BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE

ITSAWASH

The Way of Jayne, Part 5
Monday, January 2, 2006

Not NC17 yet, but slowly, surely will be. I owe Piffle a huge debt of gratitude for being beta on the angsty Jayne and his twin, Timmie, part. Piffster, you're the best! Also my sweet engineangel in the chatroom who is my walking, talking, typing billboard o' Fame. :0) Feed me back, readers. You don't even need to leave your name, just hit the button and type. I'm in need of your words and you've never let me down.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2241    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

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The Way of Jayne, Part 5

After breakfast Wood and his new employee went to work. Jayne was a quick study, taking to the care and use of branding irons like he’d been born to working cattle instead of farming. He learned from Wood the right amount of time to heat the brand, turning it in the scalding wood coals to get it uniformly red hot. He showed a natural talent for dealing well with animals, talking softly to one and all, leading each smoothly into the head restraint device, locking it down, applying the hiss and burn of branding perfectly atop the original marking. Before nightfall, half of the adult cattle had been permanently marked to show they belonged to Wood Harbinger by way of his weird cross/double-cross brand.

“Wood? What kinda mark is this? I think I saw it in Luck’s?,” asked the man’s assistant. Pleased with Jayne’s progress and in the mood to speak rather than ignore him as a result, he replied, “Inga called it a Swastika cross. An old, old symbol from Earth That Was days, stood for representin’ a Alliance group ‘at called itself the Third Rye.” He spit on the ground and farted mightily, the only way he seemed to ever do it.

“Alliance was busy on Earth That Was all that time ago?,” Jayne persisted, fascinated.

“Hell, Bob, I don’t know much about history, no kinda history but my own,” he evinced, wiping his mouth with the back of a none-to-clean hand. “Inga told me ‘bout the cross and where it come from, pointed it out on that eagle thang I sold at the gen’ral store ta get supplies for today’s work. Gave me a lil history lesson when she gave me the eagle to hold, she was so proud of it. Said the Third Rye was a…aw, hell,” he stopped and scratched his head as if that would bring the words forward.

“…was a kingship Alliance, like a powerful country owned by a king. Said that it all went bad, the king went crazy or somethin’. Killed a lot of people penned up in prison camps, him and his boys done it real ugly-like,” his furrowed brow furrowed even more.

“Inga seemed ta like the eagle and cross thing so much, mebbe ‘cause of her family being descended from the king’s line. That’s what she claimed, anyways. She said her brother, what was his name?…Nick something, was gonna bring the Third Rye back, once he got power and coin enough.”

The man looked oddly thoughtful, scratching his crotch as he went on, “She was yellin’ somethin’ at me about her brother, tellin’ me he’s worse than Itler, said he were gonna tear me apart, kill me slow-like, but that were just fear babblin’ outta her just before she bled out…,”

He came back to the present in a hurry, looked anxiously at Jayne and finished the sentence with an added flush to his already reddened face, “FLED outta the house ta go see her dear sister. Was a’hollerin fit to be tied, she was, telling me I’d be a dead man if’n I messed up her house whilst she were gone,” he chuckled, going for as much sincerity in his voice as possible after the near murder confession he almost gave. ~~~

The next few days went by in a blur for Jayne, the new cattle baron’s aide. Cooking in the morning, working hard all day long, cooking the evening meal, then sleeping like a stone, exhausted by day’s end. Wood was a harsh task-master, but Jayne needed the coin he paid him, needed it to keep his family fed. And he needed the work just for himself, it made him feel satisfied to be so busy, to be needed, accomplishing so much in a short time.

For three days the man and almost-man dealt with the myriad chores intrinsic to illegal bovine and equine liberation. Hay needed to be harvested or bought outright, newly birthed calves needed tending, freshly stolen cattle and horses needed rounding up, feeding, re-branding and currying before sale. Jayne luxuriated in the hiss and burn of cowflesh as the branding iron’s intricate double cross red hot glow cut, then burniated a whole new design over the old original ownership sigul.

