Kayanna’s Return

Written by Linda Phillips 2/14/2011

 

I had a great deal of fun writing this story, and I want to thank Gail Gerstenlauer for all her encouragement and advice.  She made it even more fun.

 

It must have been around 3:00 a.m. or so at the Sherman Ranch. It was a chilly October yet clear night out there in the country, and  the sky looked like black velvet and the stars like diamonds.   To  the casual observer the ranch looked real quiet and peaceful. But inside the room that Jess and Slim shared, it was chaotic.  It was a room filled with the sounds of tossing, turning and  louder- than- usual snoring.   The room was dark, with just a sliver of a moon out, and the ugly sounds inside the room increased.  It’s amazing just how deeply some people can sleep yet making so much noise all the while.  Along with the ugly music came the ruffling and flapping of blankets and sheets and then a loud “thud”.

 

What the heck!” Slim  jumped to his feet  grabbed his nearby gun  ready to shoot as Daisy and Mike ran into the room. 

Slim, what was that?”  Daisy pulled her robe tighter around her as she instinctively pulled Mike close to her.

You okay Mike?”  Slim asked.

Yea, just woke up cause I thought I heard a real loud noise is all”. 

It was quiet as the three stood still listening…listening for any further sounds…Slim still holding his gun just in case.

Daisy felt something moving around her feet,  terrified she jumped  and screamed.  She pulled Mike back  into the corner with her and stood very still.

 Slim had lit the lamp and was gazing around the room when he saw a big heap of blankets on the floor by Jess’ bed moving in a frenzied fashion.  Up popped Jess, and he was a sight to be seen.  His fitful sleep left his dark hair sticking out five ways from Sunday.  Reflexes went into action as he  reached up for the gun hanging over his bed. Not realizing he was up to his knees in a twisted mound of sheets, pillows and blankets,   he slipped down on the floor.  Now he was in total disorientation, mouth wide open, eyes bewildered.  All he knew was that he was lying on the floor like a fish getting wrapped up for the market and there stood Slim, Daisy and Mike laughing at him…laughing at him in the middle of the night.   After they explained to  him what happened and why he was on the floor, he was  embarrassed and angry.   Jess was a deep sleeper, hard to wake up, but when he did wake up, especially in a fashion such as this one…well let’s just say you really don’t want to be in the same room with him.

And this is what you all call funny?” He muttered in a deep hoarse voice. Mike and Daisy left the room in a hurry, giggling all the way out. He twisted and turned and tried to worm his way out of the tangled mess while trying hard not to fall again. He slammed the pillow, blanket and sheets back on the bed, crawled back in, covered his head  and yelled “ Slim  get rid  of the dag gone light!”

Sure Pard. We just thought maybe you were  itchin to get up early today, that’s all.”  Slim couldn’t help laughing as he climbed back into bed.   As hard as he tried to stifle his laughter, he knew Jess could hear him anyway.  And of course he could tell that his snickering was only making Jess even more furious.  Slim could hear the loud pounding of his pillow and grabbing of his sheets as he was clearly muttering a few curses under his breath.   Oh what a priceless, if not downright hilarious scene, and the sight of it—well it was very hard not to laugh, but Slim gave it his best effort and tried hard to focus on the day ahead.  Now tomorrow, he thought, would be a real challenge,  not necessarily for Slim, but certainly for Jess. 

Soon everyone was back in their own beds and sound asleep.  And with “lights out” the Sherman Ranch was once again the picture of peace and tranquility under a very pretty star-lit sky. 

Slim woke up to the smell of Daisy’s cooking, and he could hear Mike talking to Daisy.  He thought he heard the two of them laughing softly. He  dressed quietly being extra careful not to waken Jess this morning.  He figured after his restless night he might need a few extra winks.  He shut the door quietly and walked over to the stove and poured himself some coffee.

Mornin’ Daisy, Mike.”

Good morning Slim.  Did you get enough sleep last night?”  asked Daisy. 

Oh  yea…finally, and you?”

Oh yes Slim, but I sure hope Jess isn’t too upset with us. It’s just that…well you know.”

Yea, I know Daisy.  Don’t worry.  He’ll get over it.”

 

Daisy’s bags were packed and sitting beside the door.  Today she was leaving on the morning stage to go visit a sick friend about 50 or so miles away. She’d be gone about a week.  To take her place, an old family friend, Kayanna, would be coming by on the same stage.  Kayanna was a widow, and she often made a little money by filling in for families who needed a little help with the cooking, cleaning and such. Slim had promised to help Mort in town.  There was a fever going around town with several of the men in town  sick, and he   was short a deputy.  Jess would be doing most of the chores  and there  would be little time for domestic duties.

