This is my interview with Frank Lamonte from “The Second Time Around” Book I of the Belanger Creek Ranch Series. Enjoy!
Gloria:What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Frank: Many would expect me to say that becoming a veterinarian is my greatest achievement, but becoming a veterinarian is almost an extension of who I am. I love all animals: it pains me to see them hurt and it makes me happy to help them heal. I probably understand animals better than I do humans! Horses are my favorite animal. When you work with them over a period of time, you form a deep friendship, and you will have a friend for life.
I digress here—what is my greatest achievement?
Becoming my own person is probably my biggest achievement, although I didn’t realize it when it was happening. I am an only child. That has its blessings, but it also has its downside. Mom had trouble carrying a child, and after several miscarriages, my parents were thrilled to finally have a baby in their arms. I know my father wanted a son badly—but I am certain that when I was born a girl, Dad took it in stride. He showed no signs of disappointment, and decided I’d make a great son anyway. He named me Frank Lamonte, after his father, and there was never a thought of calling me Fran or even Frankie…I was FRANK.
My poor mother never got to enjoy having a little girl. Probably the only time she got to dress me in dainty pink, was my pajamas when she put me to bed at night, or when we went to church on Sunday morning.
Once I was a toddler, Dad started taking me with him everywhere. We had a small ranch and he let me help him with chores, and I when he went to town for parts for the equipment, or feed for the animals, I would tag along. I went everywhere with him. I became an extension of him.
I grew up in his world and I loved everything about it…the animals, especially the horses. He took me riding, tucked in the saddle in front of him as soon as I could walk, and later he taught me to ride when mom said it was Ok for me to be on a horse by myself. He encouraged me to team rope with our neighbor, and dad’s best friend’s son, Clint Roberts. When I got older, and we went to rodeos, Dad was there, keeping an eye on things, protecting me. Once I had matured into a young woman, he was there to make sure that I didn’t become a “notch” on some rodeo guys belt!
He gave me room to grow—but I was never really independent of him, until I went to vet school. I met Martin Cole when we were team roping and then we both ended up going to vet college. When we got together, the natural urges of a young woman came to life in me. I enjoyed his attention on a romantic and sexual level. I even thought I’d fallen deeply in love, but on another level, it was like slipping my hand into a comfortable pair of gloves. He was a male companion, and that was what I was used to having. He wasn’t like my dad, but when I look back now, I think he became a replacement for him in my life—just on a different level.
I was young, I had never dated… not because dad interfered, although no one would have been good enough for me! I still hung out with guys all the time, I just became one of them. I didn’t relate to girls. They seemed to be immature and silly. Becky Freemont is the only girlfriend that I’ve ever had. I’ve known her since kindergarten. We are still very close and she is always there for me.
I took my studies seriously and so did Martin. We worked hard, and after we graduated we came back to Stettler, Alberta where I’d grown up. From the time I was about fourteen years old, I had spent all my spare time at Jason Winter’s Vet Clinic, helping him where I could. He was very patient and I was a good worker and a quick learner. When I left for vet school, he told me there would be a job waiting for me, and when we graduated he hired Martin and me.
Although Martin and I were engaged, we hadn’t “lived together” so when I came back to Stettler I moved back in with mom and dad. My life seemed perfect—marriage was in my future, I was living back at the small ranch where I had grown up, and I was home with mom and Dad.
Then over a nine month period, my whole world fell apart. My dad was almost killed when a horse went over backward on him. The thought of losing him struck me numb. When we knew he would live, tough choices had to be made. The ranch had to be sold, and mom and dad bought a place in town. I moved in with them and tried to help mom look after dad. I was worried sick, and far too busy. Martin broke our engagement, because he said I had no time for him and I wasn’t fun anymore. He took up with the secretary in the clinic. That was the last straw for me!
I was reeling, and I gradually slipped into a depression. I didn’t realize what was happening, because I was so immersed in what had happened to dad, and the sale of my treasured home. I thought I had good reason to feel blue…it would pass.
Then Doctor Winter’s stepped in and told me I had to take care of myself. He put me on an extended leave of absence, and told me to go to see my doctor and seek help. He told me to get out of Stettler for as long as it took for me to get back on my feet. He actually found me the job as a ranch hand at Belanger Creek Ranch.
It was a long and painful journey…and it seemed like I made some pretty stupid mistakes while I was there, but in the end, I found an inner strength I didn’t know I possessed.
When I came back to Stettler, I found comfort in knowing that my parents supported me, but I stood on my own two feet and made my own decisions. I had doubts and fears, like everyone, but I was no longer an extension of my father, or anyone else…I had become my own person.
Gloria:What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Frank:For me perfect happiness comes with peace of mind, accepting yourself for who you are, and being grateful for the wonderful things you already have. Strong feelings of self worth, contentment and acceptance create perfect happiness.
In today’s world, people tend to judge others and themselves by how they look, and what they possess. Doing this just causes discontentment. I have nothing against trying to improve your lot in life, but feeling “less than,” because of what you have not acquired, or may never acquire, is self-defeating.
Gloria:What is your favourite occupation?
