Recovery, Romance, and a Second Chance

Ranch Without Cowboys
      Based on the novel by James R. Davis
      Copyright 2022 James R. Davis
      Contact: James Clois Smith Jr., Sunstone Press / (505) 988-4418
      LOGLINE: Molly O'Reilly, a Kansas dairy farmer's daughter, is raped by the hired hand and banished from home by her father, but with the help of strong women, real men, and a guy named Carlos (part Ute, part Old Spanish), she survives with her baby, Norma Lou, working on a guest ranch and bison reserve in Southern Colorado.
      ACT ONE
      A column of swirling dust trails along behind the old Ford truck on the road that leads from the O’Reilly dairy farm to the main highway. In the cracked rearview mirror, MOLLY sees the dust and the orange sun edging up over the grove of maple trees at the back of the property. She won’t let herself cry.
            The rickety truck makes its way west on two-lane roads through the Kansas wheat fields punctuated by grain elevators. MOLLY tells us (V.O.) “I was hoping that the drone of the tires and whistle of the wind would blot out the ugly names I was called by my own father as he told me to leave and never come back.”
            MOLLY stops for gas and gets jittery when a handsome guy with a Camaro asks if she’s okay. She stops again at the top of La Veta Pass, where she stares into the infinity of the dense pine forest and begins to panic. She tells us (V.O.) that “It suddenly dawned on me that I had no home and I was missing my high school graduation today.”
            Finding the sign for Horseshoe Ranch by the mailboxes, MOLLY jukes around the rocks and potholes on the unimproved dirt road, coming to rest in the gravel parking lot in front of the log lodge.
            After resetting her pony tail and refreshing her lip gloss, she steps out, stretches her lanky legs, and takes in the awesome view of the snow-capped mountains and sand dunes spreading out behind the tall old cottonwoods. (V.O.) “It’s so quiet here, I want to whisper.”
            SAVANNAH appears, wearing her LSU sweatshirt and stylish black-rimmed glasses. “You must be Molly O’Reilly,” she says. “That’s me, freckles and all,” MOLLY replies, as SAVANNAH introduces herself and explains that she is the wildlife research intern from Lou-ze-an-a and her bunk mate. She’s studying how bison give birth.
            SAVANNAH shows MOLLY around the lodge and explains about the guests, the working cattle ranch, and the bison reserve. They talk about WAYNE WESTON, the boss who never bosses, As MOLLY exclaims about the beauty of the ranch and the silence, SAVANNAH tells her this is where God comes for His vacation. We see a panorama of the ranch, MOLLY’S POV.
            They drive down to the cabin to unload MOLLY’S stuff, and SAVANNAH reminds her of the training session tomorrow at 8 AM sharp.
            At the training in the lodge, MOLLY is fascinated with the manager WAYNE, his handsome, clean-shaven, weather-beaten face, his wavy sandy hair, and his shy manner, but she notices that Wayne is the only guy in the room. The rest are all strong-looking women. How can you run a ranch without cowboys? She panics. At the break, she finds SAVANNAH and asks her what’s going on with WAYNE and all these women. SAVANNAH tries to calm her down.
            MOLLY’S work at the Horseshoe Ranch begins: mowing around the lodge, taking guests out to see the bison in the big Chevy Suburban, and fixing things.
            On Saturday night, MOLLY reluctantly agrees to go into town with SAVANNAH and her friends to Pepe’s Cantina, a dark, lively, crowded bar, where she sits alone refusing to dance, munching nachos, and sipping lemonade. Lost in her melancholy, she hardly notices when a smirking, leering, long-haired dude slips an arm around her, clinging tight until she screams, “Get away. What do you think you are doing?” That attracts help from the owner and the AMIGOS at the bar, who are suddenly shooing SONNY on his way out the door. “Vá para casa.”
            The most handsome of the rescuers, with a square chin and high cheekbones, a face that looks tan and sunburned at the same time, comes over to apologize and introduce himself. She thanks him and they gaze at each other, looking away, then back, enchanted with their difference. That’s how MOLLY meets CARLOS.
            Next week, CARLOS shows up at the ranch searching for MOLLY to tell her how he can’t get her out of his mind, and when she refuses his offer to meet for a drink, he suggests milkshakes. CARLOS is persistent, and he is handsome.