 Jess had never met Kayanna…but well of course Slim knew her well.  Many times she had filled in at the Sherman Ranch when the need arose.  He chuckled to himself as he sipped his coffee. He sat the cup down on the table, and a small, wicked little grin crossed his face.  He was having way too much fun conjuring up the images in his head that he was sure to come to the Sherman Ranch…most particularly to an unsuspecting Jess.

By the time Jess showed up at the table dressed and ready to eat, Slim had already gone out to tend to the horses.  He mumbled his good mornings, as Daisy poured his coffee  and sat it down alongside a plate of his favorite breakfast… scrambled eggs, piece of steak,  a side of grits and apple fritters.  He kept his head down and ate without speaking a word.   At the moment it was relatively quiet at the Sherman Ranch.

 

**************

 

Daisy adjusted the hat on her head and patted her skirt when the stage finally arrived.  She heard Mose outside talking to Slim and Jess.  Slim had already taken her bags outside. Mose was handing him some bags down from the stage as Jess approached to help out the passengers.  He reached out to grab the stage door handle when the door suddenly flew wide open knocking his hat sideways, and a loud voice came out:

Well it’s about time we finally got here! Howdy do! That was without a doubt the bumpiest, dustiest trip I’ve ever taken!”  Jess jumped back to make way for this very imposing, rather tall and large lady.  She made it quickly obvious she needed no help from him or anybody else.  She must have stood  close to six feet.  She was carrying a large satchel.  He reached out to carry it for her, just as her quick hand tightened up.  “I carry my own bags, thank you.  Don’t need anyone doin’ that.  I got good strong hands and a strong back!”  Slim grinned.  The show had begun.

Howdy, Miss Kayanna.  It’s been a long time hasn’t it?”

Yes Slim, too long.  Why you were just a boy last time, what…maybe eighteen or so?”

Yes ma’am.  It’s real good to have you here with us again. Let me introduce you to my partner, Jess Harper.”

Glad to meet you ma’am,” Jess said straightening his hat back on his head.

She looked up and down at Jess. “My you’re a thin one aren’t yaDon’t worry none. I got just the right recipes.”  The look on Jess’ face was, well, nondescript.

And this is Mike and Daisy,”  said Slim.

After the ladies exchanged greetings, and the stage was ready, Daisy said her goodbyes and gave each of her boys a hug,  climbed in and the stage rolled away. 

Slim showed Kayanna to Daisy’s room and Mike brought in a fresh bowl of water to place on the dresser.  Daisy had already laid out fresh linens and scented soaps.

I’m goin’ into town now Kayanna.  You just rest up in here for a while, take a nap if you like.  I know you’re worn out from the ride.  And after you’re rested up, you…”

Rest up?!   Now Slim you know I didn’t come all the way out here to rest up!  I’ve  got plenty to do around this place, and there won’t be any restin’ up til bedtime.”

Jess could have sworn he heard the plates rattling with each word.  She was so darn loud, and Jess’ face looked pained.  Slim was grinning ear- to- ear as he put on his hat and headed toward the door, with Jess following close behind.

So THIS is why you said you would help out Mort, and I would stay behind to do the chores!”  Slim kept on walking quickly, his long strides heading toward the barn.  Alamo was already saddled up and ready to go.

He mounted Alamo and tipped his hat.  “Sorry, don’t have time to talk Jess, I’m running late. See ya later.”

Jess watched Slim riding away.  He could have sworn Slim was laughing.  Jess tightened his jaw, muttered a few unintelligible words, and walked back in the house.

Mike had never met anyone like Kayanna before.  He  was watching her with keen interest, just wondering what she might say or do next.

Would ya look at this bed!  What in tarnation happened here last night?”  Kayanna was now standing over Jess’ bed just shaking her head. 

 

Oh that’s Jess’ bed Ms Kayanna.  Jess fell out of …”

Mike! Come here!”

Jess, Ms Kayanna is wantin to know what happened to your bed last night, and I was just sayin’…”

 

Mike!”  This time it was “Mike” with a definite “growl”.   Mike knew Jess was getting real hot—he knew that tone.  He ran out of the room.  Kayanna was still standing, hands on her hips, shaking her head back and forth.  She began ripping off the sheets, blankets, pillow case and all, and it wasn’t even wash day!