Jayne’s third day on the job was his favorite owing to it being his first day as a real gorram cattle rustler's apprentice. Wood never said much of anything about a plan for the criminal activity, but Jayne followed his lead and watched him closely as the business of readying for cattle-rustling revealed itself in Wood’s silent preparations. With so little verbal instruction, he learned to copy the boss in everything. What Wood packed in his saddle’s pouch, so did Jayne, as long as duplicate supplies were takeable.

That day they rode hard into night, Jayne on Wood’s second-best stolen stallion. They packed hardtack and decent biscuits made by Jayne as taught by his ma, although his were a trifle harder to the bite than hers ever were. The pair made good time on the trail, stopping only long enough to pee, eating out of their saddlebags when the need struck them.

After seeing little on the ride but some hybrid hound-coyotes and a mutant prairie chicken or four, the lights of the windows of a large-ish ranch showed up ahead. Wood grunted in satisfaction as he tied a large kerchief over his mouth and nose, tossed one to Jayne who did the same, the two hiding their faces like desperados of yore. The next thing he tossed Jayne scared him some, took his heart into his mouth. First time the manchild had held one of those.

“Time for you to get to know your shootin’ iron, Bob. Don’t use it lessn’ you have to. If we do this right, nobody’ll ever know we was here till they get up the next mornin’ and then only if they count the heads in the herd. So no shooting, dong ma?”

(Bob) Jayne fumbled open the old weapon’s cylinder, spun it to see it was full of bullets, flicked it closed. Tucked it into the waistband of his dungarees.

No sentries were posted at the corral or anywhere else. This far in the outback with the nearest town a hard day’s ride away there wouldn’t seem to be any need for guards.

Jayne was clumsy at riding herd, skilled enough at making tight turns in the saddle but uncertain as to what maneuvers Wood needed out of him during actual cattle thieving, where to go, which cows to take and which to leave. The unspoken agreement was that he more or less follow the man’s lead, riding as back-up to round up the beef Wood chose, learning what made good marks as he went.

Seemed to be a small mixture of cows, calves and steers were on Wood’s shopping list tonight, not a powerful number of them, maybe a dozen in all cut from the rest of the herd, selection cemented by his slapping each animal sharply on the rump with a long leather strap, horse and rider shepherding them by pummeling and nudging them toward Jayne’s station by the fence.

The night was bright, moon heavy and full and high up giving them what sight they needed to make the task easier. As Wood did most of the work, Jayne found extra time to enjoy the small sounds of the whole operation; the crisp whap of the strap’s strike on the living leather of cow flanks, the muffled shuffling clatter of hooves on packed dirt, the low almost-mooing rumble of Wood’s voice as he cursed the animals, urging them on toward Jayne’s rounding them up, toward new ownership. Strangely, the cows made no sounds themselves, half-asleep and lazy, owing maybe to the lateness of the hour Wood had chosen to go shopping.

Jayne counted off the cattle as he gathered those cut from the herd. A bakers’ dozen of thirteen, cows, steers and yearlings, all healthy-looking and sturdy. He opened the corral gate and rode along the string of bovines as Wood did the same along the other length of them, and covered the rear somehow all at once. Jayne kept as close a watch on Wood’s methods as possible while he did his own job silently and fairly effectively, for a greenhorn.

The ride back to Inga’s place after having rustled Jayne’s first cattle seemed shorter than the trip out. Might have been they moved faster due to the urge to get a move on in the unlikely case their thieving got noticed of a sudden. If that was the case, their fears were unwarranted since what they’d done wouldn’t actually be discovered for days owing to the small number of hooved booty they’d liberated and the sizeable crowd of the same species they’d come out of.

Judicious care planning the before, during and afterwards of cow-liberating was how Wood had remained free thus far. Keeping greediness stifled, taking only a little off the top was how Wood became a master at it. Getting good and quick at working his own branding had its uses too.

