I heard the yell of my Aunt Paulette clear out to the barn. She and my
Uncle Nick had taken to raising me after my mom and dad died. It wasn't a
At least Mom and Dad died together. All I had was a mess of memories and
a lot of nightmares to show for our house burning down and taking them
away from me.
The metal of the wood stove burned through, and the hot coals landed on
the floor. The problem was, I had thrown buckeyes in it, and I felt
guilty as hell. Maybe they would have lived had them buckeyes not gotten
thrown in there.
Everybody told me it wasn't my fault and the stove would've burned
through no matter what. But, I could tell how people really thought. I
saw them when I walked into the church. All the eyes were on me, and they
all thought I was a murderer, or, What kind of person would do that to
their own parents? They said I lived because I was the furthest away.
Me, I didn't mean to do it. Heck, I was meaning to have some fun. I'd
done it before and the way everyone jumped when they popped made for
everyone getting scared and then laughing afterwards. Only this time, no
one was laughing. They were all dressed in their Sunday's finest and
laying up there in them closed caskets .
When the funeral was over, my Aunt Paulette and Uncle Nick took me in.
They were nice, but I could tell they blamed me. Both were real quiet and
would whisper when I left the room.
My Aunt Paulette thought they should take me to a shrink. I didn't need
no shrink, I needed to be taken out somewhere and ran down with a brush
hog and chopped up into little pieces.
So, rather than sit and listen to them whisper, I went out to the barn.
After not coming when my aunt yelled, my Uncle Nick came out and walked
cautiously into the barn. He saw my tear stained cheeks and said, "Billy,
your aunt called, didn't you hear her?" The tone of his voice told me he
felt sorry for me.
I said, "Uncle Nick, she's just calling me for supper, and I don't
deserve to eat. I just deserve to die. So, if you'll just start that
tractor up over there, I'll lay down and you just run over me with the
brush hog." I began to cry real hard.
He looked at me and said, "Billy, it...wasnt....your......fault." He said
it slow and deliberate like, like he really meant it.
All I heard was "You....killed....my....s****r!" I started crying harder
and he hugged me to him.
He knelt down so he was looking me in the eye and said, "Billy, we know
you threw buckeyes into the wood stove. I told your daddy that thing was
going to burn through. We were going to go on Saturday and get you all a
new one that would've been better. So, if anyone is to blame, it's me
because I didn't want to go get it right then. If I had, the buckeyes
wouldn't have done a thing to it."
I looked at him and really cried hard now feeling sorry for him.
He said, "Billy, sometimes, things happen and there's not a thing we can
do. All we can do is to try to be better people afterwards. I love you
and Paulette loves you, so let's go in and eat and then we'll talk some
more after supper."
I walked with him and he held me real close to him. I had a head ache
from crying and snot was running out of my nose. I wiped it off with my
sleave and he said, "Billy, when we get inside, I'll wash your face and
then we'll get you an aspirin. It should make you feel better. I've got
me a whale of a headache going too."
How he knew I had a headache, I'll never know, but I'm glad he knew.
When we got inside, Aunt Paulette took a look at me and came over to hug
Uncle Nick said, "Hon, Billy's blaming himself just like I am. I told him
it's nobody's fault and that things just happen. So, we're going to wash
him up, and get us an aspirin, and then we'll eat your fine supper."
She smiled and patted me on the back as I walked by her. I could smell
homemade biscuits from the oven.
We went to the sink and he took a washcloth out. The coolness against my
skin felt nice and afterwards, he poured us some milk and gave me an
aspirin. I stood looking at him and together, we drank our milk.
Afterwards, I couldn't help but smile because he had a milk mustache just
He laughed and said, "Billy, we're going to get through this, and
hopefully, you'll find that one day you're glad you live here. Right now,
a lot of decisions are needing made for you, but those will settle when
everyone gets used to the situation."
We went over to the table and I saw Aunt Paulette had my favorite, fried
chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and biscuits. I liked fried
chicken and proudly reached for a drumstick.
My aunt smiled and said, "Billy, let's say grace and then you can eat all
During grace, I thought about my mama and daddy being in heaven and said,
"God, please tell my mama and daddy, I love them. I know they can hear
me, but I want you to tell them I'm sorry so they know it's true."
My aunt dabbed her eyes, and my Uncle Nick had tears in his eyes too. I
didn't care if they heard me, I just wanted mom and dad to know I was
After supper, my Uncle Nick said, "Billy, we're going to town tomorrow as
I've got to pick up some supplies. Afterwards, we'll go to the livestock
auction as I want to pick out some calves. Would you like to go with me?"
I nodded as I liked the livestock auction. All the a****ls were neat.
They had horses, cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, and even goats!
I then asked to go outside and my Uncle Nick went with me. He hugged me
as we walked and said, "Billy, your mama and daddy had quite a bit of
money invested. They also had a lot of insurance and that farm over there
had owner's insurance on it too. Now, you're too young to run it, so I
was thinking that we put some livestock on it and that would be your
operation. I'll help you run it and we can hire someone to work it. You
don't have to if you don't want, but letting that land go to waste isn't
something that should be done."
I looked up at him and said, "Uncle Nick, that farm's yours. Mama told me
the land came from Grandad and you should've gotten it when he died. She
never felt right about them getting it instead of you."
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, the farm is yours. My dad thought your mama
should've had it, so he willed it to them. He willed me money with which
Paulette and I bought this one. Fortunately, it was up for sale and it
was so close to that farm, I was happy. I always enjoyed living close to
them and not once did I hold a grudge it wasn't left to me. You'll find
your mom and I thought different on things."
I looked at him and said, "Uncle Nick, you do whatever you see fit. I'm
not old enough to run a farm and it's not fair you now have to run two.
So, you do with it what you want and take the money from it as yours.
You're raising me and that's enough."
My Uncle Nick smiled and said, "Billy, we're raising you because we
wanted you. Paulette and I haven't been blessed with k**s, and some day,
the way I see it, this farm will be yours too."
I looked at him and said, "Uncle Nick, what if I don't want to be a
farmer. What if I want to go to the city and be a hellion?"
He laughed real loud and said, "Billy, do you know what a hellion is?"
I said, "Well it must be fun because they sure do get on t.v. a lot!
Everytime they'd be on the television, my daddy would turn the channel
and would say, 'Them hellions are taking over the television.' So, one
day, I asked him where the hellions were and he told me in the cities. I
figure I'd like to go see some."
My Uncle Nick said, "Billy, your daddy thought that anyone who didn't
believe as he did were hellions. I'm sure he found hellions right here in
our little town."
I looked at him wide eyed and said, "Really? Could I meet one?"
He laughed again and said, "Billy, I'm sure you'll meet people in your
life you'll think are hellions and you don't need to be runnin' 'round
chasin' your daddy's."
I got quiet and thought about it and said, "You're probably right. I'll
just have to find my own."
We walked to the creek and he said, "Billy, is it o.k. if I invest that
money of yours in some more farm land?"
I said, "Uncle Nick, that would be fine. Mom said land was the best
investment because no one could take it away and it wouldn't be frittered
away like some people do buying all them things."
He said, "What I'm going to do is start putting your money into land
around here and then when it's time for you to do what you want in life,
it will be worth more. Right now, land isn't going for as high here as it
is in other parts of our state. The only reason for that is the roads
aren't that good. I've heard talk they're buying up land over near
Charlotte to build a super mega highway, so then the roads will be
reaching somewhere and people will want the land more. With the money
you've got, you should be setting on quite a nest egg when that time
I said, "Uncle Nick, what happens when that kind of egg hatches? I'm not
going to be raising no fowl am I?"
He laughed and said, "Billy, you won't think it's foul at all when that
We began walking back to the house. I said, "Uncle Nick, couldn't you and
Aunt Paulette adopt?"
He said, "Billy, we had talked about it, and then this happened. So, we
did get someone. We got you. I think you're enough."
I said, "Well keep it in mind because with me sitting on some egg waitin
on it to hatch, I'm gonna be busy."
He laughed again and said, "Billy, you'll be busy alright."
I said, "Uncle Nick, can I tell you something?"
He said, "Sure."
I said, "You promise it won't go further...dead man's promise?"
He smiled and said, "Yeah, I promise."
I said, "No, you gotta promise the dead man's promise, or I can't tell
He said, "Billy, I promise the dead man's promise."
I said, "Uncle Nick, I think I like boys in front of girls."
He looked at me strange and said, "What do you mean Billy?"
I said, "Well, at school, I like looking at boys...not girls."
He nodded and said, "Billy, when I was your age, girls weren't my
I looked at him and said, "Really!"
He said, "Really...now you gotta promise to not say anything about that
either. Because now, I like Paulette, so maybe someday some girl will
sweep you off your feet like she did me."
I said, "So, did boys give you a funny feeling?"
He said, "Billy, you're too young for me to talk to this way, but since
you asked the question, no, they didn't."
I said, "Oh, well they do me...especially Bobby."
He smiled and said, "Well, Bobby probably likes you too."
I said, "No, Bobby likes Sally, he doesn't even know I'm alive."
Uncle Nick said, "Well, Bobby probably isn't the one for you then."
I said, "Uncle Nick?"
He said, "Yeah hon."
I said, "Thanks for not thinking I'm strange."
He laughed and said, "Billy, you're not strange at all. You're just a k**
growing up and getting used to things."
I said, "Well, hopefully one day, I'll be used to them then."
He said, "Billy, I'll let you in on something. I'm older and I'm not even
used to everything yet."
I said, "Well, maybe you'll get used to them after a while."
He laughed and said, "Billy, when that day comes, I'll tell you know and
that way it won't be such a secret."
I said, "O.k."
When we got back to the house, Aunt Paulette said, "Billy, you need to go
take a bath."
I said, "Can I take a shower?"
She smiled and said, "Yes, you can take a shower."
I ran into the bedroom and got some of my Tonkas and then ran to the
shower. I liked taking showers because I could play with my Tonkas in it.
No one would let me go out in the rain, but they'd let me play in the
shower, so I liked showers.
When I got to the shower, I began to play and my Uncle Nick said, "Billy,
you need to wash your hair and body before you play. After that, you can
play all you want."
I said, "O.k." and then washed my hair. I figured the water would wash my
body. I played Tonkas until the water got too cold. I shut it off and
then got the towel down from the rod which was mine and began drying off.
My Uncle Nick came in and said, "Billy, here's your p.j.s, so put them on
and you won't be so cold."
I took them and began putting them on. My Uncle Nick said, "Billy, you're
a good k**. Don't let anyone tell you you're not."
I said, "Well, Uncle Nick, you're a good uncle too...so, don't let anyone
tell you you're not."
We went to the living room and I saw Uncle Nick had lit a fire in the
fireplace. For a brief moment I thought about buckeyes and began crying.
Uncle Nick hugged me close and said, "Billy, I'm sorry."
I said, "Uncle Nick, it's not your fault. I just thought about putting
buckeyes in the fire."
He hugged me close and said, "Billy, let's save the buckeyes for the
fires outside. O.k.?"
I nodded and he said, "Maybe tomorrow night, we'll build a fire outside
and roast hot dogs and marshmallows. O.k.?"
I nodded and he said, "Billy, when you get a chance, we'll go get
buckeyes and we'll throw them in the fire together. That way, you'll see
they're still fun."
I never heard him all the way, I'd fallen asl**p.
The next morning, I found myself in bed between Aunt Paulette and Uncle
Nick. I felt warm and cozy and liked the feeling of being hugged all
I had to go pee, but being in betwen them, I couldn't figure out a way to
go to the bathroom without waking up them.
I decided there were two ways to go. I could either come up out of the
covers or slide down the covers. Either one would do, but all I knew was
I had to pee so something had to be done. I decided to come up out of the
Someplace on my way up, I didn't realize me sliding up wasn't working so
good. It made a lot of movement, and they were getting restless.
Just about the time my butt was up to their pillows, my Uncle Nick woke
up. He looked up at me and siad, "Billy, what are you doing?"
I said, "I have to pee, so instead of waking you up, I decided to climb
up and out of the covers. Well, I made it this far and you woke up."
He sl**pily said, "Come out this way, and whatever you do don't wake up
Well, that was the wrong thing because the combination of us talking and
us moving, Aunt Paulette woke up. She said, "What are you all doing?"
I ran off to the bathroom while Uncle Nick explained what we were doing.
When I came back in, they were snuggled up together and Uncle Nick patted
the bed beside him.
He said, "Billy, you lay down here and I'll lay in the middle. That way,
your moving around won't wake up Paulette."
I lay down and he put his arm around me and suddenly I could feel his
warmth envelope me. In no time at all, I was back to sl**p.
Later, I was woken up by movement in the bed. Apparently they were waking
up and were moving to get out of it. I started to get up and Uncle Nick
said, "You go ahead and go back to sl**p. Paulette and I are going to get
our showers and get breakfast made. We'll wake you up in time to get
I answered with snores probably because I was already back to sl**p.
When I was awoke later, Uncle Nick said it was time for breakfast. I went
to the bathroom, and then went into my room to get clothes which weren't
mine, but someone had donated to me. Mine weren't any good anymore due to
the fire making everything smell like smoke.
I put the outfit on, and then headed to the dining room where Aunt
Paulette had everyone an omelette made with slices of ham and hash
browns. I took my toast and began slathering it with a whole lot of peach
preserves. My Uncle Nick smiled at me and said, "You got enough there
bud? I can go down and get you another jar if you'd like.
I smiled and said, "This stuff is good!"
Aunt Paulette came in and we had fresh made biscuits. I looked at the
piece of toast I had in my hand and said, "Why are we having buscuits and
I'm having toast?"
She smiled and said, "I made you toast so you would be able to get the
head start on us you usually want to do. I figured it would tide you over
until we had the biscuits ready. It worked, so you finish that toast and
then you can have a fresh biscuit."
I smiled and said, "Thanks Aunt Paulette."
She paused me and said, "Let's say grace so we can all eat."
I bowed my head and grace was said. Then we began to eat. I made it a
point to tell Aunt Paulette how good everything tasted. She smiled and
thanked me for my compliment.
After breakfast, Uncle Nick and I went to the barn and began to get feed
out for the cattle. We were a beef operation which meant no milking had
to be done. I did pick up a bottle to feed a couple of calves and uncle
Nick smiled at me. He said, "Today, you can pick out yourself a heard of
cows and we'll get them on your property over there. Your daddy was
meaning to go to this auction today to get a few head, so he'd be happy
you can get some."
Him bringing up my daddy made me sad and tears come to my eyes, but I did
my best not to show it. My uncle Nick said, "Billy, you can cry all you
want and I'm not going to say anything. I know there's going to be times
in which I think of them and cry myself."
I said, "Uncle Nick, it's just that they weren't old like everyone is
supposed to be when they die. Momma told me she wouldn't die until they
were old, and now I just feel so guilty."
He said, "Billy, please don't feel guilty. I feel guilty too, but you
know that accidents happen and no one intended for it to happen. It's
just that something bad happened, and your momma and daddy aren't here
anymore. You know they'd be here if they could, but we don't ever count
on something like this happening. To make a point, I'll ask you this.
Would you have put the buckeyes in the stove if you'd known this was
going to happen?"
I said, "No uncle Nick!"
Tears came to my eyes and then he said, "You're right. You wouldn't have
because you're a good boy. Just like I would have went and gotten that
new wood stove if I'd have known it would burn through as fast as it did.
It happened and that's all I can say. Your daddy knew it was bad, but he
didn't do anything either. So, does that make him a bad person? No. He
thought it wouldn't burn through as fast as it did either. So, when we
think of them, we feel for them because we wish we could have done
something different, but we couldn't. It was one of those things which
happened and we can't change."
I hugged him and he said, "Let's get these cows fed and then go to town."
I could tell he was looking sadder by the minute and I really wanted to
help him. I didn't like it when people around me were sad.
When we got done feeding, we went to the house and got washed up. Uncle
Nick gave me a hat and a bandana. He said, "Billy, you're getting these
because you're going to be around the livestock today. If you get your
hands dirty, you can wipe them off on the bandana instead of having to
run to a bathroom. The hat is so your hair doesn't get covered with
anything that might fly about."
I chuckled and said, "Uncle Nick, you're funny."
He smiled and said, "No, I'm tall and you're down closer to the action
little guy, so I want to protect you all I can."
Aunt Paulette had walked into the room and smiled. She said, "Nick, you
could protect him more by not letting him that close to those a****ls."
Nick said, "Honey, you've never been a boy. Boys tend to go where they're
not supposed to go, so thinking in advance, I'm doing what I can so Billy
doesn't have to ride in the bed of the truck all the way home."
She laughed and said, "Never the mind, he's not going to ride back
Uncle Nick started to say something, but a firm look by her told him
We went out to the truck and I noticed he had the stock trailer hooked to
the truck. He said, "Billy, yours will be hauled out here by semi, so you
get any you think you'll need."
I said, "Uncle Nick, I've never bought anything like that, so I don't
know how many I should think about getting."
He said, "I'll let you know when you're getting close to getting enough.
So, don't worry. You just get the one's you think you'd like to have on
I said, "Uncle Nick, would you help me? I don't know what kind are the
He smiled and said, "Billy, what I think are the best and what others
would think are the best would probably be too different opinions."
I said, "Well, I'm going to agree with you on whatever kind they are, so
He said, "Billy, when we get there, we'll have to get you an auction
account. They might balk at signing you up, but I'll sign behind your
name. That's your farm over there, and it's your money, so if they don't
like those apples, we'll go someplace else."
I said, "Daddy had a auction account, couldn't we sign me onto it?"
He said, "I'll check, but I'm not sure if they'll allow it."
We got to town and Aunt Paulette got dropped off at her momma's house.
She kissed Uncle Nick goodbye and then gave me hugs. She looked at me and
said, "Billy, you get yourself the best money can buy and don't hold back
I nodded and hadn't thought of it before she said it, but I didn't even
know how much a cow cost, or how much I had to buy them with.
We got to the auction barn and the smells instantly excited me. A lot of
people are probably repulsed by the smells, but to me, I knew it was neat
to see all those different sorts of a****ls in one spot.
As we walked around, a lot of the men in the group spoke with Uncle Nick.
He told them he was here to get a few head for himself and that we were
setting up myself a heard. More than a few times, I heard the words
brangus and limousine (not as in car, but lime o sun as in breed of cow)
being mentioned. They must've been a good kind of cows because everyone
As we walked into the barn area, I said, "Uncle Nick, show me the Brangus
and Limousine, everyone mentioned them and I want to see why they think
they're so good."
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, they are real heavy breeds of cattle. The breeds
are great producers of beef and everyone pays top dollar when they go
back to sell."
I said, "Uncle Nick, until Aunt Paulette mentioned cost, I never thought
about the cost. How much do they cost and how much do I have to spend?"
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, the cost of a cow varies. There are a lot of
ways a cow can cost a different price. If one's pregnant, it will cost
more than one that isn't. If you are buying a bull, it will cost the
most. The best thing I'll tell you is look for a real good bull and quite
a few open heffers. Open means she's ready to breed."
I said, "How much do they cost?"
He said, "Well, a bull will cost quite a bit. The heffers will cost about
I said, "That's a lot!"
He said, "Billy, yeah it's a lot, but you've got enough money to not
worry about it."
I said, "How much do I have to spend?"
He said, "Billy, you've got enough money to easily buy every a****l here
and then probably about 3 times more, so don't worry about cost."
I said, "That's a lot!"
He smiled and said, "You can thank your daddy on having so much
I looked down and he said, "Billy, don't feel sad. He had that insurance
because he wanted you and your momma to not have to worry about a thing
if he should die. He just didn't count on her dying too."
I said, "I understand and now he's taking care of the farm with that
Uncle Nick nodded and said, "Billy, we have to look at the a****ls. We
don't want any that are sick."
We looked at the cows and every one of them looked healthy. There was one
Uncle Nick didn't like the look of something about her and he made a note
to mark it's number in a little spiral notebook he had with him.
We then went over to look at bulls and when we got there, Uncle Nick told
me, "Billy, these are really dangerous so don't go near the fence and
don't be climbing on the fences like you did over there."
I said, " O.k."
We got there and they all looked the same. There was one that just looked
way bigger than all the rest. Uncle Nick pointed at it and said, "Billy,
that's the bull you want. Now, if they have any who are sons of that
bull, we'll look at them, but that's the one we'll bid on the most."
I nodded and said, "Why do we want that one?"
He said, "The way it carries and the sizing of it is what's going to earn
you money. It's c***dren will carry it's traits and make them bigger than
the other ones will."
I said, "How much does a bull cost?"
He said, "Billy, this one is going to cost a lot more. Don't be surprised
if it goes for 35 to 50."
I said, "Dollars!"
He said, "No, thousand."
I said, "Oh, that's a lot huh?"
He smiled and said, "Yeah, it's a lot. But you want it because the
bl**dline will get you more money in the future."
I said, " O.k., then that's fine."
I noticed a lot of people around the pen and all were talking about the
bull and it made me proud we'd made the decision to get it.
We then walked over to another section and I saw some buffalo. I made my
way over to pet a calf and said, "Can I get one Uncle Nick?"
Uncle Nick smiled and said, "If you'd like, but don't get too many of
I said, "I only wanted one."
He smiled and said, "Billy, have you ever heard of beefalo?"
I said, "No."
He said, "It's where they breed a cow with a buffalo. The meat is the
best of all of them."
I said, "Oh really?"
He said, "Yeah, I was thinking about starting a string of them to see if
we could do any good."
I said, "Well, which would you get?"
He said, "I'd be female buffalo and then pay you to use your bull."
I said, "You don't have to do that Uncle Nick."
He said, "Billy, that's the way business is done."
I said, "Well, how about we consider the use of my bull payment for you
taking care of me."
Apparently, Uncle Nick didn't like what I said. He said, "Billy, come
here son. Please don't ever think I'm going to ever charge you a thing to
live with us. And, please don't ever think you've got to pay a dime.
Paulette and I are doing this because we want to. We're getting just as
much enjoyment from you living with us as you are living there."
I nodded and said, "Uncle Nick, I don't want you to think you ever have
to pay me a thing to use that bull. You're telling me families do for
each other, and then you're telling me you want to pay me. Now, if I'm
not to pay you and you're to pay me, how stupid is that?"
He smiled and said, "One is business Billy, and the other isn't."
I said, "Uncle Nick, don't think I'll take a dime from you...that's the
end of that conversation." I was upset with him and I hoped he knew it.
We walked over to another area and he began looking at cattle. They
weren't the same kind and I said, "Uncle Nick, why are you looking at
these kinds of cows?"
He said, "Billy, these are the ones I'm going to get for our farm."
I said, "Why are you getting these?"
He said, "Billy, I don't have enough money to afford the ones you are
I looked at him and said, "Uncle Nick, you're telling me that I've got
all that money and you don't have enough for you to get the kind you
want, so why don't you use some of my money to get the kind you want?"
He said, "Billy, that's your money and this is my money."
I said, "Well, Uncle Nick, you said that one day your farm would be mine,
now when I get it, I'll be putting on the kind of cattle which are the
best, so why don't you just save us time and money and go ahead and get
them. You just put the money you were going to use in with my money and
we'll get them together."
He smiled and said, "Billy, are you sure?"
I looked at him like he was nuts. I said, "Uncle Nick, if I didn't have
enough money to get a matchbox car, would you give me enough to get the
one I wanted?"
He said, "Yeah, but it's not the same Billy."
I said, "Yeah it is. You're just making it more difficult."
He smiled and ruffled my hair and said, "I'll do it, but your Aunt
Paulette is going to have our hides over this. You know that, don't you?"
I said, "Uncle Nick, just don't mention it and she'll not worry."
He said, "Billy, she's the one that looks over all the bills, there's no
way I can't mention it to her."
I said, "Uncle Nick, then I'll just go in and have a talk with her. You
two just make things difficult."
We walked over to get our numbers and Uncle Nick began speaking with the
guy about getting my number. The guy didn't think he could give me a
number. He said, "Why don't you buy the k**'s cow and then have his dad
sort it out with you when he gets home."
My uncle Nick said real loud, "Man, if you were paying attention to the
name, you'd see this k**'s parents just died. He's living with me and my
wife and he's setting up his own farm. If I do that, the tax man would be
all over me. Now, if his money isn't any good here, then mine isn't
either." Several guys standing around said their's wasn't either.
The guy said, "It's an awful lot of work for just a few dollars."
Uncle Nick said, "Well apparently, you misunderstood me because this k**
is going to be spending a few hundred thousand dollars here today."
After he said that, it suddenly got quiet in the room. The man who was
speaking looked sick and everyone else looked at Uncle Nick with wide
I looked up at Uncle Nick and said, "See what I told you. Adults make
things more complicated that they should."
Uncle Nick chuckled and suddenly everyone else started chuckling too. The
man behind the desk said, "I'll use his daddy's tax number and it should
be alright. You really need to get with the state and get that changed."
Uncle Nick nodded and said, "I'll get right on that tomorrow. Today,
we're spending the day here getting him everything he wants. The least I
can do is to see he's happy and set up in business to take care of that
When we left that office, I had my own number. #008. Uncle Nick smiled
and said, "Billy, that number was my daddy's number when he was doing
business here. I think it was his daddy's number too. What I know is they
started doing business here before anyone else did in this parts. I'm
glad you got that number because it belongs to your farm."
I smiled and said, "Our farm Uncle Nick."
Uncle Nick said, "It's your farm Billy. I'm just helping you."
I was going to argue further, but about that time, I saw a k** my age
walk through that took my attention. Uncle Nick saw me looking and
smiled. He said, "Billy, is that the boy you were telling me about?"
I smiled and said, "No, I don't know who he is, but man, he's someone I
want to get to know."
Uncle Nick laughed and said, "Well, how about you go over and introduce
yourself. I'll stay right here and get us good seats."
I went the direction of where I saw the k** go and saw he was out by the
bull pens. I followed him and he went to where everyone was standing
looking at the bull I was going to buy. He didn't have any parents around
him, and immediately he jumped up on the fence.
I was standing right behind him and saw the bull look in our direction. I
said, "Get down from there, that bull will get you."
He looked at me and was just saying, "That bull isn't...."
When I yanked him back. The bull had turned and had ran at the fence.
The k** looked at me wide eyed and I said, "I told you he would. Now stay
away from the fence. He's mean."
The k** said, "Thanks, I thought I was a goner there for a second."
I said, "I wouldn't have let that happen. My name's Billy, what's yours?"
He said, "My name's Michael. People call me Junior. My parent's call me
Right then and there, Jr. became the most beautiful name in the world to
me. I said, "Jr., you like that bull?"
He said, "Do I? That bull is awesome!"
I said, "I'm going to buy that bull."
He said, "You mean your dad's going to buy that bull, don't you?"
I said, "No, I'm buying that bull. My uncle and I are buying me a heard
and we're going to put it on the farm I just inherited because my parents
died. So, it will be mine."
He said, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."
I said, "Oh, you didn't. You didn't know."
He smiled and I said, "See those cows over there, I'm buying them."
He said, "My dad raised them cows and we're selling them. I hope you get
them though because they're real good. It's just that when my dad gets
them sold, we're going to be moving because the man who owns the farm
doesn't want to raise cows no more."
I looked at him and said, "Who's your dad?"
He said, "My dad's up front. His name's Michael Johnson too."
I said, "Oh, well, let's go tell my uncle because he's looking for
someone to take care of the cattle I'm buying. Maybe we can get your dad
to working on my farm?"
I started walking towards where we were seated and had totally forgotten
about Jr. When I got back to Uncle Nick, I said, "Uncle Nick, his name's
Jr. His daddy is looking for work. The man who is his boss doesn't want
to raise cattle anymore. Do you think we could talk with him about
working my farm?"
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, we don't have a house over there for them to
live in yet."
I said, "Well, maybe we could get one built for them. Would you talk with
him? Most of the cattle we're looking at for me he raised, so he knows
how to raise good cattle."
Uncle Nick said, "Oh really. Well, that would be Mike Johnson then. I
grew up with him. He's taking care of that place those city slickers
bought. Those are some good cattle. Yes, I'll talk with him."
I looked behind me to see where Jr was to tell him, but I saw him
standing over by a man talking real excited. The man looked like him
enough to be his dad, so I pointed towards them and told Uncle Nick.
Uncle Nick nodded and then did some sort of whistle. Suddenly Jr's dad
returned the whistle. He looked over towards us and then smiled real big.
In no time at all, he was over shaking Uncle Nick's hand and giving him
huge bear hugs.
Uncle Nick said, "Mike! How are you doing?" He looked really happy to see
Jr's dad and Jr's dad looked really happy to see him.
Mike said, "Nick, my son said you all were going to be buying those
cattle and that you were looking for someone to run a farm."
Uncle Nick said, "Yeah, Billy right here is Jenny's son, you remember
Jenny don't you?"
Mike said, "Yeah, I'm sorry to hear about what happened. Such a tragedy."
Uncle Nick said, "Yeah, we're going to miss them, but the reason we're
here today is to get Billy set up with that farm over there so it will
make him money. I heard you raised the cattle we're looking to buy, so I
know they're good head."
Mike said, "They're all good, but one of them isn't going to bring much.
She's old and she's not fit for much."
I knew that was the one which Uncle Nick had written into the book.
Mike said, "You going into breeding, or inseminating?"
Uncle Nick said, "He's going into breeding. He really likes the look
at Ragin' Dawn out there."
Mike said, "That's the best bull I've seen in this whole area."
Uncle Nick said, "Yeah, he wants that bull because he wants the best
bl**d line in this whole area."
Mike said, "With those cattle, he'd have a real fine head start."
Uncle Nick said, "Mike, could you work for him? He'll pay you what you're
worth and since it's going to be basicly a start up, you could do things
the way you want with no restrictions. Right now, there's not much over
there which I think he should keep. It's not been much since our grand
daddy's ran their farms."
Mike said, "How much is going to be in tillage and how much in the
Uncle Nick said, "Well, there's approximately 1600 acres, but it's split
a thousand for grazing and the rest for tillage. The rest of what was
fed was bought."
Mike nodded and said, "How many head is he going to run?"
Uncle Nick said, "He's going to run 250 for now, but we're going to be
buying him more land. A lot more land. His dad left him with enough
insurance money, he'll never have to worry again."
Mike nodded and said, "That was good. I never knew who Jenny married, but
I never made my way over on that side of the area after my dad sold his
Uncle Nick said, "Yeah, I wish he'd let you have it and then you could
have gotten to know everyone."
Mike nodded and said, "Well, that's all water under the bridge. You know
how he was, and I'm just glad he retired to New Mexico. We're all better
Jr said to me, "Do you want to get a Coke?"
I said, "Sure, let me tell my uncle so I can get some money."
I went over to Uncle Nick and said, "Jr and I are going to go get a coke.
May I have some money so I can get some lunch?"
He nodded and said, "Here's your money, don't spend it all in one place."
He gave me a twenty. I was amazed and knew there'd be no way I could
spend it all there.
Jr and I ran to the snack shop and found ourselves a seat. Just as soon
as we sat down, the waitress came over to take our orders. Jr ordered and
then I did. He ordered a cheeseburger and french fries. I took a look at
the menu and then ordered chicken strips with ranch sauce. He looked at
me funny and said, "You want chicken when you can have a cheeseburger?"
I said, " I like chicken and the ranch dipping sauce makes it even
better. I'd like to have chicken breast strips made into a sandwich with
ranch dressing and swiss cheese."
The waitress heard and said, "I'll get that for you hon."
I smiled real big at her and said, "Could I get some of that pie over
She said, "Which one?"
I pointed and she said, " O.k., I'll bring it with your order." She then
said, "What would you like to drink doll?"
I blushed and said, "I'll take iced tea without sugar in a tall glass.
Not much ice."
Ordering made me feel important.
Jr said, "I sure do hope my dad comes to work over at your farm. It'd be
neat to live near you."
I nodded and said, "It will have to be after we get everything ready
though, there's not a house over there and it needs some barns and pens."
