ships and we
wanna’ know how you’re doing it. How are you keeping them from
abducting your children and slaves? Hell, we even been losing our
horses and pets.” Ruggles continued. “In the name of human
decency we need your help.”
Charlie tried to calm him, “I don’t think you want to compare our
decency with yours. You have this fine new house of worship; you
folks believe in no nonsense, heavy-duty, industrial strength
salvation-in-a-drum as opposed to what you consider our beliefs:
Christianity-lite, which comes in an easy to carry, lightly scented
applicator bottle. It comes in three strengths known as the
trinity; the strongest is the "Father"; next is the "Son" and the
lightest, of course, is "The Holy Ghost." It’s basically the same
product as yours except we buy the strength we need and use it
sparingly. Like ketchup, you folks use it on
everything, so you buy in bulk, but I guess it’s to be expected from a
Sprawlmart mentality. There ain’t no doubt in our minds you
believe god hears your prayers and answers them. Would you deny
Of course not. Certainly we believe it!” exclaimed Ruggles,
“Don’t you think we been doing our fair share of pray'n?” he challenged
“Well, I don’t
know what to tell you, Mr. Ruggles. It seems to work for
us. All we can suggest is you might want to reconsider your
approach or pray harder. Maybe some industrial strength prayers might
do the trick. Perhaps, some sort of sacrifice might help.”
Charlie smiled. Lazarus damn near fell off his chair at
Charlie’s somewhat unorthodox response. Several of the Grange men
chuckled. Waco had to stifle a laugh and coughed into his
fist. Lazarus hoped Charlie wouldn’t continue his line of
thought. He was sure they were crazy enough they just might try
You mean like a burnt offering? Offering a perfect red
calf? A perfect, first born lamb, perhaps? Maybe one of our
children?” Ruggles challenged with another big sneer.
“Only if it’s a
child what’s incorrigible and has cursed his parents per Leviticus
20:9. It says it’s okay to sacrifice them. After all, you
folks do believe the bible is the literal word of god, don’t you?”
Charlie asked dryly.
“Yes, of course
we do. We believe every word came from his mouth. It's
holy word of God.” Ruggles struggled. “You gonna’ tell us you
sacrificed some of your children to git God’s protection agin' them
aliens?” he shot back.
we’ve never had a disrespectful child among us. We teach our
children to love one another, respect the wisdom of their elders, and
to live by the golden rule. If
they git out of line we jes' give 'em a quick spray of our
Christianity-lite. I've never had to use anything stronger than
"Holy Ghost." A couple of quick squirts and they's right as
rain. I can honestly say ma’ boy ain’t never been
disrespectful nor spoke a word
in anger to me in all his years.” he smiled at Waco, then added, “Since
you’re such strong believers, we feel sure your faith will see you
through, or perhaps you might consider yours ain't the only true church
in town.” Charlie stated like the conversation was over. David
Yates spoke up.
“I think what
Mr. Ruggles is trying to say is the ranchers would appreciate your
Pastor Yates. We may be little more than dumb cowboys, but we do
pretty well with Texas speak. I wish we could help them. I
really do; unfortunately,
we’re barely surviving ourselves.” Charlie lamented.
“I think you men
in the Grange is in league with the Devil and them aliens is his
troops. You’re so damn secretive about ever’ thing what pertains
to your organization, you won’t let any of us God fear’n, real American
folks into your ranks so you must be in league with demonic forces;
otherwise, why would they only torment us and leave you alone.” another
older rancher accused.
pretty much answered your own question, Sir. You make a lot of
false assumptions; none, of which, are true,
course. That says to us, you
think you’re better’n us because of your beliefs. Do you really
expect us to buy into your nonsense? H’it jes’ ain’t so. You
certainly ain't the only 'real' Americans here, yet you consider
yourselves to be. You ain't
the only God fear’n folks in this room, neither, and your beliefs are
no more true than ours. I
assure you we ain’t in league with no Devil or the aliens. We
ain't here to be judged by you. We’ve
suffered our losses from the aliens jes’ like you, only we don’t talk
about it much outside our group. Why should we allow you into
our organization? We’re under no obligation to you. We done
our part to be good Samaritans and reached out to you people by
financing your new church when the bank wouldn’t. What more do
you want from us? You can't even give us your respect as fellow
Christians. You folks have shunned us and told us we ain’t
as good as you because we don’t believe the same way you do, even
though we consider ourselves Christians jes’ like you. Our Grange
is probably the last vestige of democracy left in this country.