            MOLLY works on the team with RAINBOW and JERSEY, checking for sick cows and calves, repairing electric fence, and making sure the corral is secure. With the sun at its zenith, they take a break for lunch and sit on hay bales in an outbuilding. Here MOLLY learns all about how RAINBOW was born in a hippy commune and JERSEY barely escaped her suburban upbringing in New Joisey. As they go back to work, MOLLY glances back and notices they are observing her closely, like they might be commenting about her.
            Then SAVANNAH confronts her. “People want to know if you are pregnant. Let’s have the truth because I’m no mid-wife and wouldn’t know jack shit about trying to deliver a baby. I’m just a student of bison birthing behavior, the theory part.”
            The truth comes out in a flood of uncontrollable tears. Two days later, WAYNE asks her to meet him at his home on the ranch.
            MOLLY has never seen such a rustic yet elegant log cabin: signed oil paintings on white walls, a moss rock fireplace, and an old oak rocking chair, where she sits with her “bump” waiting to be fired.
            She tells WAYNE about her father and the farmhand at the dairy. When he asks her bluntly, “Were you raped?” the words jolt her memory, but she doesn’t know how to answer. “Your parents blamed you?” She shrugs. “Not my mom, just my dad who told me to get the hell out and never come back.”
            Then WAYNE tells her that this is what he told his daughter, exact same words. A ranch hand, only she said he was her boyfriend. “Stupid of me. Never saw her again.” Two months later his wife EMILY left him.
            MOLLY can’t believe that WAYNE would do such a thing, but now she understands why this is a ranch without cowboys. He lets her stay. The women like RAINBOW and JERSEY, experienced in birthing calves, will help her deliver her baby. “I’ll tell them to mind the herd,” he says.
      ACT TWO
            The next day, MOLLY is staining a fence, working in solitary confinement with her memories, trying to answer WAYNE’S question: Was she raped? Her recollections (without dialogue) are INTERCUT with images of her working on the fence.
            TOMMY DAWSON, the farmhand, is flirting with MOLLY. They are joking around, laughing.
            MOLLY’S parents and brother DANNY say good-bye to her at the front door. TOMMY appears soon after, knocking at the back door, inviting her to go for a walk. She refuses. He holds her coat for her, insisting that she join him.
            MOLLY and TOMMY walk along a path beside a gurgling stream, out across the open fields, heading toward a grove of maple trees. In the seclusion of the trees, TOMMY tries to kiss her. She refuses, but he tries again. Then he boldly unzips his jeans, violently wrestles her to the ground, and rapes her on a pile of old rotted leaves. She resists valiantly, but he overpowers her. She screams, again and again, but no one is around to hear.
            MOLLY finds herself on the couch at home, beat up and bleeding,
            MOLLY holds the brush motionless before the fence. She asks herself (V.O.) “Was it my fault for flirting? For going on the walk? Would he have beaten me harder for resisting more? Maybe killed me? Was I raped?” The questions keep coming, but the fence is finished.
            While they are working, MOLLY has a friendly conversation with RAINBOW and JERSEY about her fears of having a disabled child, her worries about natural childbirth away from a hospital, and about caring for the baby this winter. She’s getting very nervous.
            MOLLY accepts a friendly invitation from CARLOS to go on a picnic to see the golden aspen leaves at a favorite family location in the mountains. She learns that he is not a bouncer at Pepe’s Cantina, but part-owner of the family’s prosperous potato farm, and that he has three years of college and loves poetry and classical music. His father, STANDING ELK, is descended from Ute Indians—the family name is Ouray—and his mother, CARMENCITA, comes from Old Spanish settlers in the San Luis Valley.
            When       CARLOS asks about the father of the baby, MOLLY tells him that she was raped. He is shocked, but encourages her to tell him more. She outlines what happened, using the name of TOMMY DAWSON. Then she realizes how unfit she is to have a fabulous boyfriend like CARLOS. A homeless teen-ager with a baby? She assumes that her account of being raped will end it with CARLOS, but when they arrive back at the Horseshoe, he asks to see her again and tells her that the Great Spirit is watching over her.
            On a beautiful fall day, with the yellow leaves from the cottonwoods already on the ground, MOLLY wanders off to relax near a shallow creek. WAYNE, concerned about the depression he is noticing in her, seeks her out, finds her, and at her request, lifts her up onto a big rock at streamside. She asks him to stay, and tells him of her certainty now that she was raped. She shares with him her anger and resentment about what has happened to her and her worries about the future. He says that TOMMY DAWSON needs to be apprehended and brought to justice, but MOLLY insists that she doesn’t want to face him in a courtroom. The subject shifts to the up-coming fall bison roundup. WAYNE wants her to participate if she’s up to it, even though this is supposedly the last week of her pregnancy.