He said, "My dad will know how to set it up. There are a lot of things
you need in order to raise cattle."
I nodded and said, "I would like to have a barn which is just for the
sick a****ls. That way they're seperate from the rest. I'd also like to
have each a****l have it's own stall."
Jr said, "You need to talk with my dad as he'll need to hear everything
He said, "How old are you Billy?"
I said, "I'm 8 ½, and you?"
He said, "I turned 8 two months ago. Do you go to school at East Pine?"
I said, "No, West Pine here and that's where you'd go too."
He looked bewildered and said, "I never thought about losing my friends."
I said, "Don't think as it losing your friends, look at it as gaining new
friends. Also, you'll meet up again with your old friends when we go to
middle school, so it won't be long."
He smiled and said, "Well, you'll be there, so it should be nice."
The way he said that, made me real happy.
I said, "Yeah, and you'll be too busy over at our farms playing with me
and having fun."
Just then, "The waitress brought our order and laid the ticket down on
Jr looked disturbed and said, "She should have gotten mine seperately."
I said, "That's o.k., I'll pay and then take the change back to my Uncle
Nick with the receipt. He shouldn't mind."
We ate and he said, "Yours looks good, you wanna trade?"
I said, " O.k., we're both about half way, let me take another bite and
then we'll trade. I'll split some of my pie with you if you'll share some
of your fries."
He smiled and said, " O.k."
He pushed his plate over and I put some of the fries on the plate holding
my sandwich. I then cut the pie in half and put some on the plate he was
I slid it over to him and he said, "That's neat, we both get to eat a lot
of stuff and it doesn't cost more!"
I bit into the cheeseburger, and it didn't taste as good as the chicken
sandwich. He smiled and said, "This is good!"
I said, "Yeah, this isn't though, but I traded so I'll finish it. Just
remember the next time so neither of us ends up eatting something the
other doesn't like."
He smiled and said, "I hope it's soon otherwise, I'll forget."
I laughed and said, "I'll remind you."
He tasted his pie and said, "This is really good too. Maybe the next
time, you should order for the both of us."
I said, "No, two of the same thing wouldn't be good. Then, we couldn't
He said, "Well, you wouldn't have to order two of the same thing."
I said, "Well, I know I liked that, so that's what I'd order."
He laughed and said, "You're right."
When we were done eatting, we got up and I went over and paid. I got the
receipt and then we went back to where Uncle Nick and Mike were sitting.
They saw us coming and Uncle Nick said, "Did you have a good lunch?"
I handed him the change and the receipt and he said, "Your first business
I looked at him and he said, "You can write this off your taxes."
I said, "Uncle Nick, I don't pay taxes."
He laughed and said, "You will Billy, that's a part of being a
The auctioneer was just starting and announcing the names of everyone
helping him in the ring. I stood up on my seat and was watching what was
going on. I turned to Uncle Nick and said, "Uncle Nick, you'll help me
get the cows we want, won't you?"
He said, "Billy, I'll put you on my shoulders and then you hold up your
card whenever you want a cow or group of cows we talked about. You just
hold the card up there until you get them. O.k.?"
I nodded and then the announcer started off on a bunch of cows we didn't
want. They weren't the ones I wanted but some of them were the ones Uncle
Nick wanted. He looked like he was about to bid and I said, "Uncle Nick,
just get the ones which are best. I'll help you."
He looked like he didn't want to do it, but let the cows pass.
It went like this several more times until the ring announcer announced
the cows we were looking at. Uncle Nick put me on his shoulder and I
tilted back the cap I had on.
I held up my card and the auctioneer began calling the auction. He
stopped and pointed at me and said, "Mister, you need to tell that k** to
stop bidding on these cattle. I've about sold them to him. He looked over
to the other guy who was bidding and said, 'Sold!'"
My uncle Nick put me down and ran up to the booth. He got real loud and
said, "That boy was buying those fucking cattle dickweed, and you just
sold them out from under him. You're going to tell me you're not selling
them to the highest bidder!"
The announcer said, "I don't sell to k**s."
My uncle Nick said, "Let's see if you sell another fucking thing."
He went out into the ring and said, "Gentlemen, that boy over there is
Billy Jacobs. You all know my s****r and b*****r in law's son. He's in
here today to buy cattle for his farm which he just inherited. He WAS
planning on spending about a quarter of a million dollars. We are now
walking out of this arena and if you want to do business with that k**
the rest of his life, my suggestion is you walk too."
He climbed up over the fencing and came back to where we sat. Mike was
down at the ring and said, "NO SALE ON THOSE CATTLE". He looked at the
auctioneer and said, "You violated the contract by not selling them to
the highest bidder. Don't put another one of the cows I brought in that
Suddenly, the man who had given us problems about my number was down at
the ring. His face was red with anger and he told the auctioneer, Y"ou're
a bl**dy fool. Do you see what number that k** has? That means by
inheritance, he's on the board of directors of this auction company. How
fast do you want to lose your job?"
The auctioneer said, "I don't sell to k**s."
A man in the audience yelled, "You're not selling to me either!"
Suddenly a whole bunch of people were all yelling the same thing.
I looked at Uncle Nick and said, "Uncle Nick, I want that bull!"
He smiled and said, "Billy, I think you'll get your bull. They're going
to sell you those cows too otherwise they'll see themselves in a whole
lot of trouble."
The auction man and the auctioneer both began talking quietly and the
auctioneer then said, "Gentlemen, the k** has a tax number and he has a
farm. Apparently, he has a banker too who has verified the money is in
his account. So, it looks like we have ourselves an auction."
He looked at the guy he told "Sold" to and said, "That's a no sale on
that consignment. We'll have to re-bid it."
The guy said, "I wasn't aware who the k** was. Let him have the cattle
for the price I bid."
I looked at Uncle Nick and he was smiling. He looked at Mike and said,
"Is that alright with you Mike?"
Mike said, "Oh yeah, that's about $25 a head more than what I expected."
Uncle Nick said to me, "Billy, when I put you on my shoulder, you tell
the man you accept the deal."
I got up on Uncle Nick's shoulder and yelled, "I accept the deal."
Suddenly the whole place began to applaud. I looked down at Uncle Nick
and he said, "Billy, you just started your farm. Everyone's now behind
you, so don't disappoint them son."
I nodded and said, "Uncle Nick, that felt good." The smile on my face was
He said, "It does, doesn't it!"
The next consignment was some more of the cows Mike was selling. I knew
Uncle Nick wanted these, so I got down. I went over to Jr. and he said,
"Do you have any more cows you're going to bid on soon?"
I looked at Uncle Nick and asked him. He motioned his head no, so I
turned to Jr and he said, "Let's go out here so I can show you that Emu
I went with him and he said, "Billy, I was afraid they weren't going to
sell to you."
I said, "I was too. But, I knew Uncle Nick was upset enough he would have
walked out of there before he bought anything else from them again."
He said, "I think my dad would have hauled them all out of here too!"
As we walked, a lot of farmers were suddenly patting me on the shoulder
and patting my head. I heard one say, "He's the youngest farmer in this
It made me feel happy, but at the time sad. Because if I had the choice
to make, I would gladly have my mom and dad back.
We got to the alpaca and llamas and to me they looked like camels. Jr was
looking at them and said, "My dad says they are going to be the future of
the business. He said, a lot of farmers don't know the benefits of having
I said, "Can they be raised with cattle and buffalo?"
He said, "I think so, they eat the same thing."
I said, "Well, I'll get some then. If your dad says they're good, then
I'll trust his judgement on them. You'll help me raise them won't you?"
He nodded and said, "I really wanted some but with dad not being sure
about us even having a place to live and no job, it wasn't likely I'd get
I said, "Well, consider it that you have some now."
We went over to the buffalo and I showed him the ones I wanted. He nodded
and said, "My dad said the beefalo would be real good to invest in also.
He said the market is catching onto them and everyone's starting to buy
I nodded and said, "Well, I'm hoping. Even though I don't like beef much,
I think it'd be neat to eat buffalo. You know that's where they get
buffalo chicken wings from, don't you?"
Jr smiled and said, "un uh...." and shook his head no.
I said, "Well, I don't see any wings on them myself, so maybe they take
them off when they're real young."
He laughed and said, "You tell my dad that one. I'm sure he'll know where
they come from."
We went back to the ring and I saw Uncle Nick bidding on some more of the
cows we'd spoken about. He bought 6 head and I said, "Why didn't you take
He said, "Billy, I can't afford all of them."
I stood up and said, "I'll take the rest at that price."
The auctioneer took my number and I turned to him and said, "How many
others have you let go while I was gone. I thought we had a deal."
He said, "Billy, our deal was we could do what I could afford."
I said, "Uncle Nick, let me get what you can't. O.k.?"
He said, "I don't have a choice, you just bought the rest."
I said, "Well, I'm sure you'll get over it."
He looked at Mike and said, "Just like his mom."
Mike laughed and said, "You never won an argument with her either."
Uncle Nick laughed and said, "Yeah, but I think he has her beat. He makes
Mike laughed and said, "I never won any against her either. The biggest
mistake I ever made was not going out with her."
Uncle Nick nodded and said, "Yeah, you broke her heart."
I looked them and said, "Uncle Nick, Mom would be o.k with me hiring him
He said, "Billy, she'd love having him there working for you."
I said, "Good, because I want to have Jr there too."
Uncle Nick gave me a look and I nodded. He smiled and nothing was said.
Just about then, the auctioneer said they were going to take a short
break and then would come back and begin selling bulls. The first would
be "Raging Dawn".
I looked at Uncle Nick and he smiled. I said, "Did you hear if they have
any of his c***dren up for sale here?"
He said, "Billy, the man that brought him is right over there, why don't
you go over and ask him."
I went over and tugged on the man's shirt sleeve. I said, "Mister, did
you bring any of 'Raging Dawn's' calves today?"
He said, "No, they are back at my farm as they aren't big enough yet."
I said, "Would you sell me one?"
He said, "How much would you pay for one."
I said, "Well, my uncle says "Raging Dawn" is going to bring a lot, so I
figure a calf of his that's a bull should bring in something less, but
not that much less."
He said, "Did someone send you over here to ask me?"
I said, "No, I'm looking to buy it myself."
He said, " There are two of them and I'll sell you one for $10 grand."
I said, "Sir, are you sure?"
He said, "Yes, now if that's what you want, then I'll offer it to you for
that, but not a penny less."
I said, "Let me think on it for a moment."
I thought to myself..."The daddy is going to go for a lot. If the son is
as good as him, then it should go good too."
I looked at the guy and said, "Good bl**dlines on the momma's side of
He said, "Pure bl**ded."
I said, "I'll buy it."
He looked shocked and said, "Son, that's a lot of money."
I said, "Yeah, but I'm told I have enough, so I'll risk it. I'll go tell
my uncle and he'll tell you when we want it delivered."
I went over to Uncle Nick and said, "I just bought one of the two baby
bull calves for $10 grand. I hope you don't mind."
Uncle Nick looked at Mike and Mike said, "Billy, that's a $25 thousand
dollar calf he just sold you for $10 thousand. What's wrong with it."
Just then, the guy walked up and shook Uncle Nick's hand, he said, "The
boy wants the younger bull, I'm selling it to him as his grand daddy and
your daddy made me some good deals through the years. I'm now returning
Uncle Nick said, " O.k., We'll let you know when to deliver it, but I'll
get you a cheque over from the bank tomorrow."
The guy said, "I'll meet you at the bank and then you won't have to send
it and I won't have to deposit it. I'm about to sell my farm, so I'd
rather use the money to go somewhere else and start over."
Uncle Nick said, "Where's your farm and how come you're selling?"
He said, "It's over on country rd 428 and taxes my boy, taxes. They're
eatting a whole in my pocketbook."
Uncle Nick said, "Do you care if Mike, Billy, and I come over to look at
the farm? Maybe we can save you the cost of listing it."
The man nodded and said, "Well, how about I take you out there after we
meet at the bank?"
Uncle Nick nodded and shook the man's hand. The man went back to his
Mike looked at Uncle Nick with raised eyebrows and Nick turned to me and
said, "Billy, that might be a good farm for you to buy. I believe it
might back up to the place right down the road from your place. If you
could get one of the other adjoining farms, you'd have an open range."
Mike nodded suddenly becoming aware of the plan. He smiled and said,
"That'd be a sweet deal if we could swing another one like it."
Uncle Nick said, "Once word gets out Mike, I bet Billy will have all
sorts of offers to buy."
He looked at me and said, "Mike, do you think "Raging Dawn" is good
enough himself to buy?"
Mike said, "The bull carries damned good and the bl**dlines are
incredible. If the sires all carry like him, they're going to really hold
some weight. From what I know about that man, he doesn't believe in
steroids so what you're looking at is natural."
Uncle Nick looked surprised and said, "Man, that's got to be excellent
Mike nodded and said, "Nick, I think Billy couldn't go wrong getting the
older bull too."
I said, "Do I have enough?"
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, you have more than enough, so don't worry about
that. The only thing I'm worried about is putting all your eggs in one
Mike nodded and I said, " O.k., say we breed the bull with a buffalo and
the buffalo has a bull calf. Can we rebreed that calf back in to get a
good heavy line?"
Mike said, "That would work for the beefalo, but not for a good solid
line of cattle."
I said, "If we're selling them for slaughter, what's it matter?"
Mike said, "Well, nothing, but if we're going to hope to sell the semen
and sire future lines, then we need to have a good line so the customers
can see what they can grow with it."
I stood there looking at him and then turned to Uncle Nick and said,
Uncle Nick said, "Mike, you tell him, you put me into this mess."
Mike said, "Billy, um uh....they're going to start the auction here real
fast, so let's get ready."
He looked at Uncle Nick and said, "Sorry."
Uncle Nick said, "Well, one day soon, you'll have to explain it to both
them because they're going to have to learn. It's probably safe now, but
my advice is to take them out to the barn or bull pen and show them."
Uncle Nick smiled and said, "Mike, you might have bought yourself some
time but you didn't buy yourself much."
Uncle Nick turned to me and said, "Billy, here's a bit of advice on
buying the bull. When the auctioneer starts off, he'll start off at the
price he thinks it will go for and then he'll lower it to where someone
will start it. When he starts off, you lowball the bid and yell at the
top of your lungs 25. That will start it at 25 thousand."
I said, "Uncle Nick, if it's going to go for 50 thousand, why are we
starting it lower?"
He said, "Billy, if I told you we were going to race and told you the
race would be 500 miles long, would you race me?"
I said, "No, I'd be too tired."
He said, " O.k., if I told you the race would only be a half mile would
you race me?"
I said, "Yeah because that's how far it is from the house to the
He nodded and then said, "But, if I raced you lets say several times and
then one day said to you, let's do it again, you'd do it, wouldn't you?"
I said, "Yeah, if I wasn't too tired."
He said, "Well, what we're doing by bidding low is we're getting everyone
into the race to see who is wanting the bull. Then, we're going to race
them to see what they really thought the bull was worth. If you
immediately bid the $50 thousand, and everyone else thinks it's $35
thousand, then you over spent the money you paid by $15 thousand. If you
get it for the $35 thousand, you get the bull and the bull calf for less
than what you'd paid for the one."
I nodded and said, " O.k., it's like going to the store and getting two
for the price of one. Why didn't you just say so?"
Uncle Nick said, "Well, Billy, I didn't know if you would understand."
I said, "Uncle Nick, I'm not dumb."
Mike smiled and said, "Nick, quit while you're ahead. Believe me, I've
had practice at this...he'll have you really thinking you're old by the
time he's done. Just quit now and admit defeat."
Nick laughed and said, "Mike, I agree because I had myself confused
The auctioneer then got back on the podium and said, " O.k., into the
ring is Raging Dawn." He then begin to give the bl**dline of the bull and
who it's daddy was and went right on back to it's great great grand daddy
was. He then paused and said, "Do I hear $65?"
Uncle Nick patted my leg and I yelled $25 at the top of my lungs.
The auctioneer chuckled and said, "I believe the boy wants the bull, so
we'll start it at the $25 he just offered."
He then began to cry the sale and the numbers were going up real fast. At
$37,500 it paused and he said, "Do I hear $40?"
Uncle Nick said, "38" to me.
I yelled "$38" and then someone else yelled "$39"
Uncle Nick tapped my leg again and said, "$42,500"
I yelled it and then the other guy didn't say anything. I looked at it
and then looked down to uncle Nick. Uncle Nick looked over to the guy and
smiled. The guy had shook his head and sat down.
The auctioneer said, "Do I hear more?"
No one said anything.
He said, "Going once....Going Twice....Last Call....SOLD!"
Uncle Nick patted my leg and Mike jumped up and down. Uncle Nick said,
"Billy, between the two, you got them both for only $2500 more than you
were expecting the one to come in at. You did good."
He put me down and Jr came running over and hugged me. He said, "Wow! You
I said, "Yeah, now I'm going to have to make friends with it otherwise
it's not going to ever be nice to me. What are bulls favorite foods?"
Jr said, "I don't know, but I bet you it would like carrots. Everything
The man came over and said, "Well gentlemen, I'll see you tomorrow. It
looks like you got yourself two bulls." He patted my head and said, "Son,
you're learning quick how to be a rancher. You won't ever forget today as
I've not forgotten my first time here."
He went out the door and I looked at Uncle Nick and said, "If the alpacas
and the llamas come in, get 6 each of the female and 1 each of the male."
Uncle Nick looked at Mike and Mike smiled and said, "Jr got to him."
Uncle Nick smiled and said, "If I recall right, I remember a time when
you got to me on a few goats. My daddy liked to whip my tail over them
goats for the next few years. Fortunately, there going to be at your
I looked at Mike and said, "So you'll take the job?"
Mike smiled and said, "Billy, if I didn't, Jr wouldn't ever forgive me."
Jr smiled and then ran over to give me another hug. I hugged him back and
said to Uncle Nick, "Would you talk to him and see what all he needs for
a house so we can get them on built?"
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, tomorrow, we're going to see them, so we'll talk
about it then."
I nodded and then asked if I could go see Ragin' Dawn.
Uncle Nick nodded and said, "Thirty minutes and then the buffalo will
I nodded and then we ran to see Ragin' Dawn.
When we got there, Jr said, "Billy, the younger one will probably like
you more as he's had more time to get to know you."
We looked at him and I said, "Jr. he's a beauty, isn't he!"
Jr smiled and said, "Yeah, he is."
Jr turned to me and said, "Billy, can I ask you a question?"
I said, "Yeah, what?"
He said, "Do you notice boys more than you do girls?"
That night, on the way home, I was really excited and probably relived
all the experiences to Aunt Paulette twenty times. Each time, Uncle Nick
would interject in with, "Be sure to tell her about Mike Jr.!" He'd laugh
and I'd be sure to tell her about Jr. again.
When we got back to the farm, Aunt Paulette got out of the truck and went
to the house. I rode with Uncle Nick to the livestock ramp and we began
to unload the cattle from the trailer. The cattle we had were Uncle
Nick's and he sure seemed happy.
He said, "Billy, what you did today was really special to me. I really
I looked at him and said, "Uncle Nick, I love you and you're doing more
for me than this, so please don't mention it again."
He said, "Billy, we're going to have to go over it again as your Aunt
Paulette is going to hit the ceiling when she realizes what I did."
We fed the cattle and Uncle Nick said, "Billy, we're going to be keeping
these in the holding pen until we can get them ear tagged, so please
don't open that other gate."
I said, "Uncle Nick, what all are we going to need to be doing to get my
farm ready for Mike to go to work there?"
He said, "Billy, we need to talk about that. Mike will need a house and
the barns over there aren't really good at all. We're going into this at
a disadvantage because we don't have much for the cattle to eat. We'll
have to feed them, and I'll order up a bunch of feed, but it's going to
cost a lot."
I said, "Do I have enough money?"
He said, "Billy, you easily have enough money, but I'm not sure how
strong the fences are over there. Your dad was really a private man with
those sorts of things and didn't want any help. You probably know more
about those things than I."
I said, "Uncle Nick, he never mentioned it to me. He'd mention going to
repair fences, but I never got took out and he never even tried to show
me more than feeding."
Uncle Nick nodded and said, "Billy, we've got to get a holding pen set up
and we'll be f***ed to use the old barn. I do know Mike and I talked
about getting new barns built, but that's going to take time."
I said, "Well, we need to get them a house so they can get over there.
From what Jr said, they're going to be without a place to live soon."
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, let's get these head fed and then we'll get on
into the house. Your aunt has several surprises she and her mom made this
afternoon, so I'm anxious to see what they are. If anyone can cook better
than Paulette, it's her mama."
He smiled and I said, "Well I know Aunt Paulette is a real good cook."
He said, "Billy, you need to tell her more things like that. It'd make
her feel good."
I nodded and said, "Uncle Nick, will it hurt your feelings if I start
getting closer to Aunt Paulette? I don't want her to think I don't want
anything to do with her."
Uncle Nick looked shocked and said, "Billy, do you think it'd hurt my
I said, "Well, Uncle Nick, you two were talking about sending me to a
shrink and I don't want that. I was worried she didn't want to be around
me." Tears sprung in my eyes, and I didn't want Uncle Nick to see me
He said, "Billy, we didn't know how to handle the situation. We think
it'd be better if you had someone to speak with about it who knows how to
deal with these things with k**s."
I said, "Uncle Nick, you've known me all my life and how is someone who
doesn't know me going to know how to help me better than you? Just
talking to you about this has helped me more than anyone. I think if I
have Jr's friendship, and you watching over me, I'll be fine. It's just I
feel sad a lot. I miss my mom and dad but talking to a stranger isn't
going to stop that."
Uncle Nick nodded and said, "Billy, I'll talk to Paulette, but you can't
be wanting to kill yourself or have me kill you, and not go. The next
time you say anything like that, or just disappear, I'll be taking you to
that shrink myself."
I said, "Uncle Nick, what if I forget and go to my farm?"
He said, "Billy, we'll do what we can to make a board in the house which
will have a way of you letting us know you'll be over there. Then, if
you've not marked that board, I'll be speaking with you. You've got to be
letting us know."
I said, "Uncle Nick, will you be sure to stick with me the first few
times I go over there. I've not been back over there since the fire."
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, I'm really worried about you seeing the
condition of the place. I don't think that's going to be good for you.
Would you mind if we went through slowly and you got a chance to speak
with me about everything which is on your mind while we do it?"
I said, "Uncle Nick, as long as I hold your hand, I'll not be so scared."
He smiled and said, "Billy, I'll probably more scared than anything about
you being hurt by all this. I'll be holding onto you tighter than your
He came over and picked me up and hugged me. He said, "Billy, today, for
a few moments I looked at you more like my son than I did you being my
nephew. I can't take the place of your mama and daddy, but I don't think
I could handle losing you too."
I hugged him back and said, "Uncle Nick, I'm not going to die. I want to
get to know Jr more and I think he's really neat."
Uncle Nick smiled and said, "Mike knows about his son. He was worried
about you not liking Jr if you found out. When you two went to lunch,
Mike and I had a talk about it. I told him you'd be fine with Jr."
I said, "Uncle Nick, he's really a nice person. I think he's cute and all
that, but the more I'm getting to know him, the more I like him than as
being someone who's cute."
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, just be careful and don't do anything you'll not
be sure you want to do. Having friends is fine, but don't let everyone
know as they'd not understand."
He put me down and I said, "Uncle Nick, what's there to not understand? I
like him and he likes me. If they don't understand that, how stupid can
He said, "Billy, just be careful not to touch him more than a buddy would
do out in public. People can be really hateful."
We walked towards the house and when we got to the kitchen, it smelled
really good. Aunt Paulette was sitting at the table and she had the
invoice from the livestock auction in her hand. She said, "Nickolas,
would you sit at the table and William, I need to speak to your uncle, so
please go to the living room and watch something on t.v.."
I looked at Uncle Nick and he said, "Billy, go on to the living room. I
need to talk with Paulette."
I went to the living room and sat on the couch. I turned on the
television and watched the Power Rangers.
Soon, Uncle Nick came to the living room and said, "Billy, your aunt
would like to talk with you. Would you come in here please."
I saw him and he smiled. I went into the kitchen and Aunt Paulette was
still sitting at the table. I went and sat down and she said, "Billy, I
was looking at the invoices from the livestock auction today and noticed
your uncle spent quite a bit more money than what he went with. He never
told me he got any money from you, so I was immediately worried about how
we were going to pay the bill. When you two came in, I asked him about it
and he told me you were kind enough to offer. Billy, I want you to know
the money you have is for your farm and not to pay us one dime. We've
taken you in because we love you and want to raise you. Not because we
want to use you for your money, While it is true that someday, this farm
will probably will go to you, I really wish your uncle had spoken with me
about this before he went ahead and made that decision. What's done is
done, and as much as I'm not used to getting help from my f****y or his,
I understand you two did it with good intentions. All I'm asking you is
to ask your uncle along with me to make these decisions in the future.
What I want to let you know is when those cattle are sold, your portion
of their sale will be returned to you."
I looked at Aunt Paulette and said, "Aunt Paulette, I was just trying to
help. I didn't know it'd make you mad."
She said, "Billy, I'm not mad, my feelings are hurt. Your uncle and I
have a partnership in this. How would you feel if you had a friend who
you two went into a partnership on a kool-aid stand and you came home for
lunch and when you went back, you suddenly saw your kool-aid stand was
selling ice cream and popcorn and lots of candy. Wouldn't your feelings
be hurt he would do that without asking?"
I said, "No, I'd ask him which I could eat first!"
She laughed and said, "Well Billy, what if your partner told you it was
alright for you to work there but you couldn't eat anything."
I said, "Aunt Paulette, I'd look at him and ask him who he thought he was
She said, "What if you saw he was serious?"
I said, "Well, it depended if we could still play matchbox cars on the
counter, because if we couldn't, I wouldn't want to stay working there."
She said, "Billy, your uncle did the same thing to me this afternoon. My
feelings are hurt, but I'll still work here and I'll still play matchbox
with him, but when the profits come in from the cattle, you're going to
be repaid every cent your uncle took from you."
I said, "Aunt Paulette, please don't do that. If you give me back the
money, it will hurt my feelings. You aren't letting me give you anything
and yet, you can give me everything. Is that fair?"
She said, "Billy, it's not the same."
I said, "Aunt Paulette, I don't understand. If I bought you a mixer and
you made pie crust and then took it to the county fair and won a blue
ribbon, would you give me the ribbon?"
She looked at me and said, "That's not the same."
I said, "Aunt Paulette, it is the same. I gave something freely from my
heart. No, uncle Nick didn't speak with you about it, but it was a
gift...just as I'd be giving you a gift. Now, you're telling me the gift
was a loan and you're going to make him repay his gift back and your's is
Uncle Nick smiled and said, "Billy go on to the living room. I think your
Aunt Paulette is seeing things your way now."
Aunt Paulette said, "Billy, I'm sorry. I didn't realize you were doing
this to help us and was thinking about what everyone else was going to
think if they found out. I'm sorry."
I went over to Aunt Paulette and said, "Aunt Paulette, I love you and I
want you to know you're a real good cook. If I get you a mixer it's
because I want you to be the best cook around, not because I'm wanting
you to cook better. It's the same with Uncle Nick. He could have cattle
which aren't the best, but when I went into the livestock auction and
heard how all those farmers really liked the cattle because they were the
best...well, I wanted the best for myself and I also wanted the best for
you all too." I hugged her and said, "I just want you all to know I think
you're the best and that's it."
She said to me, "Billy, your Uncle has said some really kind words to me
through the years and I love him all the more for it, but besides him, no
other man has ever said anything as sweet. I want you to know how special
you are to me."
I smiled and said, "Aunt Paulette, that's what I think."
She said, "Billy, I don't normally do too many things about this farm,
but tomorrow, I'm going to be over there with you guys to make sure you
aren't getting too sad. You'll make sure to tell me what you're feeling
I said, "Aunt Paulette, I'll tell you and Uncle Nick everything, just
don't send me away to no shrink."
She said, "Baby, we wouldn't send you away. Is that what you think?"
I said, "I didn't think you two wanted me." I started to cry and she
hugged me to her bosom.
I cried for a long time and then finally, I stopped. She hugged me to
herself and said, "Billy, no one is ever going to take you away from us.
Please don't ever worry about that again."
Uncle Nick was squatted down by us and said, "Paulette, he's been worried
about this because he's been overhearing us talk about it. In the future,
I think we should speak with him about all these things and us just
working through them with him.Yes, tomorrow is going to be a big day, but
I think if we take it slow, we can talk with him and get to know
everything he's feeling. We can share some of our feelings too and he can
know it's alright to feel sad, and remorseful."
Aunt Paulette said, "I understand."
Uncle Nick said, "Today, Billy asked me if it was o.k.. if he could be
around you more because he was worried about what I thought. I think just
as much as he needs me to be a male role model in his life, he needs a
woman in his life too."
She said, "Billy, please don't ever think you can't come talk with me. I
can't replace your mom, but I think your mama wouldn't mind one bit if
you came to me and told me things you went and spoke with her about."
I said, "Aunt Paulette, this may be hard to understand but my biggest
fear right now isn't what everyone's going to think but it's about what I
think. My biggest fear is forgetting them." I began to cry and said, "I
don't want to forget them."
Tears came to her eyes and said, "Billy, tomorrow, we're going to be over
there, and I pray there are a lot of things we can get out of what's left
of the house. There are a lot of regrets I have regarding your mama and
that's we didn't spend enough time together and we didn't share enough
with each other. The only photos I have of them are their wedding
pictures and that's just not right. I now pray there are some photos
which weren't damaged."
Uncle Nick said, "Paulette, let's wait until tomorrow and not worry about
what we are going to find and not. I'm sure everything we find will be a
blessing to Billy."
She nodded and I said, "Can we go to my bedroom? I have a lot of things I
want to get from there. Mama and daddy's bedroom is it burned real bad?"
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, it's not burned real bad, it was a whole lot of
smoke in there which they died from."
I said, "Well, Mama kept the photo albums by their bed as she said it was
the one thing she wanted to get out of there in case of fire. She just
never had a chance."
I began to cry and said, "Why didn't they have smoke detectors?"
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, I bet they never thought about it. Otherwise,
they would have had them."
Aunt Paulette said, "Billy, not once in my knowing them did they ever
think anything bad would happen. They were so excited about tomorrow and
seeing what you'd be doing they never thought a bad thing like this would
happen. Let's remember them like that, o.k.?"
I said, "Uncle Nick and Aunt Paulette, do you all have smoke detectors?"
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, let me show you where they are. Each month, I
change the batteries. The extra batteries which come out of them, I use
in the sensors from the electric fences, so they are always fresh in the
He carried me through the house and then he showed me where the fire
extinguishers were located. He told me, "Billy, if there's ever a fire,
you get out of the house and don't you ever try to fight it yourself. Run
and go call the fire department."
I said, "Uncle Nick, who called the fire department when our house
He said, "I don't know."
The look on his face suddenly became alarmed and said, "Billy, your mama
and daddy were found asl**p in bed, and we live the closest, so I don't
know, but tomorrow, I will know." He said, "Billy, let's go downstairs as
I want your Aunt Paulette to know what you just asked."
I went downstairs with him and he said, "Paulette, Billy just asked a
question which has me perplexed. If his mom and dad were found asl**p in
bed and we're the closest people who live around here, who called the
fire department? Everyone's assuming the fire started in the living room
as it was in that wood stove, but I don't think anyone checked it."
I said, "Uncle Nick, daddy said at supper that night he had seen one of
them hellions in town that day and had words with them."
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, I'm going to find out who called them, but let's
not be thinking it was anything more than what it was."
Aunt Paulette said, "I'm going to call my father and ask him to speak
with the fire chief. They're good friends and he should know."
She went and got on the phone and Uncle Nick said, "Billy, there are
times we have questions we don't know the answers for. Sometimes, they
are one's which perplex us. So, what we're going to do is not go into
your house tomorrow until we have someone in who will answer the question
to our satisfaction. It wouldn't be good for us to not fully find out
what the cause of the fire was without knowing."
