By Waddie Greywolf

Chapter 8

The next day everyone was up early going about their business.  Lazarus had breakfast with Charlie and the boys and was anxious to get to work.  He asked Charlie if he could ride the dun horse he broke and rode out to pick up his things yesterday.  

“Are you sure he’s gonna’ be settled enough for you for a days work?”  Charlie asked.

“Yes, Sir, I think so.  He’s a good pony.  He jes’ needs somebody to care about him and treat him good.”  Lazarus managed to get an apple from Ms. Wallace and had it stashed away in his room.

Lazarus didn’t put the dun pony with the remuda after his ride back from the blue-granite mountains.  He told him he was going to be good to him so he rubbed him down and treated him to some quality hay and extra oats.  He walked into the barn expecting the dun to be out in the pasture with the other horses.  He wasn’t.  He was in his stall waiting for Lazarus.

<< Oh,— it’s you.  I suppose you want me to make-like we’re bosom-buddies and pals again. >>  the dun asked sarcastically.

<< Absolutely!  You own me!  I belong to you now!  You agreed!   It’s the very least you can do for a handsome hombre like me what saved you from that burr under yore’ blanket.  ‘Sides, you lost the bet.  I’ll tell you what,— you ain’t gotta’ work with me today if’n you don’t want to,— I ain’t gonna’ force you,— but then, you won’t get what I brung ya’ to make yore’ day a little brighter. >>

<< What chu’ got, cowboy?  No, wait! >> sniff, sniff, snort, << Dayamn, that smells mighty good, pardner.  What is it?>>

<< Oh,— now suddenly I’m yore’ pardner? >> Lazarus teased.

The dun stretched it’s neck over the stall gate to get closer to Lazarus.

<< H’it’s in yore’ back pocket.  I can see it.  What is it, Lazarus? >>

Lazarus reached to his back pocket and took out the shiny red apple.  The dun took one look and inhaled deeply.

<< Lemme’ have it, Lazarus,— please. >>

<< Lemme’ hear you say it, pardner. >>

<< Okay, you’re mine.  I own you.  I’ll work with you.  I won’t give you no grief.  We be pardners.  What’re you wait’n on, saddle me up!  Let’s go!   Now,— gimme’! >>

Lazarus laughed as he gave the dun its treat.  It made obscene sounds,—  smacking and slurping noises as it quickly consumed the apple.

<< Damn, that was good, pardner.  Thanks. >>

<< See,— this partner thing ain’t gonna’ be so bad after all. >>

<< Like I done told ju’ yesterday, pardner, if I gotta’ own a rider, I’m glad it’s you.  Now, come on.  Git up here and let’s git out there.  I’m gonna’ be so embarrassed in front all them other horses.  I bragged to ‘em I wouldn’t never own me no rider. >>

<< Thanks a lot, Dun.  Hold yore’ head up high.  Step lively.  I’m proud of you,— proud you own me,— so show a little pride in ownership.  Show them ponies you’re proud of yore’ rider.  Tell ‘em you held out for the very best.  They should be so lucky to own such a fine rider. >>

With that the dun lifted its head and walked a little taller.  It was the beginning of a great and strong friendship that lasted over two hundred years.

Lazarus reported to Hank Morgan after he saddled the dun.  Hank gave him instructions what he wanted to get done and introduced him to the salve-hands he would be working with.  Everything went well, and the men worked hard ‘til noon.  They were surprised when Lazarus sat down with them and ate slave chow and a biscuit for his lunch.  No one commented or said a word; however, they were impressed he didn’t act like he was better than they were.  He treated everyone with respect and expected them to treat him the same.

As the weeks passed, Curley Jones became suspicious and a little upset with Lazarus working as a hand.  He told Hank he thought Lazarus might be trying to take his job away from him.  Hank laughed at him.

“Which job are you talk’n ‘bout, Curley?  Being a slave?  I don’t think the man is really interested in becoming a slave.  If so, not to worry, he can have my job anytime he wants it.  We may be crew leaders for Master Goodnight, but we’re first and foremost his slaves.  Beyond taking care of us like he would any other livestock on this ranch, we don’t git paid for our ‘positions.’  They’re positions of trust,— because he trusts us enough to git the job done.  Lazarus has been working jes’ as hard as the rest of the men for the last couple of weeks.  I can’t fault him for his work.  I’m glad he’s on my crew.  You best be nice to the man and treat him with the same respect he’s treating all the men.  You never know, tomorrow he just may be yore’ boss.”  Curley walked away muttering to himself.  After a couple more weeks, Lazarus’ humility and genuine selflessness even won over old hard-nosed Curley.

It took Waco and his posse several days to talk about and draw up elementary plans for the remodeling they wanted for the big room and their bathroom.  They wanted to get it into the computer as a graphics program.  After Charlie took a look at what they had, he was satisfied they’d done their homework for the project and didn’t really need to go to the bother of recreating it in a graphics program; however, Waco insisted it would give the builders a more complete picture of what he wanted, and it was important to him.

Charlie was delightfully amused at his boy’s thoroughness and the importance he placed on the remodeling project.  The boys carefully measured every inch of space and noted the height and position of every fixture to go into the big room and bath.  Waco asked everyone for their ideas and suggestions.  Even Ida Wallace had a couple of good ideas for the boys.  She thought since they would soon start shaving, more than one sink and toilet would be a big help to cut down on morning rush to get ready to meet the school bus.  Waco commented over dinner one evening they were having a difficult time getting what they had on paper into the computer.

“Have you men asked Ping and Pong for their help?  Ping is exceptionally gifted when it comes to cybernetic brains or static digital processing.  Pong is almost as good as she is, but he’s not as patient with ‘who-mons’ as they call us.” Lazarus laughed.

“No, but thanks, Mr. Long,— we’ll ask them.”

Waco graciously asked Ping and Pong if they would mind taking a look at his computer and give him some ideas how he might get his drawings from paper into a graphics program.  Ping was excited and immediately agreed to help.  Pong was a bit more cautious but agreed to help Ping.  Waco took them into the house to the room upstairs he turned into his trophy room and study.  There he had his desktop computer.  They were interested in his room and asked questions about each of his trophies and 4H ribbons.  They looked at and admired pictures of him showing livestock at the fair.

Waco showed Ping the drawings and dimensions for the changes they wanted to get done.  He showed her how he scanned their drawings into the computer program.  Ping smiled when she saw the ancient digital equipment.  Waco showed her how to use the mouse and keyboard and showed her a file of a graphics program he downloaded from the Internet.  He handed Ping the mouse.  She smiled at him and a set it aside.  She got comfortable in Waco’s chair.  The boys watched as Waco’s computer began to go crazy.  Waco thought it was out of control as no one was doing anything to the mouse or keyboard.  He went to grab the mouse, but Ping put her small hand on his and stopped him.

<< Ping not need mouse, Master Waco. >>  She smiled at him.  Suddenly a beautiful three dimensional graphics drawing of the room and the bathroom came up on the screen.  The boys were in awe.  They all when, “Woooah!” at the same time.  It was beautiful and it was perfect for their needs.  There wasn’t only one but six detailed pictures to scale of what and how they wanted it to look.  All they had to do was print it.  Ping turned to Waco.

<< Your machine have clumsy, bad operating system, Master Waco.  Ping make new system for you to better serve your needs.  Ping make system not built on redundancies like one called Mickey-soft.  Start with good logic, no need for redundancies, faster machine work.  Bad set of instruction.  Many errors.  Too slow.  Redundancies cover multiple redundancy errors.  Not good logic.  Information pile up.  Confuse machine.  Machine caught in conundrum, shut down.  Big gaps in input and output protocol, allow for invasion and confiscation of private information.  Not good in today’s world.  Ping fix, block all that.  Make Master Waco’s computer safe from prying eyes. >>

Waco had no idea what she was talking about.  Travis did.  The boys couldn’t thank her enough.  They had a healthy new respect for the beautiful animal’s abilities.  Ox was watching over their shoulders and laughed when he saw the beautiful pictures Ping created.  He knew she must have enhanced the limited program Waco downloaded and most probably used one of her own she had stored in her memory.  To her it was only a matter of downloading it from her brain.  To do that, she didn’t need an interface.  She not only became the interface, she became one with the computer.

Lazarus never knew what the two of them were doing half the time.  He just knew since he turned all the cyber functions over to Ping and Pong his ship and its systems had never run better, and he never had to worry about something breaking down.  If it did, they fixed it or dispatched one of the drones to fix it immediately.  If it was in or around Lazarus personal quarters, the Captain’s area, it got top priority.  They saw to their boss’ comfort first, except in emergencies.  They ran a tight ship where the droids, drones and bots were concerned; however, they were also quick and efficient in repairing any that were not working to peak capacity.  Some of the servant droids were more ‘aware’ than others, and those that were, looked upon Ping and Pong as their personal Gods.

