Tag Archives: Dust on My Cattle

Everyone calls her Mother (Chapter 3)

She was getting older. And she had her son, and her girls. But many called her mother. For many she wasn’t old enough to be their mother. But is wasn’t about age. But something deeper.

In times of trouble. Many people turned to Mother. The cold. And the sad and lonely. Those who were broken and tired. They all came home to mama. And it was a home many had never been to before. Mother’s was a safe place. A place of comfort. Few have been to a home like Mother’s.

While she loved the ranch. Those long years were full of memories. Sunsets and sunrises, cold river water and the moon over a meadow. But in recent years she had left the ranch. Her only son still lived on the land. He watcher her cattle. And yes, they were hers. When her husband died. He gave the land to their son. But she got the cows. The income from the land and the livestock had been split for years.

It was an early evening when Charles called to sound the alarm. Well two alarms really. One he was going to be in town for a visit. And two, there was a problem on the ranch. All he could talk about was the dust on his cattle. And Ray was both confused and concerned. Had he older son slipped into madness. Well, he couldn’t get it out over the phone.

The boy had never been good with phones. There was no point in trying to drag the story out now.

“How’s the weather,” Mother asked in a cheery tone.

“Dry,” Charles responded. “I was afraid to take the car out and have the sun in my eyes.”

Mother knew his fears. But it was always a little humorous how he tried to hide.

“When are you going to visit?” she asked with a mind to making preparations. She would buy new bedding for him. And a bottle or two for herself. She loved her son deeply. But he was a challenge. Sometimes he felt like he was too close. Then other times he felt like he was too far away. For many years they had not lived together of course. She lived in the city with the girls.

“I need to take a nap,” Charles responded. But didn’t make his plans clear.

“Are you coming after your nap,” Mother asked.


“Right, after your nap.” She had forgotten how clear to state her questions.


“So, are my cows okay,” Mother asked. The silence at the other end of the phone at first was a concern. But it was followed by a sigh. Charles was now the one calling them “our” cattle. But he still wouldn’t go into the problem. It would get him too worked up, he explained. And his lawyer sister would solve the problem soon enough.

But Mother had her doubts. Ever since they were children Charles looked up to his sisters. The oldest one more than the rest. He viewed her as a super-human person. And now as a super-human lawyer. But Mother knew the law was the law. In many cases there were problems which just couldn’t be solved.

A few years ago a pig farm proved the case. Along the road to the farm, Charles hated the smell. He called his sister. Who called the county clerk. Who told her in clear terms: nothing could be done. The next call was to a county commissioner. The woman also hated the pig farm, but again her sad statement was the same: nothing could be done. A call to a lawyer was sympathetic but ended in the same result: nothing could be done.

The county was helpless. And the state was helpless. Not even their senator could close the pig farm. Still today it sits along the road with its smell. When the wind shifts the wrong way the whole town smells bad. Something told her the dust wouldn’t be solved any easier than the smell.

“Call me when you get to town,” Mother said, “I’ll have your room ready.”

A whole group of Friends in one person (Chapter 2)

She danced from one room to the next. Picking up a dress. Then putting down a shoe. Sitting down for a moment. The desk in front of her covered in make-up. Her laptop open with a new song. She was writing her life. And creating herself every day.

Jane was an artist. Her work was in demand. A show on Broadway ended last week. Now she sat far away in London. This was the life she dreamed about as a child. She would put on her best dress. Then sing to her parents. And sometimes she would sing at church.

Picking up lip stick she puckered her lips. Thick and red the color went on her lips. She smiled to make sure it wasn’t on her teeth. Today was not a day for having lipstick on her teeth. Her cellphone rattled in her bag. But she didn’t notice.

Today was her the first day she would rehearse with Elton John. They were working together on a show for charity. She was a Gemini, so while she wanted to help others. Details were not her thing. Which group was the charity for? She knew and she didn’t remember. But Elton had told her it was a good cause.