Aunt Paulette got off the phone and she said, "My dad is going to call
the fire chief and ask. He'll call back when he's spoken with him."
She went over to the refrigerator and pulled out a pot which she put on
the stove. She said, "Guys, today, my mama and I made up some Hungarian
Goulash. I'll reheat it and then we'll have it with French bread. Billy,
would you mind setting the table for supper?"
I said, "No, I don't mind, mom always asked me to do it at home, so I
know how to do it."
I went over and pulled the step stool up so I could get out the dishes
and then took them to the table. I set the table just as we did at home
and put out glasses for everyone to drink from."
Uncle Nick had taken the invoices from the auction and went to the room
which he used for an office.
Aunt Paulette said, "Billy, would you take that loaf of french bread out
of it's package and put it on a baking sheet?"
I did and she then said, "In the drawer over there is a long knife which
is a bread knife. It's got a wavy blade and isn't real sharp. Would you
use it to slice the bread and then butter the slices?"
I said, "Sure." and began to do it as I had done it at home. It made me
feel good I was able to help
The phone rang and Aunt Paulette answered it. I listened to her end of
the conversation and she told her dad she's be sure to keep us away from
the house. She got off the phone and said, "Billy, tomorrow, we're not
going to be able to go to the house. The fire chief is perplexed like us
as to whom called it in as the call went to the 911 dispatch center. He's
going to get the records and wants to call in the state fire marshal as
an actual investigation was never done. Usually it's done, but in this
case, they were sure it was the wood stove as you and your Uncle Nick
both told the fire department it was the wood stove."
Uncle Nick came in and she told him. He said, "Paulette, if it's the wood
stove, right now, I'll be relieved. I'd really hate it to be something
I said, "Uncle Nick, I threw the buckeyes into the wood stove. Will I get
He came over to me and said, "Billy, I don't think you'll be in trouble
at all if it's the wood stove which caused the fire. Billy, is there any
other thing you can remember your daddy saying for you to be careful of
as he thought it would start a fire?"
I said, "No, not that I can remember. He always said it about the barn
with the hay and to always turn off the light out there, but nothing in
Uncle Nick hugged me and said, "Billy, tomorrow, we're going to put your
livestock out in the back pasture. Your bulls we're going to put in a
metal pen we're going to have over here."
I said, "Uncle Nick, why don't we put all the livestock over here until
things can be built over there?"
He said, "Billy, there's not enough space."
I said, "If we use the hay from the barn and I buy the feed, will it work
out better until things are built?"
He looked at Aunt Paulette and said, "Honey, what do you think?"
She said, "I think until you have someone over there to watch them full
time, and until we know something more definite, I think we should have
them over here. It's an awful lot of money and I don't want anything to
Uncle Nick said, "Tomorrow, I'll call the livestock barn and tell them we
want the delivery to be made here. Billy, we're going to go to the Kubota
dealer and we're going to get you a RTV."
I said, "What's that Uncle Nick?"
He said, "Billy, it's an atv which is 4 wheel drive and is enclosed so
you can go out with to the cattle and be able to tend to them. I'll feel
safer because wherever I see it on the farms, I'll know that's where you
Aunt Paulette said, "Nick, isn't that an expensive toy for him?"
My Uncle Nick said, "Paulette, he's going to need something, and if we'd
get him a horse, then it'd not serve the purposes around here like he'd
need. With the RTV, he can hook any of the wagons to it and be able to do
the chores better."
She said, "Nick, when you go, I want to go too to make sure it's safe."
I was perplexed. Yes, I would love to have a bigger bike, but Uncle Nick
was getting me an ATV. How cool is that!"
Uncle Nick said, "Paulette, you can go, but it's a choice. We can get him
a tractor which would serve the purpose, or we could let him drive one of
our tractors, but I'd feel better if he had something with a lower center
of gravity which wouldn't tip over as easy."
She nodded and began putting the goulash on the table. Uncle Nick pulled
the french bread out of the oven and put it out on the stove. Then, he
put it into the bun bowl which had the lid on it so it'd keep it warm.
Aunt Paulette said, "Billy go ahead and sit down. Would you like milk, or
iced tea with your dinner?"
I said, "Aunt Paulette, I can get it. Mom and dad used to let me get the
drinks at home."
She smiled and said, "In the future, you can get them, but I'm up
anyways, so I'll get them."
I said, "I'll have milk."
She got it and poured her and Uncle Nick a glass of tea. They sat down
and we said grace.
As we ate, she said, "Billy, those cattle are a huge responsibility. Your
uncle thinks you're old enough to be a farmer and handle the
responsibility, but I'm going to make sure it doesn't affect you in any
way which it shouldn't. Hopefully, we can get Mike and his f****y moved
in over there soon and things in order so it's not on you to help. I just
don't feel right in putting that on you."
I said, "Aunt Paulette, I'll help in any way I can. I want to help."
She said, "Billy, I understand, but I also think a puppy would have been
more responsibility that you should have had."
I laughed and said, "Daddy wouldn't let us have a dog. He said he didn't
She smiled and said, "Billy, I understand, but handing a c***d a whole
heard of cattle isn't a way for anyone to learn responsibility. I'm
thinking it's a whole lot more than what should be done."
Uncle Nick said, "Paulette, by the time I was Billy's age, my daddy had
me out doing all the chores to run that farm. No, I didn't help bucking
the bales, but I sure drove the tractor while they did it. A farm k** is
just different than a city k**."
She smiled and said, "Nick, I'm not saying that. I'm just saying we need
to let him be a c***d as long as he can."
He smiled and said, "Billy, your aunt and I aren't having a disagreement,
o.k.? I understand she's concerned and I am too. I just you to know I
think you're capable of doing anything you set your heart to doing. I,
myself, don't feel comfortable with you being around all the working
machinery on this place. For those times, I'd rather I do it. With you
operating an atv which can't go real fast and can pull the trailer, there
shouldn't be no harm. I'll load the trailer and then all you'll have to
do is drive it to the pasture and unhook it so the cattle can feed off
I nodded and Aunt Paulette said, "Nick, you take him down the first few
times and make sure he knows how to do it safely."
He smiled and said, "Honey, I'm planning on doing that, so don't worry."
We ate and carried on the conversation about the RTV. About the time we
were done, I looked at Uncle Nick and said, "What's semen?"
My Aunt Paulette began choking and said in a panicked voice, "Billy,
where'd you hear that!"
Uncle Nick smiled and said, "Honey, that damned Mike today mentioned
semen at the auction barn when we were discussing the bull."
She looked pale and said, "Oh Lord!"
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, semen is something the bull gives which you can
sell to other ranchers to make money from the bull."
Aunt Paulette said, "Nick, not at the supper table. Leave that sort of
talk out at the barn, o.k.?"
He smiled and said, "Billy, one thing you learn is women get all
flustered when you discuss a bull. Leave the talk about them out at the
I said, "Can I discuss cows in the house?"
He said, "You can, but not the bulls."
I didn't understand it, but I didn't understand girls either.
Uncle Nick smiled at Aunt Paulette and he said, "I'll remember to tell
Mike you appreciated hearing that at the supper table." He winked at her
and she smiled weakly.
I learned one thing about my Aunt Paulette during that conversation. She
had my Uncle Nick thinking she was strong, but all she was was a girl.
After dinner, I said, "Uncle Nick, I'm not interested in a bonfire
tonight, can we save it for tomorrow night?"
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, sure, maybe tomorrow night we can have Jr over
and you two can have a bonfire and a weenie roast."
I said, "That'd be neat!"
Aunt Paulette looked a bit better and said, "Billy, tomorrow is going to
be a big day, so after supper, why don't you go take your shower and get
your pj's on and then we'll watch some television."
I said, "Good, I like taking showers."
I then looked at my plate and said, "I'm done eating, may I please be
excused from the table so I can go shower?"
Uncle Nick said, "Sure, your pj's are under your pillow, so just go ahead
and get them. You know where everything else is."
I left the room and as I left the room I heard my Aunt Paulette say,
"Semen! Nick, you just wait until I see Mike tomorrow!....." I heard my
Uncle Nick chuckling.
I never heard the rest as I was running upstairs to get my Tonkas.
The next morning, everyone got up and as soon as breakfast was done, we
got prepared to go to town.
I was upstairs when I heard the telephone ring and didn't pay it any
mind. When I was dressed in my town clothes, I came back down to see Aunt
Paulette speaking with Uncle Nick. Apparently, the fire chief and the
state guy who investigates fires was going to be over at the farm today.
Aunt Paulette said, "Billy, when they're done, they'll want to speak with
you. I've been told to have you prepared."
I said, "Am I going to be in trouble?"
Aunt Paulette said, "No, hon, they're just wanting to ask you some
questions about what happened the night before the fire."
I said, "O.k., because I don't want to be in trouble."
Aunt Paulette hugged me and said, "Billy, don't you worry your mind about
that. I just wanted you to know what was happening so it didn't take you
by surprise when we got over there."
I said, "Well, after that, can I go to my bedroom and see what I can get?
She said, "Billy, if they say we can't go in, then we can't. "
I said, "Well, I hope we can."
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, go over and put on your coat. We're going to go
to town now."
Aunt Paulette stood up and Uncle Nick put on her coat for her. She told
him thank you, and then we were on our way out to the truck.
Driving into town, I said, "Uncle Nick, those houses over there are
already built, could we get one of those for Jr to live in?"
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, those are called manufactured homes. I was
thinking one of those would be a way of getting them a place to live in
fast, but I've heard a lot of people complain about the fit and finish of
them isn't what they hoped over the long run."
I said, "Well, as long as we have them someplace to live now, they can
move in. After a while, we can get them something which will last
Uncle Nick said, "Let's see about one of them some other time as we need
to get to the auction barn to get the cattle delivered to our place."
We drove through town and went to the auction barn. Aunt Paulette said,
"I'll stay in the truck, you two hurry along."
We went in and went to the office where I got the auction number. The man
was there who gave me my number. Uncle Nick went over to him to tell him
we needed to have the cattle moved to his farm.
The man replied he was glad we had came in as he needed to know how we
wanted everything delivered. We had the bull, cattle, the buffalo, as
well as the alpacas all coming to the farm.
Uncle Nick told him to bring the bull and the cattle first and then we'd
find a place to put everything else.
The man told him he'd gladly have it done and Uncle Nick told them to
bring them by at 4 pm.
We then went out to get into the truck and drove to the atv dealer. When
we got there, they had a bunch out front. The store salesperson came out
and said, "May I help you with something?"
Uncle Nick said, "We're needing to get him a RTV 700."
The man said, "Isn't that a bit big for him?"
Uncle Nick said, "Well, he's going to be needing to pull some wagons
loaded with hay and feed around the farm, so rather than getting him a
tractor, I think this will be safer."
The man said, "A wagon loaded down will be too heavy for that...the
tongue weight would lift the front wheels off the ground. My suggestion
is to get him something a smaller tractor."
Uncle Nick said, "The roll bars are good enough. I want him absolutely
The man then said, "Well, here's what I suggest. We have them Bobcats
2300 over there. It's an enclosed roll cage. It can be equipped with a
wide variety of options which can make it user friendly on a farm. We
have one on a horse farm and they're real satisfied with it."
Uncle Nick said, "I want him safe. So, put a cab on it and make sure he
I went around looking at all of the different items they had while Uncle
Nick picked out what he wanted me to have. The Bobcat which was a sk**
steer was neat. I played on it while Uncle Nick finalized the deal with
Uncle Nick came out and said, "Billy, would you come in here for a
I went in and he said, "Billy, the man's going to come out on Saturday
and bring the Workcat with him and teach you all you need to know about
it. Is that o.k.?"
I said, "Sure, is it going to be like that one out there?"
I showed the man the one I was referring to and he said, "No, it's going
to be like this one over here, except it's going to have an enclosed
I said, "So, it's going to be like a pickup truck!"
He said, "Yes, except one you can use on the farm and the other you have
to have a license for on the road."
Uncle Nick looked happy about the decision, so I didn't pursue it any
We loaded in the truck and Uncle Nick told Aunt Paulette what he'd
chosen. She looked apprehensive, but he said I'd be safe, so she was o.k.
We then headed over to the farm & home store and Uncle Nick ordered up
some feed for the livestock. While he did that, I stayed in the truck
with Aunt Paulette.
While we were in the truck, I said, "Aunt Paulette, is it always going to
be this busy?"
She said, "Billy, right now it's busy, but things will settle down once
we get everything situated. Nick has just taken on an extra load and he's
wanting to make sure everything goes good for you."
I said, "Well, he knows I love him no matter what, doesn't he?"
She said, "Billy, it's because we love you we're doing all this. Your
grand dad instilled in him a sense of responsibility which drives him to
the point of exhaustion sometimes. He'll need our help and I'm going to
do everything I can as I'm sure you will too."
I said, "I'll help every bit I can, I'm just afraid I don't know
She laughed and said, "Billy, I don't know it all either, but I'm sure
Nick will be patient with us."
Uncle Nick came back out and he said, "Billy, I ordered you a couple of
barns while I was in there and some gate fencing for corrals. That way,
you'll have a good head start. The man said he'd pour concrete and get
everything built so all we have to do it decide where it needs to be."
I said, "Uncle Nick, wherever you think's best is fine with me."
He laughed and said, "Billy, you'll help me to decide this, but I'll
speak with you about it when we go to the farm later. Right now, we have
to go meet Mike and then we're all going to go out and look at that
We drove to the diner downtown and as soon as we pulled up, I saw Jr..
Instantly, I was excited.
Aunt Paulette saw how excited I was and chuckled. She said, "Billy, wait
until we stop the truck before you get out."
I waited, but some people can be so slow!
As soon as we parked, Aunt Paulette and Uncle Nick got out. Me, I was
already out and Jr was there to greet me. The smile on his face was as
big as mine.
We all went into the diner and Aunt Paulette greeted Mike's wife Amy. I'd
never met Jr's mom before and she looked real pretty. Between Mike and
Mrs. Johnson, I sure could see where Jr got his looks.
Jr and I went over and sat at a table which was just for two people. He
said, "I already ordered yours and I got mine too."
I said, "Chicken strip sandwich with ranch and swiss cheese?"
He smiled and said, "Yes, and I had them cut it in half so we could
I said, "What did you get? I hope I like it this time."
He said, "I got their corn dogs with french fries. You got onion rings."
He smiled and I said, "This is neat, we can each have twice as much as we
normally would choose."
I went over to Uncle Nick and asked to have some money for the jukebox.
He fished out some change from his pocket and handed it to me. He said,
"Did you get ordered?"
I said, "Yeah, Jr already ordered for us. He knows what I like."
He smiled and said, "Let Jr pick some of the selections on that jukebox."
I ran over to get Jr and we went to the jukebox. We found out we had
enough change for 7 selections. I said, "O.k., we each have 3 selections
and we get to pick the last together, so tell me what you like and the
ones we agree on, we'll pick as the last one."
As it turned out, Jr and I liked most of the same songs. We picked 5
which we liked together and then he picked one and I picked one. As they
began playing, we went back to our table.
He smiled at me and said, "Daddy says you're going to have a whole lot of
decisions to make here shortly."
I said, "Uncle Nick is going to be doing a lot of that. He's already got
me a Workcat ordered and ordered the barns today. Tomorrow, I think we're
going to go pick you all out a house to live in."
I said, "Excuse me, I'm going to go remind Uncle Nick about that."
I went over to Uncle Nick and whispered in his ear, "Remember to tell
them we need to pick out them a house tomorrow!"
He smiled and said, "Billy, I'll tell them, don't worry. Go enjoy Jr
while you can."
I whispered in his ear again, "See if it's alright if Jr stays all night
Uncle Nick said, "O.k., you go over there now. "
I went back over and when I got there, our food was on the table. I
smiled at Jr and said, "Why didn't you tell me it was here! I would have
He laughed and said, "You were over talking to your Uncle Nick. I'm not
supposed to disturb other people's conversations."
I said, "I wanted him to see if you could stay all night tonight."
We ate and sure enough about half way through, we traded plates. This
time, he picked good tasting food, so both of us enjoyed the meals."
He said, "I wish we could do this at home. This is fun."
I said, "Me, too. Maybe when you get moved to the farm, you can eat half
your supper at your house and I can finish eating it for you. You can
come over to finish eating mine!"
He laughed and said, "I think that'd be neat, but I don't think my
parents would let me."
I said, "Yeah, I know what you mean, so maybe we'll just have to trade
off eating at each other's houses. Did I tell you I asked if you could
stay all night tonight?"
He smiled real big and said, "Really! That'd be great!"
Quick as a flash, he went over to his dad and I saw him talking with him.
He turned to his mom and then got a real big smile on his face and came
running back over.
He said, "They said, I can!"
I said, "Good, we can play Tonkas in the shower!"
He smiled and said, "You like playing with them too!"
I said, "Oh yeah, they won't let me play outside in the rain with them,
but they'll let me play with them in the shower. It's the same."
He laughed and said, "We'll have to get all our toys together when I get
moved over there and then it'll be like having twice as many!"
I said, "I never thought of that, it will be great!"
We then compared toys we each had until it was time to leave. I didn't
realize it, but the man who had Ragin' Dawn was now there and wanting to
take us out to see that farm.
Everyone went out and Jr rode with us. We sat back and played Nintendo on
the t.v. in the truck. When we pulled up at the farm, I saw the name was
called Dawn Ranch. It had a big picture up above the driveway of Ragin'
Dawn, or it looked like him.
I mentioned it and Uncle Nick said, "That's Ragin' Dawn's daddy. His name
was just Dawn"
I knew better to discuss bulls in front of Aunt Paulette, so I told Jr,
don't discuss bulls in front of women. They sure get upset!"
Jr said, "That's crazy! Why don't they like to talk about bulls?"
I said, "I don't know, but I got told we could only discuss bulls out at
I looked up at Uncle Nick and his face was red and he was trying not to
laugh. He kept looking over to Aunt Paulette but I couldn't see her face.
From her ears, I could tell her face was red too. She looked at Uncle
Nick and said, "Don't you say a thing Nicholas!"
Uncle Nick laughed and I said, "I don't know, but I mentioned semen at
the table last night and Aunt Paulette nearly had a conniption!"
Jr said, "Oh man, you didn't!"
I said, "Well, I didn't know!"
He said, "No wonder."
Aunt Paulette said, "Boys, I can hear you!"
I said, "Sorry!"
Jr said, "Sorry, I didn't know Billy was so dumb!"
She chuckled and said, "I told him to ask your daddy what it was, but out
at the barn! Nick's definitely going to be there too."
Jr smiled and his face was red and I knew he wanted to say something, but
We finally stopped driving and when we got out, I saw the farm was really
nice. The barns were beautiful.
The man, Mr. Anderson, was really nice. He had a tractor all hooked up
with a hay wagon on it and told us all to climb aboard. He started
driving and soon, we were way out in a field. He stopped and pointed and
said, "That's your boy's calf over there. That one's name is 'Gray Dawn',
the other over there, if you buy the farm, I'll throw in. His names is
'Delta Dawn'. My grand daughter named him."
We continued to drive around and occasionally, we'd stop and he'd show us
something else like the ponds, and where the fence lines were. I wasn't
really paying attention, but the idea of fishing in the ponds sure
sounded fun. I mentioned it to Jr and he agreed. He said, "Daddy says
having lots of water on the farm is going to be imperative."
I said, "What's that mean? Can I say that word at the table?"
Jr smiled and said, "Can Billy say imperative at the table?"
Aunt Paulette said, "Yes, that's acceptable ...and while I'm on that
Mike turned to look at Aunt Paulette. Then she said, "When you go to
teach Billy words, you need to tell him 'semen' is not an acceptable word
to use at the supper table!"
Everyone busted out laughing and Mike said, "Billy, we've got to have a
I said, "Yes sir."
He said, "Words I use in the barn, stay in the barn. O.k.?"
I said, "Well, I didn't know what it meant, and still don't!"
Mike laughed and apparently Mr Anderson heard too as he was really
We got to a gate and Mr Anderson said, "Guys, this gate adjoins the next
piece of property. Wilbur Thompson owes it. He's told me to show it to
you. Now, it has approximately 400 more acres than mine, but we've always
ranched it together. It runs the full length to the back of your farm
over there and goes all the way to the county road over there. I'm pretty
sure it ends where yours does at the creek."
Mike and Uncle Nick looked at each other and smiled. I said, "That's good
Mike said, "Nick, what do you think?"
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, what do you think?"
I said, "I'm asking you!"
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, that will give you way more than you need over
here. You'll have the largest ranch in the county and it will all be
adjoining. The price is really good. Let's just wait and see what all it
has on it."
Uncle Nick and Mike were really looking over everything. Each was making
comments and Aunt Paulette was really writing in the spiral notebook. Amy
seemed to be making comments to Aunt Paulette and Jr and I were playing
in the hay.
We got to the next farm and pulled in. Uncle Nick said, "Mike, the barns
over here are all brand new. That hay barn has to be the biggest."
Mike said, "Wilbur sells a lot of hay. If you buy this farm, you won't
have to feed as much this winter."
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, come here. I need to speak with you."
I went up and he sat me on his lap. He said, "Billy, The farm of Mr.
Anderson's is a steal for the price. Mr Thompson's is a really excellent
deal. If I were you, I'd snatch the deal."
I said, "Uncle Nick, you do whatever you think is best. You know I'll
help you all I can, right?"
He smiled and said, "Billy, when we get out to talk with Mr Thompson, you
tell him you'll take the deal but we can't sign until next week, o.k.? I
think I need to speak with a lawyer first and make sure your daddy had
your farm incorporated. If not, we've got to get you incorporated real
fast. It will save on a whole lot of taxes."
I said, "Is Mr. Anderson incorporated?"
He said, "I don't think so. A whole lot of the farmers hereabouts don't
believe in it. Nowadays, it's the only way to go as it saves a lot of
money on taxes. That's probably why Mr Anderson has to sell."
I looked at him and said, "Why don't we tell him?"
He said, "Billy, sometimes, people hear what can help them and still make
the decision to not do it. I'm sure he's heard."
We pulled up at the Thompson farm house and stopped. Everyone got out and
Mr. Thompson came over. He shook Uncle Nick's hand and Mike's. Jr went
over and looked into the barn and I was about to go too when Uncle Nick
put his hand upon my shoulder."
He said, "Mr. Thompson, this here is Billy Jacobs. His parents had the
farm out back there."
Mr Thompson said, "That was a terrible tragedy. I sure hated to see that
happen to them good people."
Uncle Nick said, "Mr Thompson, Billy here inherited quite a bit of money
and he's the one who is looking at your farm. Mike and I are just going
to be working for him. The deal today is going to be with him."
Mr Thompson, looked surprised and said, "Well, Billy, I'm going to speak
with you like an adult. The terms we're discussing are adult terms."
I said, "Well, Mr Thompson, then we have to go to the barn."
He looked like he wanted to laugh and looked up at Mike and Uncle Nick,
and said, "O.k., we have to go to the barn."
We went to the barn, and I said, "Wow, look at all that hay!"
He said, "Billy, this farm has brought me in a lot of money in hay sales.
It's all free and clear of debt, but the tax burden is what is bringing
me to my knees. I have the option of incorporating, or I have the option
of selling. Corporate farming isn't for me. It goes against everything
I've ever believed in. To me, it says I answer to an accountant rather
than the good Lord and I'm not about to do that.
Mr Anderson has told me the deal he is making with you on his farm and if
you want, I'll sell you this one for the same price."
I said, "Mr Thompson, could we sign the papers next week as I have to
speak with my attorney."
He smiled and said, "Billy, you're a young whippersnapper and I'm sure
you just starting out in farming could get used to corporate farming. Us
old timer's, well, we're made of different stock. I'll wait to sign the
papers if you'll shake on the deal."
I shook his hand and said, "Uncle Nick, what's the price?"
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, you have enough."
Mr Thompson said, "I'm sure glad his parent's thought of him."
Uncle Nick said, "Us too."
He said, "Mr Thompson, the night of the fire, did you happen to see
anything out of the ordinary over here?"
Mr Thompson said, "No, can't say that I did. Why?"
Uncle Nick said, "Well, we're still trying to figure out who called in
the fire call. Billy didn't do it and his parent's were asl**p."
Mr Thompson looked alarmed and said, "I see what you mean. Out here, if a
fire gets called in, then someone has had to seen it. That's suspicious."
Uncle Nick said, "Yes, that's why I was wondering if you happened to seen
Mr Anderson was standing close by and said, "Wilbur, didn't you say you
saw some tracks out in your back pasture which didn't belong to your
tractor and ask me about it shortly thereafter?"
Wilbur looked at Mr Anderson and said, "Why I sure did. Let me get my hat
and I'll take you all out there."
He grabbed his hat and suddenly he was moving fast. Mr Anderson said,
"Boys, I sure never thought to put two and two together until you said
something, but I'll tell you now is there's any shenanigans going on,
whoever did that is going to answer to some back road justice and just
pray they can get to a marshall." He looked really upset.
We all climbed upon the wagon and Mr Thompson led the way in a nice new 4
wheel drive. We got to a back gate and stopped. Everyone got out and he
took us to the gate. He said, "There's the tire prints. They don't belong
to nothing I got."
Mike took a look at them and said, "Those belong to an ATV, but they have
both turf tires and ag tires on it. See the waffle print with the imprint
of the paddles?"
Uncle Nick said, "Mr Thompson, when you get back to the farm, could you
call the fire chief and tell him what we have here. The state fire
marshall is over there at the farm investigating, and I'm sure they'll
know who to get ahold of to investigate this." .
Mr Anderson came over and said, "Boys, I'm sure sorry we didn't think of
this sooner. It just makes me plum tankard to think something like this
could have happened."
Uncle Nick said, "We're not even sure it's the same thing, but I know
they didn't have an atv over there and you all don't, do you?"
Both of the men shook their heads no and Mr Thompson said, "I can't even
think of anyone around here who even have one. I know I haven't given
permission to anyone to be on my property."
Uncle Nick thanked him and said, "We'll be back with you next week on the
papers, but thank you for your help."
I shook Mr Thompson's hand and we climbed back in the wagon. We drove to
Mr. Anderson's farm. When we got there, we all climbed off the wagon and
I went over to shake Mr Anderson's hand. I said, "Mr Anderson, I really
appreciate you helping us. The same deal goes for your farm. I have to
wait until next week to sign paperwork. Just as soon as we know something
from the attorney, Uncle Nick will get ahold of you. O.k.?"
He smiled and said, "Billy, I appreciate how you do business. You listen
to your uncle because he's teaching you how things should be done."
I felt happy about the compliment and said, "Mr Anderson, thank you. I
really appreciate the compliment, and I'm sure Uncle Nick does too."
He said, "Billy, if you ever learn one thing, know this... your great
grand pappy and your grand daddy both were honest upfront businessmen.
They never took a dime more than what they needed and they always made
sure the other person was satisfied. I've done business with both and
believe me, I've never regretted a decision I made in dealing with them.
I'm real satisfied you're getting my farm as I know it's going to someone
who deserves it."
I said, "Mr Anderson, is it possible I can come over and bring a tape
recorder and have you tell me some stories about them? I don't get to
learn from them and mama died, so the only person who knows is Uncle
Nick. He's helping me all he can but I'd like to know other people's
Mr Anderson said, "Billy, anytime you want, you can come and talk with me
and I'll tell you all I know. I'm sure Wilbur would have some stories
too. They cleaned out a lot of fence rows together."
He patted my head and we all got into the truck.
Everyone loaded up into the trucks and we all headed over to my mama and
daddy's farm. To me, it wasn't my farm, it would always be their farm. We
went in the back way, and when we reached the farm next to ours which
backed to Mr. Anderson's farm, I asked Uncle Nick, "Who does that farm
Uncle Nick said, "Years ago, it belonged to Mike's mom and dad, but I'm
not sure who owns it now. Maybe Mike knows."
I said, "It'd be nice to get it, then we'd have a whole great big square
of them put together."
Uncle Nick smiled and turned to Aunt Paulette, he said, "He's getting the
I asked, "What fever, Uncle Nick?"
He chuckled and said, "Billy, when you Aunt Paulette and I were talking,
she told me you'd get what we call the fever of wanting more and more.
It's not a bad thing, we're just finding it amusing."
We pulled into drive and as soon as we turned, I could see a lot of
different vehicles parked there. A big red truck which looked like a
station wagon was parked there and I could see three men all around the
shell of our burned house."
Aunt Paulette turned to me and said, "Billy, when we get out, I want to
be sure you hold my hand, o.k.?"
I said, "O.k., Jr, will you hold my other hand?"
We got out and Mike walked over and said, "It sure is sad here."
Uncle Nick said, "Every time I see it, chills go through me. "
I took Aunt Paulette's hand and Amy called for Jr to come over and be
with her. Aunt Paulette said, "It's o.k., Amy, he's helping Billy here so
he will feel more secure."
As much as I tried not to. I kept looking at the house. We walked over to
the back gate to the yard and stood. Uncle Nick was speaking to a man
dressed in uniform. I didn't recognize him, but apparently Uncle Nick
did. The man came over towards us and said, "Paulette, it's good to see
Aunt Paulette hugged him and said, "Daddy get out here yet?"
He said, "Your daddy's already went back home."
He looked at me and said, "Billy, it's nice to meet you son. My name is
Ben Gentry. Is it o.k., if you and I talk for a bit?"
I looked at Uncle Nick and Uncle Nick nodded o.k., so I said, "It's o.k."
He came over and said, "Billy, is it alright if I pick you up and carry
I nodded and he picked me up.
Mr Gentry said, "Billy, what all those men are trying to do is figure out
why the fire started. Is there anything you can tell me so I can know how
it happened better?"
I was really scared, but Uncle Nick and Aunt Paulette said I wouldn't get
into trouble, so I told him. "I started the fire."
He said, "Billy, how did you start the fire?"
I said, "I put buckeyes into the wood stove."
He said, "Billy, why did you put buckeyes into the stove?"
By this time, I was getting really sad and started sniffling. I said, "I
used to do it.......So everyone would get scared when they popped."
He smiled and said, "Billy, did you do anything else?"
I said, "No, that's all I did."
Mr Gentry said, "Billy, you putting buckeyes into the fire didn't start
I looked at him and said, "I know I killed my mama and daddy." By this
time, I was really crying.
He hugged me to him and I said, "I'm sorry."
His voice cracked and he said, "Billy, you've been dealing with this for
a long time haven't you?"
I nodded and he said, "Billy, from this day on, you just understand what
happened here wasn't your fault."
I pulled back and looked at him and he had tears running down his face.
He said, "Billy, do you know anyone who would want to do anything mean to
your mama and daddy?"
I said, "No, but daddy said he talked to one of them hellions that day."
He smiled and said, "Did he mention anyone by name?"
I said, "I don't know. He went to town and when he came home, he
mentioned it to mama at the supper table."
"Billy, do you know where your daddy went when he went to town?"
I said, "He went to the hardware store and he went to the farm and home
store. I don't know if he went anywhere else."
Mike said something and Mr Gentry, holding me, went over towards Mike.
Mike was crouched down looking at the ground and said, "These here are
the same as what's out by the back gate."
Uncle Nick by then was looking at them and agreed. The man holding me
said, "Billy, I'm going to put you down. In a moment, I'll be needing to
ask you some more questions. Would you go back to your aunt?"
I went over to Aunt Paulette and she picked me up with a grunt. She had
her handkerchief out and dabbed my eyes. She said, "Honey, I'm so sorry
you have to go through this."
I said, "Aunt Paulette, he said I didn't start the fire."
"Billy, I knew you didn't."
I said, "Well, if I didn't, then who did?"
"Honey, that's why all these people are out here."
Mr Gentry came over and said, "I'm going to have to call in the highway
patrol on this to investigate it. They'll probably bring in someone who
will want to ask Billy some more questions."
He went to his truck and started speaking into his radio. After a while,
he came back and said, "Billy, can I carry you again?"