Later in the day the boys visited Waco’s new colt and took him a bottle of formula from the recipe Ox gave him, except Waco added two cups instead of one.  Ox said it would be all right.  It would just be stronger for him.  Waco had his two slaves suck it out of him and spit it into a measuring cup.  He added it to a gallon of raw cow’s milk.  Waco put it in a one point four liter plastic calf feeding bottle which is about a quart and a cup.  It had a rubber nipple on the end that looked like a cow’s udder.  The rest Waco put in a big plastic jar and placed at the rear of the big fridge on the back porch.  

Ida used the second fridge for things she didn’t use too often but would be handy when she needed them.  Waco was all the time keeping something on the bottom shelf for feeding some animal that lost its mother or she ran out of milk.  He would have to step in and feed the calf or young horse until it could be weaned.  Everyone wanted to go visit ‘Ranger,’ Waco’s new Shire colt.  Waco marveled at his beauty every time he saw him.  He had him in a grazing pasture with a couple of mares who told Waco they’d look after him; however, neither one had any milk for him.  They told him and Waco did, too; however, he tried anyway and would get a sharp warning kick.  Waco heard Millie, the blue roan tell him,

<< Look kid, we told Master Waco we’d look after you, but you can’t be suck’n on us.  It hurts when we don’t have no milk to give you.  Trust your new master, he’ll take care of you,— you’ll see. >>

Ranger was happy when he spied Waco and his posse coming with a bottle.  He ran up to them and greeted them.

<< Master Waco, is that for me? >>

<< It sure is, young’un.  You didn’t think I was gonna’ let you starve, did you? >>

<< I didn’t know.  I tried eating the oats and hay, but it jes’ don’t taste as good as my momma’s milk.  I miss her so much, Master Waco. >>

<< I know you do, Ranger, but you’ll come to love it here.  Tomorrow I’ll have more time to spend with you.  In the meantime try this. >>

Waco stuck the bottle out for Ranger, and he lost no time sucking on it.

<< Mmmmm,— this is so good, Master Waco.  It tastes better’n my momma’s milk. >>

<< Glad you like it.  Starting tomorrow you’ll git two of these a day until you start liking the taste of solid food better. >>

<< It’s so sweet.  Thank you, Master Waco.  Maybe it won’t be so bad here after all.  Millie and Joyce have been good to me.  They watch out for me and keep the other horses away.  I’m afraid of some of the bigger stallions. >>

<< That’s natural, but you’re gonna’ grow up to be much bigger than them, so don’t you worry none.  Just stay out of their way and let Millie and Joyce handle them. >>

Ranger finished his bottle and asked if he could have another.  Waco told him only two a day,— if he’s still hungry to eat some of his oats and hay or try grazing on the nice green grass in the meadow.  He said he’d try.  At the end of two weeks Ranger was pretty much weaned from milk but Waco kept giving him one bottle a day for the next two weeks.  It seemed to really help him grow and develop more quickly.  He was gaining weight and growing up fast.

* * * * * * *

JR observed what Ox’s milk did for Travis, and over the week he actually noticed a change in the way Rabbit was walking.  He didn’t say anything, but he wondered if he had some of Ox’s milk, maybe he wouldn’t get such bad headaches.  It seemed like any time he was having a good time or he got excited about something, his head would start pounding, he would get nauseated, throw up and have to lay down for several hours.  It even affected him at school.  He would have to spend hours in the nurses room on a cot.  He talked to his mother, but she wasn’t too keen on the idea; however, he knew how to get around her.

JR knew all he had to do was go to Hank Morgan and present his case man to man.  If it was something he really wanted and could convince Hank it was a good idea, after Hank talked with Ida, JR usually got what he wanted.  He talked with Hank and told him the things he’d seen.  Hank talked with Lazarus at lunch the next day and asked him about it.  Lazarus assured Hank it wouldn’t hurt the boy and Ox already told JR he had a chemical imbalance in him no one knows about and a doctor wouldn't find.  Lazarus was sure some of Ox’s milk would correct the problem.

“The only problem, Hank, is lummox milk is kind of addictive.  Not like a drug, mind you, but it tastes so good the kids want more.  It won’t do ‘em no harm.  Hell, I drunk lummox milk for years.  Keeps this old body in pretty good shape.  The more the kids drink the healthier they’ll get.  My advice to you is tell Ida not to worry and let the boy git his fair share.  As long as these boys are growing, it’s Ox’s natural instinct to produce milk as a preservation of the species thing.  He has to be milked almost like a cow or he starts to hurt.”

Hank just shook his head and thanked Lazarus.  He talked to Ida that evening and told her what Lazarus said.

“Look, sweetheart,— he said Ox is capable of telling what’s wrong with a person.  Says JR’s got a chemical imbalance that his milk will correct.  If that’s true we’d be denying him something that would make his life a lot easier.  I felt so darn sorry for him on Waco’s birthday when you had to bring him in and put him to bed.  I came back here and stayed with him all afternoon.”

“I guess you right, hon.  If there’s any chance it might help him, I want him to have it.  It jes’ sounds so weird.  Milk from a male critter?  Lord help us.  Okay, will you tell him?  I don’t even like to think about it.”

“Sure, you know I will, Darlin.’  You know, Ida, you’re a wonderful mother to him, and it makes me love you all the more.  I’m so proud of him sometimes I wanna’ bust a gut.  I love him so much, I pray this will make him feel a little better.”

Hank had a talk with JR and told him it was all right with him and Ida if he tried some of Ox’s milk.  JR wasn’t real sure why he loved Hank Morgan so much, but he didn’t have the same closeness with Charlie he had with Hank.  Charlie was good and kind to him, but he just had a communication with Hank that was special.  He didn’t think of Hank as a slave.  He thought of him as his friend and mentor.  When he thought about it, he had to admit, he loved Hank.  He didn’t mean Mr. Goodnight any disrespect, but sometimes he found himself wishing Hank was his dad.  He didn’t care Hank was a slave.  That evening JR got his first taste of lummox milk, and like the other boys, couldn’t get enough of it.  His imbalance was corrected almost immediately, but he continued to drink more of Ox’s milk as the months went by until by the end of the summer, he had gained in stature and physical strength.  He never had another migraine after that.  The more he grew, the more he began to look like his father.  Everyone knew it would only be a matter of time.

* * * * * * *

The weeks began to pass and things settled down to a normal pace at the ranch.  Work was started on the remodeling project of Waco’s large bedroom and bath.  It didn’t take as long as they projected and was finished well under original cost estimates.  There were a couple of extra luxury items which weren’t necessary Charlie thought might be nice.

The carpenters also built a new bed for Waco according to his specifications.  It measured ten feet wide by twelve feet long.  The way Waco designed it, it had a four by four post on each corner that were eight feet tall.  He designed an overhead superstructure that was covered with three quarter inch plywood for storing things above the bed if he wanted.  It was properly braced and it wouldn’t move an inch no matter who was laying on it.  It was so sturdy it would’ve held a Sherman Tank.  It wasn’t fancy.  It was totally utilitarian but it was built for comfort and stability, not as a piece of furniture.  However, when they got it set up in his big room it looked like it belonged.  It gave the room a rustic, authentic Western bunkhouse look to it that Waco loved.

Charlie ordered a special mattress and box springs from a company in Austin and they had it ready by the time the room was finished.  It was an enormous bed and would easily hold Waco, his lummox and both his slaves with no problem.  Charlie had to have special mattress pads, sheets and covers ordered for it.  Everything was completed with Waco’s new bed installed two days before Charlie’s birthday.   

* * * * * * *

Charlie’s Birthday ~

Charlie’s birthday was not as big a celebration as Waco’s but it was a good day.  Most of Charlie's relatives came for the day.  His two younger brothers from the city didn’t make it; however, Charlie didn’t really expect them to.  Of course Angus wouldn’t have missed it for the world and brought only his immediate family.  Waco greeted his uncle, but was visibly disappointed his Uncle Shane wasn’t with them.  He didn’t say anything, but Angus could read him like a book.

“Yore’ uncle is coming with his master, Son.  They should be here any minute.  They better, they got our present for yore’ dad in the back of the van.  I think Bill had to stop for gas on the way.  None of the other slaves are coming, but I couldn’t very well invite my ranch foreman without inviting his personal body slave,— now could I?”  Angus grinned and winked at Waco.  He hugged his uncle and gave him a kiss.

“You’s so full of shit, Uncle Angus.  God, I love you.  I love my new pony, too.  I got him almost weaned.  You won’t believe him when you see how he’s grown.”

“He ain’t the only one what’s grow’n.  Look at them two slaves of yours.”