He’d used the same M.O. in other towns on other planets with like success. This was the first time he’d resorted to murder, however. Didn’t want to kill anybody even this time, but the crazy old chou san ba had driven him to it, goin’ all cow-eyed and moonin’ over him one minute and trying to scratch his eyes out the next in the name of her long-dead mad ancestor, Itler next time he turned around. He was only putting some relics of hers in a bag for re-sale when she went at him. Hell, she owed him the trinkets anyhow for all the attention he'd paid her, the hand-kissing and hair-stroking he'd done while nearly gagging on his own tongue. Too bad the biddy had to take unction to parting with a few gewgaws.

The neighbor woman had to get dead because she had been gettin’ too nosey about Inga’s welfare. Anybody in Wood’s shoes woulda hadta do the same. Them two da shabi could rest happier anyhow, one right next t’other under the barn, keeping an eye on each other proper for eternity. He hawked and gave water to the ground in their dubious memory.

Back at Inga’s place, they were bone-tired and sore from the night’s good endeavors, but still had to take the precaution of getting the small herd to join the 300 in the secret cavern. Jayne dismounted and pulled the thorny bracken-blind away from the doorway, took the leather strap Wood proferred, and smacked brown and white spotted rumps with gusto as the critters filed through the stone hallway one or two abreast.

He waved Wood on into the house, saying, “I’ll get the hay-feedin’ done.” Afterwards Jayne followed Wood to the house, passing out in the spare bedroom for a coma-like rest.

The next day was spent riding again, but this time they rode with cattle plodding along with them on the way out, rather than two horsemen riding out to come back with a herd, as happened the last time. Thirty head of beef on the hoof went along at the urging of the two men and their mounts in a northwesterly direction toward their new home at the cost of considerable coin to fatten their wallets.

The transaction went seamlessly, Wood’s connections had dealt with him before in other towns on other worlds and knew to trust him. Cattle and coin changed hands after a mere cursory exam of the newly worked branding that revealed no problems, little possibility of tracing the animals back to original owners.

The day’s work was a good one, the next buyers’ opinion of the value of the goods showed in their eyes, enabling Wood to jimmy the purchase price up a full 10% more than even he dared hope. Supply and demand mighta had something to do with it too, seeing as how a mysterious virus was running amuck in the bovine population on this rock. Odd, you might even say providential, how it hadn’t touched any cattle in Wood’s secret corral. Nor, for that matter, did it seem to affect the few he stole, although the robbed rancher’s remaining herd tended to get sick not long after Typhoid-Wood and Jayne paid a purloining visit.

Jayne didn’t know enough to question Wood’s herd’s good health. If he took the time and trouble to inspect Wood’s saddlebags prior to any rustling visits to local ranches, he’d find a corked vial of clear liquid protected in an insulated sheepskin pouch. The fluid contained a virus, virulent and contagious to cattle. The nasty concoction was Wood’s private domain courtesy of a science-minded friend of his who was a closet enemy of the predominant government, and coincidentally, an Alliance employee.

He worked on the inside, disrupting what government systems and desires he could, more than happy to settle a gambling debt he owed to Wood by keeping the thief supplied with the potion. Wood assured the man he’d see that it went toward the furtherance of Wood’s successful enterprise and the downfall of Alliance-fat ranchers. No need to indicate that ‘twere more for Wood’s pockets-lining than any other reason, seeing as how most of his victims belonged to former browncoats who’d made good.

The next day dawned bright and clear. Rising early, Jayne tended to the stock they had left, then took his leave of Wood in favor of a visit home. It was past time to share his largesse with the Cobbs back home, see about the family. He’d been gone four days now and had worried about them, for certain, had homesickness tangled up in his mind although the life he was finding out here on his own was more than diverting enough for his budding sense of worth. Truth was he felt like he’d found a second home.

He’d bought a young steer offa Wood with a very small portion of his earnings, roped it and walked it along behind the bay horse as he began the long ride home. His saddlebag contained caramel fudge candy he’d fashioned the night before on Inga’s stove with a goodly supply of sugar, cocoa, curdled milk and nuts laid up in her stores. The smiles and closed eyes in happiness on the Cobb women’s faces as their mouths filled with the treat were what he was looking forward to the most. Chocolate was a seldom but highly welcome visitor to the lives of dirt farmers’ families. Come to think of it, this would be the very first time the triplets would get a taste.