            With the bison herded from the grasslands into broad pens, and then into a narrow chute, the roundup is lively, noisy, and filled with action as the 2000-pound bison are counted, tagged, and given shots. MOLLY is awed by their size and power, as she assists RAINBOW with the shots.
            A few days later, when MOLLY’S water breaks, SAVANNAH runs for help. The scene within the cabin is one of orderly bustle, as if everyone is carrying out a prearranged plan. Women bring towels and warm water as someone carries in a handmade pine cradle. Then they leave so that RAINBOW can go to work as midwife and JERSEY as birthing coach. Into the hands of these strong women, a perfectly-formed red-haired baby is delivered. MOLLY is suddenly struck by what a miracle it is.
            Later, as MOLLY dozes, WAYNE knocks and enters quietly, cowboy hat in hand. Molly offers him what he came for: a chance to hold NORMA LOU.
            That evening, CARLOS arrives to celebrate with MOLLY. He holds her baby awkwardly like a sack of potatoes. He surveys the room and jots notes about what MOLLY needs. After he leaves, RAINBOW returns to help her get settled for the night. When MOLLY awakens the next morning after several night feedings, she is completely alone with her baby as the first storm of winter begins to brew.
            The first few weeks with a new baby are always tough, but things are especially difficult for MOLLY, trying to survive in a cold cabin alone, eating frozen dinners, and not knowing how to care for her demanding little intruder. Trapped in a repetitious cycle of care-giving, nursing and changing diapers, she begins to harbor strong feelings of resentment. Late one night, CARLOS comes through the door, a winter storm howling outside, to bring her a fresh supply of books to read, a used crib and diaper-changing table, a rocker, and a floor lamp. With anger and sarcasm in her voice, her feelings come spilling out. Feeling very sorry for her and not knowing what to do, CARLOS invites her to live with his family. “I’m only offering you a room, you understand.” Taken by surprise, anxious, and a little out-of-control, MOLLY turns him down.
            By the second week of December, with no plan for her future, she struggles alone in the cold cabin. When WAYNE invites her over for a sausage breakfast and offers her his daughter’s room in his house, she is confused and anxious about what his offer implies, but this time, knowing that she is desperate, she reluctantly accepts.
            After two weeks of sharing the cooking and cleaning with WAYNE, MOLLY knows that her worries are unfounded and that she and NORMA LOU are simply filling the place of WAYNE’S daughter and grandchild. At least the arrangement will get her through the winter. But what about CARLOS? Won’t his feelings be hurt?
            One night, when NORMA LOU won’t go to sleep MOLLY loses her patience, and her patting turns into pounding. She is terrified when she discovers that she could actually hurt her baby. WAYNE senses she needs help and intervenes, soothing NORMA LOU and putting her to sleep successfully as a good grandfather would.
            CARLOS, not giving up on MOLLY, continues to bring her new reading material and toys for the baby. One day he visits with his sister SELENA, and they all drive out across the grasslands to see the bison up close near a spot adjacent to the county road. It is a delightful outing for MOLLY, but she wonders why CARLOS still visits her.
            Pinned down by her baby, MOLLY grows even more anxious as the holidays approach, and on Christmas Eve she disappears, leaving NORMA LOU with WAYNE to wallow in her sadness and gloom at the local KFC. Alerted by Wayne, who is quite worried about her, CARLOS tracks her down, encourages her to phone her mom, holds her hands to calm her down, and gives her a silver and turquoise clip for her hair as her Christmas present.
            After WAYNE talks with MOLLY about how he misses his wife, EMILY, MOLLY makes it her mission to find her. When RAINBOW comes up with a promising lead, that as a painter with artist friends, EMILY might be in Santa Fe, they take off together on a day trip, searching through the Canyon Road galleries until they find her. MOLLY tells her that WAYNE “is really sorry about those things he said” and “wants to be forgiven.” She says she’s going to tell WAYNE where she is. EMILY thanks her for her “audacity,” and MOLLY can’t tell whether EMILY is pleased or not. Listening in, MOLLY learns that the daughter HEATHER and boyfriend MIGUEL have already gone back to Mexico with their baby.
