My Father, My Son
by: Tom Borden

2000-2008 by the author


The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...


"I know, Dad. You were right. And you usually are. It's just that I hate to see you worry so much. Let's go to sleep now, dad, and just dream about what we had tonight."

"Okay, son. I love you."

"And I love you, too, Dad," said Jeff as he took Michael in his arms.


Chapter 73 

Josiah and Brian decided to go and look at Adriano's apartment building after the fire, and then go on to the hospital and pay a visit to Adriano. The fire damage, they found was not as extensive as they had feared. It had burned out only two apartments, as well as the front stair-well. Residents were going in and out carrying out smoke- and water-damaged belongings. Josiah and Brian were informed that the only ingress to the upper floors were the back stairs. When they got to Adriano's apartment, they could see that the fire had pretty well destroyed everything at the far end of the hall where the front stairs were. When they reached Adriano's apartment at the other end, they found the door standing wide open. Going in, they could tell that there had been no fire damage, but the carpets were soaked with water and the place smelled badly of acrid smoke.

Checking the cupboards and closets and various drawers, they found that nothing in those places had in any way been damaged, other than being permeated with the odor of smoke. Further, there did not seem to have been anything disturbed by others who might have wandered in. When they left, they saw that there was a self-locking latch on the door. The door was secured when they simply closed the door tightly.

At the hospital, Josiah and Brian found Adriano's room and went in. Adriano was glad to see them and held out his arms to hug them both.

"Adriano," said Josiah. "You look good. It's hard to believe you went through such an ordeal."

Brian said, "Adriano, we stopped over and checked on your apartment and found there was no fire damage. I think you'll be able to salvage everything, except the bed and your upholstered furniture. Some of it's wet and it all has a strong smoke smell that you'll probably never be able to get out. But everything else seems okay. We saw that you had put away in cupboards and drawers all your papers and school work. And none of that was damaged."

Josiah said, "We found your door standing open, but I don't think anybody had been in there. We locked it when we left."

"I've been kind of worried about that," said Adriano. "Thanks, you guys. That was so nice of you. It really relieves my mind."

"How are you feeling, Adriano," asked Brian.

"Well, I'm feeling pretty good. I'm ready to get out of here. I think they're going to let me go tomorrow. But the guy who rescued me is in pretty bad shape. He was quite badly burned."

"Oh, we read about him in the paper," said Josiah. "What a wonderful thing he did."

Adriano said, "I know. He's a wonderful person."

"Who is he, Adriano?" asked Brian.

Adriano didn't really feel like answering that question and sat there in bed thinking about it for a few moments. But he knew they would find out eventually. "Well, he's a guy who's now living with my dad. I didn't like him at first. You know my dad. He's always getting himself into something. This guy is a biker. You know. He rides around on a motorcycle. And he's got tattoos and all that stuff."

Brian said, "Your dad . . . little Mario . . . is living with a biker? Mmmmm."

"Yeah he picked him up one night at The Nest."

"I see," said Brian, as he and Josiah looked at each other.

"Well, they are very much attached to each other, as strange as it may seem," said Adriano. "But he's okay. No. He's more than okay. He didn't have to do what he did and he risked his own life just to come into that building and find me. I owe him a lot."

Josiah asked, "Is he here in this hospital?"

"Yeah. He's up in the burn unit. I think my dad's up there with him."

Brian said, "We'll stop up and see them before we leave. By the way, Adriano, Josiah and I would like to have you stay with us until you can find another place. And please let us help you with the stuff in your apartment. There'll be a lot of work getting everything out of there and sorting it all out."

"Gee, that's so nice of you guys. My dad's insisting that I move in with him and Frack. Frack's the name of his . . . you know . . . lover. But I think with those two, living there would not be easy. I'd really like to take you up on your offer. I wouldn't be there long and would be out of your hair fairly quickly. There are plenty of apartments for rent these days."