This was just the beginning of a long day.  Jess quickly gathered everything he needed to finish up chores in the barn and assembled an assortment of tools that were long overdue for sharpening. He got right to work, glad to be out of the house, glad for a little quiet time…at least until lunch time.

Around noon there came the clanging of the dinner bell, the bell along with an ear-splitting scream:  “Hurrrrrrrry!” Soup’s getting cold!” Clang-clang-clang….  Hurrrrrry!”  The horses were getting nervous and the chickens were running around the yard.  Jess threw down his chisel. ‘Can she do anything quietly?’ he wondered.

 As Jess walked slowly toward the house, he almost tripped over Fat Boy, Mike’s cat, who came running just in time to dive underneath the porch.   This became his “safe haven” from all the noise and clamor.  Mike finally  resorted to leaving his food and water underneath the porch for the remainder of the week.

 

Jess   stepped into a kitchen filled with aromas he was not acquainted with. 

Eat this, then I’ll get ya the main course” said Kayanna.   He dipped the spoon in the thick soup, took a quick whiff. He actually found it to be a delicious concoction of potatoes, cream, onions and pepper…lots of pepper. It hit the spot on a chilly fall day.  As soon as he laid down his spoon, a big plate of fried chicken arrived laden with gravy and biscuits.  Jess wasn’t used to the chicken being all fried up like that, but he sure liked it, and he couldn’t help but notice that the huge biscuits came all buttered up.  A jar of homemade  preserves showed up next.

Now I only make my biscuits to be buttered up real good and then topped off with my homemade blackberry preserves!” said Kayanna.  He had hardly finished half the chicken when an extra-large slice of apple pie was set in front of him. It was obvious she intended to fatten up his ribs.    If all that wasn’t enough, she kept bowls of delightful “Benne Wafers” all over the place…a crispy, light, buttery cookie supposedly originating  in the deep south, “mostly Georgia or South Carolina” she explained as she bit into one herself.  She added “Some believe the recipe was brought over by some of the slaves.”

Sorry ma’am, I just can’t eat all this. But you can sure wrap it up for me for later.” For the first time since Kayanna’s arrival, Jess had a wide grin on his face, grateful for all the delicious food and attention.

Nonsense!  Of course, you can eat it. A young man, workin hard like yourself.  Why you got a lot of work  yet ahead of ya.  Day’s not even half over” said a very satisfied Kayanna.  She was  very happy that Jess was obviously very pleased with such a fine meal.  If there was one thing Kayanna was sure about, she was known to be one of the finest southern cooks around.  She learned everything she knew from her southern mother and grandmother.   Her grandmother had run a small café in Charleston, a favorite among all the locals.

 

So Jess, not wanting to hurt her feelings, and also because he had to admit  it was so darn good,  ate it up.  Then Kayanna started singing. Jess thought ‘Well not really singing like people do when they sing,  but more like a cat, making those dreadful night sounds like they do when they’re getting ready for a fight.’  He wasn’t even sure of the song.  But whatever it was, she sure was having fun with it.

She had Mike outside washing the sheets and blankets.  Next to the wash tub there were mounds of more clothes to wash.  She had taken down all the curtains too.  Poor Mike.  She had him hoppin’. All afternoon the ranch was busy; busy with washin’, sweepin’, cookin’ extra large meals­; always with  that large pot of creamy potato soup. 

She grew up in Charleston, SC, but her father’s side of the family  was of Irish ancestry, and she had said this was an old family recipe—from the Old Country, and it was supposed to be good for fattening up your ribs and keeping you warm on a cold day. 

And then there was the “singing” loud and continuous.  She laughed and told Jess the harder and longer she worked, the louder and longer she sang.  Jess rolled his eyes.  ‘ Great’ he thought, ‘ and from the looks of it, she ‘d be singin’ in her sleep tonight.’

Finally, just before dusk, Slim showed back up at the ranch. He led Alamo to the barn, and seemed to be taking his sweet time too.   He finally walked into the house, hung up his gun and his hat and sat down to the table where Jess was already sitting.  Kayanna brought him a cup of hot coffee. 

Slim could feel Jess’ eyes fixed on him.  He sat looking into his coffee.“How was your day Jess?”   Slim had that Slim-look on his face, the look he gets when he is up to mischief…the one where he tries to look so innocent.

He could feel Jess’ eyes staring at him.  He could feel a lot  of steam right now, and it wasn’t all  coming  from the hot coffee.

Well Pard, I reckon you would know better about that than I do,  now wouldn’t yaSee’in as how she’s such an old family friend and all” Jess growled.