            The next morning at breakfast, MOLLY tells WAYNE that she’s found EMILY. He seems pleased, but says he’s not sure how he will be received if he goes to visit her. They make a pact: for him to go find his wife in Santa Fe and for MOLLY to go back to her father in Kansas, leaving on the same morning and following each other part way, to try to set things straight, no matter how much they both dread it.
            To say good-bye, CARLOS takes MOLLY on another picnic, this time to the Sand Dunes National Park, where he and MOLLY (with NORMA LOU in a front pack) hike around the dunes as he explains how they were formed, why the Valley soil is so good for growing potatoes, and when the Utes and the Spanish settlers arrived. They realize that their love for each other has grown, and CARLOS tells MOLLY that he hates to see her leave, fearing he will never see her again, but he still urges her do what she must: go back to Kansas to reconcile with her father. “Just remember, you will always have a place here.”
            On the trip back in the old truck, near the Kansas border, MOLLY gets a call from her brother DANNY, who tells her that their father is having a heart attack and is on his way to the ER in an ambulance. “I’ll get there as fast as I can,” she tells him.
            MOLLY goes straight to the hospital in Colby and finds the ER waiting room, where DANNY tells her, “He didn’t make it.”
            The nurses take MOLLY back to her father’s dead body. She shows him NORMA LOU and recites parts of the many speeches she has rehearsed, trying to tell him one more time what really happened. But what good is to come from trying to have a conversation with a dead person who doesn’t hear, understand, or reply. Sort of like when he was alive.
      MOLLY cries every day, and her MOTHER hardly knows what to do without being told by her husband. Should MOLLY go to her father’s funeral? Would he want that or not? She is crying continually and uncontrollably, so much so that her brother DANNY asks her, “Is it Dad or something more?” He has a friend who was helped by a counselor over in Colby.
            MOLLY finds herself seated in the modest office of BONNIE BRADFORD, telling her whole story all over again, then really going to pieces as she tells BONNIE how she never got to reconcile with her father before he died. BONNIE tells her “Some things go unresolved.” Puzzled at first, Molly begins to realize that she no longer needs to try to fix what can’t be fixed. MOLLY’S loss is double: the loss of her father mixed with being cheated out of the opportunity to resolve their estrangement. In another session, MOLLY goes over the episode with TOMMY DAWSON and her counselor confirms that he tricked her, deceived her, and raped her. They discuss how MOLLY can keep this from ever happening again.
            At her counselor’s suggestion MOLLY begins to talk more with her MOTHER. One night, in a conversation before the flickering flames of a fireplace fire, MOLLY learns for the first time how her mom and dad met, that her mother became pregnant, and that her dad felt he had to marry her. But their child was still born—she would have been Molly’s older sister— and the marriage really would not have been necessary. MOLLY’S father made her mom swear to never talk about any of this with anyone, and she didn’t.
            That is why MOLLY takes DANNY with her to the counselor the next time, to tell in front of both of them the whole story of her parents’ shaky romance and describe the horrible family communication they’ve grown up with. “Do you think you will be like your FATHER?” BONNIE ASKS. “I hope not.” DANNY replies.
            A few days later, DANNY asks MOLLY to go fishing with him at a nearby scenic lake. He tells her that he mistakenly revealed to a friend her location on a “bison ranch in Colorado,” and that he’s been worried that it could get back to TOMMY DAWSON. She’s shocked but doesn’t blame her brother.
            One night, MOLLY, DANNY, their mom and NORMA LOU go to a Mexican restaurant in Colby where they run into MRS. BRAXTON, MOLLY’S high school English teacher, who encourages MOLLY and floods her with compliments as she admires NORMA LOU. On the way back they stop at the cemetery where her father is buried next to the still born baby, with a grave marker intended for her MOTHER on the other side. MOLLY realizes that Kansas is no longer home and tells DANNY she hopes she won’t be buried here.
            The next step in MOLLY’S therapy is to conquer her fears and get over her bad memories. To do this, she climbs on O’GRADY, the strong horse she had as a child, and after a few warm-up jumps, she rides back to the very spot where it happened. MOLLY dismounts to confront her feelings. With powerful O’GRADY there with her, she tells herself that “it is past” and she is “free to have a future.” She gets back on O’GRADY and pulls him up like a true bronco as she shouts “Yahoo!” and rides off at a gallop, suddenly filled with extra “horsepower.”