"Don't be ridiculous, Adriano," said Brian. "You can stay as long as you need to and as long as you want. We would really love to have you with us."

They talked for another half hour, and then Josiah said, "Well, my good friend, we'd better leave. We'll stop up and see Mario and Frack before we go. And we'll be in touch with you in the morning about when you'll be checking out."

Josiah and Brian both leaned in and kissed Adriano on the cheek. "We love you, Adriano," said Brian.

When they arrived at Frack's room, Mario was sitting next to Frack's bed holding his hand. When he saw them, he jumped up and took them each in his arms and hugged them.

Josiah said, "We've just been down visiting Adriano, and we wanted to come up and see you before we left. How's the patient?"

Mario said, "He's doing fine. Frack, these are two good friends of mine and Adriano's. And you guys, I want you to meet the greatest hero on Earth!"

Frack said, "Aw, shit! Stop callin' me that, little buddy! I keep tellin' ya I ain't no hero. I jist done what anybody'd do."

Josiah said, "I'm really glad to meet you, Frack. We've heard a lot about you from Adriano. And to hear him talk, you are certainly HIS hero. You did a really brave and wonderful thing!"

Frack turned his head toward Mario and said, "Make them fuckers stop, will ya?"

Mario said, "I think maybe Adriano will be discharged tomorrow. We want him to stay with us when he gets out of here."

Brian said, "Well, Mario, it might be better if he stayed with us. We've offered to have him do that, and I think he would prefer not to disrupt your life at this point with his being around there."

Mario said, "Well Adriano can do whatever he wishes. I hope it won't put you out too much."

"He won't put us out at all," said Josiah. "Actually we have more room in our place than you do, and he's got a lot of work to do preparing for his classes and all of that."

As Josiah and Brian drove home after their visit, Josiah said, "You know those two . . . Mario and Frack . . . look so incongruous together. I'm really surprised at both of them for having any attraction at all for each other. I thought a biker just hung around with other bikers. And Mario just seems too refined to me to be taking up with a biker. And he looks so little and fragile next to Frack."

"Well, Josiah," sighed Brian. "There's no accounting for taste, as they say. You know, the way I look at it, after observing the two of them, I'll bet Frack gets off on someone he can control and maybe protect, like he would a child. And Mario is attracted to the power of this man . . . someone who will take him in hand and someone he can surrender himself to completely. I think that's what Mario wants. They're probably satisfying each other on that score. They must be, actually, because they sure do look like they love each other. Did you see how they were looking at each other and holding hands when we went in? There's one thing for certain. No matter what he looks like, Frack's an honorable man. Few would have done what he did for someone he loved."

"I know," said Josiah quietly. "I'm so glad for Mario. He's a dear man."

The next morning, just after the doctor had come in and told Adriano that he was being discharged and could go home, a nurse came in with a letter addressed to him. When he opened it, he found that it was a beautiful get-well card from Terry Murdock. It was decorated with a painting of a large vase full of blue and white Texas wild flowers. Inside, it read:

My dear Adriano:

It was with terrible shock and sorrow that I learned of the fire that almost took your life. I have been so relieved to know now that you are well and recovering. We read about the young man who saved your life, and I am personally so grateful to him. He is indeed a brave man. I have arranged to take a day off, and in a few days, will come and visit you at the hospital. Until then, my prayers are with you.

With love,

Terry Murdock

As Adriano read the card, Josiah and Brian came into the room to find him with tears running down his cheeks.

"Oh, Adriano, what's the matter?" said Brian. "We'll be driving you home in a little while."

Adriano looked up and smiled through his tears. "No, nothing's the matter. I just got a card from someone who I like very much. Would you mind doing me a favor, one of you. I'm not allowed to make long-distance calls on this phone. Would you call the Goliad Inn down in Goliad and ask for a waiter named Murdock. He says he's coming up to see me here at the hospital. But since I'm checking out, I want him to know. I really want to see him, and maybe you could give him your address and he can come and see me there. Would that be okay?"