I nodded and he took me from Aunt Paulette. He took Aunt Paulette's
handkerchief and said, "Honey, we need to have everyone leave here so no
one walks on any prints if they're still here. Why don't you all go to
your farm, and I'll bring Billy when I know something more. This whole
farm is now a crime scene."
Aunt Paulette said, "O.k., but Nick needs to stay for Billy's sake."
Mr Gentry nodded to her and then I looked at him and said, "What does
"Billy, I'm going to carry you around and as we walk, you tell me what
your daddy did that day. Hopefully, something will be information I'll be
able to use to help find out what happened here."
I said, "Do you know who called the fire department?"
"Yes, Billy, we do. That information is coming to us right now."
I said, "Well, they probably know where the fire was when they called."
He looked at me and said, "You're right Billy. In order for them to call,
they had to see it."
He put me down and said, "Billy, as we walk, I'm going to ask you
questions. I think it will be better if you show me what you did in here
and then I'll know what you touched."
We walked towards the barn and as we walked, the man was looking down. He
said, "Billy, when your daddy got home, do you remember what he did that
I said, "Well, he was gone when I got home. Mama was here and she had
oatmeal raisin cookies. I had to go out to the barn to feed old Bessie
and I was sure to turn out the light like they told me to do."
I went in and then I said, "Where'd Bessie go?"
The man said, "Did your Uncle Nick take her over there?"
I said, "No, I'm sure if he had Bessie, she'd come to the fence when I
went out to feed."
The man called Uncle Nick over and said, "Nick, do you know what happened
to the cow they had?"
Uncle Nick said, "No, I never thought of the cow. Bessie is a
Hereford./Holstein mix. I'm sure the livestock auction would have records
when she was purchased."
I said, "Her ear tag is #803."
The man said, "O.k., Billy, let's go into the barn and see if anything
else is missing."
We went into the barn and I looked around. Everything was the same as I
remembered it. I was looking around and as I did, the man was looking
over in another area. He said, "Billy, did your daddy do anything with
the gas tanks to this cooking grill?"
I said, "Not that I know of, they were with it when we put it out here
last fall. I helped daddy push it out here. He said he didn't want it to
We looked a little further and he said, "Billy, what was sitting here?"
I looked over and said, "That's where the trash barrels sat. They didn't
have trash in them, but they had wheat in them. One of them that sits
over there has rye in it."
I looked over to where I pointed and a huge pile of rye was on the floor.
I said, "Why would someone want to take the barrels?"
We went further back and suddenly the man stopped. He said, "Billy, don't
come back here. We need to go back up front."
I said, "What's back there?"
He said, "Someone killed your cow and what's left of her is back there."
I said, "Did she starve to death?"
He said, "No son, someone butchered her."
"I know my daddy didn't do it. He always does it out in that tree. He
uses a come along and mama always helps. When he does it, it's a whole
day long chore."
Just then, I remembered my mama and daddy weren't alive anymore and I was
talking like they were. I started crying and he came over and picked me
up real fast. I said, "They're dead and I keep forgetting."
He took me out to Uncle Nick and said, "Nick, the barn's a crime scene
too. Don't let anyone go in there either."
Uncle Nick came over and said, "Billy, talk to me son, what are you
I said, "Uncle Nick, I keep forgetting mama and daddy are dead."
He said, "Billy, in our memories, they'll always be alive. You're not
forgetting, you're just remembering them. They'd enjoy that."
I said, "It just hurts." I started crying again and the man handed me to
Uncle Nick. He had Aunt Paulette's handkerchief and wiped my face. He had
tears in his eyes too and said, "Billy, I promise you, I'll find out who
did this and I'll make them pay."
I said, "They can't pay. There's no amount of money I'll take for them."
Uncle Nick started crying and said, "Billy, he's meaning they'll go to
jail for it."
I said, "Well, I want them to die just like they made them die."
The man said, "Billy, when the highway patrol gets here, they're going to
need you to answer a lot of questions. I'm sorry, but you're the only one
left who knows if something is missing, or not."
I said, "O.k., but I might not know everything."
He smiled and said, "Billy, just tell us what you know and you might be
surprised at how much you help. You've already done a lot."
Just about then, a little beagle dog came running over and sniffed me. I
leaned down to pet it and she licked my face. I said, "Where'd you come
Mr Gentry said, "Billy, this is Missy, she's a special dog. She sniffs
things to see if anyone used anything flammable to set a fire. She's
doing her job right now, so we need to let her work, o.k.?"
I said, "O.k., but can I pet her later?"
He smiled and said, "Billy, I'll talk to her owner and I'm sure we can
let you pet her."
Missy's nose went back down to the ground and she took off again
sniffing. She went into the barn and I saw the guy following her give Mr
Gentry a look. He nodded his head and Mr Gentry said, "Billy, we need to
go over here."
He said, "Billy, I'm going to have your Uncle come over with us, and
we're going into the part of the house which is still standing."
I said, "Aunt Paulette wanted to be with me when we did this. Both her
and Uncle Nick."
"Billy, I'll be here with you. And, your Uncle Nick will be too. If you'd
like, I'll have your Aunt Paulette come back over."
I said, "O.k."
He turned to Uncle Nick and said, "Nick, could you have Paulette come
back over? I'm going to take Billy over to this out building and we're
going to see if there's anything missing over here. After that, we're
going to need to go into the house."
Uncle Nick nodded and said, "Billy, if you need me, I'll come running."
I said, "O.k. Uncle Nick."
We walked over to the pump house and as we walked, Mr Gentry said,
"Billy, what was this building used for?"
I said, "Mr Gentry, this building is the pump house. Daddy said this
house used to have a windmill sticking out of it and it's where we get
out water. "
I stopped and started crying again. He stopped and leaned down and said,
"Billy, remembering them is a good thing. I know you love them and them
being alive as we talked about them is just natural."
I said, "It just hurts right here." I held my hand up to my chest.
He said, "Billy, we're going to find out who did this. When that day
comes, they're going to be really sorry."
I said, "You promise?"
He said, "Billy, if anyone ever did this to one of my k**s, I'd do
everything I could to see I found a way to come back and tell everyone
helping them what happened. Your memories are a way of your parents
telling us. So, just think of it as them telling me. O.k.?"
I said, "o.k., maybe it won't hurt so bad thinking of it that way."
We went over to the shed and as we were opening the door, I heard the dog
bark. I said, "She sure sounds happy."
He smiled and said, "She does that, doesn't she."
I said, "My daddy wouldn't let me have a dog. He said they chased the
livestock. He was planning on getting some more cattle."
We went into the pump house and everything looked the same as it had when
I'd been in there last. Daddy's lawn mower for the yard was in there and
so was his other yard tools."
I said, "Mike will need these things for when we get their house out
Mr Gentry said, "Mike Johnson's going to live out here?"
I said, "Yeah, I'm hiring him to watch over my cattle I bought."
Mr Gentry said, "You got cattle?"
I said, "Yeah, we went to the livestock auction and I got a whole bunch
of them. They're being delivered today over at Uncle Nick's because we
don't have anywhere to put them here now. But, Uncle Nick has ordered a
new barn and we're going to get Mike's house tomorrow. Is it alright if
we get their new house?"
He smiled and said, "Billy, that might have to wait for a few days, but
when they do, it will probably have to be set someplace besides where the
house and the barn are now because I'm sure if this goes to court, the
jury is going to want to see everything."
I said, "Well, as long as we can get my things out of the house and Aunt
Paulette can get the photo albums out, we'll be fine."
We went to the shed over near the pump house and I couldn't get the door
open. I said, "Daddy had a hard time with that door. It slides on them
rollers up there. He kept saying he needed to get out here with WD-40 and
oil it, but he never got to."
I stopped as I had to cry again. It wasn't so bad this time and Mr Gentry
was there touching my shoulder. I said, "Mr Gentry, it's just sad, daddy
never got to do everything he wanted to do here."
Mr Gentry said "Yes, we just don't know how long we have."
I looked at him and said, "Well, I'm going to make sure I let everyone
know I love them as long as I'm here. My mama and daddy made sure I knew
they loved me."
I paused and said, "Are you sure the buckeyes didn' t start the fire?"
He said, "Billy, Missy smells where people have poured gasoline or
something flammable on the floor to start a fire. Whoever started the
fire, used something on the floor in the house. They poured a path
leading through from the front door to the back door. Did your mama and
daddy lock the doors at night when they went to bed?"
I said, "I don't think so. Daddy said he'd hear someone and be up with
the shotgun if he heard someone. With them being in bed, I don't think he
Mr Gentry said, "Billy, it's probably better he didn't. They probably
would have made sure to kill you if your daddy had found them."
I said, "Mr Gentry, why would they want to kill us?"
He said, "Billy, I don't know. I imagine they were stealing things and
then didn't want to get caught. Their problem is they left all this
I said, "What's evidence?"
He said, "Billy, it's like pieces of the puzzle which individually
doesn't look like much, but when it's all added together, it makes up a
I said, "So them killing Bessie is a piece of the puzzle?"
He said, "Yes, and them taking the gas tanks off the grill and the
Mr Gentry said, "Billy, I don't think they came this way. I can't get
this door open. Let's look around on the ground and see if we can see any
of those tire prints."
We looked out by the gate leading to the side pasture and didn't see
anything. As we walked back towards the house, I saw Missy going towards
the back fence barking. She was sniffing at the ground.
Her owner lifted her off the ground and then put her on the other side of
the gate. Missy took off barking and running out through the pasture.
I said, "She sure is having fun!"
He said, "She is."
I said, "Her owner better go catch her, it's a long ways out there!"
A man came over and said, "There's a trail of gasoline all through the
barn. Either it didn't catch, or they decided to not burn it. She's
trailing the scent of gasoline out through that field."
Mr Gentry said, "They were probably in a hurry."
I said, "There was more than one?"
The man said, "Yes, I think there was three. We have a good dna swatch in
the barn from at least two. When they were butchering the cow, someone
cut their hand. Another one left a jacket out there which has hair
Mr Gentry smiled and -said, "Billy, we just got some more pieces of the
He smiled and I said, "How can you tell something from those things?"
Mr Gentry said, "Billy, did you ever take a look at the tips of your
fingers and see your fingerprints?"
I said, "Yeah, we did that in school."
He said, "Well, in each of our bodies, we have bl**d and in that bl**d,
we have dna. It tells us who the person is it belongs to. The person who
bled in there just told us who he or she is. The person who left their
jacket probably told us who they are too."
I said, "So, my mama wrote my name on my book bag and didn't need to. She
could have found out it was mine anyways."
He laughed and said, "Billy, if your mama worked down at Jeff City, she'd
sure be able to."
I said, "Well, mama worked at the house and I could tell her cookies from
Mr Gentry said, "I never thought of it that way, but I imagine you're
right. No one made cookies like my mama either."
Aunt Paulette arrived with Uncle Nick and she came over to me in a hurry.
She said, "Billy, are you o.k.?"
I said, "Aunt Paulette, Mr Gentry told me something which is helping me.
He said my memories of mama and daddy are them telling me what he needs
to know in order for them to help find out who did this."
Mr Gentry said, "Nick, Paulette, the barn has a lot of evidence in it.
It's absolutely off limits. Billy told me you all are planning on putting
a house out here for the Johnsons to live in. My suggestion is to not
tear down the house or anything here until after the trial. If a jury
wants to see the crime scene, they'll have it. You have no clue how much
it affects a jury to go to the crime scene. The conviction rate is
staggering when they want to see one. My advice is to keep everything as
Uncle Nick said, "We were just talking about that and I think Mike and
his f****y could live in either the Anderson or the Thompson place until
then. Billy's buying both farms, so they can live there."
I said, "That's a long ways and I won't get to see Jr."
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, Mike's done told Jr he can have a Workcat like
yours so you two can see each other. We can teach you how to go through
the gates and you won't have to leave the property."
I said, "Well, when mine comes on Saturday, will Jr's?"
Uncle Nick said, "I don't know. I'm not sure when they're getting him
I said, "Can I buy him his?"
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, let me get the farm incorporated and then it
will be covered as a write off."
Mr Gentry smiled and said, "We need to get into the house. We're not
going in that end as it's a designated crime scene. Whomever it was,
poured gasoline from the front door to the back door. They never entered
the bedroom end of the house. If we go in through the window which is in
Billy's room, we can get what you need there. There's a lot of smoke
damage, but everything is still in good shape."
We went to the house and I said, "Can I take what I want from my
Mr Gentry said, "I would get everything I could from the house as long as
it's not in towards the burned section."
He paused and said, "Whomever called in the fire had to called it in
before it was set. I'd say they had a guilty conscience and didn't want
to do what they did. It doesn't make them less guilty, but it sure helped
to save Billy."
Uncle Nick said, "How do you know that?"
Mr Gentry said, "When a fire is started with petroleum based chemicals,
it gets real hot and real smokey real fast. In instances where a fire
alarm is nearby, that's going to alert the people in the dwelling. In
this instance, there was no alarms. So, as I said, it goes real fast when
it's set. In three minutes a fire can be so hot it can consume a whole
room. In seven minutes, it can be so smokey, it can kill everyone. The
fire response out here was 32 minutes at best. Are you getting where I'm
going with this?"
Aunt Paulette said, "They called the fire in 25 minutes before they set
Mr Gentry said, "Yes, and I'm going to say something else, so keep real
quiet on this. The person who called in the fire, was on the rural fire
department. He's also the person who is credited for getting Billy out of
the house. There's evidence over in that barn a flammable was used to set
it. Either they ran out of time, or they got scared. My guess is they
realized what they were doing was killing someone and had sense enough to
get Billy out."
I said, "I don't remember who it was."
Uncle Nick said, "It doesn't matter who it was. They still killed you
Mr Gentry nodded and said, "They left dna evidence in the barn. At least
two of them did. Whomever that comes back to is going to talk and believe
me, they're going to tell on each other in order to try to get out of the
He paused and said, "What I'm not getting is their motives. They killed
the cow and butchered it. Cows aren't like dogs and seem to remember
trauma to the f****y. All I can figure is they decided to carve it up to
have a cookout or feed their f****y. The second thing is they took the
propane tanks and the barrels which tells me whomever it was probably
cooks meth. Meth chemists usually are so tweaked they don't make rational
decisions like waiting to call the fire department. They're usually
calling the fire department when the place is burning down around them."
I said, "The person whomever it was, you said, had a conscience. Maybe he
didn't want to be here with the others. Maybe he decided it was a bad
Mr Gentry said, "Billy, that doesn't make him less guilty. He had the
options of stopping all that when they were on their way over here. Just
as soon as they stepped foot on this property, it went from idea to
conspiracy even if they didn't do the crime. They did, so all are guilty
of the same thing...conscience, or not."
We climbed in through the window and I started gathering up my toys. Aunt
Paulette pulled my sheets off my bed and used one to place all my toys
and everything I wanted in it so it'd be easier to carry.
Uncle Nick and Mr Gentry went into the hallway probably to mama and
daddy's bedroom. I heard them coughing as the smell of the smoke was bad
still. I remembered that night and I said, "Aunt Paulette, the guy had a
big tattoo on his arm in the shape of an eagle...right here. I also
remember he had on a denim jacket and had black hair with a bushy beard.
He smelled like pipe tobacco."
Aunt Paulette called in Mr Gentry and said, "Billy, just remembered the
guy had a eagle tattoo on his left forearm and wore a denim jacket...had
dark hair with bushy beard and smelled like pipe tobacco.
I said, "He handed me out the window to a little guy who was wearing a
red shirt. It had a Nike emblem on it. He wore glasses. His hair was
light brownish blond. He wore blue jeans that had a rub spot in the back
pocket like a can of chewing tobacco. He also had on them kind of boots
which looked like a Harley rider. He talked like he had a mouth full of
chewing tobacco and was complaining about his boots getting messed up."
Mr Gentry said, "Did either of them have any bl**d on them?"
I said, "No, but the one didn't have on a jacket which I thought was odd
as how cold it was out there."
Mr Gentry said, "What did they do after they got you out?"
I remembered and began crying, "The one who picked me up went in to get
mama and daddy and when he came back he said, "You dumb fuck you've gone
and killed them, they're both dead! He was really upset. He was coughing
Mr Gentry said, "Where'd they take you Billy?"
The one took me out by that tree and said he had to go meet the fire
department. It wasn't long until the fire department pulled in. I
Mr Gentry said, "Do you remember seeing them anymore?"
I said, "The one took me to the firetruck and put me in it so I'd stay
warm. The one with the denim jacket. I never saw the other anymore."
We heard a vehicle pull in the drive as I heard the tires crunching on
gravel. Mr Gentry heard it too and said, that's probably the highway
patrol unit. I'll go speak with them. We need to get someone back here
and get what Billy's saying."
He went out the window and it was strange seeing my window being used as
a door. The curtains were laying outside."
I said, "Aunt Paulette, the guy that wore the denim jacket, he woke me up
when he broke the window. I remember it being really smokey in here and
suddenly the air whooshed in and it was better. I was coughing
and....and...then, he lifted me up. I was still really sl**py."
Mr Gentry came back with a man and he said, "Billy, this here is Adam.
He'll be listening to you and he'll ask you questions."
Aunt Paulette filled Adam in on what all I was remembering. Adam had a
pocket radio he was using to record everything. He held it out and said,
"Billy, hold this and speak into it as you remember things."
I held it, but all I remember was it was so smokey.
I said, "Can I go into my mama and daddy's room now?"
Aunt Paulette said, "Let me go with you Billy, it's going to be tough to
I walked int the room and as I walked, I felt the carpet crunch under my
feet. It was strange as it was supposed to be soft. I turned to look at
Adam who was behind me now and I said, "Adam, catch these people. My mama
and daddy would want them caught."
When I went into their room, the first thing I noticed was the mirror on
their dresser was really blackened. When I always came into their room,
I'd look at the mirror and make funny faces at myself. Now, I could
hardly see myself. I said, "Mama and daddy's door was open. That's why
the smoke killed them. My door was shut as the light from the hallway
kept getting in my eyes."
I looked at the bed and I immediately knew why Aunt Paulette said it was
hard. The bedclothes were really sooty from the fire and where they laid,
wasn't. It was like someone had taken dust and poured it over them as
I turned to Aunt Paulette and said, "Did you get the photo albums?"
She said, "Yes, and we got your daddy's shotguns out of the cabinet."
I said, "In that drawer over there is where daddy kept all his records
for the farm. He'd do it sitting at the desk. Aunt Paulette said, "Mr
Gentry, would you carry that drawer out for me please?"
I turned to Adam and said, "Adam, the last man had on a long trench coat
with real long stringy black hair. He's the one that got on the atv. I
remember now. He was cussing up a blue streak to the other in the red
shirt to get on the atv so they could get out of there. They left through
that gate. He got on the atv over there. They had a trailer on the back
of it. The trailer had white wheels but the rest was black. The one in
the denim jacket ran over and closed the gate."
Adam said, "Billy, could you show me where they got on the atv?"
I said, "O.k."
It was strange because I felt really tired. I felt like my shoes weighed
a lot. Adam must've figure it out because he lifted me up and carried me.
I said, "Adam, I'm really tired."
Adam said, "Billy, this has been rough on you. Just show me where the men
got on the atv, and we'll be done. You've done a good job."
I took him over to the right of the barn. It was by the tree my daddy
used to hang the deer and the cattle on we slaughtered. Adam saw the tire
prints and said, "I've got to put this peg in the ground Billy so we can
get a g.p.s. locator on this."
He leaned down and I said, "Why are you doing that?"
He said, "We map a crime scene according to where the evidence is
I said, "Adam, if they used gasoline, did they get it from the well
He said, "I don't know."
Mr Gentry said, "Billy, let me go check. I didn't think to look for a gas
can if it was in there."
I said, "Adam, if they knew how to do all this, were they at our house
Adam said, "I don't know Billy, just hold onto the recorder there and
I'll be sure they're asked those questions when we find them."
I looked at Adam and said, "I want to know why they did this and why my
mama and daddy had to die. How would they like it if someone went to
their house and killed their mama and daddy."
I said, "Adam, when you catch them, would you tell the one in the denim
jacket I said thank you. He didn't have to save me and he did. I just
wish he'd gotten to them sooner.
Adam said to me. "Billy, I want you to hold onto that recorder. I'm going
to be after it in a moment. Right now, I'm going to give you back to your
aunt and uncle, so they can take you home. I think you need to get some
sl**p. It's been a real trying day for you."
I said, "Adam, before you do that. The man that had the long trench coat.
He took my mama's flowers from the pot out there and he put them in the
left side pocket of his coat. I don't know why he did that, but I bet you
he pulled up some of the dirt when he did it. That dirt in that pot was
Adam said, "Billy, show me the pot."
I took him to the pot and I said, "The trench coat guy's name was tooter.
That's what the red shirt guy called him. The red shirt guy's name was
Jimmy. The trench coat guy kept yelling at Jimmy to get on the atv and
finally the red shirt guy yelled back 'tooter, shut the fuck up, I'm on
my way'. The trench coat guy was really mad and the red shirt guy was
getting upset because the trench coat guy was yelling at him. Just as
they drove through the gate is when the fire truck pulled up. The denim
jacket guy was over in the front yard pulling the bushes back from the
front of the house. He had an axe...maybe that's what he used to break in
Adam nodded at Uncle Nick and said, "Billy, you're doing great hon. Keep
talking into the recorder."
Uncle Nick picked me up and said, "Billy, we're taking you home.
Paulette, will you drive so I can hold him?"
All I know was I was confused. My home wasn't my home anymore. I was
tired and it felt good to be hugged so tight by Uncle Nick....just like
the guy in the denim jacket...I fell asl**p.
When we got to the house, Uncle Nick took me up to my bed. He sat me on
it and said, "Billy, you take a nap, I'll be up to get you."
My voice was tired and yet, in a pouty voice, "I wanted to play with Jr."
"Jr. will be downstairs waiting on you when you wake up."
"Could he take a nap with me?"
"Honey, I don't know if Jr wants to take a nap, but I'll ask."
My spirits seemed lifted with the hope Jr would come up, but I also knew
he might not want to take a nap.
I kicked off my shoes and lay down. Uncle Nick covered me up with a
blanket. He kissed my forehead and said, "Billy, I think you gave them
enough to catch the guys, I'm just so sorry you had to go through this."
"Uncle Nick, I really thought I started the fire and those guys saved me.
I didn't know they did this."
"I know Billy. I know."
He turned and went out the bedroom door.
"Yes hon, could we start closing our bedroom doors? If mama and daddy had
shut theirs, they'd probably be alive."
"Yes hon, we'll start doing that. I admit our door handle to our bedroom
gets used as a coat hook. That's going to change."
He left and shut the door behind him which made me feel better.
I was just starting to get about to sl**p when I heard the door open and
a few moments later, I felt weight on the other side of my bed.
"Billy, I'm going to take a nap with you."
"O.k., get under the covers here."
"You smell like smoke."
"Yeah, I had to go into the house."
"I'm supposed to take a nap with you and got told we're not to be playing
or talking. Let's talk when we wake up. You look tired."
I rolled over and hugged him. "Jr, I'm glad you're here."
"I like you Billy. You've got smudges on your face."
"Oh, maybe I need to take a shower."
"No, just go to sl**p. If they hear us up here, I'll probably have to go
"Can I hug you and fall to sl**p that way? I used to like to do that with
"Yeah, you smell like smoke though."
"It's just strange. I'll get used to it."
I don't think I heard him all the way, I was asl**p.
When we awoke, I could smell something cooking. I started to get up and
looked out the window over Jr's shoulder. It was dark out. I wondered how
long we had been asl**p.
Jr woke up and said, "What you doing?"
"I woke up, I've got to go pee."
"Let's play water wars."
"I'll show you, but we can't make a mess."
We went to the bathroom and I said, "O.k., we pee at the same time and we
see if we can pee in the same spot. It's like a canon. We imagine we're
fighting a war and that spot is our enemy."
I started peeing and he did too. It was hard to concentrate as I looked
at his peter. It was the same size as mine. I looked down at the spot and
realized I was away from his.
"Yeah, I looked at your peter."
His suddenly veered off course.
"Now you're losing!"
"Yeah, I just looked at your peter too! We're the same size."
"Well, we're the same age."
"My dad's is huge!"
"Yeah, we were out on the tractor one day and he had to pee. I saw it."
"I've only seen yours."
I ran out of pee, so I stopped and zipped up.
"I'm going to take a shower, then I'll be downstairs. Would you tell
Uncle Nick and Aunt Paulette what I'm doing so they will get me a towel.
Mine's not on the bar."
"You can shower too if you want."
"I don't know if they'll let me."
"Ask Uncle Nick."
He left and I started taking off my clothes. Uncle Nick came in and said,
"I forgot to put the towel on for you. I'm sorry."
"No, you forgot, that's o.k."
"Are you alright hotshot?"
"Yeah, my head doesn't hurt as bad."
"O.k., if it gets to hurting again, tell your Aunt Paulette and she'll
get you an aspirin. I'll get your clothes for you."
Jr came into the room and started taking off his clothes. "It's O.k.!"
"Yippee! We'll have some fun, my tonkas are over there."
I turned on the water and got under it. Jr stepped in and said, "Ooh,
"Yeah, it'll warm up."
Just then it warmed up.
"We'll only get to play for so long before it gets cold again, so we have
to wash our hair and our bodies before the hot water runs out. It's not
fun to do in the cold. You shiver."
I got the shampoo and accidentally poured too much into my hand. "Here, I
poured too much, I'll put it on your head."
"That feels good, put yours on so I can scrub your head too."
I did and as he scrubbed, it did feel good.
"That's neat, we could scrub each other's bodies too!"
"You wash me and I'll wash you."
He grabbed the soap and started even though we hadn't rinsed off our
heads. I was afraid of getting soap in my eyes. "Jr, let me rinse so I
don't get soap in my eyes."
"O.k., I wanted to wash you so bad, I forgot."
"I understand, I want to wash you too, but I want to see you when I wash
I stuck my head under the water and soon was rinsed off. When I came back
out from the water, he stuck his head under the water. I soaped up the
wash cloth and with a great amount of giggles, began to soap him.
"Wait!......Wait!" he sputtered, I already was washing his butt.
He was laughing, "That tickles!"
Uncle Nick knocked at the door and said, "Boys, you need to get out of
the shower as there's someone here that wants to speak to Billy."
We looked at each other and he said, "Billy, you still have smudges on
your face, let me wash them off."
He washed my face and washed my neck. It really felt good. "Maybe we can
shower again before we go to bed so we can still play tonkas."
"O.k., I wonder who it is that wants to see you."
"Maybe it's Ben, he was real nice to me today."
"Well, you better hurry up then, what am I going to do while you talk
"I don't know. Maybe you can talk with him too."
"I don't know anything."
"No, but you can sit with me."
We got out of the shower and new sets of clothes were laying out on the
bed. We swatched each other with our towels and somewhere in all the
playing, we managed to get dry enough to put the clothes on.
When we were dressed, he said, "Run a comb through your hair boy, you
look a mess!" He giggled, "My dad always tells me that."
I went in to comb my hair and he followed me. I combed mine and then for
fun, I turned and combed his.
"I could have done that!"
"I wanted to. It's fun taking care of you."
"O.k., as long as I can take care of you too."
"O.k., let's go downstairs."
When we went downstairs, a man I'd never seen before was sitting at the
kitchen table. I went over to Uncle Nick and stood by him.
Uncle Nick turned to me, "Billy, this man here is Clyde Cramer, he's the
"He's the man who is going to see those men who did this to your mom and
dad go to jail."
"Oh good, because I want them to be punished."
Clyde spoke, "Billy, can we go to the living room to talk?"
"Can Jr come with me?"
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, this isn't play time, Jr needs to stay in here
"He wanted to go in there and take care of me."
"Clyde is it alright with you if Jr here goes in with Billy?"
"I don't see any problem with it. Everyone can come in if they want, I
just want Billy to be more comfortable. There are quite a few questions I
will need to ask."
"I'll go in, but everyone else can stay out here except for Jr. Paulette,
do you want to come in?"
"No, Jr will be with him, but if he gets upset, then come get me."
I looked at her and said, "I won't."
We went into the living room and Mr Cramer sat down on the sofa. "Billy,
would you come over and sit next to me?"
"O.k., Jr, you can sit on this side."
"That's good. Well, that's what I want to talk with you about. I
understand you had quite a day."
"Yeah, it was the first time since the fire I got to go home...but it's
not home anymore. It was sad."
"Yes, I imagine it was."
"From what I hear, you remembered quite a bit of information. My reason
for being here is I need to get questions asked so when we take the men
to trial, you won't have forgotten what we talked about."
"I doubt if I forget what happened." I looked at him and thought he was
"Billy, time has a way of making us see things differently. People can
say something or you could hear something in town and it could change
what you thought happened. The reason I'm here is to make sure we have
you answer the questions so the men's lawyers can't make you think things
differently when we go to court."
"O.k., we did something like that in school. We all lined up and then the
teacher said something to one person and that person said it to the
person behind him until we got to the end of the line. It was funny
because what the teacher said was "My dog has brown socks." and by the
end of the line, Jeremy Sanders said "His horse had a long tail." I
started to laugh remembering it.
Clyde Said, "Billy, yes, it's something like that, is it alright with you
if we video tape you answering the questions?"
"O.k., I'm glad I combed my hair." I giggled looking at Jr. "I'm glad I
combed Jr's hair too!" Then, I really giggled.
Mr Crane laughed and said, "Well, we're glad you did too. I'll set up the
video camera over there and ask the questions. It shouldn't take me very
He went over and took out a suit case. When he opened it, Jr and I went
over to look. He had a tripod like what my daddy used when he worked with
his rifles right before deer season. He'd practice and make sure his
telescope got so it'd show him where he was going to hit the deer.
Mr Crane put the camera on the top of it like daddy did the gun and then
took a remote control out and hooked it to the camera. He said, "Billy,
when I go over there, tell me if I'm all in the picture."
He went over and sat down and then I saw his head was partially cut off.
He said, "Would you make it so my head is in the shot?"
I looked at it and then made an adjustment, at first the camera went down
and then I figured it out and then it went back up until I got Mr. Crane
in the shot to where his head wasn't cut off.
"O.k. It's looking good now." I felt proud he had me help.
"That's good Billy, see, the camera isn't something which you should be
afraid of is it?"
"No, it's just a camera."
"What I'm going to do next Billy is I'm hooking the camera up to my
laptop computer. That way we can see ourselves. It makes a better
impression on the jury if we watch it as we talk so they think we're
looking them in the eye as we speak. So, be sure to watch the laptop,
"Yeah, My mom had jury she wore all the time."
"No, that's jewelry, a jury is a group of people who all sit and listen
to the evidence and make the decision if the person is guilty or not."
"They're guilty, I saw them!"
"Billy, we need the jury to hear that because they didn't see it. They're
counting on you telling them what you saw."
"O.k., because I saw a lot."
"Well, let's set this up and then you can tell them, O.k.?"
"O.k., but Mr Cramer?"
"They killed my mom and dad I want them to die. The Bible says and eye
for an eye, so I want them to die....well, all except for that guy who
broke in my window and saved me. I don't want him to die. They didn't
have to do that to my mom and dad."
"O.k., I'm glad to hear that Billy because I think I'm going to ask they
die for this. You could have very easily have died too and will have to
now live without a mommy and daddy, so I don't want them to have a chance
to ever get out."
"Me neither because who knows what they'd do to someone else."
"Yes, and we don't want that."
By this time, Mr. Cramer had the laptop hooked up and turned on. I turned
to Uncle Nick, "Can I get a laptop?"
"Maybe when you're older."
"How about if we get you a desktop first and put it in your bedroom?"
"O.k., because then I could do my homework on it and send it directly to
the teacher's computer for her to grade."
"We'll tell your Aunt Paulette as I'm sure she knows quite a bit about
those sorts of things. She has one in the office for her to put things
into for the taxes."
"Oh, that would be good. Maybe we should get one for Mike so he can take
care of things for my farm too."
"We'll check to see if Mike thinks he needs it."
