Cooper; 12/24/2020

Zombie or Post Apocalyptic themed fiction/stories.

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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2018

Post by FlashDaddy » Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:38 pm

Oh that is terrible Doc! Best of luck in your recovery efforts!
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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2018

Post by 91Eunozs » Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:04 pm

Damn... that’s not good Doc.

Crashed-crashed or just the computer? Many places can plug in your drive to recover files and some can even rebuild the hard drive as long as the plates aren’t damaged or magnetized.

We went to a solid state (no plates) for our home backup (mostly old pics that we digitized as well as stuff from our phone cameras) a long time ago for that exact reason after a bad crash. Have also used Carbonite (automatic off site backup) for a few years as well. There are a few other companies that do that as well, some quite cheap if your storage demands are low.
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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2018

Post by bodyparts » Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:13 pm

Doc that so sux *** !! good luck with the recovery process. i hope it works out for you .

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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2018

Post by doc66 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:36 pm

91Eunozs wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:04 pm
Damn... that’s not good Doc.

Crashed-crashed or just the computer? Many places can plug in your drive to recover files and some can even rebuild the hard drive as long as the plates aren’t damaged or magnetized.

We went to a solid state (no plates) for our home backup (mostly old pics that we digitized as well as stuff from our phone cameras) a long time ago for that exact reason after a bad crash. Have also used Carbonite (automatic off site backup) for a few years as well. There are a few other companies that do that as well, some quite cheap if your storage demands are low.

A tech buddy thinks it might be a connector and not the drive...

Whatever that means.

So, the truth right now is other than what's posted around the internet... years of writing might be gone. I knew l needed to get it in other places, but l keep putting it off.
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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2018

Post by 91Eunozs » Thu Jul 04, 2019 10:21 am

doc66 wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:36 pm
91Eunozs wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:04 pm
Damn... that’s not good Doc.

Crashed-crashed or just the computer? Many places can plug in your drive to recover files and some can even rebuild the hard drive as long as the plates aren’t damaged or magnetized.

We went to a solid state (no plates) for our home backup (mostly old pics that we digitized as well as stuff from our phone cameras) a long time ago for that exact reason after a bad crash. Have also used Carbonite (automatic off site backup) for a few years as well. There are a few other companies that do that as well, some quite cheap if your storage demands are low.

A tech buddy thinks it might be a connector and not the drive...

Whatever that means.

So, the truth right now is other than what's posted around the internet... years of writing might be gone. I knew l needed to get it in other places, but l keep putting it off.
Best of luck and finger’s crossed it’s an easy fix Doc.

You know, if you published some of this stuff, backups wouldn’t be as big a deal! Just sayin’!
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woodsghost wrote:... A defensive gun without training is basically a talisman. It might ward off evil, but I wouldn't count on it.

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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2018

Post by doc66 » Mon Aug 19, 2019 2:13 am

So, the drive is going to have to be sent to a specialist, so to speak. If it works, it will be expensive, however, I'll have my writing back.

That being said, I'm over my funk. I'm writing. It might be a bit, but l have an idea.

Thanks to everyone.
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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2018

Post by bodyparts » Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:29 am

Well i certainly hope it works out for you. It's good to hear that you are writing again :clap: :clap:

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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2018

Post by doc66 » Sun Jan 26, 2020 7:10 am

I'm writing again, and having shit luck with computers. Lost an entire ending to a Cooper short story, again. But, my plan is to rewrite it, hopefully in the vein l had, and get it up and running again as a series.

I've also been editing The Mountain. That's tedious.

Thanks for sticking with it.
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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2018

Post by FlashDaddy » Sun Jan 26, 2020 8:09 am

Woooo whooooo!! That is fantastic news Doc! Thanks for bringing us hope of more great story times!
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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2018

Post by EdRider » Mon Feb 03, 2020 9:58 am

Very good to hear! Both the Cooper World stories and the Mountain are much better than most of the PAW crap that I read from Amazon. I also think if you could get it published that you would be amazed at the growing fan base you would get! I really like the "after event lifestyle" descriptions and the non-zombie themes.

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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2018

Post by doc66 » Sun Nov 29, 2020 12:46 pm

Okay. Not Cooper related.

I'm looking for a couple people to read a novel for continuity. It's book one of a two part I plan on self publishing on Amazon or where ever.

It's a Post Apocalyptical novel with shades of the 1950s belief we can survive a Nuclear War. The time period is anywhere from 1990s to 2020.

I am currently editing the second novel.

I've looked at it several times already, and I think the grammar is where I want it to be. This would just to be sure characters are consistent and themes.

There would be the usual expatiations of privacy and content ownership.

I ain't got no money, but I donno, if there's anything ever to come of it, maybe whiskey in an expensive bottle?

I just need a quick reader or two and objective eyes.

PM me.
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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2018

Post by EdRider » Tue Dec 01, 2020 10:46 am

I would be pleased to do a quick read through and comment for you. I enjoy your writings. I will private message you my contact information.

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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2018

Post by doc66 » Tue Dec 01, 2020 2:25 pm

Thanks for the responses.

I will get my shit together and get the copies out in the next day or two.
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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2020

Post by doc66 » Thu Dec 24, 2020 3:44 pm

Merry Christmas all. I hope this finds everyone in good spirits and well in the world of FUCK2020. I realize I haven't posted on here in a while, story-wise, and thought I'd write a Christmas tale. Mistakes are mine, Spanish speaking individuals, forgive my transgressions and take it in the spirit it was meant.

The smoke from the chimney drifted into the air to flatten out in the trees standing sentry around the small shed containing the HeatMaster outdoor furnace. It was a crisp morning and Cooper’s breath floated around his face as he worked to rotate the wood under the three-sided shed’s overhang. It was annoying to have the ice form on his beard as he worked because it left the skin next to his beard cold with moisture and icicles formed on the tips. He paused for a moment to wipe his beard clear of the offending ice and then pulled out his handkerchief to try and dry the beard enough so his face did not get cold. Handkerchiefs had made a big come back since things had fallen apart. There were no long boxes of tissue discreetly sitting on every side table in the house and Cooper now knew the reason why the people of yesteryear carried them everywhere. He gave the thick Carhartt kerchief a shake to rid it of surface moisture and folded it before putting the cotton cloth back into his pocket. Cooper had bought the handkerchief back Before because he thought hanging the handkerchief with the border lined with hammers and screwdrivers and wrenches from a mic stand was something he could ironically pull out on stage to wipe the sweat from his hands. Now he wished he had bought a dozen of them.

Cooper turned back to the wood pile. The recent storm had made Cooper pull wood willy-nilly from the pile to keep the firebox on the stove pumping water born heat to the cabin. He now wished he had taken the time to be more methodical about his feeding the fire. But, with the three-day storm had come several inches of snow to the mountain top and the struggle to keep the solar panels clear, the animals fed, the wood burner going, the wood split, and checking on the closest neighbors, had worn him down. Even with David and Leticia and Sanjana helping, it was still a struggle. Cooper banged two pieces of wood together to knock off a dusting of snow. In spite of the shed to cover the wood pile, the wind had blown the flakes into places usually clear of the weather.

A small hum filled the air as the fan for the wood stove kicked on. Keeping the solar panels clear and the batteries charged was imperative with the system to heat the cabin. They had a nice fireplace and efficient box inside the cabin, but that had been put in more for ambiance than heating the entire dwelling. When Jessica and Cooper had designed the cabin, they had several things in mind they wanted in the layout. One of them had been a hot tub, and with that in mind, they had bought a size larger than what they needed with the outdoor wood burning heater so the hot water could circulate through the tub and keep it at an even temperature no matter how long they soaked. The tub had never happened, but the system was rated for far more square footage than they needed. The plumbing was ready for a hot tub, and Cooper had often joked about finding one down in the valley and loading it up on the gasified truck to bring back to the cabin. The deck had an outthrust off to one side especially designed for such a contingency.

Stacking the wood in his hand, Cooper stepped back to gauged the condition of the pile. It was in much better shape than when he had started. He needed to restock from the main piles of wood down by the barn. That meant getting the sled out to pull the wood up to the furnace. Cooper sighed to himself. When they had started this venture, they did not think about ease and convenience of tasks. It was meant to be a little hobby farm at the most. He and Jessica bought the property for the sweeping view of the valley below, and then planned the cabin and outbuildings around the view. The unlevel, rocky ground, the forest around them, all had dictated the placement of the cabin, the small barn, the sheds, and the driveway. David’s A frame hut had been stuck up in the woods so far it was a good ten-minute walk in the snow to get to the cabin where Cooper and Jessica lived.

There was a peal of laughter from the storage basement under the cabin. Jessica and Sanjana and Leticia were looking though boxes for Christmas decorations. Cooper smiled at the sound. He had relented to Jessica’s request to look through the plastic bins for ornaments even though they had all kinds of things that needed done after the storm. He and David could do what needed to be done right away; the rest could wait. He was not opposed to having festive hangings around the cabin. Cooper returned to his sorting and splitting of wood.

He was lost in his task when he heard Jessica’s voice call to him.

“Cooper,” she repeated.

Cooper turned to where she stood outside the shed, a grin on her face and a piece of folded paper in her hand. He took all that was her in and could not help but smile. Jessica was wearing her trusty Tractor Supply jacket she had bought when they had moved up to the cabin. The Tough Duck was stained and worn from chores day in and day out. She was wearing a multi colored knit toboggan hat to contain her red-gold hair and a long green wool skirt which probably was once suited to a power walk through the downtown of a major city over her rubber muck boots. Jessica had on a wide grin and Cooper could tell she and the other ladies had been in the wine.

“What’s up?” asked Cooper, not sure if he really wanted to know.

“Remember when we and all the guys in the band and their families all went caroling around and hit all our favorite bars and restaurants?” asked Jessica, her face aglow with the memories. “Remember, we were all really broke and we were drinking cheap-ass peppermint schnapps, and had those jugs of Carlos Rossi wine, and we were all picking on Jacques because he brought that Franzia in a box?”

Cooper could not help himself but to smile. “I remember. And Bobby had that little bottle of Crown Royal that we killed before squeezing onto the tour van and careening downtown. We should have been arrested.”

They laughed together at the memory. That had been before their third album and they began to actually headline mid-sized venues and festivals. Cooper remembered those days fondly and knew even after the world came back together, he was probably never going to achieve that level of semi-fame again. The band was scattered across the continent and he did not even know who, if any, were still alive. Jessica stepped through the snow and thrust the folded piece of paper at Cooper. “I found a bunch of these in a box.”

Pulling off his glove before taking the paper, Cooper recognized the hand drawn picture that Stacy, Bobby’s girlfriend, had done as the cover of their ‘caroling book.’ The image was a bunch of skeletons dressed in Christmas hats drinking from bottles. The caption over the skeletons said ‘Christmas Carols’ with the year after and the skeletons looked to be dancing on the words ‘Bone Diggers and Friends.’ It was a parody of the band’s first album cover and it made Cooper take a deep breath to control his emotions. Cooper wondered for the millionth time how his band mates were doing. He opened the fold and saw the printed words to caroling songs on the interior. Jessica and Stacy had made the little booklets up on their office printer and presented them to all of the band members and wives and girlfriends and children before springing the idea of caroling on them all. Cooper bit back on a tear as he thought back to the evening when they had all shared a potluck dinner and had drunkenly walked from bar to bar and restaurant singing carols to the patrons and occasionally lining up for free shots from the bartenders or a patron who was feeling the holiday spirit.

“That was a fun night,” said Cooper moving to hand the leaflet back to Jessica.

“I want to do it again.”

Cooper gave Jessica a confused look. “Kinda hard to do from up here.”

“No, jackass,” admonished Jessica. “I want to get together with all our friends up here and go caroling. Sanjana has never been, Leticia said that we could end up at El Ranchero with el Jefe because they do a big dinner, Mass, and all that at midnight. I was digging around on those stupid shelves and did you know we have two bottles of peppermint schnapps? Did you know there’s a jug of Jim Beam down there?”

Cooper tried to hide his wince. He had been stashing that handle of Jim Beam for an occasion. It might possibly be the last bottle of Jim Beam in the world. “But we don’t even have—.”

“Have what?” interrupted Jessica. “Time with all the chores? Time to practice? Who gives a shit, Cooper? Let’s do this. It’s Christmas, we need to do this.”

They stared at each other for a moment as if Cooper were going to have something definitive to say about the matter.

“Okay,” said Cooper with a sigh of defeat. “Start decorating. Whose coming for the potluck?”

“Leticia is going down to let Heidi and them know to be here tomorrow night,” laughed Jessica. “Then she’s running up to El Ranchero to let Jefe know we’ll be there as well. I figured we could invite Patricia and her crew since they are right next door then we can hit every place between here and El Ranchero and gather up people as they want to come.”

“Do you want me to go to Patricia’s?”

“Leticia is stopping on her way to the ranch,” informed Jessica.

“How many of these little song books do we have?” asked Cooper, holding it out to look at it again.

Jessica took the booklet and leaned in to kiss Cooper. He could taste the wine on her tongue and smell the freshness of her. She leaned back as he put his arms around her. “Believe it or not, we’ve got nearly a dozen of these things. Stacy and I must have been high when we made them to do so many.”

“Well, keep a couple out to frame,” laughed Cooper.

“I will,” promised Jessica. “Sanjana and I are going to start cooking for the potluck and I think we need to make a punch out of that schnapps.”

“Can we leave the Jim Beam down in the storage cellar?” asked Cooper hopefully.

Jessica shrugged playfully. “We’ll see.”

Taking the little folded sheet with the lyrics to Christmas songs on it out of Coopers hand, Jessica leaned back in and gave him another kiss. “This is going to be so much fun.”

She turned and did a running hop through the snow back to the cabin. He watched Jessica move happily through the deep snow and Cooper knew he needed to finish what he was doing and lay in for a long couple of days. With the plans that were afoot, he would have very little time to do the necessary things which needed to get done around the homestead. He hoped David was up for working a couple extra hours today; they were both going to be pulled into the preparations for the party and the more things they did today to keep the little farm running, the better off they would be when it came time to expend energy on the party.

Cooper grabbed the sled and pulled it behind him as he headed for the wood pile and the barn where David was mucking out stalls. He hoped David was in a sporting mood; there was no telling what awaited them when they finished the chores outside.

Dropping the sled off at the wood pile, Cooper entered the barn. Beside the barn the chickens were clucking their way across run, acting as if the cold weather were an affront to their personal wellbeing. They had culled some of the older birds that fall to make soups with and cut down on the number of birds they had to feed. The flock seemed to still be confused by the diminished numbers. The rooster, Wendell, worked hard to keep the hens in a tight group so he could keep an eye on them. Wendell puffed up on seeing Cooper near the barn and gave a couple crows so that Cooper understood who was in charge of the chickens.

The small barn was warmer than the outside air and smelled pleasantly of fresh hay and straw. They had a wood stove in one corner that they used on the coldest of nights. The stove sat on a layer of bricks and when they built the barn, Cooper had gathered all the concrete block he could find to box the device in and eliminate stray sparks as much as possible. He had hauled sand from the river wheel barrow load by wheel barrow load to fill in the holes in the block and provide a heat sink. The cast iron stove was going at the moment to cut the cold in the barn. Cooper saw that Davis was finished with the stalls and had moved on to the common area where the goats bedded down. The llama was munching at straw from the comfort of it’s stall. David looked up on Cooper’s entrance.

“Come to help?”

Cooper laughed and sat on a straw bail. “You’re going to hate me.”