Even our slaves have an equal vote in our decisions; after all,
any decision we make, directly effects them.
Why would we want to
contaminate the Grange with your freedom choking conservative beliefs
and attitudes? You made it quite
clear this evening there's a huge division between us that can only be
resolved by us kowtowing to yore' way a' thinking. There
ain't no room for democracy in your beliefs. It's either yore'
narrow interpretation of scripture or none a' tall. If folks
don't believe like you they ain't considered good Christians or
Americans. That's pure-dee old horseshit. Ain't a word of
truth to it. Jes' like tonight, you ain't about to listen to
reason. You made it perfectly clear to us, h'it's either your way
highway. If'n we included you in our Grange, we wouldn't git
nothing done. You hard line Christianist had yore'
day. Look what you done to
country. If you ain’t happy with what’s going on in the skies
over your ranches, it ain’t up to us to come to yore’ rescue. Why
should we, when you don't consider us as good as you? If you
ain't clever enough to solve yore' own
problems or yore’ prayers ain’t being answered, you better start buying
the super-concentrated Jesus-in-a-drum, or ask the
government you railroaded into power and forced down our
throats for their help. Real
Americans? My ass! You created your
vision of America, now live with it.
the Grange, we will survive in spite of you and the dysfunctional
government you helped create.”
Charlie said with all his heart. No one in the room could
challenge him. He was right, and they knew it. Lazarus
“I think that’s
about enough. My bossman has been gracious to answer your
questions. Sorry they weren’t the answers you wanted to
hear. Thanks for a wonderful evening, preacher. I think our
group should say 'goodbye' and be on our way. We wish the best
you and your congregation in your beautiful new church.” he said as
sort of a benediction.
“Must you really
go so soon, Sir? Perhaps with a bit more discussion we could
reach some agreement.” Yates said in his oily manner. His smile
reminded Lazarus of a possum eating a pile of fresh cat shit.
“I think we have
reached a mutual understanding. I think my bossman, Mr.
Goodnight, made it quite
clear, we won’t be bullied into helping anyone. It might have
been different if your members approached us with a little more
humility, but they have been spoiled by having their way for so long,
they jes’ expect it as their due. Unfortunately, that dog won’t
hunt with our Grange. While we respect their beliefs and ways,
we're under no obligation to cooperate with them. Cooperation
means giving and
taking. What have they to offer us? They have nothing we
want or need. There is no need for further conversation. We
don’t care to hear about how wrong we are about everything, but we
must be doing something right if they feel they have to ask us for
The other men of
the Grange stood with Lazarus and Charlie. David Yates was
getting ready to protest their departure again when four masked men
came in separate doors with shotguns in their hands. They
motioned for the Grange members to raise their hands. Lazarus
motioned for his men to do as they demanded.
“What is the
meaning of this?" Yates demanded of the masked men, "This is a
church; the house of God. This is a place of
sanctuary. To bring firearms into a church is a most heinous
crime. It is an unforgivable sin in the eyes of our Lord.
is an official church meeting. These men are our guests.
They must be afforded our protection.”
preacher! We plan to find out what these men know and what
secrets they be hiding from us.” the leader of the masked men shouted.
weapons now and nothing will happen to you men. You’re being
overzealous.” demanded Charlie Ruggles. “This ain’t no way to
handle the situation. Granted, we didn’t git nowhere with these
men, but this ain’t the way to git their cooperation.” he added.
“Shut up, fat
ass!” one of them barked at Ruggles. “You’re the richest free
non-granger in the lot. You can afford loss. We
can’t. If we don’t git help, h’it don’t matter none what we do
here. We’ll lose ever’ thing. Desperate times call for
desperate measures.” he added.
gonna’ do, torture them?” demanded Ruggles.
“If’n we have
to.” said the other main man, “Or maybe we’ll just start by sacrificing
youngest first until they tell us what we wanna' know.”
