Secrets: The Truth is Slowly Revealed

Chapter 6: Isaac and Jacob

I didn’t meet Mr. McCaskill’s dad and grandfather until the following weekend, but Devin wanted to make certain I didn’t have a problem with this before they arrived.

“Are you sure you’re ok with me and the other men in my family being skinwalkers?”

“Yes, the only problem I still have is in knowing that I’m going to die before you, because I want us to be together for as long as either of us is alive.  It’s just that it can’t happen now, because you’ll live much longer than me.  I just hope you don’t get tired of me and want to leave when I get really old, because I won’t ever want to leave you.”

“Don’t worry, because I’ll never leave you again.  I wouldn’t have left you at all but my dad made me.”

“I know, but I really wish I could live as long as you.”

“Maybe you can.  We can talk to my great-grandfather about it while he’s here.  He might know of a way we can make it happen.”

“Do you really think he can do that?”

“I’m not promising, but we can always ask him.”

“Ok and I sure hope he knows of a way we can do it.”

Since this discussion had ended, we started to focus on other things.  Over the next few days, I fished with Devin and his dad and I also went hunting with them a few times as well.  In fact, on Friday while we were out hunting, Mr. McCaskill handed me the .22 caliber rifle just after we walked out of the woods and into a clearing. 

“Why are you giving this to me?” I asked confused.

“You’re old enough to use it now, so I’ll let you do the hunting today.  I’ll help you if you need it, but otherwise Devin and I will just follow behind you.”

“I’ve never done this before and the only time I’ve ever gone hunting was when I followed behind you.  Maybe Devin should do this instead.”

“Nah, I’ve done it plenty of times while we’ve been living out here, so now it’s your turn,” Devin countered. 

“Ok, I’ll give it a try, but you’ll have to tell me what to do.  I’ve never fired a rifle before, or any type of gun for that matter.”

Mr. McCaskill then explained how to use the sight on the rifle to zero in on the target, and he also told me to hold my breath and squeeze the trigger, not jerk it.  He had me practice by shooting at a knot in one of the trees nearby, and once I was able to hit that, he had me aim at a small branch near the knot.  After several attempts, I finally hit that as well and he felt I was ready to try hunting.  Regrettably, I missed the first rabbit I aimed at, but I bagged the next one, and then I got another one about a half-hour after that. 

“Not bad for your first time doing this, but we have to pick up the pace.  It’s important that we bag a few more rabbits before we head back to the cabin, because if we don’t have enough rabbits with us, then there won’t be enough for my wife to prepare for tomorrow’s meal.  I think I should take over now so no one starves.”

I thought he was joking at first, but I handed him the rifle anyway.  After he took it, he assured me that I’d get another chance to do the hunting before I returned home.

When we got back to the cabin, we quickly skinned and field dressed the rabbits we’d killed.  When we finished, Mr. McCaskill took the bucket of entrails into the woods and dumped it into the pit where he’d disposed of the fish guts and the entrails the other animals he’d killed previously. 

While he was doing that, Devin and I took the skinned rabbits inside and gave them to Devin’s mom so she could do whatever it was that she had to do with the rabbits before tomorrow.  Since she said there was nothing we could do to help, Devin and I went upstairs to shower and change. 

Just like when we were younger, we got into the shower stall together even though it was a tight squeeze this time.  That didn’t stop us from kissing and jerking each other off, though, before we actually washed our bodies.  Just like the last time we did this, we had to pick up the pace when we heard Devin’s dad’s voice downstairs.  We both knew he wouldn’t hesitate barging in here and asking what was taking us so long.  

The rest of the day was pretty laid back, but after supper Devin’s dad got out the UNO deck and we all played that until we went to bed.  It was fun and Devin and I took turns dumping on each other, but once in a while we dumped on his parents instead, so we won a few and lost a few, but we definitely had a lot of fun. 

After the last game ended, we went upstairs and got ready for bed, and when we got to Devin’s room he reminded me about something. 

“My grandfather, great-grandfather, and their wives will all be here tomorrow, so I hope you’re ready to meet them.”

“Of course I am.  Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Well, they’re not like most people.  They like to joke around and sometimes they’re the only ones who think what they said or did is funny.”

“Yeah, my dad is like that sometimes as well.  Maybe it’s something that happens to you when you get older.”

“I guess it’s possible, but I’ve been around your dad plenty of times before, and he’s not nearly as bad as my grandfathers.”

