The continuing saga of three generations of ranching family. Below the story you’ll find links to other flash fictions.
Mitch glanced in the rearview mirror as he snaked the gooseneck trailer down the dirt road. Once they’d made the tight turn from the women’s ranch, Mitch breathed a sigh of relief. Darrin leaned closer and patted his leg. “Three new bulls. And these are about as tame as you could hope for.”
Mitch shook his head in disbelief. “They followed Charlotte like a bunch of puppies. We’ve never had bulls that tame.”
“They’re still bulls. I don’t want the kids to get the idea they’re pets.”
Mitch nodded in agreement. “You’re right. No matter how tame they seem, you can’t trust a bull.”
“True. That’s very true. Not keeping an eye on a bull is a good way to get hurt.”
Darrin stared at the road as they drove through the open countryside. Mitch left him to his thoughts, but he realized they had traveled through a good section of the Oklahoma panhandle without a word being exchanged. The silence weighed heavy as the gray-green landscape shot past. He glanced over, and Darrin’s expression gave him no clue what was going through his head. He was close to asking if there was a problem when Darrin motioned out the window.
“Have you noticed these cattle? We’ve been driving past them for a while now.”
Mitch turned his attention to the pastures of animals they were passing. He slowed when they passed what looked like the ranch headquarters. He glanced over and grinned at Darrin. “How would you like to look over a few more bulls?”
Darrin rolled his eyes, but the grin on his face said otherwise. “What are they anyway?”
“They’re red and polled. What else do I need to know?”
They turned off the highway and pulled to a stop outside a corral holding a group of young bulls. They sat for a minute, studying the muscular animals milling around the pen. Mitch’s door clicked as he opened it and moved closer.
“Mitch, we have no idea who these people are. We’re an hour from home so it’s not like they’ll recognize who we are. Not that we are that well known to people who live a lot closer. It is Oklahoma, people have guns.”
“You worry too much. No one will shoot us.”
He heard Darrin inhale deeply and kept a stoic face in spite of wanting to laugh. But he was well aware that someone might not be happy two strangers stopped at their ranch. Darrin was still wondering if anyone would burst from the house. He didn’t think there would be any gunfire, at least not before a few minutes of yelling back and forth first. He was leaning over the pipe fence looking at a gorgeous group of bulls when Darrin bumped against him.
“Hey. Someone’s coming. Try not to piss anyone off.”
Mitch cocked an eyebrow at Darrin before turning to see what was happening. He couldn’t contain a grin when he turned to see someone barely over sixteen. The youngster also looked concerned by their presence. Mitch took a few steps and held out his hand.
“Hi, sorry we made our selves at home. But when we drove past, we couldn’t keep from noticing your cattle. They’re damn impressive.”
Out of the boy’s field of vision, Darrin rolled his eyes and shook his head. But Mitch smiled at the huge grin covering the tall blond’s face. He’d hit on a favorite subject.
“No problem. They’re our pride and joy. This year’s set of bulls was really good. I’d be happy to show them to you.” He caught his breath. “My names Levi, Levi Morris.”
“Hey, Levi. Nice to meet you. I’m Mitch, and the guy standing behind you is my husband, Darrin.”
“Cool. Let me show you the bulls. Dad’s in Dodge City today, but I know all the pedigrees.”
Mitch was glad Levi didn’t seem to have a reaction to him introducing Darrin as his husband. He was much more interested in showing off their bulls.
As they made their way through the herd of yearlings, the animals were calm but kept out of touching distance. He decided after a while he preferred these slightly more aloof animals than the ones they’d bought. He liked the distance they wanted, it made it easier to remember they were not huge dogs. The tour continued, but he realized these animals were a little different from any he’d seen before. He glanced at Levi.
“What breed are these? I thought I recognized them, but…”
Levi broke into a grin that had to be painful it stretched his face so much. “They’re Senepol. They came from the Caribbean by way of Africa. They can take the heat, and bugs. It’s a hardy breed.”
Mitch nodded but let Levi get through the rest of the introduction to the animals. Eventually they were back outside the fence, and Mitch finished his evaluation before turning to Levi.
“We’d be interested in getting some new herd sires. When will your dad be back? I’m sure he’d be the one we’d need to talk with.”
“Yes, Sir. He’ll be back this weekend. We’d love to set you up with some bulls.”
“We’ll be back. Next time we’ll call first.”
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