Frank:Working with animals—being a veterinarian is my true occupation, but being a ranch-hand has been very satisfying too.
Gloria:What are qualities you value most in a man?
Frank:Honesty, loyalty, a good work ethic, the ability to have access to his inner child and know how to have fun. I also admire a man who is confident, but not entirely focused on himself. He should show kindness and respect to others and me (if he is my partner) He should also be a good listener when I need him to be.
This character interview stuff is too much fun! Here is the interview I had with … be still my heart… sexy cowboy, Colt Thompson.
Gloria: What is your current state of mind?
Colt: Do you mean how do I feel about life? I’m a workaholic. In my heart, I want to live at Belanger Creek Ranch, but since my Dad had a heart attack, I’ve returned to the farm at Cantaur, and I’m running it now and trying to keep my dad out of trouble. It’s not how I imagined my life being, but I’ve learned the hard way that life doesn’t go the way you imagined.
Gloria: Why do you say that?
Colt: Well, I’m cured of any illusions about love and romance. I was married once and I worshipped that woman. I loved her with a passion … until I found out that she was cheating on me. I would have tried to work around any problems we might have been having in the marriage, but that wasn’t her final betrayal. The last one cut me to the bone. I hated her for that one, and I filed for divorce immediately. She left me with nothing but the clothes on my back, and a mountain of debt…a painful lesson well learned! I will never lay myself open to a repeat performance. Love, romance and happy marriages are an illusion. Even if I thought I could fall in love with someone again, I’d do everything possible to make sure it didn’t happen. It simply isn’t worth the pain.
Gloria: Do your parent’s have a happy marriage?
Colt: Yeah, my parents are great. My mom is a saint. Dad has his faults—he’s stubborn like me. He’s always been a farmer and a workaholic, I guess I get some of my traits from him. Yeah, I would have to say that basically, my parents have a great marriage. I’ve noticed nowadays most women aren’t like my mom. They don’t commit to a relationship the way she has. They are too busy doing their own thing.
Gloria: You sound a bit bitter, even chauvinistic.
Colt: I am bitter and I think I have a reason to be. I’ve been called chauvinistic before…yeah I’ve even been called an ass. But I am what I am, because a woman taught me the realities of life.
Gloria: You are a good looking man and you are relatively young, are you in a relationship with anyone now?
Colt: No, nothing romantic or too serious. I’ve been seeing a woman in Swift Current called Shauna Lee Holt. We are and friends,,, (he quirks an eyebrow) with benefits. We both have needs that we satisfy for each other, but we are not in love, so no one is going to get hurt if the other walks away. Neither one of us will try to abscond with half of the other person’s life’s work. She owns the firm that does our accounting work, so financially she is secure. Dad and I are partners in Thompson Holdings: Cantaur Farm, and Belanger Creek Ranch are both entities of it.
Gloria: Do you always feel you need to play it safe?
Colt: I got royally screwed over emotionally and financially once; it isn’t going to happen again!
Gloria: What is the trait you most despise in others?
Colt: Dishonesty… betrayal!
Gloria: What is the quality you like most in a woman?
Colt: I’m surprised you would ask me that.
Gloria: Seriously, before you were hurt, what did you look for in a woman?
Colt: If I were looking for a woman now, it would be different from what I looked for back then. When I was young looks and a great body meant a lot. And the woman I married loved horses and the rodeo life, and so did I. I thought we were a perfect match, but it was all a fantasy. I was so besotted, I forgot that we had a farm and a ranch to run, until Dad jerked me up short and made it clear that if I was part of the business, I had to pull my weight with the work.
If I were to look for a woman now looks wouldn’t be as important… yeah, I know… every man likes to wake up to a good looking face on the pillow and a slender strong body snuggled into your arms. But seriously, honesty, loyalty, a sense of humor, someone who cares as much about you as she does herself, a woman who enjoys what you do—especially when your business is a ranch or farming. The ideal woman for me is someone who will work beside you through the long days, and the good times and bad. I’d want a woman who loved kids. I always wanted a family until…well that’s another story. We’d both have to be considerate and respect each others moods—everyone has a shitty day once in a while. She’d have to understand that there is a time to play—although I seldom do that; but work has to come first around here. I’m not saying she’d have to be a clone of me. I know we’d both have to give and take. But since I’m NOT looking for another woman to be part of my life, none of that matters.
Gloria: What if you met a woman with all of those qualities, what would you do?
Colt: Run as fast as I could. I’d marry a horse (I love them) before I’d ever let myself get addled brained enough to get involved with another woman. I’d never count on getting it right the second time around. Believe me… once was enough!
Now we are going to hear from Ollie Crampton
Gloria: Hello Mr. Crampton. I am here to interview you, to learn more about the characters in The Second Time Around, Book I of the Belanger Creek Ranch Series. My first question is, How long have you been at Belanger Creek Ranch?
Ollie: (he has a twinkle in his eyes) I’ve been here so long I’m a fixture here. They’ve adopted me as part of the family. The Thompsons are wonderful people.
Gloria: So you know Colt quite well?