“Don’t worry.  I’m certain I can handle it.”

While we were eating breakfast with Devin’s parents the following morning, his dad made a similar comment. 

“In order to prepare you for meeting my dad and granddad, I want you to know they can be a little eccentric at times and don’t always act or behave as you might think they should.”

“Yeah, I know.  Devin warned me about that as well.”

Mr. McCaskill looked at his son, smiled and nodded.  “I should have figured you would have advised him about that.”

About an hour after we finished eating, an SUV drove up and two men and two women got out.  This was apparently both of Devin’s grandfathers and he got very excited now that they were here.  His dad went out to greet them, while Devin pointed out who they were. 

“As you already know, it’s my grandfather, great-grandfather, and their current wives.” 

“Yeah, I surmised that, but which one is your grandfather and which one is your great-grandfather?”  

“The older looking guy is my grandfather and the other one is my great-grandfather.”

That surprised me.  The older man looked old enough to be Mr. McCaskill’s dad, but the other man’s age appeared to be somewhere between the other two men in age, so I mentioned this fact to Devin. 

“Yeah, I know.  Do you remember when I told you about how they’d change their identity when they got older?  They have to do it so people won’t become suspicious if they start getting too old?  For that reason, shortly after his first wife died, my great-grandfather took the identity of my grandfather’s younger brother, who never really existed in the first place.  It’s why he looks younger than his son, but still older than my dad.”

“It’s just confusing.  So what do they tell people if they’re all at the same place together?”   

“That doesn’t happen very often, but when it does my dad just tells the people that his grandfather is his uncle.  If it happens with me, I just tell my friends that he’s my great-uncle.”

I guess that was supposed to explain the situation for me, but I was still more than a little confused.  I just couldn’t get used to the fact that Devin’s great-grandfather looked younger than his grandfather, and that wasn’t the only problem I had.  Another was that they were all Mr. McCaskill to me, so how was I going to solve this dilemma?  I didn’t have to worry, though, because they answered this question when Devin introduced us. 

“Mac, this is my great-grandfather, Isaac, and his wife, Hope.”

“It’s nice to meet both of you and I’m Michael.  Devin calls me Mac, though.  It’s a shortened form of my last name.”

“It’s nice to meet you too, Michael, and welcome to the family.”

“Uh, I’m not really part of the family yet.  I’m just Devin’s friend.”

“But I was told that you and Devin are planning to become more than just friends.”

“Yeah, we are.”

“Then that makes you family.”

“Ok.  Thanks.”

“And Mac, this is my grandfather, Jacob, and his wife, Faith.”

“It’s nice to meet both of you too, but now I have a problem.  What am I supposed to call you guys, since you’re both Mr. McCaskill, just like Devin’s dad?”

“Ah, so we are,” Devin’s great-grandfather responded.  “In that case, you can just call me Isaac.”

“I appreciate the offer, but I wouldn’t feel right doing that.”

“Ok, then what if you call me Grandpa Isaac.  Would that be easier for you?”

“You mean you want me to call you grandpa?”

“Yes, I think it’s a terrific idea.  I was told that you know about our family secret, right?”

“You mean that you’re skinwalkers?”

“Yes, but don’t say that too loudly or anywhere else besides here at the cabin.  No one outside of the family knows about our secret, and since you’ve been told, it kind of makes me your grandfather as well.” 

“Yeah, I guess it does.  Thanks.  Does it mean I should call you Grandma Hope then?”

“Hell no, honey, you can just call me Hope.  You don’t have a problem with that, do ya, because I don’t even let Devin call me grandma?  Hearing that word makes me feel old.”

“Ok, if you say so.”  I didn’t have a problem with doing this because she wasn’t nearly as old as Devin’s great-grandfather. 

“And you can call me Grandpa Jacob,” Devin’s grandfather offered.  

“Is that what Devin calls you?” 

“He usually just calls me Grandpa and my dad great-grandpa, but we’d both be willing to let him call us the same thing that you do, if he wants.

“Yeah, I think I’ll start doing that,” Devin concurred.

“And you can just call me Faith, sweetie, because I don’t like being called grandma either.”

“Ok, that works for me,” I agreed.

Everything that had just been agreed to was making me feel very special and I liked all of them right away.  However, as the day went on, I began to like Grandpa Jacob and Grandpa Isaac even more.  It all started when we were having lunch together.  The table in the dining area of the cabin wasn’t large enough for all of us, so Devin’s dad had also set up a card table and some folding chairs in the family area.  I thought Devin and I would sit there by ourselves or Devin’s dad and mom would sit with us at that table, but after we got our food Grandpa Isaac and Grandpa Jacob followed us in there instead. 