"Of course, it will be okay, Adriano," said Josiah. "I'll go on down right now and find a phone in the lobby."

Adriano read the card again and, smiling, said, "In case you're wondering . . . and I know you are . . . this is a card from someone I met not long ago at Caleb and Steve's house for dinner. He's older than I am, but I've fallen in love with him. And I think he may feel the same about me." Looking at the card again through teary eyes, he said, "I'm so happy he thought of me. He's such a wonderful person. It will be so nice seeing him again."

Mark and Corky paid a visit to Chief Juan Gonzalez at the Crawford Police Department. Mark inquired as to the possibility of filing a missing persons report on little Joe Thomas. Chief Gonzalez asked, "Are you a member of the boy's family?"

"No," answered Mark. "But one of the sons in that family, who no longer lives with them, believes his brother is missing."

"Well, how does he know the boy is missing if he don't live there no more?" asked the Chief.

"I know this is kind of a strange case, Chief. He actually thinks his brother might have been murdered."

The Chief scratched his head and said, "He don't know for sure the boy is missing, and he don't know for sure, but he thinks the boy was murdered. There ain't no body, and the parents haven't reported him missing. That ain't grounds for filing a missing persons report. If he's really missing, we can do something only if the parents say he is."

Mark said, "We're going to go ahead and investigate this as best we can, and if we can come up with any positive leads, we'll inform you. In the meantime, here. I've written down the parents' names and the two boy's names. If you'll just keep this in your file until I can find out more about it and let you know. Okay?"

"Okay. But I'm tellin' ya," said Chief Gonzalez, "if there comes to light some evidence of what you're tellin' me, we gotta git involved."

"I promise you we'll keep you informed."

Mark and Corky returned to the Corn Husker's Tavern to see if they could find Jacob Thomas again. He was not there. Mark and Corky sat at the bar and each ordered a Lone Star draft.

"Bartender," called Mark. "Do you ever see Jacob Thomas's wife in here?"

"Yeah, once in awhile," came the reply. "But that woman usually hangs out at the Longhorn Bar, which is on the road out to George Dub-ya's ranch. She don't come in here much while her husband's here. She likes to go to the Longhorn where all the other whores hang out."

"Whores?" asked Corky.

"Yup. She's one of 'em. She and Jacob live together, but they play separately. Mona likes the Longhorn 'cuz she can get some of them rich Secret Service guys when they're off duty. When the Prez is here, they're swarming all over the place. And I'll say they's a bunch a horny fuckers. And there's a lot of itchy pussies out there waitin' for 'em.

Mark turned to Corky and said, "Come on, Corky, let's go to the Longhorn. I've got an idea."

When they walked into the Longhorn Bar, there was only a handful of customers since it was still early afternoon. They spotted Mona Thomas sitting alone at the bar. Mark and Corky approached and sat on either side of her.

"Hello, Mona," said Mark, as he ordered a beer.

Mona looked at him and said, "Hey, yer that tax fella that was snoopin' around our house the other day."

"No, we're not really tax men. I just came out there to see if I could see you, Mona."

"What for?"

"Well," said Mark, putting his hand on hers. "I heard confidentially from some one that you can give a fella a good time."

"Who told ya that?"

"I got friends, Mona. I hate to mention any names."

"Well, so what if I do?" Mona said, looking away.

Mark took out his wallet and paid for his drink and ordered another Margarita for Mona. He laid his wallet on the bar where Mona could see it. It was fat with a couple of fifties quite visible.

Mona looked at the wallet and said, "Well, I don't do nothin' for nothin'."

"Oh, I understand that," said Mark. "Money's no object for me when I see somethin' that interests me."

"Oh yeah?"

"That's right.

"You got a place?" Mona said quietly, as she sipped on her drink.

"No, I'm a long way from home. I don't do anything close to home."

"Well, then, come with me. I got a place."