"Daddy has one over at that farm he works at now."
"Well then, I guess that decides it, we'll go shopping for computers
Mr. Cramer sat on the sofa again and looked at the laptop. "Billy, you
want to come over and we'll get started."
"When we start, you just look right at the picture of us and answer."
"Now, before we start Billy, we're going to make all the funny faces we
can because once we start, we need to be serious, O.k.?"
"O.k., Jr, come over here, we get to make faces!"
Jr came over and we were really getting into making different faces and
all the a****l noises we could think of while we did it. We did that for
a moment and then Mr Cramer said, "O.k., We need to get started."
In making the faces, I'd gotten up and had been acting like a dinosaur,
so I went and sat back down.
Mr Cramer started, "We're here today to do a deposition in regards to the
house fire which occurred on January 17th of this year. With me, I have
"Billy, speak up nice and loud to the camera, and would you please tell
those who are watching your full name and your age please?"
"Billy Jacobs, I'm 8 years old."
"We need your full name, Billy."
"It can't get any fuller, It's Billy."
"Did your daddy and mommy name you William?"
"No, they named me Billy. William is stupid. That's why I like Billy."
"Oh, o.k. Billy, I guess I now know your opinion of William, let's just
hope we don't have anyone on the jury named William."
"Well, he probably thinks it's stupid too and prefers to be called
He chuckled and said, "You might be right." Under his breath he said,
"Lord help us."
"You said we needed to speak up loud and clear and if you're prayer
starts off "Lord, help us", I need to bow my head."
He laughed and said, "Let's get to the next question and forget the
prayer. Billy, in your own words, can you describe what happened the
night your house burned down."
"Well, I was asl**p and something woke me up. I saw a bunch of smoke and
suddenly the window in front of my bed just exploded inward. It scared
me, I nearly peed the bed. Then I saw a guy and got real afraid because I
thought he was breaking into my bedroom. I lay really still because I was
afraid. He finished busting out the window and then said, "Your house is
on fire, I'll get you out of here!" really loud. I could hear a bunch of
sounds like a bonfire and a sort of roar, so seeing the smoke, I knew
what he said was true. He lifted me out of bed, but before he did, he
pulled up the sleaves of his denim jacket and I saw the tatoo on his
forearm of an Eagle.
He had black hair and a full bushy beard. I knew because it tickled when
he bent over to pick me up. He smelled of pipe tobacco, that vanilla
kind. He took me over to the window and handed me out to a littler guy
who wore glasses who was wearing a red Nike shirt.
The guy in the red shirt took me and then put me down on the ground. He
had light brownish blond hair. I was in my pajamas and barefoot. I looked
at the guy in the red shirt and he had blue jeans on that had one of the
skoal can marks on his butt. He had boots on that a Harley rider wears,
the kind that has a strap and a motorcycle on it. The boots had a lot of
mud on them and he was complaining about it a lot to the bushy beard man.
The guy who had saved me came back into my bedroom and said, "You dumb
fuck you killed them, they're both dead." to the red shirt guy. The denim
jacket guy came out of the house and they took me to the tree over by the
road in the front yard.
When I got there, a man in a long black trenchcoat that looked bluish
greyish black was over by the shop door entrance of the barn and he was
yelling at the man in the red shirt telling him to hurry up and get on
the 4 wheeler.
Th 4 wheeler was camouflage and had a trailer on it that was black with
white wheels. I could tell as the light out by the pump house showed the
whole parking area. The 4 wheeler was parked over towards the tree where
daddy used to hang deer and butcher a****ls with mama. The man who was in
the trench coat at sometime came over to the front yard to get the guy in
the red shirt as the guy in the red shirt was looking at the house
burning. He was cussing the red shirt guy and saying for "Jimmy" to get
his ass on the fucking 4 wheeler as they had to leave. Before he went
over to the 4 wheeler, he grabbed the flowers out of mama's planter and
put them in the left pocket of his trench coat. He must've been left
handed as he did it with this left hand.
The trenchcoat guys was named "Tooter", I remember it because I thought
of him being named after him farting a lot. He had long black stringy
hair, like that one guy on Harry Potter. He had a cut hand! I just
remembered that! His right hand was cut! He must've been the one that
killed Bessie my cow!"
By now, I was crying and I felt Jr slide over to me and hug me. Mr Cramer
said, "We can stop for a break if you want to Billy."
"No, I've got a few more things to say and then it's done. The guy who
had saved me was out at the front to the house cutting and pulling bushes
away from the front of the house. Jimmy went to the four wheeler and got
on and it drove through the gate by the barn and across the pasture.
That's when the fire truck pulled up."
The guy in the denim jacket took me over to the fire truck to get warm
and told me to stay in it as I'd be in the way. I remember the man in the
denim jacket went in my bedroom with a fire hose as the others went to
the other end of the house. I wonder why he went in that way when he knew
my mom and dad were dead? He must have wanted to act like he was saving
"Is there anything else you can tell us Billy?"
"Yeah, the man in the denim jacket, to me he was a hero and I wanted to
tell him thanks, but if he was a part of the guys that killed my mom and
dad, he's no hero. That's sad. He just wanted me to think he was nice."
"Billy, you've done a wonderful job tonight. If we have any more
questions, I'll be asking them to you, O.k.?"
He pressed the remote control and the screen of the laptop went black. I
looked at Uncle Nick and said, "Something tells me the guys name who
saved me is named Ray."
"Close Billy, his name is Gray."
"You know him?"
"Yes, he's my age and I went to school with him. I'm willing to be the
guy who was with him in the red shirt is named Jimmy Darnell. They were
always around each other and the description sounds like him."
Mr Cramer nodded and said, "Tooter is the nickname of someone who is
Darnell's cousin. He's a real piece of work. I've had dealings with him
before and have sent him to prison before. It should be easy to call him
in for questioning. Gray is being arrested tonight and with luck, they'll
bring in Jimmy. Jimmy's a good k**, but from what Billy says, he just got
himself into a whole lot of trouble."
As Mr Cramer talked, he was putting away his camcorder and the tripod. Jr
was over watching him. I went over to Uncle Nick and hugged him. He
lifted me up and said, "You did good again. I'm proud of you."
"I just wish it was my daddy saying that, but he never said anything like
"Your daddy had his own way of saying things Billy. He couldn't tell
someone he loved them or give them a compliment, but he'd do something
for them that let the person know."
"Well, he always said I was too little to do anything with, so I guess I
was too little to love."
"Well, your mom said she loved you, so you knew she did."
"Yeah, Mom showed me she loved me and said it a lot. She even would put
raisins in my oatmeal raisin cookies in the shapes of hearts. She said it
was so I'd know she loved me inside."
I started crying again and Uncle Nick hugged me. Mr Cramer came over and
said, "Billy, you've been so strong and I'm going to do everything I can
to make sure those guys know they did something really bad to you."
He spoke to Uncle Nick, "We have a fund for k**s like Billy which
provides for his care. You and Paulette need to contact them so you are
"That's o.k., we don't need charity."
"Son, it's not charity. It's a fine added onto fines everyone has to pay.
The people who do bad things to other people are the ones who are the
ones who ultimately have to pay. These guys who did this aren't ever
going to see the light outside of a prison, so it's no use for them to be
ordered to pay restitution. But they will pay one hundred and fifty
dollars for each victim they have, so that's times three in this
"Make that times four, they killed my cow." I said sniffling. "Bessie
didn't need to die. She was a real sweet cow. She always come over to the
fence to meet me."
"I'll do what I can to be sure they're charged with cruelty to an a****l
Billy. The law doesn't provide a death penalty for killing someone's pet,
but I think the jury won't even bat an eye on finding them guilty. They
each have pets and know what they mean to them......And, I'd say killing
an a****l is pretty cruel treatment."
"Yes, they cut her head off."
"Billy, don't think about that."
"I try not to, but I try not to think about a lot of things and it
doesn't happen. I still think about it a lot."
"I know Billy. Just remember your mama and daddy and the good things
which happened. I'll take care of the bad things."
He looked at Uncle Nick and said, "I sure wish I had that recorded. That
k** would've ripped the hearts of the jury out of them."
"He's a good k**. He even wants Gray to know he appreciates him saving
"I'll see he gets that appreciation when I'm there to witness his miranda
rights being read to him. He left a trail a mile wide telling us he was
there. The phone company GPS tracking showed he made a phone call to
someone from that location about a half an hour before the phone call to
9-1-1. I've got all the evidence I need to go get the warrants. I just
needed Billy's statement to confirm things and give me more evidence."
"Did I help?"
"You did great Billy, you gave us plenty of help."
"Well, I'm glad because my mom and dad would have been upset to be robbed
and have Bessie killed, but they would have forgiven them. They don't
even get a chance to forgive them for killing them. Mom always told me to
forgive people and I try, but I don't think I can forgive them."
"Billy, I doubt if a jury will either. Let's just make sure of it."
He carried his suitcase to the door and said goodbye to everyone. After
he left, Uncle Nick said, "Let's get some hot chocolate."
We made up our cups with marshmallows in them and Aunt Paulette ladeled
the cups full. We took them to the living room and Aunt Paulette said to
me, "Billy, Jr is going to stay here tonight. His mom and dad have
already left. We all think it will be a good idea for him to sl**p with
you so you have someone to hang onto."
"I think that's a good idea to. Can we take another shower so we can play
"How about you bring the tonkas down here to the living room and play
with them in here."
"O.k., come on Jr, let's go get them."
As I ran out of the room, I heard Uncle Nick say, "That fucking Gray
That night, I was really tired. Jr came up to sl**p with me, but even
then I could barely keep my eyes open.
When I did get to sl**p, I had a nitemare of my daddy and mommy coming to
talk to me. Daddy said he was proud of me and the only thing I felt was
sad. I asked him why they had to walk away from me. Each time I tried to
catch up with them, they'd leave me again
I woke up crying and Jr was laying there comforting me. Aunt Paulette
came into the bedroom at a run and sat with us while I told her what they
said. She told me I was having the dream because of us going to the house
and everything being so stressful.
When I finally calmed down, Aunt Paulette asked me if I wanted to go
sl**p with them. Knowing Jr would be with me helped and I told her I
would stay with him.
We lay back down and Jr and I hugged each other really tight. As I dozed
back off, he told me he loved me and he'd not run away from me. Finally,
we made it through the night and the next morning, we awoke to the smell
of breakfast cooking.
Right after breakfast, Uncle Nick told us Mike would be coming over and
we needed to discover some things about the farms. He also congradulated
me on the other farms and said Mike thought it would be great as they'd
all tie in easily.
I then said, "Uncle Nick, What do you know about Gray Daniels?"
Uncle Nick's voice got a bit louder and took on an angry tone. His face
went a bit red, "Billy, he was the meanest guy in our school. He was
really sly about things, but the end result was people always got hurt
whenever he was in the area. If he's involved in things that went on with
your mom and dad, I can believe it. I'm just wondering how the others tie
"I just hope they catch them."
"Well, what I'm worried about is if he gets bailed out when they catch
"Did they catch him yet?"
"Not that I've been told, but maybe they're keeping things quiet."
We went out to see the a****ls which were brought in yesterday and it was
neat to see the different ones. Jr's favorite were the alpacas. He said
they were real smart and looked forward to teaching his some tricks.
We walked around and then we were told not to go near the buffalo. Uncle
Nick said the young ones wouldn't be accepted back from their momma if
they smelled us on them. We'd never heard about this before, so we were
happy Uncle Nick told us.
We continued to look at the different a****ls and feed them. When we were
done, we drove the tractor back up to the barn and saw Mike's truck
parked. He wasn't outside, so we put the tractor away and went into the
house. He was in showing Aunt Paulette some computer programs he used for
different aspects of the farm.
He said, "Billy, how you doing?"
"I'm doing fine, Uncle Nick said you wanted to discuss some things about
"Yes, I do. What we're going to need is to seperate the a****ls. We think
the buffalo and the bulls will be good on one farm and the alpacas and
cattle will do on another. As long as we keep a pasture between them
open, the two can be corralled out to the other farm and moved so
nothing's over grazed."
"Which farm do you want to live in?"
"I think it will be fine for us to look at Mr. Thompson's farm. The barns
are better there and all we'll have to do is build a veteranary building
and an office and we'll be set up."
"How much do you want to work for me?"
"Here's what I made at the last place. It was a good living and we were
happy there. I made thirty thousand and Amy got to work outside of the
home. If she works for you, then it will be another twenty five. One
other thing we got was a truck to drive and full medical."
"Well, it really doesn't matter, I want you no matter what and Uncle Nick
said I can afford it. What matters is Jr gets an allowance and gets one
of those little trucks like I'm getting. Uncle Nick said to tell you as
you would be able to get it so it could be written off."
"O.k., but Jr doesn't need one of those."
"I'm going to have one and in order to get over here to see me, he'll
need one. So, I'd really like for him to have one."
"O.k., you're the boss, so I'll let him have it. I just don't want him
getting too spoiled."
"He won't. He can help me when I'm over there working."
"How much do you want him to make?"
"He can make what I do. Right now, Uncle Nick is giving me an allowance
but is paying me eight an hour on the weekends to feed. Jr helped feed
today, so he can be paid today."
"Jr, is this o.k. With you?"
"Yes daddy, I didn't know what I was doing was work, but it's fine with
"O.k., The next thing I would like to talk with you about is the barns
for over at your paren'ts place. Do you still want them there?"
"Yes, do whatever you need. We can't do anything inside the barn lot or
near the house, but they didn't say anthing about the other areas."
"O.k., I'm thinking about having that area as the main a****l center and
feed storage. We don't want to have too many things in one area and spend
time driving hay and feed from one spot to the others. What I think is
the bulls and buffalo can pretty much graze and the alpacas and cattle
can graze but will need more vet care."
"So, you're going to put them on the Thompson place?"
"Yeah, I think it will be best. We can still pull hay from the farms, and
rotate the a****ls at the same time."
"What are we going to do with my parent's place?"
"I think it will be good for some grazing, but it's really begging to be
a feed crop farm. We can grow milo, corn, soybeans, and wheat there with
"Will we need any different equipment?"
"We'll need a few pieces, but the tractors and the wagons are already
there. We'll need a combine sheller and some wagons, but what we'll need
is some bins put up."
"Whatever you think, then get them. Just keep in mind I'm going to be
adding more land as we can get it."
"We'll do that, I'll make some calls and we'll get things going as soon
as you all get the farms bought."
"Uncle Nick, when will that be?"
"I'll get the papers handled this upcoming week. Hopefully the week
after, you'll take possession because those guys want to be out of it as
soon as possible. I think Mr. Anderson's content on staying over at his
place, but will probably be moving. I did get a hint Mr. Thompson will be
moving in with him."
"They must be good friends."
"Yeah, they grew up together and both had families and stayed on their
farms. For as long as I can remember, they farmed together."
I turned to Mike, "That reminds me, Uncle Nick said you probably knew who
had your old farm ."
"Some people from the city own it. They don't use it for anything other
than hunting. Are you interested in purchasing it?"
"Yeah, but what happens if they don't want to sell?"
"We'll have to find something else. What I do think is if you make an
agreement they have lifetime hunting rights on the place, they'll
"They can't shoot any of our cattle though."
"They won't. They're really safe."
"Well, just make sure they know that. I don't want to have any cattle
"I'll give them a call and see what their interest in selling is..."
"O.k., that would be neat."
Uncle Nick said, "Billy, on Monday, you'll be going back to school. While
I'm in town, I'll run by the attorney's office and we'll see about
incorporating and what all needs to be done."
"O.k., will Jr be going to my school?"
"Jr will need to continue going to his own school until we get moved.
Then, we'll get him transferred."
"Uncle Nick, Mike said he'd go along with Jr getting a toolcat, would you
give them a call so they can get one of them sent to him?"
"Just as soon as I know if the corporate account is open, I'll get one
ordered for him. Mike, you and I will be getting one too. They're really
neat and ride on a path the same size as a gator. I think rather than
running trucks all over, we can have them for on farm use and can be just
as safe. It might be good for us to order one for the Anderson farm too."
"O.k, so we're needing to order four more?"
"Yeah, but you might want to order another."
"That's like a hundred grand!"
"Yeah, but the advantage is they have attachments like a tractor and
don't have to be licensed or insured like a truck. They'll pull wagons
just the same."
"I see what you mean. The savings on the license and insurance is going
to be about a grand a year each."
"Yeah, and if you really think about it, most of the time, on the farm,
we don't really need to fire up a tractor or a truck. And when's the last
time you ever used your tractor or truck to mow?"
"Wow, that's giving me all sorts of ideas now!"
"Here's a brochure, the attachments are awesome. They attach easy and
basicly give us the use of everything we need in short easy to use
attachments. They're so easy to drive, the boys won't have a problem and
be safe as they don't have a high speed."
"I'm seeing what you mean. That flashing light on top is something Amy
will insist on."
"Yes, we ordered Billy's that way and I've also added safety stripes so
even in the dark, they will stand out."
"That's good. I'm sold on them now. Heck, do I have permission to get
attachments ordered too?"
"Yeah, get what you need."
"These fork lift hooks tell me we can probably get hay hooks for round
bales. That would be awesome as it'd be a lot easier....and it's even got
a three point hitch! Who needs a tractor now with one of these things?"
"That's the idea, but we'll still need tractors for some things, but the
savings in fuel will be a huge benefit."
"I hear you. Let me see if I can get a discount on an order of six and
throw Billy's in on the invoice."
"Billy's is already bought, but if they give a discount on six, then get
the guy to put the money taken off onto the savings of the others."
"Will do. Now, when do you want me to get the other items going like the
barns and bins being put up over on the Jacobs land?"
"I need to call and see if they're going to need us to make a new entry
in so we don't have to keep going through a crime scene."
"O.k., but it will be good as I think the homesite and that barn would be
good for a sick a****l center and veteranary care. That barn would be
good for that, and where the house is would be good for that."
"So, you don't want it to be over at the Thompson place?"
"I'm torn between those two. We could use the Thompson place as the main
implement storage and hay storage, but the feed could be what is known as
the B side of the Jacobs place with the vet care being A."
"Whatever you need Mike, know I'll be in to help, and just remember
Paulette will be in on these plans too."
"Are you and Paulette going to be incorporating your land in on Billy's
"Paulette says the decision is up to me. She's fine with either way. At
first, I wanted everything to be seperate, but now I'm thinking if we
throw in, then it's not going to hurt us. Whatever we do, know we'll be
doing everything we can do to help."
"Well, if you throw in, then Paulette would really help a lot by doing
the paperwork and the accounting. She's already doing all that for you,
and she'd require an office. She could receive a paycheck from the farms
and could sublet her work to others if she really wanted. There is a lot
of demand for that and not many local accounting agencies know the
intricacies of farm management."
"Let me call her in and ask. I think she'd be happy, but we need to
"While we're doing this, why don't I ask Amy to come in. You know she's a
veteranary tech and she can do a lot a vet can do?"
"I wasn't aware of that, but it'd come in great."
I was sitting back and listening to everything. What excited me about it
all was it was falling together like a big jigsaw puzzle. Everyone had a
job talent which would be vital to the whole unit and even Mr.s Anderson
and Thompson could have a part of it. That reminded me I needed to go
over and speak with Mr. Anderson sometime to get his memories down on my
grand and great grand dads.
Aunt Paulette and Amy came in and sat down. When they heard the plans,
they were really excited. Each could work for the farm and each could
sublet their work to others in the area. The plan formed where Aunt
Paulette would have an office based out of the same building Amy would
have her vet building. Amy said the veteranarian she worked for probably
would be happy to work at the building as he didn't really have a
location which afforded him the space to care for sick or injured
livestock. She said his building in town was primarily for smaller
When she brought up the fact horses would probably need boarded and
tended, Mike added oats and rye down on the things we'd need to farm on
the my parents farm which was now being called the Jacobs farm. That made
me feel strange them calling it that, but I thought my parents would
really be happy knowing the site of sadness for our f****y would be one
of hope to a lot of people.
We carried through the conversation into lunch time. Aunt Paulette
brought in makings for sandwiches and we all made ourselves lunch with
chips and some pickles. Jr and I sat and listened to the conversation. Jr
was excited about having such a wide variety of a****ls as I was which
was neat. We both were excited about tending to different a****ls. He his
alpacas and me, my baby buffalo and beefalo.
As the converation continued, Mike was drawing diagrams of what each farm
would do and what the layout should look like. The only thing I saw was
the homesite and barn lot there being a huge obstacle. They didn't think
so, so I didn't voice it.
What was good about everything was sometime during the conversation, Mike
made the phone call to the man he thought owned his old farm. It turned
out the man who owned it had sold it and gave him the number of the one
who now owned it. Mike called him and the man was eager to sell it. When
he was offered lifetime hunting privledges, he was really excited about
the sale. Mike then said he would call his old boss and see if he was
interested in selling. He did and another farm was agreed to be bought.
I was worried about the money and whether I had enough. Uncle Nick kept
assuring me I had enough and at some time in the conversation he said I
had a lot of millions of dollars... like fifty. He told Mike a double
indemnity clause kicked in or something which made things a whole lot
better. I'm not sure what all that means, but apparently it meant
something good. I wasn't realy sure how much a million is, as I can only
count up to a thousand and that's a lot. What I was told was a thousand
thousand is a million. Well, that's a lot.
Jr looked at me and said, "Ask them if we can go buy some candy since
you're so rich."
I said, "Let's wait and see if we can get some after church tomorrow."
He agreed and asked me, "Am I going to be your employee, or your friend?"
"You're my friend, but you get paid to do what we did this morning. Isn't
"Yeah, I wonder if we can buy a cart for my alpaca with that money, I
want to teach it some tricks."
"We'll see. I bet we can."
The conversation continued until there was a knock at the door. No one
was expecting company, I thought, but believe me as soon as I saw who it
was, I was running out to his truck. My new tool cat had arrived!
Jr was right on my heels going, "Oh man, that's so cool!"
"You're getting one too and so's everyone else, but just as soon as I
can, we're going out to drive this one. I promise you can drive it too."
Everyone else had came out to see it and apparently Mike was really
excited. He spoke with the man (who also was the one who sold it to us)
and the man was so excited at the prospect of a huge order he gave Mike a
fifteen percent discount and would include the discount of mine in the
deal too. That discount was like getting another free, so Mike ordered a
seventh one for Aunt Paulette and Amy to share.
The man and Mike soon got to talking about all the attachments we'd need
and the more Mike spoke, the more the man was excited. He was stuttering
and saying all sorts of things like rebates, discounts, and percentages
off. It sounded to me like if we bought one thing, we were going to pay a
lot, but since we were buying a lot, they were throwing the things at us
for free. I wished a candy store was like that!
The man showed us how to drive it and at first, Uncle Nick showed me how
to drive it. We drove in it with Jr in the bed of it looking through the
rear window. We stopped to turn around and Jr got up on Uncle Nick's lap
and I drove. I was nervous, but within a few hundred feet, I had the hang
of it. It was real neat and the brakes on it were real easy.
When we got to the house, I took Jr out and when we got to the turn
around spot, I let him drive back. His face lit up like Christmas he was
so happy.When we got back to the house, I got out and Mike got in with Jr
driving. They went down the lane towards the lower field and when they
came back, Jr got out and Amy got in. She drove real good and Uncle Nick
then asked Aunt Paulette if she wanted to drive. She said she did and
when Mike and Amy got back, they took off with Aunt Paulette driving.
Mike was so excited he was telling the guy he wanted a total of seven of
them. One for each of us and then one for Mr.s Anderson and Thompson. All
of them would be equiped the same and the man selling them was sure
One of the items which Mike really liked was the post hole auger. He said
with all of them running an auger, putting up fence wouldn't be a chore
at all. It didn't sound like it to me either, and fences on a cattle farm
were a chore. It required stretching and lots of hours digging holes.
With the holes taken care of, the job was going to be a breeze.
Things went good all the way up until dark. Jr and I drove around and the
adults all stayed in the house talking. Uncle Nick and Mike made plans on
going over to Mike's old farm and the one he used to work at so they
could see them. I didn't need to go to Mike's old farm as I'd snuck over
there often enough. What I knew of it was there were a lot of sticker
bushes over there and lots of trees. They'd let it grow up and become
terrible. Mike said we'd have to have someone come in and clear it off.
Uncle Nick suggested we rent a dozer and do the work ourselves and have a
huge bonfire. Then Mike said he thought the wood from the trees could be
used for firewood and then once again they got excited about all the
little trucks we would be having.
At some time about dark, Jr and I was down the road and he said, "Billy,
can I kiss you?"
I said, "Sure, come here!"
We kissed and I felt really happy all over. He said, "When we get back to
the house, let's ask if you can stay all night over at my house."
"O.k., but I doubt if they let me as we have church tomorrow."
"We go to the same church, so that's not going to be a problem. We can go
and you can go home with them then."
"I'll ask, but I doubt if they let me."
"O.k., let's ask. You never know..."
When we went in, Uncle Nick and Mike took us out to the barn and showed
me where I was going to be parking my little truck. Mike made a joke
about putting numbers on them to be able to tell all of them apart. I
said, "Can I have a name on mine instead?"
"Sure, what name would you like on yours?"
"Old Bessie, she was the best cow I ever had."
"Then Old Bessie is what your little truck will be known as from now on."
I was really happy. I wish I had a picture of her, but having her name on
my little truck was good too. Jr said he wanted to call his a name he
wanted to call his pony he'd always wanted. So, he was going to call his
little truck lightning. Mike said, "If you call yours lightning, then
I'll call mine thunder, then when you see us coming you'll be able to
say, 'here comes lightning and thunder!'"
Uncle Nick said, "I want mine to be Old Blue, that's the name of my first
pony and I bet Paulette will want hers called something named after a
flower. She did ask me to have the wheels painted pink on hers."
"Oooh, Pink? That's a girls color!"
"Billy, she's a girl, she likes girl colors."
"Oh, I forgot. Well, that's o.k., then."
We went in the house and Aunt Paulette and Amy were making supper. They
were turning out to be good friends and I was happy for Aunt Paulette.
And, just as Uncle Nick said, once Aunt Paulette heard the names of ours,
she wanted a girl name of Petunia. Amy wanted hers to be one to match
Mike and Jr's. She wanted hers to be called 'Rain'. It sounded cool to
me, 'Lightning', 'Thunder', and 'Rain'.
As we were beginning supper, Uncle Nick said grace and the phone rang.
Aunt Paulette answered it and handed the phone to Uncle Nick. As he was
speaking, she said, "The sheriff's calling to tell us they've apprehended
the guys. We can sl**p easier tonight."
"Who were the other two?"
"I don't know honey, but I bet Nick will know when he gets all the
I listened to the conversation Uncle Nick was having and he was finding
out who the other guys were. The sheriff told him the guys names as he
said the local news would be having that information just as soon as the
press release was given.
After the phone call, the conversation shifted over to who the guys were
and the adults knew the names. It turned out they were all living at the
same house and were making d**gs at the house. The evidence they had at
the house showed the items missing from our barn were in that house.
Uncle Nick said it was really a open and shut case as they had a lot of
meat in their freezer and he was sure DNA evidence from Old Bessie would
match. He said they'd also found a lot of other evidence at the house,
but didn't say what it was.
Jr and I asked if we could spend the night together again, and
surprisingly, Uncle Nick and Aunt Paulette agreed for me to spend the
night with Mike, Amy, and Jr.
We were through eatting, so I excused myself along with Jr and we ran up
to my bedroom to get things I would need.
When we went downstairs, Uncle Nick said, "Billy, would you please come
with me to the office?" The look on his face looked like he was upset
about something and I got worried I was in trouble for something.
We went into the office and he said, "Sit down, I need to ask you a
question which I didn't want anyone else to hear."
"O.k. Uncle Nick, am I in trouble?"
"No, but we should be because I feel like just as big of an ass as you
will when I tell you what's on my mind."
"Yeah, it's a big oh."
"Ok, what's wrong?"
"Billy, how would you feel if Jr and his f****y came over and were making
all these plans like we're making and they wanted you to help?"
"I'd think it was neat and feel honored they thought enough of me to
allow me to help."
"Wouldn't you feel a little left out?"
"Not if I could help them."
"That's the way they feel right now because they need someplace to work
and we're offering it to them. But, how would you feel if after
everything's done and you've worked real hard doing everything. Wouldn't
you feel a bit insecure that they got everything they wanted from you and
now, you're nothing more than an employee?"
The realization suddenly hit me. "Oh, I never thought of that Uncle Nick.
I'd be scared."
"Yeah, and we've been doing all this thinking and Mike's been so excited
and he's anxious to do everything he could for us. You, well, you're
throwing in an awful lot of money. Me and Paulette, we're throwing in
everything we've worked for all this time. Them, well, they're throwing
in all that knowledge and both of us know their work and knowledge are
going to help the farms grow bigger. Right?"
"So, why don't we ask them to be a partner in this effort too. Not an
equal partner, but just the same, I'd like them to know that when it's
all going, they'll have an interest in it which won't be sold out to
someone who will work cheaper."
"That's good Uncle Nick because I sure wouldn't want them to feel bad
enough to take away Jr."
"No, and I wouldn't want them to take away their friendships either. Mike
and I have been friends for a long time and I don't want them to think it
is in jeopardy."
"So, what do you say we call your Aunt in and tell her and ask her what
she thinks and then afterwards, go out and tell Mike and Amy. O.k.?"
"Sure, I'll take Jr upstairs after we talk and that way you all can tell
"You can stay if you want."
"No, I think it'd be better coming from you. It was your idea."
"O.k., but you're a partner in this too."
"O.k. But all I want is Jr to be my friend."
"I understand and that's what I want with them."
"You want Mike for a boyfriend?"
"No, not in that way, but there once was a time I could've...but don't
let anyone know. O.k.?"
"Wow, you two would have made an awesome pair!"
"Yeah, but we were young just like you and Jr. That's why I don't think
either one of us will ever stop you two. We both remember that if things
were different, we'd be together."
"No, that's reality and that's life. My daddy knew and to be quite
honest, that's why his daddy moved away. I think that's why my daddy
never left your farm to me."
"That is awfully mean."
"That's the way some people thought. Your mama knew and Bless her soul,
she never told anyone. If your daddy had known, I'd probably be on his
"My daddy didn't like gay people?"
"Your daddy would still love you Billy, but he never would understand
"Well, he will understand now between Jr and I as he can see us from up
"Yes, and I'm sure the good Lord is telling him he approves of people
loving each other no matter what."
"I think so too. Why won't people just mind their own business?"
"That's the way people are Billy. You just remember so when people judge
other people for whatever reason, it's to make themselves feel superior
to someone and that's all it is. It's sure not loving someone if they do
that, is it?"
"No and I won't like them because of it."
"Me neither. Well, let's call your Aunt Paulette into the office here and
then we can let you go stay the night with Jr."
He left the office and soon Aunt Paulette came in. The first thing she
did was come over, look at me and say, "You o.k. Baby?"
"Yeah, I'm o.k."
She looked at Uncle Nick. "What's going on?"
"I thought of something and just as soon as I did, I felt like a mule had
kicked me in the stomache. I saw something was wrong, so I called Billy
in to see if he was o.k with what I thought. Once he was o.k with it, we
agreed to ask your opinion."
"O.k, what's on your minds?"
"We've been making plans for this all day hon, and not one time have we
really thought about Mike and Amy's feelings on this."
"We've offered them a lot, how can you say that?"
"We've offered them jobs and that's it. How do you think they'll feel
down the road when they've worked their hardest for us and see they could
be replaced by someone cheaper?"
"Oh" Her voice faltered and said, "Nick, you go out there and tell them I
want them to be a part of it. Whatever you do, make them feel they're
secure. I'm building friendship with Amy and I'd sure hate to think she
wasn't getting treated fair."
"That's what I realized and then told Billy. He feels the same way. It's
just making me sick we never really thought of them in all this. But, I'm
glad we thought of it now and we're correcting that mistake."
"Can I go upstairs now?"
