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Gravel crunched beneath my feet as I jogged along a back road through beautiful Georgia countryside. The varying green colors of grass, shrubs, and trees soothed my soul as the brisk exercise calmed my mind.

Then I saw it—a piece of torn cloth caught in a barbed wire fence. It appeared to be a large chunk of material that had been ripped from a shirt as someone tried to navigate between the rows of barbed wire to get inside the pasture. I imagined the frayed void in their shirt and wondered if the gnarly metal teeth had snagged any skin in the passing.

Suddenly, a caption from a book I’d recently read came flying into my mind . . . “Barbed wire cuts on both sides of the fence.” How true! While the barbed wire fence that ran along the road had been constructed to keep the cattle from getting out of the pasture, it also had the capabilities of causing pain and destruction to perhaps the very people who had constructed it.

As I continued my run, the book Forgiving Waters by Kenneth L. Capps and the lessons behind the novel continued floating through my mind. The fences, both real and emotional, that the cowboy in the story had built in his lifetime formed barriers that produced desired results, but they often created as many problems as they solved.

I realized that most of us do the same thing. Our barbed wire might not be the tangible stuff that is strung between fence posts, but harsh words, bullying, prejudice, and anger give the same result and cut both the recipient as well as the one delivering the barbs.

A poignant passage of Forgiving Waters permanently engraved itself in my memory as the intended lesson pounded its way into my consciousness with every step of my run. Take a peek . . .

The fact is that Matt would’ve found a way to give you and Kevin a hard time no matter what color the two of you were. That’s just what fellows like Matt do. Do you understand?”

“I think so.” There was a slight question in Leonard’s response and then he asked, “Did Kevin come back to work today?”

“Yes sir, he did,” Bo answered.

“Well, I don’t like Matt.”

“That’s okay; I don’t like him much either.”

“Yeah, but you are bigger than he is, and you can fire him if you wanted to.”

“I reckon I could. However, even a fellow like Matt needs a place to fit in. If I fired everyone I didn’t get along with, the work would never get done. And I am too old to do it all myself. Besides that, you have to figure there are goat ropers and bullies leaning against every fence post in every pasture you will cross in your lifetime. You may as well learn to deal with them now.

“What’s more important here is your friendship with Kevin. I think the two of you together can wrangle Matt easy enough. If I fire Matt, he’ll just go somewhere else and stir up the henhouse. If he stays working for me, maybe he’ll learn a thing or two about being a good cowboy instead of a bully.”

At that moment, Bo could see the shine of understanding in Leonard’s eyes. The boy probably didn’t think anyone understood what he was feeling. He hoped that Leonard could see that he was trying to help him navigate his way through what would be, in retrospect one day, a minor problem. “Now, you reckon you’re done ruminating, or do I need to find another ranch hand?”

Leonard beamed from ear to ear, “Yes, sir,” he said nodding his head. “Um, no sir,” he said shaking his head. Then he shook his head crazily.

Bo laughed.

Leonard then turned toward the house and shouted to his mother, “Mom, I’m going to work!

To learn more about Kenneth L. Capps’ debut novel Forgiving Waters, read his five-star review here or visit his website: kennethlcapps.com. The first chapter of the book is available to preview online and you can purchase the book in paperback or hardcover on BQB’s online store. Forgiving Waters is also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and at your favorite bookstore.