The Hot Babysitter by Joe Aaron

THBS75x99Final Episode!

In the previous episode, Tala returned to say good-bye to Max before disappearing. As the Sheriff continues his hunt for her, Zane realized there was something he needed to do. As readers suggested, Zane needed to take Max to visit his wife’s grave.

Episode 20

Max rode with his dad in his pick-up toward town. Here we are again, Max thought, that awkward but familiar silence. Max never questioned where they were going. He was surprised when they pulled into the church parking lot. Once in the lot, Zane made his way to the edge, towards the cemetery. In all the excitement of the past couple days, Max had forgotten that today was the day, the second anniversary of his mother’s death.

Zane slipped out of the truck, Max followed. In the field leading to the cemetery, Zane picked a handful of blue-bonnets and tied them together with weeds making a simple bouquet. Max picked one flower. They then made their way to the site.

Shari Louise Goodnight. Loving Wife. Devoted Mother. Both men looked down at the grave. Eventually, Zane laid his bouquet at the base of the headstone. Max followed suit.

After some time, Zane spoke, “I never did teach you how to ride a horse,” he said flatly. “We live in West Texas, I’m a professional cowboy, and we own seven gentle mares, but I never did teach you how to ride. It never occurred to me to ask myself ‘why?’ It wasn’t until this morning that I knew.”

Something’s weird, Max thought. First of all, they’re having a real conversation. And second, his dad’s voice cracked as he spoke.

Zane pushed on, “Your momma loved you, very much. You two were about as close as I’d ever seen a boy and his momma. It was so… effortless. So natural. I didn’t like that. I know how that must sound.” Zane could not look at Max, but he felt he needed to keep talking.

“She used to call me her cowboy. She thought being a cowboy was special. That’s what I had. And I guess I just… I wanted to keep that for myself.” With that, Zane’s voice broke. He quickly wiped a tear from his cheek, but he didn’t try to hide it.

“I’m sorry, son. This whole mess was my fault, I see that now. I’ll try to do better from now on.”

Max’s body swirled with emotion. Was he happy his dad finally explained himself? Or was he sad that it had happened at all? Certainly he was sad about his mom and, don’t forget, losing Tala.

Silently, they made their way back to the pick-up. This time Max was glad there was silence. He didn’t know how to feel so what could either of them possibly say? Maybe men are just quieter, Max thought. Now, with Zane finally able to open up, even a little, what will their future look like?

* * *

That evening, the West Texas State University Orchestra was playing Mozart’s Symphony Number 25 in G Minor. Zane was out back, admiring the big orange sky lit up by the setting sun. Max walked past.

“Max,” Zane called out, “I got an idea.”

Later Zane and Max rode horses bareback across the field toward the concert. It was Max’s first time riding and he loved it. The men took it slow as they made their way across the field. It would be a night of riding and music.

Meanwhile, somewhere in New Mexico a beautiful Native American woman rides in the back of a flatbed truck, going… wherever the day takes her. 

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