“I guess we’re all sitting at the kids’ table,” Grandpa Isaac said as he sat down. 

“Yeah, maybe someday we’ll be old enough to move to the adult table,” Grandpa Jacob joked. 

“Why are you two sitting in here with us anyway?” I asked. 

“It’s so we can get to know you better.”

As we were eating, they asked me questions about myself and my family, and they also told me stories about their families as well.  Grandpa Isaac told me funny stories about what Grandpa Jacob was like when he was growing up, and not to be outdone, Grandpa Jacob told me humorous stories about what Devin’s dad was like when he was younger.  Most of the stories were hilarious, so Devin and I laughed a lot, until it eventually got us in trouble. 

“What’s going on over there?” Devin’s dad shouted as he frowned in our direction.  “I knew it was going to be a bad idea to allow my dad and granddad to sit with you boys.”

“They’re just telling us stories about when you and Grandpa Jacob were younger.”

“Oh, I should have figured.  They love to embarrass us by telling those old tales,” he shot back. 

I guess this meant that Devin, his mom, Hope, and Faith had all heard these stories before, but Devin was still laughing as hard as I was. 

I kept staring at Grandpa Isaac and Grandpa Jacob during the entire time they were telling us these stories and eventually Grandpa Isaac confronted me about it. 

“Is something wrong, Michael?”

“Not wrong, but it’s just not easy for me to remember that you’re older than Grandpa Jacob.”

“Yes, that will take you a while to get used to, so would it help if we showed you how we should appear if we looked our age?”  Grandpa Jacob asked. 

Before I had a chance to respond, they both started changing in front of my eyes.  When they were done, Grandpa Jacob appeared to be twenty-years-older and Grandpa Isaac looked to be over one hundred-years-old. 

“Is this better?” Grandpa Isaac asked.  “I can’t appear as old as I actually am, so this is how old I would have looked when my wife had Jacob.”

“How old were you then, because you look really old.”

“I was 100 when Jacob was born.  That was back in 1940.”

“Damn, but why did you wait so long before having a son?”

“That’s a long story and better left for another time.”

“Ok, and this way it’s easier to remember who’s who, but it’s still confusing because you guys don’t act as old as you look now.”

“This isn’t the first time we’ve been told that we don’t act our age,” Grandpa Jacob replied.  “I think it’s what my son was hinting at when he yelled at us earlier.”

“Yes, sometimes Aaron acts as if he’s our father or grandfather, not the other way around,” Grandpa Isaac added as they started to change back.  “I’m sorry, but we can’t stay that way for very long, because it upsets our wives.”

“I can see why, if they get upset about just being called grandma,” I agreed. 

When they finished changing back, Grandpa Jacob looked to be in his late sixties and Grandpa Isaac appeared to be in his early fifties, so I glanced over at Devin’s dad.  I noticed that he appeared to be in his late 30s, so I guess I’d never attached an age to him before – he was just Devin’s dad. 

“Maybe we’d fit in better if we did this,” Grandpa Isaac added, and then he and Grandpa Jacob started changing again, but this time they appeared as they might have looked in their late teens.  When they did this, I reacted without thinking. 

“Oh, wow!  That’s amazing.” 

When Devin’s dad heard this, he looked in our direction and wasn’t amused.  “They’re incorrigible,” he snapped.

Grandpa Isaac and Grandpa Jacob merely laughed at his reaction, but they stayed like that as we continued chatting.  After a while, I made a comment. 

“You guys not only look like you’re the same age as us, but we can talk to you the same way we’d talked to someone our own age.  You know about the things we’re interested in, such as the music we like to listen to, the games we play, and cyber security, but how is that possible?”

“We don’t just sit around all day long.  We’ve had to get out and learn about every generation – their likes, dislikes, and other things so we’d be able to fit in if we ever need to or want to appear as one of them in the future.  For example, we both listen to music by Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, and Nick Jonas, as well as many others.  We also listen to comedy skits by Tom Segura, Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais, and Louis C.K.  We’ve also seen all of the Star Wars and Harry Potter movies, as well as The Dark Knight, 12 Years a Slave, and Shoplifters.  We also use Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for our business, and we’ve been using computers since personal computers became available in the 1980s.  We both have iPhones as well and use multiple apps, and we use Instagram, Twitter, and Zoom as well.”