"You mean where you live?" asked Mark.

"Yeah, ya got a problem with that."

"No, but how about your husband and your kids?"

Mona looked sharply at Mark and said, "What kids?"

"Well, the bartender over at the Corn Huskers Tavern told me you had two kids."

"He talks too much."

"Well?" Said Mark.

"My husband don't pay no attention to my business. And my kids is gone now."

"Are they away at school or something."

Mona took another sip. "No. They're just gone, that's all."

Mark and Mona had several more drinks, and Mark could tell Mona was on the verge of getting drunk. She said, pointing to Corky, "Hey, what about yer partner here?"

"No, it's just going to be you and me. He's not coming with us. Shall we go?"

Corky stayed at the bar, while Mark and Mona went out to Mona's car. Mark said, "I'll drive since I don't think you're in that good shape."

When they arrived at Mona's little green house, Mark had to hold onto Mona's arm to steady her as they went in. In the bedroom was a disheveled bed that seemed as though it had never been made.

As Mona took off her blouse, revealing two rather low-hung tits, she said, "Okay man, show me what ya got."

Mark stood motionless watching this woman stagger about her bedroom pulling off her clothes.

"I said, show me what ya got! Lemme see yer cock."

Mark slipped off his boots and pulled off his pants. Mona looked and said, "Where the hell's yer boner. Ya can't fuck with a limp noodle like that!"

Mona got on her knees and sucked Mark's penis into her mouth. Mark closed his eyes and imagined that it was Corky sucking on him. Soon his penis was at full mast. Mona collapsed on her back on the bed. Mark lay beside her and hesitated before he began tickling and pinching her nipples.

Mark said, "Are you sure your sons won't be coming in?"

"Yeah," Mona said, slurring her words. "I told ya. They don't live here no more."

As Mark continued to play with Mona's nipples, he said, "Mona, tell me where are they?"

Mona lay quietly for several minutes and Mark could see tears begin to fill her eyes.

"Where are they, Mona?" Mark repeated.

"Daryl ran away," said Mona, now with tears flowing down her cheeks. "I don't know where he is."

"How about your other son, Mona?"

Mona sat up and hung her legs over the side of the bed with her back to Mark. "I think Joe's dead," she said, covering her face with her hands.

"Why do you think that?"

Mona tried to get up, but fell instead back on the bed. "My husband took him away one night. I don't know where. And he never told me where he took him. I ask him, but he keeps tellin' me not to ask no questions."

"Is that why you think he's dead?"

"He was so mean to the boys. The night he took Joe away, he beat on him somethin' terrible. I just know he killed him."

As Mona sobbed, Mark could only say, "I'm sorry. Where do you think he took Joe?"

"I don't know. He took him in his pickup and was gone a long time." As Mona got up and staggered to the dresser for some Kleenex, she said, "I don't know why I'm tellin' you. It's none of yer business."

Mark got up and began putting on his clothes. He laid a fifty dollar bill on the bed table. "Mona, I think we'd better not do anything today. I can tell how upset you are. Here's some money for you for your trouble. Do you mind if I come back again sometime?"

"No," said Mona, with a wave of her hand. "Do what ya want."

Mark took Mona's car and drove it back to the Longhorn Bar to pick up Corky. Then they returned her car to her house.

As they drove back to San Antonio, Corky said, "Where in the world did you go, Mark?"

"Mona and I went back to her house. She's a whore, like that bartender said."

"Don't tell me you went to bed with her!"

"Well, Corky, the important thing is that I got her good and drunk before we went. If you get someone drunk, you can usually get them to spill their secrets."

"Yeah, but did you go to bed with her?"

"Yes I did."

"Did you fuck her?"

"No way! I just wanted to go so far and get her to tell me a few things."

"How far did you get?" asked Corky.

"We were both naked in bed together and I just played with her nipples," said Mark. "Those nipples have been sucked on so much, her tits were like two elongated, deflated footballs. I hated it, but I wasn't going to touch her pussy. That would have turned my stomach."