"You go on upstairs and Paulette and I will go out and tell them it's
"It's another word which means agreed upon as in feelings."
"Oh, o.k. So, it's mutual that Jr and I like each other."
"Yes, that's a good way to use it."
"Well, I'm going upstairs."
We all left the office and went into the kitchen. I looked at Jr and
said, "Come upstairs, Uncle Nick and Aunt Paulette need to talk with your
mom and dad."
He gave me a look which asked me if I was in trouble and I just said,
He took off running and said, "I'll race ya!"
Like a heard of thundering elephants we raced up the steps.
As soon as we got to my room, he grabbed me and hugged me. "You're not in
trouble are you?"
"No, but I should be, but Uncle Nick's taking care of that right now."
"What did you do?"
"Well, all day today, your dad and mom have been here helping us and
thinking of different ways they could make things better so we could make
the farm a success. Right?"
"Yeah, daddy says he's going to really like working for you guys and so
"Well, right now, downstairs, Uncle Nick's making your dad and mom a
partner in the farms."
"Yeah, we felt bad about not inviting them, so now we're correcting that
"Daddy's going to like that!"
"I'm liking it too. It means you won't ever have to leave me."
"Billy, I would never leave you."
"Nick, I'm not doing this to better myself. I'm doing it to help that boy
upstairs. Now, if you want to make me a partner in these farms, I'll
gladly walk out the door right now. All I'm bringing to the table is my
know how on raising cattle. There's not a penny I can invest and that's
"Mike, listen to me. I'm putting our farm on the line. I'm putting
Paulette and I's future on the table. Yes, it does have monetary value,
but it's also Billy's future because he's just as good our son. Billy
thinks, and I think, you've brought enough to the table. You being here
means we can have a life away from the farm. We can live a normal life.
We're not a slave to some b**sts whose very existence depends upon us.
You'll be there to step in and that means the world to us. Now, if you
think you've not brought enough to the table, then tell me what your
knowledge means to you, because I'll tell you now, it meant enough to us
when we bought the cattle you raised to know we were getting damned fine
cattle.We paid for them because they were the best cattle there bar none.
It means the world to Billy to have your son with us to be a friend. That
might not mean much to us, but it should. You remember how much your
friendship meant to us when we were little. I was there for you, and you
were there for me. I love you like a b*****r and there were times, you
were the only one there for me. Now, you tell me it doesn't mean much to
me? Get real man!"
"Nick, let's go outside and discuss this rationally."
"Mike, this is one time I've got to say no to you. Paulette's futre and
your wife's future is dependent upon the decision. I don't want to take
any guff over this. I just want you to agree."
"You say you're doing it for the boy's future. I'm doing it for Jr's
future. Yes, I raise cattle for a living, Nick, but if it's really known,
all I'm doing is trying to put meat on the table. Our goals are similar
here. We're just trying to make a future for the k**s. Now, if you want
to put anyone's name on the dotted line, then put Jr's name on it. I'll
work my tail off just the same, but I'd prefer my name not be on it.
Don't ask me why, but I don't. I'll stay and secure their futures, but I
don't want to share equal billing when I didn't bring anything to the
Nick walked around the table and shook Mike's hand. He turned to Paulette
and said, "Babe, we've got him on the best way he'll stay. It's better
than nothing, but now we've got to get Billy to agree. Tomorrow, we'll
ask him what he thinks."
Paulette looked across the table, "You better ask Jr what he thinks too.
He's the one who's going to be sharing it. Now you two go outside and
leave us women out of your haggling."
They all laughed and Nick and Mike went outside.
When they got outside, Nick turned to Mike, "Mike, you know as well as I
do we just gave those boys what we couldn't have. I've got an oath I gave
and you do too, but you know I loved you more than that land over there."
Mike had tears in his eyes, "Nicky, if things had been different and our
daddies hadn't found out, we'd be together. They did and it nearly ruined
our lives. I loved you too. I loved you enough to put up with the hell
that old man put me through after we moved."
"I'm so sorry. If we hadn't gotten caught, we'd be a lot better right
now. But we did. Let's just make sure the boys get a chance we didn't. If
in the future they don't like each other, then we'll deal with it, but
Billy's already told me he likes Jr."
"Jr says he likes Billy too. We were the same age, you remember?"
"Yeah, it was a lot further to walk to school then, and I'm just glad the
boys have it easier."
"Amy says she's going to support him in anything he chooses. I think she
knows about how I felt about you. There were some times when I saw you in
school, it nearly tore my heart out. She saw, and she picked up the
pieces. She's not let it be known, but I think she's figured it out."
"She's smart. If she didn't see you looking at me, I'm sure she saw me
looking at you. It was damned tough. I don't know how many times I saw
you and had to duck out someplace because I was crying."
"Me too." Mike paused, "Well, that's all under the bridge now. We've got
what we've got and we're going to have to make the best of the
"I'm glad you're here, and I'm glad the boys finally have it so we can
join those two farms together and get a chance at what we'd hoped back
then. Heck, they've got it better because they've got all those hay
fields. They're going to have it made."
Mike looked at Nick, and then said, "Nick, did you ever go see Brokeback
"No, was it any good?"
"Oh hell man, we went and saw it and the only thing I could think was it
was our story. I can't tell you how I finally had to go to the restroom
because I was losing it. By the end of the movie, I'd made myself sick. I
don't think even cold water on my face hid my eye's from Amy."
"I'm glad I didn't go then. Paulette's understanding, but I imagine she'd
be a lot less understanding than Amy. She'd probably be in town now
living at her mama's."
"She going to be fair to the boys?" Mike asked with concern.
"Oh hell yeah, she's understanding about them. I just don't think she'd
be as understanding about me though."
"Well, I don't imagine. If we'd gotten together, I don't think I'd
understand you mooning over someone else."
"You wouldn't have to. We'd had what we wanted."
"Well, We've got now, so let's work on it. I'm just going to tell you
now, don't let on such the boys catch wind. If the time comes, we'll tell
them, but I don't want them to know."
"Mike, you were always strongest of us two."
"No, I was a weak motherfucker when it came to you. You knew me better
than anyone and you had my heart. That's why it was so unfair. If it'd
been us that split us up, then we'd be a whole lot better about things
now. I'd probably not speak to you, but we'd sure as the world wouldn't
be where we are now. There are times now, I still look at you and think
about what might've been."
"Me too....Me too."
"Well, we can talk, but let's not cross the line to cause us any more
grief than what we've got in our hearts. We'll have these conversations,
but that's all I can offer."
"I understand. I appreciate what you're giving. I really do."
"I know you do."
By this time, they were out at the barn.
"Nicky, you and that boy sure bought some fine cattle. Their breeding
program is going to put them in the top of the state's herds."
"You'll be there to take credit for it too. I want you to be."
"I'll be there, but I'm going to point the finger back."
"Mike, what's the shit about you not bringing anything to the table
financially. You know money doesn't mean a thing to me!"
"Nicky, you gotta let me do it how I need to do it. Amy would have really
had me out of there if she'd thought I wasn't entitled. She's been around
me too long to know that's not the way it is with me. You are the only
one I'd even consider it with and having you in my heart with her and Jr,
"O.k., but that's not what I was intending. I just didn't want you
building up resentment in the future and have you hauling tail."
"I doubt if I go anywhere Nicky. We're back where we belong and that's
how I want it."
"Me too. Well, what do you think about the alpaca's?"
"My boy's got it in his head he wants to raise some. I've done some
looking into them, and they're a sign of the future, I think. Their coats
can be shorn like sheep and their meat is going for a nice price...better
than cattle. One thing you'll learn about alpaca's is they're a docile
a****l and a smart a****l. A cow will shit all over it's own pasture and
feed right next to their excrement. Alpaca's have a communal dung pile
and won't feed near it."
"Wow, I didn't know that!"
"Yeah, the boys couldn't have picked a better a****l for pets. They don't
bite and rarely if ever do they spit. They're docile and if one spits,
then that's either a sign the boys have done something wrong, or we've
got to watch that one and get it to the sale barn. They've got
temperments and each is individual, but a bad spirited one, we don't
"I'm going to switch subjects on you. What do you think of this with Gray
"I've not kept up with Gray, but he's always been a real asshole. I think
he knew about us and he didn't say anything because there were times I
thought he was looking at me in the showers at school. Now, him doing
what they did with his cousins? I think the one cousin talked the other
one and Gray into doing what they did. That's just my thought, but I
can't see Gray just going out and doing something like that to a total
"We don't know them, or him anymore. They said they were involved in
making d**gs. So, what else they might've been capable of, we don't
"Nick, stop a second and think about it. Gray isn't on the stuff. He's
not, because all the times I've seen him in town, he's been full weight
like he was in school. The other two, I don't know. I can't remember
them. The one...the best thing I can say is the dude looks like a vampire
he's so pale. I'd be willing to bet you he's the one that put the other
two up to everything."
"Well, they're all in jail now, so I imagine one's going to talk to save
his hide. From what Billy said, the one that was up by the house is the
one that probably poured the gasoline through the house from what Gray
said to him."
"Probably so, but the one that's the ring leader probably was the one out
at the barn. He sounds like he's the sort that will hide out and
slaughter a defenseless a****l, but send the others to do the dirty
"Well, they're all going to go away for this one. It's just a shame they
didn't have dogs over there."
"Speaking of that, I'm going to tell you now, I prefer to have a dog
around and I'll probably have several. I just want you to know now."
"I'm not going to mind as long as they're not the attack kind."
"Any dog will attack, but they're the best form of defense a cattleman
can have. They'll bark when a cow will only moo. A dog will let out that
alarm when a cow is too far away for us to even here. I'd just prefer it
if we have an alarm system that will give us a chance to get out a
shotgun and go out to stop something from happening. Also, a dog will
tend to keep a coyote or a wolf away. They just don't encroach on each
"O.k., let's just make sure the boys have a choice in the matter because
they're likely to make them into a pet."
"Yeah, I know Jr will."
"You've got a fine boy in him. He looks just like you did back then."
"Billy is the spitting image of his mama. I saw him and instantly thought
back to that time and it was just uncanny."
"Well, I'm glad they're taking a notion to each other. I'm just glad
you're back around. For too long, I've not had a friend I could call my
own....well, not since you left."
"I know. It's been the same for me. Now, I'm going to do a subject switch
"O.k., shoot. "
"Those two guys over on those farms...Anderson and Thompson....you do
know they're lovers don't you?"
"I guessed it, but all I knew was they'd farmed together all these years,
but the one had a f****y."
"Well, when we went through all the troubles we did, my dad told me the
history he knew and it turns out they were lovers way back an the one
went out and got the girl knocked up in the military during the war. He
kind of shelved his love life with the other when he brought her and the
k** home. The first thing my dad did was beat the tar out of me and
question me if we'd went over and got taught to be faggots by them two."
"Oh, Mike, I'm sorry."
"You knew my dad. He'd put one and one together and come up with ninety
six, Nick. He wasn't the best when it came to brains. He just was too
paranoid to give us credit for coming up with us liking each other on our
"Mike, we just need to make sure they don't catch the flak we did."
"I'm not going to stop them. In fact, if they want to go over to that
farm over there and learn how to see two guys living together as role
models, then it's fine with me. I want them to have the best future they
"Me too. Speaking of them, did you know they were together back then?"
"Heck no! I didn't know a thing the whole time...not until my dad said
it. Then, afterwards, I kicked myself for not getting us to go over as I
think it'd probably been better for us not to get caught."
"Mike, if we hadn't gotten caught, where do you think we'd be today."
"Oh, I'd say, my dad probably would've still died and I would have gotten
the farm. You'd probably came over there to live and we'd still had Billy
with your s****r and her husband as neighbors. That would have been
"Yeah, s*s accepted us. You knew that didn't you?"
"Well, I didn't know she knew, but I suspected. The amount of time we
spent with each other had to gotten people suspicious. I just kick myself
for not taking the truck that night and us going somewhere different to
park. Then, things wouldn't have happened like they did."
"As you know, hindsight's twenty/twenty. We didn't know we'd gotten
caught, and who's to say we wouldn't have gotten caught at a different
time? It happened and at least we've got each other as friends now."
"You bet 'cha. I'm thankful for that myself."
"One thing I need to ask you Mike, is to measure the distance from the
Thompson place over to here. I think we need to put up another fence
along that one and put in some wind breaks so the boys can drive those
trucks back and forth....well, the women too for that matter. What I'm
getting to is I don't want us to inadvertantly have a bull in one of
those fields and it to charge a truck."
"I was thinking about that myself. What I was thinking about how we
should pour gravel, or blacktop a strip of pavement because as easy as
those are going to be on the soil, they're still going to wear down the
grass in the Spring and we'll have a mess. I don't know how much a strip
of pavement or gravel for that matter will cost, but that's the best
thing I can think."
"Let's go with asphalt. The one thing I want to teach the boys is to do
things right the first time as it'll save problems down the road. If we
go with gravel, yes, we'll save money, but if we've got to put down
asphalt later, then we're time ahead if we do it now."
"You're right. I'm just not used to having a budget that's allowed me to
do that. If that's what you want, then we'll do it. I agree totally it's
the right way to be and I'm sure we're going to be doing things right by
having Amy as an onsite vet."
"True. That in itself will be a savings just in potential problems.
Paulette will save us money and make us money, but Amy's going to be a
"Yeah, that's what I think. She doesn't realize how many people have
needed a place like we're proposing."
"Nick, can I suggest something else I want the boys to learn?"
"You don't even have to ask, Mike. You know it's just us here, tell me
what you're thinking."
"Well, I feel strange about taking Billy's care for granted. That's why I
"Treat him like you do your own, that's all I ask and I know you'll do
that, so what's on your mind?"
"I want us to get on the board of some of the things with the county. I
want the boys to have a hand in making their future better. For so long,
I know I've felt some of the decisions being made there haven't been ones
I agree with and there's no one to blame but myself. I just think if I'd
been there doing more, I could've made a difference."
"You're probably right. Those guys take care of their own and some of the
things done just scream of them taking care of themselves. Foley's the
highway commissioner and he has asphalt all the way to his farm...no
other farmer can say they went from a dirt lane to asphalt, but he sure
"Yeah, that one didn't even look suspicious. He built that new bridge and
the way the highway looks out by his place just says to me they certainly
know where their funding comes from."
"What sort of offices do you want to try for?"
"I don't know. Ag commissioner....rural power....well, being road
commissioner wouldn't hurt us any!"
"I agree, but if the road out there gets to be too well traveled, then
we've got to be careful with the boys and their little trucks. I'd have
to have them hurt crossing it."
"If it gets that well traveled, I'll go to the county and get a box
culvert put in that's big enough to allow them to drive under the road as
well as allows cattle to move from over here to over there. With them
being the biggest rachers in these parts, I don't think they'll be
ignored...or at least, they better not be."
"That's why we should be on different boards. You protect our interests
in one area and I'll protect them in another area. If we could get the
women on some, we'd have it sown up!"
"Well, Amy would be better suited on the Ag commission and Paulette would
be better suited for finance. She knowing the budget would certainly tell
us where the money's headed."
"You're right, let's go in and talk with them about it."
The two went back into the house. When they got there, the women were
seated at the table doing some scrapbooking.
"What you two up to?"
Paulette smiled, "We just thought we'd take some of these receipts and
make the boys some scrap books of the beginning of their farm. Later,
when they get older, they can look back on it and see we were thinking of
Nick smiled, "That's a good idea. Do you care to have company? Mike and I
have a few ideas we'd like to run by you two."
"Sure hon, you sit here and you can be designated scissor man. Mike,
you're in charge of glue. Now, what's your your mind? Because our jobs
got a lot easier!" She said with a chuckle.
Nick chuckled too and looked over at Mike, "Do you wonder how we got
roped into this?"
"I do...it all started with the words, "I do"!" He said with a laugh.
Everyone chuckled and Mike began, "Nick and I have a few ideas we'd like
to run by you."
Paulette and Amy looked up at him.
"We're wondering if you two as well as us would like to take on the
challenge of going to the county meetings and getting ourselves on a few
of the committees or boards."
"Don't we have to be elected on them?" Amy asked.
"No, sometimes, they form the committees just from interested parties.
Others, yes, we'd need to get elected, but that wouldn't be bad either as
it'd show the boys how to be a part of the voting process."
Pauletted asked, "What sort of committee? I for one sure don't want to be
on a committee which oversees the county fair. That'd be a real
"No, what we're wondering is this....you have a professional ability to
oversee finance, so that'd be where we'd focus you. Amy, you're better
with a****ls, so ag would be better where you'd excell."
Paulette looked at them, "What's brought this on?"
Mike without missing a beat said, "Nick and I were out at the barn and
one thing led to another and we were discussing different things which
we've felt would've benefitted us if we'd been better at participating.
We discussed it and we think it'd be good for the boys as it'd show them
to be more active in the county's governing and it'd not have them
thinking they're a vital part of things if they only reach out."
"So, this is a way to help them learn to be better citizens" Paulette
said, "I like it! I've thought a few things needed changing down there
myself. One of them is the distance the fire and emergency units are from
this part of the county. A satellite office could mean the difference in
someone living or being severely maimed over here in case of an accident.
I can't help but to think that if a fire truck had been closer, Billy
wouldn't be an orphan now."
"That's true. Maybe that's a committee Nick could be on. With you being
on a committee over finance, you will know where the money's spent and
ear marked, so we can know what's going to be in the future."
Nick stepped in, "And, you'd know if something's not going to benefit us
down the road by knowing where the money's going."
Paulette smiled, "Amy, what do you think?"
"I think being on the Ag committee would be great. You don't know it, but
that committee oversees who is the one that pays for things like food for
the elderly at the county home and it's just now the crops and livestock
like most people think. Someone who is in on the committee now is going
to be making decisions for the upcoming baby boomers that are retiring
now. You may not realize it, but the county home is in deplorable
condition. Most people don't think about it until they need it and once
they're in there, it's really too late to improve it. I'd like to see
about doing something now to have it be a better facility. If given the
right foresight, we could get a facility built that would be one the rest
of the state would wish they had."
"That's a good idea!" Paulette said, "I didn't know that! Our parents are
getting to an age now they might not have any other choice soon and I've
really not thought about the home out there. We should see if they give a
tour and then, we'd know what it's like before we went into a committee
meeting. I'd like to be on that committee too."
Mike smiled, "So, you're in agreement this is something we need to set
out to start doing?"
Paulette paused and then said, "Yes, I'm in agreement. I want to be
involved, BUT, I don't want to become so active the boys suddenly see us
gone all the time. If given a choice of helping or the boys, I'd make the
choice of them over anything."
Nick interjected, "Most certainly, that's not what we're saying. What
we're saying is we need to be active, but not over extend ourselves."
Paulette said, "I think if we did things right, my parents would be more
active in either being on a committee too, or they'd be happy to watch
the boys on the nights where we have commitments that overlap. I'll ask
Nick smiled, "Why don't you ask your parents what they know about things
and what they've heard. I'm sure they probably know someone who is on one
and could give us some advice on how to go about being more involved."
"I'll ask, as I'm sure my parents would know someone. Mike, what all are
your interests, so I can know what we'd each be best in asking about.?"
"As you know, ranching and raising cattle, but I'm really interested in
the roads, or something which would help us in the long run. The school
is one which I know is going to affect the boys, so I think it'd be good
to get some influence there."
Nick said, "I do know the school board appointed someone from this area
the last time because they didn't have anyone run. It's an elected spot
and you'd most likely run uncontested for that seat. That's a good plan.
Also, the commissioner's positions are elected, so we'd each have to run
for one of those seats, but it'd be good to see us on the seats in the
Paulette smiled, "I sure never thought about it, but it'd be something
I'd really like to do. Guys, this is a great idea!"
They sat there and cut out scrapbook tidbits, photos, and receipts as
they talked. Eventually, Mike and Amy left agreeing to meet together for
Sunday dinner after church. They agreed to bring makings for a feast of
Beef roast, carrots, potatos, and all the trimmings.
After church, I rode home with Jr and his f****y. When we got to the
house, Amy and Aunt Paulette went into the house. Mike, Uncle Nick, Jr,
and I went out to the barn and Uncle Nick got a wheel thing and said for
me to drive my little truck to my parent's farm and then we went through
the side pasture gate instead of the gate which the other guys used when
they left the main parking area.
Uncle Nick took the wheel thing and measured to the fence towards the
lane and then told me to drive a straight line towards the Thompson farm.
When we got to the fence, he used cutting pliars to cut the fence and
then said for me to drive over to the fence and drive along it to the
farm. While he rode, he kept the wheel on the ground and measured how far
it was in feet. When we got to the Thompson farm, he told Mike the
distance and then we parked the little truck to go across the fence and
tell Mr. Thompson we were there.
Mr Thompson wasn't there, and Mike said he was probably over to Mr.
Anderson's house. Mike took a slip of paper and left a note for Mr
Thompson telling him we'd cut the fence but it was o.k., as it joined to
our pasture. There was no livestock in the field and Mr. Thompson didn't
have any lifestock, but Mike said he wasn't sure if Mr. Thompson ever put
any of Mr. Anderson's bulls in there. I didn't want to correct Mike in
telling him the bulls were mine now.
When we drove back, Uncle Nick and Mike talked about spacing for
evergreen trees. Mike thought two rows on each side would be enough
spaced eight feet, but Uncle Nick said he thought we ought to have three.
I didn't understand what they were talking about and asked, that's when
they told me they were going to lay a strip of asphalt for us to drive
on. They said they thought a strip eight feet wide would be enough for
everyone to be able to pass side by side. The advantage of it, was it
would be big enough to drive a truck on also.
When we got back to the fence we'd cut, Uncle Nick used his pliars to
mend the fence. I watched and he did a good job. If I hadn't known it was
cut, I wouldn't have been able to see it.
By the time we got back to the house, Aunt Paulette and Amy had a really
good lunch for us to eat. Mike and Uncle Nick talked about getting a pipe
and putting it in the ditch for us to drive over. They talked about the
entrance to the new office being there and then about wondering who they
should contact with the county to get permission. They got involved in
that after lunch and Jr and I drove down to see the a****ls.
The alpaca's were really neat. We fed them and they came over to the
fence for us to pet them. Jr said he'd have to ask for us to grow a bunch
of carrots this summer so we'd have a lot of them to feed them as snacks.
We drove around the farm and as we drove, Jr and I held hands. I'd sneak
glances over at him and he'd look back at me. We shared driving and it
was fun. One thing which rested at the back of my mind would be going to
school tomorrow and not having him in the same school with me. I told him
and he seemed just as bummed about it as me.
We were down by the creek when we heard the truck horn off in the
distance. Jr said that usually was a sign he needed to get home, so we
hurried back up to the house. Mike and Uncle Nick were standing outside
and said Mr. Anderson had called and one of the bulls was in need of
medical care. He said Mike and Amy were going to use my little truck to
go over to help.
I asked if I could go, but Uncle Nick said I'd probably get in the way,
so Jr and I went inside to play Tonkas in the living room while Uncle
Nick watched sports on t.v.. Soon Aunt Paulette came in and asked Jr and
I to come to the kitchen. She was making some popcorn balls and wanted us
We went in and I think we ate more than what we made. At least I knew I
was full! But, we had a good time popping popcorn and mixing it all up.
One trick Aunt Paulette used which was neat was she put the mixed stuff
into zip lock bags she's sprayed cooking oil into so it didn't get our
hands all greasy. We moulded them from the outside and then would turn
them out onto wax paper when we were done. Jr and I had a good time
making popcorn ball men on the wax paper. Aunt Paulette helped us because
she got into her gingerbread house supplies and got us gumdrops and candy
corn for the various eyes and mouths.
After a long time, Mike and Amy came back and said Delta Dawn had a
problem and was very sick. Amy said he'd gotten some soured hay and
basicly the only thing they could do was feed him lots of milk to get him
over it. She said medicine would work too, but milk was the cheapest way
of doing the same thing. Mike said she and Jr were going to go on home,
but he'd go over and sit up with Delta Dawn and Misters Thompson and
Jr left with Amy and Uncle Nick decided to go with Mike to see the bull.
I stayed with Aunt Paulette and we went through the photo albums taken
from my parent's house. Everything smelled like the smoke, so Aunt
Paulette scanned the photos into her computer and made me a photo album
to view on the computer. There was a photo of mama and daddy when they
got married that she made larger and printed out. She put it into a photo
frame and we put it in on a wall in my bedroom.
One thing she wasn't expecting was me asking her to make me a photo of
her and Uncle Nick's wedding so I could put it on my wall too. I told her
she and Uncle Nick were like my new mama and daddy and she got tears in
her eyes and hugged me. It was then I told her I wished I had a digital
camera so I could take pictures of Jr, Mike, and Amy. She said she'd get
me one this week and said it'd probably be good for us to have several
photos of the livestock so we'd have proof for insurance purposes. I told
her I wish I'd had a photo of old Bessie. She said, "Maybe we can get you
another cow and you can call her "new Bessie"" I told her I liked that
About eight o'clock, Mike and Uncle Nick came back and got something to
eat and filled a thermos. They took a few of the popcorn balls and filled
two of the old milk cans with milk. We didn't have milk cows, but a cow
that was nursing could provide just as good milk We had several of those,
so they rounded them up and got about ten gallons which they said would
I went back into the house and Aunt Paulette said for me to go take a
shower and get ready for bed. I didn't even ask if I could play tonkas
because I'd already played them with Jr.
After my shower, I went to bed and Aunt Paulette came up to tuck me in
and say good night.
That week at school, nothing much went on. One boy said his daddy had
gotten arrested, and I wondered if he was related to the guys that burned
our house. I made it a point of staying away from him in case it was as
he was upset about it. Other than that, the week was like any other.
During the week, Uncle Nick went to the lawyer and got all the paperwork
done for the farm. I had to sit with him and he had to explain a lot of
what each paper meant. It was hard, but he put things into terms I could
understand. The main question I had after everything was when we could
begin doing everything and if Jr's f****y could now move into the
Thompson farm. Uncle Nick said they could just as soon as Mr. Thompson
moved his belongings out, and he and Mike were going to help Mr. Thompson
do that the upcoming weekend.
After that, Uncle Nick asked me to sit down and explained to me what all
he wanted to do. He said we'd need to have a stock trailer and a semi and
since we were going to be getting a semi, he thought we ought to get
several trailers so we could haul hay bails to deliver them to people
that bought them. He said it would be a good living just from the hay
sales and he'd get used equipment which would save us money.
I agreed with everything and then he said to me he would be teaching me
how to drive a tractor because in hay season, I could drive one and it'd
help. I thought that was neat and asked if Jr could learn too. He said he
and Mike had discussed it, and Jr would be taught too. He said he didn't
want us near the moving parts of a tractor, and if anything went wrong
with a tractor, we were to shut it off and not to touch a thing until an
adult got there. He said most of the accidents on a farm were either
a****l related or machinery related and the machinery accidents were the
worst because it could hurt or kill a person real fast. He showed me with
a pencil and a string how people get caught up in the pto of a tractor. I
knew then I didn't want to do that. It just scared me with a string!
The rest of the semester, nothing much happened of significance except
the new barns were built and the new office building was built too. The
new road coming in was built and it was neat driving over on the asphalt
to what became the Johnson's farm. Jr and I didn't get to go to the same
school as the Thompson house needed renovations and it was nearly the end
of the semester before they moved in. They said Jr would start the next
year with me, but he'd finish the school year at his old school. Jr was a
little upset about leaving his friends, but knew we'd only have one year
before everyone got to rejoin at the middle school as it was combined.
Jr and everyone else got their little trucks. Misters Anderson and
Thompson both liked their and they soon started coming over to the office
to help with the various chores around it. Both of them were really proud
of what all we'd accomplished and knowing they were happy, made me feel
good about everything too.
I liked those two guys. They didn't show how much they cared for each
other physically, but I knew they loved each other just by the way they
looked at each other. It seemed a spark would carry between them and I
What was neat was sometime in May, we did the baling for the first time.
The two older guys came over and showed us how to go about everything.
Uncle Nick and Mike spray painted everything on the tractors bright white
that we weren't to touch. It didn't seem like much, but knowing those
parts weren't what we were to be around kept me from even being near that
part of a tractor.
What was good was I learned to drive a tractor and it made me feel like I
was growing up. Seeing Jr on the other tractor was a neat feeling because
he looked just as proud as I felt. We both knew that Uncle Nick and Mike
both were seeing we were growing up.
One other good thing was sometime during the Spring, Jr and I got to
start helping with the feeding. It wasn't hard, we just had to be careful
of being in amongst the cows, or buffalo when they realized it was time
to eat. One time, I was in the middle of the big O shaped fence we put
the bales in a little too long. By the time I was ready to leave, I
looked around and all I saw were buffalo! Needless to say, my truck was
about fifty feet away and so was my cell phone. I couldn't call and I
couldn't even beep the horn. Finally, Jr came to see what was taking me
so long and saw what had happened. He laughed, but for a moment, it was
Another interesting thing was the way we now herded cattle, or buffalo.
Most of the time, herding lifestock, it takes several people as cattle
will dart back and forth. It was Jr who realized cattle don't have eyes
like ours and they see things more from the side than from the front. He
said it came to him one day when he saw a cow stuck in a corner. The cow
was standing in the corner with it's nose facing inward like I used to
have to do when I was in trouble. He said the cow thought it was boxed in
because all it could see was fence out of it's eyesight.
That led us to putting more rounded corners into the pens and fields. It
also gave Uncle Nick and Mike an idea to put on of the roung hooped
things which goes around the bales when we feed onto the front of a
truck's front hitch. The cow would see it an would be driven forward. The
plus side of it was if we drove either a mama or a baby, the other would
follow and soon the whole herd was following us!
A few other things which happened that Spring was Aunt Paulette got me a
new digital camera and gave me the chore of going out and taking photos
of the different a****ls. I took a close up of the a****l's face with the
ear tag and then one from each side. Jr helped in a big way as he liked
the downloading of the camera onto the new laptop we were given for the
job. He got to be really good about documenting them and making files so
everyone knew how to access it. It made it easier to care for them as
that file held the individual a****l's vet forms and documentation.
Sometime in the Spring, Uncle Nick, Aunt Paulette, Amy, and Mike all
started going to meetings with the county. It started off rather slow,
but soon it was going on a few times a week. On nights when they'd be
gone, Mike or Amy would watch me. On nights when they'd be gone
too...which usually were either Wednesday, Thursday, or Saturdays,
Misters Thompson and Anderson would watch us two over at their house.
It was neat because I began to take my voice recorder over, and then Jr
figured out how to hook up the microphone onto the laptop so all we had
to do was set it up and let them remininsce. The good thing was we
learned a whole lot about farming from them two. They'd tell us different
things and then, later we'd ask how to do things when we were out in the
barn, or out in the field. They'd show us and it was amazing how much and
how fast we learned. If you'd gave me a pop quiz in farming, I'd passed
with an A+. One side benefit from all this was the two older guys
insisted we get involved in 4-H.
We found out 4-H didn't have a chapter locally, and the closest one was
over an hour drive. They decided to set up a chapter and we began to have
meetings at the livestock barn so it'd be centrally located for everyone
to drive. We decided to have the meetings on Wednesdays and we advertised
in the newspaper for a month before the first meeting. I was wondering if
anyone was going to show because I hadn't heard anyone talking about it
at school. Jr said he hadn't either so we thought we'd be the only ones
there! Boy, were we wrong! That first meeting had over one hundred and
fifty boys and girls at the meeting! It made us feel good because they
had so many, they decided to have a junior group and an older group. Jr
and I got elected to be the Vice President and President. Jr got
President, but it didn't matter. Where he was, I was, and we were at
every meeting because we liked it so much.
For Jr's project, he did it on Alpacas. Mine was a baby buffalo whose
mother didn't want a thing to do with it. I nursed it with cow's milk
several times a day and made it a huge hay pile in the barn with blankets
over the hay so it could lay and feel secure like it's mama should have
done. The result was the little girl thought I was her mama! When I'd go
out in the truck, she'd follow me and wherever I went, she'd go. I had to
be careful about driving too fast otherwise she'd stop and start
squalling. Then, I'd have to turn around and go back and get out and
nudge up against her like her mama would to tell her I loved her. Then,
she'd shut up and I'd have to give her a bottle. The bottles for her were
huge! Each one was a half gallon and she went through a lot of them!
