Devil Cares: Chapter Twenty-Three

July 7, 2008 at 5:00 pm (Devil Cares) ()

I’m doing something a bit different with the next three chapters. Each of their title pics are actually one big pic, and the titles are taken from the lyrics of a song
Photobucket

“Not bad, son,” Colt Mossberg said, a slight tip of his head accompanying this approval.
Hiding a smile, Barrett gave a nod of his own. “No problem, Dad.”
It would have been evident even to a stranger that these two were father and son. Their height, weight, wide shoulders, dark brown hair, bright blue eyes, and even the contours of their faces were all roughly identical. Besides the differences resulting from age, the most obvious contrast was the son’s face being a bit better looking than the father’s. This was his mother’s influence, her genes helping to soften the strokes of Barrett’s face that were much harsher on Colt’s. Even so, the senior Mossberg was not a homely man.
Barrett reached for his tools and began to attach more barbed wire to the post in front of him. His father had woken him early to go out and mend fences. They had ranch hands to do this kind of work, but Barrett hadn’t questioned his father’s order. He almost never did.
“You know, Barrett,” his father began, “one day this will all be yours.”
He gestured with the hammer in his hand. “The ranch. The house. Running the affairs and ordering all the equipment. Everything, Barrett. You’ll be in charge one day.”
Chuckling a bit under his breath, Barrett replied, “I don’t know, Dad. Mom keeps saying you plan to live forever.”
Colt snorted. “She says that like she doesn’t do the same thing.”
“Ain’t women grand?”
“They sure are,” his father agreed, “and your mother’s the grandest. You need to find someone someday, you know. Settle down a bit.”
“A wife and a ranch? Then I’ll just have everything.” Barrett grinned at his father as he hammered in some wire.
“The Romans called it father of the family,” Colt went on. “A man was in charge of everything in his house. Emperor of his own domain.”
“I don’t have to wear those little leaf crown things, do I?”
Laughing, Colt asked, “What are those called anyway? Laurels?”
Barrett shrugged. “Beats me. Kimber would know.”
He didn’t actually know if that was true, but it seemed like the kind of thing that his brother would know. Kimber seemed to be full of information like that.
His father nodded. “Yes, I guess Kimber would know.”
The first whisper of unease trickled into Barrett then. We don’t talk about Kimber, Barrett thought, we never talk about Kimber.
“Quit your day dreaming, boy,” Colt’s voice cut sharply into his thoughts. “There are fences to be mended.”
“Yes, sir.”
The cows had gone a little wild last night. Their hand Bill had told them he’d seen some kind of animal in with them until he’d chased it off. The cows had broken out in three different places. With the section they were working on now fixed, they’d have to go around to the eastern side of the fences to patch up the other two.
When they were finished they packed up their tools and loaded into the truck. They’d been ambling down the road a little ways when Colt spoke again.
“So, Barrett,” he said, “man to man. Is there a woman you’ve got your eye on.”
“No, not really,” Barrett sighed, not wanting to have this conversation. “I date now and again, but it just never works out.”
Looking at his son from the corner of his eye, Colt asked, “Is that because you date with the intent to find a good wife, or do you date with the intent of having a good time?”
“I’ve got plenty of time to get married, Dad,” was his response.
“Whatever happened to that Jones girl?” His fathered turned on the road that would take them to the east pasture. “She was a bit of a handful, but I liked her. Good family, too.”
“Nothing happened we just weren’t right as a couple. I liked her well enough. I like her brother, too, but it just never…clicked I guess.” Barrett waited for his father’s response.
“Son, sometimes it’s not about clicking.” Colt gave him a long look. “It’s about being.”
After a beat, Barrett said, “I know, Dad. I’m just not ready for a wife, yet.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” his father said, “these things have a way of working out on their own.”
They had reached the fence by this time, and they slowed to a stop. Colt turned off the truck.
“Why all this focus on marriage all of a sudden, Dad?” Barrett asked as they got out of the truck.
“No real reason,” his father replied. “I’d like to have grandchildren someday, is all.”