"Well, what did you find out?"

"She admitted she had two kids finally. One of them ran away. That was Jumper, I guess. And the other one, she said, was taken away by Jacob one night after the poor kid got beaten up. She actually said she suspected that her husband killed her son, Joe, but he wouldn't allow her to ask any questions. She broke down crying and I could tell it had hurt her to have lost her kids."

"Is that all?" asked Corky.

"Well, I know that isn't much information, but at least we can be pretty sure that Jumper was right. The old man obviously did away with poor Joe somehow. I'll keep in touch with those two. Corky, it really makes me sick. What a horrible home it must have been for poor Jumper and his little brother. Can you imagine yourself being brought up in situation like that? It's almost more than one can comprehend. It's truly a wonder that Jumper has survived without permanent damage."

"He's going to make it, Mark," said Corky, "only because he has Jake now. Jake's a miracle worker. His patience and love are so genuine. I don't think anyone else could have done it for the boy."

Mark and Corky didn't talk for awhile. Then Corky asked, "Mark, did you ever fuck a woman?"

"Of course, I did. I had Jodie, didn't I?"

"Oh, yeah. That's right. Did you fuck any other women, except Jodie's mother?"

"No. She's the only one."

"Did you ever love her?"

"Shit, no!" said Mark. "I was just a dumb kid who thought that fucking women was what guys did. Everyone else was fucking his brains out, and I thought it was something I had to do in order to be a real man. When she got pregnant, I thought the only honorable thing to do was to marry her. What a dumb ass I was!"

Corky said, "I never fucked a woman, Mark. I used to date when I was in high school because I thought I was suppose to, just like you did. Some of them wanted me to fuck them, but I could never get myself to touch them in that way. One even asked me to finger-fuck her, but I couldn't bear the thought of touching it."

After riding a few more miles, Corky asked, "When was the first time you fucked a guy?"

"Jeese, Corky! Why are you so full of questions today?"

"Well, Mark, sometimes I think I just don't know enough about you. How about it? When's the first time you fucked a guy?"

"I was just barely thirteen and in the ninth grade, and my hormones were beginning to kick in and my dick was getting bigger and I walked around with a hard-on all day and all night. A friend of mine who was also my age would go out in some woods behind one of the barns on his dad's ranch and we tried to jack off. We didn't know anything about that until one day we secretly saw the gym teacher jacking off in the shower all alone at school. He didn't know anyone was watching. But when we saw him spurt all this white cream out of his penis onto the floor with a look on his face like he enjoyed it, we kept trying to do ourselves in the woods. And we stroked our penises just like we saw him doing it. One day, we both finally made it happen and we had our first orgasm together."

"Yeah, but my question was when did you first fuck a guy?"

"Well, my friend and I had seen pictures of guys fucking in one of his older brother's magazines, so we decided to try it. On that one afternoon, out there in the woods, we fucked each other in the ass and, as they say, the rest is history."

"Wow, Mark," exclaimed Corky. "You were really young when that happened. I would have liked to get into that thirteen year old ass of yours."

"What are you talking about? My ass is just as good now as it was then!"

"We'll see about that," said Corky as he pushed his hand down the back of Mark's pants and ran his finger through his ass crack. "Well, you've got a lot more hair in your ass than I'll bet you did then!"

With Mark clutching the wheel tighter and tighter, he felt a finger pressing against his pucker. "Christ, Corky! You're making my jockey shorts awfully tight, if you know what I mean!"

"Okay, my love," said Corky. "I'll check it out a little more carefully when we get home."

"How about you Corky?" said Mark. "Why don't you tell me about the first time you fucked a guy."