By the time Summer came, we'd also gotten a garden in the ground and Jr
and I made sure we had rows and rows of carrots. With all the a****ls we
had, we had to treat each one like they were the only one. Each would get
a carrot and soon, we didn't have to herd them anymore as they'd follow
us looking for their carrots. This led to side racks on the little trucks
because they figured out real fast that's where we kept them. Then,
they'd be eatting them and not letting everyone get their share.
One interesting thing of note was the buffalo would eat beets and potatos
like the cows would eat the carrots. Jr and I tried it and once we
discovered this, we made plans to add this to our list of things we
wanted to grow in the garden. I don't think they liked the taste of them
all that much, I think it was the crunch and the texture which they
liked. That's the only thing we could figure out which was similar in all
As time passed, Jr and I were more and more affectionate with each other
when we were about our chores. It was like we were one in our actions and
thoughts. One would start the sentence and the other would finish it. It
got to be so much, the adults were all calling us "the twins". One
benefit was when school got out, we were sl**ping over at the other's
house so much, no one cared. Everyone knew where we were and what was
neat was the adults were all really close. Even Misters Anderson and
Thompson were over quite often. They'd come around and it was like a huge
Then, sometime in June, news came which everyone dreaded. The trial for
the guys would be in mid July. When I heard this, a sickness hit me in my
stomache and I just knew it was going to be bad. I won't go into it here,
but I'll wait to tell you about it later.
One advantage with the weather being warmer was we got to swim. What I
had hoped was we could swim in one of the ponds, but the two older guys
said we couldn't because of the fear of water moccasins.
I hadn't seen many snakes out on the farm, but being told about one of
those snakes really made my skin crawl. I do know when I did see a snake,
if it wasn't a black snake, I was to call one of the adult men and they'd
be along shortly with a shot gun. I learned that after the first time of
seeing one and not doing it right away. Later that night at supper, I
told the story of seeing it and asking what kind it was. When they
discovered it was a copperhead, they wanted to know why I didn't radio it
in. I told them I didn't know I was supposed to! That's when I was told
how much one of them could do if they bit a cow and how much it would
cost for vet bills.After that, I made sure I called it in real fast! I'm
just glad I didn't see one often, but we did have rattle snakes and
copperheads on the farm. The black snakes were o.k., I learned and they
weren't to be shot.
One other event I need to tell you about is the excitement of birth! As
you probably know, we bought a bunch of cattle and some of them were
pregnant. The first full moon when it was time to give birth, we had
three which decided to give birth on one night. It took everything Amy,
Mike, and Uncle Nick could to bring those little one's into the world. I
know it took everything Jr, Aunt Paulette, and I could to run them
whatever they needed to make sure they didn't need to leave the cow. That
was when we decided to put in pens into the new barn and make sure the
cows which were about to give birth were in there. It kept them in the
same area and we didn't have a problem getting the cow to the barn while
trying to give birth. We learned that lesson because the first full moon
happened to accompany a severe rain storm. Two of the cattle decided to
give birth out in the middle of the pasture!
I won't even begin to tell you how much of a mess that was! But, let me
say this...after all that water, and after having to hold an umbrella for
that long, my arms were sore and we ended up soaked anyways. What I do
know was Amy was a lot smarter because she had Jr go get her their
folding picnic shelter. It was like a building with a tent awning top.
They fastened some roll plastic to the sides and them lucky ducks were
The next day, Mike and Uncle Nick moved all the pregnant cattle into the
barn...I wonder why!
“Hear Ye! Hear Ye! All rise for the Honorable John Blanton. Please remain standing until the judge is seated. Then, we request quiet in the court.”
The judge sat down and his flowing robe made him look really huge. He rapped the gavel and then everyone sat down.
The Bailiff came forward and the Judge said, “What do we have today Ricky?”
“Your honor we have Case Number 897650238 State of Missouri Vs James, , and . Murder First Degree. We have Cramer representing the State and Jack Offenhauser representing the defendants.”
The judge rapped his gavel and said, “Have any motions been made for plea agreements?”
Ben stepped forward and said, “Your honor, the state will not allow a plea agreement in this instance due to extenuating circumstances.”
“What's the circumstances?”
“The one lone victim requested none be offered sir.”
“Does the victim realize this is bordering on these gentlemen's rights?”
“I don't think the victim really cares sir, he's being raised without parents due to these gentlemen's actions and....”
“Your honor, I object!”
“Sustained, Cramer, refrain from incriminating statements in front of the jury please. He turned to the Defense Attorney and said, “If you wish to object before I have a chance to speak, I'll most certainly grant similar rights to the prosecution. I know the law very well and can run this court room without your input. Give me a chance to do so and you'll see I do a right fair job.”
“Ok your honor”
“Jury's selected and everyone agrees?”
“Yes your honor, we have thirteen in case one becomes ill.”
The judge looked at the Defense Attorney and said, “You do realize bench trials are more lenient than jury trials, don't you?”
“Yes, your honor, I believe I can defend my clients with a preponderance of the evidence.”
“It's not a preponderance we're looking for...but a verdict. Remember that and you'll give your clients a better value for their dollar. Mr. Cramer, let me see your witness sheet and evidence list. Ummm hmmm, ummm hmmm, ok, you do have all the witnesses subpoenaed and your statements taken?”
“Yes, your honor.”
“Defense, bring forth your witness statements and evidence sheets.”
“Here you are your honor.”
“You've got three clients and they're going to serve as each other's witnesses?”
“They requested this sir.”
“You gentlemen do realize one speck of evidence will not only throw out your statements, but will also put you in contempt?”
They looked at him and he growled out, “Will the three accused please stand!”
The stood and he said, “I believe I asked you a question. Believe it or not gentlemen, I'm trying to get you a fair trial here! Did you hear me?”
From the line of guys when they sat back down, the courtroom was filled with a statement, “Fuckin' kangaroo court”
“Will the defense please stand back up and would the person who made that statement please step forward?”
No one stepped forward. The judge said, “The next outburst in this courtroom will have you ejected and tried in absentia, am I heard?”
“Yes your honor.”
“Then sit down and remember, you are to remain silent.”
The judge looked at Mr. Cramer and said, “Mr. Cramer, make your statements to the jury and then, please make them brief.”
Mr Cramer nodded and stepped forward. He made his statements and told the jury what happened in a story version. Afterwards, he said, “The state will prove. Evidence, dna evidence, and physical evidence will prove the defendants were at the Jacob's residence on the said evening and they set out to rob the farm of items, beef from a cow slaughtered on site, and to kill the f****y by burning the farm to cover their tracks.”
He then went over and sat back down.
The defense attorney stood and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury. What I'm going to do is give you a different scenario in which the gentlemen here standing accused couldn't possibly have done what they've been accused.”
He sat back down and the judge said, “Sir, you do realized that statement sounded a bit like a first year law student making a statement? We're not seeking a retrial here, but we're seeking a fair representation of the law. Am I understood?”
“Yes your honor, there's not much to say. He points the finger and I do what I can to make him out to be mistaken.” he said with a smile. “If that's law 101, it seems to work every day in every court room.”
The judge frowned and said, “Ok, I'll refrain from making any more assumptions. Please do yourself a favor and make these fellas believe they paid for an attorney which cuts it to the quick like you.”
The defense attorney nodded and then, the judge said, “Mr. Cramer, call your first witness.”
Mr. Cramer stood and handed the bailiff a card.
“The State calls the County 911 dispatch operator, Lois Barnes.”
A woman got up and stepped forward.
“Do you promise to tell the whole truth, nothing but the truth so help you God?”
And so it began. He asked her questions and then after she was through, they let her off the stand.
“The State now calls Detective Max Lithrow.”
The defendants looked at each other. A man walked forward and took the stand.
“State your name and qualifications if you will.”
“My name is Max Lithrow. I work for the State Highway Patrol Crime Lab.”
“When you're called in to investigate fires of this nature, how do you proceed?”
“We check the situation to see if it was a fire which started of natural origin, or if it was deliberately set. If was set, then we take test samples to see how it was set and where it originated.”
“And was this a natural fire?”
“So it was set deliberately?”
“How did you find it was set?”
“In the photos I took, you can see char marks which show a trail of a flammable substance. Also, there was a dog there which sniffed the trail.”
“How do you determine where it was set?”
“When a fire starts, it burns there longest. However, when it begins, there's a flashpoint and then the flammable substance ignites. Because flammable substances have fumes, they spread and as that substance ignites, those fumes ignite.”
“Based upon the photos, can you show us where the fire originated?”
“No, but our dog revealed it started at the front door and then trailed the substance. Based upon char marks, we saw the trail led through the living room, in through the dining room and on into the kitchen leading to the back door.”
“And you could tell what the substance was?”
“That's based upon other tests. We took samples of the carpeting in the living and dining rooms as well as the kitchen linoleum and determined it to be gasoline.”
“This was done in your lab with the state?”
“It was done with the lab in our offices as well as the labs of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the F.B.I.”
“Why did you send it to the other labs?”
“We always get other opinions so we have three sources of verification.”
“And they all revealed the substance to be gasoline?”
“Did you send the sample to the carpet to the lab for a determination to see where the trail of gasoline led?”
“No. We have a dog which can sniff that trail.”
“And the dog revealed the trail?”
“Did further tests corroborate the dog's findings?”
“How did you arrive at these findings?”
“Based upon flash and charring of the carpeting. With the tile, it was a different.”
“What do you mean it was different?”
“Due to the tile being a hard slick surface which won't absorb liquids, it spreads.”
“How do you test it?”
“It's rather interesting. Different chemicals react differently with the finish of the tiles constructive material. You have to do tests on different tiles and see how something eats into the finish and then, see how it burns afterwards. Fortunately, the manufacturers send us tiles to use for these tests.”
“Can different cleaning solvents deteriorate the finish?”
“Yes, but no one washes their floors with gasoline and stays around long. Gasoline was the liquid used in this instance.”
“Is that all you can tell from the finish?”
“No. Interestingly, we can tell the container used as well as the rough height of the person who poured it.”
“Different containers have different flow rates. If you notice, a metal can has a different filler neck than a plastic container and based upon those containers, the flow rates are different.”
The judge interrupted, “Can we move this along?”
I looked at the judge. I was listening and paying attention. I knew Daddy had both metal and plastic jugs out in the well shed.
I turned to Uncle Nick and said, “Daddy had all of those jugs out in the well shed. They had to go there first.”
The prosecutor asked, “Were you able to figure out how tall the person was who poured the gasoline?”
“Five foot nine inches tall.”
I saw the defense lawyer begin writing franticly at his desk.
“Uncle Nick, that guy in my room was taller than that.”
“Yes, but look over there at the shorter guy. He was the one out there in the barn.”
“Yes. Do you think he came in the house?”
“It looks that way.”
“So he's the one that set the fire?”
“I think they're pointing the finger that direction.”
The prosecutor turned to the judge. “Your honor, may we have a recess? There's a lot more information here than even I anticipated.”
“Yes, I believe we can have a fifteen minute recess.”
“Your honor, may we have thirty?”
“Any particular reason?”
“Sir, I've got someone testifying who is an expert witness. He's giving information which could if refuted could potentially get this case brought up to appeals if it's found faulty. I'm sure the defense won't argue he'd like to look into this information as do I.”
“Ok, please keep it to thirty.”
The judge stood and we started to get up. The prosecutor came directly over to me. “Billy, I need to ask you something.”
He leaned over so his head was between Uncle Nick and me and asked, “If I can get the other two guys to testify the shorter guy was the one who set the blaze, will you let me get them twenty years?”
I looked at Uncle Nick and he said, “Get them forty and I'll let Billy consider it. We don't want Billy to see these guys out before he gets out of high school when they get good behavior.”
The prosecutor nodded and said, “I hadn't thought of that. I'll push that, but I'm not going to bargain for anything less than thirty five years for them because that can get knocked down to twenty four real fast with good time in our state.”
Uncle Nick nodded and said, “What do you think Billy?”
“I don't want them out. Mama and Daddy aren't going to get out of their graves sooner.”
“Billy, we know that, but if we can get those two guys to testify against the one, then it will have them all worried what the others are going to say.”
I looked at the prosecutor and said, “Offer it to the guy, Gray Daniels, who saved me, but don't let them get out.”
“Ok, I'll go over and see if I can strike a plea with him.”
He went over and spoke with the defense attorney. I saw the man shake his head no, but then Gray shook his head and said loud enough I could hear him. “I'll take it.”
The prosecutor went over to his table and quickly got on his cell phone. He came back and said, “He took it. We'll get him questioned and get him on the stand. If he doesn't testify against them, the deal is off. We'll throw them all in until hell comes to get them.”
Uncle Nick and Aunt Paulette stood up and we went out into the hallway.
A lot of people were there. Immediately to the right is steps which go down to a landing. We saw Mike and Jr over at a bench. Uncle Nick went over to them.
Aunt Paulette said, “Billy, go use the restroom.”
“I don't have to go.”
“Honey, go try. We'll be sitting there a while and it'll cause a disturbance if you are getting up and down.”
“I won't get up and down. It's interesting.”
“I know honey, but please go try. I've got to go myself.”
“Ok, I'll walk you down the steps and go.”
We went down the steps. The line for the womens restroom was long. There were probably fifteen women standing out in the line.
“Go ahead honey.”
“Ok, I'll come back over here.”
I went to the restroom. As soon as I went in, there were men standing inside. One of them said, “Them sons of bitches did it. Did you see the look on that short one's face when that man said it was someone his height!” He chuckled.
I looked at the men. I thought It doesn't bring back my mama and daddy.
I went over and used the bathroom. The one man who was speaking came over and ruffled my hair. “Son, you rest easy. Them guys are guilty and if they get out, we'll see to it they don't make anyone be bothered again.”
I looked up at him and said, “They won't get out. I saw them. They're going to have me testify.”
“Son, if you ever need anything, you come over to the bank in Jacksonville and speak with me. I'll get it so you don't have a worry.”
“Ok. I wish you were there before my mama and daddy died.”
“So do I son....so do I.” He shook his head and went out of the room.
I went over and washed my hands. The roll of cloth was laying out all over the floor and was all used up. I wiped my hands upon my pants legs.
I went back out. Aunt Paula wasn't there, so she must be in using the restroom.
I stood and waited for her. An older lady came over and handed me a handkerchief. “Honey, if you got to cry, use this. It's just so sad what they've made you have to go through. It's just so sad.”
The way she put it out towards me, I couldn't do anything other than take it. I took it and put it in my pants pocket. Aunt Paulette came out and came over to me. “Billy, your pants legs are wrinkled.”
“The towels in there were all used up. I had to wipe my hands on them.”
She smiled. “At least you washed your hands.”
We went back up the steps to the courtroom. Uncle Nick came over and said, “We're going to get Mike and Jr in our row. They got here late and the courtroom was already full.”
Aunt Paulette nodded.
Jr came over and hugged me. “How are you doing?”
“It's interesting. That man who testified had a lot of neat information.”
I filled him in on everything and then Uncle Nick said, “Billy, come on they're getting ready to start again.”
We went in and sat down. The prosecutor and the defense attorney were over speaking. The bailiff came in and told us all to rise again. We stood and the judge came into the room. The judge sat down and then everyone else all sat down.
The prosecutor told the judge about the plea offer of forty seven years offered to Gray Daniels, the man who rescued me, and it's being in effect if the man would work with the prosecution of the other men.
The judge nodded his head and said, “I'm guessing you need time to question him to get his statements before he testifies.”
“Yes your honor.”
“Ok, bailiff remand that man and be sure to tell the Sheriff to get him into protection so nothing affects his testimony.”
The defense said, “Your honor, in light of this event, can we get a continuance?”
The judge's face got red. His lips pursed together until they were white and then, he looked towards the jury.
“Sir, you're attempting to get me to continue this circus putting the juries lives on hold until you attempt to build a defense. It should seem to me you either know these men's innocence or guilt and have contingency plans for circumstances such as these. I'm thinking I'm being generous to give you until tomorrow morning to have your dogs and ponies in order so they can perform. This show is going to roll then.”
He looked at Mr. Cramer and said, “You two get together and get up there so that man is questioned and you have him on the stand at nine a.m. Because if you don't, I'll nullify that plea agreement and we'll go on as we are.” He paused and said, “You get that boy in my chambers because I want to speak with him.”
“Which one sir?” The prosecutor.
“Billy Jacobs. It seems to me you're affecting his life with these decisions. These men are facing considerable time. If they are found innocent or you're making offers which has that c***d enduring more pain in the future, I'm not going to take it lightly.”
The prosecutor nodded. The judge stood and looked at us. “Nick, would you and your wife please bring Billy back into my chambers?”
Uncle Nick nodded and looked at Aunt Paulette and I. He took my hand and then turned to Mike. “We'll be right back.”
We stood up and then Uncle Nick took us forward to the door the judge just went through. The bailiff opened it for us and we went into the judge's office.
The judge was taking off his robe. He hung it on a coat rack and then sat down at his desk.
“Nick, did you agree to that agreement?”
“Yes your honor. They wanted to offer twenty and I told the prosecutor to double it. I didn't want Billy having to deal with them before he was out of high school.”
The judge smiled and said, “So he went and offered forty seven?”
“Apparently. I wasn't within hearing distance.”
The judge looked at me and said, “Billy, come around here please.”
I went around his desk and the judge put me up on it sitting so we were looking eye to eye.
“Billy, I'm doing what I can out there to try being fair. The amount of fairness I'm giving is with YOU in mind first and foremost.”
He shook his head and continued. “I didn't know your mama and daddy personally, but I'm just damned sorry I couldn't put those idiots behind bars longer than I could when they were in front of me previously. I think if I had, your parents would be alive.”
I said, “Sir, you have a job and if you had known, I know you would have. Mr Thompson told me once he got kicked by a mule. He said had he known the mule was going to kick him, he sure would have took the shoe off it so it wasn't wearing them.”
The judge chuckled.
“You're right. I can sort of tell someone is bad business when they're in front of me, but all I can hope is they're going to get their lives in order and then stay out of my court. Most do, but there's others who are gladly taking their places. We don't have many murders in these parts and thankfully so, but when one happens it's usually got me to thinking what I could have done different.”
“Sir, I understand. I raise Alpacas. There are good ones and then, there are those that spit. When they're little, you don't know which ones are going to be spitters and not. They usually learn it from older ones, but just the same one learns it, another standing right beside it won't ever spit.”
He laughed and said, “Yeah, I'll have to try not thinking of any of the people who come in front of me as alpacas. It gives those beautiful a****ls a bad reputation.”
He paused and asked, “Billy, why did you agree with that offer?”
“Because I saw them guys. The one who took the deal saved me. If he hadn't, I'd probably be dead too. The other one was outside. That short one was the one who was in our barn and killed Bessie.”
“It looks like he killed your parents too. What do you want me to do when that man comes up in front of me for sentencing?”
“Make sure they never get out. If that one is the one who killed my mama and daddy, then do what you can to see he dies...if you can.”
“Billy, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I don't think there's enough on him to get him the death penalty. What I will do is get him life without a chance of being released. That way he won't ever get out. How about I give that other guy seventy five years?”
“Sir, can I say something?”
“If those men told me my mama and daddy couldn't see me for seventy five years, I'd think they were some awful people. I'd wait that long to see them, but as it is, I'm not going to see my mama and daddy ever again. That's why I don't ever want to see them again and don't want them to get to see their families again.”
He nodded and said, “You have a good point. Let me see what I can do about that. You don't know it, but I can make recommendations with the prison system of where they're put. Usually, they try to put them close to their f****y for their convenience. What I'll do is request the man be put way far away so their f****y finds it rather hard to see him.”
“How far away?”
“There's a prison down in a town which is five hours by car which they can be placed.”
“Can you make it so they don't ever see each other in there? If they can see each other, then they'll gang up on someone else.”
“I'll put that in my recommendation. What I'd like to ask you is if you'll speak to a woman who is a friend of mine named Fannie. She's over the parole board. They're the ones who decides when guys get out.”
“You're going to let them out!”
“No Billy, but she has a lot of pull inside with those people and I'd like for her to be pulling for you so what you've requested.”
“So you've already decided they're going to go to prison?”
“Billy, you're going to testify, aren't you?”
“Yes. They've already asked me to do it by video, but I didn't want it to be done that way. I want them to see me tell what I saw and I want them to know I'm plenty mad at them.”
“I promise you I've already seen the video you made. If you tell the jury what you told the video, there's not a one of them who is going to let them men get out.”
“Your honor, you want to know what I wish you could do for me?”
“What's that son.”
“I wish you could make it so I could remember my mama and daddy's faces. I'm already forgetting them. I have to look at pictures and then, when I do I get sad all over again.”
The judge had tears in his eyes. “Son, I wish I could do that. Do what you can to remember your mama laughing and your daddy and you were doing something together and what he looked like when you were doing that. It helps. I'm older than you and that's the only way I can remember my mama and daddy.”
“Your mama and daddy are dead too?”
“It makes you sad, doesn't it?”
“Yes, it hurts like all get out....at times. That's why I want you to speak with Fannie. She's a great gal and I just know if you spoke with her, she'd get everything you wanted done.”
“Ok, I'll speak with her.”
He looked at Uncle Nick and Aunt Paulette and said, “I'm going to ask a favor because a lot of what's been said in here needs to be kept in here.”
Uncle Nick said, “Don't worry about that with us.”
“No, what I'm going to ask next is right up there with lightning bolts on ethics.”
Uncle Nick nodded and said, “As long as it doesn't hurt Billy, we'll agree.”
“I want her and Billy to go out there to that farm and talk. I want her to see where it happened. If I can make her see his parents were alive one moment and then his life was damaged over what happened, I want her to never forget this boy.
She's the type of woman who will not forget and will make it a point of every time she thinks about him, she'll make a call to see those men's lives won't ever be peaceful in the prison system...I'll tell you that.”
Uncle Nick nodded and said, “Billy, is that ok with you?”
“Yeah, I don't have a problem taking her there. I don't know her, but I'd like it if she'd be able to make them have mean friends in there.”
The judge paused and said, “Nick, video tape everything out there with Billy telling what he remembers...as if he's giving a complete accounting of the night over. We'll get it put onto DVD so it goes to Fannie. I just know she'll show it to people in there in confidence so those people who are their caseworkers will remember Billy all the way through the years.”
Uncle Nick nodded and said, “We'll do that. That way, their deeds follow them.”
The judge paused and said, “Nick, Paulette, I know you two have loss too. I don't want you to think I'm negating that fact.”
Aunt Paulette said, “We know that. We understand what you're doing. It's fine with us. If it gets justice done beyond the court room, we'll gladly do it.”
The judge said, “Why don't you do a part of the DVD telling about the Jacobs so they know it was your f****y who was killed. I think it'd be good if those people see it and immediately think of their f****y members and the loss they'd feel.”
Uncle Nick asked, “How long do you think this trial will take?”
The judge scrunched his nose and said, “The trial portion should take less than two weeks as long as the prosecutor will keep witnesses like todays off the stand. The man on the stand today was giving valuable testimony, but I began to wonder if he was deliberately throwing in enough questionable material to help the defense for retrial.”
Uncle Nick look startled. “You don't think!”
“No, as you saw, I interrupted and was thankful the prosecutor got the point. I will tell you I came back in here during recess and called that man's superiors to tell them the transcript was being emailed to them so they could get him to not jeopardize anyone's case in the future.”
I looked at the judge and said, “I thought what he said was neat.”
“It's interesting Billy, but that defense attorney previously had nothing to grasp ahold of to save his men. Now, he's got fine threads which he'll use to try saving them. That is how these people get out of these things.”
“They're not going to get free, are they?”
Mike looked at me and had the worst look ever on his face, “Those men won't ever be free. If they do, they'll face back road justice...my way!”
Uncle Nick looked at him and I asked, “What's back road justice?”
Uncle Nick said, “Billy, don't worry about it. Mike is just doing what he can to make sure you know they're not going to be let loose.”
“Ok, you had me afraid there for a minute.”
I heard Uncle Nick and Mike talking. Jr came over to me and said, “Back road justice is when someone gets in trouble and a bunch of guys take them out on a back road and beat the tar out of them.”
“You don't think they're going to be getting out! Do you?”
“No, what did the judge say?”
“He wanted to ask me if I was agreeing to the deal they gave that one guy.”
“Yeah. He'll tell on the other guys and get to get out after forty seven years.”
“It doesn't sound like that's a good deal to me.”
“It is when the other guys are facing never getting out.”
“It still makes him a rat. He'll never be able to show his face around here again without being told that's what he is.”
“No, but I don't want to think about that. If it helps get the others put away forever, that's what I want.”
He nodded and hugged me. “I know it's hard for you.”
“The judge wants me to meet a girl named Fannie. She's probably got a big fanny!” I said smiling.
“Who would name their daughter Fannie?”
“I don't know, but that's what her name is.”
“Who is she?”
“She talks with the people in the prison to make sure the guys don't get treated good. That's what the judge said.”
“I'd like to have that job.”
“Not me. I don't think I'd want anywhere near them.”
We started walking down the steps. We were about all the way down when someone started yelling for Uncle Nick. We all turned around and saw the prosecutor running down the steps towards us.
“I'm sorry Nick, but I have to ask Billy a question.”
He looked at me and said, “The defense attorney wants to have me ask you if you'll agree to giving them life with a chance of parole.”
“What's that mean?”
“It means they'll get life in prison, but they'll have a chance for parole eventually.”
“A parole meeting is when the guy goes up in front of the parole board and they think about letting him out.”
“So they'd get to get out?”
“Not for a long long time. The way it goes is a guy has to wait for twenty five years before he even gets to see them. With the circumstances of your mama and daddy dying, I'll tell you the parole board won't let them go. They'll tell them to come back in five years and when that happens, they'll most likely tell them to wait another five years. They'll keep doing that, but what's good about it is when they have that meeting, you get to be there and tell the parole board about what happened and then tell the parole board you don't want them to be set free.”
I looked at Uncle Nick and he asked, “If they each have both murders is that going to be in twenty five years? Or, is it going to be they go up for parole in twenty five years and then, have to start doing the next twenty five for the second murder?”
“That's a good point. I can ask it be done that way.”
“Do that and then I'll let Billy consider it. I don't want those guys to ever have the privilege of even thinking being set free until they're old and gray.”
The prosecutor nodded and said, “Billy, you stay close to a phone. I think those guys are worried now that one of them is willing to tell what happened. I think they're going to grab ahold of any deal we make.”
“What happens if they want to use what that one guy said to try being set free?”
“The good thing is if they take the deal, it's like this trial didn't happen. There's no chance for them to get a better deal because they're saying this is the best deal they could have gotten. They can ask the judge for leniency, but I'll tell you now that judge isn't going to give it to them.”
Uncle Nick said, “You get them to run them separately and we'll think about it. Until then, he's scared those guys are going to be set free. Let's not scare him any more than he's already been.”
The prosecutor nodded and said, “I'll make that offer that way. Will you consider that if I do?”
“You put it in writing where we can see it and we'll take a look for ourselves it's actually that way.”
The prosecutor nodded and said, “Ok, how about we just go ahead and agree to it being that way because I sure won't offer them it being the other way.”
Uncle Nick said, “How about you just go ahead and run all of those charges they're facing that way? It'll buy time for us and give them more time.”
“Nick, here's the problem with that. The deal is they'll plea to the murders and we'll sweeten the deal with the other charges of arson, cruelty to a****ls, burglary, theft, and all the others to get them to take the worst ones.”
Uncle Nick said, “It doesn't sound good enough.”
“What I'm afraid of Nick is they can take this through trial and use that witness' testimony to get the time reduced on technicalities.”
“Then why in the hell did you let that man on that stand!”
“I'm sorry about that. If I could have told the man to shut up, I would have. Instead, I'll be calling his boss and telling him he sure didn't do us any favors with his testimony.”
“What's his bosses name? I really would like to give him my opinion too.”
“I'll get that for you.”
Uncle Nick said, “I know you didn't deliberately put that man on the stand to do this. If you can get those charges of murder to be ran separate, then we'll consider it. A lot of time is better than no time. I realize it's your job to try to get them the most and their job is to try to get the least, but you tell them we won't even consider it not being that way. We'll take our chances their guy and Billy's testimony will sway that jury to be upset enough to give them the maximum they can.”
I said, “No matter what, I want to know why they did it. They have to tell me why. If they can't, then I'll tell you now I'm not going to let them get out without telling me.”
The prosecutor said, “Billy, I'll see if I can put that in the agreement. We'll do it so they have to make a full confession and write it all out what they did and why they did it. It'll secure the convictions and it'll keep them from ever trying to make themselves a better deal later.”
“How can they make better deals?”
“It's a slim chance at all. What they have to do is they have to hope the judge will even consider it. That's why I'm saying it's a slim chance. Sometimes a judge will do that, but this time isn't one of them. I don't think.”
Uncle Nick said, “You can rest assured it isn't. We spoke with the judge and he's all for giving them a hard time in there. He's wanting to have Billy speak with a woman who can make that happen.”
“Did he happen to mention her name?”
“Oh man, I'll tell you now the judge is baiting a bear trap then. She's head of the parole board. If he's wanting Billy to speak with her, I'll tell you now he's going straight to the top and not holding anything back.”
“Well, he wants her to know what happened and what Billy thought when it was happening. He wants it on DVD so it can be played for their caseworkers and everything.”
The prosecutor smiled. “She'll do it to. I've heard she has the ability to go in and make life miserable for those guys.”
“Well, get that agreement done the way we asked and we'll consider it.”
He nodded and said, “Nick, I'm sorry that man did that.”
“It's not your fault. Let's make it a point of complaining to his boss so no one else is jeopardized in this manner again. They ought to have them practice giving testimony. For a moment, I thought he was deliberately saying things to help them.”
“I think his problem is he's taking the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” a bit far. He's supposed to answer questions and not go on and on like he did.”
“Well, get me his bosses' name because I'll be writing a letter of complaint.”
“I'll do that. Stay here in town because I'll have that agreement done in about an hour.”
“You have to strike while the iron is hot. If those idiots get a chance to go back to that jail and hear what we're doing, then they'll not take it.”
“Does this make the other guy's deal the same?”
“No, unfortunately not. We made that deal so that's what we're stuck with. The good thing is we'll get his side of things because that's already a given. How much he'll say, I'm not sure, but if it's not good enough, I'll request the judge to disallow the agreement and he'll have to either stand trial or take their agreement. The plus side of it is I can tell him that's what will happen once they take it and he'll make sure he gets that better deal.”
“In a way, I hope he doesn't so he has to take the same deal they're getting.”
“I don't think he'll be that stupid. The plus side of it is his f****y is going to be on him something awful for even thinking about testifying against his own f****y. Then, when he's released sooner than the others, he'll have to face all of that again.”
“I guess that's a plus, but it really isn't in my eyes. I'd just as soon Billy not ever have to see them. What's the likelihood of what he'll have to do with good time and everything....honestly?”
“Honestly, they get a chance of parole at fifty percent. That's twenty three years. I'll tell you now, that parole board isn't going to give it to him, so what happens is it automatically goes to two thirds which is thirty one or two. When he gets out, he'll have to do five years parole and what we'll do is we'll make it so there's a lifetime restraining order on him to stay away from Billy. If he so much as attempts to go near him, then he'll have to go back and finish that sentence.”
“Little consolation if he wants to come at him and finish the job.”
“I don't think he will. He had opportunity to finish the job, but chose to rescue him. I think it's a situation of a good man being caught up in a bad crowd. When it counted, his true colors showed and Billy is here because of it.”
“You sound like his lawyer.”
“I probably do, but what I'm saying Nick is I don't think he's one Billy will need to worry about. I'm trying to give you some hope there.”
