The man of the ranch
Chuck Taylor sighed and pushed up his Stetson and wiped the sweat from his brow. The mid-day sun was beaming down on him and his brother as they repaired the fence. Seth was bent down flattening the mud around the post when it cracked him on the head.
“Ow! What the! Hey, Chuck, what you up to you’re supposed to be holding the post straight now quit shirking off and hold the wire straight for me while I measure it”.
“Uh Seth you reckon we could go up to the house for a drink?”
“Not yet! Gotta get this fence finished”, said Seth sternly.
“But it’s just so darn hot!”
“I know! But I reckon mom will be calling us for lunch soon anyways! So, I wanna get this done, Said Seth. “Now just quit shirking an’ help me!”
Chuck sighed and began to help his brother build the fence again. Seth was always doing something on the ranch. Despite being only 22 he had taken on the running of the ranch when their father had died suddenly. Seth had only been 19 then. He was just like his father always working mum said, he had learnt everything from him so that one day he would take over they just hadn’t anticipated on it being so soon! But Seth knew the ranch like he back of his hand he was so good with all the figures too! It was just as well really because Mary-Ellen would never be able to keep up the ranch without him.
So just a year after graduating high school, Seth Taylor found himself taking on a huge responsibility he had a ranch to run and had to be the man of house. Mary-Ellen had to admit he had taken to the role as if he had been doing it all his life. He was good at keeping everyone in check. He managed to get everyone to help too!
17-year-old Trent had dropped out of school 6 Months ago and helped on the ranch, full time, 14-year-old Chuck, 12-year-old Caleb and 10-year-old Myles helped out when they were not at school he could even get 7-year-old twins Carley and Kayleigh to do chores at weekends and school holidays. Sometimes Mary-Ellen worried about him, he was always working so much just like his father had. She missed Joe so much. Everyone was shocked to hear he had died of a heart attack so young but he had been pushing himself too hard; now she was afraid Seth was falling into the same trap but someone has to keep the ranch working like clockwork she just worried when so much responsibility had to fall on Seth’s shoulders when he was only 22!
Just as they were beginning to get somewhere with the fence they heard the sound of an engine coming up the drive. Seth cursed under his breath when he saw it was Jack Ryder.
“What do you suppose he wants?” asked Chuck.
“I don’t know but I’ll bet he just ain’t here to help out!” said Seth.
“What do you mean?” Chuck asked.
“Oh, Work it out Chuck!”
Chuck looked at Seth with a confused look on his face.
“I don’t get what you mean Seth!”
“C’mon Chuck he’s up here nearly every day always finding an excuse to pop up and have a coffee with mom and asks if we need help with anythin’!”
“You mean he’s trying to get with mom?” asked Chuck.
“well done Chuck you hit the nail right on the head!”
“Whoa! Do you reckon mom likes him too an’ do you reckon they’ll get together?” Asked Chuck.
The glare Seth gave him, made him shiver.
“Not if I’ve got anything to with it!” he replied curtly.
“Why what’s up with them getting together don’t you reckon it’d be good for mom!”
Chuck could tell his brother wasn’t too pleased by the look on his face.
“Don’t you reckon it’s a good idea Seth?”
“He was dad’s best mate!”
“Yeah I know! But I don’t reckon that matters! But what I do as reckon is that it might be an advantage least they’ll know each other!”
“Yeah whatever!” growled Seth.
“He’s been gone three years! Said Chuck. “Don’t you reckon it’d be good for mom?”
“Just drop it Chuck! It just ain’t that simple” Seth snapped.
Chuck looked at Seth curiously why did he hate Jack Ryder so much? Seth pushed up his Stetson and breathed an apologetic sigh.
“Sorry Chuck didn’ mean to snap at you it’s just Jack Ryder, oh never mind let’s just get this fence sorted,”
Jack Ryder stopped the truck alongside the fence. Chuck and Seth were working on.
That’s when they realised Jack was not alone for 10-year-old Myles was in the truck with him.
“I picked up a stray along the road” said Jack.
“Myles where you been?” Seth asked.
“I just went down to play with my friend Cody mom said I could an’ Mr. Ryder insisted on driving me back up coulda’ done it myself”
“Yeah I’ll bet you could!” Replied Seth looking to Chuck with a smirk.
“Can I help?” Myles asked.
Seth smiled at his youngest brother, sometimes it was good to have him help but others he just got in the way. Seth rubbed his knuckle against Myles’ cheek.
“That’s okay we got it covered, better get on up to the house then buddy and tell mom your back okay!”
“Okay” replied Myles giving Seth a hug.
Miles ran up to the house.
“So how you boys getting along today? Jack asked in his usual drawl.
“Y’all need a hand with that fence?”
“No thanks we’re gettin’ along jus’ fine by ourselves!” replied Seth curtly.
“Well so long as y’all got things under control guess I’ll jus’ drive on up to the house see how your mom’s getting along while I’m here!” replied Jack cheerfully.
He didn’t seem fazed by Seth’s curt attitude but Chuck could tell Seth was seething.
But he thought it best to leave him alone! And they both got stuck into finishing the fence! Although things weren’t as good as they had been and the atmosphere could have cut with a knife all thanks to Mr. Ryder! Just as they thought they were getting somewhere, they heard the sound of another engine roaring up the drive, they looked up and saw the sheriff’s blazer coming up the drive.
“Now what! Asked Chuck. “He ain’t after mom, too is he?”
“Don’t be a dumb ass Chuck! Said Seth.
“He’s old enough to be her grandfather almost, reckon it’ll be more like official business than a social call if you ask me! Most likely our Trent’s been up to no good is more like it I reckon!”
The Sheriff waved to them and headed straight up to the house.
Five minutes later Mary-Ellen was yelling on Seth to see if he knew where Trent was? Seth looked at Chuck as if to say I told you so!
“Didn’t I tell you?” said Seth matter of factly.
Seth and Chuck downed tools and headed up to the house.
“So, what gives?” asked Seth.
“Your brother’s been up to no good again creating havoc with those so-called friends of his,” replied Mary-Ellen.
Chuck rolled his eyes.
“So, what else is new” he asked.
Seth had a serious look on his face, one she remembered Joe always having when he was about to reprimand one of the kids. Mary-Ellen breathed a sorrowful sigh, he looked so much like Joe! He was as tall as his father. He had been over 6ft and with a husky well-tanned build and his strawberry blonde hair was the perfect carbon copy of Owen Wilson’s (the actor) messy but in a good way!
“What’s he done this time?” Seth asked.
“He was up in the playing field near the park racing cars and they’ve dug up most of the football field and knocked down some fencing along the perimeter and I don’t doubt that the consumption of alcohol played a part in it. There were several beer bottles laying around the scene “replied the sheriff.
“I’ll kill him! Seth growled clenching his fists tightly. “He’s up with Caleb feeding the cattle, least he’d better be! But knowing our Trent he’s most likely shirking off some where’s!”
“Go fetch him will you love and Caleb too and tell your sisters to come down too they’re up at the treehouse ” replied Mary-Ellen.
Seth left and went in search of his brother.
“That boy gets to be more like his pa everyday Mary-Ell’ ” replied the Sheriff.
“I know that’s what worries me, he’s too much like him in looks and temperament” replied Mary-Ellen.