“Wow, I didn’t know that.”

“And we can successfully blend in with any group that grew up in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, two thousands, and the teens, and we’re currently working on the 20s.  It’s a constant learning process, and hopefully I’ll be able to blend in with any group necessary.”

“I didn’t know it was so difficult or so much was involved.”

“Yes, it is, so it’s easier when we just change into animals.”

A short time later, they changed back to the forms they were when I first met them.  After seeing what Grandpa Isaac and Grandpa Jacob were able to do and what they told me, I realized something.  It was clear that being a skinwalker wasn’t easy, although it had its share of advantages as well, even more than just being able to change into animals and other people. 

When we finished eating, we carried our dishes out to the kitchen, where the women were busy washing everything.  That’s when I pulled Devin aside so I could ask him a question. 

“Do you think we can get Grandpa Isaac to go outside with us so I can ask him if there’s any way I can become a skinwalker too?”

“Yeah, my dad and his dad are busy talking right now, probably about their behavior during lunch, so this might be a good time to ask Grandpa Isaac to go outside with us.”

Grandpa Isaac was happy to do what we wanted, so we went out on the porch.  As soon as he sat down on the swing, he looked up and asked a question. 

“Ok, why did you boys bring me out here?”

“Mac wants to ask you a question,” Devin stated, and when he saw I was hesitating, he nudged me in the ribs with his elbow.  “Go ahead and ask him.”

“Uh, Devin and I have been talking and now I know that he’s going to live a lot longer than me.  I’d really like to live as long as he does so we can be together during all of that time, so is there any way I can become a skinwalker too?”

Grandpa Isaac looked pensive for a few seconds, and then he finally spoke.  “To tell you the truth, I have no idea if that might be possible.  The shaman who performed the various rituals on me has probably been dead for a long time by now, and he only offered to do it for me as a special favor.  Jacob, Aaron, and Devin all got to be skinwalkers due to their hereditary links to me and not through any rituals. 

“You mean the shaman who made you a skinwalker only lived a normal life span?”

“As far as I know, and I’m not sure if the current shaman would be willing or even have the knowledge to perform the ritual on anyone else.”

“Would you be able to find out?”

“Possibly, but I wouldn’t be able to do it for a while.  I have a lot going on right now, but I’ll try to get to the reservation and find out about this the next time I’m in New Mexico.” 

“Ok, I’d appreciate that.”

When we went back into the cabin, Grandpa Isaac asked a question loudly enough for everyone to hear.  “What are we going to do now?”

“What do you mean?” I responded.  

“Surely Aaron and Doris must have some games around here that we can play.”

“Don’t call me Shirley,” Grandpa Jacob snapped back, imitating Leslie Nielsen’s line from the movie Airplane.

“Isn’t that shtick getting a little old,” Devin’s dad groaned.  

“It never gets old,” Grandpa Jacob responded while pointing at Devin and me.  That’s because we were laughing at his deadpan performance. 

“Uh, we can play UNO,” I offered after I stopped laughing so we could move things along. 

“That’s a good idea,” Grandpa Isaac agreed.  “Do all of you want to play?”

“Doris and I play UNO against the boys all the time, so why don’t the rest of you play.  I think you’ll be able to squeeze around the table to do that, if Hope and Faith want to play too.  If you need more chairs then just bring out a couple of the folding chairs for the last two players.”

“Do you girls want to play then?” Grandpa Jacob asked their wives. 

“Sure, it sounds like fun,” Faith replied for both of them. 

“Ok, but Isaac and I want to sit next to Michael and Devin.” 

They then had Devin and me sit on the folding chairs on one side of the table while they sat on either end of the table and their wives sat across from us.  Between Grandpa Isaac and Grandpa Jacob, they dumped on us worse than we’d ever dumped on each other or Devin’s parents had dumped on us.  They were unrelenting, so Devin and I never won either of the games we played against them.  However, by the time we finished the second game, Hope and Faith let them know they were ready to go home. 

“We had a great time and want to thank you for inviting us,” Hope stated while looking at Devin’s mom and dad, “but I think we should head home now.”

“Yes, thank you very much for the wonderful evening,” Faith added.  “Maybe next time we can do this at one of our houses.”

We all agreed that would be nice, and then Devin and I walked them out to the SUV. 

“Goodbye and it was nice meeting all of you,” I said as they were getting in the SUV. 

