The Music in the Painting

Chapter Fourteen

At 4:30 Bobby was wide awake, He looked at the sleeping boy cuddled up so close to him it was hard to tell where he ended and Drew began.

He savored the smell of his love as if he couldn’t quite believe his eyes and needed confirmation from another sense that this beautiful person was sharing his bed.

Drew mewed quietly as Bobby unwrapped himself from the embrace.

He was usually up before his dorm mates anyway but going to bed early had him up and out of bed while Drew slumbered on.

He toileted and dressed and rummaged in a closet for his previous set of boots for Drew to wear, then compared them to Drew’s shoes and set them on the floor next to each other.

He gazed at the peaceful form in his bed and his mind returned to the previous evening, they had gone to bed straight away but they hadn’t gone to sleep for a quite a bit after. He remembered the wonderful smell of Drew’s crotch when not freshly scrubbed, musky but not unpleasant. The tastes of his body still played in his mind and he found himself getting hard when he remembered the sweet nutty flavor of his lover’s semen.

Finally turning away he went quietly out of the room and down the stairs to the kitchen.

He expected his Grampa would be along soon so he filled the kettle and put it on to boil. He filled a ball with tea and placed milk and sugar in the teapot.

His Grampa needed his Cowman’s tea to start the day. Bobby had become fond of the stuff himself and often shared a pot with his Grampa over breakfast or just to sit and chat.

His Gramma would shake her head and mutter "Bloody Englishmen." She had her own pot for her Earl Grey taken with lemon only. Bobby chuckled to himself over the thought.

He placed a few spoons of bacon fat from the jar over the range into a large deep cast iron skillet and put over a burner on low heat. He did a quick calculation and pulled what he thought would be a sufficient amount of bacon from the fridge and put half of it in the pan.

Lost in thought he slowly picked the bacon slices apart with a long fork. He felt a kiss being planted on the top of his head and turned to see the smiling face of his Grampa looking down at him.

"You’re a fine man Bobby Mackenzie, and a fair cook I dare say. Good morning my lad, did you sleep well?"

"Yes I did thanks; and good morning to you Grampa."

"You’ve even put up the tea, what a remarkable lad. Can I pour you a cup as well?"

Yes thank you, you might give it a stir first and pull out the ball."

"Is Drew still asleep?"

"Yes, if you’ll watch the bacon I’ll go and rouse him, he’s not exactly a morning glory like you and I."

"Go to it," said Mac "You’ve only to let him get a whiff of this bacon and that’ll have him up and moving."

Bobby scampered up the stairs and into his room where Drew was still sleeping. He mounted the bed and began kissing Drew awake, at length Drew’s eyes fluttered and then opened wide to find Bobby gazing back at him.

"Time to get up and at ‘em," said Bobby, his hands roaming around Drew’s body. "Oh, I see your already up I guess it’s just the at ‘em part you need to concentrate on.

"Oh man!" said Drew urgently, "I need to pee, get out of the way or get wet.

Bobby watched as the naked Drew rushed to the toilet and let fly. His bare ass wiggled as he did the stiff legged full bladder walk to the bath room.

"Don’t go back to bed, breakfast is almost ready and I’ve got to go and get Davey rolled out," said Bobby, scrambling out the door.

"Okay, I’ll be down in just a bit," Drew shouted after him.

Bobby stopped in the kitchen long enough to let his Grampa know he was going out to rouse Davey.

"Okay lad, I’ll scramble a dozen eggs while you’re gone. It should all be ready soon," said Mac.

Bobby paused long enough to put more bread in the toaster and then charged out the door.

When he got to Davey’s door it was open. He peeked in to see Davey lying on his bed naked with the covers thrown off. He had a glorious erection that proved without a doubt he was Grampa’s nephew. Bobby gently shut the door and then knocked loudly as if it had been closed when he arrived.

"Davey!" he yelled" are you awake? Breakfast is nearly ready. Rise and shine!"

Davey appeared at the door with the sheet now wrapped around him.

"Hey Bobby; good morning," He thought "hmm, that’s funny, I could swear I left that door open last night. Dingo was asleep on the rug and I didn’t want to move him." Bobby did his best to look innocent but Davey was suspicious. "Oh well he thought, what’s the harm if he got a little peek."

"Sounds good, I’ll be right down. Just let me put on some jeans and such."

Bobby grinned at him and ran down the stairs and back to the house.

"At least I got my question answered," said Bobby to himself.

When he arrived back at the kitchen Drew and Mac were in a lively conversation, regarding the extent of the holdings and whether this was a ranch or not.

"Well since we don’t raise livestock it’s not really a ranch. I’ve got a place in Nevada for that. Perhaps your Mum will let you tag along next time we go out there," offered Mac.