“What, and rob
Texas A&M of their greatest chance to win the Southwest Conference
in half a century? Over my dead body!” the fundie rancher next to
Waco stepped in front of him to shield him with his body.
“That can be
arranged, old man!” shouted the first man.
easy! You men don’t wanna’ do something you’ll regret. I
know you probably got families what depend on you. Think about
them. For their sake, don’t do this. I speak for the Grange
when I tell you we’re prepared to offer you men low interest recovery
loans, but I feel it only fair to warn you, if you don’t lay down your
guns, our God will protect us.” said Lazarus. It was a code
Lazarus set up with Kyron in case something happened. He and
Charlie took the old cowboy slave's words to heart and were prepared
for just such an emergency. Suddenly,
in the middle of the table a fire erupted and burned brightly without
consuming anything. There was no heat given off, and several of
the ranchers placed their hands up to test it. A booming voice
seemed to come from all around the room, but mostly from the fire
burning in the middle of the table.
“I am the lord
your God! Harken unto my words. I have come to protect my
own. You will not harm these men.” Kyron sounded like a
of the armed men looked like he shit his pants, dropped his gun, turned
and ran from the room. The Grange members remained stoic while
ranchers, David Yates, and the women in the kitchen got looks of abject
fear and horror on their faces. There were more than a couple of
soiled panties in the kitchen. Yates almost messed in his
pair of Elizabeth Arden's.
weapons, or I will be forced to eliminate them.” Kyron demanded.
One of the remaining three dropped his gun. The other two
refused. Out of nowhere two laser beams shot out and made the
guns the two men held red hot and melted the barrels. They threw
them away from them in a hurry. “You men who call yourselves
believers, who are members of this church, arrest these men. You
will hand them over to the sheriff, here, and assist him in putting
them in jail. They shall be tried according to your laws.
Unless the men of the Grange forgive them their trespass, I will expect
full justice. If they are not punished, I will return to punish
of you in their stead.” Kyron threatened. “Never threaten these
men again. They have built you a beautiful place of
worship. They have found favor with me. I am
pleased with them. They came to you in good faith, and you have
treated them with disrespect and disdain. Woe be unto you.
Let your shame be upon you like the scum which gathers upon the surface
of a stagnant pond. Hear the sound of my voice and tremble at my
displeasure.” Kyron turned up the volume until the windows
rattled. Waco laughed to himself. He thought Kyron was
being a bit too Cecil B. DeMille, but he had to admit, it was
effective. It sent a chill up his back.
The fire went
out and everyone stood looking at each other for a few seconds.
The silence was deafening. The ranchers, who were members of the
church, sprang into action and apprehended the four men, bound them and
waited with the sheriff for his deputies to arrive to take them
away. The preacher was all apologies. Even old rough
talking Ruggles shook each man’s hand and apologized for his fellow
ranchers. He didn’t say anything about God coming to the aid of
the Grange members. He didn’t know what he thought about
it. He had to think about what happened. Could he be so
wrong? He didn’t entertain the thought for long. He watched
their reactions and noticed none of the Grange members expressed any
surprise at God coming to their rescue. It was almost like they
expected it. Ruggles had his suspicions. David Yates
didn’t. He was convinced the Grange was blessed by a visit from
God himself. He was so steeped in superstition the burning fire
which gave off no heat was enough for him. He was
convinced. After all, the voice which spoke sounded like the
of God. Lazarus excused himself and stepped away from the group
for a moment.
robo-cams on Charlie Ruggles. I would appreciate it.” Lazarus
came the soft voice of the evolved intelligence.
“By the way, you
deserve an award for your acting job, Son. Ain't never heard me
the voice of 'God' played better. Well done!” Lazarus
“Your praise is
quite enough, Admiral.” Kyron assured him.
The evening was
somewhat of a twisted victory for the Grange. While they tried to
respond graciously to the fundamentalist, they were met with derision
and violence. No one wanted to speculate what might have happened
if Lazarus hadn’t tripped Kyron’s switch to intercede. Waco set
close to his dad on the way back to the ranch and took his hand in his
to hold most of the way. Charlie was deeply touched by his son’s
sense of empathy. It was like Waco instinctively understood the
thoughts running through Charlie’s mind. They were sitting in the
back. Lazarus was driving.