“Ok, I understand. It's a shame he didn't save everyone.”
“Yes, but we have to take our blessings as they come.”
Aunt Paulette said, “Nick, I think you guys are on the same page. He's telling you not to worry and you're still worrying.”
Uncle Nick said, “I'm just worried what prison is going to do to that man. The best person in the world could go in there and still come out an a****l. My worry is he'll aim that fury at Billy and I'll not around to protect him.”
“Hon, please. I know you mean well and I'm sure this man here means well.
He's telling you to count your blessings and you're spitting in the eye of God. How would you feel if that man had went ahead and finished the job? It took Billy telling us what they looked like. All we would have had was another person to bury and not have anything but suspicions. Be thankful the man was there so we could have Billy to tell us so we got this much justice!”
“Ok, put that way, I understand better. I'm sorry.”
He went over and put his head on her shoulder. “It's just I have to be strong when I have to raise him and know I'm getting to see everything my s****r should have been able to see. His first love. His graduation. Heck, he even learned how to drive and she didn't get to see that.”
Mr. Cramer said, “Nick, what I want you to do is make a victim's impact statement. Have you done that?”
“No, what is it?”
“It's a letter you write which gets read at the parole hearings. You can do it on DVD if you'd like, but the way it's normally done is via letter. What is good about it is it's put in the file and each time they come up for parole, it's read just like you being there.”
“I'll do that. Maybe it would help. Right now, all I can think about is everything my s****r isn't getting to see in regards to him.”
“I know. It's hard. What's good is you can add to it and all of them will be read. I think you need to really consider that.”
“We will. I think Paulette needs to do one too. Her life has been impacted as much as mine.”
“Is that why they're having me do it on DVD?”
Mr Cramer nodded, “Yeah hon. I think it is. They want you to do it because a little boy your age shouldn't have to ever go through this. I think they're having you do it so when it's viewed, those parole board members can look at it and say, “My God, he's just a baby.”
“I'm not either!”
“You might not think so now Billy, but some day you're going to look back on it and think they really robbed you of a lot more than you think.”
“I know they took my mama and daddy. That's more than enough.”
Uncle Nick dropped down on his knee, “They took experiences you would have had with them. That's what he's trying to say. It's not that you don't get to experience them, but you're having to do them with people who aren't your parents. It's not that I don't enjoy doing things with you, but I think your mama and daddy should have been the ones to do them with you.”
“I understand, but I don't want you and Aunt Paulette to think I don't love you for doing them with me.”
“We know that.”
The prosecutor blew his nose in an handkerchief. I looked up and he had tears running down his face. I stepped away from Uncle Nick and went over and hugged him. “It'll be alright.”
He smiled and said, “Billy, you've had to be so strong. I look at how you are and I just know your parents were some fine people. I need to go get that agreement done so we can get you guys to look at it.”
He looked at Uncle Nick and said, “Nick, if I didn't think that man jeopardized this case, that right there would have me still fighting this thing to the end. Instead, we got what we got and now we have to give them the hardest deal we can.”
“Are you doing this because of that man's testimony, or because we have them on the ropes?”
“Both. We have them on the ropes because they're afraid of what their guy is going to say.
I'm feeling like I'm on the ropes because of what that man said. I know if we take this on through, they'll get a retrial based upon his testimony and could get it.
With a retrial, their guy's testimony could be disallowed as they could say it was in his best interest to make them look bad. I think us offering this deal is our only hope to get something set in stone.”
“Ok, get the deal made up as we've asked, go ahead and present it. BUT, you tell them if they don't take it there won't be another. We're not going to whittle this thing down until there's nothing. You've got the best you're going to get. I'll take us being on the ropes and make a noose out of it to hang them myself if need be.”
He nodded and said, “Do you want to look it over?”
“No, because if you didn't give them the deal we agreed to, I'll personally see you're not re-elected. Furthermore, the judge is going to ask Billy if that's what we agreed to and once he tells him no, then you're going to be on the front page of every newspaper being viewed as the man who sold out a little boy's parents.”
“Don't worry, I'm not going to change a thing.”
“Just don't. You now know how far I'll take this. I'd rather have you know it up front. Personally, I think you should have known a little bit more about how that man would testify than you did. It's upsetting, but I also have to tell myself you always have that guarantee. That's why I'm going to be off talking with his boss.”
“Nick, when this is over, I'd like to sit down and talk with you. Have you ever heard of court appointed liaisons?”
“No, what is it?”
“What it is, is someone who comes into the court acting on behalf of people who can't act in their own interests.”
“I've got my hands full as it is.”
“You're not understanding me. Let me explain it better.
The reason I'm suggesting it is because you're not afraid to tell me how you feel. A lot of people view me and judges with a bit of intimidation.
I'll tell you now there are times when I get a head of steam and don't see any other thing except what I've made in briefs. It takes someone with common sense to not be afraid in open court to say, “Hey, that's stupid. Do you really think you're acting in the best interest of this person here?”
“What sort of people get court appointed liaisons?”
“k**s get them. The elderly. The mentally handicapped, and so on and so forth. Heck, people in comas get them because we need someone to speak on their behalf.”
“Am I legally liable for doing it?”
“No, not at all. The plus side of it is it gets you experience. It gets you networked with the people of the court. You can use it to branch out politically, or do what you want.”
Aunt Paulette said, “Nick, look into it. You're wanting to be a county commissioner, that'd be one way of getting your foot in the door.”
“Ok, I'll look into it.”
“Hearing you want to be a commissioner, let me give you a bit of information. Your county commissioner isn't really interested in the job. He's ran the past three times because no one else has ran. If you want to be one, let me get you in contact with him and he'll gladly support you on it.”
Uncle Nick smiled and turned to Aunt Paulette. “Hon, this might be what we've been hoping for.”
He paused and asked, “How much time is this court appointed liaison thing going to take?”
“The plus side of it is it's usually one afternoon a week.”
“How much time do I have to look over that person's file?”
“That's the bad thing about it. You would pick up your files on Friday afternoon and have to be ready for court on Monday afternoon.”
“Is that fair to the people who are represented?”
“Nick, most of the time, it's either for k**s who are getting adopted or for someone who is elderly who can't speak for themselves. They are unable to take care of what is normal capacity and/or themselves. What happens is you basically have a lot of reports in the files which are from doctors, health care professionals, or whatever which say exactly that. You're given the access to the person if you would like and can actually see for yourself, but that's how it goes.”
“Then why do you need a liaison for them?”
“Because sometimes things get screwed up. I'd like to say it nicer, but just a couple weeks ago, we had a mess because we had three people with the last name of Brown who were up on the dockets. Needless to say, somewhere along the way, we had a patient in one of the nursing homes who got remanded to a different nursing home in the court records. In that circumstance, we didn't have a liaison who was there, so we sat the file on the table and had court without one.”
“Is that legal?”
“Unfortunately, it is. And, unfortunately, that's why things get screwed up.”
“Ok, how much does it pay?”
“That's the part I wasn't wanting to say. It's donated time.”
Uncle Nick said, “Ok, how many files a week?”
“Sometimes one or none and sometimes, it could be ten. We never know.”
“And looking over those files all takes time. I'll tell you now I'm the sort of person who is going to take it seriously.”
“I know, that's why I'm telling you about it. What I need to tell you is there are some cases where if the file takes a considerable amount of time, then you're paid.”
“Let's say someone is elderly and has no f****y. They lived at home, something happened and now, they're going to be confined to a nursing home the rest of their lives.
What happens then, is a liason is appointed and that liaison is charged with the power of the court to auction the person's belongings off and in doing so, a percentage of the proceeds is given to the liason as payment in kind.”
“Sounds like a lot of work.”
“It can be, but I'll tell you there are a few unsavory persons in this county who seem to want to snatch those up. They make deals with only certain auctioneers and or real estate people and they in turn see a sizable portion of those moneys in return for only dealing with those people.”
“You mean to tell me they're taking kickbacks on it!”
“I'm not going to say yes, and I'm not going to say no. All I'm going to say is if it smells like a snake, coils up like one, and slithers along like one, then most likely they're snakes.”
“Is that legal?”
“Yes, unfortunately. That's why I'd push strong to have someone of good moral character to be in there so I can get those people out.”
Mike said, “I'd be interested. If it's bodies you want, then I'll do it providing it's ok with Nick.”
“Sure Mike. I've got no problem with that. If it's something you want to do, then go for it.”
“Ok, I'll get you guys some information on it and make plans on having you in there. Without knowing it, you just cut the odds of those people getting all of them down by half.”
Aunt Paulette said, “I can up the odds by throwing my hat in if you'd like. We can get other people told and then, we can make it so they're not getting many at all.”
“I'm sorry, but I can't let other f****y members do it. The reason for that is you might in some circumstances be in with files which have you standing across the court from each other.”
“Ok, I'll tell you a circumstance and then, you'll see.
A man and woman have a car wreck. They've got four c***dren. Unfortunately, the man was driving and he was killed. The woman probably would have been killed, but instead they did all the resuscitation measures and kept her alive. Now, she's in the nursing home living the rest of her life as a vegetable. Paulette, that's your file.
Nick, your file is the k**s. The parents didn't have a will, and they didn't have much f****y. They've got a f****y member in some distant state who lives in a trailer filled with beer bottles and likes to beat up on his women. He's got four pit bulls outside and he's just not real clean about himself.
Now, do you take custody and give it to him, or do you fight to put them in better circumstances and Paulette, is that person really in a vegetative state? or could she possibly come back with better care only to find the k**s have all been adopted out?”
“Oh man.” said Aunt Paulette.
“Yeah, it can be messy.”
Uncle Nick asked, “Why isn't f****y services handling these things?”
“Because it's not viewed as impartial if one state agency is handing k**s over to another agency without independent persons who aren't afraid to stand up and say, “Hey, Bubba' down there is a poor choice for any parent of the year award. If you're thinking about doing that, get a new hole drilled in your skull because the ones you have are holding in too much stupidity.”
Uncle Nick said, “I can see why you don't have f****y members doing it.” He looked at Aunt Paulette and said, “Hon, if you want to do it, that's fine with me.”
“No, you go ahead. I was offering to throw my hat into the ring to help make the pot a little thinner for those other people.”
The prosecutor said, “I'd hate to change the subject, but have you guys noticed how much f****y support those guys have gotten?”
Uncle Nick said, “I've not been paying attention. Is there any?”
“Absolutely none. They monitor the calls and visits at the county jail and they've had no takers and no one comes to visit them. We reserve a bench behind the defendants for f****y and not one person was sitting there. Finally, they gave it to the spectators who were having to stand.”
Aunt Paulette said, “At least their f****y has some sense. I think if anyone in my f****y did that, I'd not come either.”
I said, “I would. It's too easy to hate someone. We're supposed to love the sinner and hate the sin. I'd go because I'd want them to know I still love them.”
Everyone looked at me and Uncle Nick said, “Out of the mouths of babes.”
He turned to the prosecutor and said, “We'll stay in town for lunch. Give us a call when you have those agreements. We'll come and give them a look.”
“Ok, I've got your cell number.”
We went out onto the front steps of the court house. Uncle Nick said, “Mike, we'll be down at the diner. Would you guys like to go?”
“I need to check some things out at the farm. Jr can stay, but I've got to be there to check them.”
“Ok, we'll take him and get him lunch. We'll see you guys later this afternoon when we get home.”
Jr came over and said, “Come on, I'll race you to the truck.”
We took off running and I barely beat him tagging the door handle.
“Billy, do you mean it that you'd come see me if I got in trouble?”
“Yeah! But I'd probably be sitting right beside you because we'd be in trouble together....but you're not going to kill anyone.”
“I'd be there for the back road justice to be delivered if it had to happen. So, if that's what we decided, then I'd do it too.”
“I wouldn't. It's a whole lot better to hate someone than to kill them.”
“So you don't think they deserve the death sentence?”
“The court is deciding for them not to get it, so we've got to follow what they want.
I think them being put away for that long is fine. They don't get to see their f****y and stuff, so it's just like what they did to me. So, they're getting their eye for the eye for an eye.”
“I'd want them to get killed just like they killed if it were my parents.”
“If it happens to you, you'll see it gets pretty old having everyone feel sorry for you.
It's like when you're sick and get better. Everyone still wants to give you cough syrup when you're not even coughing. It's that way for me with everyone feeling sorry for me. Life is getting better, so I'm not going to worry about it.”
“How was it for you at first?”
“It's like when you slam your finger in a door. It hurts and then, it really hurts for the first few weeks, but then, after a while you don't think about it anymore. I've got you and everyone else to keep my mind off of it, so it's getting better.”
“You don't think about them?”
“Yeah, but I don't walk around thinking about them all the time, but there are several parts of the day when I think of them and get sad.
One of the times I think of my mama a lot is when I first walk in the door from school. I really think about her then because she'd have cookies for me and a big glass of milk from Bessie. Now, mama and daddy aren't there and neither is Bessie. I just know Bessie is in Heaven with them.”
“I guess you're probably right, but I'd miss my parents something awful.”
“I do, but it's getting better. You're making like I never think of them.”
“No, I'm not doing it to argue. I just know how it'd be for me. I'm sure it's the same for you, but it'd be awful.”
“Do you think we can sl**p together tonight?”
“We'll have to ask. Are you guys doing anything special?”
“I don't think so, but even if we were, I think you could come. You usually do.” I said smiling.
“Yeah, but after today, they might not let me.”
“I'll ask. I know your dad and mom would let you come over if they thought I was going to have a rough night of it.”
He smiled and said, “Are you?”
“Not if you're there. I always sl**p better when you're there.”
“Me too.” He said smiling.
“I wonder where Uncle Nick and Aunt Paulette are?”
“They're over talking to that couple.”
“Well, wait here, I'll go over and see what the hold up is. I want to eat!”
I ran over to Uncle Nick and Aunt Paulette. They were talking to the couple.
Uncle Nick looked down at me and said, “Here he is. Billy, this is the parents of the two guys who are b*****rs which killed your parents.”
“I thought you said they weren't here?”
The man spoke with a bit of a sneer. “We're not here for them. We came to tell you how sorry we are our boys would do such a thing to you. As far as I'm concerned, they're not my sons any longer.”
“Can't you forgive them? I'm trying to.”
“Son, They weren't raised to do that.”
“No, but their choices weren't yours. They made them.”
“Yes, but I've got to live in this town knowing. And others live in this town knowing. They and I don't take kindly to what they did.”
“I don't either, but the Bible tells me to love the sinner and hate the sin.
Jesus also said to cast the first stone if you're without sin. He did that because he knew everyone's done something bad. Your boys did that, but it's sure going to be hard for them to not have you. I know what it's like to live without parents and it's hard.”
He looked at his wife and a tear slid down his face. “Son, we've came here to let you know we just went to the lawyer to have you put in our Will instead of them. I can't sl**p at night knowing they would stand a chance of receiving everything I've worked my life to achieve.”
“Without a doubt. You're a good k**. Mine are disgraces.”
“Would you ask them one question for me?”
“I want to know why they did it. They didn't have to do it, but they did. I'd like to know why.”
“Son, I can tell you my one son that was at that window was there because he knew it was the right thing to do.
My other son who was stealing and killing wasn't there. He's always been no count and I can tell you he's the one which put them all up to no good.”
“Yes, but I get into trouble just as much as Jr when we do something wrong. I know if I'm there and don't talk him out of it, then I'm just as wrong as him.”
“And that's why I want to see all of them go to prison. That's why I'm trying to make sure you're taken care of instead of them.”
“But don't stop loving them! It's just as bad as killing them! I thought when you're a parent, you were supposed to step in and make sure your sons were corrected and then help them to do better? You're killing them just like they did my parents...only you're not killing them!”
He looked up at Uncle Nick and said, “Nick, would you please tell others what I've decided. I can't make up for his loss, but I sure can make sure my sons don't benefit from it.”
Uncle Nick said, “I'll do that.”
I was upset. I went over and hugged Uncle Nick and said, “Are you going to stop loving me if I do something bad?”
“Good. Now, would you tell those guys I forgive them even if others can't?”
“I'll do that, but why don't you tell the judge that. I'm sure he'll make sure the word is passed along.”
“Do you hate them too?”
“Billy, I'm not in the least bit happy about what they did. I can see your point, but this is in the hands of grown ups.”
“Well, I guess I want to be a Judge when I grow up so I can tell parents to love their k**s no matter what.”
I ran back to the truck. Jr asked, “Who are they talking to?”
“The parents of the two guys.”
“Oh. What did they say to you?”
“The guy changed his will to love his k**s. He doesn't love them anymore.”
“Yeah, but Uncle Nick said he'd still love me if I did something bad.”
“Well maybe that's why they killed your parents....their parents aren't nice.”
“The guy seemed nice. It's just that he's thinking loving his k**s is like a light switch. If they do good, then it's “on” and if they do bad, it's “off”.”
“Do you think ours do that?”
“No, I know even when I'm getting a spanking they still love me.”
He looked at me and said, “You were over there an awful long time, is there something else they said?”
“No, he asked Uncle Nick to tell everyone else of his decision.”
“So he wants your Uncle to tell everyone he's dumb?!”
“I can do that!”
Aunt Paulette came over. “Boys get in the truck. Your Uncle is coming now.”
“Aunt Paulette, why are they like that?”
“What do you mean?”
“They stopped loving their sons!”
“Hon, they still love them. They're not happy with them right now.”
“But the man said he changed his will to love them?”
“He changed his Will honey. That's the thing they read when someone dies. It gives their property and all their belongings to someone else.”
“What does that mean?”
“He wants you to get what was going to his sons.”
“To make up for what his sons did.”
“They didn't take that property from me!”
“No, but they took your parents from you, so he's trying to give you what means a lot to him to make up for it.”
“So if it'd be like me giving Jr something if I broke something of his?”
“Then why doesn't he still love his sons?”
“Billy, different people have different ways of showing their love.”
“It's not up to us to decide how he loves his sons. I don't agree with it personally, but I can understand why he's doing it.”
“I don't. So he wants you and Uncle Nick to run around telling how he doesn't love his sons?”
“Then don't do it! Let him decide he's made a mistake and get back to loving them.”
Uncle Nick got in the truck. “Boy, I'm hungry!”
He looked at Aunt Paulette. “What? It's quiet in here.”
“Hon, Billy doesn't want you to tell anyone what they are doing.”
“Because he thinks it'd be broadcasting the man is a fool.”
“I don't think so!”
“You will when you hear what Billy thinks.”
“What's he think?”
“He thinks the man is an idiot for picking and choosing when to love his k**s. He thinks the man is choosing to stand away from them because of what they did, but if they were up there getting an award for doing something good, he'd be there taking credit for being a good parent.”
“Well, the man is going to have a hard way in this town for what they did.”
I said, “Uncle Nick, when that happens, I'm going to tell them what the Bible tells us to do. It's not loving and it's not being nice. We're supposed to love everyone and hate their sins. That man didn't do a thing.”
Uncle Nick looked at Aunt Paulette and said, “Man, the k** is going to be a preacher. I'm learning more about what the Bible MEANS through him than I've learned sitting in church.”
Aunt Paulette said, “Hon, it's forgiveness. He's moving on because he can forgive. It's us who are stuck here because we can't get past the past.”
He turned around and patted my knee. “Billy, I'll tell everyone what you think instead of what that man thinks. I think it'd be a lot better if I do that.”
“Can you make that man keep his land?”
“No, it's already been decided.”
“I think it's a mistake. If someone is making a mistake and trying to give me things, why can't I refuse it?”
“Some things don't work out that way.”
“Then I'm just as in the wrong by accepting it than he is in giving. I don't like that.”
“Billy, I can't tell him what to do. He's an adult and his decision was made before he even spoke with us.”
“What can I do to change it?”
“Not much I'm afraid.”
“What's going to happen to those guys when they get out? They're not even going to have a home to come home to?”
“Don't fret about them Billy.”
“Uncle Nick! They're going to be old. They're going to need someplace to live, or they'll come looking for me!”
“No, they'll stay away from you.”
“Well can't we give them back that land?”
“No, absolutely not.”
I looked out the window. Junior's hand found mine.
Aunt Paulette said, “Nick...”
“Paulette, I'm not going to have him giving those guys a thing!”
“Nick, the way I see it, that man's mistake is like sin. It keeps on giving and it's sure wrapped around you to make you make mistakes. I can see where Billy is coming from and fortunately, THREE of us in this vehicle aren't choosing to play a part in perpetuating the mistakes.”
“What would you have me do? REWARD THEM!”
“No! I think if it's in Billy's heart, then they can get out and go home. I think if it's not, then it's up to him to cast them to the streets. He's not casting stones here. He's choosing to drop his. I'm going to do the same.”
“So I'm throwing stones of hatred here?”
“I think you're not helping to disarm the situation.”
Junior said, “Nick, Billy told me him choosing to continue hating them was like being sick and then getting better.
Everyone's still treating him like he's sick and wanting to give him cough syrup. He's better now, but you're still treating him like he's sick.
Instead of stones, I think you've got a big bottle of cough syrup you need to put away.”
Uncle Nick looked at Aunt Paulette and said, “Hon, I'm afraid.”
“I realize that. I'm also sorry for arguing about this in front of the c***dren. Unfortunately, it's the c***dren which are teaching us how to be adults.”
“What do you think I should do?”
“Let Billy make the decision. If that's what he thinks, then support him. If it's not, then support him on it.”
“Fortunately, that's going to be a long time coming.”
“Yes, but just the same, we can't poison his mind to hating them.”
“Ok, but I will NOT take him to see them in prison!”
“I didn't ask that. He's going to speak to the judge.”
“He decided. I'll support him and whatever he wants, I'll support him. You do the same, or else!”
“Hon, let's not argue. Things are changing and I'm trying to find out what he wants!”
“I realize that. Billy, tell him what you want dear.”
“I want that man to love his sons no matter what. I want them to go to prison for a long time, but I also want them to know we're not choosing to hate them when I don't.”
“So you don't want them to get out of jail soon?”
“No, they did it, so they've got to go. Just the same, I think the man is dumb. It's like he turns “on” his love and turns it “off”. I think that's stupid.”
“Billy, I think you're right.”
We pulled into the diner's parking lot. When we went in, the place was loud with a lot of people talking. Then, suddenly it got quiet and everyone looked at us.
Uncle Nick said, “Folks, I realize you guys are probably wondering how we're handling things. Let me say I've learned a lot today on how to be a Christian from Billy. He's not choosing to hate those men, but he's choosing not to like their actions.
Today, two of the men's father signed his farm over to Billy in his Will to make up for what his sons did. Billy doesn't want it because he views that man's actions as a mistake. Yes, it's viewed as the thing to do because it's that man trying to atone for his sons misdeeds, but Billy thinks it's wrong because the man didn't actually do the deed. So, please don't hate that man for what his sons did. Billy isn't.”
A big farmer in a pair of bib overalls came over. He took off his John Deere hat and got down on his knee. “Son, everyone here is just worried about you.”
“I'm doing fine. Yes, it still hurts occasionally, but it's not ever going to take away the love I had for my parents. I'll miss them, but I've got a lot of other people who love me just the same.”
“Well, I certainly hope you know all these here folks love you too.”
“Do you love those guys who did it?”
“Son, I'm afraid we don't.”
“We can't support their actions.”
Nick put his hand on the man's shoulder. “Folks, when you listen to Billy, you're going to realize how much he can teach you. Go ahead and speak son.”
“Here's what I think. The Bible tells us we're supposed to love the sinner and hate the sin. You love me because my parents got killed, but you're choosing to not love them because they sinned.
We're the same. I didn't kill my parents, but I still love them. Love them and their father, but choose to hate what they did. The Bible tells us who is without sin are the ones to throw the stones, but I'm going to tell you I'm not throwing that first stone.
Now, they're going to go to prison, but I don't want everyone hating their dad because of what his sons did. If it wasn't for one of those sons, I'd not be here.”
The place suddenly got loud. The farmer said, “Son, that lesson just bought you lunch!” He turned to Uncle Nick and said, “You ought to have him tell everyone at church. I'd come to hear it again.” He turned to the waitress and said, “Maggie, put this group of people's lunch on my card. I'm buying.”
As we walked through the diner to go sit down, folks reached out and patted me all over...my legs, my shoulder, my butt, they ruffled my hair, and one older lady even put her hand upon my face. By the time we were sat down, I felt like a doll that had too many c***dren playing with it.
Maggie came over and said, “Hon, that's the best thing I've heard in here all day. Everyone was talking bad about them, but you made them see how it is for you. What will you have?”
“I want chicken strip sandwich with swiss and ranch dressing. and he'll have a cheeseburger. Cut both in half. He'll have fries and I'll have onion rings. Both of us will have a large glass of sweet tea.”
“You sure that's all you want?”
Uncle Nick said, “They might have pie after lunch, but that's what they always get. They asked to have them cut in half because they trade the other half.
I'll have a cheeseburger, fries, and a large Coke. Paulette will have the open faced roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy over everything.”
“You get another side with that ma'am.”
“Green beans. I'll also have a Coke.”
“Ok, anything else?”
“Not right now.”
“Ok, it'll be right out. I'll have the cook put it to the top of the list.”
She left and I said, “Why'd she have us pass everyone else?”
“Apparently, she's supporting you in doing the right thing. She can't do anything else, so she's making it so you don't have to wait as long.”
“Well, I don't like it. Is this the way it's going to always be?”
Aunt Paulette said, “Hon, in time, people will treat you more normal, but this trial has stirred up a lot of feelings with them.”
“What are they going to think when they find out there isn't going to be a trial?”
“I don't know. Do you want me to make another announcement?”
“Do you think it would help?”
“I think it'd get your opinion out a lot faster than anything else.”
“Ok, then do it because I don't want everyone to think I'm not happy about it. I just want to be treated normal.”
Uncle Nick stood up and clanged his fork on his glass. “Folks, Billy would like for me to tell you about today's court proceedings.
He's afraid you're all going to be upset when you find out there's not going to be a trial.”
Everyone suddenly started talking.
“PLEASE! LISTEN UP!”
The talking got quieter and then Uncle Nick spoke again. “As you know, Billy didn't want any plea bargains. As you know, we had a man on the stand today who really did us no favors. He brought up a lot of things which very easily could have had us going through more trials and never getting this thing over.
Rather than do that, the prosecutor asked us to consider a plea bargain. One of them got forty seven years and the others are getting lives in prison with a chance of parole for each count of murder with each running one after the other.
It's not the death penalty folks, but it sure beats them possibly getting out. They stand a chance of getting out when they're in their seventies, so we're fine with that.”
Someone asked, “What does that do to help the boy?”
“It keeps him from having to go to court for appeals. Someone who takes a plea bargain doesn't get to appeal it. They don't get anything except what the bargain is. They either take it, or we keep having to go back and back and back until it finally ends up at the state's supreme court where they decide the man who testified put enough doubt into the case he's screwed this boys life up.
You know they did it. I know they did it, but it's called rights folks. They get them, but this boy gets the right to be inconvenienced more by not having parents and not having a normal life because he has to keep going back until he sees his rights and those of his parents were stripped so bare we don't get squat.
All I can say is Billy now says he wants to be a judge. He wants people to love each other, but where's the love in situations like this? All I can say is I hope they take it so he can live the best life he's afforded because what he had isn't there anymore.”
“So you want him to not take the man's farm?”
“That man didn't do anything to Billy! He raised c***dren who chose the decisions they did. They made that decision and because he's a parent, he thinks it's up to him to correct them.
They're adults. They made those choices. It's admirable he wants to step forward just like all of you with your compassion, but ultimately, it's up to those guys to pay for their crimes. We're not denying them that, but we're sure not wanting people to give who isn't guilty.”
Everyone got quiet and I said, “Uncle Nick, can I say something?”
I stood up and then, Uncle Nick said, “Billy, step up over here to this chair.”
I stood on the chair and said, “You know, when it first happened, I was really worried. I lost my parents and then, my whole world was messed up. Each of you can only imagine what it must feel like, but then it was a thing which healed with the funeral, the love of my Aunt and Uncle, and then my getting a lot of insurance money.
I'll tell you now, buying things doesn't take up for your parents. It makes the world more fuller, but even now, I still think about my mama and daddy all the time. It's sad, but that's the way it is.
Everyone tried telling me to hate those men. The Bible tells me I'm not supposed to. The Bible tells me what is right, and everyone else tells me I'm supposed to follow it or go to hell. It also tells me to not believe some people because they could be wrong and it'd help me when I need it. Now, I'm needing it and it's helping me.
For a long time, I needed you folks. I still need you, but not as much as I did when it first happened. It hurts still, but I understand you know it hurts. I'm telling you it'd still hurt if we saw those guys killed, but it'd hurt their families too. I don't want that.”
Uncle Nick spoke up “Folks, it's the pain factor. Most of you have heard 'an eye for an eye', but at what cost? You and I would most likely sit there until the end and wait for that price to be paid. I can't sit there because the cost is too much and the risk is too high for him.
I know a lot of you probably don't agree with it, but the price he's paid has already been too much. He'll still have to pay it after most of us are dead and gone.
Those guys will be paying in ways we only can guess. What we do know is the judge is going to have a victim's advocate speak with him and video his thoughts so when they do come up for parole, the video is played even if he's unable to be there.
Please, whatever you do, support him and lay your anger at me. My shoulders are big. I'll bear it, but don't blame him for a thing except being a k** who has to live without parents.”
Someone said, “Nick, you spoke of this victim's advocate and that she's going to video the impact it's made on him.
Can some of us who knew his parents and did business with them speak on his behalf so they know what sort of people they took from our community?”
“That's a good idea!” several of them agreed.
Uncle Nick said, “When she speaks with him, they're going to be out at the farm. What I'll do is I'll take names and phone numbers of those of you who wish to speak. When she comes, I'll give you a call and have you come out. I think if there's enough of you who are wanting to make statements, she can't but help to listen to you all and take those statements.
Furthermore, I'm going to ask for a copy so your memories are placed on a disc for him. It might not make him feel better on a personal level, but it'd sure make him feel better knowing his parents were good and valued in your eyes.”
Maggie came over carrying our food. “Nick, here's your meals. Go ahead and eat. I'll make up a sign up sheet for you guys and that way they'll all get on it.”
She lifted me down from the chair. “Hon, I want to be at the top of that list. I went to school with your mama and know what a doll she was.”
I went over and sat down. Jr smiled at me and asked, “Was it scary speaking in front of everyone?”
“No, they're all people who love us. If they were standing there with rotten tomatoes in their hands, I'd ask you to stand in front of me, but I'd still speak.”
Everyone laughed and Uncle Nick said, “Junior, what he's not saying is his daddy was someone who could speak in front of a crowd. He taught me and your daddy how he did it because each of us was scared just like you. He said the same exact thing!”
I said, “Daddy would tell me he'd practice speaking in front of the cows. They'd moo if they agreed with him and if they didn't, they'd walk away.”
Uncle Nick said, “That's what he said too. You don't know it, but his daddy took speech class with us. He didn't have to, because he'd taken it before, but he really liked speaking in front of people.”
I said, “Daddy used to get up in church and talk.”
Aunt Paulette said, “It was the local events. He did it because he could do it better than anyone. He'd throw in funny bits of humor and then it'd be a lot more interesting.”
Uncle Nick said, “He'd do funny so people would listen. He knew if he went up to read it as it was written, no one would listen. So, he'd do it funny so everyone would pay attention.”
Junior asked me, “Did you really mean it when you said you wanted to be a judge?”
“Yeah, it'd be neat.”
Aunt Paulette said, “You'll have to do good in school. In order to be a judge, you have to be a lawyer and that's not easy.”
“So I'd have to defend people like that?”
“No, not necessarily, but you'd have to be a lawyer.”
“Ok, well I'll be a lawyer and then, I'll just be a judge.”
Uncle Nick smiled, “Why don't we ask the judge to have you sit with him during some trials. That way, you'd get to see what they do.”
Junior said, “I still want to be a farmer.”
I said, “I want to be one too.”
Uncle Nick and Aunt Paulette both laughed.