"That would really be cool; do you think they would they let me help with the work?"

"Well Bobby always pitches in and does anything that needs doing. But he can tell you about that. I think now it’s time to dig in to this breakfast."

Davey entered the kitchen and asked if there was anything he could help with but Mac told him everything was ready to eat.

"I feel guilty; I haven’t had to cook since I got here." Davey said.

"Well tuck in all the same." Mac said. "You’ll get your chance."

"Wow! That’s a lot of bacon," Exclaimed Drew, "What do you do with the leftovers?"

"Leftovers?" asked Bobby.

"Yeah," said Drew "you know, the bacon that’s left over from breakfast?"

"I’m not familiar with the term leftover bacon," said Bobby flatly. "Grampa? Davey? Have you heard of this leftover bacon?"

Mac pondered a moment and then said, "Theoretically yes, but I’ve never witnessed the actual phenomenon. Davey?"

"No sir, I’ve never heard of such a thing, Davey said.

Drew looked around the table a bit perplexed; finally a grin overtook him as he realized he had been the victim of an esoteric joke. He broke out laughing and the others joined him.

"You guys are all nuts," giggled Drew.

After breakfast the boys prepared a large lunch for the trail and stowed it and three quarts of sweet tea in the saddle bags. Bobby retrieved his rifle and a long sleeve shirt for Drew. Mac handed Bobby a box of cartridges for the rifle.

"Thanks Grampa, I’ll bring them back."

"Be sure to go over the signals with Drew."

"I will, Bye Grampa, Bye Davey, we should be back around three-thirty," Bobby said as he hugged his Grampa and then Davey.

Bobby explained the signaling method to Drew as they walked to the stables. Three rounds fired in quick succession meant trouble. A pause and then one round meant injury. Six rounds meant send the Cavalry.

"Six?" asked Drew, "you said the rifle only holds five."

Bobby opened a flap on one saddlebag. Drew could see a revolver.

"It’s a .22 Magnum full of birdshot. It’s loud as hell and carries a long way. And nobody has to worry about bullets raining down on them. It’s mostly for rattlers that don’t clear out. I don’t shoot them if I can go around them though. If I get hurt and I can’t do anything just point up in the air and squeeze the trigger until its empty."

"Wow, when I met you in the museum after hearing you play and then crying over a painting of a girl who died hundreds of years ago, I never expected to find myself in the middle of a Zane Grey story.  I mean bears, rifles, pistols, mountain lions and horseback riding. The guys at school will never believe me. You’ll make a cowboy out of me if this keeps up," exclaimed Drew.

"Yup, I reckon we’ll call you the Cantata Kid, always goes for the scherzo," Bobby said with a western drawl.

Both boys roared with laughter as they continued on towards the stables.

Bobby greeted Dolly and introduced Drew. Bobby told her of their plans and which horses he planned to saddle.

Bobby introduced Drew to Gypsy and let them spend a little time together while he saddled Sherpa. He then helped Drew saddle Gypsy and tied a couple saddlebags on as well.

Sherpa eyed him as he placed the rifle in the scabbard as if to say, "You expecting trouble boss?" but Bobby patted his neck and reassured him that all was well.

"You watch out for critters boys," Dolly admonished.

Bobby patted the rifle butt and said, "I think we’ll be okay, I’m not looking for trouble but I’m ready if it finds us first."

With that the boys headed out of the corral and towards the trail. After a mile of tree lined trail the path widened as they entered a small valley. Sherpa nickered and pranced a bit because this was where Bobby usually let him have his head.

"Not today boy" Bobby soothed, "You’ll need your energy for the long haul."

After a couple miles they came to an opening that led north and up the hill. Bobby and Sherpa led and Bobby told Drew to let Gypsy find her way.

She had been up this trail a hundred times and knew every little jink and loose spot.

As Bobby rode ahead a short way Sherpa shied and turned sideways so Bobby could see the bear scat on the trail. Bobby checked the trail for tracks or sign that the bear was near. He pulled the rifle from its scabbard and cradled it in his lap. He paused in the trail to let his horse check the air. Sherpa satisfied himself that there was no immediate danger and began his forward progress once again.

After a while they came upon what looked like a piece of culvert pipe on a trailer. Bobby recognized it as the bear trap that his Grampa had told him about. He could see the gate was still up at the entry point which meant the bear was still out and about. Another quarter mile up the trail the boys ran across two Rangers also on horseback.

"Hi Bobby!" greeted the man in the lead.

"Hi Rich, Hi Ron, how are you guys today?"

"Hi Bobby," replied Ron. "Have you boys seen any sign of our troublesome bear?"

"Yes we did, about a quarter mile south of the trap right in the middle of the trail is a big pile of bear scat. It looks like she’s claiming territory down here. It’s a little too close to the stables to suit me."