“I already do,” said David. He leaned his pitchfork aside and picked up his thermos of rose hip tea. David poured a cup of the steaming liquid and held it out for Cooper who waved it off. David brought it over to where Cooper sat and leaned against the work bench while he sipped the tea. “Wish it was coffee.”

“Don’t we all,” said Cooper. “If I had known what was about to happen, I’d have laid in three or four bags of green coffee beans just to roast them myself and have a fresh cup every morning.”

David nodded and sipped. “What am I about to hate you about?”

“Well, the ladies were looking for Christmas ornaments,” started Cooper. David nodded that he knew this and motioned for Cooper to continue. “They apparently opened a bottle of wine to do this and somewhere along the way found a box of memories.”

“They opened a bottle of wine and found a box of memories?” said David. “Maybe we should crack open some of that hard cider?”

“You might want to,” agreed Cooper. “’Cause you see, Jessica found a little booklet of Christmas carols and she wants to go caroling.”

“Caroling? That doesn’t seem so bad,” shrugged David. “It’ll be cold, but fun.”

“Yeah,” said Cooper. “But there’s going to be a party to go with it and we’re all going to end up at whatever Midnight Mass El Jefe has cooked up at El Ranchero del Montaña. They are going to invite Heidi and them, and Patricia and her family, and the plan is to pick up people all the way up the road to the ranch.”

“When is this supposed to happen?” asked David with no excitement in his voice.

Cooper picked a straw and ran it between his teeth. “Tomorrow night.”

“Damn it,” said David. “There’s so much to do.”

“Yeah, doesn’t matter,” said Cooper. He stood and smiled at his friend. “So, get shit set up so we can breeze through chores tomorrow, I’ll get the wood up to the furnace, to the cabin and to your place, and we’ll top off all the water barrels.”

David drained the tea. “How’d you let her talk you into this?”

“Let her?” asked Cooper. “Who are you kidding? How much do you ‘let’ Leticia do?”

“Fair point,” grinned David. He reached under the workbench behind a box of tools and freed a sixty-four-ounce Ball jar three quarters full of amber liquid. There was sediment floating in the bottom of the jar, thick and grainy looking. David gave the contents a light swirl, sending the sediment spinning at the bottom of the hard cider. “Shall we?”

Cooper looked up toward the cabin and then jumped to his feet. “Why not?”

Setting the big jar on the workbench, David reached to a shelf above the bench and pulled down two coffee cups. He cracked the seal and poured a measure into each cup after blowing the dust out. Handing one to Cooper, David raised his in salute.

“Here’s to Christmas parties and the women who plan them,” toasted David. Cooper returned the salute and they sipped the near freezing hard cider. David pulled the coffee cup away and let out a long breath. “Damn that was a good fall batch.”

Cooper hiss through his teeth. “You mean this fall?”

They laughed.

“Glad we found those cinnamon sticks,” mentioned David.

“It makes it palatable for sure,” agreed Cooper. David held up the jar. Cooper nodded and he topped them off again. He screwed the lid on tight and placed the jar back behind the tool box below the work bench. Cooper sipped at the cider. “Jessica found that handle of Jim Beam, too.”

David looked stricken. “Oh no. Is she going to make you put it up for the party?”

“I don’t know,” said Cooper. “I was hoping to hold onto it.”

“Man, that’s harsh. That might be the last Jim Beam in the world.”

“I know.”

They stood next to the work bench for a moment of silence. Each thinking thought of when Jim Beam was just another bottom shelf brand to pour over ice and do a shot or two with. Now they were mourning the bottle as if it might have been a bottle of twenty-one-year-old Pappy van Winkle.

“You know, if she makes you open it,” schemed David. “We can pour off part of it and hide it out here in the barn.”

“That might happen,” said Cooper toasting his friend. “But you know, once the bottle’s open, what’s the point? Might as well drink it.”

“Truth,” nodded David.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” decided Cooper as he drained off the hard cider and felt the warm tingle spread through his body. “You need any help?”

David drained his own cup and took Coopers from him. He placed the coffee cups back up on the shelf. “Naw, I got this. We’ll team up on the water.”

“How much wood do you need at the A frame?”

“Couple loads ought to get it,” decided David. “That stove we got from that trade is pretty efficient at heating the place up. I don’t have to use much wood to keep it comfortable in there.”

They made a few more minutes of small talk before Cooper went to lead the llama out of the stall. The animal looked at Cooper as if Cooper were leading the beast to the chopping block when Cooper harnessed the llama up to haul the sled full of wood. Cooper and David laughed at the protesting animal. Cooper attached the sled yoke to the harness and they went back out into the cold to start hauling wood.
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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2020

Post by doc66 » Thu Dec 24, 2020 3:44 pm

Merry Christmas all. I hope this finds everyone in good spirits and well in the world of FUCK2020. I realize I haven't posted on here in a while, story-wise, and thought I'd write a Christmas tale. Mistakes are mine, Spanish speaking individuals, forgive my transgressions and take it in the spirit it was meant.

The smoke from the chimney drifted into the air to flatten out in the trees standing sentry around the small shed containing the HeatMaster outdoor furnace. It was a crisp morning and Cooper’s breath floated around his face as he worked to rotate the wood under the three-sided shed’s overhang. It was annoying to have the ice form on his beard as he worked because it left the skin next to his beard cold with moisture and icicles formed on the tips. He paused for a moment to wipe his beard clear of the offending ice and then pulled out his handkerchief to try and dry the beard enough so his face did not get cold. Handkerchiefs had made a big come back since things had fallen apart. There were no long boxes of tissue discreetly sitting on every side table in the house and Cooper now knew the reason why the people of yesteryear carried them everywhere. He gave the thick Carhartt kerchief a shake to rid it of surface moisture and folded it before putting the cotton cloth back into his pocket. Cooper had bought the handkerchief back Before because he thought hanging the handkerchief with the border lined with hammers and screwdrivers and wrenches from a mic stand was something he could ironically pull out on stage to wipe the sweat from his hands. Now he wished he had bought a dozen of them.

Cooper turned back to the wood pile. The recent storm had made Cooper pull wood willy-nilly from the pile to keep the firebox on the stove pumping water born heat to the cabin. He now wished he had taken the time to be more methodical about his feeding the fire. But, with the three-day storm had come several inches of snow to the mountain top and the struggle to keep the solar panels clear, the animals fed, the wood burner going, the wood split, and checking on the closest neighbors, had worn him down. Even with David and Leticia and Sanjana helping, it was still a struggle. Cooper banged two pieces of wood together to knock off a dusting of snow. In spite of the shed to cover the wood pile, the wind had blown the flakes into places usually clear of the weather.

A small hum filled the air as the fan for the wood stove kicked on. Keeping the solar panels clear and the batteries charged was imperative with the system to heat the cabin. They had a nice fireplace and efficient box inside the cabin, but that had been put in more for ambiance than heating the entire dwelling. When Jessica and Cooper had designed the cabin, they had several things in mind they wanted in the layout. One of them had been a hot tub, and with that in mind, they had bought a size larger than what they needed with the outdoor wood burning heater so the hot water could circulate through the tub and keep it at an even temperature no matter how long they soaked. The tub had never happened, but the system was rated for far more square footage than they needed. The plumbing was ready for a hot tub, and Cooper had often joked about finding one down in the valley and loading it up on the gasified truck to bring back to the cabin. The deck had an outthrust off to one side especially designed for such a contingency.

Stacking the wood in his hand, Cooper stepped back to gauged the condition of the pile. It was in much better shape than when he had started. He needed to restock from the main piles of wood down by the barn. That meant getting the sled out to pull the wood up to the furnace. Cooper sighed to himself. When they had started this venture, they did not think about ease and convenience of tasks. It was meant to be a little hobby farm at the most. He and Jessica bought the property for the sweeping view of the valley below, and then planned the cabin and outbuildings around the view. The unlevel, rocky ground, the forest around them, all had dictated the placement of the cabin, the small barn, the sheds, and the driveway. David’s A frame hut had been stuck up in the woods so far it was a good ten-minute walk in the snow to get to the cabin where Cooper and Jessica lived.

There was a peal of laughter from the storage basement under the cabin. Jessica and Sanjana and Leticia were looking though boxes for Christmas decorations. Cooper smiled at the sound. He had relented to Jessica’s request to look through the plastic bins for ornaments even though they had all kinds of things that needed done after the storm. He and David could do what needed to be done right away; the rest could wait. He was not opposed to having festive hangings around the cabin. Cooper returned to his sorting and splitting of wood.

He was lost in his task when he heard Jessica’s voice call to him.

“Cooper,” she repeated.

Cooper turned to where she stood outside the shed, a grin on her face and a piece of folded paper in her hand. He took all that was her in and could not help but smile. Jessica was wearing her trusty Tractor Supply jacket she had bought when they had moved up to the cabin. The Tough Duck was stained and worn from chores day in and day out. She was wearing a multi colored knit toboggan hat to contain her red-gold hair and a long green wool skirt which probably was once suited to a power walk through the downtown of a major city over her rubber muck boots. Jessica had on a wide grin and Cooper could tell she and the other ladies had been in the wine.

“What’s up?” asked Cooper, not sure if he really wanted to know.

“Remember when we and all the guys in the band and their families all went caroling around and hit all our favorite bars and restaurants?” asked Jessica, her face aglow with the memories. “Remember, we were all really broke and we were drinking cheap-ass peppermint schnapps, and had those jugs of Carlos Rossi wine, and we were all picking on Jacques because he brought that Franzia in a box?”

Cooper could not help himself but to smile. “I remember. And Bobby had that little bottle of Crown Royal that we killed before squeezing onto the tour van and careening downtown. We should have been arrested.”

They laughed together at the memory. That had been before their third album and they began to actually headline mid-sized venues and festivals. Cooper remembered those days fondly and knew even after the world came back together, he was probably never going to achieve that level of semi-fame again. The band was scattered across the continent and he did not even know who, if any, were still alive. Jessica stepped through the snow and thrust the folded piece of paper at Cooper. “I found a bunch of these in a box.”

Pulling off his glove before taking the paper, Cooper recognized the hand drawn picture that Stacy, Bobby’s girlfriend, had done as the cover of their ‘caroling book.’ The image was a bunch of skeletons dressed in Christmas hats drinking from bottles. The caption over the skeletons said ‘Christmas Carols’ with the year after and the skeletons looked to be dancing on the words ‘Bone Diggers and Friends.’ It was a parody of the band’s first album cover and it made Cooper take a deep breath to control his emotions. Cooper wondered for the millionth time how his band mates were doing. He opened the fold and saw the printed words to caroling songs on the interior. Jessica and Stacy had made the little booklets up on their office printer and presented them to all of the band members and wives and girlfriends and children before springing the idea of caroling on them all. Cooper bit back on a tear as he thought back to the evening when they had all shared a potluck dinner and had drunkenly walked from bar to bar and restaurant singing carols to the patrons and occasionally lining up for free shots from the bartenders or a patron who was feeling the holiday spirit.

“That was a fun night,” said Cooper moving to hand the leaflet back to Jessica.

“I want to do it again.”

Cooper gave Jessica a confused look. “Kinda hard to do from up here.”

“No, jackass,” admonished Jessica. “I want to get together with all our friends up here and go caroling. Sanjana has never been, Leticia said that we could end up at El Ranchero with el Jefe because they do a big dinner, Mass, and all that at midnight. I was digging around on those stupid shelves and did you know we have two bottles of peppermint schnapps? Did you know there’s a jug of Jim Beam down there?”

Cooper tried to hide his wince. He had been stashing that handle of Jim Beam for an occasion. It might possibly be the last bottle of Jim Beam in the world. “But we don’t even have—.”

“Have what?” interrupted Jessica. “Time with all the chores? Time to practice? Who gives a shit, Cooper? Let’s do this. It’s Christmas, we need to do this.”

They stared at each other for a moment as if Cooper were going to have something definitive to say about the matter.

“Okay,” said Cooper with a sigh of defeat. “Start decorating. Whose coming for the potluck?”

“Leticia is going down to let Heidi and them know to be here tomorrow night,” laughed Jessica. “Then she’s running up to El Ranchero to let Jefe know we’ll be there as well. I figured we could invite Patricia and her crew since they are right next door then we can hit every place between here and El Ranchero and gather up people as they want to come.”

“Do you want me to go to Patricia’s?”

“Leticia is stopping on her way to the ranch,” informed Jessica.

“How many of these little song books do we have?” asked Cooper, holding it out to look at it again.

Jessica took the booklet and leaned in to kiss Cooper. He could taste the wine on her tongue and smell the freshness of her. She leaned back as he put his arms around her. “Believe it or not, we’ve got nearly a dozen of these things. Stacy and I must have been high when we made them to do so many.”

“Well, keep a couple out to frame,” laughed Cooper.

“I will,” promised Jessica. “Sanjana and I are going to start cooking for the potluck and I think we need to make a punch out of that schnapps.”

“Can we leave the Jim Beam down in the storage cellar?” asked Cooper hopefully.

Jessica shrugged playfully. “We’ll see.”

Taking the little folded sheet with the lyrics to Christmas songs on it out of Coopers hand, Jessica leaned back in and gave him another kiss. “This is going to be so much fun.”

She turned and did a running hop through the snow back to the cabin. He watched Jessica move happily through the deep snow and Cooper knew he needed to finish what he was doing and lay in for a long couple of days. With the plans that were afoot, he would have very little time to do the necessary things which needed to get done around the homestead. He hoped David was up for working a couple extra hours today; they were both going to be pulled into the preparations for the party and the more things they did today to keep the little farm running, the better off they would be when it came time to expend energy on the party.

Cooper grabbed the sled and pulled it behind him as he headed for the wood pile and the barn where David was mucking out stalls. He hoped David was in a sporting mood; there was no telling what awaited them when they finished the chores outside.

Dropping the sled off at the wood pile, Cooper entered the barn. Beside the barn the chickens were clucking their way across run, acting as if the cold weather were an affront to their personal wellbeing. They had culled some of the older birds that fall to make soups with and cut down on the number of birds they had to feed. The flock seemed to still be confused by the diminished numbers. The rooster, Wendell, worked hard to keep the hens in a tight group so he could keep an eye on them. Wendell puffed up on seeing Cooper near the barn and gave a couple crows so that Cooper understood who was in charge of the chickens.

The small barn was warmer than the outside air and smelled pleasantly of fresh hay and straw. They had a wood stove in one corner that they used on the coldest of nights. The stove sat on a layer of bricks and when they built the barn, Cooper had gathered all the concrete block he could find to box the device in and eliminate stray sparks as much as possible. He had hauled sand from the river wheel barrow load by wheel barrow load to fill in the holes in the block and provide a heat sink. The cast iron stove was going at the moment to cut the cold in the barn. Cooper saw that Davis was finished with the stalls and had moved on to the common area where the goats bedded down. The llama was munching at straw from the comfort of it’s stall. David looked up on Cooper’s entrance.

“Come to help?”

Cooper laughed and sat on a straw bail. “You’re going to hate me.”

“I already do,” said David. He leaned his pitchfork aside and picked up his thermos of rose hip tea. David poured a cup of the steaming liquid and held it out for Cooper who waved it off. David brought it over to where Cooper sat and leaned against the work bench while he sipped the tea. “Wish it was coffee.”

“Don’t we all,” said Cooper. “If I had known what was about to happen, I’d have laid in three or four bags of green coffee beans just to roast them myself and have a fresh cup every morning.”

David nodded and sipped. “What am I about to hate you about?”

“Well, the ladies were looking for Christmas ornaments,” started Cooper. David nodded that he knew this and motioned for Cooper to continue. “They apparently opened a bottle of wine to do this and somewhere along the way found a box of memories.”