There were many charity shows she did over the years. And at times she wondered about where the money went. She didn’t want to end up like Cat Stephens. He couldn’t even fly into the U.S. anymore.

Looking up at the mirror she checked her progress. Then down she looked at the song. The words were coming along one at a time. Like reluctant children. You know in the end they will come. But you just wish they could be more behaved. The words just didn’t want to listen to her. They fought her. And she pushed back into the void against them.

Her pen was stuck between her teeth. With a firm focus she searched for the next word. But she knew it was a problem. Like trying to fall asleep. The more you try the harder it is. She needed a moment away. And her phone started to flash and vibrate again. This time she picked up the call.

“Charles,” she answered.

“Jane,” he said. “What will I do?”

Being in the theater Jane knew about drama. But no one did drama like her brother. Once he called about a snow storm. Where would he find three months worth of food he asked her. He misunderstood the news. It was a three day storm. And they said it would be a cold winter. He flew into a panic.

She looked at her watch. The party didn’t start for two hours. But now she wanted an excuse to get off the phone already. She loved her dear brother. He was the eternal support in her play growing up. When ever she needed a leading man. Or someone to play a horse. Or anything she asked of him. But in some ways he had never grown up himself. And while she was about the world with her own play. He stayed at the family home with his old toys.

“How’s the old car running?” she asked.

“I started it last night,” he offered. “But, I didn’t drive it so it wouldn’t get wet. It might rain today. The weather man said there was a chance.”

It was the driest month of the year, August. But she figured it wasn’t worth the discussion. If he didn’t want to drive, it was okay with her. But she still felt like it would be a step which would help him get off the farm. A step she felt like he needed. Her life was so full of life. And their other sister was so on the edge. But Charles waited like a hurt puppy about his feeding dish.

“Listen Charles…” she started. But it was too late. The finger had been pulled from the dike. Now the ocean was flooding in on her. She could hear his tears through the phone. He was sobbing in a deep stress.

“You don’t have time?” he whispered.

“No… I mean yes,” she vacillated. “What dear brother is the problem?”

The “dear brother” came out sarcastic and she felt it. But, he never listened to the tone of her words. And he didn’t today.

“They’re going to get dust on my cattle,” Charles blurted into the phone.

“Wait, our cattle?” her tone changed to alarm. She may mock the farm and her brother. But it supported her lifestyle in no small degree. Even the powerful attorney sister needed the resources of the farm at times.

“My cattle,” Charles firmly stated. For the last five years he was the only family member on the farm. So he felt like the livestock were his. He would share the income, but they were his.

“Yes, Charles,” she relented. “Tell me the story.”

Over the next three hours she tried to stay awake. But it wasn’t clear what the weather last week had to do with the neighbors. And what was this about the county commissioners. She listened with the polite yeses and nos until he stopped crying. Now she was late for the party.

“Have you called New York,” she tried to push him off on their other sister. The ram of the family.

But just listening was calming to Charles. He was breathing normal. He could form his words without sounding like a drunk. And it was time for Jane to let him go. It was late where he was and she was late.

“I have a party to go to Charles,” Jane inserted into the discussion. “One of the princes are going to be there.”

“You always understand me Jane,” Charles emoted. “Thank you for listening.”

But she hadn’t listened, and now she felt bad. She explained to her brother neither of the princes of England could help him. Then wished him a goodnight’s rest.

Charles sat down. Put the phone down on the cradle. It was nearly dead now. And he was exhausted. It wasn’t like him to spend hours on the phone. However, he felt like his very life was in danger. They’ll get dust on my cattle, he thought to himself. Walking into the kitchen for a glass of water.

Jane rushed to the party which was just starting.

“Am I late dears,” she asked strolling through the door. She imagined it to be fashionable late.

“Late,” a friend replied. “You are like a whole group of friends in one person. We could never really start the party without you.”