"Do you think she was nearby?" asked Rich.

"No, Sherpa gave me the okay after I let him check the air a bit. He’s pretty smart so I take his advice," Bobby said.

"That’s a smart horse," said Ron, "and you’re smart to be listening to him."

"Thanks," said Bobby "Guys this is my friend Drew, He’s staying with us and I’m giving him the grand tour."

"Nice to meet you," both men said at once.

"Is the trail clear behind you?" asked Bobby.

"As near as we can tell it is. But you should be able to holster up that smoke pole there, I doubt you’ll be needing it," answered Rich.

"Good, this thing is heavy," said Bobby as he slid the rifle back into the scabbard.

"How far are you going?" asked Ron

"Up to the cut and then over to the falls to eat lunch."

"Well if you see any riders be sure and tell them to watch for Gladys, it’s what we call the sow."

The boys said their goodbyes and continued their ride. Bobby was able to point out pheasant, quail and several other bird species as well as a lucky sighting of a Bobcat.

After a bit more riding they came to the cut; which is just a road to grant access to the utility companies, and also to people who rented the few lodges scattered around the area. The Boys headed west from there to catch the north end of the trail that leads to the falls, Bobby allowed Sherpa to trot and Gypsy kept up.

When they neared the turn for the falls there was a small boy sitting alone on a boulder. His head was bloody from a gash above his hairline. His white T-shirt was covered in blood. Bobby pulled up and slid from his saddle running to the wounded child.

"Hi, I’m Bobby, who are you?"

"D,Dennis," came the frightened reply.

"Can you tell me what happened Dennis?"

"Bear! By the water, Mommy and Daddy please help!" said the boy between sobs.

"Drew, stay with him please, I have to go and see if I can help." Bobby handed Drew the revolver. "Have Dennis plug his ears and then grab hold of Gypsy’s reins then empty that thing in the air."

Bobby pulled the rifle from the scabbard and jacked a round into the chamber. As he rode towards the falls he heard Drew empty the revolver. It would bring help from anyone who could hear it.

As he rode into the clearing by the falls he saw a man and a woman holding a small girl, they were all a bit bloody but still moving but they had their back to the rocks and nowhere to run. The sow bear had backed them into a dead end. Bobby dismounted as Sherpa let loose a blood curdling scream of fury that got the sows attention. She turned toward Bobby and his horse and began to bounce on her front paws. Bobby heard a noise behind and above him. He glanced up quickly to see the two cubs in a tree placing him directly between the sow and her cubs.  Bobby readied his rifle, as he predicted she cocked her massive head and roared an indication that she would soon charge. Bobby squeezed the trigger and 300 grains of lead and copper entered her open mouth at 1500 feet per second and exited through the back of her skull severing her spinal cord. She dropped like a rock where she had stood.

He looked at the man and woman and their little girl and asked if they were okay.

"I think my wife’s leg is broken but mostly we’re just scratched up," the man said. "Have you seen our little boy we got separated and I think he’s hurt."

"Dennis is okay, he’s back at the trailhead with my friend."

Walking over to the fire pit area Bobby took a keyring from his pocket and kicked aside enough dirt to gain access to the lock box. Once he got it open he pulled out a large white metal box. It held enough medical supplies to treat several people for severe wounds.

"Let’s get your wife up on this table top boulder and we’ll splint that leg just in case. It doesn’t look broken but she’s got a heck of a bruise forming there."

Just then he heard the high revving motor of a Rangers Jeep coming down the trail with a brush rig close behind.

 Not far behind came another Jeep which he recognized as his Grampa’s and Drew sat beside him holding little Dennis as Gypsy trotted behind.

Mac picked his Grandson up and held him tight for a few seconds. "I’m so glad you’re okay," Mac said. "It looks like you did well here Bobby. I’m sorry it came to this."

Bobby buried his face in his Grampa’s chest and wept. He sobbed for several seconds before he calmed down. "I didn’t want this, if I had any clue that she had doubled back on us," He trailed off.

"Are you okay Bobby?" asked Rich kneeling beside him. We got suckered; that scat was from a boar, we saw him uphill from the trail. We knew she wouldn’t bring cubs into a boar’s territory so we headed for the falls here but we weren’t fast enough."

"I’m okay" said Bobby. "Those people almost got themselves killed for a picnic though. Who the hell wears shorts and tennis shoes to go into the woods?"

The man whose family Bobby had saved walked up about then and tried to offer Bobby his gratitude.

"You’re a damn idiot you know that!? Dragging your wife and kids out here; hiking right past no trespassing signs and not even noticing something as obvious as a bear. Because of you I had to kill an animal that was just doing what they do. Now her cubs will have to be shot because they’re too old for the zoo and too young to survive on their own. So shove your thanks up your ass mister. Just count your blessings you all survived your bad judgment."