“They opened a bottle of wine and found a box of memories?” said David. “Maybe we should crack open some of that hard cider?”

“You might want to,” agreed Cooper. “’Cause you see, Jessica found a little booklet of Christmas carols and she wants to go caroling.”

“Caroling? That doesn’t seem so bad,” shrugged David. “It’ll be cold, but fun.”

“Yeah,” said Cooper. “But there’s going to be a party to go with it and we’re all going to end up at whatever Midnight Mass El Jefe has cooked up at El Ranchero del Montaña. They are going to invite Heidi and them, and Patricia and her family, and the plan is to pick up people all the way up the road to the ranch.”

“When is this supposed to happen?” asked David with no excitement in his voice.

Cooper picked a straw and ran it between his teeth. “Tomorrow night.”

“Damn it,” said David. “There’s so much to do.”

“Yeah, doesn’t matter,” said Cooper. He stood and smiled at his friend. “So, get shit set up so we can breeze through chores tomorrow, I’ll get the wood up to the furnace, to the cabin and to your place, and we’ll top off all the water barrels.”

David drained the tea. “How’d you let her talk you into this?”

“Let her?” asked Cooper. “Who are you kidding? How much do you ‘let’ Leticia do?”

“Fair point,” grinned David. He reached under the workbench behind a box of tools and freed a sixty-four-ounce Ball jar three quarters full of amber liquid. There was sediment floating in the bottom of the jar, thick and grainy looking. David gave the contents a light swirl, sending the sediment spinning at the bottom of the hard cider. “Shall we?”

Cooper looked up toward the cabin and then jumped to his feet. “Why not?”

Setting the big jar on the workbench, David reached to a shelf above the bench and pulled down two coffee cups. He cracked the seal and poured a measure into each cup after blowing the dust out. Handing one to Cooper, David raised his in salute.

“Here’s to Christmas parties and the women who plan them,” toasted David. Cooper returned the salute and they sipped the near freezing hard cider. David pulled the coffee cup away and let out a long breath. “Damn that was a good fall batch.”

Cooper hiss through his teeth. “You mean this fall?”

They laughed.

“Glad we found those cinnamon sticks,” mentioned David.

“It makes it palatable for sure,” agreed Cooper. David held up the jar. Cooper nodded and he topped them off again. He screwed the lid on tight and placed the jar back behind the tool box below the work bench. Cooper sipped at the cider. “Jessica found that handle of Jim Beam, too.”

David looked stricken. “Oh no. Is she going to make you put it up for the party?”

“I don’t know,” said Cooper. “I was hoping to hold onto it.”

“Man, that’s harsh. That might be the last Jim Beam in the world.”

“I know.”

They stood next to the work bench for a moment of silence. Each thinking thought of when Jim Beam was just another bottom shelf brand to pour over ice and do a shot or two with. Now they were mourning the bottle as if it might have been a bottle of twenty-one-year-old Pappy van Winkle.

“You know, if she makes you open it,” schemed David. “We can pour off part of it and hide it out here in the barn.”

“That might happen,” said Cooper toasting his friend. “But you know, once the bottle’s open, what’s the point? Might as well drink it.”

“Truth,” nodded David.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” decided Cooper as he drained off the hard cider and felt the warm tingle spread through his body. “You need any help?”

David drained his own cup and took Coopers from him. He placed the coffee cups back up on the shelf. “Naw, I got this. We’ll team up on the water.”

“How much wood do you need at the A frame?”

“Couple loads ought to get it,” decided David. “That stove we got from that trade is pretty efficient at heating the place up. I don’t have to use much wood to keep it comfortable in there.”

They made a few more minutes of small talk before Cooper went to lead the llama out of the stall. The animal looked at Cooper as if Cooper were leading the beast to the chopping block when Cooper harnessed the llama up to haul the sled full of wood. Cooper and David laughed at the protesting animal. Cooper attached the sled yoke to the harness and they went back out into the cold to start hauling wood.
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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2020

Post by doc66 » Thu Dec 24, 2020 3:45 pm

“A party?” said Heidi clapping her gloved hands together. The short little blonde grinned over the top of her hands and looked adoringly at Leticia. “I fucking love parties.”

Heidi turned to where Joshua was forking hay from the back of a draft horse pulled wagon over the fence to where the herd of horses was stomping and nickering and pawing at the snow. “Don’t you love a good party, Josh?”

“I’m not a party kinda guy,” said Joshua as jumped down off the wagon to fork the hay that had fallen off the back of the wagon. He stopped to rub the icy moisture off his glasses. Joshua was as normal a person as one could be in the Now. He was well read, he liked to hang out and talk about the complexities of science fiction universes, and he inspired an interesting level of commitment from those who knew him. Heidi and Boone doted on the young man with a level of affection one reserved for the friend who knew everything about you and still didn’t care what you had done.

“Oh, com’on,” coaxed Heidi, hugging Joshua tightly before kissing his cheek. “Everybody is a party kinda guy with the right motivation.”

Leticia watched as the young woman laughed and spun in the snow. She might barely be out of her teens, but Heidi often seemed as if the world had not changed and everything was waiting on the next pop song to drop. Sometimes it was hard to believe that the blonde was a cut throat business woman with one of the most successful horse-trading empires within a hundred or more miles. Heidi could just as easily shoot a horse thief in the face as she would dance around in the snow. Leticia sometimes felt sorry for Joshua for having to live with Heidi’s instant switch from warmth and bliss to steely-eyed cold bloodedness. Boone, on the other hand, was a fitting match for the little ice princess. His laughter was usually to conceal the calculated way he was thinking about how to kill someone. They were a strange set of friends fit for the world they lived in.

Boone was working the other side of the fence to move the hay around so all the horses got a share. He was wearing his usual leather motorcycle jacket and boots over jeans. Leticia did know how the man was not freezing to death in that get up. He at least had a black watch cap on to cover his head. Boone stopped pitch hay to stare at Heidi.

“What’s up?”

“There’s going to be a party, Boone,” said Heidi. “Up at Cooper’s and then we’re going to sing Christmas carols and go to church.”

“It’s Mass,” said Leticia.

Heidi waved a hand. “It doesn’t matter, he’s Jewish.”

Leticia looked at Boone who shook his head negatively. She sighed and hitched the sling of her Hi Point carbine up on her shoulder. “So, it’s going to be a potluck kinda thing, everybody brings something. We’ll eat and hang out before going caroling; dress warm since it’ll be nightfall by the time we go out to do this.”

“Sure,” said Heidi, already planning out in her head how she thought things were going to go. “I traded a horse for this beautiful mink coat from Sak’s Fifth Avenue. It’ll be perfect.”

“I’ll bet,” said Leticia, who was wearing the wool pea coat she wore every winter, it seemed. She had a down puffy jacket, but Leticia preferred the wool. Leticia could not imagine wearing a fur coat for any reason.

“You should come in and see it,” said Heidi.

“I got to get running, I need to get up to el Ranchero after I stop by Patricia’s place,” begged off Leticia.

“It’ll only take a minute,” assured Heidi grabbing Leticia’s hand and pulled her toward the house she shared with Boone and Joshua. Over her shoulder, Heidi called to Joshua and Boone. “I’ll just be a minute, guys.”

They waved and kept working.

“I thought you had a couple more cowboys working for you,” mentioned Leticia as she followed Heidi along the path to the house.

“Oh, we do,” Heidi said. “Just before the snow, I let them head into New Washington for a couple nights off ‘cause I’m a fucking bomb-ass boss. I figured they were going to get laid. Of course, now it’ll probably be another three days before they can get back up here with all this snow. I imagine the valley got hammered with it.” Heidi stopped mid step and looked back at Leticia. “It’s more work for us, but I kinda like it just being me and Boone and Josh for a while. I miss when it was just us, drinking wine and playing Yahtzee. My evenings now are writing goddamn letters to buyers, looking for stock to trade, trying to get people to fucking pay up so I can deliver horses. Then there’s all the boring afternoons of doing books on feed schedules, vaccines, stud services and foaling calendars. Who knew raising horses could be such a pain in the ass? Next year, I’m adding mules to the mix; they’re better work animals and—don’t say I said this—smarter than a horse and more level headed.”

Heidi started walking again. “It was easier being a whore down in Hartsville, sometimes.” She grinned over her shoulder at Leticia. “But the pay’s better doing this, and I don’t sleep with nobody I don’t want to.”

“I guess,” said Leticia.

“You were a Chola back in the day, right?” asked Heidi. “I mean, you get it; you do what you want.”

Leticia laughed aloud. “Chava, I was in the peripheral, you know? Mis hermanas eran gangsters, but me? Guey, Yo era pequeña gangster; I was just small time before all this shit.”

“You miss it at all?”

“Do I miss the 415?” Leticia shrugged even though Heidi could not see her. “I miss street tacos, man. I miss low riders and thumpin’. Escupir rimas. I miss the crazy-ass house parties and being in awe of the Chola and all that la hombria and ink. But you know, I got it good up here with David. That fuckin’ rubio, he loves me. El es mi Corazon.”

They had reached the patio to the back door of the house. The area was cleared off of snow and the boulders which had been strategically placed around the patio as walls and benches had been cleaned off so the sun thawed the cold stone, making the air feel warmer around the house. Heidi grabbed a broom and swept her boots off before kicking them against a stone to clear the tread of impacted snow and mud. Leticia did the same and Heidi pushed open the door when she was finished. Heidi sat on a bench inside the door and pulled off her boots to step into a pair of wool slippers. She motioned to another pair near the door.

“Use those, they’re extras,” said Heidi as Letica sat to do the same. Heidi hung her canvas work coat on a rack and Leticia noticed that Heidi was packing a pistol with her. Usually on the mountain, Heidi did not bother to carry a firearm, especially in the dead of winter; the chances of running into anything more hostile than a snowball thrown by a neighbor was slim to none. Leticia racked her carbine next to a couple longarms on a stand near the door and sat to pull off her boots. The wool footies were welcoming after the trudge through the snow. Heidi moved through the mud room and into the kitchen where she felt the side of the tea kettle to see how warm it was. “Do you want something hot to drink? I traded for a bunch of stuff this fall and in all the crap was a box of tea bags. The boys aren’t into tea; they’d rather have chagga.”

Leticia gave up on making any time on her rounds. “Tea would be nice.”

“It’s just Lipton and I think it’s kinda old.”

“That’s better some of the concoctions people come up with around here,” mused Leticia following Heidi into the kitchen area and sitting on one of the stools at the counter.

“Oh my God, right?” agreed Heidi, pulling down two heavy mugs and a jar of honey from the cupboard. “Some of it just tastes like weeds. It’s so fucking hard to choke down. Like, I hate Chamomile. I’ve got a customer in Renfroe Valley that thinks I love it.” Heidi pulled down a jar of something that looked like little yellow balls on sticks surrounded by dead leaves. “He sent this to me the last time he sent payment for his horse. I don’t even know what to do with it. I don’t want to fucking throw it out, but I can’t stand it.”

Leticia laughed with Heidi as she took the jar from the other woman and opened it. The scent of the chamomile flowers filled the air and Leticia quickly put the lid back on. Leticia made a distasteful noise and shoved the jar back at Heidi. “Bring it with you tomorrow, somebody will like it.”

Heidi took the jar with a squeal of excitement and laughed. “Yes, like a gift or something.”

“Sino que, we didn’t talk about gifts or anything,” Leticia said quickly.

“Oh, hell, girl, I could care less if I get anything in return,” scoffed Heidi. “I just want to get rid of this stuff.”

They shared another laugh. Leticia enjoyed the moment of being waited on and wondered at her friendship with the pequina blanca. Back in the city, they would have never crossed paths. Heidi poured hot water over the tea bag and the heavy flowery smell in the air was replaced by the scent of just tea, something Leticia had forgotten about how much she missed. Her abulia always drank tea in the morning with honey and milk. Leticia remembered that smell with the cheap white toast and margarine from a tub. She inhaled deeply and let the memories fill her senses for a moment. Heidi was busy throwing another log on the fire and Leticia could hear the young woman cursing to herself as she did so. Leticia and Heidi were around the same age, but Heidi had lived a far different life from Leticia; her father had lost the horse farm and everything to an uncle before killing himself. The uncle was a filthy pedo who had then sold Heidi into sex slavery after having her for his own. Heidi had succeeded in reclaiming her father’s stud horse and by trading around, and probably some theft with the help of Boone, Heidi managed to build up her own horse business. Heidi was rough around the edges, but there were times when she appeared to be sixteen and struggling with just being a teenager. Other times, she was cold hearted and more than willing to cut the throat of someone in their sleep. Leticia remembered when she and David had run across Heidi in Hartsville; the dura had talked her way into their company and then proved invaluable to the rescue operation Leticia and David had come to the town for. Joshua was forking hay to the horses because of Heidi’s bravery. Leticia smiled to herself, if she hadn’t been crushing on David so hard at the time, she might have taken Heidi up on her offer to sleep with her. Heidi had tried to talk them both into sex and she did not care if were the three of them together or separately.

“What’ca thinkin’ girl?” asked Heidi.

Leticia chuckled. “About when we met.”

“Oh, you mean when I talked my way onto your horse?” Heidi grinned wickedly. “You wishing you had taken me up on my offer now?”

“You wish I had,” covered Leticia.

“You’d’a never been the same,” teased Heidi. She shoved the honey at Leticia and changed the subject for Leticia’s sake. “So, party tomorrow night and bring food?”

“Si queridra,” agreed Leticia, glad to be off the subject. She added honey and sipped at the tea. “You going to help those guy out?”

“Shit, they knew the minute you showed up they were on their own,” scoffed Heidi. Heidi grabbed Leticia’s hand. “Come, let’s sit on the couch and talk girl talk. Tell me how your blanco treats you and when you’re going to have rug rats.”

“Peques? No fuckin way, bebita, I got too much livin’ to do yet,” protested Leticia as she sat opposite Heidi on the sectional couch. The free-standing fireplace took up the center of the room, and the fire crackled merrily behind the curtain of chains which were hung to stop sparks from popping into the room.

“Good Catholic girl like you? You know your momma’s screaming for grandchildren.”

“Shit, we ain’t married,” said Leticia her gaze following Heidi as she jumped up to pour more tea and then settle back to the couch. “Mi madre still thinks I’m sleeping in that remolque next to the barn.”

“No, she doesn’t,” said Heidi, scandalized.

Leticia giggled with her friend. “You right, she probably doesn’t, but she pretends I am when I see her.”

“As a good mother would,” Heidi solemnly nodded.

“What about you?” asked Leticia. “You and Boone?”

“Me and Boone fuck,” gestured Heidi.

“And?”

Heidi made a face which signaled she was not really ready to talk about Boone. She seemed to think about if for a moment before answering Leticia. “Listen, I know I’m a fucking successful business woman and all, but the truth is I’m nineteen. I know I sometimes seem older,” both women giggled at this, and Heidi stressed again; “but I’m nineteen fucking years old. I don’t want to have kids in the way. I like waking up and knowing I don’t have shit to do but what I want to do, and not having to worry about some little shit waking up with a sore throat. Besides, do you really want to bring up a kid in this shit?”

Not knowing if Heidi wanted an answer, Leticia kept quiet and let the other woman gather her thoughts. Heidi sipped at the tea then waved the mug out at the snow-covered view beyond the picture window. It was not the view Cooper and Jessica had, but it was close. “Can you imagine being Jessica and having a kid? I’m not knocking the bitch for saying to herself, ‘I’m thirty whatever and it might be time no matter what’s going on around me,’ but, fuck, you and me, we could still live this out and travel see a version of Europe that’s not terrible.”