Rabbit was standing back jumping from one foot to the other to greet Master Angus, but he didn’t dare until his master greeted his uncle.  Waco motioned for him to come.  Rabbit ran to Angus’ arms and the big man grabbed him, spun him around, hugged and gave him a kiss.  Rabbit returned it and stopped for a moment.

“I’m sorry, Master Angus, I was so happy to see you again, I forgot my manners.  I promised you last time you was here I’d try to become a good slave and I’m trying, Sir.”

Rabbit made Angus put him down and fell to his knees in the dust of the compound.

“Request permission to pay homage to yore’ boots, Master Angus?”

“Permission granted, slave.

Rabbit lovingly kissed each of Angus’ big boots and sat back on his heels.  He found Angus’ hand waiting and performed the rest of the Master/slave greeting ritual.  When Angus told him to come to his arms, they did the whole thing over again and this time Rabbit was laughing and giggling as Angus’ tickled him.

“Damn, it’s good to see you again, Chief.  I done heard it through the grapevine you got chore’self a new name.”

“Yes, Sir.  Master Charlie’s been call’n me that.  I like it.  My granddaddy’s a Chief, and if’n I wasn’t enslaved by my daddy, I’d be in line to become a Chief.  So maybe Master Charlie’s name for me makes up for it a little bit.”

“I think it’s a great name for you.  You are a Chief in my book, Son.”  Angus poked him in the belly with his big finger and got another round of laughter from Rabbit.

“I hear tell you been being good to my brother.”

“Yes, Sir.  I been sleep’n with him a lot.  I worry about him being all alone in that big bedroom a’ his by his-self.  Jes’ ain’t right, Master Angus.  I don’t want him git’n lonely, so I offer to keep him company ‘most ever’ night.  Sometimes he don’t want no company, but more times than not, he does.  Don’t tell him I said so, but I think I’m git’n to be a habit with him.  ‘S’all right by me, I love bunk’n it in with Master Charlie.  I like waking up next to him and grab’n me a big ole handful of Goodnight cowboy dick to hold on to when I feel like it.  Makes me sleep better.”

Angus roared with laughter.  He knew Charlie was doing nothing more than letting the boy sleep with him until he got fully adjusted to his new life.  Charlie was becoming the loving father figure Rabbit never had.

“You’ve gained weight, young’un.  You gotta’ be ten pounds heavier than last time.  I can feel it.”  Angus bounced Rabbit in his arms.

“Yes, Sir.  H’it’s Ox’s lummox milk and the good food they been feed’n me.  Master Waco don’t let me take my own food.  He piles it up on my plate and tells me to eat it.  Sometimes I can’t eat it all, Sir, but I do my best.  I feel better’n I have in a long time.  My legs don’t hurt me no more like they used to.  I can walk more normal now.  They been take’n real good care of me, Master Angus.”

“What’ud I tell you, Son?”

“You did!  You done told me to give ‘em a chance, and I’m glad I promised you I would.  I ain’t going nowheres, Master Angus.  Jes’ like the first time I seen you,— I know’d me a good thing when I see’s it.”  Rabbit grinned wickedly at him.  Angus threw back his head and laughed.

“Glad to hear it, Chief.  You still wanna’ go back to that Tennent boy?”

“Naw, Sir.  I ain’t done nothing with Master Waco yet.  I asked Master Charlie if’n he don’t like me.  He told me Master Waco loves me as much as Travis or Ox, but I gotta' give myself to him.  I thought I already had, but I guess not.  We got us a slave ceremony later this evening.  I’m think’n on doing it then.  Maybe he’ll take me to his bed.”

“Didn’t I tell you, you’d have to give yore’self to my nephew,— he wouldn’t just order you to his bed and take you.  Although, it would be his right to do it, I know that boy,— he jes’ ain’t that way.  You humble yore’self to him this evening, offer yore’self and you’ll git the best damn fuck’n you ever had.  You won’t even think of that Tennent boy no more after Waco takes you.”

“Dayamn, Master Angus, you git’n me hard jes’ talk’n ‘bout it.  He’s got a dick near-like Master Charlie’s, and he should be a mean fuck.  I think he’s gonna’ be bigger'n Master Charlie.”  They shared a laugh.

Angus put Rabbit down, greeted Travis and shook Ox’s big paw.  He was still impressed by the size of the lummox.  His brother and he talked on the phone several times a week and Charlie was keeping Angus appraised of all the interesting and new things going on at the ranch.

While they were talking the van pulled into the compound.  Master Bill was driving and Shane was riding in the passenger seat.  He had a big smile on his face as he saw Waco waiting for him.  He jumped out of the van and fell to his knees in front of Waco.

“Permission to pay homage to your boots, Master?”

“Permission granted, handsome slave.”  Waco responded quickly to get the ritual out of the way.  They completed it hurriedly and Waco was in Shane’s enormous arms hugging and kissing him.  They were so glad to see each other.  Master Bill came around the van and Waco shook his hand and warmly greeted him.  Lazarus walked up behind Waco to greet the men.  Shane went through the master/slave ritual with Lazarus and got a hug and a kiss.  Lazarus would’ve liked to give Bill Birdsall a hug and a kiss, but protocol didn’t call for it.  ‘Too, bad.’  he thought to himself.  He was going to have to work on that.    

Ranger came with Bobby and Elsie Jessup.  He brought Charlie a gift, they had some food and socialized with everyone, but they didn’t stay long.  Ranger’s wife was getting worse, her sister was with her, but they didn’t want to leave her for very long.  Bobby and Elsie couldn’t believe the change in Travis.  His color was better, he was breathing better, and he gained weight from the last time they saw him several weeks ago.  He told them all about the miraculous healing properties of Ox’s milk.  They were impressed.  He told them he hadn’t used his inhaler once in the last week.  Bobby and Elsie were beside themselves with joy.  Ranger was thrilled for Travis as well.  Ranger and Bobby sat down with him to have lunch.  Elsie sat with some of the women folk so her men could have a chance to talk by themselves.

“Travis, Son, I can’t git over how good you look.  You look like a different person than the boy we brought over here almost a month ago for Waco’s birthday gift.  It’s amazing.  You’re filling out, and I swear you’re an inch or so taller.”  Ranger was going on over him.

“Thanks, Master Ranger.  I feel great.  I ain’t had to use my inhaler in the last week.  Ox’s milk is like a miracle.  It’s helping Rabbit, too.  He had the rickets so bad he walked like a knock-kneed old cowboy.  He complained he hurt a lot, too.  Now, he can walk right and he says he ain’t in any more pain.  He’s gained some weight, too.  Master Waco piles the food on his plate and encourages him to eat.  I just take what I think I can eat, but lately I been more hungry than usual.  We been awful busy around here.  We’re going from sun up to sun down.”

“That’s great to hear, Son, and we can see you’ve improved.  You look so much more healthy, you got a glow about you.  I gotta’ agree with Master Ranger, you’ve definitely gained weight.  Damn, I was all worried about you, and here you’s look’n better’n I seen you in a long time.”  Travis’ dad Bobby told him.  “Tell us,— ” Bobby leaned close so nobody would hear but Ranger and him, “are you enjoying being Master Waco’s slave, Son?”

“I had the honor of being Master Waco’s first, Dad.  For his first time he was a wonderful partner, and he’s only gotten better.  Each time I swear he couldn’t git no better’n the last time, but you know what,— he always is.  I couldn’t be more satisfied.  Dad, I gotta’ thank you for your help and encouragement.  You ,too, Master Ranger.  If’n h’it weren’t for ya’ll I wouldn’t have been able to be the good slave for my master he needs right now.  Dad, I jes’ want chu’ to know how much I love you for teach’n me how to partner a master like you done.  I couldn’t a’ had me no better teacher or partner.  I will always remember our times together as the most wonderful experience of my life.  I love you, Dad, with all my heart, and I can’t thank you enough, Master Ranger, for sharing yourself with me.  Next to my dad, you’re about the finest man I ever’ know’d, Sir.”

Bobby and Ranger got all choked up and couldn’t answer for a minute.   Ranger looked at Bobby to take the ball, he couldn’t speak.

“What we shared, Son,— what you and Master Ranger shared, was just as wonderful and meaningful to us as it was for you.  I will take those times we spent together to my grave as some of the most important and loving times of my life.  Few men ever get to be as intimate and as close to their son as I done with you, Travis, and for that I will always be grateful.  We both got Master Gibbons to thank for that.  I had me a lot of misgivings about teaching you what I had to, Son, but ever’ time we were together, at some point I would think to myself, ‘No,— this is so right, and if'n I don’t enjoy my boy, he’ll know and then I’ve failed him.  If I withhold from him my joy, my pleasure or my love, then all my effort is for nought,— for those are the very things you were suppose to learn.  We wanted you to know and feel confident you’re capable of bringing great joy, pleasure and love to your master, and from the looks of you,— I say you couldn’t have no better young master.  I know a happy, contented slave when I see one, boy.

