Memoirs of a Yankee Cowboy

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Ben has to solve a mystery, face the truth once again and become the father he never had. Can he trust that the chances of Rose coming to his part of the country was indeed a God Wink?

Chapter 7 (v.1) - Facing Truth and Trusting Love

Submitted: May 02, 2019

Reads: 19

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Submitted: May 02, 2019

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Chapter Seven

I did some end of the day work in the office before heading down to bunk house kitchen to wind down for the night.  Late before sacking in for the night Bennie and Gene came stumbling in and flopped in chairs across from me in the dark lounge.  I told them about Rose’s promise to get back in touch with me. “I gave her and the boys my card.  They’ll be busy for a while getting settled.”

Both boys laughed and shook their heads.  Gene couldn’t resist.  “Pa, don’t you get it.  Did she give you her phone number or address?  She’s just getting back at you for what you did to her.”

Bennie said, “Yeah, she roped you in and got your hopes up and now she’s going to disappear just like you did to her.”

I slept fitfully that night with all kinds of bad dreams.  I’d wake and go over everything Rose had said and how she acted.  Maybe the boys were right.  When the cook clanged the grub bell, I jumped and then fell back in bed.  That was the first time I had ever done that.  I should have been up and out to the barn before breakfast.  Well, maybe the boys and the other crew had already taken the lead to getting the horses fed and ready to saddle.

After a minute, I felt my sense of duty and figured my crew needed me.  We had a cantankerous bunch of green horns out there that needed to be babysat and I needed to be ready to ride out and check the fences and look over the new mothers and colts in the rest of the herd.

I didn’t feel like eating, but I grabbed a bacon and egg sandwich and a covered coffee in the cook house and chomped on it as I walked to the barn.  All the new riders were in the dining room and usually I would eat there and circulate around.  Today that would be a good thing for the boys to do.  They’d be starting college soon and they needed some time on their own to enjoy the comradery of some of the new recruits before training them to be trail guides.

I thought about how different the boys were with the guest.  Sometimes the city people could be really demanding and rude.  But the boys knew how to handle them.  I liked to think they had taken some traits from me.

This day, I walked into the stables to see ten horses still feeding in their stalls.  “Well, this is going to be one hell of a day.”  I mumbled.

Just as I was checking out the tack and lining it up in front of the stalls, Gene and Bennie stumbled in.

“We’re running behind boys.”

Gene spouted off.  “Yeah, where were you?  You’re the foreman and should have been in the dining area.”

“Greeting and taking care of the guest is really the job of the dining and hospitality staff.  Your job is to come out here before breakfast and feed, water and saddle these horses.  From the looks of you, I’d bet you too haven’t even been to breakfast.”

Gene reared back and looked at me.  “You’ve got a lot of right to talk.  I saw you eating breakfast on the way down from your bunk room.”

“I’m the boss.  Remember that.  I hold the strings on your college fund and all your finances.  So, don’t get high and mighty with me.  Now both of you get these horses ready to go.”

As I finished, the question as to who had fed the horses came to light when one of the new trainees came walking in.  “Sorry I didn’t get down here sooner.  Sorry about that.  I’ll get up sooner next time.  I fed and watered the horses before I went up to eat.  Looks like they’re ready to saddle now.”

I turned and was shocked to be looking into the face of Benjamin with a cowboy hat on and the signature shirt for the ranch.

“Benjamin!  I thought you were going to be starting college.  Who hired you?”

Benjamin talked as he worked, leading out a sorrel and saddling him up.  “I went to see Mr. Bench, the owner, last night after we left the restaurant.  He set me up right away on a part-time temporary basis.”

“I’m impressed,” I said.  You learn fast.”

“Well, being from Amish country, I hung around with some of the farm kids who taught me a lot about horses and about blacksmithing.”

Gene and Bennie had been listening.  Bennie said, “Well, whoop de do.”

Gene laughed until I turned and glared at them both.  “You two, Benjamin is one horse done and you haven’t finished saddling your rides.  I guess you’re riding Star today, Benjamin.”

The boys turned and started pulling out two other quarter horses, reluctantly.  Bennie was mumbling about how Star was his horse until he looked at my face as I quickly saddled my Morgan horse.

Two host appeared with a group of new dude riders who had already had their preliminary training.  Soon I was watching the back sides of the horses as they headed out over the trail.  I followed for a while and then turned off and headed up over the rocky and hilly terrain toward the mountains.

Following the fence lines in the lower pastures, I looked out over the land at the herds.  It would be soon time for round up and branding of the yearlings.  I turned across the open range and started up the higher elevation.  I would be able to see the dude riders from the dome.

The scene was awesome.  The nagging nightmares seemed to drift away as I viewed the open skies and the green ranges.  The clouds drifted into a heart and I thought of Rose.  Was that a God Wink?  I wondered as other clouds formed two figures.  Maybe.  I certainly hoped so.

