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       Shorty, p.1

           J. D. German
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  A Seemly Sex Story



  This story, like all Seemly Sex Stories, is pure fiction, an imaginary concoction of the seemly but mischievous mind of BobbyB. Any resemblance to any actual person or situation is completely coincidental.

  Copyright 2017 seemlybobbyb


  Back in the 1940's everyone in the valley knew Shorty. He was the son and only relative of Old Jake. Jake had herded sheep for the Stoddard's Two‑Lazy‑S as far back as anyone could remember. Of course it wasn't polite to mention their sheep operation to any of the Stoddards, nor to any of their ranch hands. After all, the Two‑Lazy‑S was the biggest cattle operation in the valley. Hell, in the forties it was one of the biggest in the state. But the West's old anti-sheep prejudice runs deep, and nobody associated with the ranch liked to admit that a goodly portion of its annual income back then came from the little woolies. In fact, more than a few times in the spread's almost one hundred year history the sheep operation had kept the cattle one from going under. But sure as hell, no Stoddard or Stoddard ranch hand was about to let this fact be bandied about. If you mentioned their sheep to a Stoddard you could be sure he'd snub you the next time you saw him. And if you mentioned it to one of their ranch hands you'd be asking for a fight, a fight you'd damn well get if the hand happened to have a bit of liquor in him. The Stoddard sheep operation was one of those open secrets every community small enough for everyone to know each other always has. Everyone in the valley knew the Stoddards ran sheep, exactly the way everyone knew the minister slept with the Sunday school teacher every time his wife was away visiting family. But nobody was crude enough to ever mention either fact to the parties involved.

  In his younger days Jake would take an annual vacation. He'd draw his year's salary and buy a roundtrip ticket to the sin-laden big city. The first thing he'd do when he got there was to buy whatever clothes he needed for the next year and stash them in a locker at the depot. Since his home was a Stoddard herder's wagon, and since the Stoddards provided all his food, Jake had no need for any of the rest of his salary. So he'd spend every last remaining penny on liquor and whores. These ladies always took a charitable delight in seeing to it that Jake, sauced to the gills with his return ticket pinned to his shirt and his stash of new clothes strapped on his back, was deposited on the train to the valley when his money ran out.

  But in 1931 when Jake was in his late fifties he decided it was time to mend his wild youthful ways. And when he came back from the city that time he was sober and accompanied by a woman. Nobody in the valley got to know her because Jake took her right out to the hills to his herder's wagon.

  From time to time a rider out looking for strays would by happenstance come upon the location where Jake was grazing the Stoddard flock. Just to be neighborly these men would stop in to share the latest gossip and to accept a helping of Jake's rabbit stew. The stew was widely regarded as the best eating in the valley, and sometimes these riders had had to wander over the hills for a day or more before they just 'accidentally' happened on Jake's camp. Everyone always wanted to know the secret of Jake's wonderful stew, but he was too kindhearted to share it. The secret was that Jake's rabbit stew was made with lamb, something any of the valley's cattlemen and ranch hands would have been scandalized to be told, even though they couldn't help but have been aware of the fact had they dared to let the obvious creep into their minds.

  At any rate, these occasional visitors met Jake's companion and learned she was a quiet woman of ordinary appearance who seemed to be about forty. Jake never told anyone whether she was his legal wife, and though it was a matter of great concern throughout the whole valley, even the dumbest cowboy had more than enough sense, and wariness about getting his ass kicked, not to ask. But the valley gossip was particularly concerned about her condition, for Jake's lady was pregnant. Old Jake, rapidly approaching retirement age, was nevertheless on his way to starting a family. But her time came in the midst of a blizzard, and though Jake had had vast experience birthing lambs, he was unable to stem her post-delivery bleeding. The blizzard prevented him from getting help, and Jake lost his lady. But her baby boy survived.