There was a lot for Leticia to respond to in Heidi’s soliloquy, but she focused on the last thought. “You really think we could travel like we used to?”

“You mean, fly in jets and be in Sidney tomorrow?” Heidi shrugged under the cashmere sweater she wore. “Fuck, I donno. Probably not like that. But ten will get you fifty that there’ll be some version of the Queen Mary running the high seas before we’re dead.”

“So, you’ll give up kids to ride the ocean waves?”

“My life hasn’t been the most conducive to trusting people for the long haul,” put in Heidi. “I’ll give up a lot to see Paris.”

“Boone isn’t your uncle,” said Leticia softly, watching as Heidi turned her head to stare out at the valley that could just been seen through the bare trees. The fire crackled and popped to fill the hesitation of Heidi’s answering.

When she turned back to Leticia, her eyes were clear.

“I know that. I also know that I’m lucky enough to not have some venereal disease that gives me boils on my ass. Because I’ve beat the odds so far, I’m not going to lessen them by weighing myself down with a family just because I’m fucking some dude.” Heidi smiled over the rim of the mug. “I got Joshua and Boone to give me all the mothering time I need, and I got two drifter cowboys I got to keep tabs on so my business don’t fail while they sleep in the saddle. I’m good right now. Boone is wonderful to me, but neither one of us have made the mistake of thinking we’re in love.”

“Fair enough,” said Leticia. She gauged the length of the shadows on the patio through the picture windows off the front of the house. “Nena, tengo que Irma. I got to go. I got places I got to be before sunset.”

“Come down more often,” urged Heidi, swinging her legs down to stand with Leticia. “I get tired of talking to the boys.”

“You come up,” said Leticia. “It’s easier for you to get away than me; I got chores.”

“Jessica, she don’t like me much,” smiled Heidi.

“Aw, she just doesn’t know you.”

“She thinks I’m a little kid who is playing at being an adult.”

Leticia walked Heidi into the kitchen. “You can come and see me; I don’t hang out at the cabin all the time. Me and David have our own place you know.”

“Maybe some time,” promised Heidi, putting her mug on the counter with Leticia’s. She moved in and gave Leticia a hug and they stood that way for a moment. Heidi leaned back and smiled. “We’ll be there tomorrow night and I’ll bring that shitty chamomile tea.”

“Tomorrow night,” agreed Leticia. They hugged again and Leticia went to the mud room to pull on her coat and boots. As she pulled on the boots, Leticia nodded to the pistol Heidi wore. “What’s with that.”

Heidi sucked air through her teeth. “I’m a cowgirl, bitch, I wear a gun.”

“On a winter day in December?”

Heidi made a dismissive gesture. “We’ve had some trouble with a farmer down the way. His horse died and he blames my stock. He came up and threatened us.”

“Mujer, and you didn’t tell us?”

“We handled it diplomatically,” said Heidi. Leticia paused in putting on her coat to stare at the other woman. Heidi laughed unconcerned. “We told the motherfucker the problem was not with our stock but with how he treated his stock. Then Boone escorted him off the property and told him in no uncertain terms not to come back.”

“Told him he’d kill him?”

“Only if he came back,” clarified Heidi.

Leticia pulled on her watch cap. “Tell us so we can keep an eye out,” she admonished.

“Yeah, yeah,” Heidi murmured. She then snapped her fingers like she had forgotten something. “Fuck. I forgot to show you that coat. Oh, well, you can see it tomorrow night when I sweep into the party like a hillbilly princess on cheap wine and Pal Mals.”

“It’ll be amazing, I’m sure,” said Leticia as she opened the door. “See you then.”

Heidi stood in the doorway as Letica walked across the patio and then shut the door with a parting, “It’s fucking freezing out here.”

Leticia walked past where the horses were pulling apart the hay. The wagon with the hay was gone, pulled to another part of the property by the old draft horse led Boone and Joshua to feed more of the stock. She trudged up the long lane, trying to step in her own foot prints to keep the work to a minimum. The hot tea had warmed her middle, but now her bladder was starting to put pressure on her to stop and take care of business. She could probably stop back by the homestead and use the facilities there, but the shadows were long on the road, and if she did this, it would mean talking to everyone there about her lack of progress thus far.

The conversation with Heidi was churning in Leticia’s mind. The talk of travelling one day, the idea of trying to raise a child in the world as it was, all those things and more made Leticia wish there were concrete answers to all the problems and questions. Her Tia and madre would tell her to leave things in the hands of Jesus, then cross themselves and kiss the crucifix handing from their rosary. Leticia knew while that was an answer for them, for her, it was barely part of the conversation. She gave thought to children. She and David had never discussed the idea with any seriousness. Before she left the 415, Leticia could count on both hands the number of girls she knew who had kids before their seventeenth birthdays. One of Leticia’s cousins had two kids by nineteen and Leticia could not imagine trying to wrangle diapers and homework and the part time job her cousin had to get. That example meant Leticia had taken pains to not be one of the teenagers with that problem to deal with. The idea of children was something which tore Leticia in two directions.

Her religion—what she followed of it—was one which taught her that her body was a vessel for Christ and the children were blessings from her creator. Leticia, while she believed in a higher power, was not sure that the teachings of her youth were espoused in a manner that coincided with the reality of the world. Leticia understood that her mother, a woman who had left Mexico at fourteen and squeezed under a fence to enter California, held a belief that it was through the power of God that she had been able to do so and not be caught and returned to an environment which would have probably killed her mother with the drug cartel wars erupting on the streets of her home town. Leticia did not have that kind of threat hanging over her head. She never felt that her believing in God would make a difference in her life. Leticia did not need that kind of devote belief to get her through. In spite of the White nightly news of gang violence and at-risk youth, Leticia did not really see the threat to her childhood. She knew people who had gone to prison, in her world, everyone did. And like everyone around her Leticia knew a couple Cholo who had been shot down for one reason or another, but it wasn’t as if everyone were dying; it was those who, for the most part, were living as OG as they could. Personally, her life was a series of school, church, and parties and hanging out with friends. Individually, she had never really felt threatened. While Leticia had been in a few fights and she’d been having sex fairly regularly, she had always been careful. It seemed the Church’s idea of careful was daily Mass and abstinence. As a modern Latina, Leticia did not feel that was a plausible way to live life.

Leticia pushed her musings aside. The truth was, she did not want to have children. At least not at the moment. Like Heidi, she felt she was too young and there was more life to be lived. She would eventually have to have the conversation with David; he was nearly ten years older than she was. He might have a different idea of the timeline. If that were the case, Leticia was not sure what she was going to do.

Before she could spin her head around another problem, Leticia found herself at the drive to the house where Patricia lived with her quiet husband, Roger, and loud children. Patricia was an RN and defacto medical person on the mountain. Her husband had been a teacher, or something, before and their place was a ramshackle two-story house dating back to the middle of the last century. As Leticia walked the lane, she could see smoke rising from the multiple chimney stacks around the house. Patricia’s house was one that had been outfitted with the barrel stoves once everyone realized the power was not coming back on. The barrel stoves were in several rooms of the old house, Leticia remembered, and Patricia’s family kept them burning full bore all winter long. It was lucky that there were four children to divvy up chores to, otherwise they would burn through the stacks of wood easily before the last snow fall. She could hear the yells of the children before she reached the house and steeled herself for the coming onslaught.

One of the kids careened out of the door, his coat flapping around him as he pulled on a hat. Patricia was in the doorway yelling for the kid to zip up his coat and not to forget to bring the water from the well. “And be back before dark,” was the parting shout. She saw Leticia and waved. Letica waved back as the kid huffed passed her and barely acknowledged her presence. Mounting the steps to the porch, Leticia knocked snow from her boots on the porch rail. Patricia was holding open the door, oblivious to the loss of heat as it billowed visibly in waves out the door.

“Get your ass in here, woman, it’s too cold to be standing with the door open,” admonished Patricia. Leticia stopped knocking the snow off and stepped into the overheated interior of the house. Patricia slammed the door shut. “Lemme get that coat.”

Leticia unslung her carbine and Patricia grabbed it and tried to help Leticia out of her coat at the same time. After a moment of struggle during which Leticia nearly burst out with a string of curses for the woman to stop, the coat was off and Patricia was throwing the coat and rifle in a nearby chair.

“Let’s go in the kitchen,” said Patricia without preamble. “I’m making dinner and these heathens can’t be trusted to watch the stove.

“Rog,” yelled Patricia. When she got no response, she yelled again as they passed through a cluttered living room. Games were strewn across surfaces, musical instruments leaned on chair arms, and there seemed to be a scattering of fleece shirts, socks, and blankets across the backs of every piece of furniture. Patricia took a deep breath and yelled again as they circumnavigated the living area. “ROG.”

A man’s voice could be heard from the depths of the house.

“Rog, we got company and you’ve got to check those goats and that stupid donkey you wanted.” Patricia turned to Leticia. “He wanted a donkey to ‘help around the place with hauling wood’ or something. It’s more like a big-ass dog and follows him everywhere. Rog would let that stupid thing in the house if I let him. Can you imagine cleaning up that pile of shit from the living room floor?”

They reached the kitchen where the smells of vegetables and stock permeated the air. Leticia felt her stomach rumble and then her bladder protest.

“Hey, do you still have that compost toilet? I really have to go,” said Leticia.

“Oh, of course. Through that door, in the old laundry room. Just pull the door shut. The sawdust is in the pail.”

Leticia made her way to the room and closed the door, leaning on the barrier for a moment while the house erupted in another round of shouting. The laundry had been turned into a catch all room and Leticia made her way past all the clutter to the compost toilet in a corner. The compost toilet had become a fixture all over the mountain. Most of them were five-gallon buckets fitted into a box of some sort with a vent pipe stuck out a window. Sawdust or cedar shavings or pine needles and leaves were the most common form of composting material used. Leticia relieved herself and dumped the sawdust into the bucket and closed the lid. Gathering herself, Leticia stepped back out into the kitchen. Patricia motioned to a bowl of warm water and soap. Leticia washed and dried her hands. While she was at the sink, she saw a boy sitting on a stump in the yard. He looked hopefully at Leticia, but when he saw it was not a member of his family, he looked dejectedly down at the ground. Leticia turned away.

“What’s with the kid on the stump?”

“Michael was an asshole to his little sister,” Patricia said and moved to the window to check the child out for herself. The boy looked up and saw Patricia.

“Mom,” Leticia could hear through the window. Patricia opened it a crack.

“What?”

“Can I come in now?”

“Not until you’ve had some time to contemplate your actions.”

“It’s cold.”

“Remember that the next time you think about locking your sister out of the house,” scolded Patricia before she shut the window on the boy’s protests. Patricia looked over at Leticia and grinned. “He thinks I’m going to leave him out there for hours. It’s been about fifteen minutes. The little shit is a mean to his sister all the time. I figure a half hour of being cold might impress the importance of not picking on his sister by locking her out of the house. I’m sure he’ll find other ways to terrorize her. You want some tea?”

Leticia declined the tea and sat at the kitchen table. Patricia poured herself a cup from a kettle on the barrel stove after stirring the soup in the pot. Patricia sat opposite Leticia with the cup in her hands as if she were cold. Leticia was considering shedding a layer.

“What brings you here on a zero-degree day?”

“A party,” answered Leticia. “Jessica wants to throw a party and then go caroling to everyone on the roads house until we hit el Ranchero. Once there, we figure we’ll all let el Jefe feed us too much and we’ll have a Midnight Mass for Christmas.”

“A Party? Nice,” said Patricia as she cocked an ear to a noise Leticia did not hear. She nodded after a moment. “What do we need to bring?”

“Potluck,” said Leticia. “Jess is going to have a rather strong punch and probably cider for the kids.”

“If I let them come,” said Patricia. “They’ve been more than a little stir crazy with the snow shutting us in. And truth be told, I could use a break from them.” She held up a finger on Leticia’s reply. “Rog? You moving yet?”

“I’m moving right now,” came the reply from another room. The husband stepped into the room. Pulling on a parka with a fur lined hood, he nodded politely to Leticia. “I was working on my notes. I knew what time it was by the shouting children.”

He smiled softly.

“Roger thinks he is writing a memoir of the fall of civilization,” said Patricia with a forgiving smile.

“I am writing a memoir of the fall of civilization,” disagreed Roger. “I don’ think I am. With my teaching background, I should put it to some other use than trying to get my own children to understand the importance of algebra to the stone age society we have become.”

“I wouldn’t call it stone age, yet,” countered Leticia with a grin. “Sixteenth century with better guns.”

“You do know your history,” crowed Roger happily. “See, Pat? There’s hope for the next generation yet.”

“Honey, you know you can’t judge the coming generations by the actions of our children,” soothed Patricia.

Leticia watched the exchange with fascination. She had never really seen Patricia and Roger interact outside of social gatherings. Usually, it was Patricia by herself acting in some medical capacity or playing banjo to Coopers guitar. Roger was speaking to her and she made herself look up at him and be interested.

“Have you ever read, ‘The History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century?’” he asked excitedly. “It’s by Jean-Henri D'Aubigne. It tells about the revolution against the clergy and how that led to the reformation of the churches and even influenced the later political revolutions. The Reformation gave us Calvin, and of course Martin Luther; it broke the hold of the Catholic Church on governments and the people who came under the rule of those governments. Our Founding Fathers were heavily influenced by the very ideas that were espoused in the late 1500s.”

“I’ve not read it,” said Leticia, slightly lost in the conversation.

“I have a copy if you’d like to read it,” nodded Roger. “It’s somewhere in my study.”

“Roger,” interrupted Patricia. “Goats.”

Roger seemed to snap out of the excitement at having someone who would listen to his discourse on sixteenth century literature and thought. He nodded. “Of course. Sorry. Pat has to remind me that not everyone who expresses an opinion on the world as it is, is interested on my parallel arguments in religious history.”

“It was his thesis for his Master’s degree,” supplied Patricia.

“Wow,” offered Leticia. “That’s an amazingly deep and obscure subject. I’ll bet that was a crazy research course of study.”

Roger stood straighter at her comment. “I went to France and Germany for a summer to delve into some of the libraries there. It was a wonderful time.”

“It was,” smiled Patricia. “I took a leave of absence to go with him.” She got a mischievous look on her face. “The two oldest kids were young; we dumped them on his mother and took off. Best two months of our life. He dusted off old tomes on obscure shelves and I drank wine and ate schnitzel and French pastries. At night we’d go out in whatever town we were in and find the locals.” Patricia captured Rogers hand and looked adoringly up at him. “C'était le meilleur des moments avec le meilleur mari.”

“Oui, mon amant, c'était un moment incroyable dans nos vies,” returned Roger.

Leticia gazed at the two of them with appreciation and wonder. She could feel the connection between the two and the expression of love filled the air around them. “Holy shit, was that French? You two speak French? That was so romantic.”

Embarrassed, the two released their hold on each other. Still smiling, Patricia patted Roger on the ass. “He speaks German, too. But French is prettier.”

“Aww, that’s awesome,” breathed Leticia.

Gruffly, Roger cleared his throat. “Well, I’m going to go out and check the goats.” He looked out the window and saw his son sitting on the stump. “When are you going to let Michael back in?”

“When he’s cold enough to whine about it through the window,” said Patricia.

“He’s stubborn….”

“He’s already had one round of complaining,” shrugged Patricia. “I’ll see how long the next one takes to happen and see if he’s properly remorse then.”

“He’ll say he’s sorry just to get out of the cold,” said Roger. “I would.”