            MOLLY asks BONNIE how to get over being afraid of men so that if she ever gets to see CARLOS again, she won’t hold him at arm’s length. It looks like her mom is going to sell the farm to Uncle Russ, her father’s brother, and once again MOLLY will be without a home. Should she go back to CARLOS?
            WAYNE calls one morning and they chat about what happened with EMILY and then with MOLLY’S dad, but Wayne is really calling on behalf of shy CARLOS, who is standing there with him and wants to talk to her. CARLOS wants her to return immediately, tomorrow if possible, saying it is urgent. He is up to something, but CARLOS doesn’t say what and she doesn’t ask. And because she doesn’t have any good reason not to go, she agrees. She realizes she has been missing CARLOS a lot.
            When she arrives at the Horseshoe, MOLLY and NORMA LOU stay the night with WAYNE and EMILY, and the next morning CARLOS picks her up at eight o’clock sharp. Sure enough, TOMMY DAWSON came looking for her, and CARLOS wants MOLLY to identify photos that he has taken of him. “That’s TOMMY DAWSON all right.”
            CARLOS and his AMIGOS go to the motel where they know he is staying, tie him up, and haul him off to a deserted field. Some of the AMIGOS are waiting there, and they put TOMMY on a jittery old horse, slip a noose around his neck with the rope tied to the branch of an old cottonwood, directly above the horse. It’s a scene of sarcastic bantering, and TOMMY is none to cooperative at first, but when they threaten to beat the horse and MOLLY steps out of the SUV to confront him, he’s ready to sign a written confession to raping MOLLY and three others, preferring not to die hanging just yet.
            After justice is done, and TOMMY is turned over to the police, CARLOS drives MOLLY back to WAYNE’S house where they pick up NORMA LOU and take the back roads over to the family farm, where an early afternoon dinner is planned with the parents. On the beautiful main drive into the farm, MOLLY learns that CARLOS has his own house (as does his brother DIEGO) and that his parents live together in an old two-story farmhouse with tall gables and a new copper roof. The main house is surrounded by acres of empty potato fields awaiting planting season, and beside it there is a family cemetery.
            In the spacious interior of the farmhouse, the family is assembled to greet her with smiles and hugs: STANDING ELK, short, built like a potato, with graying hair pulled back in a pony tail; CARMENCITA in an ankle-length patterned dress, a silver cross hanging from her neck; RUNNING DEER in sneakers, jeans, and a t-shirt; ABUELA with her walker, the elderly mother of CARMENCITA; and RED DOG, the bilingual Golden retriever who also answers to PERRO ROJO.
            Everyone welcomes MOLLY warmly with dolls, wood-sculpted animals, and a feather for NORMA LOU, as they take time to get acquainted.
            When they are seated at the big oak table, STANDING ELK repeats the old Ute blessing, “Let us walk softly on the earth with all living things, great and small, remembering as we go that one God kind and wise created all.” CARLOS explains the traditional dishes to MOLLY as they are served, some honoring the memory of ancestors.
            After dinner, as the parents care for NORMA LOU, CARLOS takes MOLLY on a tour of the house. “It’s like being in a museum,” she says, as he shows her the wood carvings, hand-woven rugs, and the old pump organ with a guitar leaning against it.
            MOLLY and CARLOS go out to the back porch, where she sits on the squeaky glider as he leans against the porch railing. He tells her that she can stay as long as she wants or leave without explanation, and if she can ever learn to love him, and wants to marry him, she will have to do the asking. “I will try to put your aching heart to rest,” he says with gentle sincerity.
            CARLOS shows MOLLY around his house and offers her the guest room at the west end complete with playpen and crib for NORMA LOU.
            The next morning, after explaining to CARLOS that she needs chores to do, she sets about fixing things with a can of WD-40: the squeaky glider, hinges on doors, sticking windows.
            The next scenes are a montage of MOLLY at work weeding and replanting the household cemetery, driving a tractor, and refurbishing the stone driveways of all three houses, using a Bobcat front-end loader to distribute a pile of rock. With childcare help from the family, MOLLY has found her niche. She is even beginning to discover ways to be affectionate with CARLOS.
            Everything is going fine in this happy family, but then one morning SELENA (also known as RUNNING DEER) is discovered missing. CARLOS comes to tell MOLLY at 4:30 AM, “SELENA hasn’t come home.” She was at Pepe’s Cantina with her friends last night, and they can describe a tall Texan, a vehicle (probably an orange Hummer), and his request to her: directions to the bison ranch. He promised to bring her back if she would show him, but she never returned.