“It’s all right,
Dad. Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow or what might have
been. I’m proud of you. Ain't a son what ever lived loved
his dad more'n I love you right now. I always been proud of you,
more so lately. There was nothing you could’ve done to make the
situation better. At least they can’t carry a grudge against us
because of their own violent actions. As far as I’m concerned, we
were far too forgiving and generous with them. I was ready to
stomp out of there in a fit of anger and let them deal with it.
Your reserve, patience and gentility will always stand in my mind as a
source of personal power. Bottom line: My solemn prayer is
to one day become as good a man as my dad.” Waco said with
Son. You know I’m proud of you, too. I think we done the
right thing by being gracious. At least it eases my conscience
for not giving into their demands. Let them fight their own
battles. They would never come to our rescue if we were in the
same situation. I think I’m jes’ becoming weary of this world we
live in. I see the promise of escape and how much better things
might be if we could only live and work together with our neighbors in
harmony. I expect there to be problems, but none like we’ve faced
in the last few years. This old world’s been good to us, but the
final exodus can’t come soon enough for me.” he spoke softly.
“I don’t let
myself dream about that time, Dad. It seems too good to be true
and for a long time it’s been so far away. A lot’s happened since
we brought Ox home with us. Our lives changed the day he came
into our lives. I kind of hate the thought of leaving the ranch
to attend school at A&M. I’ll have to leave you and the
people I love most in my life to say nothing of Ox and Trey. Trey
would understand, but I worry about Ox. I’m afraid if I don’t go
to school, I’ll be drafted, and I have no desire to fight in one of
them theo-con’s senseless corporate wars.”
disappear and go live on Mars." Charlie suggested, "You
know you could have any job
you wanted. The Banshee is docked there. You and Trey could
be together. Trey would love to have you become one of his
crew. On the other hand, you would miss the experience of college
on Earth. It could be one of the best times of your life, but I
don’t foresee you graduating. I don’t think we’ll be here much
longer. Whatever you decide, I know will be the best thing for
you. I have that much faith in you.”
Dad. I may try it for a year. If things start to go to
hell, I can always transport back and be home in a jiffy. I worry
about leaving you.” Waco spoke with concern.
should be the least of your worries. I got ma’ big brother, your
little brother, Lazarus, Hank Morgan, Lucas, Indigo/Blue, yore slave
brothers, Blake Tindell, Ox, over a hun'nert dedicated slaves.
ain’t even sampled yet.” Charlie laughed. They rode the rest of
the way in silence. Their hearts were a little lighter by the
time they arrived back at the ranch.
The following Sunday, after the introit hymn and the choir filed into
their places in the loft, the preacher David W. Yates almost shit is
pants when he
walked out to his pulpit from his side entrance to welcome his
congragation and saw the front half of his new church was packed with
members of the Grange. They came to help celebrate the
public dedication of his new church.
* * * * * * *
ranchers they took to jail were looking at spending the rest of their
lives as slaves. Their families were shattered and couldn’t
continue without their head of household. Lazarus and the Grange
stepped in and gave the families a monthly stipend to keep them
together. They loaned each of them a lead cowboy slave and four
cowboy slaves to take over working their ranches. They gave them
livestock and made small loans to the families with ridiculously low
interest rates for a long period. When the ranchers
came up for trial, the Grange declined to press charges and refused to
testify against them. Judge Anderson was impressed by the
Grange's actions, but wouldn't let the fundie ranchers off without
some consideration. He heard what the Grange was doing for the
four families and thought he would be creative in his sentencing.
From the testimony of their fellow ranchers and church members,
Anderson sentenced each man three to five years indenturment to be
one of the Grange ranches. At the end of three years, if they
served their time well and did what was expected of them, they could
petition for manumission, but they would have an additional two year
While it would be tough for them, it was better than looking at life as
a slave. Their preacher reluctantly testified against
them. He had more than a little pressure from his wife.