"When I was only thirteen," began Corky, "I learned to lie on my stomach in bed and hump the bed so my penis would rub against the sheet. I could cum real easily that way. But I guess that doesn't count as actually fucking. I'm trying to remember when the first time I actually fucked a guy's ass. I think it was when I was about eighteen. Before I started working at the Walker place, I was just kind of an itinerant cowpoke and just went around finding work where I could find it. One day, I was out on the road hitchhiking up around Amarillo, and I got picked up by a guy. He had his wife and two kids with him. I told him I was just going to the next town. We didn't talk much in the car, but pretty soon I told him I needed to pee real bad and if he wanted to, he could let me off at the next rest area. When we pulled in, he said he had to pee, too, and then he would drive me the rest of the way.

"When we got in the restroom, he pulled me into a stall and we both pissed into the toilet together. When we were done, without a word, he crouched down and got my dick in his mouth. And at the same time, he pulled my pants down and stuck his finger up my ass. I was really dirty and raunchy and smelly, but he didn't care. Then he told me he wanted me to fuck him. I told him I'd never fucked anybody before. But he just leaned over the toilet and spread his ass cheeks with his hands and said I should go ahead and stick my cock in there. It was the best fucking feeling I'd ever had, and while I was doing it, he jacked off into the toilet. It felt so great fucking his asshole that it didn't take long for me to cum. It was a hell of a lot better orgasm than when I jerked off. It all happened really fast and we were out of there in no time. You know that funny smell of sex you have around you after you've had sex? Well, we were stinking of it when we got back in the car, and I just knew someone would smell it. But nothing was said. As we were leaving the restroom, he gave me his card, and it said he was a vice president of the Murcheson Oil Company in Dallas, and he told me to call him whenever I was in that vicinity. I did call him two or three more times after that, and we fucked each other like there was no tomorrow. He'd lock his door and we'd fuck right there in his big plush office."

Mark smiled and said, "Well Corky, we're finding out a lot about each other. Maybe we ought to reminisce about our lives more often. Let's not go back to the office right away. My underwear is dripping wet right now. Maybe we need to go back to the apartment and get ourselves taken care of."

"That's the best idea I've heard all day!" said Corky.

While Michael and Jeff were in Dallas, where they registered Jared as a resident of the State facility, Karl spent much of his time in the office down at the ranch working at his desk that sat across the room from Michael's desk. He went over the books, paid some bills, checked on orders and shipments, and got most of the paper work organized that Michael had not been able to do.

When Karl heard a knock on the door, he shouted, "The doors open! Come in!"

When the door opened, Jumper stepped in, still leaning on one crutch. Moving close to Karl's desk, he said, "Hi, Mr. Oldenburg."

"Oh, Jumper!" said Karl, as he stood up. "Please sit down. How's your ankle?"

"The doc says it's doin' pretty good. He's gonna take the cast off next week."

"That's wonderful! I know you'll be glad to be rid of it and be back on your own two feet again."

"Mr. Oldenburg?"

"Please," said Karl, holding up his hand, "Please call me Karl. In case you haven't noticed, we're all family here. We don't stand on ceremony."

"Okay. Mr. . . . I mean, Karl?" Jumper looked down at his hands, not knowing quite what to say.

"What is it, Jumper? You can talk to me. It's okay."

Jumper looked up and said, "I apologize for getting' up and leavin' ya like I did that day you was talkin' to me. I'm really sorry. I didn't mean . . . ."

"Oh, Jumper, I understand," said Karl. "I wasn't feeling too good that day, and I know I scared you a little bit. But I really do want to be your friend. Maybe you and I can start over and be friends. I've been having some problems, Jumper, and sometimes I don't come across quite right to people. But I'm working on it."

Jumper said, "I know. After I talked to you that time, Jake explained to me that you were sick."

"Well, Jumper, maybe you could look at it that way," said Karl. "I guess I did have a kind of sickness. But I'm getting better, Jumper. Let's just forget about the other day. Okay? I hope you and I can sit out there in the gazebo and talk again. And I promise not to seem weird. Hey, I understand that Jake is going to teach you to ride."

