SUMMARY: Sitting in a campsite in the dark, two brothers can share what might be difficult to admit in other circumstances and perhaps say more than might be prudent to divulge. This is an expanded pinecone.
rating = T word count = 1047
Circling the site they had picked for a camp and picking up wood for the campfire, Hoss smiled in the darkness listening to his brother talk. There was something about the ebony anonymity of the night that made some people talk more letting the hidden side of their heart have free rein. They had worked side-by-side all day hardly saying much more than needed to be said to get the job done. Both had hoped to finish that day in time to be able to ride toward home, but the job was more than even two could finish in a day. They would need to continue the next morning and wouldn’t get the chance to ride home until the afternoon at the earliest. That meant they likely were going to miss the dinner honoring their father. It couldn’t be helped but the brothers had hoped to attend. So instead this conversation had started with all the things they owed their father but had veered into other subjects. Hoss rather liked this latest detour as they talked about times they had helped each other out of bad situations.
“I remember too that first time I had too much to drink. It happened almost by accident. I had no recollection of how much I actually had consumed until I tried to stand and walk out of that saloon. Until you offered your strong shoulder, I didn’t think I’d get home. I would likely have been knifed outside, robbed of everything I had, and left to bleed out laying in the dirt in the darkness.”
“I reckon that’s what they had in mind when they pushed them drinks on ya. You was having yourself a real good time. They never figured on ya having a brother in there. That’s the advantage of us not looking like brothers. They think they can do more to us than they can.”
“They certainly do. I’ve never underestimated you though. You’ve always been the one I can count on, the one who’s there to back me up or work beside me.”
“Or pound a bit of sense inta ya when ya need it.”
“Well, yes, there have been those times too. Not many and mostly you do that gently enough. I appreciate that.” Both were quiet for a time recalling the one time Hoss had not been gentle. Then that dark time was forgotten and they talked more of better times. “You can say more with a look and a few words than most can with a pad of paper and a day to write. A hand on the shoulder is better than any words sometimes. God only knows what I’d be without you. It seems you’ve always been part of my life. I count on you being there when I need you.”
“More than Pa?”
“Pa is a father. He has to judge and sometimes that makes him a bit harsh. It makes me back away some. You never judge or not in a way that puts distance between us.”
“Aw, that’s cause Pa has ta worry ’bout things like reputation and rules and setting a good example and such. Me, I jest worry ’bout you.”
“I worry about you too. Like if you’ve had enough to eat. You want the extra bacon and beans? I’ve had plenty.”
“Now, Adam, ya ain’t never gonna keep up wit me ifn ya keep givin’ away the vittles like that.”
“You want them or not?”
“Course I do. Jest givin’ ya one last chance at ’em.”
As Adam scooped the last of the beans and bacon from the fry pan onto the plate for Hoss, the big man picked up Adam’s coat and handed it to him as he took the plate.
“Gettin’ kinda cool. I don’t want ya feelin’ sickly in the morning and leavin’ me with all the work.”
“Of course not. You brought back enough wood to keep the fire stoked all night too. Thanks.”
When Hoss finished his dinner, they worked together to make sure the horses were settled in for the night before they cleaned and packed away the pan, utensils, and plates so they wouldn’t attract any hungry bears with the smell of beans and bacon. They did everything as a team so that neither of them would be alone and exposed to any danger if there was anything there that could be a threat. Once all was secure, they settled into their bedrolls next to the fire putting in longer logs that could be pushed into the fire as the ends burned.
“Ya know, Adam, ifn we was to get all them posts set early enough, you could ride for home and get there early enough to get to that dinner for Pa. Seems right that the oldest ought to be there.”
“Nope. We’re all his sons. If both of us can’t be there with Joe, then that’s how it is. We’ll get up as early as we can, work as hard as we can, and head out as fast as we can. If that isn’t good enough, then it wasn’t meant to be.”
Although secretly pleased with that answer, Hoss still wondered about one thing. “Don’t ya think Pa will be disappointed though if neither of us is there?”
“I think Pa knew that anyone coming up here to do this job would likely miss his dinner, but we couldn’t let this fence line stay down and have cattle wandering off and have calves branded by our neighbors as strays.”
“Yeah, I suppose that’s why he had us do that match thing again, but I lost. Why’d you volunteer to come up here with me? You coulda stayed home. Your match didn’t burn down as fast as mine. I always lose that dadblamed contest.”
“I thought if I came up here to help you, you might have a chance of making it to the dinner. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be there. Oh, and Hoss, there’s something I have to tell you about that match contest, and you aren’t going to like it.”
Other Stories by this Author
- What Would Adam Do? (by BettyHT)
- An Excellent Plan (by BettyHT)
- Double Cross (by BettyHT)
- Weather Vane aka Looking to Heaven (by BettyHT)
- You Have To Ask the Right Man (by BettyHT)