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...





The following year was good for the Walkers and all their friends. But as the next thirty years rolled by, while there were joys and happy times, there were also the inevitable periods of sadness and heartbreak that come as one grows older. Shortly after Jake had turned eighty years old, he suffered a series of heart attacks, which kept him confined and unable to do his duties as Foreman. On his eighty-third birthday, he suffered a massive stroke and died in his sleep. He was buried in the Walker family plot in Goliad.

Now ten years after Jake's death, Jumper, having turned forty-seven, was the Foreman on the Walker Ranch. Jumper had completed only the sixth grade when he first arrived at the ranch, and never went back to school. He had become an expert horseman and, along with Enrique, had participated in a number of rodeos as ropers and bronco busters, winning a number of awards. Jumper and Enrique became a team and always signed on to the rodeos together. They worked the San Antonio rodeos primarily, but also roped in the rodeos at El Paso and Dallas. Jumper always tried to emulate the kind and thoughtful ways of his grandfather, Jake, and was admired by all the ranch hands who worked for him.

When he graduated from high school, Noah received several college scholarships. He chose to go to SMU in Dallas and pleaded with Enrique to move there with him. But the ranch was all that Enrique had ever known, and he refused to leave after he finished high school. Now forty-nine years old, Enrique had, for the past five years, lived in the main house with Jumper, his rodeo partner and lover. While they came to love each other very much, the hurt they suffered from losing both Noah and Jake never went away.

Noah, now also forty-nine, eventually received a doctorate in psychology from SMU and was a practicing psychologist in Dallas. He had fallen in love with one of his clients five years after getting his license and the two of them had lived together as loving partners ever since.

Caleb and Steve eventually broke up. The re-entrance of Dan in Steve's life had caused too much of a strain on their relationship. Steve finally sold his business and moved back to New England. A year later, Caleb had heard that Steve and Dan were living together for a time, but that Dan had left Steve for someone else. Steve then decided to go back to his wife and live the life of a married man as best he could. Steve was now eighty-three years old. He and Caleb had exchanged a few letters and Christmas cards early on, but it had been years since the correspondence stopped. Caleb, now in his mid-seventies and retired, never forgot Steve and often wondered and hoped that he was in good health.

Caleb never again had a steady relationship. He often visited his son, Noah, in Dallas, where the three of them would occasionally have nights of sexual activity. Noah finally insisted that his father move to Dallas so they could be closer. Caleb always liked the small town and country atmosphere in Goliad County, but eventually relented. He was having some health problems and thought it best that he be close to his son. He was now in his fifth year as a resident of Dallas and was enjoying the constant attention that Noah was giving him.

Mark and Corky had also, some years before, retired and sold their private investigation business. Mark had taken up painting and had become quite good enough to have some of his Texas landscape paintings exhibited in San Antonio. They eventually moved to Santa Fé, New Mexico, where they bought a small house on Canyon Road, the heart of the artists' colony in that town. Corky was also discovering latent talents in the arts and had done some sculpting in clay that received favorable attention.

After six years, the relationship between Mario and Frack came to an end. The love they had for each other was strong to the end, but Frack had begun to feel the call of the road, especially after several of his biker family had contacted him and wanted him to rejoin them. Mario had expected this to happen from the beginning, so the heartbreak of losing Frack was softened a bit.

Terry Murdock had retired from the restaurant business and had now been dead for eight years. He died in his sleep from heart failure. In accordance with his wishes, he was buried in Ireland near the graves of his mother and father. Adriano accompanied the body and saw to it that there was a proper burial. After that, Adriano never made any effort to kindle a lasting relationship with anyone else. He lived quietly with his father, whose health was beginning to fail. Adriano, now planning on retirement in another year, decided to take an extended trip through Italy and several other European countries with his father, who was now well into his seventies. It would be a last chance for his father to see his homeland, and perhaps the few relatives who were left.

Ever since Clayton had arrived to live on the ranch, he had felt a general restlessness and a feeling of uselessness. He and Tony had always done well together, but although Clayton truly loved Tony, he went through periods of extreme boredom. America had been involved in a number of military actions in both Southeast Asia and the Middle East, and Clayton decided he wanted to join the Army. Tony became depressed and anxious, but he and Clayton corresponded weekly with each other, which kept Tony's hopes alive that Clayton would come back to live with him when his term was up.