"He's already teaching me," Jumper said, his face brightening. "I've been on Lady Pokey twice and Jake says she knows I'm her master now."

"That's wonderful, Jumper," said Karl. "The very first thing you've always got to do, is to get your horse to know you and respect you and to realize who's boss. I know Lady Pokey. She's a pretty old mare, and I don't think you're going to be doing too much horse back riding with her. I'm sure Jake will introduce you to one of the other horses when you're ready."

"I hope so," said Jumper with a smile. "Well, I better git goin. I know yer busy."

Karl said, "I'll never be too busy to talk with you, Jumper, any time you want to. Hey, I just thought of something. I'm going to be driving into Goliad later today to look over some new machinery. How would you like to go with me? You know, the Goliad County Fair is on now. We could stop over there on our way back, and you can get on some rides. And we can eat some corn dogs and cotton candy! Have you ever been to a fair?

"No. I don't know what that is."

Karl got up and said, "Let's go out and find Jake and see if it's okay for you to go with me."

"Okay!" said Jumper eagerly.

When Jake was asked about Jumper going with Karl into Goliad for the Fair, he said, "You two go ahead and have a good time." Then turning to Jumper, he said, "Jumper, I'm proud of ya, goin' to Karl yerself and makin' friends agin. That was the right thing to do. Now you stay close to Karl. There are a lot a fuckin' weirdos prowlin' around at these fairs. They ain't up to no good. Ya hear? I'll tell Tony that ya ain't gonna be here fer supper."

"I'll be careful," said Jumper as he reached up and kissed Jake and hobbled off with Karl to his car.

After spending some time at the farm equipment dealership, Karl and Jumper headed out to the edge of town for the fair. The sight of all the people and the lights and all the rides dazzled Jumper. He knew he was too old to hold Karl's hand, but all the noise and all the people everywhere made him instinctively grab for his hand, Karl held on to it tightly. Karl suggested they take a ride on the Ferris Wheel, but when Jumper looked at it, he said he was too scared. Karl suggested it several more times, knowing that Jumper was tempted, and they finally got on. As they swung to the top, Jumper closed his eyes and buried his head in the crook of Karl's arm. But after several more revolutions, he bravely looked over the side and out toward the horizon.

When they finally got off, Jumper decided he wanted to do it again. So they did. Then they rode the Whirly Bird and the Bumper Cars. It became so much fun for Jumper that he laughed and screamed like he'd never laughed before. As they walked down the midway past several sideshows, they came to one where a man and a woman were up on a platform swallowing swords. The Barker was intoning, "Y'all come close! The next show begins in five minutes! Only a dollar folks! Inside you'll see men and ladies and boys and girls pushing three-foot swords down their throats all the way through their bodies! One slip and they're dead. Don't try this at home! Step right up! Only a dollar!"

As Jumper watched, open-mouthed, the two people demonstrating this amazing feat on the platform, Karl said, "If you want to stand here and watch, I'll step over there at that stand and get us some Corn Dogs. Okay?"

Jumper could hardly believe what he was seeing. The man standing next to him looked down and stared at Jumper. Then he turned to the big man who was with him and said, "Hey, Bollo, lookee here! It's Jumper, our little fuck buddy!"

Bollo looked down and said, "Well, fuck me if it ain't! Hey, Mort, maybe he's here lookin' fer business."

Mort turned back to Jumper and said, "Hey, Jumper, remember us, Mort and Bollo here?"

It startled Jumper, and he looked up into Mort's eyes. "Yeah, I remember."

"Where the fuck ya been? We ain't seen ya up at the truck stop at Flores for a long time. Ya workin' another truck stop somewheres else?"

Jumper said, "No, I ain't doin' that no more."

Mort said, "Hey! Ain't our money no good no more? Hey, Bollo, remember we could just stick a five dollar bill in him and we'd git a good fuck out of 'im. How 'bout it, Jumper, we got our truck parked over there yonder on the road. Come on."