You can’t know how proud we are of you, Son.  We’re so happy for you that you’re happy, and you have a good home here.  We thought this would be a great opportunity for you, but as a father, naturally, I had my fears and doubts.  Master Ranger came to me several times asking if'n I thought we done the right thing by you.  Seeing you now, Son, makes us feel wonderful knowing we did do the right thing.  Yore’ ma is beside herself with joy she’s so happy for you.”

“I gotta’ thank ma for her wonderful advice and suggestions.  She was right-on and the couple of talks we had come in right handy.”

“I know she’ll be glad to hear that, Son.”  Bobby assured him.  They went on to talk about many things.  Travis could see the wheels working in Master Gibbon's head every time someone mentioned the miraculous healing powers of Ox’s milk.

* * * * * * *

Two cowboys, Cotton Daniels and Hoot Austin, who were invited to Waco’s birthday party but had some last minute problems with one of Hoot’s new slaves and couldn’t make it, arrived for Charlie’s party in a big pickup truck with a good size horse trailer attached to the bumper hitch.  Waco knew they were close friends with his dad, but he didn’t know their exact relationship.  He knew both of them never missed his dad’s birthday and remembered him every year at Christmas.  They brought Waco a belated gift they meant to bring on his birthday.  It was a fine, hand tooled, junior roping saddle.  It was beautiful.  Waco was thrilled with it and took it to the tack room off the new barn.

In the trailer they brought their roping ponies and a beautiful buckskin horse as a gift for Charlie.  It was not only a roping pony, but trained to be a champion cutting horse.  Charlie secretly admired Cotton’s skills in training horses and Hoot’s expertise in training slaves.  If he ever had a difficult slave it would be a hard decision for him whether to send him to Hoot and Cotton or his brother and Bill Birdsall.

Charlie was beyond thrilled with his gift, and the two cowboys were equally happy to give it to him.  It made Waco begin to wonder what their relationship was with his dad.  They three men seemed to share a closeness most other men didn’t share with his dad.  Charlie told him they would be coming for his birthday party, and they would be staying for the slave ceremony afterwards.   Waco knew only a few people were invited to attend who were not slaves and had to be voted on and invited by the slaves themselves.  They voted on Waco attending after they asked Charlie if he thought Waco was of an age he might appreciate their ceremony.  When the slaves found out Lazarus was, himself, a slave at one time, they voted unanimously to have Hank invite him.  At supper one evening a couple of days before Charlie’s birthday, Hank asked Lazarus if he would like to attend their ceremony.  Lazarus told him he would be honored and proud to attend.

“What about my slaves, Dad?”  Waco asked his father.

“I think Hank would be the one to pose that question to, Son?”  Charlie deferred to Hank.  

“What about it, Hank?”  Waco asked respectfully.

“All slaves may attend, Master Waco.  It’s basically a ceremony to reaffirm our faithfulness and continued loyalty to our good master and to pledge to him to work as hard as we can for him in the coming year.  The younger slaves may not wish to participate since this will be their first time; however, any slave present, or any freeman who has been a slave may participate in our ceremony if he so wishes.  No one is forced or made to feel obligated.  However, all slaves and invited guest will be expected to be naked except for his boots.”

“That ain’t no problem for me and my men, Hank.”  Waco assured him.

“Won’t be no problem for me, neither, Hank.”  Lazarus added.

“Good!  Then we’ll look forward to having you there.”

“What about me, Hank?”  JR asked, “Can I attend the ceremony with my brother and his slaves?”

“Not for a couple more years, Master JR.  Master Charlie thought it best to wait until Master Waco come of age, and we agreed with him.  That’s an age when you'll most appreciate what you witness.”

“Aww, I miss out on all the fun.”  JR whined.

“Tell ya’ what, little brother,— after the ceremony I’ll let chu’ spend the night with me and my slaves.  How’s that?”  Waco tried to console him.

“Can I, Hank?  Can I, Mr. Goodnight?”  Hank looked at Charlie and smiled.

“Shore’ you can, if’n yore’ big brother wants you to and your mother will let you.  Sounds like fun to me.”  Hank told him.  Charlie agreed with him.

“Oh, boy!  I ain’t had me no chance to stay in the new room since it’s been finished.  I’ll look forward to it.”  

* * * * * * * *

The day progress successfully.  Everyone seemed to have a good time, but Charlie commented he was a bit relieved there wasn’t a repeat of the strange day they had at Waco’s birthday.  All the slaves were again allowed to partake of the good food Ida Wallace and her crew prepared.  Ida had a couple of young cowboy slaves who helped her, and now that Waco had his own slaves, he made sure they filled in the gaps.  Waco himself was attentive to helping make sure his dad and his guest were seen to.  He was as busy as his slaves.  Even JR pitched in to help his ma and Hank.  He and Hank would work side by side, laugh and whisper nonsense to each other.  Hank and Ida were happy to see JR enjoying himself without getting overexcited and coming down with a killer migraine headache.

Lazarus went through the serving line and was looking for a place at one of the picnic tables to eat his food.  Angus stood and waved him over to the table he and his slave-foreman and his foreman’s slave was sitting.  The rest of Angus’ family were at another table.  

“Join us, Mr. Long.”  Angus cordially invited Lazarus.

“Thank you, Mr. Goodnight,— kind of you to offer.  Please, Sir,— call me Lazarus.”

“Okay, I appreciate that, call me Angus, Lazarus.”

“Thank you, Sir, it will be an honor.”

“It’s good to see you and your good masters again, young slave.”  Lazarus spoke directly to Shane.

“Thank you, Master Long,— it’s good to see you again, too.”

“Our slave and his master has asked me to invite you to our fourth of July celebration.  I was going to myself, but they seemed particularly interested in having you attend.”  Angus told Lazarus.

“I’d consider it an honor and a privilege to come to your fourth of July celebration, Sir.”

“Master Lazarus, I had to tell my master about our conversation, Sir.”  Shane motioned toward Bill Birdsall.  Lazarus took that to mean he didn’t necessarily share the information with his other master, his older brother.

“And so you should, Son,— you must always be truthful and honest with your master.  I wouldn’t expect anything less from you.”

“He’s a good slave, Mr. Long, but I didn’t find anything particularly unusual about your conversation, Sir.”  Bill Birdsall smiled at Lazarus.  Lazarus took that to mean he didn’t tell Angus all the details and smiled back at Bill.  The men made small talk for an while and Angus excused himself to go sit with his brother Charlie and the two cowboys, Cotton and Hoot.  Lazarus was left alone with Bill Birdsall and Shane.

“I decided not to tell Mr. Goodnight some of the more spectacular things my slave related to me, Mr. Long.  They were pretty way out, but I know my slave wouldn’t lie to me unless someone was lying to him.”  Bill continued eating his dinner.

“He wasn’t lying to you, Mr. Birdsall,— I told him the truth.”

“I don’t claim to be a learned man about world history or sociological trends, but what he described to me sounds very much like a biblical apocalypse, end of time kind of thing.”

“There's been some speculation, some of the prophets of old were able to tap into the winds of consciousness and learn of future events to come; however, their work was subject to literary editing to suit the powers that be for the moment when the bible was assembled, and the bible suffered from mistranslations down though the centuries, so what you’re left with is a much different vision than what the prophet really recorded no matter what their impetus.  Besides, how does a man from two thousands years ago, who is barely more than a sheepherder describe modern weaponry or flying machines.  Prophecy is like any other gambit which is determined by the laws of probability.  Any prophet is going to be right a certain number of times and wrong a certain number of times.  What we tend to forget is the number of times a prophet is wrong to the number of times he’s right.  My point is, while there may be some correlation between biblical prophecy and what I told your slave, it’s more coincidence than anything else; however, that’s not to say it ain’t a possibility.  Infinite possibilities spring from variants in the time line.  That’s the four faces of chaos, gentlemen, nothing is only either/or,— it may also be neither/nor.  The tricky part is, they all must exist at the same time, together, no matter how distant they might be from one another.  Somewhere in the universe is its antithesis”    

“When do we git to see this ship of yours, Sir?”  Bill asked.

“When it can be done without raising a lot of suspicion.”  Lazarus answered him.  “If I didn’t have a ceremony to attend later this evening I would suggest we ride out this afternoon, but there wouldn’t be time to show you everything today.  I’m not in any hurry.  I plan to be here the better part of a decade or more,— there’s plenty of time.”

“My slave told me about a book and some papers he found.  I asked him where he got the book he was reading, and he told me where he found it.  He never tried to hide them from me; however, I remember him telling me he thought they were important, but he didn’t know why.  They’ve been sitting around my quarters for sometime now.  I jes’ never paid ‘em much attention.  After he told me, I took a closer look, and I can’t tell what language they’re written in.  He was right to describe them as hieroglyphics.   We’ll be happy to show ‘em to you when you come for the fourth of July.”