“If it keeps him from locking his sister out of the house, I’ll take it.”

“Well, we’ll see.” Roger zipped up his coat and pulled gloves free from the pockets. “It was nice to see you again, Leticia.”

“You too,” returned Leticia, surprised that she meant the exchange as deeply as she did. “When you find that book, let me know.”

“You don’t really want to read it,” smiled Roger sadly.

“You might be surprised.”

He gave her a wave of thanks and pushed open the back door. As soon as the door was open, Michael began to complain from the stump. “Talk to your mother,” was Rogers reply as the door swung shut.

“So, we’re having a party and going caroling?” said Patricia.

“And potluck and Mass,” agreed Leticia. “It’ll interesting to talk to Roger about a Midnight Mass by an old Mexican dude.”

“Can there be Mass without a Priest and Communion?” asked Patricia with genuine interest.

Leticia laughed lightly. “I can tell you what el Jefe always says when he forces all of us to join him on Sunday.” She deepened her voice in an amusing imitation of the old mans and pointed a finger at Patricia as if scolding her. “La Misa es más que recibir la Comunión: es la oración de la Iglesia y el sacrificio eucarístico lo que hace presente al Señor Jesucristo.”

Patricia sat back and laughed deeply. “What the fuck does that mean?”

Grinning, Leticia relaxed in the chair. “Basically, as long as we are gathered in the name of Christ, He is there, and that is what Mass is about. We can’t have communion, but we can give supplication to the Word of God and praise His name.”

“Do you believe that?” asked Patricia. “I’m asking because, I think I still believe in a higher power, but I’m not sure I believe in God like the Bible has him.”

Leticia shrugged uncomfortably. “I don’t know. It makes el Jefe happy. That’s what counts right now.”

There was a shout from the stump. They both looked at the window.

“I’m going to give him a minute,” decided Patricia. She stood to stir the soup. “You want to stay for dinner?”

Leticia stood from the table. “I can’t, I have to get up to el Ranchero before it gets dark and then back to the homestead.”

Patricia gauged the shadows. “You better hurry, girl.”

“I know,” agreed Leticia. “Thanks for the conversation.”

“Sure, you can come and listen to me yell at my family anytime.”

Laughing, Leticia moved to the door. “I’ll let myself out.”

Patricia waved to her as her son began to yell again from his place on the stump. Leticia pulled on her coat and slung her rifle, pulling the door shut as Patricia opened the window.

“Are you sorry? Really sorry? ‘Cause I’m not going to put up with this all winter long, do you understand what I’m saying?”

Smiling to herself, Leticia walked down the lane to the road toward el Rancho.
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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2020

Post by doc66 » Thu Dec 24, 2020 3:45 pm

*double post*
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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2020

Post by doc66 » Thu Dec 24, 2020 3:46 pm

*double post*
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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2020

Post by doc66 » Thu Dec 24, 2020 3:46 pm

El Rancho de Montana was always full of laughter and shouting and someone always seemed to be playing an instrument in the background. The smells of spicy food hung in the air and someone was always trying to get someone else to have a drink of corn beer with them. There were times when Leticia missed the rambunctiousness of the place. The holidays were especially chaotic and wonderful. Leticia listened as Fernando and Javier attempted to play guitar and sing De Ti Me Enamore while Tia Reina tried to guide them in the song. The old tune was a staple that Leticia had heard most of her life in one version or another. She and Teressa sand along with the two as they stumbled through their rendition of the song.

“Todavia no se como me atrevi, Me quede impresionado desde ese dia en que te vi, No se como le hare pero lo conseguire, Que sea mio tu amor porque de ti me enamore…,” they all sang together. Leticia and Teressa hung on each other a swayed to the timing, hamming away as their cousins grew frustrated with the snapping of Tia Reina’s fingers.

After the song was over, Leticia and Teressa laughed as Javier began to complain.

“Buen Dios, Tia,” he whined. “You got to let us do our thing.”

Tia Reina gave Javier a hard slap on the arm and wagged a finger at him. “Don’t you take el nombre de dios en vano, you hear me? Not during los altos días santos. And if you’re going to sing the song, sing it right. This isn’t a gacho house where you can just disrespect anything you want.”

“I’m not disrespecting, Tia,” argued Javier.

Giving each other looks of disbelief that Javier was arguing with Tia Reina, Leticia and Teressa moved away from the argument and further into the house. They wandered the rooms toward the kitchen. The main house of el Rancho was a massive place that sprawled along a main hallway that encompassed a courtyard. All the other hallways and room spilled off the main hall in seemingly random order. In places balconies looked over the hallway where the house became two-stories for bedrooms or offices or sitting rooms. El Jefe had built the house with the old haciendas of his youth in mind and added on as each relative and family friend made their way across the border. There were so many people living there now, it sometimes seemed to be a small village deserving its own dot on the map.

“Admit it, prima,” said Teressa. “You miss this place.”

“I miss it sometimes,” conceded Leticia. “But I got mi Corazon.”

“That gabacho still good to you?”

Leticia smiled at her cousin, knowing that Teressa and David had once had a short interest in one another. David had been too white for Teressa and not Catholic enough for el Jefe. Leticia had solved any problem she might have by just moving out and not asking for permission. “Si me trata bien.”

The wonderful thing about El Rancho was that she could speak Spanish without having to worry about if people understood her. Jessica spoke enough American Spanish to carry on a conversation, and David was learning, but it was nice to be able to switch back and forth without care.

“Good,” nodded Teressa with meaning. “He wasn’t for me, but for you….”

“What does that mean?”

“It means just that, he’s for you, chavala,” assured Teressa. Leticia gave her cousin a hard look and finally looked away when Teresa threw up her hands, “Ni modo, chica. Let’s talk about something else, onda?”

“Orale,” agreed Leticia. “How’s vieja been?”

“She’s good, you need to visit her more,” scolded Teressa. “She thinks you are mad at her all the time.”

“I’m not mad at her,” sighed Leticia. “I have a life.”

Teressa laughed. “She thinks you’re being fresa.”

“I am not stuck up,” said Leticia angrily. Teressa shrugged in the way that only family could to show you that you might be wrong about your stance in the matter. Leticia saw the shrug and muttered under her breath. “Chinga tu.”

“What did you say?” asked Teressa. “No tomes ese tono conmigo, prima. You asked.”

“You’re right.”

They stopped outside the doors to the kitchen. “Te amo, primo, but you got to understand you spend all that time down there with the gureo, people are going to wonder is all. Aggaraste la onda?”

“I get it.”

“Okay.” Teressa gave Leticia a hug. “Let’s go see what kind of food we can shove in our faces before we get kicked out of the kitchen. Simon?”

“Simon,” agreed Leticia.

The kitchen was abustle with activity and the heat from the cook fires had forced them to open the double doors to the rear patio where a smoker was busily puffing the smells of hickory and pork and lamb into the air. Leticia paused for a moment to take it all in. There was the big wood fired cook top which was the griddle, the grill, and the stove top all in one. Pots were collected to one side and occasionally one of the Tia’s would stir the contents or rotate a pot to another spot around to take advantage of heat or to let a pot rest and simmer. Chilies were roasting on the flattop, and the spicy scent of them filled the air; poblanos fresh from the greenhouse and their dried counterpart, ancho, filled the air with their smoky goodness. Spicy gurajillo soaked in hot water, and serrano, the spice of which were nearly enough to make Leticia’s eyes water, were being seared for the skins to be pulled off or left on for the char to be used in some rich dish. Leticia watched as the tia’s and abuela’s laughed and chattered back and forth. Abuela Cyrilla was watching over all and softly singing, Yo Ti Prefiero a Ti, while a couple of the Tia’s joined in the chorus.

“Yo te prefiero a ti, a ti, a ti, Sobre todas las cosas, Amo tenerte aquí, aquí y aquí, Aunque sea unas horas…,” they sang and Tia Estella and Prima Inez linked arms and gave a little dance in the center of the kitchen. ‘I prefer you, you, you, Above all things, I love having you here, here and here, Even if it's a few hours,’ they sang as they acted out the song in their dance touching various private spots on their bodies, causing the others to laugh at them and say nasty things as they did so. Abuela Cyrilla waved a towel at them.

“Oh, chicas sucias, regresen a sus sartenes,” she said with a smile trying to be a frown on her face. “Son las vacaciones que debes comportarte.”

“Abuelita, empezaste esto cuando cantaste esa canción sucia,” countered Tia Estella.

Abuela Cyrilla managed to looked shocked. “Canción sucia? Canto solo con Inocencia.”

They all burst out laughing as she shooed them back to the preparations of food for the dozens of people who called El Rancho del Montoya home. Leticia knew they would gather that evening at the massive table near the walk-in fire place and el Jefe would say a prayer by rout, seeped in Catholic superstition, and bless all those who sat at the table with an up raised hand. There would be laughing and talking and scolding and plans made for the coming week in the fields or the stock or fixing problems. Leticia missed those days, and knew she would have to make more of an effort to return and connect with the base part of her soul. Inez saw Leticia and Teressa standing in the doorway watching.

“Orale! Looks who comes see us,” said Inez, moving around the huge prep table at the center of the kitchen. “Qué te trae por aquí, you get lost in the snow?”

The tia’s and primo’s and Abuelita’s all began to talk at once, the Spanish and English filling the room with the chatter of love and greeting as warm as the spices already in the air. Leticia accepted their hugs and kisses until finally Abuela Cyrilla pulled Leticia to her and crushed her against her ample body.

“Mi pequeña, has vuelto a nosotras para el día santo,” she said as she kissed Leticia on each cheek and her forehead and murmured blessings on her head. “Has visto a tu madre? Ella esta en el invernadero.”

“No, Abuelita, not yet,” said Leticia.

“No? eres una mala hija,” scolded Abuela. “You should go now.”

“I will, Abuela, ahorita,” promised Leticia. Abuela hit her with the towel as Tia Noemi grabbed Leticia’s arm and pulled her away from the old woman.

“Que milagro. Shit, girl, how you been, paisa?” Noemi was Chola and one of the hyna Leticia had looked up to. Noemi had ink and painted eyebrows even up here in the middle of nowhere. Her big hoop earrings dangled to her shoulders and Noemi had a black bandana keeping her hair out of the way. “How’s that Guero treating you? Do I need to come down there and patearle el trasero?”

“We’re fine, he’s fine,” said Leticia as she was pulled into the mix of women. Teressa used the distraction to pull several empanadas from a cooking sheet and throw them on a stray plate. Teressa spooned pintos and hand handed tamales still in corn husk on the plate and then covered the beans in red sauce. Someone shoved a stool behind her and Leticia found herself sitting at the big work counter. Teressa put the plate in front of her. Inez dropped a couple fresh tortillas on the plate and a cup of warm corn beer was put at her hand.

“Tell us everything,” said someone as they all went back to the stove top and ovens.

Anica, a woman who had crossed the border after things began to fall apart, brought a chunk of pork pulled from the haunch smoking on the patio and set the plate next to the one Teressa had prepared. Leticia thanked her and Anica nodded. She did not speak much to anyone, and had scars on her arms and legs from running through cactus to escape a band of vigilantes who had discovered her small band trying to gain entry. Leticia had heard the dark rumors of the things Anica had survived. She had come to el Rancho through a system of relatives similar to the old Underground Railroad. El Jefe had been a place of refuge for many like her. While Leticia was first generation American, others in her extended family were fresh over the border. Then there were the ones who had been in the US since before California was a state. She knew family members who were whiter than David in the way they acted. Some of her family considered them as Malinchista, and called them pinche.

Leticia folded a tortilla and used it to scoop a mouthful of spicy hot beans into her mouth and then peeled back the corn husk to bit into the pork tamale. “Tan Bueno.”

“What brings you to the ass end of the world?” asked Noemi. Abuela used her towel. “Eso me duele, Abuela.”

“Mira tu idomia,” warned Abuela.

“Christmas Caroling,” said Leticia as Teressa sat next to her with a plate of her own, ignoring Noemi and her pretending to act hurt by the snapping towel. “Todos los blancos te van a invadir y cantarte, then we’re going to eat all your food and pray with you para la misa de navidad.”

“Caroling?” scoffed Estella. “Are they going to come sing Feliz Navidad?”

The women chittered.

“Probably,” smiled Leticia. “They are blanco.”

“Naco,” muttered Noemi. She moved around the counter to get away from Abuela and her towel. Abuela Cryilla gave Noemi jeta and turned to Leticia.

“La Navidad es una época para todos, diles que vengan.” Abuela Cryilla turned to the other woman and gave them all a mischievous grin. “Les enseñaremos canciones reales.”

“Otro año ya se ha ido, Cuántas cosas han pasado, Algo hemos aprendido, Y algo hemos olvidado….,” started someone singing. The women all gave a loud cry or delight and Estella and Inez began to sing and dance as they belted out, “Llega Navidad y yo sin ti, En esta soledad, Recuerdo el día en que te perdí, No sé en dónde estés, Pero en verdad, Por tu Felicidad, Hoy brindo en esta Navidad….”

Leticia joined in and wondered if every family sang Los Bukis, Navidad Sin ti, every Christmas.

“Que está pasando aqui?” came a gruff voice from the doorway. Everyone stopped singing and then laughed when they saw el Jefe leaning against the door jamb with Tio behind him. “De quién está cocinando mi cena si todos ustedes están cantando como pájaros cocos?”

Abuela Cryilla waved her towel in the air at him. “Esta es mi cocina, Apolo, te paras en la puerta y frunces el ceño mientras cantamos y somos felices.”

El Jefe laughed and then saw Leticia at the counter. “Quién es este pajarito que come en mi mesa?”

“Qué pasó, Jefe,” greeted Leticia.

“Oh, Estamos familiarizados ahora?” teased el Jefe. “Come here, little bird, give me hugs.”

Leticia pushed off from the stool and went over to the man. Around her the women in the kitchen went back to preparing the meal as Abuela Cryilla reined everyone back in. He engulfed her in a warm embrace and she could smell the sweat of his work and the tobacco of his cigars and his aroma de anciano ruco. Tio nodded to her from behind el Jefe.

“You wanted to see me?” asked el Jefe.

“Si, Jefe,” Leticia looked back longingly at the plate of half-eaten food as she spoke. El Jefe pushed her toward the plate.

“Ve a buscarlo, bring it with you,” ordered El Jefe. “They don’t feed you like we do, eh?”

“No, el caballero, not even close,” answered Leticia before going and grabbing the plate and dumping the smoked pork on top of everything. Teressa tossed her fresh tortillas and Leticia silently thanked her. She juggled the cup of corn beer and drank it down before moving to join el Jefe. He waved Tio in front of him and put an arm around Leticia, guiding her to a spot at the table by the huge fireplace.

“You see your momma yet?”

“Not yet,” admitted Leticia.

“After you eat, ve a verte madre.”

“Si.”

They sat and Tio brought them both corn beer. The fire blazed and cast its warmth out into the room. High overhead, the windows along the roof line provided light to the room, and the chandeliers hung to separate the light of the sun, casting little rainbows across the room. Once night fell the chandeliers would wait to cast their mystical radiance until someone came to light and hang the oil lamps from the crystal arms. El Jefe sipped the corn beer while Leticia scooped beans, tore off piece of smoke pork, and bit into crisp, spicey empanadas. She finally sat back and sighed, pulling the corn beer to her.

“What is this thing you wish to see me about, pequeña ave,” asked el Jefe. “You wish to marry this blanco?”

Leticia laughed. “No, el Viejo, we’re going to come up tomorrow night to sing you Christmas Carols and eat your food and then have Mass.”