Even though Lazarus suspected Charlie Ruggles might have had something
to do with the four rancher's actions, he had no proof. Kyron
monitored his life for several weeks but found no connection between
him and the foolhardy ranchers.
ranchers couldn’t believe what the Grange was doing for their families,
and appeared to feel genuine remorse for their actions. They were
assigned to four
separate Grange ranches but not the Goodnight ranches. There were
too many unusual things going on in and around the Goodnight ranches
slaves didn’t need to know about. The other Grange ranches were
mostly normal operations. They would be expected to perform
exactly like any other slave which included servicing
their master, his sons if any, his ramrod, and their fellow
cowboy slaves. Like any slave on any ranch, they were broken and
forced to perform as well as their brother slaves. It was a
experience for them, to say the least, but at the end of their period
indenturement they saw life a lot differently. Once they were
granted their emancipation, they didn't return to the Pentecostal
Church. They always took their slaves for granted and never
provided adequately for them. If expenses had to be cut,
the slaves suffered first. As slaves, themselves, they saw the
importance of treating slaves with some dignity and respect. On
the Grange ranches slaves were treated fairly with respect and
consideration. They were still expected to perform as a slave,
but beyond their initial reconditioning, they were never demeaned or
humiliated. They were different
men when they returned to their ranches and families and began to treat
with the same consideration they were shown. They began to think
of their slaves as part of their greater family. Their families
even noticed an increase in their commitment and depth of love the men
expressed for them.
Grange’s actions of forgiveness and charity toward the families of the
men who threatened their lives, the fundamentalist had egg on their
faces. Charlie Ruggles remained suspicious. He saw
their generosity of spirit and money as nothing more than a calculated
move. He couldn’t have been more right, but he had no solid
confirmation. David Yates began to preach about the miracle they
witnessed that evening and the goodness of the Grange being very like
the message and spirit of Christ. Ruggles would squirm in his pew
and grind his teeth together when Yates preached anything good about
the Grange and confronted the preacher. Since Ruggles was one of
the church’s main supporters, Yates had to listen to him and agreed to
stop saying anything about the Grange. Once again, the Grange
became a nonentity.
The irony was,
more and more families began drifting away from Yates’ Pentecostal
Church and began attending the Anglican Church favored by the
Grange. Rats leaving a sinking ship are rarely welcomed on a
lifeboat. Just because they changed churches didn’t mean a
rancher and his family were automatically offered membership in the
Grange or invited to their functions. If they were not invited to
a Grange function, but presumptuous enough to assume they would be
welcomed anyway, they were politely turned away. The next Sunday
in church, the Rector would issue an official apology from the Grange,
but would emphasize all Grange functions, meetings and social events,
were only open to members and their invited guests. Membership
into the Grange was by invitation only. One could not simply
Several of the
ex-fundie families were invited to Grange functions for the membership
to meet and get to know them better. A couple of families were
even invited to join. The rancher who stood in front of Waco to
shield him with his body against the intruders was one whose family was
offered membership. He joined and became one of the Grange’s most
faithful and devoted supporters. He severed his previous
associations with the fundie ranchers and never looked back. They
would confront him and question him about the Grange, but he would only
tell them they were wrong about the Grange and its members. It
was not what they thought. They considered him a turncoat and a
traitor. He didn’t care. He had the protection of the
Grange and the hope of a better, more abundant life for him and his
family without having to die to get it. He liked the idea of
cutting out the middleman.
* * * * * * *
Monty and his
crew were returning from their weekly jump to the moon and back.
On board were his usual complement of regulars. Lieutenant JG
Maxine Potter was sitting as number one and several others were running
various scans and monitors. Dexter was sitting in a command chair
learning the ship operations from Monty and Maxine. He was
determined to become a pilot and they were trying to help him achieve
his goal. Ben and Rocky were monitoring scans of alien ships they
passed on the way. Bobby, Cody and Pearl were relaxing on the
observation deck while the coyote cowboys and Oblio were watching
videos in the recreation area. Suddenly a warning tone
sounded. Rocky noted the alarm and called Ben’s attention to
it. They didn’t know what it was but thought they should notify
we have an anomaly on one of our scans from the last ship we
passed. It probably ain’t nothing, but did you put any wild
animal DNA info into the ship's recognition database, Sir?” asked Rocky.
several. What have you got, Rocky?”
“It looks like
two coyotes to us; a male and a female. The male ain’t
breathing. I think he’s dead.” Rocky said.