“I’d appreciate that, Mr. Birdall; however, I might not be able to read them either.  If it’s in a very ancient script, I might not be familiar with it, but I know someone who might be able to read it.”

“Your companions, Sir?”  asked Shane.

“No, I doubt seriously they’ve seen anything like it.  It would be your nephew, Shane,— young Master Waco.  My son, Ox, thinks somehow he’s learned to tap into the ancient winds of consciousness.  He may be the closest we have to a potential modern day seer.  By that, I don’t mean a prophet, I mean someone who can hear the voices of the ancients as well as voices from the future all connected through gravitic wells in the space/time continuum. ”

“Master Angus told us Master Charlie told him all about you being Ox’s Godfather.” Shane said, “That’s really something.”

“We were surprised, but happy he was here when we arrived.  We didn’t expect him until later.  He was sent to protect Master Waco and Master Charlie.”

“Do they need protection?  Are they in any danger?” asked Shane concerned.

“Not right now, but there’s no guarantee about the future.  We can only know certain parts of the future, not all of it.  Ox’s presence is sort of like insurance,— even then, there’s no absolute guarantee.”

“Master Lazarus, would you tell me about the well or winds of consciousness, Sir?  Do you have to be like my nephew, Master Waco, to hear others' thoughts or can anyone hear them?”

“I can best answer your question by telling you my experience.  I was able to hear the winds before I could hear others; however, at the time, I didn’t understand what I was hearing until some Native American friends and friends of Ox’s specie taught me how to listen.  All I was hearing is what some call Tinnitus, a white noise or ringing in the ears like a medium pitched continuous tone with occasional static,— nothing I could really make out as words or images.  Then I was taught to relax and listen,— not only to my inner-self, but also to the sounds of the winds of consciousness.  It wasn’t long after that I began to get bits and pieces of other thoughts.”

“Can you read our minds right now?”  Bill asked him.

“I could, but that would be rude to tap into someone’s mind without permission.  Besides, it gives the impression of a cheap sideshow trick.  I ain't no carnival huckster.   Why do you ask about the winds, Son?”  Lazarus asked Shane.

“Once in a while, in the wee still hours of the night, when I’m laying next to my master, I hear voices whispering to me, but I ain’t never told nobody before now.  I can’t tell what they’s saying no how.  It’s jes’ like they was telling each other things about me and sometimes other people, but I don’t know who or what about.  Yore' description of the "winds" made me think it might be the same thing.”

“The next time it happens, Son, empty your mind of all thoughts and fears.  Think of yourself as a radio receiver and you’re trying to tune in the strongest signal in the area.  Did you ever have a crystal radio set when you's a kid,---where you had to move the wire around on the crystal until you got a station?”

“Yes, Sir, it was one of my favorite toys.  I used to play with that thing by the hour.”

“Well, it’s sort of like that.  Don’t worry what you run across.  Just keep slowly moving your imaginary dial until you find a couple of voices what are loud enough to be recognizable, then stop and listen.  Don’t strain,— relax and let them come to you.  Let them speak to you.  The voices on the winds won’t harm you, nor will the watchers allow the voices of evil to get through.  You will soon learn to adjust the volume accordingly until you can hear them the first time.  Don’t let yourself get discouraged, you may not be able to do it the first fifty times or more, but once you hear, you’ll never forget how and it will become easier the next time, until one night you’ll have them shouting at you.  You’ll have to cover your head with a pillow to go to sleep.”  Lazarus laughed. “Not all the information you hear is going to be worth a damn.  A lot of it is nothing more than gossip.  Most of it’s true, but gossip nonetheless.  Horses and Cetations are the worst, followed by men.”

“Do you listen, Master Lazarus?”

“I used to until I got the hang of it, but I stopped.  It’s like anything else in life,— you do it enough, it gets boring.  I’d rather spend my time doing other things.  I let those more skilled and talented than me do it.  That’s where Ping and Pong are handy.  They spend their sleeping hours wind surfing.  They hear the important stuff and relate it to me.  Once in a great while, I’ll listen in, especially if Ping and Pong get excited about something going around.  I do better with ponies.  The may gossip a lot, but they mean well, and they got big hearts for them they love.”  Lazarus smiled.  Shane and Bill laughed.

“I’d like to know what my pony thinks of me.” said Shane, “I never really appreciated horses until I became a slave, Master Lazarus.  Now I find myself going out of my way to make my pony’s life a little easier or better.  I’d like to know if he notices or appreciates me for it.”

“I understand, Son, and I assure you he does.  Being a slave opens new doors for you, you never noticed before.  They ain’t necessarily better,— sometimes they are,— but they’re always new and different from what you knew before.”

“I’ve tried to explain that to my Master, Master Lazarus, but he jes’ laughs at me.”

“It ain’t because I’m laughing at you, slave.  It’s because I’m laughing at the joy you fine in the simplest of things you would’ve totally overlooked before.  Once you got it in yore’ head you were gonna’ be a slave and there weren’t nothing you could do about it, you slowly began to change.  You have great fears of going back to the way you were, but I assure you, it will never happen.”

“Yore’ Master’s right, Son.  I never went back to being the person I was before I was enslaved.  Not sorry about it neither, because like you, I didn’t particularly like the man I was before.   After I accepted the fact I was a slave and very likely going to live the rest of my life as one, I tried to be the best slave I could be.  One day I realized I liked the man I had become as a slave and I liked the man I later became as a freeman.  Now, I can do the most menial of tasks, relate to a freeman or a slave as my equal or their subordinate with no consideration of loss of self, identity or masculinity.  The power of true masculinity may only be discovered when you realize you have given up hope of ever having a say in your life and you’re forced to submit to another’s will,— only then, to survive, you create a new, stronger man inside you who will be more powerful than he was to overcome all that comes his way.”

“There ain't no doubt in my mind, Mister Long, you were once a slave.” commented Bill Birdsall, “No man what's ever been a slave would lie about it.  Neither have I ever found an ex-slave who was ashamed to admit he was once a slave no matter how others may look upon it.  I’ve seen it happen too many times.  Nothing can get to a freeman who was once a slave.  We have two good examples here today.  The two cowboys what brought Master Charlie the cutting horse and Master Waco his new saddle used to be Master Charlie’s slaves.

They got into some trouble when they’s young men.  They was rodeo riders and thought real men rodeoed, got drunk, raised hell and fought each other.  Their daddies were rodeo men, and that’s what they done.  Both dads were in prison and later sold as lifetime slaves, so they thought that’s what they should be doing as well.  Sure enough they got sentenced from five to ten as three time losers for disturbing the peace and assault.   

Charlie’s dad knew ‘em and bought ‘em.  He’d known ‘em all their lives.  He knew they didn’t have much of a home life, and while they’d gotten themselves into trouble, he felt they were worth saving.  The old man was one who never preached to others or made loud boasts about how good a Christian he was,— he just lived his life as a good man and let others live their lives the way they wanted to.  He never judged nobody.  I feel sorry for my slave he never got to know his pa like his brothers and I did.  Mr. Goodnight was one of the best men I ever knew.  He would’ve been proud of all his boys.”  Bill put his arm around Shane’s shoulder and pulled him close to him to let him know he included his slave in that statement.

“He was still alive then and he and Charlie were running the ranch together.  He trained ‘em his-self and turned them ole boys into two pert-damn good cowboys.  When he died, Charlie got the ranch and inherited all his dad’s slaves; however, not before he paid his brothers off for their share of the ranch.  Charlie didn’t have to.  It was quit claimed to him under a living trust, because Charlie was the son what stayed behind to help his dad, and he and his wife took care of the old man in his declining years.  His brothers would’ve never contested his dad’s wishes.  Wouldn’t a’ done ‘em no good no how.  The old man had an iron clad will drawn up.  He had enough other assets he left the other three comfortable, but Charlie had the ranch appraised and paid his brothers each one quarter of its worth.

Anyway, Cotton and Hoot was Charlie’s slaves for three years.  When their five years was up, he made plans to set ‘em free, but they still had five more years of probation to do.  Charlie was gonna’ hire ‘em back to give ‘em a job so’s they’d have money to get on their feet, they wouldn’t have to go into debt and probably end up being enslaved again for life.  It ain’t easy out there for ex-slaves.  They either git in over their head in debt or git so frustrated they do something crazy.  Charlie got Master Angus to stand up for them and a couple of other men in the community who said they’d help be responsible for them.  Everything was set for Charlie to release them.  The day of the court hearing, everything had been said that was to say, but the judge asked if the men had anything they wanted to say.  Cotton stood up and told the judge he could only speak for himself, but he wanted to spend the rest of his sentence as Master Charlie’s slave.