“You asking or telling?” chuckled El Jefe. He did not wait for her to answer. “Es bueno que vengas. I have a special Mass; there will be a real priest here tomorrow. Gracias a Dios por todo”

El Jefe crossed himself as did Tio. Leticia followed suit.

“Who is this priest?” asked Leticia, instantly suspicious of anyone showing up in the middle of winter with vestments underarm and waving absolution around.

“He is Padre Nicolas Aubry,” shrugged el Jefe in a way that only an old man could move his shoulders to show acceptance without question. “He arrived before the storm; he said he is travelling to every where a Priest is needed. God called him here, and so he came. A calling of Dios is nothing to be questioned, no matter how it came. He had been giving el sacramento de la penitencia Bendice to all,” noted el Jefe, giving Leticia a glance from under his brows. She pretended not to notice and he let out his breath in a disappointed sigh before continuing. “We shall have a proper Mass and you and everyone can sing your songs and Padre Nicolas will exhort and we shall start the year right. Bendice al padre Nicolás al asumir esta responsabilidad.”

Again, el Jefe crossed himself and Leticia and Tio followed suit. Leticia looked up at Tio during this exchange and the big man shrugged. In his shrug, Leticia knew Tio was not sure what to think about the coming of the priest on the wings of the storm. Leticia knew she was going to have to talk to Tio about this priest before she left.

El Jefe drank down the corn beer and stood. “Tell Poderoso everyone is welcome. Ahora ve a ver a tu madre y dale una confesión para que te bendiga; okay?”

“Okay,” said Leticia.

The old man looked up at the windows and the fading light. “You staying here tonight?”

“No, Patron, I need to get back to help.”

“Tio or Hector will take you back in the sleigh, I don’t want you to be walking that road at night with El Oso about.”

“Gracias.”

“Di nada,” dismissed el Jefe. He rapid fired his orders to Tio who nodded, then the old man walked away.

Tio turned to Leticia. “Don’t say nada about this priest.”

“La neta que; is he a priest?”

“It don’t matter,” warned Tio, “He showed with all the adronos, said the right things. El Jefe thinks he’s a Priest, so, entonces el es un sacerdote.”

Leticia sighed and finished her corn beer. “As long as el Jefe doesn’t promise to build him a cathedral….”

Tio snorted. “He’ll be here until the snow clears, at least; so, you better think about coming up for la fe or he’ll have me drag up up; el Jefe still thinks you’re a good girl.”

“Vete al cuerno,” countered Leticia. Tio laughed at her.

“I’ll have Hector meet you at the stable, Culo.”

“Fuck you, cabeza, I ain’t no culo, you thinking of Teressa.”

They play punched at each other a moment before Tio stopped. “Go see tu madre.”

“Ya esta bien,” said Leticia throwing her hands up in surrender. Tio gave her a final, playful, punch and danced away, pointing to the general location of the greenhouse. Leticia rolled her eyes and began walking to the greenhouse.

The greenhouse was warm and fragrant, with the humidity forcing Leticia to shed her coat and watch cap when she entered the vestibule from the cold. She hung the outer wear on the coat rack near the door, noticing that her mother’s old plaid jacket was hanging neatly on a hanger. Leticia smiled as she reached out and touched the woolen cloth, leaning in to smell the old, familiar scent of her mother. The light smell of flowers lay atop the older and deeper, leathery smell of tobacco and smoke. She let the sleeve drop and looked around at the vestibule. There was the old iron bench, a couple of rocking chairs, placed there for those moments when a person had a moment for quiet contemplation or conversation with another. The scents of the greenery and earth filled her head and reminded her of summer. The greenhouse had been one of the first things he had built on the property, forty or fifty years ago, Leticia could never keep the time straight, and he had added to the structure as money and time allowed. Now the two wings of the greenhouse provided fresh vegetables during the winter; gave starter planets for peppers in the spring, greens as the fall months lengthened to winter, and the dwarf oranges, and lemons, and limes, were used in the kitchen almost daily. She walked around the big banana tree and saw that the massive plant was baring fruit. The other banana tree, not as large as the one at the entrance, and full of green bunches of fingerlings yet to grow into anything useful. She walked past the cactus, the Strelitzia which looked like an exotic bird head, and numerous other flowering species before she reached the working part of the greenhouse.

There were several people at work in the greenhouse, doing whatever it was they did in there. Leticia knew there was some kind of hydroponic system and she knew there was a big fish tank in the back, providing food for the fish and mahi-mahi for el Rancho. How the system worked was beyond her. One of the men working looked up and saw Leticia and greeted her. She returned the salutation and asked about her mother. The man nodded in the direction of the other wing of the greenhouse. Leticia thanked him and walked through the connector to a greenhouse filled with racks of plants and piping and tanks and an earth mass rocket stove that kept the temperatures well about freezing. Leticia saw her mother bent over a rack of plants as if she were talking to them.

Leticia could hear her whisper singing and after a second, recognized the tune as, El Color de Tus Ojos; The Color of Your Eyes. She smiled at the memory of her mother singing that to her and her sisters in the little apartment they called home. She sighed the thoughts away; all the talk of caroling and visiting people made Leticia nostalgic for times which in reality were far apart and separated by longer moments of angst and arguments.

“Amami,” called Leticia. Her mother stopped singing and stood to look around.

“Leticia?” said her mother in surprise when she saw her. “No te esperaba aquí.”

“Sí, estaba aquí para hablar con el jefe,” admitted Leticia.

Her mother nodded and wiped her hands on the apron she wore under the cardigan she had pulled on in spite of the heat in the greenhouse. She made a ‘come here’ gesture to Leticia and they met each other part way.

“Estás bien? Te están tratando bien en ese lugar?” asked her mother giving Leticia a hug and then holding her at arm’s length to look her over. “Te ves flaco; estas comiendo lo suficiente? Ese chico te está tratando bien?”

Leticia gave a frustrated noise and stepped away from her mother. “Si, I’m doing fine. David is treating me exactly as he should.”

She was speaking in English to make her mother disappointed, she knew, but she could not help herself. She remembered all the times her mother would tell her, ‘Speak English, that’s how you succeed in this country; you have to be like them.’ Now with her mother living at el Rancho, it was hard to get her to speak anything but Spanish. Her mother gave a short nod that show disapproval rather than acceptance.

“You know we have a Priest now?” asked her mother, both as a way of changing the conversation and as a way of showing Leticia that her mother believed it would be a good thing for her to confess her short comings as a daughter, if not to her mother, then to the priest.

“El Jefe told me,” she said, Leticia’s short answer her way of telling her mother there was no way in Hell she was going to admit any shortfalls.

“Well, I supposed you won’t be coming up for Mass?”

“Amami, you’ll be happy to know I’ll be here for Mass,” said Leticia.

Her mother gave her a tight smile. “Bueno, Dios esté agradecido por eso. Será bueno que estés aquí. Are you bringing that boy?”

“Jesús Chirst, mamá, tiene un nombre,” Leticia nearly shouted at her mother in exasperation. Before she could react, her mother reached out and gave Leticia a quick slap. Leticia stepped back and glared at her mother.

“No me jures,” warned her mother from behind hard eyes. They stared at each other for a long moment. Leticia could feel the heat rising in her face as her anger boiled to the surface. Biting back any kind of response, Leticia nearly turned away to leave. Suddenly, as if she read the thoughts in Leticia’s mind, her mother softened. “Oh pequeña, lo siento. Ven aqui, bebe.”

“Whatever, mom,” said Leticia as her mother tried to embrace her. She stiffly stood while her mother patted her back. Pulling away, she looked out at the darkening sky through the glass roof of the greenhouse. “Listen, I gotta go. I have to get back before dark.”

“No te quedarás a pasar la noche?”

“No.” Leticia sighed. “I’ll see you tomorrow, el si?”

“Okay,” agreed her mother sadly. “Te quiero mucho.”

“Love you, too,” responded Leticia. They gave each other a tense hug and Leticia retreated from the greenhouse.
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Re: Cooper; new stuff added 12/24/2020

Post by doc66 » Thu Dec 24, 2020 3:47 pm

The cabin was full of light and happiness and people. Cooper had been forced to pulled out the fake tree with LED lights already incorporated in the branches. It now sparkled in one corner with as many ornaments as Jessica, Sanjana, and Leticia could hang on the plastic covered wire. Jessica and Cooper’s son had stared in wonder at the tree, carefully touching each reflective bulb within reach before laughing and trying to use one as a fetch toy for the dog. There were garlands strung from the railing of the bedroom loft, a piece of mistletoe was hanging over a doorway—this was real; David had managed to shoot it out of a tree—and Cooper had found a huge log they were calling the Yule log to burn in the fireplace. Beside the fireplace was a small table with pen and scraps of paper for people to write down wishes and worries then throw them into the fire with the yule to be granted or released as needed.

In a corner, Patricia was scolding Michael who had apparently not learned his lesson the previous afternoon. Sanjana stood to one side dressed in her orange and white gold sari which made her dark skin glow. She was taking in all the people acting as if the world beyond their mountain had never changed. As a Muslim, Sanjana believed in the prophet Jesus, but not in the divine being. She knew the traditions and had even enjoyed them with friends. Somehow, she had missed out on the act of caroling. There was a rotating bevy of people who would approach her and try to teach her their version of each caroling song they remembered snippets of. Sanjana kept telling people she knew about caroling and knew some of the songs because she was American, she had just never been caroling. This did not stop the rotating chorus line. The vocal noises added to the cheerfulness and joy and laughter.

Meanwhile, Heidi was standing on a chair, resplendent in her mink coat with a tiara she had found somewhere firmly on her head, passing out Christmas presents culled from the trade items she had received through the year. Leticia had to admit her friend did look somewhat like an impish Mrs. Claus with the whiskey-colored fur flowing around her as she presented the gifts. Boone and Joshua, wearing Santa hats they had scrounged from somewhere, were tasked with handing her the wrapping paper covered gifts as she called for them. The wrapping paper was a mix of Christmas, birthday, and every other occasion paper. There was as much mirth about the occasion on the paper as the gift themselves. Some of the gifts were useful, some were just things she had around. Heidi had given Leticia a Burberry cashmere scarf that was the size of a throw blanket, passing it off as, ‘just something laying around.’ Heidi insisted that Leticia immediately put the scarf on and arranged it so that the scarf draped over her shoulders to fall over her back and chest.

“That color is perfect on you,” nodded Heidi.

“Chido, it’s beautiful,” complemented Laticia.

“Of course it is,” sniffed Heidi before grinning. “Wait ‘til you see what I gave to David.”

Leticia felt just a little sorry for David when was mightily embarrassed by the twenty pack of condoms she handed to him in front of the entire room and made himself scarce as every one catcalled and whistled at his exit. The rest of the gifts were less embarrassing for the receiver. Leticia noticed that the jar of chamomile tea was not among the gifts and asked Heidi about this.

“I’m saving it,” was all Heidi would say.

Spread on the kitchen counter was the results of a days’ worth of baking, cooking and pot stirring by the households. There were sausage balls, the were cookies, latkes with tart sour cream, apple sauce, pork shoulder, corned beef, pickled beets, pickled onions, pickled eggs, sour kraut, a version of kimchi, corn bread, dried apple pies, oatmeal raisin cookies, a rum raisin pie, squash, sweet potatoes, it was as if everyone had raided their pantries for every food they could think of they might want to eat. In gallon jugs was the peppermint schnapps punch. Jessica had used a can of pineapple juice she said it was better if they did not check the date on, oranges, lemons, and limes, traded from el Rancho, and sweet cherries she had put up the year before. It had a strange sweet tartness to it, but no one was turning it down. There was corn beer, there was local wine, and there was the handle of Jim Beam. Cooper had lost the fight to keep the handle in storage for an ‘emergency.’ So far, no one had opened the handle. Instead, Cooper and the other men stood around looking at it as if it were the Grail and talking about the best whiskeys they had partaken of in the past as they passed a pipe-full of Boones best strain he liked to call A Number One.

After everyone had eaten, after they drinks had been consumed and the Jim Beam had not been breached because of a not so silent agreement among the men to leave it as a testament to the crafters of yore, Jessica called everyone into the great room and handed out the pamphlets with the songs on them. She had crossed out the previous year and added the new year’s number by hand.

“Okay, everyone,” she said from atop the chair which Heidi had used to pass out her gifts. “We’ll simply start at the top and sing one song at each house, then as we leave, we sing Feliz Navidad. Do we need to run through the songs before we go?”

Everyone shouted in the negative that they did not need to practice. Jessica did not look convinced. “How about this, we start here and you can sing to Cooper and I? Just sing the words on the page, please. It’s going to be cold out there and I imagine by the time we reach el Rancho, we’re going to be a bit frozen and ready to call it a night.”

“Not if we take the punch,” called someone, getting the laugh they expected.

Jessica grinned with them. “We can take the punch. Remember though; we’ve agreed to stay for Mass. Leticia tells me there’s a real priest performing tonight and so let’s not be schalmmered by the time we get there.”

Leticia shifted uncomfortably at Jessica’s use of the word performance. David put his arm around her to comfort her and tried to tell her it would be alright. Hoping against hope, Leticia patted him on the chest and snuggled under his arm.

Jessica called Cooper to her side. “Okay, first one’s easy, Jingle Bells. Patricia, start everyone off.”

“Me? This is your gig, darling,” said Patricia.

“Remember, you’re at my house first,” reminded Jessica. “I get to sit this one out.”

“I see how it is,” said Patricia. “You say this is just the one time,” she looked at the gathered, “but, it’s gonna be my responsibility from here on out, you watch.”

People gave jeers and taunts and Patricia waved them down and gave the count. “One, two, three, four!”

The house erupted with the strains of Jingle Bells. “Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh, o’er the fields we go, laughing all the way,” here there was a burst of canned laughter from everyone, which made the dog start barking. “Bells on bob tail ring, making spirits rise, what fin it is to ride and sing, a sleighing song tonight!”

“Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,” they shouted more than sang. “Jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh!”

They all shouted, Hey! as loud as they could and the dog barked and growled until Cooper quieted the mutt. Everyone congratulated themselves on the tenor of the song and all agreed they were ready for the big time. People began to drift to the mud room for coats and boots and scarves and hats. As they passed the alcohol, everyone seemed to be helping themselves to the corn beer, the wine, the moonshine, and the punch. Cooper grabbed up the handle of Jim Beam and while Jessica was not looking, stashed it in a cupboard before someone got the idea it was time to open the relic.

“Don’t forget your song book,” called Jessica, picking up a couple which had been discarded. When no one claimed them, she carefully smoothed out the creases and lay them on the coffee table to be saved.

After everyone was bundled up and complaining about how hot they were, Roger slipped the last half gallon of schnapps into a day pack and Cooper grabbed the last jar of moonshine. Boone stood at the door as everyone exited, handing the peace pipe to those who were interested. Cooper took a hard drag and exhaled, smiling at Leticia as he did so.

“How long will those condoms last you and David?” he joked. Having been David’s friend since Junior High, Cooper sometimes felt he had special dispensation to say things he shouldn’t.

“You’re an asshole,” she laughed, taking the pipe from Boone.

“Yeah,” agreed Cooper. “But, the expression on his face was worth it.”

“You knew?”

“Boone told me,” said Cooper. Leticia looked over the pipe at the biker.

“You’re an asshole, too,” Leticia told Boone.

Boone took the pipe from her. “I already knew that.”

“It was funny though,” decided Leticia. Jessica was corralling everyone as Cooper locked the door behind him. The group was gathering next to the sleigh Heidi had brought up because there was, ‘No fuckin’ way’ she was going to walk the entire way in the snow. She offered the services of the sleigh and it was quickly accepted by all within hearing.