In no time at all, Jayne was near home, could see the farm from far off on this clear day. He clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth and dug his heels in to encourage the Bay to move it along, not minding that the steer had to trot in commensurate strides. All that mattered was home and seeing his mom again.

Jayne hollered a “Halloooo!”, and was glad to see ma, Timmie and Mattie boil out the front door onto the porch, each of them holding one of the younger siblings. Smiles and shouts of his name all around (nice to have the “Jayne” back in place of “Bob”, he realized) made his own face break out into a reserved, man-sized grin. He slid off the horse, dropping the reins to the ground so the bay would stay put, glanced to see him begin to crop the thin grass in the played out garden, nodding at the steer that stood head-down in fatigue. Removing the saddlebag holding his salary and the fudge, he turned toward the house.

Suddenly conscious of the new gravity, self-sufficiency he felt as a skilled wage-earner, he greeted his family with new-found deference, “Ma, I’m home,” nodding at her and the others. Jayne walked up the steps like a fully-grown man, kissed his mother on the cheek, patted Timmie and Mattie’s shoulders before striding into the house.

“Jayne? Where you been?,” two female voices asked in unison. The two eldest Cobb women were puzzled at his air of maturity, careless assurance in his walk, his talk. Not that he’d talked enough yet for them to try to parse out exactly what had changed.

“Got a job, ma, a good job, one I’m good at.” He pulled a kerchief from his bag as he spoke, spilled coins out onto the dinner table. His mother barely looked at the money, eyes locked on Jayne’s face, urging him to look at her, instead of at everything else in the room except her eyes or anybody else’s. Marie Cobb was on the verge of demanding his attention when Timmie, his twin sister beat her to it.

“Jayne Cobb! What you been up to, getting that kind of money so fast?” she asked, tugging on his arm, causing the last few coins in the bag to fall on the floor from the bag in his hand. Little Mattie rushed to pick them up, putting them back on the table after squinting at their shiny worth.

Not releasing her brother’s arm for any reason, including his gentle attempt to tug it out of her grasp, she urged him toward the settee in the living room for a talk. He let himself be led there and sat, glad of the chance to be out of the saddle, and glad, to, at being back home, for however long that was.

His mother went to the rocking chair across from where Jayne and Timmie sat, quietly expectant, more than a little worried about her son’s newfound manner complicated by too much coin on the table.

Knowing his little brother’s love for horses he said, “Mattie, my horse needs seeing to, you want to get to that?,” the second part of his words hadn’t left his mouth before the youngster dived for the door and flew down the porch to the Bay.

“Stop yer worryin’, women. It’s all over your faces, gorramnit.” The need to hear him explain himself was so great that Timmie didn’t even correct his using bad language in the house, for once.

Timmie muttered, “Jaaaaayne…” in a low growl that threatened violence if he didn’t hurry up and fess up to what he’d been doing for days.

Jayne inhaled and began the story fashioned in the half hour before he got to the house.

“Working for a newcomer, rich man that’s camping outside of town. He’s building himself a house out there, needs my help. Got himself a nice herd of cattle, taught me how to brand ‘em and head ‘em up, move ‘em out for sale. Sometimes takes a day and night to drive the cows to buyers in distant towns,” he nodded to himself, to them, examining their faces to see if they were buying the story he was selling.

“The man and his wife don’t cotton to visitors, they forbid anybody coming ‘round, been robbed a time or two, don’t trust nobody but me.”

Hope and love for him helped make the sale to his womenfolk. “Well, Honey, that’s just fine, and so grand that they trust our Jayne,” she smiled. “Ranching’s a good trade for a young man to learn, one that’ll support a family of your own some day,” his mother patted his leg in approval. “Your boss must be that happy to have you, paying you so well with you just starting out.”

Jayne changed the subject, asked after the triplets, held them one-by-one as Timmie handed them to him. Timmie made a move to draw him out to the porch for a long heart-to-heart that he figured was meant to pierce his story full of holes so he made a move to his saddlebag on the table, handing Peter (or was it Paul?) to her as he got up.