Ollie: Sure do. I’m his second daddy. I love that boy like he was my own. He’s a hard worker, and he loves this here ranch. It’s kinda’ too bad that he has to stay at the farm. But as nice a guy as his Dad Bob is, he is a stubborn old man. If he’d just accept that he can’t deal with the stress of running the farm and move into town, Colt could put a manager there and move out here where he wants to be.
Gloria: What can you tell me about Colt?
Ollie: Aww, he got ‘imself into a bit of a wreck eight years ago. He’d married that Sharon a few years earlier. She was somethin’ else, but love is blind and he couldn’t see her for what she was. When the dust all settled she broke his heart and his bank account.
Gloria: Yes, I interviewed him yesterday. He seems to be a very bitter man.
Ollie: He’s damn bitter, but he isn’t doing himself any favours now.
Gloria: Why would you say that?
Ollie: Colt has the most god awful taste in women. He is so smart about everything else, but when it comes to women I just want to put the toe of my boot to his ass. That Sharon—the woman he married– had no interest in the things that mattered to him—this here ranch, the farm. This is who Colt is. Yeah, he got carried away by a pretty face and the rodeo stuff, but when Bob laid down the law, he knew what he had to do, and he settled down and went to work. She was shallower than a china saucer—all that woman wanted was the glamor of winning—she didn’t give a hang about real life…and she proved that she didn’t want a kid. But when push came to shove, she sure wanted—and got—every cent she could get out of Colt. I’d say he got off lucky—she would have ruined his life for sure.
Now he’s got himself tied up with that Shauna Lee Holt. Same damn thing all over again—except he says he ain’t gonna’ marry her. But she isn’t interested in anything about him except goin’ out for dinner and goin’ to bed.
(Ollie shakes his head) I’ve tried to talk some sense into his thick head, but he’s not listening. Damn it, he isn’t the first man to have a marriage go sour on him. He’s still a young man. If he’d just get his head out of his…uh hum…well you know what I mean—he could make a good life for himself. I told him that, and he told me I was like the pot calling the kettle black. He said he didn’t see a ball and chain tied to my leg.
But I didn’t have the kind of life he did. My maw left me with an uncle and aunt who did not want to raise another kid at their age. I was a total inconvenience to them. I left there when I was fourteen—no education, no money—I grew up fast and I worked at whatever I could find, but I loved workin’ on ranches. I was a rollin’ stone, gatherin’ no moss, until I came here. This is the first place I ever felt was home and I hope I die here.
(Ollie squints and looks away) But back to Colt…we’ve got a little gal workin’ at the ranch here now. She’d be perfect for him. She loves the work—damned if I didn’t find out that she’s a veterinarian. I haven’t asked what she’s doin’ hidin’ out here. She looked pretty down when she came. I almost sent her home, but that first night she proved what she could do when she delivered a backward calf, and I made an executive decision to keep her. I was up agin’st it for help, and when Frank Lamonte—(he smiles and nods) Yeah, her name is Frank, and she made it clear that she is proud of it!
Anyway when I saw how good she was with the animals, I decided that she had to work with me—not him. I broke all the rules and just told Colt that Frank Lamonte was the best hand we’d ever had. I knew he’d have bust a gut. He’d always refused to hire a woman no matter what. How the fact that she was female slipped past them on her resume, I have no idea—but heck with a monicker like that– I guess they just assumed she was a man.
I intended to tell him, but I just kept puttin’ it off, and as it happened, Bob had another heart attack and Colt didn’t come out to the ranch for quite a while. Then he ended up comin’ when I had gone to Swift Current. I guess he hit the roof when he found her here.
I don’t know what took place—he was here for a couple of days. Whatever happened, after he first told her to leave, he did a turn around and asked her to stay. She said she did it for me. But somethin’ happened that time—cause after she first came she began to perk up and it was like watchin’ a flower bloom. But after he was here those two days, she’s never been the same again. The bloom has faded—and he treats her like she is some bad disease.
I get so frustrated, but I can’t really do anything about it.
Gloria: So you like Frank Lamonte?
Ollie: Heck—there’s nothing about her to not like. She’s kind, thoughtful, and she loves working with the animals. She says she never learned about being a lady, but she pitches in and helps clean up when we decide it needs to be done, and she is a good cook. In truth, I’d like to slap Colt upside the head and ask him what he’s thinkin’, cause they would fit together like two pieces of a puzzle. But… he’s so damned determined not to care again, he’d step right around the piece of gold that’s laying in front of him, and go to that whore in town.
Gloria: Those are very harsh words Mr. Crampton.
Ollie: Yeah, I guess I shouldn’t call her a whore. I don’t know what happened to her; maybe she’s been hurt too. But he looks me in the eye and tells me they both want the same thing. He admits that they don’t love each other and neither one of them wants to get married. I’ve told him that life gets lonely after a while, but he says it’s a whole lot worse than lonely, if you hook up with the wrong one. And I’m just thinking, “Are you blind man?”
Gloria: Well Mr. Crampton, this interview has been very enlightening. You have definitely shed a new light on Colt Thompson and Frank Lamonte.
Ollie: I just tell it like it is. It’ll be interesting to see how their story ends. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens in The Second Time Around.
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