Summary: It’s a slow recovery for Adam from the fall from the roof and Laura’s betrayal, but eventually he takes control of his life again and inspires creativity in his family.
Word Count: 995
After six months of recuperation from his back injury, Adam was tired of being coddled and confined, watched over and restricted. Falling off a roof, spending weeks in a wheelchair doing exercises which continued for months even after he got rid of the damn chair, and listening to Doctor Martin’s warnings about the time it takes for the back to heal, he had long ago used up any patience he had or any good graces for that matter. At breakfast, he announced he was ready to help Joe with the contract for horses. His father’s concern was evident.
“Adam, what do you think you can do to help Joe with the contract for the horses?” asked what he thought he could do and nearly blew coffee out his nose when he heard the answer.
“I thought I could help best by doing some bronc busting.”
Surprised so much he nearly blew coffee out his nose, Ben was quite sure it wasn’t a good idea and tried to discourage the idea. “Adam, perhaps you could try something a bit less strenuous than breaking horses until you’re sure you’re all right.”
The tone of the response and the look said that nothing was going to dissuade him. Hoss and Joe looked at each other but said nothing. Ben’s white knuckled grip on his coffee cup was the only indication of what he was thinking. Breakfast was relatively quiet after that. Four hours later, Ben stood with his two younger sons and watched Adam ride his third mustang of the day. The eldest son had surprised them all and had ridden two to a standstill already with a good chance of bringing this one to a successful conclusion too.
“He ain’t hardly even dirty.”
Joe was proud as well as relieved to report the day’s success. “The first two didn’t throw him so the only dust is what got thrown up by the ride. He’s riding like I’ve hardly ever seen him before.. He’s matched me horse for horse today. It’s like he’s got something to prove.”
Ben sighed deeply. “Well that’s probably because of me. I should have known better. Don’t cross him, don’t boss him. It’s always been the way with him ever since he was little.”
Hoss looked at Adam’s expression and remembered how he’d been for the past months. “You know, he’s wild in his sorrow. He’s just busting to let it all out, but he don’t know how other than doing something like this.”
“Hoss, you have that right. To continue your line of thought, he’s a man who’s riding hard and hiding his pain.”
“Yeah, yeah, and his heart is real heavy.”
“And his lips are pulled tight with sadness.”
“The two of you sound like you’re writing a song for him to sing.”
Joe snickered at that thought. But thinking back to what had been said, Hoss smiled as he put it all together.
“Well, Pa, you started it with that line about not crossing him and not bossing him. It kinda sounded like poetry and got us started too.”
The idea of Hoss and poetry made Joe snicker and even more as Hoss proposed an idea.
“Yeah, maybe ifn he could sing about it, he could let it all out some better than he does with talking about it which he don’t rightly do bottling it all up inside like he does.”
Hearing it all spelled out like that, Joe took the whole idea more seriously and liked it.
“Yeah, Pa, Hoss might have a point there.”
After finishing with the third horse, Adam noted his family deep in conversation and headed in their direction. It often seemed like things didn’t turn out well for him when the other three held conversations like that and excluded him. Even though Adam had been successful with the third horse too, he was feeling the strain of those rides. He did his best to hide any discomfort and walked up to his family interrupting what was apparently a light-hearted conversation. He had been aware of their worried looks for the previous four hours and wondered at the change.
“What are all you conspiring at?”
“Adam, it’s a family conversation not a conspiracy.”
Joe decided to lay it all out for him. “Oh, Pa and Hoss have been thinking up new song lyrics for you thinking maybe you could write a whole song out starting with these. Don’t cross him, don’t boss him because he’s wild in his sorrow. He’s a man who’s riding hard and hiding his pain. His heart is real heavy, and his lips are pulled tight with the sadness inside.”
Adam frowned a little but actually was a little intrigued by the idea. At least he was until Hoss added more.
“Yeah, I thought maybe you could set it to the tune of Buttons and Bows!”
The suggestion was met with a look of pure disgust from Adam that got Joe going with that crazy cackle of his and set Hoss guffawing and Ben chuckling. Adam couldn’t help it. He had his first genuine smile in months. Sitting down and stretching out his legs, he decided he had enough of bronc busting for the day and maybe for the week. A long warm bath beckoned, but now perhaps he could turn his experience into a song. A tragic ballad appealed to him. Even as his family continued to chuckle, his mind began to work again letting go of the hurts and looking forward to something new.
***Song lyrics adapted from Red Headed Stranger (1975) by Willie Nelson
***A little poetic license as Buttons and Bows was published in 1947, but it was featured in a number of western films