“Boss’s wife made y’all some fudge.”, he said, using his bowie knife to cut goodish sized hunks off for ma and Timmie. “Think it’s got some caramel in it,” he smiled as hands were extended for the treat. As he watched their eyes close in ecstacy at the flavor he felt good about his lie, about saying Wood’s missus had made the fudge. He thought the additional white lie as to who made the fudge, ‘Might make ma feel better about me being gone longer than a day or two if she thinks I’ve got a mother-type to watch over me.’

“Pa around,?” he asked without meeting anybody’s eyes, half-afraid the answer would be that his father had been killed in a saloon brawl.

“He…,” ma’s weary and quiet voice started to answer, but Timmie interrupted, “Pa’s useless, ain’t coming home anymore. I think he lives in the alley outside the nastiest saloon in town,” she said, disgust etched on her face and clotted in her voice.

Jayne nodded, looked at his ma and cleared his throat. “We don’t need the hundan nohow. I’ve got it covered; I’ll take care of anything this family needs,” he found himself grimacing, looking around for a place to spit, as if he were outdoors. Thinking about the old man always seemed to make him want to hock a loogie lately, as if the very passing of his sire’s existence across his mind’s eye was sick-making.

“School starts in a few weeks, Honey,” ma’s plaintive voice began, “You’ll be going back, won’t you? Ya can’t stay out of school, Jayne, ya need an education to get anywhere in the world, and I want so much for you to…”

“Ain’t important to me now, Ma. Ain’t nothing at the schoolhouse that’ll help me do any better than I’m doin’ right now,” this said as he pointed at the pile of coin winking in the gaslight on the kitchen table. “How could finishing up another year or two gimme a job that’ll pay half that much?”

Timmie and his mother began talking at once, one female voice raised in anger, the other continuing the pleading note. “Jayne Cobb, you ornery ignorant too zai zi, you’re gonna end up a dumb bunny like pa, if you don’t quit dreaming about shiny ducats and get going with the education. And you’re breaking ma’s heart here, dontcha care?”

“Jayne-baby, listen, I only want what’s best for you. We’ll make it somehow without your job, you and Timmie and Mattie can help me on the farm and we’ll make a go of it, you’ll just see we will. And I’ll take in sewing from the women in town, it’ll all be shiny, ‘long as you stay in school.” It only took the tears glistening in her big gray eyes, and her blinking fast, working the moisture’s spread so as not to spill any in weakness to cause Jayne to feel the slightest bit of guilt, the merest shred of shame at what he was really doing to earn a living. That moment was the first and last time he let somebody else’s idea of morality rule any whim of his, decided then and there to let his own sense of what was right and good decide the fate of Ma Cobb’s boy, Jayne.

He looked at Timmie standing by, her face mottled red with helpless anger at his failure to listen to her reasoning. He stared his mother down, glaring at the weakness, the futility of her stance, her stooped shoulders bent in defeat without even trying, her seeing in his look how little what they were saying to him actually spoke any kind of concept he was willing to accept.

It wasn’t that he didn’t love them, he supposed he did, knew he did. Was more a brand new realization that they were just obligations to him now, had switched from being a team he was glad to be part of. Now they were, all of them were his sole responsibility, his only goal in all he did was to keep them well-fed and breathing.

They were weak, his family, weak and helpless against starvation, against wolves at the door. He was all that stood between them and poverty, of nothingness. Did they appreciate him? Did they smother him with love and acceptance? Did they even try to understand? Nope. Here they were using their best arguments to let him know how wrong, how stupid he was for his efforts to keep six people’s bodies and spirits from separating.

He ramped his long frame up off the couch and stalked outside, kept walking till he got to where Wood’s bay horse was tied and waiting. Mattie was still out there, brushing the horse with somebody’s own personal hairbrush, heedless of horsehair mixed with human. He startled and jumped when Jayne got close enough to glare at him. His big brother jerked his chin back the way he had come. “In the house, Matt. Go have some fudge I brought ya.”