Cotton never mentioned to Hoot what he planned to do.  Maybe it was just a spur of the moment decision, I don’t know; however, it only took ole Hoot one look at Cotton, he immediately jumped up and told the judge if’n Cotton was gonna’ stay Master Charlie’s slave for another five years, he was, too.  I was there that day and you could a’ heard a mouse fart.  The judge asked Charlie if that was acceptable to him.  Charlie jes’ shook his head, grinned from ear to ear and assured the judge it was,— the judge banged his gavel, and it was done.  Cotton and Hoot went home with Master Charlie as his slaves for five more years.  They couldn’t a’ been happier.

When their second five years was up, they was released as freemen.  They done their time, didn’t have to have nobody stand up for ‘em, and didn’t have to worry about no probation.  They continued working for Charlie on a salary basis for another two years then got a deal working for a rancher who wanted to get out of the ranching business.  They took over his place, expanded their base of operation and paid him off in a little under three years.  They were on a roll.  Cotton was training horses, showing them and Hoot was training slaves.  Together they were running the ranch.  They started making money hand over fist and today are wealthy men.  They were the men what started the slave ceremony you’re attending tonight.  That’s why they’re invited ever’ year.  They still come back to the ranch to pay homage and obeisance to Master Charlie.

If Master Charlie was an unscrupulous master he could’ve had their indenturement extended for life with little or no problem.  No one would’ve ever questioned Charlie Goodnight.  The Goodnight family name is that well thought of in this state.  Cotton and Hoot realize it, too, and worship him for his honesty and trust in them.  If’n he’s ever in a bind, they’s the first two here to help,— along with Master Angus.  

Neither one of ‘em talk about it much, but if’n the subject comes up, they don’t shy away from it.  I’ve heard ‘em tell people who said something bad about ex-slaves, they were slaves for ten years and proud of it.  Their hired hands are all ex-slaves.  Cotton and Hoot tell folks, if’n it weren’t for the Goodnights they would’ve ended up being enslaved for life and had nothing to show for it.  Thanks to two good men who taught them by example to be good slaves, cowboys and better men, they were proud to have served them for ten years and called them ‘Master.’  They claim they owe ever’ damn thing they are today to Charlie Goodnight and his dad.  You know what, Mr. Long,— I believe ‘em.”  Bill Birdsall concluded emphatically.

“This evening should prove to be interesting.” Lazarus mused.
  Angus came back over as the men were having dessert and sat with them again.

“Hear’d tell you’s quite a cowboy, Lazarus.”

“I try to be a modest man, Mr. Goodnight, but a few of the slaves have allowed I can roll my own.”  Lazarus winked at him, and Angus roared with laughter.

“Ain’t heard me that phrase in a long time.  Only a real cowpoke would know what that meant.” he allowed and winked at Lazarus.  “We always have a little rodeoing after the one in town.  Bring your new pony over if you’d like to toss a couple.  You plan to enter the rodeo in town?”

“I will if’n I can git me the entry fees before then.  I’m working for me and my companions keep.”

“Tell you what, cowboy,— you enter anything you think you can win, and I’ll stake you.  Pay me back out of your winnings.”

“That sounds good, Sir, but what if I don’t win?”

“Then, I guess I’ll jes’ have to make you my slave.” Angus smiled at him mischievously.

“I could think of a hell of a lot worse fates.  I’d be downright proud to be yore’ slave, Master Goodnight, with all that statement implies, Sir.”  Lazarus smiled at the big cowboy.

“Spoken like a true slave, Son.”  Angus laughed and stuck out his big ham of a hand to shake Lazarus’ hand.  “My brother told me you were once a slave.  Only a man what knows about being a slave would have the balls to make a comeback like that.  My hat’s off to you, Sir.”  Angus said with sincerity.

* * * * * * *

The day progressed and in the afternoon everyone wanted to do a little rodeoing as the fourth of July rodeo was coming up in the small town and all the cowboys wanted to sharpen their skills.  Lazarus was still teaching Dun to be a good roping partner for him, and the pony was learning fast.  Lazarus would only have to tell him once how to do something, and he would nail it every time.  Lazarus and Charlie were getting the best scores of the day, beating all the other teams in the area including Cotton and Hoot.  They’d brought along one of their slaves in training who had to run around naked all day, but no one paid him the slightest attention.  It was just accepted he was in training and that was expected.  His name was Mack Brazel.  He was a tall, lean man with a huge dick that flopped around as he moved about.  Mack was solidly built and handsome to boot.  He was rumored to be a top-notch team roper, and he wanted to rope in the worst way.  Hoot told him he could rope if he could find a partner, but he had to ride naked.  All the man had on was his cowboy boots.  He went straight for Lazarus, threw himself to the ground in front of him, and begged to pay homage to his dusty boots.  Lazarus gave him permission.  He make love and cleaned every bit of dust from his boots with his tongue.  Lazarus told him he was satisfied and to rise and show him his love.  The slave threw his arms around Lazarus and planted a big kiss right on his mouth.  Lazarus was a bit surprised but went along with it.

“Permission to speak, Master?” he asked.

“Granted, slave.”

“I’d be proud and honored if’n you’s to consider tossing a rope with this worthless slave, Sir?”  Mack didn’t seem too sure of himself because he didn’t know how a freeman might react to his request.  He was pleasantly surprised when he found Lazarus treated him like a man and seemed to respect him as a slave.  It was his first experience at having a freeman except him for who he was.  Nothing else seemed important.

“Sure, Son,— be happy to.  You got chore’self a pony?”

About that time Hoot walked into the arena with a small paint gelding and handed the slave the reins and a rope.

“What ‘da ya’ wanna’ rope, Son,— header or heeler?”

“Header, Master,— if’n you don’t mind, Sir.”

“Don’t mind a’tall.  I’ll rope heeler.”  Lazarus was teaching Dun to be a header pony; however, there isn’t that much difference in the two.  “Watch when his pony breaks the rope, partner, then take off like you still had that burr under yore’ blanket.  I’ll do the rest.  When you feel me dally my rope, start backing up.”

“Gottcha,’ boss.” replied the dun.

The men made their run, and it was a new arena record.  Cheers went up everywhere.  Even old hard nosed Hoot was congratulating Lazarus and his slave.  With his Master’s permission, one of the slave cowboys loaned Mack his hat for their run.  Lazarus was amused at how much Mack looked like a cowboy even without his clothes, with only a hat and his boots.

“Don’t chu’ go git’n yore’self  no ideas, Hoot,” Charlie Goodnight hollered from across the arena, “Mr. Long’s already done spoken for, for the fourth of July.  He’s my cowboy for the rodeo!”  Everyone laughed.

“Naw, Sir, Boss Charlie.  I wouldn’t be think’n that way, but I’m gonna’ have ta’ talk with my partner to see if we wanna’ waste our entry fee.”  He laughed and everyone laughed with him.

* * * * * * *

The party broke up in the late afternoon, and everyone left except Master Bill and his slave, Shane.  Unbeknownst to everyone, Master Bill wrote a letter to Charlie Goodnight’s slaves and hand delivered it to the two crew leader slaves, Curlie Knight and Hank Morgan.  In his letter he respectfully request permission for him and his personal slave to attend the Goodnight ranch slave ceremony on Master Charlie’s birthday.  All the slaves knew of Master Bill’s reputation as being an authority on slave training and handling.  Bill carefully explained in his letter the tradition that was started at the Goodnight ranch by Cotton Daniels and Hoot Austin many years ago was a new phenomenon in the history of modern slavery, and he would like to write about it.  He felt it was an important development in the evolution of Master/slave relationships and since it had been going on for a number of years, it had to be considered as more than a temporary exercise.  It had taken on a life of its own as a ritual tradition, and therefore, was historically and psychologically important.  He wanted to include it in a book he was writing about the untold better side of enslavement.  Charlie’s slaves voted and all agreed to allow Master Bill and Shane to attend as long as they agreed to abide by their rules.  Master Bill assured them he understood rituals and ceremonies had certain established conventions, and he and his slave would be happy to comply.

Waco was excited about getting his slaves ready for the ceremony.  The boys bathed and pampered their lummox.  Ox had taken on a new importance to them since they began to drink his milk and were benefitting from the result.  He became like a big brother to them they delighted in taking care of.  Ox couldn’t have been happier.  He thought he’d died and gone to heaven and spared no words in letting his surrogate dad know of his good fortune.  Lazarus laughed at him and teased him mercilessly, but he was happy for his Godson.