One day, two Army officers came to the ranch to inform Michael that Clayton had been killed in action and that he would be posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. They wanted to know what Michael would like insofar as Clayton's burial was concerned. Michael informed them that he would be buried in the Walker family plot in Goliad.

Clayton was only twenty-three when he was killed. Michael, who was, at the time, in his late forties, tried to be philosophical about it, but it was hard. Often in the ensuing days, he went over and sat with Jake. Jake had always brought meaning to every dark day that Michael had ever suffered. Jake had no formal education, but Michael always thought that he was the wisest man on Earth. He could fix even a broken heart.

A few days after Michael had his seventieth birthday, one of the greatest tragedies of his life occurred. Karl had often taken the helicopter out on the range to inspect the herd. When the pilot was attempting to land, the helicopter suddenly lurched to one side. The rotor touched the ground and flipped the craft violently upside down. Both Karl and the pilot were killed instantly. Michael was in Goliad dealing with the owner of a feed store when the call came from the ranch. Michael raced back, but there was nothing he could do. He went into shock and, hardly aware of what he was doing, proceeded to arrange for Karl's funeral and burial in the Walker family plot. It wasn't until the morning of the funeral that what had happened hit Michael like a ton of bricks. He was inconsolable. Jeff and Paul were unable to quiet him.

According to their partnership agreement, in the event of the death of one of the partners, his interest in the ranch would automatically revert to the other partner. But in his Will, Karl had left $725,000 of his personal savings to Tony. His relationship with Tony since they were youngsters had always been a special one. Tony had now lost both Clayton and Karl, the two people he loved the most in his life. He and Michael became very close in their grief. Even though they did not become lovers, they spent a good deal of time together and gave each other strength.

Jeff had gone on and received a Ph.D. at the University of Texas and had been teaching there for some years. About a year before Karl's death, Jeff turned forty-seven. He and Paul decided to give up their teaching jobs and move back permanently to help run the ranch. Since both Michael and Karl were getting up in years and were slowing down, they welcomed Jeff and Paul's help. After Karl's death, Michael spent much of his time alone at his little house in the Cottonwoods, in spite of Jeff's efforts to get him out and resume his life. Jeff and Paul, still very much in love, for all practical purposes, took over the running of the ranch.

Francisco, the Latin entertainer, with whom Michael had long ago had an affair, came to visit Michael. He was now fat and bloated looking with dyed black hair. He was no longer able to get work on the nightclub circuit and was heading back to Argentina to retire completely. Neither he nor Michael found each other attractive anymore. Michael was still in mourning for Karl and Clayton, and Francisco was full of negativity and resentment over losing his looks and his prospects. It was the last time they saw each other.

Ol' Ben had a younger brother, Frank, who, at an early age, left home and went to California to "make his fortune." Frank died shortly after Ol' Ben died, leaving two grandsons, Andrew and James, fifteen and sixteen years old. Their mother was divorced and was having a hard time handling these two adolescents by herself. She contacted Ol' Ben's son, Michael, about the possibility of having the two boys go to live on the ranch. She believed they needed male supervision and an environment where they would be put to work and stay busy. Michael and Jeff both agreed to have the boys at the ranch, and were happy that they would once again have some young faces around the place. Having them there brought Michael out of his shell. They were attractive young men, and Michael spent a great deal of time with them, teaching them to ride and getting them used to ranch life. As ranch foreman, Jumper put them both to work and enjoyed having them around. Jumper took a great deal of pride in the fact that both Andrew and James regarded him much the way he had regarded Jake. A real love developed between the two boys and Jumper and Enrique.

Josiah was now fifty-one years old and was still as attractive, in a mature way, as he ever was. He also had gone on to earn a Ph.D. and became an award-winning novelist. He traveled a great deal around the country for book signings and to give lectures and do television interviews. His active life was hard on his relationship with Brian, who stayed back in Austin where he ran his own business as a veterinarian for farm animals. The work took him to ranches all over South Texas, but rarely was he able to travel with Josiah to the far reaches of the country. Josiah was still home-based in Austin and did all of his writing there in their large house on the lake south of town. When they were both home, they always made up for lost time. Josiah would call or e-mail Brian every day he was gone, but when they were home together, their sexual relationship was renewed with passion. Even though there were temptations when they were apart, they both scrupulously kept their vows to each other. They never forgot the time they both nearly died together in that terrible automobile accident and the bond that was miraculously created between them at that time.

