Second Harvest (Chapter Six, page 1 of 19)

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Having Abe Johansson hang around Roy's place was something he was not accustomed to. At least three days a week, Abe would randomly show up and inquire about helping Roy. Eventually, Roy gave Abe the responsibility of repairing the barn. He had Abe replace worn out boards and enlarge the corral. Abe was a hard working boy and Roy was surprised by Abe's stamina and strength.

After lashing ladders to the roof to stand on, Roy and Abe replaced the old loose boards and applied new corrugated metal panels. The work was difficult, but often Abe would be the one pushing Roy to exhausting limits. The new roof provided a dry, shady environment for Sally, Molly, and now Sugar-Girl, the fast growing filly.

Roy was pleased with the compatibility of the three girls. Despite their age difference, the filly could get the mules worked up into playing and running the perimeter of the corral. Their playfulness also entertained Roy making him feel less lonesome.

Resigning himself to being satisfied with his confirmed bachelor status, Roy once thought about having a family, but he gave up on the idea. A family just wasn't in the cards, Roy would tell himself. But, having Abe as a helper, allowed Roy to feel like a father figure. Abe seemed happy about it too. Whenever Roy spent the afternoon with Sara and her sons, he felt like they were the closest thing to having a family. The satisfaction of interacting with them exceeded Roy's expectations. While he hated going home where it was quiet, at the same time Roy chastised himself because he thought he was too old for Sara.

"Roy, can we do something about the barn leaning to the left like that?" Abe asked.

Roy stared at the barn, remembering when he and his father built it nearly thirty years ago. "I don't think so Abe. It's been like that since I can remember. Pop and I cut green timbers for the frame and as the wood dried the barn started tilting to one side. I believe it's made it this long, so I'm sure it'll survive a few years longer."

Abe looked up to Roy. He was proud to have another man around to help his maw and brother Billy. Abe often missed his paw and knew Roy would never replace him; however, Roy was a terrific substitute. Abe reached out and stuck his hand inside Roy's. Abe's behavior shocked Roy and he was not prepared for the boy's gesture of familiarity. Roy searched his mind for something to say to Abe, but his brain went blank. Roy felt awkward and stumbled through his words.

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