Heidi had harnessed her two draft horses to the horse drawn sled Boone and Josh had hammered together out of a set of logging runners they had traded for. The owner of the logging runner did not know what they were and gave them up for a song. Boone and Josh and the two cowboys they had hired were using the runners to haul logs to be cut for firewood. They had taken an old wagon bed and removed it from the wagon suspension and bolted the bed to the runners just for the caroling. It was basically a flat bed and rails with a bench for the driver. They had filled the bed with straw and everyone had blankets to cover themselves with. There was a lot of jostling and mirth in the process of boarding the makeshift sleigh. Heidi, her fur coat sweeping the snow as she moved and making her look like she was floating, stepped up to the driver’s seat with Boone lending her a hand. She stood on the bench as the draft horses rattled their harnesses and snorted in the cold air.

“Alright, germs,” said Heidi. “Keep your hands in the ride at all times and if you fall off, it’s your job to catch up at the next stop.”

Everyone chuckled. She took up the reins and snapped the leads. The draft horses gave a tug and for a moment, nothing happened, then they were moving, the rails slicing through the snow, making a steady hiss as the particles spit beneath the motion of the sleigh. All aboard the sleigh cheered as the bells on the harnesses began to chime and bounce in time with the horse’s movement.

Someone began to sing Jingle Bells again and they all took up the song as they move under the clear moon and bright stars. The sweep of the branches made all the stars seem to twinkle merrily to match the mood on the sleigh. Soon, Heidi was guiding the sleigh down the path to the Miller house. There were a few lights on in the windows, probably to conserve their lamp oil and candles more than anything else. Pulling the sleigh up to the porch, Heidi got the draft horses stopped and the troop stood up in the bed of the sleigh just as the door opened.

Sam Miller stood peering in the dark, holding a rifle.

“Put the rifle down, Sam,” called Patricia. “Get the family, we come to sing to you.”

“What? Patricia is that you?”

“Damnit man, do what you’re told,” Patricia said to him. She turned to everyone and called out “Deck the Hall” and began to count. The crowd in the bed of the sleigh began to sing as The Miller clan gathered in the doorway. Josh had jumped off the sleigh and had a huge duffle bag over his shoulder. While the song reached it’s strain of Falalala, Josh reached into the bag and pulled out bundles for the family, belting out Ho Ho Ho, with each gift he bestowed. When the song ended, Josh heaved the duffle into the back of the sleigh and Patricia called out ‘Feliz Navidad.’ The Millers were smiling and holding their gifts and asking them if they wanted to come inside. Jessica assured them they had more visits to make and needed to move on as the sleigh began to slowly move and Feliz Navidad echoed through the trees. Soon the Miller household was gone from sight.

The sleigh trooped through the cold and snow, while people congratulated themselves on the successful first run.

Leticia removed herself from under David’s arm and knelt behind where Heidi was clucking to the horses and encouraging them.

“That was a nice thing,” she said to Heidi.

“What, Chica?”

Leticia gave a short laugh. “That doesn’t mean what you think it does.”

“No?”

“No.”

“What nice thing?”

“The gifts,” said Leticia.

“Girlfriend, if you knew how much shit I took in on trade this year for those horses and all the shit I do with them,” Heidi shook her head in wonder. “I got crap I’ll never use or trade. A fucking roomful of it. I could start my own junk store. Plus, I gave everybody a gift card; we’re gonna disc everybody’s garden this spring. That’s be a good business move, I think.” She was quiet for a second. “And it’s Christmas. You give people you love presents at Christmas.”

“Carino, never let anyone say that ya no seas ojete.”

“I donno what that means, but if it means I’m a bitch, I am,” smiled Heidi blinking away tears. Leticia gave her a hug and crawled back to David, wiping her eyes.

“What’s wrong, mi ceilo?

“Absolutely nothing.”

The next stop was at Ralph and sons. Ralph was a widower who had three boys to raise. Their house was dark but for a light in the main window and the flicker of the flames in the fireplace. Heidi pulled up to the porch as she had with the Millers. They began to sing, ‘Oh Come all Ye Faithful,’ as the door opened. Ralph quickly hid his shotgun behind the door and he and his sons stood on the small porch to listen to the carolers fill the night with the words about choirs of angels. Again, Josh appeared with the duffle and handed out gifts to everyone on the porch. He waved away their astonished thanks, with his Santa laugh and Merry Christmas. The Sleigh was starting to move as they again sang Feliz Navidad and waved to the man and his sons.

The sleigh chimed its way down the road and the occupants kept talking and telling stories as they went. The punch was passed around as was the pipe. They pulled into the drive of Not Tim and once more, stopped at the front door where there was a light shining through the window from a lamp. Inside they could see Not Tim move to look out the window. ‘Hark the Herald,’ rose to meet him as he hurriedly went to the door and was followed by his wife and son. This time, Boone was the one to jump off the sleigh with the duffle bag. He hugged Not Tim and his wife and shared a private laugh with their son as he handed each their gift.

“Cooper,” started Not Tim. “You should have told us.”

“Merry Christmas, Not Tim,” called Cooper as the group began Feliz Navidad. “Sometimes it’s all about the surprise, buddy.”

“Should have invited them,” whispered Jessica.

“I know,” said Cooper. “I didn’t know it was going to be such a thing.”

They pulled away as Not Tim and family waved them off into the darkness.

“Four more stops,” announced Patricia. “And we got three songs. What one do you all want to do again?”

‘Deck the Hall’ seemed to be the winner by loudest choice. They pulled into the drive of Bill and Mary’s place. The older couple did not seem to be up. Heidi had Boone bang on the door. He did so and leaned in to listen. He banged one more time and then held up a hand when he heard something moving inside. A glow appeared as a lamp was lit. Boone dropped his hand and they began to belt out, ‘Joy to the World.’

A confused looking Bill and Mary appeared in the doorway. Bill was still holding his pistol by his side when Boone presented them with their hugs and gifts. The sleigh was off and once more, Feliz Navidad carried them away as Bill and Mary wiped thankful and joyous tears from their faces and waved to them.

Mike and Carrie were the next stop. It was Jessica’s turn to feel guilty for not inviting them since they often watched Cooper and Jessica’s son for them. Their boy played often with Mike and Carrie’s children. They agreed to throw another party and invite everyone on the road as the sleigh stopped. Mike appeared like all the neighbors, with a firearm in hand. Carrie was in a window with one of her own. He quickly put it and Carrie called to their two children as they broke into, “Angels We Have Heard on High.” Josh jumped down this time, and not to be outdone by Boone, he gave hugs along with his Santa laughs and Merry Christmas as he handed each of them a gift. They tried to get everyone to come inside, but Heidi announced they had, “Miles to go,” and clucked the horses moving. The gathered sang their goodbye song to the family as Jessica promised to come see them and hang out soon.

Patricia had Heidi stop by their house to drop off the kids. Cooper and Jessica’s son was getting fussy and Patricia was nearly ready to kill Michael. It took them several minutes for Roger and Patricia to get them to agree not to kill each other and watch Cooper and Jessica’s boy. Cooper and Jessica got their son all settled and the eldest promised he would be responsible for their sake. He had wanted to ride with them to the next stop, and revealed to Cooper that he and one of the girls had a thing going. To help ease the sting, Cooper in return promised to give him guitar lessons to woo the girl if he met their expectations. With the children dropped off they head to the next stop.

One the way they passed the ruins of the home where Butch and Caroline had lost their lives in a fire caused by a miss-managed barrel stove. They all fell silent for a second when they passed the remains of the house. Cooper laughed suddenly and began to sing the chorus from a song he had written; ‘(Bury me in) My Cowboy Boots.’ He felt Butch would appreciate the sentiment of the song. Patricia sang it with him, since she had been a super fan of the Bone Digger’s before she knew Cooper. When they finished, everyone clapped and Patricia hit Cooper on the shoulder.

“It ain’t a Christmas song, but it’ll do.”

They slid up to the porch of the last house and Peter, the owner, was standing on the porch with a rifle leaning against the rail. “I heard you all coming up the road, being loud and singing, what’s going on?”

“Get the family,” ordered Patricia. “We’re singing carols for everybody.”

The family and extended family and grandchildren all crowded onto the porch as Patricia launched them into, ‘Silent Night.’ This time Boone and Josh jumped down and handed out their gifts, giving all hugs and Josh laughing out Ho Ho Ho and Merry Christmas to the seven people standing. They left a couple extra small gift for the babies they knew were in bed already and jumped back onto the sleigh as it started to pull away. The farewell song was rousing and loud, and when it was finished, Roger, with a move out of character for him, called out, “Where’s that hootch?”

They all hooted and took up the cry. The last of the punch and moonshine was passed around. Boone repacked his pipe and it was also handed from person to person as the sleigh broke through the snow, cutting a path to El Rancho de la Montaña. Their only stop was to let everyone pee in the snow. Jessica had the foresight to bring one of their last rolls of toilet paper with them. The women all thanked her with reverence as she doled out the precious squares. Once the group had made their mark, the sleigh was off again, rattling over the cattle guard to the complex that was el Rancho de la Montana. The long path through the trees and fields was lit by torches set in the snow as markers for them. As they came over a rise in the drive the main house was blazing with light from torches and lamps and candles. Unlike the homestead of Cooper and Jessica, el Jefe and never put in any alternate source of power other than a generator. He was working on converting the massive generator at the ranch into a gasified engine so that they could once again have lighting and other conveniences. El Jefe was predicting the task would be accomplished by the first of the year.

“Remember,” Jessica suddenly said. “We’re here for church.”

“We’re here to hang out with my family,” corrected Leticia, hoping she wasn’t stepping on Jessica’s toes. “Have fun; Mass is just something that we’re going to do.”

“Fair enough,” said Jessica.

Patricia stood up in the wagon bed, holding on to Roger’s shoulder. “Okay, we’re going to do a run down of every song, start from the top, and when we come to a stop, everyone keep singing until we’re the center of attention. ‘Jingle Bells,’ and one, two, three, four—.”

The sleigh jingled along with the song and when they reached the gate marking el Rancho proper the two standing watch there waved them through with wide smiles and shouts of encouragement. Heidi guided the sleigh up to the wide arch which separated the drive from the courtyard. People were standing outside and followed the path of the sleigh, laughing to each other and calling to the people in the sleigh. By the time they were in front of the house, they had started ‘Deck the Hall.’ Skillfully, Heidi squeezed the sleigh between the sides of the arch and into the courtyard, which had been cleared of snow, bringing the sleigh to a stop by the frozen pool in the center of the yard. Heidi did not seem to notice the skids dragging on the flagstone pathway, everyone else winced. Windows were suddenly thrown open and people stepped out of doors and onto balconies which had been decorated with wreaths. Luminaries lined the walls of the courtyard and torches burned from the balcony railings. The entire courtyard had been decorated with greenery and colorful ribbons and old Christmas ornaments. El Jefe was waiting for them, and stepped up to the sleigh.

“Eres una chica mala, dragging that thing up here,” said el Jefe with a stern smile which were offset by his laughing eyes. “Anyone else, las castigaria, but you always get away with this.”

Heidi gave el Jefe a kiss on the forehead. “I don’t understand half of what you said, but if it was that you love me, it’s because you can’t help yourself.”

El Jefe’s laughter burst out loud with the music around him. They continued to sing and were joined by the household of El Rancho de la Montaña in ‘Oh Come all Ye Faithful.’ El Jefe offered his hand to Heidi and helped her from the driver’s seat. Fernando and Javier joined in with their guitars and Tio Noe appeared with a trumpet and Tia Estella had a violin. As Cooper exited the sleigh amid the chaos of song and shouts and merriment, someone handed him a guitar. Cooper stood with the thing in his hands until Jessica pushed him over to where the beginnings of the Mariachi band was forming.

“Hark the Herald,” called Patricia accepting the mandolin thrust in her hands. She gave an experimental strum, made and adjustment and counted down after calling out the key for the newly formed band. El Jefe pointed to the sleigh and had a couple of the cousins turn the wagon around and lead the horses to the stables. Heidi stopped them for a moment and Boone and Josh grabbed a couple duffle bags out of the wagon. Abuelita Cryilla was waving her towel in the air as they sang their way through the song list. By the time they reached ‘Silent Night,’ it seemed the entire household was gathered in the courtyard and several of the families from the mountain road had drifted up to the Rancho as well. Not Tim and his wife and son, Patricia’s children were the with Cooper and Jessica’s son, all bundled up for the long walk and cold. The eldest of Patricia’s children was carrying an old single shot shotgun to show he had been responsible for the safety of the group. Patricia scolded him anyway, and then hugged him, telling him she was glad he was there. The boy sighed and disappeared to stand with a group his own age, edging close to one of the girls in attendance. Peter and his extended family had trudged up as well as Ralph and Sons. El Jefe welcomed all of them with loud greetings and handshakes and hugs.

When the last strains of ‘Silent Night’ faded away, el Jefe stepped up on the edge of the pool and clapped his hands drawing the attention of the crowd. He raised his hands above his head and brought them down as he thought a choir director might and shout-sang, “Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad!”

Leticia saw Noemi roll her eyes as her Patron started the very song she had been making fun of. By the time the chorus had been sung once, Noemi joined in.

“A donde sea que yo esté, Tu corazón alcanzaré, Y una sonrisa en tu mirada pintaré, No habrá distancia entre los dos, Al viento volaré mi voz, Con mis deseos a tu alma llegaré, Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, próspero año y Felicidad!”

Wherever I am, your heart will reach, And I will paint a smile in your eyes, there will be no distance between the two, I will fly my voice to the wind, I will arrive with my wishes to your soul, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, and a Happy, Prosperous, New Year.

The blanco mountain dwellers tried to follow as well as they could, Jessica and David had the most success since they knew enough conversational Spanish to follow along, but they all joined in on the English sections. El Jefe’s voice boomed out in his baritone, leading them through not just the popular verses, but also the lesser known verses, extolling everyone to follow along, his face bright and eyes sparkling in the flickering light from the torches and luminaries. When they were finished, everyone cheered and the band banged out a proper finish to the noise the crowd was making. Copper handed the guitar off to a bystander who was laughing and shaking his hand and try as she might, Patricia could not get anyone to take the mandolin. El Jefe began to usher everyone inside, taking Heidi on his arm as he did so. Boone and Jacob had disappeared. Abuela Cyrilla was shooing her helpers toward the kitchens to start bringing out the banquet, her towel moving like a flag in the slip stream of a cavalry charge.

The great hall was lit from above with blazing oil lamps and candles and the crystal of the chandeliers sparkled in the light reflecting off the facets to bounce off shiny Christmas ornaments. Everyone found their places, the two communities mixing and talking and laughing and sharing. Leticia entered in with David, her arm through his and her mother came up to them, kissing Leticia on the cheek and pulling David down to her level for a hug and a kiss.

“Welcome, carino,” she said. “You should come up here more often with mi haji. I would like to know you better, si?”

Leticia gave her mother a curious look which her mother ignored. David kept his face neutral as he answered. “Of course, la Lay.”

The three drifted over to a table together, speaking pleasantries and choosing to ignore the tension which lay beneath the surface. Suddenly, the double doors at the other end of the hall burst open and Boone and Josh came through, shouting Merry Christmas, and waving their arms, their red hats jauntily tilted to one side, the duffle bags over their shoulders, followed by Tio, dressed in a red Santa coat and a sombrero, dragging a burlap bag. They greeted everyone in the room, laughing their Santa laughs and accepting the shots of moonshine and drinking down mugs of corn beer as they made their way to a large chair set up by the walk-in fire place. El Jefe was there with Heidi under his arm.