Dust on My Cattle: An Involuntary treatise on Government (Chapter I)

It was an office of a powerful woman. At the top of the tallest building in town. She stared out the window. The people below her lived in her shadow. The king and the king maker. Her whole live she had wanted this one moment. Victory.
Grown men were known to huddle in fear.

When she started to read in Kindergarten. There was a drive in her soul deeper than anything else. This drive pushed her through the years like jet fuel. A pumping sensation in her heart. Her brother was two years older. Even at a young age though she felt protective of him.

Now she had the power to protect anyone. Or destroy anyone. With a snap of her fingers. And she was only 25 years old. Single and full of ambition. She’d never met a man who could handle her. The thrill lasted for an hour. The sex lasted less than a minute. The next morning came empty and alone. Morning after morning through the college years. And now she just gave up.

In school she was called The Ram. As single in focus as a bullet. And hard headed like a hammer. It was a fire inside which made her alive. It was a fire which burned all in its path. The fire was sometimes of lust. And maybe someday it would be a fire of romance. But the only love she had now was her brother.

Five years ago their parents had died. If there was a moment when she felt lost. It was alone in the moment she got the news. But soon it was a shared moment. As one by one the news spread. Like a mold. And one by one they came to her. But as much as they came to support her. They knew and she knew they needed her. Much more than she needed them. She was the child who slept all night as a baby. But she didn’t sleep for nights after she got the news.

And he brother was a wreck. He still lived in the family home. It was now his home. While she could live there, it was too full of the family. And she wasn’t in the family. Her brother broke when told of the deaths. He fell into so many pieces she wondered if he would ever be whole again. It took him three years to be able to live without the nurse.

But today the sky was full of sunshine. Looking down at the city she was happy. It lay around her office like a set of toys. And today was the biggest day of her career. It was the case which would put her in the history books. Sitting at her desk. With a glass of cherry juice in hand, she relaxed. It had taken almost a year.

The case isn’t a part of our story. But I want to share the details anyways. The case was against the biggest bank in town. It was run by the mayor’s brother. His name was Leo, and he had cheated his investors, attempted murder and bribed a city councilmember. Her role was representing over 500,000 investors. This was the biggest case of the year. The biggest case in the state. And brought her not just fame but a slate of new friends. And today is was over. As the phone rang she imagined herself on Necker Island.

“Salut,” she answered hitting the speaker phone button. It was her brother.

“Good job on your case,” he said. “I wanted to call and let you know mom and dad would be proud.”

But she didn’t really care about mom and dad. They grew up in a farm house. A small dusty farm house and they would have been proud of many things. This was a success they couldn’t understand. She had taken on this case alone. Many men had feared to handle it.

“Thank you dear Charles,” she spoke. Most people called him Charlie. But she loved to call him Charles. Most people also didn’t take him seriously. He was an artist and working on his first book of poetry. Alone on the family farm back in Montana.

She had another sister who was touring in Europe. A singer, musician and like Charles a poet. At times it seemed odd how the three of them were so different. Her brother was known as the bull. And while it was partly an unkind jab at his weight. It fit his loyal and strong personality. Their sister was like two people in one. With a love of fashion and art. People called her the third Olsen twin.

“I’d like to come visit you,” Charles stated.

“I’d really love to see you,” she started, “sorry I have to go the governor is on the other line.”

With the phone still in one hand. Charles stood alone on his ranch. The couch hit sat on was his mother’s. And the chair where his father sat. Still sat unmoved all these years. Outside the window he watched the rain roll into the small valley. He didn’t drive. But he couldn’t come to sell their car. Raindrops one by one washed dust from the windows. He looked down at the phone. He loved his sister. But wished she hadn’t moved so far away.

He picked up a sandwich with his other hand. Deep in thought about up coming events he still had the phone. His sister would know how to solve the problem. She had always known how to solve the problem. And this one would be no different. But he had to talk to her in person. So first he must try and gather himself. Get together enough focus to buy a plane ticket. Then take a nap.