As Mort took hold of Jumper's arm, Jumper yelled, "No! let go of me!"

Bollo moved in and took Jumper's other arm, and they started pulling him. Karl was coming back with a Corn Dog in each hand. When he saw what was happening, he instinctively dropped them and ran toward the two men. He grabbed Jumper and tried to hold him back. Just then, one of the men swung his big arm against the side of Karl's head and knocked him down. Luckily, two Sheriff's deputies were patrolling nearby and saw what was happening. They were even bigger than Mort and Bollo and were easily able to subdue the two men and release their grip on Jumper.

As Jumper hobbled over to where Karl lay, the deputies handcuffed the two men and led them off to their squad car.

Karl sat up, feeling a little dizzy. He said, "I shouldn't have left you alone, Jumper. Like Jake said, there are weirdos out here, and I should have been more careful."

"That's okay, Karl. Them two guys were truckers that used to pay me, and they thought I was still doin' it."

One of the deputies walked over to them and said, "Are you all right, Sir?"

"I'm fine, thanks," said Karl getting to his feet. "I'm just not in the shape I used to be, or I could have taken care of those two myself."

"Do you want to charge them with assault, Sir?"

"No, just let them go."

The deputy tipped his hat and said, "Well, have a good day, Sir."

As Karl stood up, he said, "I'm okay now. We ARE having a good day, aren't we, Jumper. Let's go on and get those Corn Dogs now!"

Karl and Jumper spent another hour at the fair, eating and taking more rides and looking at the livestock on show. As they walked through the crafts display, they stood and watched an old man tooling leather with fancy designs. Jumper was fascinated. There were leather tooling kits for sale, and he said to Karl, "If I had one of these kits, maybe I could make a belt. And then I could give it to Jake."

Karl looked at one of the kits, which included a plane leather belt, several tools, and patterns that could be used to tool the belt. Karl reached in his pocket and paid the man for the kit. He said, "Here, Jumper, you can work on this. I know Jake would love to have a new belt. You know, Christmas is coming up pretty soon, and you could give it to him as a gift."

Jumper was almost speechless. Holding and looking at the kit, he said, "But I don't know how to do this."

Karl said, "There are instructions in the box. Maybe we can work on it together. It'll be fun."

Jumper held onto Karl's arm, now both very tired. Back in the car and on their way back to the ranch, Jumper leaned his head on Karl's shoulder and said, "Thanks, Karl. That was so much fun. Can we go again tomorrow?"

"Oh, I'm afraid not, young man," said Karl. "There'll be another Fair next year." With his left hand on the wheel, Karl put his other arm around Jumper's shoulder while they drove.

Jumper said, "I'm glad those men didn't take me with them. I don't do that no more. I'm gittin' away from that."

"Well, Jumper," sighed Karl. "I guess you and I both are doing pretty well in making some changes in our lives. I ain't doin' no more what I used to do, neither!"

When they returned to the ranch, Karl went into the house to find that Michael had just returned from Dallas. Karl knew that Michael had a tough time over his decision to move his brother to a secure facility. They stood in their room hugging and kissing each other.

"Are you all right, Michael," asked Karl.

"I'm fine, Karl. It's done now, and it was the best thing to do. Have you been okay, Karl?"

"I'm great, Michael!" said Karl. "Jumper and I spent most of the day over at the Goliad County Fair. We had a terrific time together."

Michael looked at Karl questioningly.

Karl laughed. "It's okay, Michael. He and I have become friends. And that's all. And that's all it ever will be. I'm doing well, Michael. I'm going to make it. I learned something from Jumper today. He hates what he was, and he'll never go back. His commitment to Jake is so moving to me. And I hate what I was, too. And I value our commitment to each other, Michael, more than anything now. I mean it. More than anything."

Still wrapped in each other's arms, Michael and Karl fell back onto the bed as they clawed at each other's clothes.

To be continued...


Posted: 10/10/08