Kayanna was outside removing the laundry from the line, singing as loud as she could.  The animals around the ranch had been restless all day, and the chickens were clucking louder than usual and seemed like they wanted to take off and fly away.  And if they could fly, Jess and Mike would like to join them.  

It was getting dark now, a time when things usually slowed down a bit.  Time for reading or whittling, but not work, at least not usually. Jess and Slim had grown accustomed to the quiet of the evening, and Daisy usually spent her quiet time reading and knitting.  But it seemed Kayanna  had better things in mind…things like more cooking, more cleaning, more loud talking, and of course more singing.  Jess’ nerves were shot.  He spent the rest of the evening sitting on the porch with his warm coat on whittling away. He didn’t go back in til it was time to turn in.

And  this was the way it went all week…extra work, extra cleaning, lots of loud talking and singing, animals nervous and fidgeting and Fat Boy hiding under the porch.  Jess spent more and more time mending fences and such trying to stay as far out as possible from the noise and commotion; while each day Slim found sanctuary in Laramie.   Jess was finding his resentment towards Slim growing each day.

 

By Friday morning Jess wasn’t himself, not feeling up to snuff , ‘must have been the rich potato soup’  he figured, and so he decided to forego the usual big breakfast, and head to a pasture a good distance from the house.  He spent an hour or so inspecting all the fences.   Pulling out a rotting piece of fence, he angrily threw it on the ground.  He was breathing hard.  He wiped his sweaty face with his shirt sleeve.  Cold as it was, he finally took off  his jacket and laid back on the grass using his coat as a pillow and  allowed himself to rest a while. He probably should have finished his breakfast this morning, but he just didn’t feel like it even with Kayanna prodding him to eat.  Now he was sorry.  He was feeling a little light headed.  He hated to do it, but he just couldn’t work any more and headed back to the house early.

He rode back to the ranch house slowly, arriving well before expected.  Lunch was at least an hour off.  He slowly walked up the steps and in the house, hung up his hat, and poured himself some coffee.  At least the coffee was always ready, hot and fresh;  Kayanna saw to that.  Jess had never seen anyone drink so much coffee in his life.  His face felt hot, and his eyes felt tired.  This is exactly what he needed.  A cup of coffee, and he would be on his way.

He drank his coffee slowly.  He was so tired.  He could hear Kayanna outdoors somewhere…singing.  The singing continued until  Kayanna came through the door.

 

Why Jess, I’m surprised to see you here.  It’s early for lunch, but since ya didn’t eat much of your breakfast, I’ll rustle something up for ya.”

Thanks Kayanna, maybe just a piece of pie.”

She placed the pie in front of him.  Jess ate the pie as he sipped the coffee.  Hot coffee with apple pie.  He often enjoyed the two together…’one of life’s little luxuries’ he thought.

Peace and quiet—now they were also one of life’s little luxuries. ‘ Funny how we take the little luxuries in life for granted’ he thought.  It was then that he realized the peace and quiet in the house.  He looked up only to see Kayanna standing in front of him, hands on her hips, studying him up and down. A frown crossed her face and a look of concern he had not seen before.

You all right Jess?”  She placed her hand across his forehead.  “Why you’re burning up!  Your face is red too. After you finish your pie, you gotta go to bed”.   At that she went into Jess’ and Slim’s room and began turning down the bed.  She fluffed the pillow.  She had Mike bring in some fresh water.  Kayanna was used to giving orders.  She never once asked Jess if he would like to lie down a while.  She simply ordered him to the bed.  That was just her way. 

 Jess was just too tired, and at that point, too ill to argue with her.  Besides he was just glad everything was quiet for now. And no, he was not to just lie on top of the bed with his clothes on, he was instructed to take off his clothes because they’d need washin’ from the sick germs, and get under the covers cause he wasn’t getting up any time soon as she explained.  Somehow he felt a huge sense of relief, and drifted off to sleep.

 

************

Slim was sitting with his feet propped up on Mort’s desk wondering how things were going back at the ranch today. Daisy would be home in a few more days, and things would be back to normal.  He knew Jess would be real glad to have Daisy back.  Slim was chuckling to himself at the site and sounds he envisioned going on back at the ranch when Mose came through the door.

Slim, Jess has taken sick back at the ranch.  The lady you got stayin’ out there says he’s got a fever and is laid up in bed.”

Slim’s chair hit the floor hard.  Now that was not Jess.  He never went to bed in the middle of the day.

Thanks Mose”. 

Soon as Mose walked out the door,  Mort  showed back up from his afternoon rounds .