In three weeks, Ox lost all his hair from slightly below his chin area to about six inches below his belly button.  From there to just above his knees he had grown a luxurious skirt of the finest hair that made him look like he was wearing a fur kilt.  He dropped all the hair from just above his knees to his feet.  He was completely bald in those areas.  Oh, yes, and about a six inch area around his asshole was completely denuded, much to the delight of his human companions.  His fur skirt covered any loss of fur around his hole, so it didn’t cause any embarrassing problems for him.  His fur was so thick and long his genital area was completely hidden from view.  Ox like his new look so well, he commented to his Master he thought he’d keep it that way, not only for convenience but for hygiene purposes as well.  The boys got their heads together and decided their lummox deserved a new costume for the slave ceremony.  They drew up plans and measured every inch of Ox’s huge frame.  He had no idea what they planned, but he imagined whatever it was it was going to be good.

Waco ran across a boot company on the internet that made boots to order.  He was really taken by a pair of tall engineer style, heavy duty boots with thick vibram soles.  He sent Ox’s measurements and received an e-mail back with their doubts any man could have feet that big.  Waco assure them they were right, no man has a foot that big, but the boots weren’t for a man.  They told him there would be an extra charge.  He sent them the money and received the boots two weeks later.

The boys went to a saddle maker with measurements and drawings of a wide harness with buckles to fit over Ox’s shoulders, a band around his massive chest, another strap around his midsection to pull it all together, and down to a wide belt with a handsome buckle that stopped just above his summer fur line.  When Waco and the boys brought out Ox’s new costume he was stunned by the beauty and simplicity of the design.  When he got it all on and stood before a full length mirror he was further stunned by what he saw looking back at him.  His only thought which he allowed to echo to his companions was,

<< Eat your heart out, Lazarus! >> They all shared a laugh.

Ox hugged and thanked each of the boys.  He was so taken with his gifts.  They took his masculinity and amplified it several times with the black leather and the boys stood there admiring their handiwork with three roaring hard-ons.  Ox smiled at them and wanted to drink their essence from each of their bodies; however, Master Waco insisted they didn’t have the time, so Ox’s body settled for making them more milk.  

Waco led his posse to the barn.  They were naked except for their cowboy boots.  The boys couldn’t take their eyes of Ox, they were so proud of him.  He was a sight to behold and to be admired.  The slaves laughed at the boys erection until they got a good look at their lummox who was bringing up the rear, and they immediately began pop boners.

“Hoe-lee shit!”  was heard from several.  Lazarus stood there with his mouth open.  Master Bill damn near choked to death on the soda he was drinking.

<< Close yore’ mouth, Dad. >>  Ox admonished Lazarus.

<< Them boys done outdid themselves on you, Son.  You look amazing.  I just wish yore’ boy and Strom were here to see this.  Unbelievable!  Ain’t never seen you look no better, Garron, and that ain’t no joke.  You look hot, Son! >>  Ox heard a chuckle in his mind and bowed slightly to the crowd.

The boys erections were quickly forgotten now that every man there was sporting one.  They all had to come over and complement Ox and touch his harness.  Ox’s tall black boots made several slaves’ mouths involuntarily salivate.  Shane was the worst of all.  It was all he could do to keep from throwing himself at the lummox’s feet to taste his boots.  Cotton and Hoot, who thought they’d seen it all whistled and joked with Waco.

“You ever wanna’ sell him, Son, you got chore’self a couple a' buyers.”  Cotton winked at him.

“Naw, Mr. Daniels, my lummox ain’t for sale.  How could I put a price on love, Sir?”  Waco gestured to Ox.  Ox got a look of awe and affection on his big face from Waco’s words.  Lazarus had only seen a look like that on his Godson’s face twice in six hundred years.

‘E’aup, he’s smitten.’ Lazarus chuckled to himself.

“I agree with Master Waco, brother.”  Hoot came to Waco’s rescue, “Master Charlie knew what he was doing when he let his boy buy a slave no one else wanted.  Ya’ might say the same thing happened to us once upon a time.  You’n me ain’t never gonna’ be no silk purses, but thanks to two good masters we done okay.  This big man will, too.”

“Yeah, yore’ right, brother.  I’s jes’ josh’n with ya,’ Master Waco.  There ain’t enough money in the world to buy love when it can be freely given.”  Cotton conceded.

It was Waco’s first time to see several of the men present naked.  He couldn’t remember seeing his cousin naked, but he smile to himself when he saw Shane possessed a fine example of the Goodnight beer can.  The next cock that impressed him was Lazarus’ fine looking dick.  The two freemen cowboys weren’t too damn shabby either.  Master Bill could hold his own with any of the men.  Waco was almost a bit envious of his cousin getting to pleasure that big cowboy’s penis every night.  However, he had the prize stud on his arm,— his lummox.

Everyone was gathered and talking quietly.  There was a small raised platform the men built for the occasion, and on it, there sat a large high back Captain’s chair with arms that looked for all the world like a throne.  Next to it was a bail of hay with several horse blankets thrown over it.  The chair and the hay were lit by small pin spots mounted in the rafters of the barn.  It was a simple but effective center of attention.

“Gentlemen, if I can have your attention.” spoke Curley Knight, “We welcome everyone to the Goodnight ranch slave ceremony.  Before we begin and Hank brings out Master Charlie, I have a few words for those who are new.  First of all, we'd like to welcome Master Waco and his slaves.”  everyone politely applauded.  “Master Waco you may either observe with the rest of the guest or you may chose to stand by your dad’s side for the first part of the ceremony.  Since your slaves are also your dad’s slaves they are welcome to participate if they wish.  Any freeman present who was once a slave is also welcome to participate.

The ceremony ain’t complicated so by observing those who go before, it should be easy enough to follow.  Besides, this is very informal and you can’t make a mistake.  The only mistake I could think of is to be disrespectful to our Master, and I don’t thing we’d be here if anyone had that in mind.  So everyone relax, enjoy yourselves and have a good time.  Mr. Morgan, if you would be so kind as to inform our good Master we’re ready for him, we'll begin.”  Hank gave a quick salute to Curley and ran for the house.

Waco was impressed with all the naked slaves, but a couple stuck out in his mind.  He never really appreciated what a fine looking man and cowboy Hank Morgan was.  Waco could also see what Ida Wallace saw in him and JR was a chip off the old block.  He was going to be every bit the man his dad was.
Hank returned in a few minutes with Charlie Goodnight.  Charlie was dressed in boots, his brown bat wing working chaps, a brown leather Western vest and his hat.  He was naked underneath and the chaps sort of framed his genitals nicely.  Waco had seen his dad nude many times before.  Charlie never hid himself from his son nor taught him it was wrong for them to run around nude in private; however, Waco was never so impressed by his dad as he was that evening.  His dad was breathtakingly handsome to him.

Charlie greeted all the men with either a handshake, or a hug.  He wasn’t the least bit shy with full body contact with any man there including Lazarus.  When he came to Ox he was as stunned as the rest of the men were earlier.

“My God!  What have the boys done to you?” Charlie smiled and opened his arms to the huge creature.  Ox took him and enfolded him in his arms and started singing his deep rumbling song to him.  He held him and petted Charlie like he was a favorite pet.  “You look fantastic, my good slave.  Are you happy with your new look?” Ox looked at him, smiled and nodded.  Ox let him go and Charlie hugged and kissed his little brother.

“And look at you.  There ain’t no doubt in my mind you’re happy.  I don’t have to ask if your Master is taking good care of you.  You’re body says it all.”

Charlie came to Lazarus and shook his hand.  It was obvious Charlie was impressed by what he saw.

“Glad you decided to join us this evening, Lazarus.  You’re welcome here.”

“Thank you, Mr. Goodnight,— I appreciate being allowed to attend.”

He saved the boys for last.  He hugged and kissed each of them.  He lingered with his son.

“You gonna’ stand by my side this evening, young man?”

“I was going to just observe, but if you want me by your side, I’d be honored, Dad.”

“Yes,— I think I want you standing next to me.  Come.” and Charlie led Waco to the dais and had him stand on his right side next to his chair.  Curley walked to Charlie and whispered something to him.

“Master Birdsall, would you like to come stand at my left so you may more closely observe our ceremony?"  Charlie asked Master Bill.

“Your slaves have been kind enough to grant my request to attend their ceremony, and I would certainly appreciate the opportunity to witness more closely.  Does anyone have any objections?”  There were none.  Master Bill went to the dais and took his place on Charlie’s left side.  “Thanks, Master Charlie, this is an awesome opportunity.”

The ceremony was quick and simple.  Charlie sat in the big chair and each man approached, knelt before him, paid homage to his boots, told Charlie they loved him and they would try to be as good a slave for him as they could in the coming year.  Then they kissed each of his balls and the head of his dick.  Charlie had something special to say to each man who knelt before him and generally carried on a brief conversation with each.  Waco and Master Bill were impressed by the genuineness of the men.  Each slave took a turn until there was no more of the cowboy-slaves and only the boys and the guests were left.  Waco told his slaves he would leave it up to them if they wanted to participate.  Curley asked if there was any other slaves who would like to come forward to pay homage to their Master.