The clouds dissipated and I looked to the trail as the riders came out of the pines below.  Benjamin turned and waved.  The dude riders waved.

So, everything is fine down there.  I whispered, “I wish everything was fine between me and Rose.”

I turned and headed down the hill and across the trail toward the east pasture.  At a gate, I got down and inspected tracks.  I pulled out my phone and pushed the quick dial for my assistant foreman, Dale who was taking his turn doing the books today.

He sounded dug in and busy.  “Tracks?  What kind of tracks?
“Deep.  Looks like a heavy rig and a sweeping over other tracks, but there are a few showing.  Looks like hooves and boots further on but stops in the rocks leading up the hill.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“We weren’t expecting any, but check the books to see if we had any dealings with sales or deliveries of any horses through that gate over the weekend.  If not, check with the trucking firms and horse sales at the auctions.  I’ll round up a few of the men to go do a head count if there is no logic to what I’m finding.”

I finished my inspection ride along the borders and circled back around toward the ranch house.

As I approached the barns, the dude riders were dismounting.  Some of them were limping and laughing.  I smiled.  They would definitely be sore come morning.

Then I saw her van parked in the drive.  Benjamin was walking up to the driver side window.  Rose handed the boy something and they sat talking.  I rode up without dismounting.

“Hello, Rose.  Good to see you again.”

“Well hello, Yankee Cowboy.  You sure look at home up there.”

“Why don’t you come on in for some chuck wagon style grub.”

“Oh, I’d love to.  But I’ve got to get back.  We’re having teacher meetings at the elementary school in town.  I’m expected to be there, but I took my lunch time to drive Benjamin’s mail out here.”

“I see.  Did Donnie get off to seminary alright?”

“He did.  And he’s already getting settled in his dorm room.”

“Give him my regards.”

“I will and thank you for taking care of Benjamin and letting him work here.  It’ll give him experience that he needs and money for extras.”

“Hey, he’s my son too.  I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”

“I’m sorry about that.”

“You’re not to blame for anything.  You deserve a slew of metals for the great job you’ve done with both boys.”

Benjamin had been standing by, looking awkward, but grinning.  He leaned over and kissed his mom on the cheek.  “Thanks Mom, I’ll call you later.”

She threw him a kiss and then turned back to me.  “Thanks again for the lunch invitation.  I have to go now.”

“Call me when you have the time.”  I tipped my hat, smiled and turned my horse toward the barn

I heard the van drive away, but I didn’t watch it.  Somewhere in my memory was an old saying.  If you watch the back end of the traveler as they leave, they will be lost to you forever.  I knew that wasn’t true, but right now I didn’t want to take chances.

I soon forgot everything else when I met my assistant, Dale as he came out of the office and met me.  “There’s no record of anything.  Roger is on the way and I’ve got all the wranglers we could spare lined up.  Roger said that we’ll ride out as soon as he gets here.

It didn’t take long for the big long black truck to pull into the drive.  Roger loaded his huge frame out of his big rig.  “So you found trouble out there?”

I confirmed and I showed him the photos I took of the whole area.  “Take a look at the foot traffic and the deep tire tracks.  Our hay suppliers don’t drive rigs that big.”

“Let’s run out and take a look.”

Roger had driven out and met Dale and I at the gate.  Roger confirmed my assessment as he turned to me.  “So, what do you suggest?  I’m inclined to put this out to other ranchers and get planes and helicopters going.”

“Not yet.  We don’t want to alarm our dude riders.  But they might get a kick out of seeing cowboys and girls riding everywhere around the ranges during our round up simulation.  We can combine our count with round up and give them a little more understanding about what ranch life is all about.”

“O.K.  I’ll meet you all back at the barns.”

Roger pulled out and Dale rode on ahead.

As I started to climb back onto my Morgan, I looked down on the ground where a collection of rocks jutted out of the hard-packed earth.  A piece of metal glinted up at me.  I picked up a broken silver boa tie clasp and examined it.  There was no mistaking this.  The initials ELP were in the engraving on the front.  It was one that had been forged for Gene by the blacksmith, old Harvey Duncan back when the boys first came to the ranch with me.  I looked further around the ground and there it was, the neck rope.  I crammed it all down in my saddlebag, mounted and galloped behind Dale back to the barns.  All the way back, I racked my brains trying to remember when I’d last seen Gene wearing that boa.  It certainly wasn’t this morning.  He had come in half dressed to the barns, but I felt certain that he had it on at the restaurant the night before.

Bennie was putting on a demonstration of horse anatomy in the outside arena as I approached Gene outside the gate ready to ride in like a wild man and start his rope trick show.  He didn’t seem to be aware that I was staring at his chest.  All he had around his neck was a bright green kerchief.

He glanced up at me as soon as Bennie left the arena opening the gate for him.  He tipped his hat without smiling.

Not the right time, I thought as the young man called Eugene Lyndon Patrick answered the announcer’s call to show off his roping skills.

 

 


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