Mort, Jess is laid up in bed back at the ranch.  Hope it’s not the fever.  Gotta go” Slim said on his way out.

 “Sure Slim.  Let me know if you need anything.”

Slim knew of a few cases of fever in town.  Only one of them became fatally ill, and that case was of an elderly woman.  The rest of them managed to pull through, but not easily.

He became anxious and made a quick ride of it.

After Slim made it back to the ranch , he rushed inside to check on Jess and Mike.

 

Mike ran up to Slim. “Slim you gotta see Jess.  He’s real sick. Been in bed since lunch time.”

As Slim entered the room he quieted his steps as he could see Jess was sleeping. His face was flushed and his forehead felt hot to the back of his hand. Kayanna was sitting in the chair in the corner.

 

Don’t touch him Slim.  You can stand there if you want, but  you don’t want to come down with this thing and give it to Mike.”

Kayanna was right. He had to think about Mike.

 

I’m not letting Mike in the room right now. Too many sick germs, ya know.  And  you best be bunkin’ in Daisy’s room tonight cause I’ll be stayin’ in here and keepin’ an eye on things.” 

Jess was restless all night.  Kayanna got  very little sleep herself.  He tossed and turned and was constantly talking in his sleep.  Every 30 minutes or so she would  freshen the cloth on his head with fresh cool water.    She decided that since he felt hotter to her touch , she would place additional cool cloths on his neck and chest area.  She grabbed her fan she always kept close by and she began to fan his warm head and shoulders.  He must have been dreaming about his family she thought.  He was mumbling names she was not familiar with, and several times he mentioned “Mom”.  He never did mention his Dad though.  Worn out and tired of drinking so much coffee,  she finally sat down in the chair and closed her eyes.

 

  **************

Kayanna woke up, startled by the fact she was sitting up in a chair, and it was  light outside.  She should have been up by now and fixing breakfast already.  It was then she looked over and realized she had been playing nurse to Jess all night.  Again she changed out the warm moist rags and placed cool rags on his forehead and neck and chest.

Finally satisfied that there was nothing else to be done right now with her patient, she left Jess  to make some coffee.  She was surprised to learn coffee was already made and Slim was sitting in the chair by the  fire.  He was very quiet.   The whole house was very quiet.  Kayanna made some breakfast hoping that the aroma of fried cinnamon apples would bring a bit of cheer into the dreary atmosphere.   She did not speak to Slim.   He seemed way too worried for that, and  tired as well.


“ You know, Kayanna, sleep was hard to come by last night.  I could hear Jess even in the next room.  And I know that this fever that’s been going round town has got people real nervous.  One person has died already.  It’s good Jess is young and strong.”

Yes, he is.   Look, Slim, don’t fret none, he’ll be fine.  I’ve tended many fevers in my lifetime, and they’re always hard, harder on the family than the patient.  But I can tell ya for sure, Jess is going to come out of this just fine.  You’ll see.  All’s we got to do is get down the fever some.”  And with that, she went to check back on her patient. 

She walked quietly into Jess’ room.  She removed all the warm wet cloths and placed them in the bowl of cool water.  She carefully wrung them out,  and placed them back on Jess’ forehead, neck and shoulders.  She reached down to feel his cheeks.  They were still too warm, and he still looked feverish.  She had had a son once, about the age  of Jess.   He had been killed in the war.   Jess was so much like her own son, John.  Same temperament, same thick, wavy dark hair.  How she missed her John.   She pulled up a wooden chair close to the bedside and began to fan his face and thin frame.  She studied his still face.  Like John, he was so handsome she thought.  The  long lashes and slight, almost imperceptible dimple in the chin.  “I bet he gets the attention of the young ladies” she said to herself.  ‘And Slim, well what young lady wouldn’t be swept  off her feet by such a tall, yet gentle, gallant young man’ she thought . The Sherman men were all tall,  broad shouldered and blond.  But this young man, well, he’s just the opposite really.  ‘Guess that’s why they’re such close  friends’ she thought.  An interesting contrast in physical appearance as well as personalities.  But both young men, handsome and kind for sure.  And as they say, it takes all kinds to make the world go round.   She was lost in her thoughts about the 3 “boys”—John, Jess and Slim, and she did not notice Mike standing behind her looking very anxious.

Is he gonna be all right Ms. Kayanna?”

Yes, Mike, I ‘spect by supper time, he’ll be awake some and takin’ in some broth, you’ll see.  Now go out and get me some fresh clean water and some more clean rags, okay?”