Ox lumbered forth in his new costume and was a commanding presence from all the other men in the barn.  He was truly impressive.  He knelt in front of Charlie, paid homage to his boots, completed the ritual, and sat back on his big boots.

“He asked me to tell you he loves you and promises to honor, obey and protect you this coming year.  He’s glad to have this opportunity to pay homage to you and appreciates your kindness to him.”  Waco told his dad.  Charlie choked up a little he was so moved by the big creature’s sentiment.

“We’re glad to have such a handsome and noble beast like you here with us, Ox.  You’ve come to mean a lot to all of us in the last few weeks, and I’m looking forward to a wonderful year having you around.”

Ox smiled and move to the right and repeated his ritual with his young master.  Waco really hadn’t expected Ox to do something like that, but everyone was impressed.  He remained kneeling as Waco hugged and kissed him.  Ox was followed by Travis who copied his actions.  Rabbit was the last to come forward, and he was smiling the whole time he performed the ritual with Charlie.  Charlie didn’t miss his enthusiasm and Rabbit took his good time making love to Charlie’s big balls and cock, then sat back and grinned at his Master.

“I think he enjoyed that jes’ a little too much.  What da’ you think, Son?”  Charlie spoke to Waco, winked at Rabbit and smiled.

“Looks like a happy camper to me, Dad.”  Waco laughed.

“What da’ ya’ have to say for yourself, Chief?”  Charlie teased him.

“I know a good thing when I see it, Master Charlie.  I know I won’t have me no chance to get that close to ‘em again for a while, so I learned early on to take what chu’ can git when you can git it.”  He laughed and Charlie laughed with him.  Rabbit then moved to Waco and performed the same ritual with him.  He sat back on his boots and looked Waco in the eye.

“Master Angus done told me I gotta’ give myself to you to git me a little, Master Waco.  I told him I thought I already had, but maybe not.  So,— I’m officially giving myself to you, Master Waco.  I ain’t jes’ give’n myself to you, Sir,— I’m a humble, hungry slave a’ beg’n you, Master.”  Waco heard his dad chuckling next to him. “I been here damn near a month now, and I’s beginning to think you don’t care for me.”

“You know that ain’t true, little brother.  You know what I told you the first day you was given to me?  I meant what I said then, and I still mean it.  I jes’ thought you was enjoying keeping our big boss-man here company at night, and I didn’t wanna’ pull you away.  While you may not be doing nothing with him, I know you enjoy each others’ company.”

“I won’t gainsay that, Master Waco,— I come to love Master Charlie with all my heart, Sir, but I still need me some attention from my first Master.  I’d like to give myself to you this evening, Master Waco, if’n you see fit to use me, Sir.”

“Humm, ‘at shore’ sounds like it be from the heart to me, Son.  Sounds like you got chore’self a slave what needs a little of his Master’s love’n this evening.”  Charlie allowed.

“I think yore’ right, Dad.  I damn sure accept your offer, little brother.  You and me will stay in my room tonight.”

“What about yore’ little brother, Master Waco?  You promised him he could stay with us.”

“You let me handle that.  I’ll hook him up to a lummox teat and he’ll be out in ten minutes,— tops.”  Waco laughed.  Rabbit and Charlie laughed with him.

“Thanks, Master Waco,— I’s beginning to worry my slave-hole was gonna’ grow shut.”

“Don’t chu’ worry none, little brother, we’ll open you up good and wide this evening.”  Waco grinned as he gave Rabbit a hug and a kiss.   

The two men who created the slave ceremony years ago were always the last to approach Charlie.  Curley thought that would be all before he called on Cotton and Hoot, but he asked once more if there was anyone else to come forward.  From the back of the crowd came the big, tall lumbering form of Lazarus Long.  Charlie was a bit surprised and watch with keen interest as Lazarus moseyed up and knelt him front of him.

“You don’t have to do this, Lazarus,— you’re a freeman.”

“Would you deny me the honor, Master Goodnight?”

“Certainly not,— I jes’ didn’t want you to feel obligated.  I’m more than satisfied you’re earning your and your companion’s keep.  I git nothing but glowing feedback from my crew leaders.”

“Glad to hear that, Sir.  I was under the impression any freeman who was once a slave might participate in your slave’s ceremony if he so wished.”

“He’s got chu’ there, Dad.”  Waco said quietly and chuckled.

“You’re correct, Lazarus.”

“Then, Master Goodnight, I’m here asking yore’ permission to pay homage to your boots.”

“Permission granted, Mr. Long.”

Lazarus took his good time and didn’t rush.  His actions made it quite clear he was enjoying every minute of his obeisance to Charlie.  Charlie got fully erect before Lazarus finished paying homage to his boots.  Waco was about to laugh his ass off at his dad, but he held it back.  This was what his dad was talking about being mature enough not to laugh, and he held it in.  Lazarus not only kissed each of Charlie’s big low hanging balls but carefully licked the light gathering of swear from each.  He took his big callosed hand and gently skinned Charlie back and took the entire head of his dick into his mouth to clean it,— then he lovingly kissed the head and let go.  Charlie’s horse didn’t go anywhere, it only rose more like a flag pole awaiting reveille.  Waco had to turn his head away.  He could see Master Bill was smiling and knew if their eyes met he would burst out laughing,— but he held it in and coughed into his hand instead.  Lazarus sat back on his boot heels.

“Thank you, Master Goodnight, for allowing me that honor.  I have a question for you, Sir.”

“Certainly, Lazarus,— anything.”

“Since I’m working along with your slaves, does that mean I might be afforded the same privileges they are, Sir?”

“Of course, you are.  There should be no doubt in your mind.  You’re only doing the job of a slave because I ain’t got another job for you right now; however, that may change in the near future.”

“So it would be acceptable to you if’n I entered my name along with the slaves who wish to volunteer to give themselves to their master for an evening?”  Lazarus grinned.  Charlie smiled as his dick leaped again at the thought.

“Of course, you may; however, are you sure you’d like to assume the role of a slave for my pleasure?”

“I got over any thoughts like that years ago, Master Goodnight.  It would be an honor, Sir.”

“Then, by all means, feel free to do so.” Charlie was still hard as a rock as Lazarus leaned over and kissed the head of his dick one last time.  Lazarus then rose, turned and took his place at the rear of the crowd behind the slaves along with Cotton and Hoot.  They each shook his hand when he returned.  He gained their respect and approval with his actions.

Lazarus was followed by the two cowboys, Cotton and Hoot, who took their time.  They laughed and commented on Charlie’s reaction to Lazarus.  It didn’t bother Charlie.  He remained as hard as a rock.  They once again told Charlie how grateful they were to him and his dad for having set them on the straight and narrow path to a better life for themselves.  While watching the two fine looking men kneeling before Charlie with their arms around each others’ waist, it suddenly struck Waco, they were a bonded pair.  The two, good looking, rough edged, middle aged cowboys, Cotton and Hoot, were lovers.  All the pieces began to fall into place, and he suddenly realized, they had once been his dad’s slaves.   A chill ran up his spine and he once again heard ancient voices begin to whisper to him, but this time he could understand their words if not their meaning:

"As they are,— you have been,— and so shall you be.  The beginning progresses to the finish, but it does not end.  It is another beginning.  You have been them, and they are now you.  You see yourself as you were then, they see themselves as you are now.  It is not a riddle.  It has always been,— Alpha and Omega, world without end,— until now.  So shall you, without end, beget a new equation,— a change in the continuum of time,— a Messiah for a new generation will you issue forth,— for a new humanity,— one who will understand and be understood.  You will be his mother and his father.  You will teach him to control his powers and show him how to perform miracles in our name, and he shall reign for a thousand years,— do not be afraid, we have sent one of great courage and strength, with the collective goodness and wisdom of the ages to love and protect you,— you will bear him two sons,— seeeee-lah.’

Waco pondered the words for a moment.  They came to him so clearly.  He suddenly had an uncontrollable urge to feel his stomach.  Waco looked down and started lightly rubbing his abdomen.  He looked up and saw his beloved lummox standing tall and proud in his handsome new outfit, smiling at him with love in his heart.  Waco looked deep into his eyes.  Without a word or thought exchanged, he knew Ox heard the same voices.  Waco continued to pat and caress his stomach like he could feel a presence within him.  Was it possible?  He wondered what it might feel like, and his dick started getting hard.  He looked back into his lummox’s eyes, he nodded slightly,— then, he smiled.

End Chapter 8 ~ Waco’s Lummox
Copyright 2006 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All rights reserved ~
Mail to: waddiebear@yahoo.com