I don’t know where to begin.
Years ago when Brad bought the ranch it included a few hundred acres and a modest home. Over the years he had added acreage when he could and he was now the owner of a sizable horse ranch. He had also remodeled and added on to the house. He wanted it to be fitting of the beautiful land that surrounded it. He had worked hard over the years, and he was proud of what he had accomplished and accumulated.
Except for a housekeeper and cook, Brad had lived alone all those years. It was only recently he had decided he wanted to share his massive home and good fortune with others. Miss Bessie, Grandma Helen, Steve, Dina and Katie had all come to make there home at Humboldt Ranch.
They all shared two beautiful dogs named Arf and Annie. They had become the glue that held the family together.
Now there was a young man who had come to make his home with them. No one ever asked him what his name was, but they all called him Clark.
The next morning when Brad walked into the kitchen to get his morning coffee, Clark was already there. Miss Bessie and Grandma Helen were both fussing over him and he didn’t seem to mind a bit.
“I’ll just pour myself a cup of coffee,” Brad said. “What’s that your cooking for breakfast, ladies? It sure smells good.”
It was obvious that neither of them heard him. They were too busy carrying plates of bacon, eggs, hotcakes, and fried potatoes to the table. They placed them all in front of Clark. Grandma Helen took hot cinnamon rolls from the oven and Miss Bessie poured a big glass of orange juice for the honored guest.
“Clark, did you sleep well last night?” Miss Bessie asked. Those rooms can get so drafty and I wasn’t sure if I had given you enough blankets.
“No Mam, I mean yes mam, I slept like a man with no worries.”
Brad got up and put some bread in the toaster. “Clark, have you ever ridden a horse?”
“Well Sir, I’ve never had the need to ride a horse, but if I had the need, I’m sure I could figure it out. I’m real good at figuring things out, and animals of all kinds like me.”
Arf who was lying in his usual spot in front of the door, had a different opinion. Animals he doesn’t kidnap after stealing the truck they’re riding in might like him. Annie said she was going to give Clark a chance. I guess I will too. I wonder if he likes to throw frisbees to dogs.
“Well son, when you’re finished eating us out of house and home, I’ll take you on a tour of the ranch. Then I’ll show you how to clean out a horse stall.”
That evening when Clark and Brad walked into the house, both Miss Bessie and Grandma Helen gasped. One ran to Clark and the other ran to get the first aid kit.
“Oh dear, what happened?” Grandma Helen was beside herself.
“Clark decided to go straight from horseback riding novice to rodeo king. He had an unfortunate fall before he even had a chance to clean out his first stall.”
“You’ve been gone for hours,” Grandma Helen said. “Why didn’t you bring this poor thing straight back home so we could dress his wounds properly?”
“I said he had his accident before he had a chance to clean out his first stall. I didn’t tell you he insisted he do the work, so I let him clean out a few before we headed back. You did a real good job, too Clark.”
Clark grinned from ear to ear and his ears are pretty far apart.
“Where is everybody?” Brad asked. “It’s close to supper time. I figured everyone would be home.”
“Dina had a doctor’s appointment in town and she took Katie with her. Steve’s still at work, I guess. Mark is still out of town and Jamie, of course, doesn’t live here, but she did take me to the General Store today while she worked at the vet clinic. I thought she was unusually quiet all the way home. I hope she feels okay. She’s probably just tired.”
Brad quit listening to Miss B. after the first or second sentence, but when she said Jamie was unusually quiet all the way home, he became concerned.
“Go ahead and eat without me. I’m going to my study and give Jamie a call.”
Annie: Hey Arf…lets go sit by the window in Brad’s study and watch the squirrels.
Arf: Yeah…I think we need to listen in on that conversation. I thought Jamie acted funny yesterday, too. She’s just not herself.
Brad tried twice to reach Jamie, but there was no answer.
“Come on Arf and Annie. Let’s drive over to Jamie’s and make sure everything is okay.”
When they arrived at the farm that Jamie had purchased from Miss Bessie, Jamie was packing a suitcase.
“You haven’t said anything about going anywhere,” Brad said. “Is everything okay? Are you okay?”
“No and No. I got a call yesterday from my father. Mother has had a stroke and has lost the use of her left side. She also has trouble communicating. Dad is not handling it well. I was able to get a flight out tomorrow morning. Beyond that, I have no idea what the future holds.”
“What about your internship? You’re so close to completing it.” Brad knew as soon as he said it that Jamie wasn’t so selfish as to think about herself.
“It doesn’t matter, Brad. I talked to Dr. Floyd today and he said he’ll do whatever he has to in order to make things easier for me.”
“I’m really glad you came here tonight, Brad.” Jamie motioned for him to sit down. “I need to ask you if you could find someone to take care of the farm until I decide what to do with it. This was all so sudden I didn’t have time to think about everything.”
“Of course,” Brad assured her. “Between Mark and I, we can take care of everything that needs taken care of. Please don’t rush into making any life changing decisions until you’ve had a chance to see what is needed. What time does your flight leave? I want to take you to the airport. It’s important to me that I see you off.”
That night. Clark unpacked the box he had brought with him from home. It had a few clothes in it and some things that were important to him. At the very bottom of the box was his most prized possession. He smiled as he carefully unwrapped it. It had made the trip without incurring any damage. He would have to find a special place to keep it.
Arf and Annie sensed that things were going to be changing at Humboldt ranch. There were so many people to watch over, and now Brad’s future was up in the air.