In the previous episode, Max got upset with his father, Zane, for kissing Tala. In his anger, Max made a comment about his mother that cut too deep for Zane and readers voted that he, for the first time, hit his son.
POW! He did it. Zane couldn’t believe it but he did it. He had slapped his son right across the face. He regretted it the second he did it… maybe even before, but he was so angry – what’s done is done.
Zane kept a stern exterior and a cold, hard face even though his heart cracked. Things had been awkward between him and his son for at least two years and this was certainly not going to help. But the very notion that he didn’t still love his wife, the idea that he’d forgotten about the anniversary of her death, the ridiculous thought that he was in any way replacing her with another was maddening. How dare Max say that?
But what truly unnerved Zane was the impossible belief that it might, on some level, be true. He would never forget his wife. He would always honor her memory, but… it had been two years. Had he “moved on,” as the hippie psychologists would’ve said? Zane didn’t even want to go there.
That was it – end of day for both Zane and Max. Max refused to ride back to the ranch with his dad, but did agree to dress back in his normal, non-cowboy clothes. Tala came for Max to take him home. She had been briefed about the crush he had on her, his plan to ride bronc to “win her affection,” and the slap. She loved these men and hated to think that she was coming between them – she wanted to fix it.
“You want to talk?” she asked. “I know Zane feels terrible about what he did.”
“Now you’re on his side,” Max sulked.
“No! It was terrible what he did. I’m on your side but…” Tala really didn’t have anywhere to go with her thought. She just wanted to heal the situation – this is what a nurturer naturally does. Instead of trying to figure out how to finish that thought, she simply started another:
“Max. What are you doing? You’re not a cowboy. Why do you want to be in the rodeo?”
“Because, I don’t care.”
“You could get killed…”
“I DON’T CARE!” Max yelled. “Don’t you get it? Nobody cares about me. I kept rebelling but it was no use. So I tried joining in, tried to be a dumb, idiot cowboy so I can stand in front of danger and be accepted! But nobody wants that either. I never thought about it before but, after my mom…” He stopped.
“What?” Tala asked. “Please. I really want to know.”
“After she died… I had no worth.”
This broke Tala’s heart. She knew it wasn’t true, but the fact that Max felt this way was tragic. She wanted to get him home, fix him a nice supper, and try to re-build his sense of self-worth.
Meanwhile, across town, the Sheriff was reviewing the surveillance tape of the robbery from the Piggly Wiggly in Abilene. He studied it carefully, and was surprised at what he discovered.
“Oh my God…” Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.