Throughout the day, Kayanna’s  focus was on Jess not so much the cooking and cleaning.  Every so often she’d come in, sit by his bed and place a clean damp cloth on his lips, dipping  it in a clean separate smaller bowl of water, and letting just a drop or two ooze inside his  dry mouth.  She would stroke his forehead gently and fan his face and neck.  All the while, speaking only in very quiet, soothing tones, like a mother over a fretting child.  Jess seemed to be partially aware of her presence and at times trying to focus his eyes on hers, at which time she would often say “It’s okay Jess.  Slim’s here now, and he’s taking care of things here. All you need do is just rest okay?  I’m here and me and Slim will take care of you and the ranch.  We’ll keep things real quiet for ya.  Just close your eyes now and go back to sleep.”  Then he would close his eyes and instantly he’d drift off again.

And so the day went, very quiet.  Every time Mike spoke up, she would hush him gently “Speak in your quiet voice Mike, please”.

After supper Slim sat in his chair.  He felt tired,  but content that Jess was beginning to show small signs of improvement, opening his eyes from time to time and asking for small amounts of water.  He looked over at Kayanna who was busy knitting .  Every now and then he noticed she would drop her head, as if in prayer, with her lips moving very quietly.  Prayers for Jess no doubt.

Slim was grateful now that he had asked Kayanna to come and stay with them this past week what with Jess taking sick.  As close as he and Jess were, close as any two brothers could be, there was still nothing that compared to the nurturing and caring of a loving woman when a man or a child was this sick.  The gentle hands of a mother, the quiet movements, the nurturing quiet words.  How odd he thought.  The only other time he had remembered her being this quiet was the day of the funeral when her son, John, was buried.  So in essence these two people, strangers really, had filled a void in each other’s hearts.   For Jess, he had been afforded the mother figure he dearly missed and needed right now.  For Kayanna…a “son” to tend to…something she missed since her John died.  It was a fateful encounter of two individuals, neither of whom would admit their sorrow or lonely thoughts.

Later Kayanna was able to give Jess a few spoonfuls of clear broth instead of the thick creamy potato soup he had become so fond of.  ‘ Now the broth is perfect, just right, just what I need right now’ thought Jess.

Before turning in, Slim  looked down at his friend .  Jess was much cooler now and seemed to be sleeping very peacefully.  He was now back in his room since Kayanna was satisfied that Jess was on the mend.

Next morning, things were still very quiet at the Sherman Ranch.  Breakfast was finished, and Mike was sent out to the barn for morning chores.  Kayanna was in Daisy’s room, busy packing up for her trip back home.

Before he went outside, Slim peeked in at Jess who was awake.  He had already eaten a little broth and had propped himself up against the pillows.

You know what Slim?”

What Pard?”

I dreamed I was back home, you know, with my Mom and all.  It was like old times when I was sick, and she would sit by my bed and   all.  And it was real peaceful like.  You know?”

Well, that was no dream PardKayanna was right by your side the whole time tending your needs, changing your cloths, wiping your feverish face, fanning you and all.  And making sure that Mike stayed real quiet so as not to disturb you.”   Jess lowered his head, blinking his wet lashes with his jaw tightening, he tried very hard not to show his emotion.

No kiddin?” 

No kiddin Jess.  Now you get some rest.  Daisy’s coming in on the next stage.”  Slim left the room.

Jess lay there quietly thinking to himself.  He felt a little guilty now.   Ashamed at how he couldn’t wait for Kayanna to leave, and all the extra hours he stayed away from her and the house.  ‘There’s just no figurin people sometimes’ he thought. ‘ Just when you think you figured ‘em all out, then they suddenly go and change on you.   Kayanna, with her loud and boisterous personality, well they were just a wall she put up  he figured, so as to not let herself be easily seen on the inside.’   And this wall only came down when it needed to, like when helping someone else.  Then he figured ‘sometimes you gotta put the other person’s problems ahead of your own need for privacy.’  He hated to admit it, but Jess could see a lot of himself in Kayanna.  ‘That might be a good lesson for all of us’ he thought.  

Jess was still too weak to walk Kayanna out to the stage, but they said their goodbyes in his room, and he shed one small tear when he heard the stage pull away.

*********************

It was so good to have Daisy back home again.  The Sherman Ranch was finally back to normal, and Fat Boy finally came out from underneath the porch again.   But there were lessons learned during this past week, lessons that only life itself can teach.  These kinds of lessons can never be learned in any textbook. 

 

The End

                                                  *************

 





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