Mattie hurried away, his sweet tooth removing any momentary concern the cross look on Jayne’s face had given. He met Timmie along the way, hollered happily, “Fudge, Timmie!,” and was up the porch steps and through the door like a wild thing after juicy prey.

Timmie confronted Jayne where he stood next to the horse, his one foot in the stirrup, ready to mount up. “What in the pee goo exactly is your problem, Pal?,” Timmie stormed at him, grabbing the horse’s bridle in case he made to mount quick and bolt away. One hand on the saddle’s pommel and jerking the bridle almost free of her grip with the other, Jayne simply grunted in reply, a non-verbal approach being better than saying what was in his mind.

“Don’t talk then, you idjit. Too dumb to know what’s right in the world, flush with coin alright, but light on brains. Light on love for your family too, when it comes down to it.” He heard the catch in her voice, fastened his eyes to her face turned slightly away from him, the light from the front windows under the porch overhang limning her dimly. He cleared his throat, uncomfortable, unwilling to speak still.

“Hey.” Timmie swiped one large hand across her eyes and cleared her own throat of a lump that felt as big as her hand. Still no word from Jayne, but the horse chuffed lightly, questioning the half-mounted rider’s not quite being aboard, not quite leaving him in peaceful solitude either. But it was Jayne doing the half-boarding, so the Bay had no trouble standing semi-patiently, after all, the young man had been a friend to him.

Taking his foot out of the stirrup at last, as if sensing the Bay’s confusion, Jayne ran a hand through longish hair and faced his twin sister, mustering courage and making a hard decision with finality to speak his mind at last to the one who knew him best. She was due for learning there was a world of new to know about her twin.

“It ain’t that I don’t love you, love my family. You know better than that, dontcha?”

He went on without giving her a chance to reply in the negative, knowing it would set him off down a worse path if she spoke.

“I’m working for your benefit, ain’t I? You don’t see that I’m doing this for you and ma and the others? Hell, Timmie, I’ve got so many mouths to feed. And there ain’t no money to be made buying groceries by me sitting in a gorram schoolhouse,” he spit on the ground between his feet and wiped his mouth with the back of one hand, “You call me dumb, but I’m smart enough to know that.

“An’ if I’m so dumb, you and the others had better hope I don’t get any smarter, smart enough to start looking out after my own goddamn interests instead of caring what you need to keep bodies and souls together,” he muttered half under his breath as he glared at a spot just over her shoulder.

She looked behind her at the nothing he was looking at, turned back to face him and set her jaw hard. “Are you threatening me, Jayne? Threatening your family with leaving us to fend for ourselves? You think you’re Mayor of Cobb-ville and we require your auspices to survive?” She stepped closer to him, almost in his face, her next words gave him a light spray of spit along with a goodish-sized piece of her mind.

“And you don’t think we have the right to care what you’re doing to get the money you flung at us tonight, right? We’re nothing but a liability to you, you’d be ever so much happier being footloose and fancy free ‘thout having to support a family you never chose to have, neh?

Well I say you just give us a chance. Walk away, Jayne and you’ll see how well we manage. We’ll be just fine, can take care of ourselves. If you want to get out, then get out,” she flung the words at him like pieces of the rocky unfertile soil they both stood on.

Her words were fecund if the dirt was not, they took root in his already fallow heart, circulated with his pounding pulse to lodge right in the center of his brain, growing tall and mutated into the reply he drove at her like a razor sharp scythe reaping a harvest of pain.

“Yeah, well…”, he took a split second to consider not letting fly with the venom but gave a mental ‘screw it’ and launched, “Family is a liability to a man. Nothing but trouble, nothing but obligation and with you, with you and ma, it’s not only trouble, it’s like carrying around a ruttin’ debt that can’t be paid off.

“You’re weak, Timmie, you’re all weak. Can’t do nothin’ for yourselves.

I’m strong enough to do for you, but for how long? How ruttin’ long till you make me weak as water too, dragging me down, sucking life outta me,” he swung up onto the horse, yanked the reins to the right, to head out.