            MOLLY and CARLOS go out to the Horseshoe to find WAYNE to ask him if he heard anything unusual last night. He recalls that EMILY thought she heard two shots just after sundown. MOLLY knows exactly where to go: the part of the bison ranch adjacent to the county road, the place where SELENA knows about and would likely take a visitor. MOLLY asks for RAINBOW and some horses.
            When MOLLY, CARLOS, RAINBOW, and WAYNE arrive at the spot, they find a slaughtered bison with its head missing. “I thought we were beyond poachers and rustlers,” WAYNE remarks. SELENA has left a trail of her favorite pumpkin seeds. WAYNE identifies HUMMER TRACKS. They all conclude: “She’s been kidnapped.”
            “But where would they go?” MOLLY asks. “To a taxidermist,” RAINBOW says, suggesting a guy that she knows about who does illegal stuff.
            MOLLY and CARLOS are seen outside a weather-beaten cabin with a sign “Taxidermy.” She spots SELENA’S pumpkin seeds and CARLOS says, “Your pretty good at this, Detective O’Reilly.
            The shop owner is not the guy they are looking for, but he remembers giving a name to a tall Texan and young Indian girl, and when he finds out the girl is CARLOS’S sister and she’s been kidnapped, he gets concerned and “doesn’t want to get mixed up in nothing.” Eventually, he gives them the name and location of the referral.
            After locating the place that will do the illegal work, CARLOS and MOLLY return home. The next day, CARLOS receives a phone call from SELENA, who has escaped her captors and is hiding out at the Hickory Ribs restaurant in Aspen. She tells him that her kidnapper’s name is JIMMY JOE, and that he will pick up his trophy on Friday. DIEGO is dispatched to bring her home.
            On Friday, when JIMMY JOE comes back for his trophy, MOLLY, CARLOS, SELENA, and the AMIGOS are hiding on foot and in trucks in the woods surrounding the cabin. When the tall Texan comes out with the mounted bison head, DIEGO and the AMIGOS ponce on him, tie him up like he’s in a straitjacket, and drive off with him as planned to a deserted property with an abandoned well.
            JIMMY JOE whines, denies, resists, and tries to buy them off, but when they lower him head first into the spider-infested well, he confesses to everything. It turns out that he’s gay and was just trying to impress his Daddy with a bison trophy. But he denies kidnapping anyone until SELENA steps out of DIEGO’S truck. Completely shocked, he confesses to that, too. With it all down in writing and signed, he is turned over to the police. More justice.
            The next day, MOLLY says to CARLOS, “Let’s have a party. We’ve got a lot to celebrate.” CARLOS asks her where and she tells him “In the backyard. A barbeque.” When he asks who they would invite, she says, “Everyone.”
            So, CARLOS and MOLLY plan an authentic welcome-home fiesta for SELENA and her high school friends, and they invite the folks from the Horseshoe Ranch, the AMIGOS from Pepe’s Cantina, Doctor Archuleta, the neighbors, and even MOLLY’S mother and brother. They set a date, four weeks out. “Sounds like you’re planning to stay for a while,” CARLOS teases. “At least through the party,” MOLLY teases back.
            MOLLY sets about cutting the grass, planting pots of flowers, and painting the back porch. She even has positive memories of her father as she paints.
            MOLLY is the heroine of the Ouray family for her detective work in finding SELENA, and when they ask her if she needs anything, she says she misses her horse, O’GRADY. They make arrangements to send a truck and trailer to Kansas to bring O’GRADY to his new home on the potato farm. MOLLY ask them to bring the rest of her clothes and belongings, too.
            MOLLY encourages CARMENCITA to play her guitar again and in the evening, they sit on the back porch to listen to renditions of Old Spanish folk songs. RED DOG slaps his tail as if to keep the beat.
            MOLLY and CARLOS are growing more and more affectionate, but she tells him she is terrified of having another baby. She needs to see Doctor Archuleta about some birth control.