“Oh, my, God!”
exclaimed Monty. “Open a channel to the crew, number one.” he
report to the bridge on the double.” he spoke, and it went out
over the intercoms. It took only a couple of minutes and everyone
“What are the
details of their capture, Rocky.” Monty asked the big cowboy bio-droid.
from non-Grange families. A number of cowboy slaves from
non-Grange ranches, Captain. About a dozen or more. Two
mule deer does and their calves, one buck, eight sheep, three Angus
heifers and their calves, a family of beavers, one squirrel family, and
They forgot the damn partridge in the pear tree? Hell fire, they
git’n desperate. I ain’t never heard of them taking wild animals
before or sheep for that matter. Look, men, I got me several
friends on that ship; them two coyotes and them squirrels. I
won’t go into it right
now, but they’re important to me and several other folks. We’re
going after it. What crew have they got on board, Ben?”
total, Captain. Two on the bridge and two covering the
captures. The only captives conscious are the coyote female, a
couple of the older cowboys and one young boy. One of the cowboys
is holding him trying to comfort him. The rest have been
stunned. The male coyote, he ain’t breathing, Sir.”
“You men think
we can do a repeat of the last raid we done on one a’ them snake
ships?” Monty asked.
Captain. Say the word. We got us four of their stun guns we
captured to zap ‘em
with.” said Rocky.
“Okay, let’s do
this one a little different. Ben, you and Rocky learned how to
fly one of them ships, didn’t you?” Monty asked.
So does Dexter. We know the basics, but we ain’t had no flight
time in one.” Ben replied.
“Can you manage
to shut it down once we take over?”
“Piece a' cake,
Captain.” replied Ben.
“Once it’s shut
down, Maxine can have Cecil beam it onboard the Gopher Bay into one of
our hanger bays.”
Sir.” allowed Ben.
“We’ll beam Ben
and Rocky onto the bridge directly behind the pilots. Set your
guns on stun. We’ll decided what to do with them later.
Cody and Dexter take the other two guns and do the same to the
guards. As soon as we get the alien ship on board, we’ll beam
them to a bio-containment holding area from which they can’t
escape. Does everyone understand what we’re doing?” everyone said
“Can I go,
Captain?” Pearl asked.
“Not this time,
Pearl.” I need you to be with me and Bobby when we tend to the
captives. I need to focus my attention on the male coyote.” he
“Can I go?”
Three year old Oblio asked. Monty laughed.
“Not on your
life, buckaroo! Yore’ pa would skin my hide and nail it to the
barn door if I done some’um stupid like 'at. Highjacking an
alien ship and its crew is gonna’ be hard enough to explain.” Monty
said, then added, “Howsomever, jes’ so’s you don’t feel bad, young’un,
your captain loves you very much and appreciates yore' brave
offer. One day
you’ll be old enough and big enough, but not today. Besides, it
would break my heart if some’um bad happened to you, cowboy.” Monty
smiled at him. Oblio seemed satisfied. “Okay, to your
places, gentlemen.” Monty ordered and the bio-droids were ready
for their away mission. JG Maxine instructed the evolved
intelligence to travel in the wake of the alien ship. As
soon as they matched speed, Monty gave the order and the bio-droids
were beamed aboard. The reptiles didn’t even have time to react,
and they were zapped unconscious. The two pilots slumped forward
in their seats and the ship seemed to wobble a bit. Ben moved to
the side of the unconscious reptile captain, hit one button on the
control panel, and the alien ship came to a halt. It was still
through space, but its propulsion engines were stilled. Cecil
alongside and matched the alien ship’s speed, then beamed the alien
ship onboard the Gopher Bay into a docking bay. Per
Maxine’s orders Cecil wasted no time getting away from the area.
They weren’t worried. The snakes didn’t have time to send a
warning or distress signal. Cecil would have detected a signal
and projected another to scramble it. He detected no warning or
cry for help.
reptiles to the bio-containment holding cells, Cecil.” Maxine
ordered, and they vanished from the bridge and critter holding
area. They were secure. There was no exit unless they were
beamed out, but they could be observed by cameras. They were
unconscious and remained that way for several hours. It would
seem their own weapons didn’t agree with them. Monty held no pity
for them. He felt a taste of their own medicine was
appropriate. He turned to Maxine. She knew what he was
going to say before he spoke.
barked at him, "Cecil
and I can get us back to the Bandersnatch. You might consider
sending Dexter to back me up.” she added.