“I’ll leave money for you in an account at Luck’s. Get what you need, there’ll always be plenty as long as I have a job,” he called back over his shoulder. Turned the horse to the side and slowed to say, “Get you and ma a new dress, Timmie. I want to see you in new dresses when I come back to say hello sometime.” And he was gone, heels dug into the Bay’s sides, galloping hard away from weakness, toward the new strength, to the shiny self-reliance that was all he craved now.

~~~

A month later, Jayne and Harbinger had piled themselves up a fair fortune in ill-gotten gains. Their live beef supply had dwindled with successful sale after sale, the rustling then re-branding process smooth and worry-free. Plans were underway to head out further afield in search of new marks whose herds needed thinning out, as far away as 300 miles. Jayne was up for it, was up for anything, activity meant money to his mind, and if there was danger in it, so much the better.

He’d been practicing with the small store of weaponry owned and stolen by his boss, had gotten to where he could pop the lid off a bottle of brew from a 300 feet, a considerable distance for any sniper, let alone a novice. Windstorm, rain, movement, nothing seemed to matter, to thwart his aim. Hand-eye coordination like that could only be inborn, and Jayne was nearly a savant.

Wood liked to stand nearby chewing on the end of his mustache and watching “Bob” slam round after round, hitting 98% of the targets they’d set up. Then, back at Inga’s, he’d keep up a running conversation, mostly about his own exploits with women and close calls on the wrong side of the law, all the time keeping an eye on the boy’s smooth motions oiling, cleaning and worshipping with his hands the firearms laid out on the kitchen table.

Bob (Jayne) went through the same laborious cleaning ritual, almost a religious service both before and after shooting practice. Was a wonder to see it, a privilege to witness his brand of finesse as the young man serviced metal like he was an acolyte and the guns were his gods, honing pieces to a bright shine of usefulness immediately after having shown his own worth as a marksman. He performed thorough cleaning before and after shooting practice. Sometimes even at night Wood would come awake to the suss of metal parts, the shoosh of oiled cloth synchronized with his young employee’s heavy breathing as he practiced cleaning and loading guns in pitch dark at the table.

At such times his boss would lay still and drift back asleep, lulled by the rhythm of the work, and by the knowledge that THAT boy was a sure and present protection against any enemy big or small armed with those firearms he loved better than almost anything ‘cept coin.

The subject of another kind of lovin’ came up the night they began taking account of their finances (large) and their current herd (small). “You ever been in love, Wood?”, he asked his mentor and outlaw guide.

The man put two fingers along one side of his red beetled nose, snorted a wad of mottled snot out onto the finely woven carpet beneath the settee on which he perched like a warthog on a throne. “Love ain’t for me. Sex, now, that’s another story, know what I mean?”

Jayne didn’t answer, kept his eyes down on the map Wood was drawing on as he spoke, “Yeah, sure.”

Wood was a simple man, but he could read a virgin when he found one, man or woman, and he saw it writ large all over the shy and blushing face Jayne had on.

“Get up, Bob, go douse yourself in the pond. Take the soap,” he said, all business but with a sly grin on him. “Got any good clothes? Anything kinda prettified, stuff a girl might think was swai-lookin’ on ya?

“What’s on your mind, Wood. Had a bath yesterday; I’m tzau ni daye clean enough.”

Tickled at his employee’s creative use of a good curse, Wood laughed heartily, replying, “Hah! Ain’t got no uncle left in my family that needs screwin’, not one, whether clean or dirty.

“Ya talk like a grown man there, Bob, been noticing your cussin’ potential ramping up a notch lately. You wanna maybe go with me, see if you can perform like a man where it counts?,” the unkempt Harbinger asked, a sly wink all over consuming his words, voice and lascivious look turned in the fourteen year old Jayne’s direction.

Not waiting for an answer, Wood levered himself up off the plum colored settee and ambled for Inga’s old bedroom that was now his own lair. From his hideaway he hollered back, “Get a move on, Bob. We’re fixin’ to get you a education, Boy, courtesy of Naughty Zute’s Hot Box.”

