Twice Born A Vagabond
A Novel [Copr. 2008]
By D. DeWitt Thomas
Chapter Twenty-eight

MR. BRAUN

It's one of life's ironies that Angel and I hike together in silence. The bond of mankind is greater than the bond of bloodline. It's the flame of hope that keeps our souls alive. Without hope, we have nothing. We see the Braun place in the distance where we part company and I watch as he disappears down the dusty road. I headed for the farm house where I hoped the inhabitants would be willing to give me some help by letting me use their telephone. I walked around to the front door and knocked loudly four or five times until it was opened by a withered old man and a nice looking but wrinkled elderly woman who immediately noticed my distressed condition. I was somewhat confused and frustrated. My demeanor was accentuated by the damp clothing that I had on. This elicited suspicious expressions from the old couple. But being the examples of the American western pioneer culture that they were, their suspicions were overcome by what seemed to be a feeling of compassion and understanding. Years of spending a lifetime living on the land and scratching up just enough to survive tends to result in that sort of humility.
I asked here politely whether or not I could use the phone to call someone to come and get me because I had no way to get back to Austin. She invited me in with no hesitation so she and rancher Braun showed me to the kitchen. Old man Braun with a weathered, worn, and leathery hand gave the phone to me. I promptly called Roky's mother, Evelyn, in Austin and told her what had happened. I spoke softly because I didn't want the Brauns to overhear. By now they were comfortably seated in their favorite chairs. I told Mrs. Erickson that I had been busted by the Texas Rangers but that I had escaped unnoticed. She asked for directions which I related to her with the Braun's help and she said that she was "on the way".
The over-alled rancher and I found a shady place on the expansive front porch to sit and wait for Evelyn to arrive. We sat. We rocked. We talked about Jesus. "Jesus", he said, "was not right all of the time." I was suprised to hear a man from middle America doubt the teaching of the prophet of our nation. "What do you mean?" I asked. "He wasn't always right about everything... ya' know!" he repeated. I was caught by suprise hearing this kind of statement coming from this character. My normal inclination was to think of him as a stereotypical conservative Bible thumper but I was confronted with something of the contrary. I gave him a puzzeled look.
He continued, "Do you recall reading in the Bible about Jesus kicking over the money changers' table and throwing them out of the temple?" "Yes", I answered. I shrugged and nodded. He continued to make his point, "Jesus also taught that we should 'turn the other cheek' when we are offended, right?" "Yes, so what's the point?", I asked, giving him another puzzled look. "Isn't it a contradiction for him to commit a violent act which is contrary to his own beliefs? He objected to their thievery and committed an act of aggression by throwing the money changers out of the temple which makes him a hypocrit, doesn't it?" he responded. "Well," I replied, "it proves that the difference in right and wrong depends on the circumstances or what side of the fence you're on," I replied, "and that if you dish it out then sometimes you have to take it too!" I laughed. "Yep, it all depends on what side of the fence you are on!" We both laughed together.

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