The man stood there as if hit with a shovel square in the face, blinking his eyes.

Bobby stalked away and went to see how Drew was holding up.

He found him leaning against the jeep fretting.

Bobby wrapped his arms around Drew and said "Just hold me," which Drew did willingly.

They stood that way for quite a while until a gentle cough from his Grampa told Bobby that he was needed.

"Well you sure set him straight. I doubt he’ll ever do anything so thoughtless again. And wait till he sees his car. The firemen pushed it out of the way with the truck. Plus, he’ll be getting a bill from Forestry and probably trespassing charges to boot.

The guys are all wishing you were twenty-one so they could all buy you a beer. They can’t talk to the citizens like that," Chuckled Mac

"You’re not mad at me for talking to him that way?"

"Well, not best pleased but certainly not angry. And I know it was tough on you having to shoot her. So I think maybe he had it coming.

"Sorry I lost my temper Grampa," Bobby said quietly.

"You did a brave thing here today lad, you rode in the direction of danger and you didn’t shirk when you found it. I am incredibly proud of you for your actions. Not for shooting the bear, that couldn’t be helped. Her fate was sealed the moment she attacked. But what you did putting yourself in harm’s way like that is truly courageous. I think you can be forgiven for a bit of temper so let’s hear no more of that," Mac counseled.

He leaned down and kissed both boys on the forehead and held them tightly for a few moments.

Bobby looked at Drew and asked, "Where’s your shirt?"

"Most of it is wrapped around the little boy’s head; I hope it wasn’t a favorite.

Drew answered. "No but you’ll be cold by the time we get back, you better take mine."

"No need." said Mac. Your denim shirt is in the back of the jeep. You left it behind when we were mending fences. Drew might find it a bit aromatic but it should keep the evening chill off his shoulders."

"Hey!" said Drew; I’m not made of glass I can take a little cold air."

"The temperature in the canyon drops fifteen degrees in a few minutes after you lose the light. You’ll probably be in the valley by then and you’ll be sweaty and tired. You don’t need to be cold on top of it. The sweat will make you feel even colder. That’s why we’re concerned with your attire," said Mac. "Not to mention branches and biting bugs."

"Oh okay," said Drew, "I thought you were treating me like a light weight."

"Not likely, you were outstanding; you followed instructions and summoned help, and you treated that little boy’s wounds as well as anyone could," Mac said.

"Grampa would it be okay if we headed back to the house?" asked Bobby.

"I think that would be okay. Are you sure you want to ride? We can board the horses across the road for the night and I could drive you."

"I’d like to ride, how about you?" Bobby looked over at Drew.

"I’m with you for whichever."

"I think I could use the time Grampa, if it’s okay with you."

"That’s fine," said Mac, "I just wanted to offer you the option. Bobby hugged his Grampa again and turned to Drew.

Where’s that revolver I handed you?"

"I put it in the saddlebag on Gypsy; do you want me to get it now?" Drew asked.

"Please; we should get it reloaded before we head out.

"Gosh! Do think we’ll need it again?"

"I hope not, but it won’t do us any good empty."

Drew walked off to retrieve the revolver and Bobby watched after him, wishing they could be alone for a while. When Drew returned with the revolver he handed it to Bobby butt first. Bobby gave Drew a quick lesson on handling firearms as he had been taught by his Grampa. He opened the revolver by pushing the slide catch on the left side of the frame and pushing the cylinder to the left. He pushed the ejector plunger and all six spent rounds emerged from the chambers. Then Bobby put the empties back in the revolver and closed it. He handed it to Drew and told him to repeat the process being sure to keep the weapon pointed at the ground. When he had successfully completed that task, Bobby handed him six fresh rounds and told Drew to load them into the cylinder. Bobby instructed Drew to close the cylinder and place the revolver back in his saddlebag.

"You know I never fired a gun before you handed me this thing. It sure is noisy. Gypsy really didn’t like it. But she stood by."

"She’s pretty calm but sometimes she can be a little skittish."

Bobby walked over to Sherpa. The horse lowered his head and nuzzled Bobby. "Thank you for helping me Sherpa, you got that old girl to turn our way. You’re a smart horse buddy, "Bobby said. He handed Sherpa an apple slice as a reward and the horse cheerfully munched away.

"We’re going to go now Grampa; the horses want to get away from the bear smell and I don’t want to be here when they deal with the cubs," Bobby called.

"Okay Lad, I’ll see you back at the house," Mac returned.

"Do they really have to kill them?" asked Drew.

"I’m afraid so, they aren’t big enough to be on their own but their too big for a zoo. Nobody could safely handle them, their capable of killing a human now. It’s a pity."