“Before you dock
with the Bandersnatch, fly over our ranch and let me know when you get
there. Have Cecil beam me, Criga, and the body of Coyote John
down to my work area in the barn. May as well beam down the other
critters at the same time. I’ll take care of them as I can, but
John will be my first priority. When you get back, contact Master
Angus and tell him what happened. Ask him, if he would be so kind
to send his ramrod to help me.” Monty took her little face in his hands
and gently kissed her on her muzzle. “Have I told you lately how much I
love you and how important you are to me, Lieutenant Junior Grade
“Every day.” she
wiggled with glee.
“H’it ain’t near
enough, little sister.” he stole another kiss, grinned and bolted from
the room. When he arrived at the capture holding area on the
alien ship he was struck by the stench. It smelled of animal
fecal matter, human sweat, the god-awful odor of the aliens, and the
smell of death. Monty barked some orders for Dexter and Ben to go
to the bridge to backup Maxine. Monty wanted Dexter to help with
the docking with the Bandersnatch and send a message to Master Shane
and Admiral Long to report to the Gopher Bay as soon as possible.
Monty asked them to explain to his leaders he might not be available
because of trying to heal some
of the critters in his barn. They were to tell them what happened
show them what they confiscated. Dexter and Ben left for the
bridge. Monty told Maxine he wanted Bobby, Oblio beamed down with
him to give him a hand with the critters. When Monty got
to the holding area, Criga was cringing in a corner. She saw
Monty when he came into the room. After he sent Dexter and Ben on
their way, he fell to his knees to examine Coyote John and saw he
wasn’t breathing. They killed him. He wasn’t bleeding so he
could only imagine they stopped his heart with the electrical charge
from their guns. He opened his arms to Criga and his crew was
amazed to see the coyote female run to him and give him a big kiss.
Montana, two-legs! It’s so good to see you again. I thought
doomed. >> she told him. << They shot and killed
John. They came looking for us. They came down from their
ship above and tried to stun us. John led them away from our
pups. I remained in the den with them to keep them quiet.
They spotted me and came for me. John came between them and us
and threatened them. When they wouldn’t back down he lunged at
the smaller one and bit him. The bigger one shot and killed
him. He stunned me, but I came around after they brought us
here. Where are we, Monty two-legs? >>
<< On a
spaceship that flies through the skies like the barn owls and far away
from our home. You’re safe now, Criga. I’ll take you back
to your pups. I have to try to save Coyote John. He’s been
dead for sometime. I don’t know if I can bring him back to life.
Monty, you must. He’s my mate. I need him. Without
him my pups will perish. >>
know I won’t let that happen, Criga. Didn’t I help you with your
other litter when you’re mate disappeared? >>
sorry, Captain Montana. I should have more faith in you.
me. >> she showed her teeth in embarrassment. Monty petted
her and assured her it was all right, she was just upset.
<< I will
do my best to save him, mother four-legs. >> Monty sent to
her. She withdrew into her corner. His crew were bringing
around the other cowboy slaves and a few of the animals were beginning
to stir. The little male squirrel came to and recognized
Monty. He ran to him and climbed up his back onto his
shoulder. Monty smiled to himself.
<< Are you
all right, Jasper? >>
<< My head
hurts, Monty. My mate is breathing, but our babies need their
let me touch your head. Perhaps I can relieve your pain then I
want you to go and stay with your mate and kits. >> Jasper ran
around into Monty’s lap. He gently touched his small head and
rubbed it a couple of times. << There, is that better, friend?
better, Montana-man. I know you got others to tend to. I’ll
see to my mate and kits. >> he jumped down and was away to his
mate and little fur balls who were awake and crying for their
mother. Rocky, Cody, Pearl and Bobby were trying to bring around
the humans to explain to them they were safe. A few were coming
around, and they offered them water. Pearl found some
towels she dipped in warm water to bathe their faces. It
was a touch of comfort until they could return them. The children
began to cry when they came to, but the old cowboys did their best to
calm and comfort them.