Josiah and Brian had returned to Goliad for Jake's funeral, and Josiah wrote and read the Eulogy. Never had anyone at the Walker Ranch ever heard anything so beautiful and moving. Josiah related how he, as a homeless drifter, had one day come upon Jake in the woods as he was about to take his own life. He told about the miracle of how they saved each other's lives that day. Every book that Josiah had written was dedicated to Jake on the title page.

Tom Borden was now seventy-one years old. He had not spoken to Josiah since that day long ago when Tom had told Josiah they shouldn't see or work with each other again. Now retired from teaching for the past six years, Tom still spent a great deal of time writing books and articles for scholarly journals.

Tom's wife had just passed away due to colon cancer after several difficult months of hospitalization. But the freedom that he had once longed for was not what he had imagined it to be. After nearly forty-six years of marriage, he now looked back, in ways he hadn't anticipated, over his married life and the fact that he was now alone. It had been a good marriage that produced two wonderful sons. Tom now realized it was his fantasies of love and sex with other men that had taken hold of him and made him lose his perspective in recent years. And those fantasies were all born out of the novel he was writing, "My Father, My Son," and the characters he created. Over the past two years, as he wrote chapter after chapter of this novel, Tom had become obsessed with the story. The characters he had created had become real to him and he had fallen deeply in love with some of them, especially Josiah. Fantasies began overtaking his thoughts and even his body. The fine line between fantasy and reality began to blur. Disturbing frustrations and powerful longings were beginning to develop---all growing out of the story and its characters.

Tom had always been an intensely emotional person, deeply moved by the beauty in people, as well as the sadness in people's lives. Tom realized that his state of mind was of his own making. He decided to end the story and relegate "My Father, My Son" to the fictional archives where it belonged. He would always remember those dear souls who occupied the story of the Walker Ranch, but it was now time to let them grow old, as they inevitably would, just as he was doing, and then move on.

Even though he was now alone, Tom knew he could never go back to the gay life of his youth when people told him he was good looking, and when he could write his own ticket, so to speak. Furthermore, he suddenly came to realize that he really didn't want to go back into that gay life again. Now that he was alone, a certain peace and calmness had come over his life, even though those longings to find someone to love who would love him were still back there somewhere in his subconscious.

In recent years, Tom and his brother, Terry, visited the family's Borden Ranch more frequently. The peacefulness and the sound and smell of the animals brought back such pleasant memories of their childhood together. While the ranch continued to be owned by Tom and his brother, it had, for many years, since their grandfather died, been managed by a resident manager and his family. But Tom and Terry were always welcome to visit and stay as long as they wished.

Tom put the large house they owned in San Antonio on the market. His two sons, now forty-four and forty-two years old, had lives of their own in nearby towns. Tom decided to make his home at the ranch. There was a small house not far from the main house that had been unoccupied for years, and that is where he would live. The house was in a run down condition, but Terry agreed to help Tom repair it and modernize it. It would be a quiet place where he could at last have the privacy in his life he had craved. A number of writing projects in the mainstream market were in the offering, and with his love of writing, the quiet and remote setting would give him the peace and solitude he needed to work on them.

The End.


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Author's remarks: My thanks to all of you who have appreciated this story and have written me in response to it. Obsession in itself can be good if it is directed toward worthwhile things. But extreme obsession with a fantasy can be debilitating and destructive, especially when one is not free to act on those fantasies. I could see that happening in my old age, and in the aftermath of recent events in my life, I realize I have to get a grip on myself and get back to reality. I plan to live down on the family Ranch as long as I feel I need to, realizing that the time may come when I am ready to go back to city life in my beloved San Antonio. I'll let that happen when it happens. I may even, someday, write a few short one-installment stories again for posting, but none as intense as "My Father, My Son." In the meantime, my love to all of you who have been so generous with your comments, praise, and criticisms of that story. That is the one thing I will miss.


Posted: 10/17/08