“Amigos, Familia, aqui, aqui!” he called for attention. “Ha sido un año próspero, so, to celebrate this, pequeño diablo y yo, we have a few small gifts for everyone. I hope you all like socks.”

The gathered laughed with him and Tio, holding his arms up like a prize fighter, took his place in the chair to the cheers and jeers of those around him. Boone and Josh flanked him, nodding as if they were the seconds to a heavyweight title holder.

“Pretty girls first,” Tio called out as he sat and then looked around mischievously from under the wide brim of the sombrero. “Never mind,” he was booed, “Los ninos primero!”

As the children rushed up to the chair, Abuelita Cryilla and her cohorts began to bring out platters and bowls and serving trays, the smell of everything drifting in their wake with spices and corn and meat and beans and potatoes and sweet notes and vinegar and citrus and crispy fat and chilies and so many things that the senses overloaded and restarted as each dish was set and uncovered to be passed and served.

Not Tim found Cooper and leaned in to give his friend a hug. “Man, Merry Christmas, I didn’t know this was going to be a thing; when El Jefe sent word and invited us the other day, I thought it was going to be just for Mass and we almost didn’t come. But when you came by singing carols, I knew it was going to be a thing.”

“Well, said Cooper, not knowing el Jefe had invited people for Mass, “I didn’t know it was going to be a thing either.” Cooper glanced at Jessica, who shrugged and turned away to speak to Not Tim’s wife and help her son with a tortilla and some beans.

“I’m glad you’re here,” said Not Tim. “I know you’re not religious, but it’s nice to have the people you care about around to celebrate.”

Cooper gave a small chuckle. “I think so too, Not Tim, glad you’re here. We’ll have to get together and go do something not involving work.”

“That’d be awesome,” said Not Tim. He hugged Cooper again and moved away.

“You saved his life and he loves you,” said Jessica.

“I know,” Cooper sighed.

As the last of the presents were handed out, el Jefe brought up Padre Nicolas to provide the blessing for the meal, even though most people had already started eating and drinking. Padre Nicolas was a young man, as far as priests went. He might have been a little older than Jessica and Cooper. His dark skin shone in the lighting and the simple collar he wore had seen better days. He had a bowl in his hand and a small palm branch in the other. Everyone stopped what they were doing to look up at the priest. Father Nicolas smiled to everyone and looked up at the ceiling.

“Our help is in the name of the Lord,” he said. Nuestra ayuda está en nombre del señor.

All the Catholics in the room responded. Who has made heaven and earth; “Que hizo el cielo y la tierra.”

“The Lord be with you.” El senor este contigo.

“And with your spirit.” Y con tu espíritu.

“Dejanos rezar.” Let us pray. Padre Nicolas began his blessing, his voice carrying out over the tables of people, bringing a somber note to the proceedings. “Bless this congregation, Lord, which You have made, so that it may be a healthful food for mankind. Grant by the invocation of Your holy name that whoever partakes of it may receive both health of body and safety of soul, through Christ our Lord.”

‘Bendice a esta congregación, Señor, que has hecho, para que sea un alimento saludable para la humanidad. Concede por la invocación de tu santo nombre que quien la participe puede recibir salud del cuerpo y seguridad del alma, por Cristo nuestro Señor.’ Echoed the Spanish as el Jefe spoke softly under the resonating timber of Padre Nicolas.

“Amen,” responded everyone, the Catholics crossing themselves as Padre Nicolas began to move among them with the palm branch, dipping it in the holy water contained in the bowl and sprinkling the congregation as he moved. David caught Padre Nicolas’s eye and the man stuttered in his step and then continued on his way. Leticia caught the hesitation and looked at David.

“Que?”

“I know him,” said David.

“How?”

David shook his head, indicating he would tell her later.

“Es mejor que no sea un puto fraude,” whispered Leticia glaring at the priests back. David shushed her and the wave of the party returned with the passing of the priest. Everyone sat again and began to eat. Fernando and Javier stood off to one side with their guitars and began to softly play.

When the food was finished to everyone’s satisfaction, Abuela Cryilla directed the removal of the food and the cleaning of the tables. The three or four dozen people in the room helped clear plates and the tables were pushed to one side. David found himself next to Father Nicolas who motioned for David to follow him out into the hallway. David slipped away from the crowd and followed him. Nicolas found a quiet space and before David could speak, grabbed David in a crushing bear hug.

“Dude, I thought you were dead,” said Nicolas into David’s ear.

David returned the hug. “I made it up here. What the fuck, man? A Priest? What kinda scam is this?”

“It ain’t no scam, vato,” assured Nicolas. “I’m a bonafide priest of the Catholic Church. You thought I found the vestments and a prayer book or something and decided to take up the cloth to eat for free?”

“Something like that,” admitted David. “How?”

Father Nicolas looked around and found a pair of chairs. He guided David over to the chairs and they sat down. “Yeah, well, man, when you took off for the hills, I stuck around and watched the City collapse.” He looked over at David with a little sorrow in his eyes. “Mr. Clarence died not long after you left.” They shred a moment of silence over the memory of the old man. Nicolas took up his tale again. “But anyway, I’ve always been like, a church goer, and Father Timothy needed help around the church, you know St. Aquinas down the street where you used to live? So, I stepped in and helped out for something constructive to do, and I began to study with him. Next thing I know, Father Tim is giving me more responsibility and the community is looking up to me for answers about stuff, and then one day, Father Tim looks at me as says, ‘If you want to, I have recommended you for the priesthood.’”

Nicolas laughed to himself as the noise of the other room exploded out into the hallway. They both looked toward the door, trying to judge what had caused everyone to burst out with shouts and laughter. Father Nicolas looked back at David. “I never thought about it, but it seemed right. So, I said yes. With all the shit in the world happening, the Church changed up the way they do things; I mean I couldn’t exactly go to seminary, right? It’s probably more like it was in nine hundred now; you kinda take a community under wing and the next thing you know your being called Father. Anyway, I became Father Nicolas. After a while of helping out around St. Aquinas, I felt the call to go out and travel. I go to communities and do christenings and weddings, and hear confessions, and then I say Mass for a few weeks and move on. As luck would have it, I came here after hearing about Apollo and his community here.”

“Apollo?”

“El Jefe,” laughed Nicolas.

“I never knew he had a name other than el Jefe,” laughed David with him. “So, you’re really a priest?”

“Really am,” assured Father Nicolas. “Even after all the trouble we’d get into back in the day after work, I’m still a priest.”

“Damn,” David covered his mouth. “Sorry.”

“I still cuss, dude,” said Nicolas. “Listen, I have to get my vestments on, when all the holiday stuff is over, let’s catch up?”

“Yes,” agreed David. “I live right down the road.”

“With Leticia,” smiled Father Nicolas. “I had no clue you were that Guey. Of all the David’s in the world, I’m glad it is you who is dragging their little girl down the unrighteous path.”

They stood and hugged again and Father Nicolas disappeared into the shadows of the hall. David made his way back to Leticia. After the quiet of the hallway, the room was almost crushing in the amount of noise and the heat of all the people.

“Where’ve you been?”

“I was talking to Father Nicolas,” said David. “We knew each other back in the day.”

“He’s really a priest?”

“Yes, bebe, he’s really a priest,” decided David.

“Hard to believe you know a priest,” said Leticia, looking at her mother. “This will go over well with mama.”

“I’ll take all the advantages I can get,” decided David.

“Aqui,” called el Jefe. Everyone looked up to where the Patron stood near the big fireplace. “Sé que todo el mundo quiere divertirse y divertirse. But, we are here to celebrate the holy day of Christmas. Misa de Navidad is approaching. Join me for this celebration of nueva vida, nueva comienzo. I promise, this Ano Neuvo, we will fiesta hasta que salga el sol, eh!”

Everyone cheered the Patron and he waved them down. “When I came here from Coahuila many years ago, I had a dream of only having a place where I could farm and raise my family in safety. Here, in America, I have found all that and more. I have construí mi imperio más allá de mis sueños más salvajes. I am a rich man,” el Jefe nodded to them all. “I am a rich man in la familia y amigos. All this, this is because you all have made it so, gracias, that is not enough of a word for what I feel in my heart. Mi Corazon,” he touched his chest and accepted their adoration. Suddenly he looked at them sternly from under his brow, pointing a finger. He scolded them lightly with; “Haz tu mente bien. It’s time for Mass.”

They chuckled and across the room, people could be seen getting into their right minds. Slowly, they filed out of the great room and moved across the courtyard to the chapel el Jefe had built away from the complex of buildings. There was a light snow falling, and above the clouds, the moon cast a silver light which caused the snow to fall from a glowing silver sky. Jessica leaned against Cooper who was carrying their son. The boy was fighting sleep, but his head kept falling against Cooper’s shoulder.

“Merry Christmas, baby,” said Jessica.

“Merry Christmas, baby,” said Cooper, kissing her.

They all crowded into the chapel and stood silently until someone began to sing, ‘Oh Holy Night.’ One of el Jefe’s relations entered from the back of the chapel with a brazier of incense. The sharp spice of the incense filled the small space as the movement of the brazier sent the smoke streaming into the air around them. He walked around the outside of the congregation and then came up the center aisle, the scented smoke drifting down the rows full of people. Father Nicolas came after, his palm frond filling the air with holy water and his voice chanting his blessing to them.

“God of every nation and people, from the very beginning of creation,” murmured Padre Nicolas. “You have made manifest your love: When our need for a Savior was great You sent Your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary. To our lives he brings joy and peace, justice, mercy and love. Lord, bless all who look upon this congregation, may it remind us of the humble birth of Jesus, and raise up our thoughts to him, who is God-with-us and Savior of all and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.”

They all sat as Father Nicolas took up his place at the front. There were readings, and responses. Scripture commemorating the birth of the baby Jesus was read, Cooper and Jessica, never church goers to begin with, gave each other wry smiles at the prostration of the people around them. They settled back when Father Nicolas bade them to sit.

“This isn’t going to be a forever homily, I promise,” smiled Father Nicolas. “I wish my Spanish was better than it is, but I’m just a poor boy from the barrio of the 415, and in spite of mi abuela attempts, I never really learned the language of my forefathers.

“Forgive me,” he asked.

“Tonight, we gather with friends old and new, family who has been fortunate enough to travel the distance to work and laugh by our sides through this terrible time we have been all living through. By the sweat of our brows, the strength of our will, we have all survived and become the people of a New World.

Father Nicolas cast his kind gaze over the gathered. “Centuries ago, two people travelled in a world not unlike ours; a world in a flux, newly conquered by the Empire of Rome and placed under the rule of a man who was not a Jew, a man who had helped Rome bring Judaea under their rule. The kingdom was a gift from the Romans to Herod for a job well done. The family of Jesus was born to was brought to Bethlehem because this new king wanted to know how many subjects he had in his control,” espoused Father Nicolas, adding flavor to the old manger story they all knew. “When Jesus was born, and declared King of the Jews by the Wise Men, this was a problem for Herod and so, he had to hunt this usurper down. Joseph and Mary, with their newly born son fled.”

Feeling the tension in the room, Father Nicolas looked around and then waved away the harshness of story he was telling. “Those things that happened all happened so that we, believers in the Christ, can celebrate his coming. Those things happened so that we can be led out of sorrows, our hardships and troubles, to be reminded that Jesus was once like us; living in a world of terror and anguish, so that he could bring us to the Light or God and we can take our places with him. We celebrate this moment in time, and we give ourselves over to the Love of Christ so we can live alongside him. We remember his humble beginnings because he is us.”

Letting the words hang in the air for a moment, Father Nicolas clasped his hands together. “When we treat each other with kindness, when we show each other love, it is the Christ’s blessings we give each other. He was born so that we could understand that his life—all life—is an extension of who we are, and when we show love, we show Jesus in our hearts. He was born for all of us, and on this day, we remember.

“We say Merry Christmas so that we do not forget our Savior’s place in this world. Our world. Merry Christmas.”



Snuggled in their bed, Jessica traced a design on Coopers chest. It was dark hours before morning and they were exhausted from the activities of the previous hours. It had taken Heidi two trips to get everyone safely back to their homes, and Cooper and Jessica and son were the last people she dropped off. Leticia and David had stayed up at el Rancho to spend Christmas morning with Leticia’s mother. David was hoping the visit would ease some of the tension between them. Cooper and Jessica put their son down to sleep in his bed and then walked back out the great room, turning out the few lights they had left on when they left. Cooper started to turn out the Christmas Tree lights, but Jessica stopped him. After, they had looked at the damage down by the pre-caroling gathering and both of them simply walked by the mess, knowing it would be there in the morning.

“I’m so glad that’s over,” said Jessica.

“Yeah, we still have to clean up.”

“Don’t even bring it up right now,” warned Jessica. “Did you see that Sanjana snuck off with Ralph?”

“I did, Merry Christmas to them,” grinned Cooper. Jessica pinched him and he grunted in pain.

“What do you think about that?”

“Nothing?” hoped Cooper.

Jessica sighed. “I don’t know. I like Ralph, but, Sanjana is so—worldly and exotic. Ralph is a good man, but he’s not right for her.”

“Maybe it’s just sex?”

“Maybe,” Jessica pondered. “But I don’t see what the interest is.”

“Sex?”

“Perhaps,” said Jessica running her fingers around Cooper’s belly.

“That Father Nicolas is an interesting guy,” she said.

Cooper grunted. “Apparently, he and David knew each other back in the city.”

“David’s friends with him?”

“He is,” confirmed Cooper, looking at her by the glow of the LED light on the tree. “You crushing on the priest?”

“No,” chuckled Jessica. “I just thought he did a good sermon.”

“Homily,” corrected Cooper. “I think Catholics call it a homily.”

“Whatever.” Jessica sighed. “I’m so tired.”

“Go to sleep,” said Cooper.

She pulled herself up on his body. “Don’t you want your Christmas Present?”

“I probably do,” Cooper told her.

“Probably,” Jessica nodded.
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Re: Cooper; 12/24/2020

Post by EdRider » Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:32 pm

Another great chapter! I really like the filling out of the El Ranchero and neighborhood "feel". No lone wolf will really make it by themselves.....


Seems like 2021 would start off well with another Cooper World chapter!

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Re: Cooper; 12/24/2020

Post by doc66 » Wed Dec 30, 2020 1:24 am

Thanks man!

I was afraid it was too preachy (l am a reformed Catholic, so, the homely was easy to write, but l didn't want to get too religious) and holiday dependent, but that's the way the story wrote itself.

We'll see how this shakes out, I might be taking these and making them into a novel, and adding some stories that have not made it here to this thread.

Eta

Also, l tried to get every character or family I've talked about who lives on the mountain road in this story. There are a couple characters l wanted to bring in, Tinker Bob, being one of them, but the tale never lent itself to that happening.

I read a bunch of the older stories to pull this one together, and some that aren't on here. One day I will map it all out. Lol
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Re: Cooper; 12/24/2020

Post by 91Eunozs » Wed Jan 20, 2021 10:14 pm

Thanks Doc...a really nice glimpse into this world.
Molon Latte...come & take our coffee order
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woodsghost wrote:... A defensive gun without training is basically a talisman. It might ward off evil, but I wouldn't count on it.

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Re: Cooper; 12/24/2020

Post by Johan » Tue Jan 26, 2021 12:34 am

Thank you for the Moaar Doc!!!

I found it when I was going to bed, and kept reading until it was way too late... :D

Good stuff as always!!!
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