out his hands over Coyote John and closed his eyes. He
concentrated with all his might and began the process he did
several times to bring another dead mammal back to life. The
blueish-green to dark purple light that emanated from his hands bathed
the large canid in the energy of his life-force. Even though
Monty had his eyes closed the rays returning from the animal to him
were like a scan creating a picture in his mind of the internal damage
and destruction the alien’s gun caused. He got a couple of jumps
from John like he was trying to turn his motor over to get it started
but each time he would fall back into the dark nebulous realm of
nothingness. He was comfortable there. He had some tiny
perception of who he was and where he was. It all seemed so
strange, so vague. He got glimpses of himself running on two legs
then on four legs. He was a coyote? No he was a man in a
coyote suit? No, that wasn’t right. He was a coyote in a
man suit? He couldn’t be sure, but he was sure he was warm and
He wished whatever was trying to bring him around
would stop. He was ready to rest in the warmth of the lovely
sleep. There was nothing frightening about it. He was so
comfortable, but still the thing kept nagging at him. It was like
the voice of an old lady nagging him to get his shit together. It
kept calling to him. He could hear his mate calling his name.
<< Come back to me, John. I need you to raise our pups.
>> she called. ‘How could a man raise pups?’ he
thought. At least Criga never spoke of love. She was a good
mate. He respected her. She did her job, and he did
his. That’s the way it was suppose to be. Fuck and
whelp. Fuck and whelp. Season after season. It was a
good life. He was a good mate for Criga. ‘Gotdamn it!
Leave me alone! Stop jolting me with that purple light.’ he
thought << Stop calling to me, coyote-woman! >> he
projected. << Just lemme’ be! >>
John! We won’t let you be. You must come back to us.
I care about you! Criga needs you. Little Bear loves
you. Believe it or not, Angus cares about you. >>
The voices, the
light, they bothered him some more, but he was stubborn. He
respond, and then, it stopped. He was relieved and sank back into
his comfortable oblivion. Monty misjudged Coyote John’s
stubbornness for his inability to bring him around. He wasn’t
persistent enough. Monty should have known better. He knew
Coyote John could be. He gave up for the moment. He would
again when they returned to the barn.
* * * * * * *
over the com line to Monty, announced to him they were hovering over
the big barn and were ready to beam him and the critters down.
The cowboy slaves and children would be taken to the infirmary in
sickbay on the Bandersnatch and then to the small hospital in
Parsons. The small town now boasted a new two story hospital with
a staff of fine physicians and dedicated nurses. Arnie and Dr.
Stevens still ran the small clinic with several rooms for special
patients, but since the volume of rescued abductees and those
‘raptured’ from the Cheney camps became greater, a larger facility
became necessary. Maxine had Cecil
beamed Monty and the critters down to the barn, then took the Gopher
Bay to dock in its designated bay on the Bandersnatch.
Monty told Criga
to be off to check on her pups but for her to return in a while, and he
would feed her. She thanked him and took off for her den.
The other animals were coming around, but they didn’t seem afraid of
Monty. They stayed around for a while enjoying the free
chow. Bobby, Oblio beamed down with him to help with the
critters. The rest of his crew, including the coyote cowboys
remained aboard the Gopher Bay to see to the humans. Unknown to
Monty, Oblio was quietly healing many of the critters, and sending them
on their way after he and Bobby fed them. Monty picked up Coyote
John and placed his body on his workbench. He would try again to
revive him. He told Maxine to send for Jesse Watkins and Utah
immediately upon return to the Bandersnatch and direct them to him in
his barn. He suddenly felt the weight of what happen on his
shoulders. If he hadn’t changed John into a coyote this never
would have happened. He tried one more time and managed to get
Coyote to take a couple of breaths, but beyond that he was
unsuccessful. Oblio saw the pain his dad was going through and
knew what John meant to him. He wanted to go to him and tell him,
together they could save him, but he was afraid he would get into
trouble with Pa Shane. He remembered Shane telling him saving the
life of a critter or a human was more important than keeping his
identity secret from his dad. He had a plan. He felt sure
he could do both.
End of Chapter
73 ~ Waco’s Lummox
Copyright 2008 ~
*Bible humper ~
one who takes his bible to bed with him.