He gave his son a significant look. “It looks like you’re the best bet for that. Besides, you’re the oldest son. It should be you first.”
Something flittered around the edge of Barrett’s consciousness. The uneasy feeling came back again. There was something he should remember but he just couldn’t—
“You gonna stand there all day, son?” Colt was already laying out the new wire.
Barrett shook his head. “No, I’m coming.”
“What’s got into you, boy?” His father asked.
“Nothing,” he said. “Just thinking.”
“About what?”
“I don’t know,” Barrett said quietly.
Shaking his head, Colt said, “Well then put it out of your mind. Let’s focus on this fence and get it done.”
“Yessir,” Barrett said.
They didn’t talk for awhile after that, just worked in silence. The last bit of wire was being pounded into the last bit of post before there was any more discussion.
“So you like the Jones girl?” Colt was rolling up the unused wire.
“Yeah. I mean, we’re not really friends or anything,” Barrett said, “but I liked her. I get a drink with her brother Marc every now and again.”
“He that big brown haired fella’ that does repairs around the place sometimes?”
“That’s the one.”
Colt was heaving the roll of wire into the back of the truck when he said, “You might want to be careful with that.”
Barrett looked at him quizzically. “With what?”
“Getting drinks with him. They say he’s a bit…funny.”
Straightening up from where he was gathering his tools, Barrett gave his father a look. “Funny?”
His father clapped his hangs together, dusting them off. “You know what I mean, Barrett.”
A feeling of sudden boldness swept over him. “No, I don’t think I do. There’s nothing funny about it.”
“Don’t take that tone with me, boy.” His father gave him a stern look.
“Marc is a good guy, a good friend. And he always does good work for us.” He had never spoken to his father like that before, but he felt the need to defend Marc Jones. A guilty voice in the back of his mind asked him if he was compensating for a time when he hadn’t spoken up.
“I never said he wasn’t,” his father growled, “but that doesn’t change what he is. If you associate yourself with those kinds of men people might start saying things about you.”
They had gotten very close together by this time, their faces close together. It was even more apparent that they were the same height.
“You know, ‘people’ said things about Kimber.” Barrett’s voice was low.
“And I took care of that, didn’t I?”
Before Barrett had even consciously registered the motion, he had brought up the hammer in his hand and smashed it across the jaw of the man in front of him.
Colt staggered back a few paces. He raised his hand to his lip to feel the blood gathering there.
“You’ve just gone and done the stupidest thing in your life, boy.”
“Stop,” Barrett hissed. “Stop looking like my father.”
“What in the Sam Hell are you talking about—”
He never got the chance to finish because the hammer impacted his face again.
“Stop!” Barrett screamed. “Don’t be my father!”
He brought the hammer down, and again and again. Finally the form that looked like his father was still on the ground. Barrett dropped slowly to his knees, the hammer falling limply from his grip. Blood dripped off the hammer, stained his hands, and flowed copiously from the various wounds on “his father’s” face.
“I know you’re not him,” Barrett whispered intensely. “Be anything, anyone, but don’t be him.”
He threw back his head.
“This isn’t gonna work!” He screamed to the sky, “I know who my father is!”
Just like that the illusion melted away. The ranch, the fence, and his father’s body all slowly dissolved into blackness, a vast, star-filled expanse. It was beautiful, Barrett had to admit. Like drifting in outer space.
“It wasn’t my father,” Barrett whispered. “It wasn’t my father.”


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5 Comments

  1. Zappaz said,

    Aaaaww. *hugs Barrett*

  2. jekloneo said,

    A dream… Hmm.

  3. Yahrlan said,

    I agree with Zappaz….*hugs Barrett too*

    jekloneo, I’m not sure it’s a dream…
    And that’s probably all I will say so if I’m right I don’t spoil anything.

    Also, since there’s two more chapters using the same song I’ll wait to add it to the list (that and I has the lazies again.)

  4. Seth Gray said,

    You’ve already added the song to the list. It’s the same as the last chapter.

  5. Yahrlan said,

    Yeah. I saw that. that’s why I posted it in the next chapter, lol.

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