Hurri Cosmo       

e

Good morning, Mr. Mackey. I hope you don’t mind me calling you Trace.

 

Not at all. Good morning. What is it you needed to talk to me about?

 

I am trying to get to know what it takes to run a horse ranch. I understand you are now in charge of the kitchen and the finances of Riven Creek ranch.

 

Yes, I guess I am. I’m not sure why my aunt thinks I can do this but she has always been supportive of me. I can hardly turn my back on her now that she needs me.

 

I heard she was in quite a serious accident.

 

Nearly killed her.

 

She’s doing well now though, right?

 

She is doing fine. She has a lot of rehabilitation ahead of her which is why she has me doing…well – this.

 

What is “this” exactly?

 

Well, should be simply enough, really. I am supposed to provide breakfast for the main employees of the ranch. The managers and heads of certain areas of the ranch like the barns and the maintenance and things.

 

How many people is that?

 

Ten. Ten hungry men.

 

Wow. Ten hungry men, huh?

 

Don’t make fun of me. Yeah, I know. Shouldn’t be that big of a deal but like I told my aunt, I can barely cook for myself. Making any meal for ten people is a huge challenge.

 

So that’s all you do? Make breakfast?

 

(Sighs) No. I have to make lunch, too. And snacks and I’m supposed to run water and coffee like a lot. I know it sounds easy but… well, it’s not.

 

(Chuckles) How about the finances. Those can’t be that simple either.

 

Oh, the finances are a breeze. Once I get to know the expenses I will have no problem with them. It’s what I went to school for. Numbers are easy for me.

 

But I understand it involves a lot of money.

 

It’s like any business. There’s income and outgo. Simple. Here that translates into foals as the income and feed, equipment and insurance, etc. as outgo. Yes, all of it is very expensive. But it’s all straight forward; black and white. There might be room sometimes to question a bill, question why we are with certain companies, but for the most part, all those decisions are sound. All I have to do is make sure everything is paid in a timely fashion and it’s all entered correctly on all the spread sheets for the CPA.

 

I would think one of those larger expenses would be the payroll.

 

Oh yes, absolutely.

 

Do you have say in how much should be devoted to that?

 

(Laughs) No. Not at all. I wouldn’t have the first clue right now how many people it takes to keep things running smoothly out there in the barns and such. Sawyer is in charge of all that.

 

Ahhh. Sawyer Elliot, the ranch manager. Tell me, what do you think of him?

 

Why are you asking that?

 

No reason. Just wonder what you think of him.

 

Well, he’s… he’s… you know – fine. Smart. Big. He’s… he’s fine. Crap. Is it hot in here? Suddenly I think it’s really hot in here.

 

No. Temperature is very normal. Cool, as a matter of fact.

 

Crap. Really?

 

So what about Sawyer?

 

Nothing! The ranch hands all seem to like him. They respect him.

 

He says he thinks of the ranch hands as family.

 

(Snorts) Yeah. He thinks they are all pretty important.

 

You seem unhappy about that. Jealous, even. Doesn’t that “family” include you?

 

Are you kidding me? Sawyer thinks I am one completely screwed up idiot. He wishes I would pack my stuff and get the hell out. He hates me.

 

I find that hard to believe.

 

Oh, believe me. He can’t wait to be rid of me. And it’s probably best I get out, too, before… well, just before.

 

Before what?

 

Before he finds out…that I’m gay.

 

You’re gay? Oh. I get it. You like him.

 

What? No! I don’t like him. He’s… yeah he’s nice looking. Very nice looking. (shakes his head) It doesn’t matter.

 

Does your aunt know?

 

Know what?

 

That you’re gay.

 

Oh yeah. She’s always known.

 

Really now? She’s okay with that?

 

Of course. Why wouldn’t she be?

 

Hmmm. No reason. Just wondering why she insists on you helping instead of hiring someone who – excuse this the way it sounds – knows what they are doing?

 

(Shrugs) I have no idea. I asked her the same thing.

 

Seems rather suspicious, don’t you think? Maybe she knows something you don’t?

 

Like what?

 

(Laughs) Never mind. But I think this is going to get very interesting in the next several weeks.

 

What will?

 

Riven Creek Ranch, Trace. Riven Creek ranch.

Thank you for talking with me this morning, Mr. Elliot. May I call you Sawyer?

 

Sure.

 

So you are the ranch manager here at Riven Creek Ranch. Can you tell me a little bit about your job?

 

Well, I’m in charge. All the ranch hands answer to me. I establish the work schedule and make sure everyone is properly trained and following procedures. We’re not overly staffed so everything is a delicate balance. (chuckles). Thankfully we all work well together. It’s not easy taking care of this facility. The maintenance alone is a full time job. 

 

It must be expensive to run this place.

 

Absolutely. I should know, too, since I have to put together the budget every year.

 

Care to share that figure with us?

 

I don’t think I should but it’s a crazy high one.

 

Is there a lot of paperwork that goes along with your job? This office you have is fairly large and there doesn’t seem to be a lack of paper on your desk.

 

There is a mountain of paperwork. From keeping personnel files on the employees to keeping accurate files on each and every horse on the ranch. We monitor weight, health, feed. When they last saw the vet or farrier. Horses tend to injure themselves, too, so we have to daily monitor that. And if an animal is sick or truly injured? Then let’s talk about paperwork! Not to mention all the state and federal regulations I need to keep up with along with repair records on all the equipment. So, yes, there is paperwork.

 

Tell me about your relationship with the ranch hands.

 

(Laughs) We have a good one. All of us. We’re more like a family here. I know a lot of places probably say that but here it’s the truth. These guys have my back and I have theirs.

 

What do you mean?

 

We work well together. Each of us pretty much knows what the other guy is thinking, what they need. My guys never question me and oftentimes don’t even need direction from me. They see what has to get done and they get it done.

 

How does that say family?

 

Well, maybe it doesn’t say family. It does shout respect. There is not one of these guys I wouldn’t take a bullet for. I think they would do the same for me.

 

So what about family? Where’s yours?

 

I don’t have one. I was an only child and my parents died a long time ago.

 

No aunts or uncles? Cousins?

 

Nope.

 

Love life?

 

(Laughs) Nope. Nada. Don’t believe in it.

 

You don’t believe in love?

 

I don’t believe there is that special someone out there for me.

 

Really? Why’s that?

 

Do you see him?

 

Him?

 

Yeah, I’m gay. So what? Everyone knows and they have no problem with it.

 

Wow. That alone is something, don’t you think?

 

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I had issues when I first took over. It’s taken five years to get the crew I have. That’s why I call them family because they accept me for who I am and respect me for the job I do. In turn, I put a lot on these boy’s shoulders and not once have they disappointed me.

 

So, none of them have caught your eye?

 

No.

 

That’s pretty definitive.

 

That’s because it is. And each and every one of them knows that.

 

That’s kind of sad.

 

A relationship would only mess things up.

 

I disagree.

 

What are you talking about?

 

I think you’re going to be surprised one day Sawyer Elliot. I think a very special man is going to walk into your life and turn you into a believer. And I think it’s going to be very soon. What do you say to that?

 

I’d say you’re crazy. It’s not going to happen.

 

Ha! Famous last words. (laughs)