“It was nice meeting you as well,” they all responded before driving away. 

“So what did you think of my grandfathers?” Devin asked before we entered the cabin. 

“I thought they were a blast.”

“Yeah, they didn’t get too carried away this time, so you were lucky.”

After we went inside, we chatted with Devin’s parents for a while before we turned in.  It had been an interesting day. 

Grandpa Jacob and Grandpa Isaac also came around a few more times while I was there, but those visits were without their wives.  They merely hung out with Devin and me and we went on hikes through the woods, because they wanted to get us alone so they could get to know me better.  In fact, they did nearly as much with us during their visits as Devin’s dad did during the other times, but Mr. McCaskill didn’t seem to mind.  Some days he would join in, but other times he would stay back with his wife while we went out with his dad and granddad.  It was kind of nice to get to know them better as well. 

“You two still don’t look old enough to be Devin’s dad’s father or uncle, so why don’t you just appear a little older?” I asked on one of our walks.

“First of all, looking like this makes our wives happier, and I didn’t like the feeling that I was becoming an old man,” Grandpa Jacob replied.  “I’m going to live for another few hundred years, so I decided to make it appear that I wasn’t aging quite as fast as most other men.  You know, kind of like Dick Clark.”

“Who’s he?”  

“He was a celebrity who never seemed to age, so I felt if he could get away with it, then I could too.”

“And I eventually got to take on a new identity,” Grandpa Isaac added, “and I liked looking and feeling young again.  I’d previously been doing something similar before Jacob was born and I was happy that I could do it again.”

“Ok, I guess I can understand why you guys wouldn’t want to look old.  My mom dyes her hair so she looks younger too.”

“I’ll bet Devin’s dad will eventually feel the same way, but he isn’t to that point yet.”

“But he only looks to be in his late 30s, but Devin told me that he’s older than that.”

“Yes, he’s actually in his late 40s, but he still looks pretty good, doesn’t he?  Come to think of it, maybe he has already reached the point of not wanting to look or feel old.”

“Yeah, but who is he going to change into when he gets older?”

“When his wife is a little older and before she can’t have children any longer, she’ll have to fake a late life pregnancy and Devin will have a younger brother that doesn’t actually exist.” 

“Yeah, Devin told me how that works, but why do your wives do that for you?”

“It’s for a couple of reasons.  The first is that we’re willing to age a little while our wives are also aging, because they don’t want to start looking as if they’re our mothers or grandmothers.  The other reason is because they love us and know our secret, so they’re willing to help out.”

“Ok, I guess I get it now.” 

“Good!  And then later, after Doris dies, Aaron will disappear into the woods and never return, but he’ll do it in another county than where my dad did it or where I’ll do it, because I’ll have taken on a new identity by then as well.  Aaron may even do it in another state, because we don’t want the authorities to start getting suspicious about why this keeps happening to the men in our family.  He might also come up with another way to make the authorities believe he’s dead, since he won’t want them to keep looking for him or start wondering if it’s all a ruse.” 

“Yeah, that wouldn’t be good.”

“You’re a smart young man and I can see why you and Devin hit it off.” 

“So, what are you going to do when you want to change?”

“My wife already went through a fake pregnancy and Aaron has a brother that’s about twenty years younger than he is, although his brother doesn’t really exist.  A little while after my wife dies; I’ll fake my death and take on that identity.  I’ll probably get married again as well, but we won’t have any more children.  My new wife and I will just have a fake son when my wife is older so I’ll have another identity to use.”

“Why won’t you have a real son with your new wife?”

“I already have one son, and that’s Aaron, and we’re only allowed to have one child.  That’s because we don’t want to have too many of us wandering around, since we live so long.  The shaman explained it to my dad when he made him a skinwalker and let him know that having too many skinwalkers could be dangerous for the family.  If one of us was to slip up and get discovered, then the rest of the family would come under suspicion as well.  Therefore, it is to our advantage to keep our numbers down so we’ll only have one son, followed by a series of fake sons.”

“But what if your wife wants to have a child of her own?”

“In that case, she can always claim that I’m infertile and incapable of giving her children, and then she can either get artificially inseminated by an anonymous donor or we can adopt.  Either way, the child won’t be another skinwalker and we’ll have to decide later if we’re going to tell the child or children about the family secret.”

“And that way she might end up having a daughter as well, because Devin told me that you guys can only have sons.”

“Yes, due to how the trait is passed along.”

“Ok, I think I’m starting to get the idea now.”