End, Part 5

chou san ba – bitch da shabi – big dumb female genitals hundan – jerk, arsehole too zai zi – son of a rabbit tzau ni daye – screw your uncle tchen wah - slut

COMMENTS

Monday, January 2, 2006 8:44 PM

SHINYTALENT


This is Gorram Brilliant!

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 12:12 AM

CANTONHEROINE


This is turning into an epic - like Jayne Hur, or something. You've got my Oscar vote.
Brilliance abounds!
Two thumbs up!
;P

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 2:11 AM

BOOKADDICT


Great stuff, you're really painting a picture here. Good early Jayne.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 2:19 AM

PYTHIANHABENERO


I can't help but laugh. I never thought I would find this much interest in a character as simple as Jayne. Well done.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 11:17 AM

WILDHEAVENFARM


I say this as a friend and fellow fic writer:

GET TO THE SEX ALREADY!

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 1:11 PM

PIFFLE101


Wow...just wow... I wanted to vopy and paste so much but it would take up eons and eons of pages here! I loved what you did! I didnt do much..you did all the work.. I even stopped to register what I was reading and read it again!! :D

But I was able to copy and paste this:
“Don’t talk then, you idjit. Too dumb to know what’s right in the world, flush with coin alright, but light on brains. Light on love for your family too, when it comes down to it.”

That just said what I spent paragraphs rambling on about...LOL And also It was a wow moment when he told timmie to his face that he was weak. :( AWW... *cue heartfelt moment*

I didnt do anything,..YOU DID IT ALL! I love it! 10! 10! 10!

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 1:12 PM

PIFFLE101


btw... I may be able to still help just dont mention the sex'in parts.. LOL :P

Friday, January 6, 2006 4:52 AM

LILKRISTY


Hey Wash,
Sorry I'm late on this.

'Nother good chapter. I love Timmie. It's like she's Jayne's Jimminy Cricket.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 1:58 AM

BELLONA


yay!!! jayne!!! but just one thing...WHERE'S THE SEX ALREADY?!? love it!! (the fic not the sex, though i guess that's ok *wink*)

b

ps. wood calls jayne by his real name at the start. just lettin' you know.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 5:55 PM

RIVERISMYGODDESS


"Hell, Jayne, I don’t know much about history"

Thought he told him his name was Bob.

Naughty Zute's Hot Box? I can only imagine what lies in store for Jayne.

Friday, April 28, 2006 1:38 PM

ITSAWASH


Yikes! Thanks for the correction, RIMG. Just fixed it and am gorram happy to do it.

Thursday, May 25, 2006 2:54 PM

SPACEFULLOFOBJECTS


Ya know Washie...I love where this is going and how you are mixing Earth That Was, into this fic.

An old, old symbol from Earth That Was days, stood for representin’ a Alliance group ‘at called itself the Third Rye.” He spit on the ground and farted mightily, the only way he seemed to ever do it. *laughing really hard..this guy is a real piece of go sa*

Typhoid-Wood and Jayne *how descriptive, my vision of Wood continues to degenerate*

The man put two fingers along one side of his red beetled nose, snorted a wad of mottled snot out onto the finely woven carpet beneath the settee *and degenreate*

This is great, and since I forgot to tell you in my review of part 4, I'll tell you here. My grandfather was a cattleman, and I grew up spending summers in my 11 -16 years herding cattle up from the river bottom on horseback, branding them, medicating them, and loading them up for market. You did such a great job of capturing the sounds, and movements. I really miss those days!

On to Part 6....

Monday, August 7, 2006 8:19 AM

LEIASKY


Another excellent chapter. I wasn't sure who to feel more sorry for, Jayne or the family he left behind.

Sometimes its just better to leave questions unasked. His family should have done that and just accepted his help.

I like how you're building the young Jayne into the man we were introduced to in the series.

And now he's going to - further his education in Naughty Zute’s Hot Box. Well, I must say I'm quite eager to see how well he learns.


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