            The backyard behind the family farmhouse is the setting for the festive scene of the afternoon party. The potatoes are in bloom in the fields, stretching toward the mountains, now nearly free of the snow clinging to their peaks year-round. As guests start drifting in, RED DOG seems unsettled as he charges back and forth across the freshly-mown lawn. The AMIGOS settle in a corner under the shade of a big cottonwood, and SELENA and her friends sit on brightly-colored blankets. CARLOS shouts “Surprise!” as a small Mexican band from Pepe’s Cantina arrives ready to serenade the guests. NORMA LOU, who they now call LULU LOBO, rocks alternately in the arms of STANDING ELK and CARMENTCITA. After people have heaped their plates with barbequed pork and sweet corn, CARLOS gives a short speech to welcome home SELENA and introduce MOLLY and LULU LOBO to those who don’t know them. For dessert, MOLLY serves homemade ice cream and chocolate chip cookies with her brother DANNY.
            Picking up LULU LOBO, MOLLY carries her over to greet her friends from Horseshoe Ranch: WAYNE and EMILY, of course, but also RAINBOW, who wants to hold NORMA LOU as they chat about how difficult things were for MOLLY at first and how much her baby has grown. MOLLY tells RAINBOW’S husband, PROFESSOR GALLEGOS, that she is thinking about starting college.
            MOLLY spots her obstetrician DOCTOR ARCHULETA by himself, and she takes NORMA LOU over to him to show off her baby and thank him for his help in examining her when she was a newborn. After exchanging pleasantries about NORMA LOU, MOLLY suggests that she needs to pay him a visit to discuss birth control. Hesitatingly, suspecting MOLLY doesn’t know, DOCTOR ARCHULETA suggests that if she is referring to CARLOS, it may not be necessary. He explains briefly how he delivered CARLOS prematurely at home, and how as a baby he required surgery to fix his digestive track that left him “sterile as a steer.” He adds, “If you are looking for someone with built-in birth control, CARLOS might be your man.”
            MOLLY is dumbfounded, but she understands when DOCTOR ARCHULETA tells her that sometimes men in The Valley like CARLOS don’t know how to explain things, preferring to remain strong and silent.
            MOLLY thanks the DOCTOR for telling her, and runs back to CARLOS with LULU LOBO. Is this why he has been willing to have a girlfriend with a baby? “We need to talk,” she says, “about birth control. How there’s no need.”
            “I was going to tell you, but . . .”
            “Later,” she says. “Right now, I need to know if you love me. Not just NORMA LOU, but me.”
            “Of course, I love you. You, with or without NORMA LOU, if that’s what you are asking. I’ve always loved you, ever since that very first night at Pepe’s.”
            CARLOS takes LULU LOBO and tosses her up in the air several times. It makes her giggle. Hand in hand, MOLLY and CARLOS stroll across the lawn to show her to the AMIGOS.
            But no more babies with CARLOS? Never ever?
      Credits begin, sometimes over, but also with split screen, as we glimpse scenes from MOLLY’S life with CARLOS while NORMA LOU is growing up.
            MOLLY is in a dress, not a wedding dress, but a dress, at her wedding ceremony with a priest and the family in the golden aspen grove, the setting of the first picnic with CARLOS, as she narrates (V.O.) “Of course, I asked CARLOS to marry me and he said, Yes.”
            MOLLY is in a college class and is also seen studying at the computer as she tells us (V.O.) “I studied in class and online to earn my degree in psychology and then a master’s in counseling.”
            Successive still snapshots of Norma Lou growing up: walking as she grasps MOLLY’S forefinger, reading picture books on CARMENCITA’S lap, playing with RED DOG, as MOLLY narrates (V.O.) “Once LULU grew a normal digestive system, she was easy to raise . . .”
            NORMA LOU at a late age two, having a tantrum as MOLLY continues. “ . . . except for an occasional tantrum.”
            Successive still snapshots of MOLLY driving a tractor on the farm, SELENA greeting her in short hair. DIEGO introducing his Ute wife PETA, and STANDING ELK acting out the Ute legends before the fireplace fire, as MOLLY says (V.O.) “I loved my life on the farm with that marvelous and unusual family . . .”
            Snapshots of MOLLY with clients (V.O.) “ . . . but I also worked three days a week at the Social Services Center.”
            Film of NORMA LOU (age four) holding the hand of a young boy about her age to steady him as he limps into the main entrance of the family farmhouse, everyone there to greet him and fuss over him. MOLLY says (V.O), “CARLOS and I eventually adopted a crippled child who was abandoned at birth at a local fire station. He was wrapped in a blanket that he later carried with him wherever he went. Although no one knew his origin or identity, the family said he was Ute because of the pattern in the blanket. We fixed his foot. LULU LOBO loves her brother and takes good care of him.”
            Scenes from Horseshoe Ranch fade in and out as credits continue.