  As soon as the Stoddards learned what had happened they tried to help. They offered to bury Jake's lady in the cemetery in town and offered to find an adoption for the baby. But Jake would have none of it. He buried his lady at a secret location in the mountains where he had spent his life herding sheep. When some folks mentioned that they'd heard it was illegal to bury a human outside an established cemetery, Jake told them he'd blow the brains out of any son-of-a-bitch who ever touched his lady's grave. Since there clearly wasn't an ounce of bravado in the old herder's claim, and also clear that he was much more to be feared than the law, the topic was never mentioned again. Jake further vowed to raise his son himself. And he did.

  Jake named the baby Jacob junior, but called him Shorty because the boy was, like every other kid, short. But the name stuck because Shorty grew into it, or rather, he never grew tall, so it remained appropriate. Shorty was always several inches shorter than his age mates, though he didn't have any age mates, growing up in the hills with only his dad, their dogs and horses, and the Stoddards' sheep. But though he was short, in no way was Shorty little. He was built like a battle tank and stronger than a horse. In this he resembled his father, but as one waggish cowboy always said, Shorty overdid it. Everyone in the valley joked that if Shorty's horse ever came up lame it would be no problem for him. He could just dismount and carry the animal back to camp.


  Shorty changed Old Jake's life completely. The old herder never again took a vacation, and as far as anyone in the valley knew, he never took another drink. Instead of blowing all the money he made, Jake now had the Stoddards deposit every penny of it in the Valley Bank in an account in his and his son's names. The Stoddards were delighted with the new arrangement for it freed them of the major difficulty of finding a temporary replacement herder once a year. Over the years they had lost several good ranch hands when they had tried to press them into temporary sheep herding while Jake was on vacation. In gratitude for this and for their reduced expenses they took to putting a little annual bonus into the herder & son bank account. They also came to look on Shorty like a member of their extended family, and they happily kept him in clothes and in reading and other schooling materials.

  The latter was of particular importance because it would have been impossible for any school bus to find Jake's camp and bring the boy to town every school day. Particularly so because there were only rutted wagon trails out where Jake herded the sheep, and traveling them every weekday would soon have shaken the Valley School Board's old 1929 school bus apart. Nevertheless, the board was legally responsible for educating every child in the valley, and once a board member suggested they fulfill their obligation to Shorty by putting him up in town, maybe with the minister's family. When the sheriff heard of this he let it be known that it was a damn fool idea he didn't intend to have any part of. No matter what the law said or the school board wanted, by God he wasn't about to take a slug from Jake's thirty-thirty while trying to take the old herder's boy from him. Upon mature consideration the board decided the sheriff had a point, and the topic of boarding Shorty in town was quietly allowed to die. Instead the board of education left enough big cracks in their procedures and policies for him to fall through, and all the education Shorty ever got he got from Jake and from the books and materials provided by the Stoddards.

  When Shorty turned fourteen Jake gave him a coming-of-age present. Such a gift was customary in the valley, and the customary young man gift was a hunting rifle. But this wasn't suitable because, born and raised in the valley though
he was, Shorty had a most un-valley-like quirk. He never killed anything. He didn't hunt, and he refused to take part when animals were slaughtered. He wouldn't even shoot coyotes. Instead he tried to drive them away by throwing rocks at them. As Jake repeatedly told him, rock throwing didn't work worth a damn. But effectiveness didn't matter to Shorty. He wouldn't even kill a thieving coyote.

  Shorty would eat meat, he just wouldn't kill anything to get it. When the senior Stoddard once teased him about the inconsistency Shorty pointed out that Stoddard, like almost every other valley resident, always loudly damned the government for having too small an army and for not using it freely enough to keep little two-bit piss-ant countries in line. Yet Stoddard also insisted that every tax was immoral and should be resisted to the point of revolution, if necessary. It was just as inconsistent to stump for a big army but resist the taxes to pay for it, Shorty argued, as it was to eat meat but refuse to slaughter. The elder Stoddard decided they'd been giving Shorty too damn many books to read.

  At any rate, instead of a rifle
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